Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Sunday was cleaning day at my house. I live with nine destructive cats. Even though I rescued them, they have no mercy on me, their savior. They disregard my pride of home ownership, treating this place as their own personal playground.

It's never a light cleaning job. Tiny paw prints are etched on the walls they've scaled. Black marks are smudged on every corner from cheek-rubbing to mark territory. Bundles of cat fur roll along like tumbleweeds, so big they could form a new cat. Shredded bits of cardboard from scratching posts are scattered like wedding confetti.

And in case you're reading this over a meal, I won't get into the bodily fluids, but keep in mind we're in the thick of hairball season.

I scrubbed my floors and all-white walls clean, with one exception. I never have the heart to dislodge a spider from his nest and suck up all that hard work into a vacuum cleaner hose. If I had woven such an intricate shred of netting, I'd feel crushed watching it go down with the dust bunnies.

Living out here in the forest, there's an abundance of creatures of all sizes -- mice, rabbits, possums, coyotes, deer. Birds abound. Little ones like robins and woodpeckers, and big birds -- eagles, owls and herons. Oodles of insects keep me entertained. Slithering snails, crickets chirping all night, and spiders spinning the most beautiful webs. I find spiders in my car in the mornings, their dewy webs stretched from the dashboard to the windshield.

But it's not a bed of roses.

The unforgiving food chain means the pecking order kicks in. Not everyone survives. Cats and small dogs left to roam outdoors unsupervised are quickly snatched by coyotes. And a few days ago, I pried an injured mouse from my cat Sam's mouth. That's the fourth mouse casualty, and the only one who was still alive when I encountered the scene. Sam playing with the prey while Madison looked on, a gleeful spectator watching from her perch on the bed in the basement. I rushed the mouse to the shelter, where I watched her get humanely euthanized.

When I find insects who have survived the snap of my cats' jaws, I can't help giving them a chance to make a go of it.

Here's who made it through another day in the forest:

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