October 17, 2009

“Doogie?”, asks the man who has just walked into our kitchen, removing his Stetson and standing two metres away from a more than slightly perturbed looking Mushroom.

The Mushroom picks up The Baby. “No. No, I am not Doogie.”

“Does Doogie live here?”, enquires Man With Stetson.

“No.”, replies The Mushroom.

“Hmm.”, says Man With Stetson. “Does Doogie live upstairs?”

“No.”, replies The Mushroom, “I don’t know anyone called Doogie. Nor, may I add, do I know you. And you’re in my kitchen.”

“Yeah”, drawls Man with Stetson, “Did Doogie used to live here?”

“I’m terribly sorry”, says The Mushroom, stepping towards Man With Stetson, “But I have never met a ‘Doogie’. I have, before this moment, never heard of anyone called ‘Doogie’ except for ‘Doogie Howser MD’ who I’m fairly certain is a fictional character. Furthermore, you’re freaking me out a bit because you are still very much in my kitchen.”

Too right, he was freaking her out. Not only was there a stranger in the kitchen, but he was sporting full on cowboy regalia including a toothpick in his mouth. Why would anyone chew a toothpick? For a start, all it would taste of is wood. I’ve tasted wood. It’s a bit bland. Secondly, it’s pointy and could hurt your tongue. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s a mark of a real cowboy to play Russian Roulette with your tongue by chewing a toothpick. It looks fairly stupid, though, but I guess The Mushroom wasn’t going to tell the Doogie hunter that because he was in her kitchen and could well be hiding a gun somewhere.

“Sorry, Ma’am”, he said, backing out, “I guess I must have the wrong house.”

In your own time, cowboy. It might have been possible to work that out on entry, really.

Well, we are here, in Saskatchewan, in what appears to be the World’s Biggest Field and the people sure are friendly. So friendly, that they don’t even think to knock, if Man With Stetson is anything to go by. Also, much to my relief and, it would appear, the relief of The Mushroom, we are online. This has taken three weeks, one trip to somewhere called Battleford and fifteen phone calls to ‘Sasktel’.

“If you manage to get me online today”, The Mushroom said to the ‘Sasktel’ man who came to the house today – or, as it seems to be known, ‘The Basement Suite’, but more of this later –  “I may leave him” , nodding in the direction of my Dad, “for you.”

The Sasktel man looked frightened.

“I asked for directions at the school”, he stammered, “and they told me you were a bit frisky.”

The Mushroom has had three weeks offline living in The World’s Biggest Field and I think has been missing contact with the outside world. So have I, as all attempts at going outside have been hampered by a) the Arctic conditions that I don’t feel anyone warned me about, b) the two giant cats who live next door and c) the vast number of Huskies, Alsatians and Husky/Alsatian hybrids who live, tethered, outside every second house around here. You might be thinking that they shouldn’t bother me, as they are tethered, but it’s a tad disconcerting when one is attempting a meander around one’s locality to be barked at as if one is the frigging Anti-Christ so, indoors, inside ‘The Basement Suite’ I remain.

‘The Basement Suite’ is a term visitors – and there have been many – use to refer to the really quite remarkably dark homestead we find ourselves in.  Think back to every American horror film you have ever seen. Think of the kind of home the Serial Killer normally lives in. Well, we’re in the basement. According to one of our visitors, it ‘hasn’t been lived in for a while’. Hmm.

The journey here was even more fun than the journey to Toronto. Firstly, we were late to the airport, for reasons that are utterly beyond me because we got up at 3.45 in the frigging morning. We were meant to leave at 5.15. I refuse to accept that one woman and one baby need an hour and half to put clothes on and get out of the door, but this is by the by.

We were made even later by a little accident I had. I was nervous. I make light of it, but I do not like flying. Anyhoo, the smell of my little turdy mishap meant they had to stop the car and remove said item. Which was very good of them. They were less obliging fifteen minutes later when I did another one.

Secondly, I, apparently, was in ‘the wrong kind of carrier’.

