Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Continental Divide, Rental Car Galactica, and Baby Grand

Our little home will have to undergo its renovation by itself while Jon and I enjoy Southern California. As Jon has mentioned, we have rented a home (along with his colleague and buddy B.) right near the beach in La Jolla. It's a nice rancher, large for just three people. I've particularly enjoyed the kitchen, which, if placed next to mine, would laugh until its professional range-hood fell onto its glass burners.

I've been planning to use my five weeks as my own private Artist's Retreat. Of course, that's between overseeing plumbing repairs (I can't escape the contractors) and doing the household stuff, which I'm happy to do for Jon since he's gotten us such a nice situation.

Teddy's enjoying the yard, but can't seem to decide if he prefers inside to out. The weather is indistinguishable, excepting the sunlight. Jon documented his trip across country with Teddy, here.

Cheetah surpassed all preparatory worrying by hardly causing any trouble at all on the trans-continental flight, at least directly. I had a brief scare at Security, where they commanded me to take Cheetah OUT of her carrier and walk through the detector with her in my arms, something they could have mentioned before I left home. I hadn't even sedated her yet; I also hadn't thought to bring a collar, harness, or leash, so I'd be holding her bare. I knew she'd either cling to me full-claw, or scratch me to pieces to seek the deepest, darkest corner she could find. Ferals.

She chose to cling through the detector (no beeps, thank heavens), shivering, but started to dart when I approached the luggage conveyor. I'm still silently thanking the anonymous passenger behind me who yanked her carrier out of the mire and held it open.

More fun was had onboard, struggling down the mini-aisle with a huge cat carrier in one hand and my life in my laptop bag weighing down the other. On reaching row 18, I realized my path to seat F, window seat, was blocked by the woman already seated in her aisle seat, 18D. She smiled (smugly, to my mind), when I mentioned I was in the window, which is universal airplane code for Get the F out of my way, can't you see I'm blocking traffic and my cat could puke any second from the sedation I was too chicken to pretest, plus I'm holding up the line full of people already ticked at me for taking so long in Security.

"Well," 18D smirked (positively), "you'll have to put all those bags up first."

"Um, actually, I'm only putting this one up." I slid my laptop neatly overhead. "My cat has to travel under my seat."

The woman in 17D leapt out of her chair as if she'd sat on a pin. "You have a CAT?"

"Yes, she's sedated. And the airline regs are she has to be under the seat in front of me. So, if you'll excuse me...." This to 18D, as the shocked woman in 17D had already darted up the aisle, a live salmon against the tide.

"Are you sure they can't take her and put her up front?" 18D persisted, butt still warming her seat.

"Nope, the regulations are she has to stay with me. Excuse me."

She finally vacated long enough for me to wedge myself and the carrier into the seat. Now, Samsonite claimed the carrier was "Pre-approved for in-flight use," which I took to mean it was not only airline-approved, but would fit under the seat.

Wrong.

It only fit long-ways. Most of my foot space below my knees, which I'd expected to have, was covered, and of course I couldn't put my feet on the soft carrier. I'd have crushed Cheetah's (now-stoned and uncaring) head. So I ended up sprawling into my neighbors area a bit, which I regretted almost as much as the tomato juice I spilled on her jacket during a turbulence dip. 18E was a nice lady, though, and the club soda worked wonders. She even recommended her favorite sites in San Diego.

The second I got settled, I got a lecture from the head Stewardess on how it was imperative that I keep her in her carrier for the duration of the flight. "Yes, I'm aware of the regulations," I assured her

"Well, some people think it's okay once we're in the air. But we've already had to move several people (I only saw one) because they have deadly allergies." (I doubt the allergies are deadly.) "So I just want to make sure you understand."

Despite having already said I did, I reassured her by telling her my husband has allergies, that I know how people with cat allergies suffer, and that I fully understood the rules, that her colleagues at the counter had done their job in informing me of the rules, and that I wouldn't take her out even once, not that she'd come out anyway, you understand, because she's sedated and scared, she'd end up stuck to the ceiling like a cartoon cat, and would you like to see my paperwork or Cheetah's ticket?

Sometimes overkill works pretty well. So does reminding them you've jumped through all their hoops, and they've no probable cause to knock you off the plane on suspicion of harboring a stoned terrorist cat. Head Stewardess left, semi-satisfied, and the flight proceeded well. Except for the spilled tomato juice. I'm still really sorry about that.

Jon picked me up, and we spent a lovely first-night in the rental home before crossing the desert on Friday, heading to Tucson for the Fourth with the in-laws, Teddy in the back seat of the newly-christened Rental Car Galactica. We spent a couple of nice days with the 'rents, and the dogs got along well, though once Teddy did interfere with Rudy's fetch game, which quickly and surprisingly ended in a dog fight. It wasn't funny at the time, but neither broke skin, so I can laugh now when I remember Jon picking Teddy up, and dragging that wiry Jack Russell along too, hanging from Ted. We'd all been worried that they would fight constantly, and remain surprised that they only tousled once. This is mostly due to a recommendation Jon's mother read about: When introducing a dog to a home that already has a dog, it's best to have them meet in neutral territory, walk together for a while, and see how they respond. Good advice.

Driving back on the Fourth, we stopped at a place with a Shake we'd not considered before. Even that slight delay didn't prevent us from getting back to La Jolla in time for fireworks at Scripps Pier.

Since then, I've been unpacking, organizing, and eyeing the Baby Grand Piano in the living room. It's a nice instrument, pretty well in tune. I thought about it, practiced my scales, and sought out a piano teacher who's willing to take me on for the next month, once a week, at an exorbitant hourly rate. Pianos have haunted me for decades -- I took classes from age 4 to 9 or so, but fell out of it with so much international moving. I tried again at 19, and lasted a few months before it got in the way of my university studies. So, here I am again, revisiting a place I've been, looking for the music in me.

Though perhaps I'm only procrastinating the "writing" portion of this retreat.



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