Kaila arrives


Her comparatively small size in no way impedes her imperial demands. When she thunders across the kitchen from one window to the other, you’d think we had a herd of horses in the house, instead of one fierce tabby cat.

It’s been only 8 months since Kaila has joined our household, and we’re amazed at how much things have changed. Nick and I have never laughed so much. We’ve learned to play stair games. We’ve increased our tolerance for toppled plant pots. And we’ve accepted instruction as to how much petting is too much. Amazing how much one can learn from a sternly-administered warning nip.

I’ve almost always had cats for companions. But after partnering with Nick, I’d become unwilling to invest emotionally in another pet. My new relationship, my music, my writing and crafts, and my job used up all the energy I could spare. Nick hadn’t had a pet since he was a boy, so we neither of us missed the cat hair, the litter box or the vet bills.

Somewhere along the line, though, things changed. We discussed the possibility every few years and argued ourselves out of it. Until last fall, when we visited the local SPCA and fell in love. A slender young mother, big-eyed in a foxy face, had sheltered her kittens in a boat during a cold winter, before being rescued. She’d looked at us, exhausted. Her own children successfully adopted, she had also nursed a foster litter of abandoned kittens. Nick got down on the floor beside her to touch her fur with a gentle finger. She extended a tentative paw through the cage bars to play, and we all connected.

And now we can’t remember what life was like before Kaila.

The unexpected thing is, Kaila’s presence reveals things to each of us about the other. I see a Nick I didn’t realize existed. Who knew that my thoughtful, often intellectual husband would try enticing her to sleep, because he’d researched feline health online and discovered cats need 16 hours of rest? Who would have guessed my quiet, reserved partner would talk, meow and sing with her so much? He tells me that I can get her chasing and pouncing and jumping in a way that he can’t. I assumed that everyone knows how to play with a cat. But no! When Nick holds the stick with the dangling furball on the end, Kaila stares at it for a moment, then at him, then sinks down to the floor, suddenly completely engrossed in removing a speck from her shoulder. I try explaining how twitch the stick and make the toy move furtively, but he’s bored and the cat’s bored until I pick up the stick, dance it past her nose, and we’re all laughing again.

Welcoming Kaila to our household was such a good idea. It’s been magical.


technology and relating honestly

I wonder whether technology naturally favours city life. For starters, electricity or power of some sort is usually required, which can be hard to find in remote spots. But I was looking at a smart fridge, and Google Glass and wondering about the underlying structures. The more conveniently I can learn what others know, the less I explore my own ideas, for the less time I have for them.

I’ve been hankering after a tablet, thinking I need the portability and convenience of having access to my writing and music outside in the backyard, or at lunch while I’m at work. And secretly, I think wouldn’t it be great to have internet radio wherever I am and what the hell, even the ability to do online reading and there I am, pulled, slowly, inexorably, back into the online world where communication is king.

I’ve always loved languages, writing, and music. I’ve studied journalism and mass communications, and I can see myself always interested in those disciplines. But if I were on Mars, looking at how my favourite technologies might shape how I live, I think I’d observe that despite my claims of wanting to be a hermit, I’m drawn to people. People at a safe distance, that is. Not the people who thump around in an upstairs apartment, or who stand in front of me in a lineup at the cash register. But People, as in all of us humans struggling to be fulfilled, creative and compassionate. I’m excited that technology helps me explore my interests in the company of the similarly-minded. But I’m not sure what indulging myself in this brings.

I notice that at work, I’m more comfortable sending emails to colleagues rather than phoning them. It’s not just that I’m afraid of playing phone tag. It’s more like I can present a better image of myself and the company I represent in composing the right letter with the right tone of voice, than if I am caught spontaneously interacting with someone by phone. I might say something less than ideal, whereas I can always edit my email.

Yesterday, I was irritated that I had to phone a company to obtain an email address I needed. Her email wasn’t included on the company’s website, and I was vaguely apprehensive of speaking with her on the phone, thinking an email exchange would be cleaner, more straightforward and just plain easier. I wasn’t always like this, and I wondered, have I become more email-oriented just for my own convenience? Or am I being subtly moved towards less honest relationships by a larger unwillingness to deal with the messier sides of life?

Is there an app to help me be more relaxed and sociable in a lineup at the gas pump? Is there a technology that can foster some enjoyment from living close to a family with noisy children?