"What I do next", he said, abandoning her for a ham sandwich.
"My Gaad, he’s rude", she said.
"No, he’s just hungry. His tapeworm just had a nervous breakdown.”
Theodore Roethke, From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke
Before I say more, I’d like to mention that this little restaurant is really, as the name indicates, three doors down from the sidewalk end of the building, is terrifically clean, has great food and I would recommend it to anyone who’s planning a visit to Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Anyway, this woman was kind enough to go out of her way to walk up to our table and tell me how much she enjoyed reading my blog. She also said she’d be interested in hearing more about our little doggie. (Whose name is Buster and a Buster he is.)
I appreciated her commenting positively on my blog and would like to return the favour by telling her I have spent a lot of wet, prickly, bug-infested time pulling angelica plants out of our personal turfdom. She’ll know what I mean.
Well, when we arrived, they brought the cat out for all of us to see. However, because Buster was with us, they had to bring the cat to us in a cage. Which they placed on the floor under the expensive piano that Simon plays. He is a concert pianist.
Hannah, the owner of the little kitty, quietly suggested, the last evening we were at their house, that we put Buster into a kennel.
Can you imagine?
“I the Cat, whose ancestors
Proudly trod the jungle,
Not one ever tamed by man.
Ah, do they know
That the same immortal hand
That gave them breath, gave breath to me?
But I alone am free--
I am THE CAT.”
Leila Usher, I AM THE CAT
While in Halifax, Sue’s daughter suggested we go to William’s Lake for a swim. This lake is located inside Halifax. However, when you go to the lake, it looks like a lake you would find in any part of Eastern Ontario. Yet you are really in a Halifax sub-division.
The day was dreary and wet, so Sue and I didn’t go into the water. Plus we forgot our towels. Was this subconscious? I really don’t know, because we had, that morning, put a thousand miles on our tires looking for the mall and another thousand miles on our feet, tromping through a mall trying to find a bathing suit for Sue and a small insulated lunch packet for me. Even Buster was dragging his ass.
At one point we marched, like three refugees, from one large shopping mall, through a large underground parking lot, following the lines so we wouldn’t get squashed, over to another shopping mall. Maybe the same mall, I don’t know. Where we walked around and around looking for the WalMart, which we had seen on the other side of the freeway. Why do they run freeways through shopping malls? It doesn’t make Cape Breton sense.
There was this woman, stooped down, behind a wall, dragging on a long, thin, non-mentholated, self rolled cigarette. Smelling the smoke made me feel very relaxed while at the same time giving me a strange paranoid thought: That one of the nearby shoppers was thinking of murdering me.
Anyway, when I told her that we were Ma and Pa Kettle and Dog, looking for Walmart, she lazily told us that we were on the wrong level. Apparently, Walmart was somewhere below our sore feet.
“Oh, gee ma, they have more than one level.”
“Woof, woof and damn that flea, ma.”
To get to Williams Lake we drove in a CarShare vehicle. A neat way to have access to a vehicle without having to own one yourself. This car was small. Had room in the front for two people. Sue’s grand-daughter, Sue and I were packed in the back. So where was Buster?
Well, this was one of those little hatch-backie types of cars. Cute, but lacking in room. Buster was put into the back. Behind the back seat. Like he was a dog, for Pete's sake. He could see us and stick his head through the bars to sniff and be petted but he was trapped. So, there he sat. On top of a new rubber floor mat, which had been carefully wrapped in plastic.
To get to the lake you drive on a series of fairly narrow roads, which have lots of uphills and downhills.
Only two people went swimming: Hannah and Jennifer. They bravely swam out into the cold water, under cloudy, wet skies. They swam away from the shore and this upset Buster, who we didn’t think liked water very much. However, he didn’t like them being so far away either, so he jumped in and swam towards them. That was something new for us to see.
