The Vine: January 27, 2010
I have fruit trees in my yard.Most of them are in the back behind a tall locked gate, but I have a tangerine tree in my front yard behind an unlocked (but gated) 3-foot-tall picket fence. When the fruit is ripe I pick it 2-3 times a week, but I don't have time to pick fruit every day.
Fruit tends to disappear from this tree in between pickings, and when I see the neighborhood kids taking fruit (by either reaching over the fence, or opening the gate and coming uninvited into my yard), I try to stay casual and say things like "Hey, you can have what you already picked, but please stop taking my fruit in the future," and leave it at that.
One boy (who is about 10 years old) will not stop taking fruit, though.The last time I saw him in taking it I told him in my firm teacher-voice that it was stealing and that I didn't want to see him in my yard again, to which he replied, "My mom said that I can take your tangerines because you don't eat them all and they will go to waste."Now, I do eat them all (or juice them and freeze the juice), but that isn't the point.I stayed calm, though, and told him to never come into my yard again.
Fast forward to a few days ago, when I came home from work to see the mom with a plastic grocery bag, in my yard (she opened the gate to come in), picking my fruit.She didn't even stop picking when I drove into the driveway.I told her to stop, leave the bag, and go home.She informed me that she had an agreement with the previous owner when they planted the tree that she could have what she wanted, and since I obviously don't use all of the fruit she is taking it (I've been in my home for three years by the way, this isn't a recent move).I told her that the fruit is mine, I do use it, and since my lease had no clause that I had to share fruit it is entirely mine and she needed to leave.She snarked back that I wasn't going to call the cops on her over fruit, and huffed away (taking my fruit with her).
Now, she is right — I would feel stupid calling the cops over fruit, but I can't think of anything else to do to make it stop.It's not like I can relocate the tree or anything. Am I a pushover and should call the police over a bag of tangerines, or do I just need to suck it up and accept the fact that she is going to steal from me whether I like it or not?How would you handle this?
My Fruit Is Not Community Property
If you owned the property, I'd tell you to get a strong lock for the gate, post a polite but firm "No Trespassing, Private Property" sign for the fence just in front of the tree, and live with the fact that people will take what they can reach because some fights ain't worth finishing.
You don't own it, from what I can tell, so contact the landlord and let him/her know what's going on.I'd suggest making it about not the fruit, but the trespassing — whatever agreement the woman (and her snotty kid) may have had with the previous owners, you don't feel comfortable with strangers on the property, it's a liability issue for the landlord if the brat climbs the tree, et cetera and so on.Then ask the landlord either to put a good plate-bolted inside lock on the gate, or to allow you to do it.
The landlord may not care and tell you to live with it, in which case I would absolutely never recommend climbing a ladder in the middle of the night and injecting all the fruit a ten-year-old could conceivably reach with stool softener.Because that would be wrong.It would probably also be wrong to find a friend with a dog who is friendly, but happens to bark a lot and jump up on people, and borrow that dog on days when you suspect the Snagsfruit McStealigans might stop by for a fill-up, so I would never suggest that you do that, either.
Seriously, though: decide now how much you care about the issue.I think the primary irritant is Mama McStealigan's entitled attitude, and I'm totally with you, but in case the landlord doesn't back you here, decide how far you will go in defense of the tangerines, and if that means calling the cops, well, she is in fact stealing and trespassing…but you'll have to live in that neighborhood, and so will she, and: hostilities.If you can't get a lock, you might have to let the shit go, without totally overwatering that section of the lawn so that people walking under the tree sink into mud up to their shins.Because that would be wrong.Ish.
Dear Sars —
One of my two cats got diagnosed with feline leukemia this week.I've lost a cat to this before, and I spent the week before I took this one to the vet trying to convince myself that wasn't what it was because her symptoms were different and she didn't seem as sick.
The vet gave me some medicine and told me there's a chance she'll pull through, but it's hard to watch my formerly bouncy cat so weak and listless.So far the other cat is still healthy — she's getting tested on Monday.
I know you have cats, and I was wondering/hoping if maybe you or any of the readers had ideas about anything I can be doing to help her beyond just making sure she gets her medicine.She won't eat or drink so I've been giving her condensed milk in an eyedropper, just so she'll have some nourishment, but I'm just not sure if I'm doing more harm than good.
I'm not ready to say goodbye
You can ask your vet if there's anything you shouldn't do in the effort to make her more comfortable — anything that might conflict with her medication, say, although I can't think of anything — but you know the cat best, and you should take your cues from her.
It's difficult, because most animals, when they're sick and/or dying, want to crawl into a corner and be left alone, so it's hard to nurture them and let them know you care, or will get them what they need, because they're not having it with the human contact.(Some people are like this too, actually.I myself am of the "just leave some consommé and a true-crime book at the door; I'll call you when I'm better DON'T LOOK AT ME" school.)
But make her as comfortable as you can.If she's picked a hidey-hole in which to sulk (Hobey usually goes with the middle shelf of a closet), put a sweater or a t-shirt of yours in there for her to nest in, and maybe a little toy.Visit her with special treats.Nobody wants to be That Guy with the tearing up the cold cuts by hand, but…you know.They're family.I've been That Guy, but my man the Hobe had two teeth left, which is how I wound up stretched out full-length under the bed with a strip of Boar's Head ham draped over one finger, and a fingerful of lemon yogurt on the next.
