February 28, 2009

As The World Gazunder

When I was a kid, my Dad would sit and make me watch history stuff on TV with him. Most of it was grainy black and white images of little figures stuttering across the screen, and I would peer at the set as my father gruffly explained what I was seeing. Let me tell you, my kids have it so much easier with colour television - they can watch the Civil War and know *instantly* who's who.

Dad's favourite nightmare was WWII stuff - though he was born in Saskatchewan, we bear a German last name, and he felt it behooved us to learn a little about what we would be blamed for/associated with/remembered for regardless of geography. The most memorable thing from all these hours and hours of film? A guy in prewar Germany buying a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of money. I thought that was astounding. And I made the mistake of saying so, and endured an hour long lecture on deflation as a result.

Which flashed through my brain as I read this this morning, from Giles Coren in the Timesonline. Don't be scared - it's way more entertaining than a lecture from my father.

I'm not sure of his use of the word 'gazundered' however. According to my mother, a 'gazunder' was a chamber pot (barf), so called because it gazunder the bed. Which at the time I thought odd. My father was born on the prairie, and I don't believe they called it a 'gazoutbacktopee', but whatever. Maybe it's just some quaint British term.

Coren's piece is about the crashing housing market, and the ludicrous state he finds himself in while selling his house: the buyers, though contracted, want to pay much less 2 months later because it's worth much less. And he of course has contracted to buy another place. It's like a horrific game of musical chairs, where at first you can pretend to enjoy the music, until you realize it can only go on if the music never stops.

Recently the boys stopped talking to me for a day. It came about quite simply, actually. We were discussing the fact that we can't afford to finish the basement, or put in a second small bathroom, or even fix the existing bathroom. It wasn't earnest bitching, just random dinner conversation. At that point, Maggie the cat chose to walk across the room. I lamented that it was too bad we couldn't sell her - she is worth a fortune.

No, she's no purebred anything. She a small little mutt we saved from a guy living in a rundown fleabag house who was drunk and juggling chainsaws with his buddies when we drove up to inquire about the 'free cats' sign out front. She is tiny, and has an occasional propensity to gnaw off her fur. She is fastidious, which is good. But her fur never grows back - so her tummy is pink and furless, as are random spots on her legs. The vet just shrugs. And after 8 years, we just accept it.

She looks kind of like a chicken bone from some angles - after the feast.

However. She is brilliant. Smartest cat I've ever known. We swear she spends her time alone determined to figure how to get an opposable thumb, and then she's outa here.

As the boys were musing on Maggie's magnificence that night, they asked what I thought she was worth. Without hesitating, I replied that I would take $12,000 for her. They were aghast. How could I even consider that? Maggie turned her back to me. The boys looked for signs that I was joking. They know Maggie and I are soulmates.

"Do you know how much schooling for you two is gonna cost?" I asked. "12 grand would go a long way to helping," I told them. They looked away, appalled. "The market has crashed! Your education funds have taken a beating! We need to look to other resources!" I went on.

The funny part is that my two sons believe anyone would pay for a 8 year old cat with fur missing, even if she can do the NYT crossword. With a pen. I just wanted them to remember that the things we value the most are never worth the most money, though from the state of the world, people are losing sight of that.

And Maggie, of course, knew I was kidding the whole time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Lorraine, so true about the housing market. Gotta love the cats...8 here, here they'll stay. They are so humourous with their antics, always something on the go. Smart? Oh yes. I keep my wallet hidden. They are not selling my house out from under me...


March 01, 2009 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the people who decided to rent last summer waiting for the implosion are now picking up good houses today. At least no one at work here walks around muttering "I wonder if you can eat squirrel?" under their breath. We can be thankful for small things.

March 01, 2009 10:40 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

BTW, Buzz... yes you can... a little dodgy if your LDL is on the high side!

March 02, 2009 8:11 AM  

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