I can’t say we had a good trip, but we (the cats and I) did finally get out of Madison and make it to the Smoky Mtns alive, if rather beaten to a pulp. The week leading up to our trip was chaos, but I did manage to survive surgery and collecti the last of my data for Project #1 while taking care of all the last-minute-getting-out-of-town details. I knew that Roxie got carsick, but had hoped that she’d settle in to the drive after a bit, especially once we got on the straight highway. Dragon has never had a problem in a car, so I wasn’t too worried about him. They survived 9 hours from Memphis to Madison a few years ago without any problems – how bad could the trip be? Hah! Despite relaxing cat pheromone sprays and anti-nausea medications, the cats howled, yowled, puked, pooped, and peed the whole trip. I have never heard such a variety of pitiful, mournful noises from cats. They even managed to meow on both the exhale AND the inhale, so there was NEVER a moment of silence. I thought my cats had a 2-3 word vocabulary, but now I know that they are just normally polite. They know how to swear in every language under the sun and know an entire dictionary of ways to express their hatred of life, the universe, and everything. If you can imagine taking a 12 hour car trip with two colicky, teething children, you might have an inkling what the hell of the trip was like. Although I’ve driven such long drives alone before with no problems, every muscle in my body ached after the tension of the drive with. If I hadn’t loved the kitties quite so much, I’m pretty sure they would have been left by the side of the road somewhere in Indiana.
Fortunately, we did arrive at cat and human paradise – the Smokies. The heat and humidity will take some getting used to, as will the culture shock. I’d forgotten how the default setting of the South is that you are a criminal. Everywhere I go there are signs of policemen “we are watching YOU”, and “If YOU use a gun, you’ll serve the time”. Even at the grocery store, there are signs about security cameras everywhere. I can’t shake the feeling of guilt despite that fact that I’ve been here over 24 hours and haven’t shot anyone yet or even stolen anything. I feel like I might be about to. I rather like the northern assumption that you are a good person and some nebulous “them” are the bad folks. This idea that *I* need careful watching is disturbing, and I can see why the South is so paranoid about the government spying on them. I feel spied upon and I’m about as far from government oversight as I can get!
I also had no idea my cats were so citified. They are afraid of the dark! It gets really dark here at night and as soon as the lights are out, they freeze in place. I had to find a nightlight for them just so that they could figure out how to get into bed and find their kitty litter! I know cats can’t see in absolute dark, but it is surprising that these guys just go frozen when the lights go out. We’ll have to work on that, and hopefully once they are more comfortable here, they’ll be able to navigate around the house at night using their whiskers and other kitty senses.
Dragon shot out the door yesterday and straight into the face of George Henry, the barn cat who apparently defends the property against dogs and other intruders. Fortunately the encounter was such a surprise to both cats that nothing really happened except a lot of sniffing. We’ll see how it goes. I’d love to let the cats outside to explore a little, but I’m worried that the boonies here might be a little too wild for them. Would they run up and try to greet a fox? a dog? a racoon? get kicked by a horse? If they freaked out and bolted, would they be able to find their way home? We might try some leash time first, although I can imagine Dragon’s mortification at being paraded around George Henry wearing a harness… “Mooommmm!”
I’ve got a little office area set up in front of a window with an excellent view of The View. I love The View from here. In all the chaos of the drive down here and how zonked I was yesterday, I almost forgot to go sit out on the porch and watch The View by Night, but I remembered in time. I’d post a picture, but that wouldn’t truly capture The View, which comes with The Soundtrack, The Smells and The Air. It’s a complete picture that doesn’t translate well to electrons and pixels. Just take my word for it that it is spectacular and healing.
Argh, too much more of this and I’ll never get back to Madison to finish Project #2. Back to work, Heidi.