My Shopping Cart

If I had a blog, today I would write about the oddity that is my shopping cart.

It never fails. Every time I go to the store the cashier comments on the contents of my cart. Usually the comments are curious, but friendly, and I can see why my cart draws attention. Even in a world where you can by Twinkies and horror movies in the same store, my shopping habits are a little out of the ordinary.

In the top basket you will find fishing worms: Big, fat Canadian nightcrawlers, no wimpy red wigglers here. Their presence usually results in the comment, “Gonna go fishin’ this weekend?”

Mr. Turtelle

Mr. Turtelle

“No,” I reply, “they are for my box turtle.”

Blank stare, possibly accompanied by a, “Uh-Huh.”

“You see we have this box turtle that got run over in our garage a few years back and although we saved his life, he can’t use his back legs properly and can’t go back to the wild. He lives in a big terrarium in our spare room.”

“Uh-huh.”

Out of the bottom of the cart come four big bags of  dried mealworms.

Male and female cashiers alike  handle the vacuum sealed bags with their fingertips and say something to the effect of, “Eew. What eats these?”

Ferdinand

Ferdinand

Since there are bluebirds printed all over the packaging, the question seems rather unnecessary, but since the answer isn’t bluebirds, I proceed with, “They are for my pet duck.”

“Pet duck?”

“Well, we used to have a whole flock of ducks that were free range, but three years ago, a coyote family ate all but one and now he lives in the barn with our rooster and the mealworms give him good protein.”

“Uh-huh.”

Sawyer - Mr. Sensitivity

Sawyer – Mr. Sensitivity

Then I extract two bags of dry cat food, different brands, and a box of wet cat food.

“Wow, you must have a lot of cats,” says the cashier.

“I have four, but one has an environmental sensitivity and can’t eat cat food that contains wheat gluten or corn.”

“Uh-Huh.”

By the time we get to the more banal pet items, the cashier’s interest has waned. She scans the cat litter, dry dog food, wet dog food, and black oil sunflower seed without comment.

At last we come to a few packages of human food: Ice cream, bread, milk, and the like. It accounts for about one-quarter of the grocery bill.

I try to make light of the situation, “I spend more on my animals than I do on myself,” I say with a self-deprecating smile.

“Uh-huh.”

My mission complete, I wheel my cart-full across the parking lot and heft my purchases into the car. Occasionally an older gentleman will ask if I need help loading the 50 pound bags of bird seed and dog food. By the time I’ve thanked him and politely declined, he can see the rest of my purchases.

“Gonna go fishin’ this weekend?” he asks.

“Uh-huh,” I reply.

The Dominion of Cats

Claudia Jean and her feather boa.

Claudia Jean and her feather boa.

If I had a blog, I would write about cats. I believe, if cats had opposable thumbs, they would have developed a civilization equal or superior to our own Why? Because there is no animal on the planet that ponders, “I wonder what would happen if I….?” more than the cat. I watch Claudia and Sawyer go about their daily rounds and nothing escapes them. The smallest change in orientation or location of a trinket immediately catches their eye and they must, at all costs, investigate the possibilities.

Sawyer's First Christmas

Sawyer’s First Christmas

In the world of cats, the most important questions to answer are: “What does it taste like?”; “Is there any way I can make myself choke on it?”; “Will it come apart if I claw it?”; “Does it make my owner use the word, ‘expensive!’?” and “What will happen if it falls to the floor?” Once these properties are tested, the cat will then decide if its worth further investigation or if, like most things, is it simply to be ignored. If time is short, the one test all new objects must pass is the “falling to the floor” test, thus proving that cats could, at the very least least, grasp the rudiments of Newtonian physics.

Miss Miranda

Miss Miranda

Personally, I think the real obstacles to feline world domination are cats themselves. If they rose to power, they would no longer be the pampered pet; fed, groomed, and appointed with riches such as cat trees, heated beds, and fleece-lined blankets. To rule the world takes energy and that would seriously erode the 18 hours of sleep cats require per day. The biggest problem, though, would be an organized military. Ever heard the phrase, “That was like trying to herd cats.” ? Yeah. unless they could recruit dogs to work as enlisted soldiers, I don’t think we’ll see a feline version of Patton’s 3rd Army marching into Japan to put down a tuna rebellion.

Those Gypsy Eyes

Those Gypsy Eyes

And yet…what can we say about a species that rose from lowly wild creature to domestic icon more than 9500 years ago? Ancient Egypt was quite a coup, and the Middle Ages a bit of a blot on cat history, but today cats are living large. They have personal-shoppers, personal-groomers, personal physicians, and a chauffeur to drive them hither and yon. They draw a bead on soft-touches like my myself and insinuate themselves into our lives with ease.  In addition to Claudia and Sawyer, who sought out my cat-allergic brother before coming to me, I have two barn cats: Miranda and Toby. I adopted Miranda from the vet clinic as an abandoned kitten and Toby just appeared at the barn a few years ago, looking for a nice place to call home. He found it, too. The barn cats have a heated “Cat Room” complete with cushy beds in winter and a cool fan in summer. No cat in my world lives life on the edge of anything but obesity.

Toby's Bedroom

Toby’s Bedroom

So who’s to say? Maybe the cat has accomplished with guile and beauty what man cannot attain: An endless sea of willing servants, loyal unto death to these marvelous, frustrating, curious creatures. Long may they reign.