Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Math, Cold Snaps, and Dogs on the Sofa

A lot of people say they hated math when they were in school. When I was a kid, I didn’t mind math. (At least not until I got to trigonometry. I still have no idea what trigonometry was, or what it was for.) What I minded was every day trying to grasp a new arithmetic concept, finally having it click—and then having to move on to yet another tricky concept almost immediately.

Frankly, once I finally understood how to add a column of numbers, I wanted to do it for a while. Relax, kick back, put some music on and add a few lines of numbers.

Kind of like knitting. I learned one stitch to begin with, and then made garter stitch scarves for months. Eventually it became boring and I decided to add the purl stitch, but it was in my own time.

Not like in math class, where the minute I understood about adding two columns, they made me add three. Or multiply them. Or draw that little scaffold and learn to divide them. Don’t even get me started.

Unfortunately, I’m discovering that life is more like math class than like knitting. It’s more of an education, I guess, than a leisurely hobby. In life, like math, I don’t seem to be able to relax and bask in “getting it,” in figuring out a problem or solving an issue, before an even more complicated one takes its place.

My relationship with animals is the perfect example. Along with my mother, sister, and husband, I am constantly trying to rescue or help some stray cat or dog. They all come with problems. They all tend to CAUSE problems. We stress and scheme and figure out what to do—and another problem comes along.
This boy (who is going to be the subject of a couple of in-depth posts in the next week or two) is a perfect example.


This is Pegasus Pete, the Pet Pit Puppy. In other words, a pit bull—the kind of dog my family and I always said we would never have. Just asking for trouble, and all that. Those dogs’ll turn on you! (That’s what we heard, anyway.)

But thanks to someone who abandoned him at my elderly mother's house, we have Pete. And we’ve worked out his stealing food from the cats, and stealing their beds (solution: a gated cat sanctuary on one porch) and getting out in the road (solution: extremely expensive fence), and running away from potential adoptive parents and getting lost (solution: go find him and keep him forever), and oh, a whole lot of things. But he has been strictly an outside dog all these months. But that’s okay. We live in Georgia, right? Mild weather and all that.

I know that, compared to a large portion of the country, this will sound very paltry, but suddenly, just when I felt that all was right in our animal world, I hear that the temperature is going to plunge to 12 degrees two nights in a row. And there are all those adopted strays, including several cats and Pete the Pit, who need a warm place to stay.

A new animal problem. Imagine that.

My mother and sister let several outdoors-only stray cats sleep in a guest room last night. So this evening, I will be helping my mother rehang the curtains they tore down and do something with the shredded window shade. Not sure what else I will find. She says I “won’t believe that room.” She’s probably right.

I thought I was getting the hard part. Pete came home with me--his first time inside a house! But he was a very good boy, just nervous. After being dumped as a five-month-old, he has abandonment issues, so he whined when we left him in a kennel in another room to sleep, and he wasn’t really happy until he got back home to my mother’s front porch.

But he did discover that he really likes my comfy

sofa. And he enjoyed watching Parks and Rec with me.

And it makes me smile that he knows that--finally!--he has a home.