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To start this tale, I should tell you I’ve been sick. But sick in a balanced way. A kidney stone on the left and an ovarian cyst on the right. That’s me, always balanced. Pain on both sides. A post-bath collapse as I tried to feed the cat. A trip to the ER on a busy Friday night. Pills to kill the pain, pills to make me relax, pills to help me sleep. As many pills as a 92-year old woman. Enough of that. Now, I’m just going to get better, since medicine doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.

But perhaps cat treats will help.

The night after all the hoopla of pain, after my hero MKL had gone home, I crawled into bed and felt something hard. Upon further drugged investigation, I discovered a single cat treat – Purina Whisker Lickins, to be exact. I didn’t really think anything of it. I wasn’t really thinking anything about anything. And I slept. I think that was Sunday. I spent Monday on the couch with pain pills and a heating pad and my computer. When I got in bed on Monday night, I noticed that there was a lot of …. debris in the bed. Like crumbs. I often produce sand in my sleep (yes, it’s a thing), so I wasn’t really that concerned. I figured Mr. Man had tracked something in, since I hadn’t made the bed that morning.

Tuesday was another at-home-drugged-on-the-couch day, though this time I did make the bed before moving to the couch. When it was time to shift back to the bed, I again found the debris, and after sweeping it out and crawling in, I discovered another cat treat. I was puzzled, but still not too aware of my surroundings to be curious.

Let me say that Mr. Man does like to be in the bed, but he has consistently crawled between two of the comforters – never between the sheets. When I look everywhere for him and can’t find him, I know to look for a lump on the bed, and if I pet it and it’s warm, I trust that it’s Mr. Man. But he has not left my side since I got back from the ER.

So now we come to Wednesday. Another day at home. The bed made, and again kibble debris on Wednesday night. When I awoke this morning, I went to make the bed, and found three cat treats positioned neatly in a triangular shape on MKL’s side of the bed, near the pillow. And now I’m stumped.

I wondered if Mr. Man was somehow getting cat treats from the bag on the Boat Anchor and bringing them into the bed, but have ruled out that theory because:

1. He can’t reach the bags on the Boat Anchor

2. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs to open the bags, even if he could reach them

3. When he gets a treat, he wolfs it down completely as one watches.

He’s not one to squirrel things away.

Then I thought perhaps, horror of horrors, a mouse had made some kind of nest in the bed and was nibbling breakfast and saving lunch for later. So I have stripped the bed completely, and found no sign of rodent. If I had, I’d have had to burn the house down.

My next theory, which I have not ruled out, though no doubt most of you will, is that the house spirits are leaving treats for Mr. Man, as a way to help me out since I’ve been sick, making sure he’s taken care of. It’s possible.

My final theory is that I’m doing this. The sleeping pills I’m taking (and have been taking for a month or so) are ones that do not make people inclined to sleep-eat, sleep-drive, or sleep-murder (my doctor and I discussed this), but it does happen, and back in my college days, I had a tendency to sleepwalk. Is it possible that I am getting up at night and bringing Mr. Man cat treats? And further, was the unexplained extremely strange taste in my mouth of late evidence that I have been eating the cat treats? And all this in my sleep?

This would make me just about the best cat mom ever, and would assure future purchases of Listerine by the case if I ever want MKL to kiss me again.

So tonight, I have washed all the sheets and comforters. We’re starting fresh. I have woven a complex maze of my work badge lanyard around all the cat treats. I am about to drug my pain-ridden self and go to bed. If the treats are disturbed in the morning and there’s kibble in the bed, I’ll have my answer.

If not, perhaps I’ll fall back on my Mother’s explanation of “A man came in and did it.” (Kelsea uses that phrase now.)

1378675_10205581338961729_3674211643528714920_n

My Mother died this night eight years ago, and I miss her beyond words. (Maybe she’s been feeding Mr. Man.)

I have talked a lot about my love of books.  I’ve grown up with them.  I keep them.  I treasure them.  They’re like my favorite food.  Bookstores are the refuge of my soul, my best escape short of an island.  The cottage has shelves and shelves of books, mostly unread.  They sit there, patient little souls, waiting for their own moment in the sun.

