she who keeps this diary

07 December 2004 - 12:04 PM

The Pocket Panther's First Christmas Tree

Well, we got the tree out and stood up. (The tree, for newer readers, is artificial, for reasons I have discussed in the past). This year the Yuletide decorating faces some additional challenges.

Part of the problem is that I have either too much furniture for my house, or too little house for my furniture. The place I had available for the tree last year is now occupied by the Silver Chest of Doom.

Now, the tree is not very big; I think it's about 42 inches tall. Last year I stole shamelessly a clever idea from Maman and got a short plant stand on which to put the tree. The plant stand can be disguised by a suitably large tree skirt. This little bit of subterfuge helps get the tree out of dog-tail range, which in our house is devoutly to be wished.

Still, the question of where to put the tree and its stand is a vexed one. We decided that, at least for the time being, it would go on the coffee table. This gets it even further out of dog range, but introduces an additional problem.

The higher the tree is, the further it has to fall. And on the coffee table, it is not out of Fergus range.

Actually, nothing in the house is truly out of Fergus range. He is not a large cat, but he is an athlete, and he is clever. He can use his physical skills and problem-solving capabilities to reach pretty well any location he chooses.

As an example, he has figured out he can climb up the back of the large Victorian rocker, which will then tilt backwards and give him good access to the bookshelves in the living room. Now he's not limited to the reading materials on the lower shelves. Last week he pulled down an early 20th-C artisan printing of Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat. He also snagged my Brot Ratte from Hameln (salt dough rats are a popular souvenir from der Rattenfängerstadt. I visited Hameln in 1988 and still have my Ratte). I am not sure if he thought the Ratte was a toy mousie I was unfairly keeping from him, or if he was thinking in terms of the loaf of bread and jug of wine. It's hard to know with him.

Within minutes of the tree being stood up on the coffee table, Fergus had found a way to topple it. I hadn't hung any ornaments on it, as I sort of figured he would do that, at least until he got bored of the game. Most of my ornaments are glass, which I know is highly impractical, but demmit, they're pretty. Remember that I am married to the man who thinks flowers are useless because you can't eat them ... I have to stand up for my right to demand impractical prettiness in some matters, or else it's a slippery slope to living in a cave.

Now, let's put the pieces together: Tree impossible to catproof, check. Fragile ornaments, some irreplaceable, check. Cat who can get anywhere and send anything crashing to the floor, check.

Can you hear my screams, Ealdthryth?

He hasn't knocked the tree down since that first crash, but I am worried that once ornaments are on the tree, the game will become fun again. I'm now afraid to decorate the tree. I wonder if there's a way to better secure the stand to the coffee table? Twine? Duct tape? (shudder)

verso - recto

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