“You may not be able to travel with your pet today.”, said a lady in a uniform once we had arrived, pre-dawn, at the airport, “I have to check with my supervisor.”

“Whaddya mean?”, asked The Cave Troll who, very unexpectedly, had suddenly become Al Pacino, “Look at this case! It says ‘Jets for Pets’! Itsa made for pets on a plane! ‘Jets for Pets’!”

After about fifteen minutes of haggling, the case is permitted. I am carried to ‘Outsize Baggage’. I may have just done another turd.

“Could you take your cat out whilst we check the case, Madam?”, The Mushroom, looking increasingly frazzled (literally, by the way. In the hour and half it took her to get ready she failed to sort out her hair. Putting in a pony tail and hoping for the best doesn’t count. Incidentally, I later found out that once she had dropped me off and had to go through customs with The Baby she set off the alarm thingy. After taking off her belt, her earrings and her watch, the alarm still went off so, apparently, they had to search her hair. A curby grip had been lost in it, and this was what was setting off the alarm. I shouldn’t laugh.) is asked by another lady in a uniform. Check my case for what? Turds? Cos there’s a couple of those, lady, if that’s what you’re hunting. The case goes on a conveyor belt and turned upside down. So now my water, my food and my turds are all mixed up and are all over the cage. At this point, I begin to feel very sorry for myself, and also quite sorry for everyone else, as The Cave Troll runs off to get me some more water, The Hippy holds me and wonders aloud whether I would consider eating a Granola energy bar ( ‘No’) and The Mushroom desperately tries to remove turd and dry my cage with one hand whilst holding The Baby in the other. By this stage, a crowd has surrounded us. Aware that I have an audience, I try desperately hard not to wee on The Hippy. Eventually, I am tucked back into the cage and carried away by someone.

Turbulence when you’re in a cage in the luggage hold of a plane is a lot of fun. It’s a lot like, I would imagine, a fair ground ride. Note how often one would see a cat on a fairground ride. Never. This is because cats do not like them. Actually, if we’re being realistic, it’s also because it would be very tricky for a cat to hand over legal tender to a man in a kiosk which I believe is needed in order to get on one of these rides but the point remains, being thrown from side to side and up and down is not a hobby I wish to take up.

Mercifully, there were no other animals on this flight, so I was spared the endurance exercise of being barked at by Dolly the German Shepard who clearly hadn’t worked out after, say, the first five hours that barking did not achieve anything, and carried it on for fourteen. Nevertheless, it was a NIGHTMARE. But we’re here now. In the Serial Killer Basement. In the World’s Biggest Field. In the snow. Surrounded by Husky/Alsatian hybrids. It’s all good.

It IS pretty good, actually. I am back with my Dad, the Mushroom is back with my Dad and The Baby is back with my Dad and – and this bit is brilliant – no Black Dog is eating any of my food.  The Mushroom and my Dad seem to like it, anyhoo, and The Baby is happy as long as The Mushroom and my Dad are around and clap whenever she does anything. Am still on the look out for Coyotes and Cougars, mind, but so far, so good.

The Cave Troll was right, though. It is REALLY really flat.


4 Responses to “Sask-Cat-Chewan”

  1. hayley said

    Brilliant! I would like to add that I don’t think a cat would pass the “are you tall enough” thingamajig on fairground rides either. But that’s by the by. Great to have you back xxx

  2. Anne-Marie said

    It is great to have you back, i’ve missed you (…but i will deny ever saying that, if anyone asks…) xxx

  3. Lorie said

    hi mate!!
    God, you make me laugh. Again, good to have you back online! So funny hearing you describe all these ‘Canadianisms’ and hearing words and expressions I’ve long forgotten or not used for yonks. LOL. Basement suite for one-I used to call it the cavernous pit. Hope it isn’t as dark as you write, they can be I’m afraid! I highly recommend lots of lamps and some of those lights that mimick natural light for winter.. saskatchewan gets dark eeeeeeeeeeearly.

    L xxx

  4. Jelly Belly said

    Welcome to Sask Cat Chewan!!!

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