Sunday, 30 March 2008

How to brush a cat without losing a hand

If only I knew the answer.......

It is the time of year that I dread. I know, the days are getting longer, the daffodils are blooming and the tulips are well on their way. The snow is where it belongs - on the mountains and the snow tyres have been put away (well, they would be, if I had listened to Mr. DBM and put some on in the first place....I really should listen to my husband more often, but don't tell him that I said that!) The lawn mowers are out in force and the barbeques are being fired up. The sky is blue, the birds are get the, what is my problem now? In one word, Willow. I love that cat, but she is a pain in the hand, arm, head or whatever body part she manages to sink her claws or teeth into when you are trying to brush her. If you read my previous post, you will know that Willow has a wondrously thick and full coat. She really is fluffy and not fat. But that fluffiness is due to the presence of a thick undercoat of very fine, dense fur. And that is the problem. This time of year is the time to change from the winter wardrobe to the latest summer fashion where less is more. This means we get a population explosion in dust bunnies and we end up with a vet bill of $400 if we can't convince Willow that she needs to be brushed on a regular basis to stop her wondrously thick and full coat from degrading into disgusting clumps of matted hair that makes her look more like a doormat than a cat. What, $400?!? I hear you cry. How on earth could it cost that much? Well, here is how the conversation at the vet goes:

Vet: "Is that a doormat?"
Me: "No, it is my cat, Willow. Is there anything that you can do to help her regain her wondrously thick and full coat?"
Vet: "Have you tried to brush her?"
Me: "Oh, that's a good idea, I hadn't thought about that" - is what is running through my head, but what I actually say is "Well yes, but she doesn't like it very much."
Vet, sensing a small pile of money heading her way: "Well, we could try and brush her. Sometimes cats will let strangers brush them when they won't let their owners do it."
Me, sensing a large bill heading my way: "Well, I suppose it is worth a try, but I should warn you that she really, really doesn't like being brushed."
Vet: "We will give it a try and phone you to let you know how things are going."

Hmmmmm, so off home I swan, in the secure knowledge that soon my doormat of a cat will be back to her beautiful self. In reality, I go home waiting for the phone call that informs me that one assistant has lost an eye and another has received 43 stitches to various wounds and has been reassured that a scar down the side of the face will add a lot of character and may even lead to a role as a baddy in a James Bond movie. An hour or so later, the phone call comes through.....

Vet: "Well, I am afraid that Willow has not been very cooperative and we have had to sedate her."
Me: "Oh, that is a shame." thinking, that sounds expensive.
Vet: "While she was sedated, we had a quick look at her teeth and thought we might as well clean them."
Me: "Well, that sounds like a good idea." thinking, that sounds even more expensive.
Vet: "She should be ready to go home in an hour or so, once she comes round from the sedation. While I am waiting, I am going to book my holiday to Hawaii - thank you."
Me: "Great, I will see you in an hour."

So, now you can see why I dread this time of year. It generally comes with a large amount of growling, rumbling, howling, hissing and claws and generally ends up in a large vet bill.

This has led me to thinking about contraptions that could be used to immobilise a cat while still having access to her fur. We all know about the trick of wrapping a cat up in a blanket so that there are no free claws to rip your face off while administering some form of medication. Unfortunately, that will not work for brushing, since the entire cat is mummified inside a towel. Martha Stewart informs me that placing a large bulldog clip on the back of a cat's neck will keep them calm and stop them from attacking. The reasoning behind this is that they think it is their mother, who would pick them up by the scruff of the neck and apparently they are less likely to attack their mother than some human brandishing an instrument of torture. I tried this, with limited success - she sat still for 2.67 seconds longer than without the bulldog clip. So, what to do......? My idea is get a towel and cut 4 holes in it, one for each leg. You would then suspend this from the legs of an upside down stool. Place the four legs of one cat into each of the holes and brush away, while the cat sways helplessly in her cradle. Won't work for the belly fur, but it might just do it for the rest. What do you think? Should I give it a go?

Saturday, 29 March 2008

I'm not fat, I'm fluffy!

