Happy Hunting Ground

Well, M and I are kinda sad about our cats, PrettyBoy and Floyd. No, despite the title of this entry, they didn’t die… but we had to return them to their previous foster home. We really loved the furry beasts, and they were fun to have around. But they were clearly not happy about not being able to go outside to hunt; they are big cats with a strong hunting instinct, who clearly disdained proxy toys. They did do some indoor hunting… we quickly “trained” them (or vice versa) to exchange palmetto bugs (read: fancy name for giant cockroaches, a problem when your house is surrounded by woods) for kitty treats (though PrettyBoy objected strongly if I took away the prey too quickly). We tried to let them get a taste for the outside by putting in a cat door to our screened-in porch, but they tore through the screen to get out onto the back deck. The deck is high off the ground, and they seemed to be looking longingly over the edge… we were afraid they might try to jump off, especially in pursuit of a bird or squirrel. We had to stop putting birdseed in the feeder, which was a shame since I liked watching the variety of birds that fluttered around our deck. Despite occasional frustrations (some scratched-up furniture, a prodigious amount of waste product that seemed to exceed the amount of food we gave them, tearing up all our screens trying to get to bugs), the cats had really grown on us, so we were reluctant to give them up… but our upcoming trip to Japan sealed the deal. We knew they wanted to live somewhere they could roam outside, and it just didn’t make sense for us to keep them anymore. So we drove an hour to the home of their previous owner, who gladly took them back (the conflicting cat has since passed away), and offered us visitation rights. His reassurances made us feel much better, knowing that they were going to a place they knew and liked, and where they could hunt bigger game than bugs. We’ll miss them, but maybe we’ll get another cat that doesn’t mind staying inside. On a strange afternote, we stopped for drinks at a convenience store on the way back (near his house), and overheard a guy there who said that the name of the puppy in his arms was Prettyboy Floyd… what an odd coincidence!

Island Hopping in a Car

The last few weekends, M and I went on roadtrips to see friends and family.

First, on July 20, we drove down to Amelia Island in northern Florida to attend the wedding of our good friends Bob and Darci, both sociologists who recently got PhDs from UNC. It was a very nice event… Friday night, there was a dance and mixer in a clubhouse on the marshes, where we saw lots of old friends who’ve since scattered around the country, and met Bob and Darci’s family. The next day we lounged around the beach with friends until the evening ceremony, which was held on yet another island, Fort George Island, linked by bridges (I think there were 2 smaller islands between). It was my kind of ceremony –short and focused on the couple. The reception afterward had delicious food (even if I couldn’t eat most of it), and we had a lot of fun dancing. We also met Bob’s famous movie-star sister Anna. Sunday morning, we went to a bustling brunch, and talked more with Bob’s family and their friends… Bob comes from a line of prominent sociologists, going back 3 generations, and there was interesting conversation. We drove home in record time (unlike our drive down, where we missed our exit and ended up driving in a huge circle around Raleigh… which turned out well, since we discovered we forgot our dress clothes in the hustle, and had to go back for them).

The next weekend, we drove down to the Isle of Palms, near Charleston, South Carolina, to see M’s great-uncle and his sons. They were visiting from Spain, where her grandfather’s brother had emigrated in the 40s. He spoke glowingly about Franco (a first for me) and socialism in general, and held forth on many topics… a fascinating guy. We took midnight walks on the beach with his sons and one’s girlfriend, and by day toured Charleston, where M’s family was once quite prominent, being some of the first Huguenots to settle there.

This past weekend, we saw them again, not on an island but down in the country where M’s family is clustered on their farm spread… her grandparents, her mom, and her aunt each have a house there. We all got together for M’s young cousin’s birthday, and her colorful family was amusing as ever. They are politically Southern, which in this case is a odd mix of individualist independence and progressiveness, and they have surprisingly nuanced views on Federalism and the “War of Northern Aggression”… “The Civil War,” claims her grandfather (or was it his brother?), “was when the American citizens of Britain waged war against England. The War of Northern Aggression was declared and waged between two different countries.” But of course, being rational, they all despise George W. Bush. They’re okay in my book. They also told me ghost stories about their houses that they firmly believe. An odd bunch. Maybe it was an island after all.