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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Litter Box

Saturday AM

Here's a tragi/comic mise en scene for you. Ziggy's litter box is tucked into a tight spot under the salon table. Normally I have to take two settee bottom cushions off to pull it up from the floor onto the (now bare wood) settee where I then have easy access to clean it out. And normally Ziggy is asleep up on our Pullman berth all day. But because the Pullman is being used as storage for our bins of potatoes, white onions, red onions, garlic, 90 vaselined eggs, nuts, cookies, trail mix, sails, toilet paper, and all the misc junk that's normally stored in the quarter berth (where we're now sleeping - one at a time), Ziggy's bed and his crate have been displaced to the far corner of the salon settee. This also happens to be the leeward, or low side of the boat on our current tack. Right on top of, you guessed it, one of the cushions I have to remove in order to pull the litter box out from under the table. (It's a big box with high sides so it has to come straight up. It won't slide around the corner of the table on the floor.)

During this passage I've taken to waiting for Ziggy to get up late in the afternoon, about an hour before his dinner, when he likes to go outside and snooze in his "bin." This is a plastic dish pan with a towel in it, tucked under the clear window of the dodger where he's out of the wind. Then I can get the litter box out without disturbing him. I use a normal litter sifting spoon to collect his "deposits" into a plastic dust pan from which the refuse is flung overboard.

This system worked fine until yesterday when we had our windiest, roughest day of the passage so far. Nothing unmanageable for us. Just imagine being in one of those fun house tunnels where the floors tilt crazily as you try to walk through a dark passage. Or crossing one of the wooden suspension bridges at the Isla Cuale in Puerto Vallarta when kids are jumping on it, making it sway and pitch, as you try to walk across in a more dignified straight line. Yes, once Nakia picks up some speed, it takes two hands just to stand and move about the cabin of this good ship lollipop.

Needless to say Ziggy wasn't going to venture outside this bouncy house in time for me to clean his litter box before I went off watch at 5 PM. When I came back on watch at 9 PM I pondered what to do about the box, which I like to keep meticulously clean. Ziggy was now firmly entrenched in his bed for the night, and wouldn't get up for anything but a flying fish flopping on deck. I didn't want to move him to the other (windward, or high) side of the salon where he'd likely get thrown out of bed, that is if the entire bed didn't just slide off first. I finally gave in to distasteful fact that I was going to have to use John's more slap dash method.

I pulled one of the cushion sets off of the settee to give myself more maneuvering room. I strapped John's LED head lamp over my forehead and switched it on to red light (so as not to spoil my night vision for ship spotting).Then I had to use my contortionist skills to lay on my side, reach down into the litter box with the spoon in my left hand and the dust pan in my right. The dust pan kept blocking my light, and I had to hold it very carefully so it wouldn't spill whenever the boat lurched. With the dust pan finally full of the biggest bits I could snag, I left the spoon in the box, backed out from under the table and gingerly made my way to the companionway steps. I climbed the four steps, wedged my feet on either side of the top step, managed to clip my tether onto my harness with one hand (still carefully balancing the dust pan in the other), climbed over the drop board blocking the bottom half of the companionway entrance from spray, took three steps out into the cockpit, wedged my foot against the combing, and flung my Herculean boulder (or was that Sisyphus?) into the sea.

It makes me feel better knowing he has a clean litter box, even if the damn cat doesn't appreciate it!