And now after just short of two weeks at home alone watching the cats who watch me suspiciously for people who are off on a vacation, I'm looking forward to ... just over a week at home alone watching the cat who watches me suspiciously for people who are off on a vacation. But this is wholly different: I'm watching here for my brother and his wife, who are taking their first vacation in they don't remember how long, and I'm watching just the one cat. This is incidentally the brother who, according to my father, has been upset that I haven't come up to stay over for a week in the past couple of months. According to my brother, he doesn't really care but is glad to have me over whenever I like. This is the sort of thing that makes me eager to get away from my parents, although as it happens they've gone away for one reason or other more often.
The house is in some ways quite different: for one, it's got a staircase. I haven't lived in a place with a staircase since I was in grad school. (Well, there was a staircase in my Singapore apartment building, but it was never used because there were these elevators.) I'd forgotten how easy it is to feel like you haven't quite got the footing right, particularly at night when you're turning off lights. It doesn't help that on the left side while ascending there's no handrail. There's a one-inch gap or so between the stairs and the wall, and the wall is trusted to keep you from tilting over. And there is just the one cat to watch, an aging cat with a calm disposition who hasn't so far made any particular signs of sulking or protest. I'm told that she will, very rarely, try to get out, but she'll give abundant warning of sneaking up on the door and staring at it, so I don't need to be on guard the way I must with my parents' younger cat. The problem appears to be that this cat actually doesn't like the outdoors, but give her enough time and she forgets that fact, or forgets why, and needs to be reminded. She's also not allowed up on the sofa, although I've caught her trying once already.
Trivia: In August and September 1914 the P&O Steam Navigation Company paid £31,000 premium for war-risk insurance of the fleet. Source: The Story of P&O, David Howarth, Stephen Howarth.
Currently Reading: Ultimatum, Richard Rohmer. 1976-vintage novel billed as ``The Number One Canadian Best Seller'', which may make me the first guy in the United States to read it. A week before election day the President of the Whole United States, facing energy shortages that winter, demands Canada roll over and deliver its natural gas fields, Or Else. Though the book is clear about natural gas being demanded, the subhead on the cover is ``Oil Or War?''; I must admit war is an interesting option. On the one hand, the last several American invasions of Canada were the much-needed comic relief to the North American theaters of various British wars. On the other hand, as I remember it, the Imperial Plan for the Defence of Canada, back when the British Empire was talked about without an implicit smirk, was for Canada to sit tight and wait for the Royal Navy to come over and ask, ``Now what's all this, then?''. This was the inspirational plan which the British implemented in the glorious triumphs against Japan in Hong Kong, Malaya, and Singapore. Though presumably His Majesty's Governments rarely assumed the Americans would be too scared of guns to actually shoot theirs. Deadline 6 pm tomorrow.