June 30th, 2005



As soon as I turn the fan off, I realize that the room is still hot. For eight hours, it has drawn the mild night air from outdoors, but this has been unable to eradicate yesterday's accumulated heat. This may be the day we must resort to using the air conditioner. The time of year drains me of all energy. Hey, I have something in common with California's power grid!

Though I scanned the sky frequently all night, I saw no more meteors. There wasn't much chance that there would be another, of course, there being no shower scheduled. The only things I saw flying were the moths that gathered around the back porch light.

The cat spent the entire night outdoors, vanishing for hours on end. She must have gotten bored, because she opened all the cupboards on the back porch. What she got into the rest of the time, I have no idea. I half expected her to bring me something dead (or even something still alive) on her return, but she didn't. She probably napped. I might as well have napped, myself, for all I got done. Summer is a drag.


Cats loll a great deal when the days get hot. They find the shadiest spots and then stretch themselves out, lying on their sides, and (presumably) go off into the cat worlds they carry around in their brains. Only the movement of the sun pushing the shade aside can rouse them, and then only for so long as it takes them to move to the next shady spot of their choice. Birds can peck nearby in perfect safety. No cat would eat a bird insane enough to be active in this heat. I suppose a stray dog might rouse a cat, even in this weather, but most dogs, too, have enough sense not to be out in the sun. The cats on my block have remained undisturbed. As far as I can tell, they don't even take notice of one another. All their territorial cat rivalries are put on hold until the cool evening arrives.

This is one of the times that I envy cats. Not only have they no obligations, no tasks that can't be put off, but they display every evidence of a remarkable capacity to endure what, to most humans, would be an intolerable monotony. The sultry hours pass, and we watch our clocks, waiting for the arrival of dusk, while the cats dream, or whatever it is that they do when they are ignoring unpleasant reality. An occasional twitch of whisker or fur, a brief switch of a tail, is all the indication they give of not being utterly comatose. Until you get near enough to see the shallow rise and fall of the chest which reveals that they are breathing, you might assume them to be dead. I suspect that they are, in fact, enjoying themselves tremendously in their mental cat worlds. How do they do it, I wonder?

I have survived another hot afternoon, and the fan is blowing again, its monotonous whir almost as enervating as the room's heat which it barely displaces with only slightly cooler outdoor air. I still wish I could loll as a cat does. But here are still things to be done. I think I'm going to have to take over mom's bookkeeping, as her vision has deteriorated to the point that she can't find the right lines in the check registry. It's actually been taking me as long to double-check her figures as it would to do them entirely on my own for several months now, but I've been reluctant to take away one of the last of the tasks she can do that allow her to feel useful. Her failing sight may now make it impossible for her to continue. Getting old is a drag.