The Calming Affect of Bison on the Cat Pee Blues

Good day to you, who has decided to start reading this. I’ve decided to begin a blog of my own, because I did one as Camp Program Director that I enjoyed. I think it’s good for me to unpack what happens in my life regularly and try to figure out what it’s supposed to mean. Since I have just recently left camp, I’m left doing this for myself, and here we are—me writing my first post that is just about me and not the place where I’m working. We’ll see if I can come up with interesting material.

Allyson and I recently made the move from Eva, Tennessee about an hour up the road to Murray, Kentucky. We left the job that I was heavily involved in that kept us in Tennessee to let Allyson have a job she could get heavily involved in in Kentucky. For right now, I’m considering my time a sabbatical. So, when people ask me what I’m doing up here, I make some joke about how I’m doing nothing or being a bum or living off my wife’s huge fortune. What’s really happening is I’m trying to take a break from something—obviously work, but something else too, that I haven’t quite figured out yet. I want to get better at hobbies, get in really good shape, read a lot, learn some other languages, and spend more time just sitting somewhere doing nothing.

So far, we are still in a phase with our new home of getting things unpacked, on the wall, and organized. Most of the rooms in our home are pretty well settled, except for one which is serving as the we-don’t-know-where-to-put-it-yet-so-we’ll-put-it-here room. As the house husband, I’m feeling the responsibility to get this last bit of stuff where it needs to be. When that is done (I tell myself), I will be free to do routine cleaning and work on the betterment of myself. But, of course, this process is going slower than expected.

If I were to name this week based on a reoccurring theme, this would be called “Cat Urine Week,” or something cruder if I were sure there wasn’t a younger audience reading this blog. In our move from Eva to Murray, a few things changed for our two cats, the biggest begin that they became exclusively inside cats after being mostly outside cats. We are now living right next to a busy street and don’t want to risk either of the cats getting smashed by a car speeding down Main Street in a way that the windy gravel roads of Mockingbird Hill just couldn’t prepare them. And so, we made the decision to keep them inside with much apprehension of the punishment we would receive as a result. The first few weeks were fantastic—they seemed to be adjusting very well to life in the city. This week, something changed. As we’ve unpacked everything, we’ve slowly began introducing more rugs on our hardwood floors. This week, each day we have been greeted with a new rug soaked in cat urine.

There is no universe where this should not be my responsibility. Allyson works all day, and I am at home doing whatever I want. When disaster like this strikes, there is no time when you have a job. This is work handpicked for the unemployed. And, unlike a sink full of dirty dishes, this is work you can’t put off. First of all, this is a terrible smell. It’s not the worst odor in the world. I’d say old tuna, rotten cantaloupe, and unwashed feet could all easily beat it in the unpleasant smell department. The problem with the smell of cat urine is that it never leaves. It has this way of getting in your nostrils and staying long after you’ve moved on. All those other smells will eventually disappear. That stuff has to rot at some point. But, somehow, cat urine just keeps on going. It must be like a radioactive substance with a huge half-life. It’s essentially the Uranium-238 of odors. I find myself smelling cat urine when I’m out in town now, and I don’t know if I’m picking up on places neighborhood cats have sprayed, or if I’m just hallucinating. It has a way of making you crazy.

But the most important reason for quick clean-up is that once a cat gets used to peeing in a place and that smell gets soaked in, it’s really hard to keep them from going back to that spot and doing it over and over again. So, you’re on this race against time, and it won’t be long before your cat decides that spot in front of the kitchen sink is just as viable as the litter box. I’ve spent several mornings this week looking up all natural ways to clean up cat urine on ehow.com. I’ve become much more well-acquainted with vinegar over this week.  This kind of clean-up is not like other pet accidents, where you put some foam on it, leave it for 20 minutes, then dab it with a paper towel. Oh no. That would hardly change anything at all when we’re talking about cat urine. You got to do some Cinderella type scrubbing to fix this.

So, rather than spending my mornings and afternoons catching up on reading, in peaceful reflective prayer, learning a new language, practicing the mandolin, writing poetry, or the wealth of other things I’ve imagined, I’ve been making vinegar water, spreading baking soda, vacuuming, and running the green machine (if you don’t know what this is, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome at cleaning upholstery). So, I’ve gone into this mini-funk because of this horrible lot in life that I’ve fallen into. Here I was, prime to do all the things I’ve never had time to do, but instead, my stinkin’ cats decide they’d rather go on a rug than the box that we prepare and clean out specifically for all their bathroom needs.

It’s like that Twilight Zone episode where all this dude wants to do is read all day long, but he has to work at the bank. While he’s in the safe one day, there’s a nuclear blast that kills everyone except him. He walks through town, looking for other people, but there are none. He stumbles into a library and discovers that, at last, he has his wish. We can do nothing but read all day. But, in his celebration, his glasses fall off and break. What a cruel, cruel lot.

When things like this happen, it’s funny how quickly you fall into this defeatist whininess about how bad you’ve got it. The thought that this is what I was doing with my time was just depressing. Really, were you born to clean up cat urine? Is this how you’re going to live your life? What kind of life is this? Between those thoughts and the thoughts of doing sadistic things to my cats, I realized that I was being a little overly dramatic. Allyson, also sensing this, said that I should go to Land Between the Lakes Friday and just get away for a little while, so I took her up on it.

The first place I went to in LBL was the Elk and Bison Range, where you get to drive into an enclosed area where Elk and Bison roam free. I’ve been through this place a few times, seeing a few animals on each trip. This time, though, I topped a hill to find about 40 Bison surrounding the road. At closest, I was probably about 15-20 feet from a Buffalo. There were all shapes and sizes. I sat for about an hour in my car watching them. I was fascinated. There were points during that hour that I forgot that I was in a car, who I was, or what time it was. It could have been now or it could have been the 1500s. I was out there with a herd of Bison. How many people can say that today?

I think we all need that every now and then. If you put yourself too much into one task and spend too much time thinking about how important it is, you can make yourself miserable. Sure, there are plenty of things that need to be done and are important. But, sometimes we want the things we do to be really important so bad that we make them a little more important in our minds than they really are. Often, we find that our lives feel like they are at their best when we don’t concern ourselves with how important something is, but follow a child-like fascination with something and fall in love with it. So, if this onslaught of urination continues, I’ll be able to look up from my vinegar soaked rag and know that there are some bison out on a prairie 20 miles east ready to console me.

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