Stay nearby, and check on her frequently, but if she's growly and sulky, try not to take it personally; it's just how they get when they don't feel right.And good luck; let us know how she's doing.
I have a cat question that I haven't seen addressed in The Vine yet; I'm hoping you could provide some advice.
The situation is as follows: I have two two-year-old cats (they're from the same litter, adopted as kittens). They're adorable, fairly easy to take care of (they've never been sick, they use the litterbox, can pretty much entertain themselves), and they have a lot of energy and like it when my roommate and I play with them.
I've always liked and got along with other people's cats, and always wanted my own, so you'd think everything would be fine. Not so much.
It turns out I really like cats, but I really dislike having them in my apartment. (Thankfully, I've never liked children, so I haven't been tempted to get any of my own.) I don't like having to be home at set times to feed them and play with them and change their litter (I'm frequently at my boyfriend's house, and traveling back and forth is a pain — I'd like the option to NOT come home for a day if it's not convenient). I don't like cleaning the apartment top to bottom every week and having cat hair everywhere by the next day.
I also have a slight allergy, it turns out, so I have to keep the cats out of my bedroom, which is fine, but also means that whenever I'm outside of my bedroom for longer than half an hour, I end up having coughing fits for the rest of the day. I have a really nice apartment that I'd like to be able to, you know, live in.
Currently, my roommate is my best friend, and she helps me out with the cats, so it's not a disaster, and we share the cleaning duties. However, she's moving to another city in a few months, and so I have to make some choices. I can find another roommate who probably won't be willing to look after my cats, or clean up after them (and I wouldn't expect them to), which means I have to be there even more often than I am now.
Or, I could try to re-home them. I don't like the thought of doing it: I'm giving up on my responsibilities, they're really nice cats and don't deserve this, maybe I should just grow up and get used to being an adult, etc. But the thought of taking care of them alone for the next 15 or whatever years makes me nauseous. What do I do?
Thanks in advance,
I think I might be evil
P.S. Do you know anyone in the Boston area that wants cats??
That cutesy moniker isn't going to let you dodge both barrels, I'm afraid.It's too late, really, because somebody should have asked you this before you took the cats — you should have asked yourself, at least — but you're going to have to sit through another Sarah Has No Sense Of Humor On This Issue rant after the fact, because it might prevent someone else from making the same mistake, so here we go.
What did you think owning cats would be like?Did you not think they would need regular feeding and attention?Did you not factor in your time at your boyfriend's when you chose to adopt two creatures who would rely on you for food and love?Did you not believe your cats would shed?At all?Two of them?
The allergic reaction is one thing; that isn't something you could have foreseen with other people's cats, necessarily, and I myself have mild allergic reactions to certain cats and not to others.But you put the other inconveniences first, and I get the feeling it's those that really bug you — and if you've read The Vine before, you should know 1) that cats cause a shitload of problems, and you got lucky, comparatively; and 2) how I feel about people believing that pets equal décor, to wit: no, they do not. We'd all love to live in that magical Iams ad where nobody ever barfs on a deep-pile carpet, claw-pulls new cashmere, or licks his butt in front of company, but that ain't reality.Reality is the goddamned eye shadow paw-print I found on the side of the bathtub this morning.Feline companionship is often delightful and hilarious, but just as often smelly, expensive, and baffling ("WTF, they're drag queens now?"), and this is hardly a secret.
"Evil," no.At least you're trying to deal with the problem instead of streeting them.But you didn't think this through, and you should have.
Okay, tirade over; on to the problem-solving.I think you should try to re-home them.You don't want them, and they deserve a home where the humans are better equipped for them mentally.I don't know about Boston, but the shelter system in New York is jammed and all the no-kill organizations already have their hands full, so you're better off with a Craigslist ad — or better yet, go through your vet.Stick to the allergy story and do not deviate from it; don't mention the other shit.Stress how well they behave and well-trained they are.Don't split them up, don't give them to a pet store, and if you get any strangers who are interested, ask them the questions you should have asked yourself: Do you understand that this is a decades-long commitment?Do you care that nice furniture is now a pipe dream?Do you have the money to handle it if one of them gets sick or hurt?Can you cope with minor inconveniences, paying for a cat-sitter, running the Roomba three times a week, sometimes stepping in cold yack first thing in the morning?Do you get that these are not pillows?Care enough about them to place them with someone you trust to provide the home that you can't.
Any Boston-area readers who can help, please post here, or email me.I will sponsor an economy-sized bag of your food of choice to any TN-related adopter who might come through; we've done this before.Anyone else who's about to get a pet, please remember: it is not cuddle fun times every minute, and if you can't handle that, that is perfectly okay, get a stuffed animal instead and enjoy your pristine couch arms, nobody judges you.But like that shrink told Carmela Soprano, one thing you can never say is that you haven't been told.There will be poo and drama.Be ready.
Tags: cats roommates