However, Buster also doesn’t like being wet and I didn’t have the nerve to ask to borrow one of their towels to dry Buster off. Which left Buster running around looking like a soaked rat, growling, snarling and shaking.
I’d earlier noticed a tee-shirt which had been tossed on a bush. Probably left by another swimmer. I fetched the shirt and used it to dry Buster.
Once the swim was over, we all jumped into the tiny car and drove home. Up and down the hills. Up and down the hills.
At one point it was suggested we stop at this ice-cream shop. Sue’s grand-daughter was asked if she would like ice-cream. She said no. That was a peculiar answer, I thought. A ten-and- a- half- year- old saying she didn’t want ice-cream? Nobody asked Buster, who loves ice-cream.
Anyway, we didn’t stop for ice-cream. Instead, we headed home. Up and down the hills. Up and down. Up and down. Down and up and on one of the uppers or downers, Hannah quietly informed us that her tummy was turning a wee bit with said ups and downs.
And I’m thinking, “Please god, get us home before any sort of fluid expulsion happens in this tight and snug little compartment.” Also, I was still a wee bit paranoid. I didn’t like the way Sue was looking at me.
Meanwhile, Buster, who may have understood that we weren’t stopping for ice-cream or who was just pissed off that he was trapped in the back of this tiny car like an ordinary dog whose name is Buster, decided to live up to his name and began to tear the wrapper off the new rubber floor mat.
I jammed my hand and arm into the crevice so I could grab him and stop him from being Mr. Destructo. It wasn’t a comfortable fit. However, I kept my hand there for most of the trip as we went up and down and as even my stomach began to feel the wear and tear.
To make this long story shorter, I will say that as we pulled in front of their house, Hannah shouted, “I have to get out. Right now!”
Well, she’d warned us and poor Hannah had to unload. And, in retrospect, the ‘no thank-you’ to the ice-cream should have been a big Sherlock Holme’s clue. And there was a bag ready for such an occasion, but unfortunately, it didn’t get to Hannah in time.
As a result, some effluent got into the bag, some onto Hannah, and a bit onto Sue, the floor and the seat.
I had quickly dislodged my arm from the back so that Buster was free to chew on, chew on.
We all tumbled out of the car. The upchucking scene continued under a big oak tree. Sue, who was still carrying the puke bag and Buster’s fifteen-foot leash, (I was actually holding onto Buster, who was on his short red leash), stood on the boulevard, while the vomit dripped out of the bag, onto the leash and onto her clothes.
Meanwhile, Sue’s daughter had grabbed a hose and turned it on, after helping to clean off Hannah.
All of us tried to avoid stepping on the vomit that was under the tree and on the sidewalk. However, Buster stepped in it and I stepped in it because no one had learned the steps to this vomit polka. All dancing around in circles as we tried to clean off Hannah, the sidewalk, the back seat and floor of the car and themselves.
During all this activity I didn’t fail to notice that Buster had taken a fair whack of plastic off that rubber floor mat.
The final straw for poor Buster was that while this was all going on, a big, very big, white cat had wandered down to watch. This cat was as calm as the proverbial cucumber. He’d parked himself under the tree like King Shit and gazed as only a cat can gaze, at all these crazy people running around. Why, the white cat barely blinked an eye. And, when I took a close look at this totally calm, big, white cat, I saw that he was very curious about Buster. And, Buster became, as the confusion calmed down, very interested in the big white cat. Who never moved.
You know what I thought of when I saw the cat? A school yard. Where a big bully kid wanders onto the playground and looks for trouble. Calmly scopes out the kids playing and having fun, picks one out and then goes over and intimidates or just plain beats up the poor sod. That’s what I thought of when I saw the big white cat.
This guy was looking for trouble. And Buster was the bait. And Buster being Buster, walked over and stuck his nose within strike range.
And boy, did Buster get a good shot in the face before I managed to pull him away. I don’t know what Buster thought, but I think that damn cat was laughing at Buster. Laughing at the whole damn bunch of us.