A corner of the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado

I choose my books carefully.  There are so very many that I would love to read.  If only I could find a job that paid me wagonloads of money to read the books of my choice.  As it is, I suppose I will have to wait for heaven, which, I am sure, is filled with books and puppies and beaches and horses and ….well, a few other wonderful things.

Dutch, Puglet and Dice: this image is from one of my favorite blogs The Daily Puglet. Its author is a fantastic pet photographer whose work can be seen (and whose services can be requested) at http://frolicphoto.com.

The book I’m reading now is the second in a series of historical mystery/adventures by William Dietrich.  I adored the first one.  It was one of those books you stay up too late reading, and fall asleep with the lights on, the book still poised in your hand.  The kind you can’t wait to finish, but hate for it to end.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the next book.  I can still remember when I found it in the grocery store when it came out – I practically shrieked with delight.  I shook Kelsea.  I hugged it to my bosom.  I had to finish the book I was reading before I could start it. 

Epilogue Book Company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And that last statement hints at The Reading Dilemma.

Sign in the Epilogue Book Company

I did finish the book I was reading at the time.  And I was delighted to start my new prize.  I got about 20 pages into it…and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored.  I couldn’t believe it, after all that anticipation.  It just wasn’t grabbing me.  I set it aside with the thought that I would take it on vacation  —  maybe I just wasn’t in the proper headspace to enjoy it.  But vacation time came and went and I took along slightly skinnier, lighter fare.

Black Cat Book Shop, Manitou Springs, Colorado

Well, I finally picked it up again a couple of weeks ago.  I started it.  And it still isn’t holding me.  But now, I’m determined.  I’m going to finish it if it kills me.  And that’s the Dilemma.  I absolutely WILL NOT give up on a book once I’ve started it.  No matter how bad it is, how boring it is, how confusing it is.  So here I am, not really enjoying the book, just trying to get through it.  It’s become work, not passion. 

The Bookworm, Boulder, Colorado

I don’t know why I don’t give myself permission not to finish a book I don’t like.  Who do I think I am failing, betraying or otherwise letting down by doing so?  I mean, no one would know about it but me.  Perhaps it’s a tint of my stubborn streak.  Or perhaps it’s a shadow of my feeling that everyone and everything has something good, worthwhile and valuable within it.  Which is why I don’t give up on jobs or relationships even when they might not be the best things for me.

Interesting to think that my attitude towards books is just a reflection of my attitude towards life – and love.

Kelsea called from the mall with her friends the other night and wanted to go to a sleepover.  All eight girls at the mall had spontaneously decided they wanted a sleepover, and one of the parents had agreed.  I had never met the parents, much less the girl, and even though I know that Kelsea’s friends are all of good character, I said no.  I wouldn’t want to impose on parents who I’d never met, and who had never met my daughter.  Kelsea couldn’t tell me exactly where they lived.  I just wasn’t comfortable.  Pat agreed with me.  So even though Kelsea called three times, and begged, and her friend Joy begged, I stuck by my guns, and nicely told her just to accept “no” as an answer.

Well, everyone else went.  I picked Kelsea up at the mall a few minutes after they had all gone.  And I felt conflicted.  Was I being unreasonable?  Overprotective?  I had called her on my way to the mall and told her Joy could sleep over at our house, if they wanted, since that’s who she’d gone to the mall with, but it was too late – Joy had already gone with the group.

Kelsea wasn’t really mad – well, she was a little, but she was very reasonable.  She didn’t want to discuss it much – she said she saw my point, and she felt that she had been wrong in not accepting “no” as the answer, since I generally say yes.  And she felt bad that she hadn’t said “I love you” back to me when we hung up.  But she said that things have changed since I was thirteen.  Kids make plans at the spur of the moment and parents need to understand that.

Is that true?  I can recall some spontaneous sleepovers when I had been at a friend’s house and we just wanted to keep hanging out, and my parents usually said yes.  But large-scale, multi-girl sleepovers were heavily planned and much-anticipated events that usually coincided with a birthday.  Not just a bunch of us at the mall after school.

Is it that we have shifted to such a real-time mentality that this IS the norm?  Am I truly behind the times?  I trust Kelsea and her judgement, but she is still my daughter, is still 13, and is still my responsibility.  I just wonder when to let the leash out – or to let her off the leash.

Hmm.  Any other parents of teenagers – or any teenagers! –  feel free to chime in to help me figure this out.  Thanks!

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