Friday, December 12, 2008

First Post Ever

This is the very first post to my blog. I write a bi-weekly column for several Western New York weekly newspapers.
I stay away from hard news unless to comment on events with an aim for humor.

I will do my best to post weekly, including a new column one week, then one from my own archives the next.

This is a recent column which appeared in the Springville Journal and the Arcade Herald;

Terry Stephan

Changing Lanes:Delphinium
“It’s like trying to herd cats”, is a favorite expression of mine. It addresses dealing with a very difficult task. Pets communicate with, and manipulate people. If you don’t believe that, just stop feeding your cat for the day.
I hate to admit any attachment to an animal but recently a wonderful feline came to live with us. She is the latest in a long line of “free” cats. By ‘free’, I refer to the countless strays we have spent a pile of money on over the past few decades.
This small female with brown splashes in her tiger coat arrived a few months ago. She was near death, emaciated, and infested with fleas.
We fed her and treated the fleas. She gained weight and health quickly. I sent a photo of the cat to my 4-year-old granddaughter Paige, told her it needed a name. She came up with “Oscar”. I reminded her, the cat was a girl. Without hesitation Paige said, “Delphinium”.
Delphy” is extremely at ease around people and has no interest in coming into the house.
Two weeks into her stay, Delphy displayed behavior that endeared her to me. Upon waking one morning, I looked out the bedroom window. She was eating a chipmunk, stem to stern. She consumed the whole thing.
You may think it is wrong to be so happy, finding out that my cat is a murderer. However, we have paid dearly for damage to our insulation caused by chipmunks and I’ve spent untold hours trying to eradicate them from the premises. I feel like Bill Murray in “Caddy Shack”, except his nemesis was gophers and I haven’t used dynamite yet. I am elated to have a cat with an appetite for chipmunk.
To train and reinforce her hunting behavior I gave her a can of greasy cat food, her favorite. Stuffed from the chipmunk, she wasn’t as enthusiastic as usual for the stinky food.
Soon after Delphy came to stay, a large black cat began to hang around. Glimpses of him in the periphery of the yard caused us to call him “Shadow”.
Delphy became romantically involved with Shadow and soon started to bloat up with kittens. Two months later, she disappeared for a few days, and then showed up no longer pregnant. I tried to find her kittens but gave up after a futile search; she would reveal them when she was ready.
The weather was turning colder so I built a ‘cathouse’ with a small heat lamp in it, thinking she might make it her homestead with the kittens.
One day I looked out to see Delphy sneaking around the yard, dragging a plain tiger kitten. An hour later, the tiny shivering thing was on our back porch, I put it in the heated cathouse. Delphy got the idea and later that day there were two more kittens in the little house, a tiny twin to Delphy and a solid black twin to “Shadow”.
Through all, Delphy never stopped hunting. I rewarded her every time she brought home a dead chipmunk or squirrel. She caught them several times a week. I also fed her extraordinary amounts of dry food and any meat or fish scraps I could lay my hands on.
Delphy is still on her murder spree, bringing at least one chipmunk or squirrel a week to our back door, near her little house. Her kittens pounce on the catch, like human kids in a bounce house. Because of the prize of canned food, she no longer eats her catch. I’m not proud of that.
Delphy is raising her kittens to be hunters and now I’m committed to buying canned cat food for a long time. It’s well worth getting rid of chipmunks, but I think I may have been duped.
Obviously, Delphy is a smarter teacher than I am.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking good! I like it! B