Our Christmas was relatively quiet. Which was nice, after taking a friend to the ER on Christmas Eve. (Short version: bad reaction to antibiotics given for strep earlier in the week left her severely dehydrated. She’s okay now.)
We had the parental units all come over for turkey dinner. The kids made out like bandits, as usual. Everyone seemed happy with what they got. My spouse was not surprised by his gift, as I’d had to involve him in the ordering of it—I got him a custom-tailored silk bathrobe from a tailor in China. I couldn’t figure out any way to secretly measure him for it.
He got me a Roomba.
I love Roomba. Hell, I love anything that does housework for me. And Roomba does it better than I do, because (unlike me) it doesn’t just swipe over the rug once and call it done. No, this little gizmo trundles back and forth until its batteries run low, and then it returns to its docking station. If it finds a particularly dirty spot, it stops its random pattern and does spirals in one place for a bit. And it has a little whisking brush on the side to get along the walls, something I do maybe twice a year when I’m feeling motivated.
We had a lot of fun Christmas day watching the Roomba. What can I say, we’re easily entertained. I pressed the “clean” button and Roomba sang its little boot-up song, sallied forth, and immediately began to strangle on the fringe of the Christmas tree skirt.
We performed a Heimlich maneuver, removed the skirt from the tree, and turned Roomba loose again. At once it set about humping the base of the tree; clearly its attempt to eat the skirt was not just a cleaning mishap. Eventually it left the tree, making “call me” gestures as it went, and got down to actually cleaning the carpet.
I’ve read some hilarious accounts of cats and Roombas, but Phurball is apparently not going to be providing any. He is utterly disdainful of the Roomba. When we first turned it loose he sat with his back to it, refusing to acknowledge its presence. Being a machine, Roomba did not realize it had been snubbed, and cheerfully continued to vacuum the carpet.
“Wheee!” said Roomba, nudging Phurball’s tail aside as it went. Phurball deigned to give it a scornful glance.
Roomba bonked into a wall, turned around, and headed directly for the cat.
If Phurball had eyebrows, one would have been raised as Roomba approached. When Roomba was a few inches away he finally rose and strode with great dignity to the couch, where he sat in lofty immunity.
Roomba returned to humping the tree.
Phurball’s dignity has been under attack on all sides these days. Now that our temporary cat has been spayed, she no longer goes after him whenever he approaches. Now, she wants him to play with her. Unfortunately he’s a grumpy old man and doesn’t want to play with her. One morning as he sat patiently at my feet awaiting his breakfast, he glanced around to see That Damn Kid preparing to pounce on his tail. Never have I heard such outrage expressed in a sibilance.
We’re still looking for a home for her. We’re reluctant to take her to the SPCA, because neither of us want her to spend time in a cage. Since she’s just starting to relax and trust people a little, we think an institutional environment would be a major setback for her. Ideally we’ll find an adoptive family and she can just go straight into their house.
So that’s about all that’s going on here, these days. Next year I’m hoping to add to the family with a Scooba. Of course, it’ll be a bit longer than usual until next Christmas, since 2006 has been postponed.