"Hello, my name is Willow, and I would like everyone to know that I am not fat, I am fluffy. I am getting just a bit tired of everyone coming up to me and saying "Oooh, isn't she a large cat" in that way that makes it very obvious that they want to say I am fat, but are just a wee bit too polite to actually do so. Is it any wonder that I tend look a tad grumpy? Well, in the unlikely event that there may be just a little bit too much adipose tissue hiding beneath my wondrously thick and full coat, I have started a new exercise regime. It involves sitting in front of the back door and meowing piteously and continuously until someone bothers to take notice of me and lets me out. I then leg it round to the front of the house - my best time so far is 2 minutes and 45 seconds, but I am pretty sure I can improve on that if I don't stop to lick my arse right after I have squeezed through the gap in the gate - see, if I were fat, would I be able to do that? Anyway, once I have reached the front of the house, I go and sit on a table on the front porch and peer in through the window. It's great, I can watch my sister, Tess, without her trying to lick my head, put her tongue down my ear or pile on top of me while going for my throat. I can watch the toads doing whatever it is toads do, which generally speaking is not a busting lot. Tess seems to like them, although she informs me that they taste rather bitter and that the crickets are much more fun to play with and they have a nice crunch that complements their nutty flavour. I can also annoy whoever happens to see me sitting out there. The first game to play is the "oh please let me in, look how pathetic I look sitting out here in the cold and wet" game. When the front door opens, I do nothing, just sit there, minding my own business, watching the world go by on the inside of the house. Tee hee! Of course, that one can backfire if you play it too often, because when you finally do want to come in, you may be ignored. A boy and a wolf come to mind. So, to vary the fun, I rush inside, skid and slide across those damn slippery floors, back to the back door and ask to go out again. I then run the circuit again - déjà vu!"

So, that is Willow's idea of fun apparently. She does have her variations - sometimes she will only get as far as the garage before turning around and coming back to sit on the back door step, looking pathetic, pretending that she wants to come in. My marmite on toast ended up getting cold this morning because I had to keep getting up to let her in or out. I know, I know, she is just a cat and I should ignore her - but look at her, how can you ignore such a gorgeous, furry little creature with such a cute little face? The whole game does go pear-shaped on her sometimes, since if I have to let her in or out too many times I can lose track of whether she is in or out and forget she is actually outside - and so there she stays until I realise that she hasn't bugged me for quite some time. I then find her climbing the window screen, desperately trying to get someone's attention to let her in.

This leads me to several ideas on how to improve my cats' lives and mine. For today, let's start with the most obvious one - the need for a cat flap. Well, duh! Even an idiot could come up with that to solve the in and out problem. You would think so, until you comprehend the long list of needs that I have for my cat flap. Here are the highlights:

1) I have a glass backdoor, but I don't want to cut the glass - this means that a new door is required, but I quite like all the light that the existing door lets in. I can solve this by buying a door that has small glass panes. I can then remove just one pane and replace it with the cat flap - I think I will make it one quite high up - my cats need a bit of an athletic challenge now and then!

2) I will need Mr. DBM to install said new door because I am lazy and don't want to do it myself.

3) I need a flap that will let the cats out during the day, but will keep them in at night. Now, I know that you can buy cat flaps where you can determine if the cats are allowed in or out or in and out. But this requires flipping a switch and remember, I am lazy. No, it is not flipping the switch that is the problem - I am not that lazy - but I don't want to have to get up at 5am, when Willow has decided that she wants to go out and is not going to leave you alone until you let her out, to flip the switch. It is the getting up that is the issue. If you want to see what Willow is like at 5am, follow this link - she does everything except the baseball bat! So, I need a cat flap with a timing device so that I can set the switch to flip at anytime I desire.

4) I don't really want half the neighbourhood racoons in my kitchen, so I do need some kind of selective security.

So, if anyone knows of a cat flap that will meet all of my specific needs, that is available in Canada and that does not cost and arm and a leg please let me know. Thank you!

P.S. While following the above link to check that it worked, I found this one &feature=related
- go on, click on it, it will make you smile!

Friday, 21 March 2008

An Eloquent Argument

So, here is how the argument went:

DBM: "You do know that this is not a car park, don't you?"
Man with large beer gut and hard hat: "Shut up!"
DBM: "F%#k you!"

Not my finest hour, I have to admit, but I am not very good at arguments in the heat of the moment. Afterwards - well yes, I can come up with any number of smart arsed comments or intellectual comebacks, whichever fits the bill. I am, after all, a sophisticated, well educated and highly intelligent woman (I can say things like this on my blog, since some of you reading do not know me and may actually believe some of the things that I write!) Given time, I probably could have come up with an eloquent argument, but I was in my car, in the middle of a road - it really is a road and not a car park - and there were other cars that wanted to drive down said road, not a car park. Also, he was quite a bit bigger than me, and there were quite a few other large, hairy, dirty, hard-hatted men around the work site, so I thought that I had better hightail it out of there, tout de suite! Of course, since this incident occurred about 100 yards from where I live, it would not have taken Sherlock Holmes or a pack of bloodhounds to track me down. I really should think some of my actions through a bit more before opening my mouth........

Let me explain the irritation that had bugged me enough to start this argument. Mr. DBM and I moved to our new neighbourhood last Autumn. It is a new development - we bought into Phase II and Phases III to Phase God knows what are still being built. This means that we are living next to a building site. We aren't actually right next to it, so it doesn't bother me too much. It even has its advantages. There are always large skips around if you have any household objects that you need to get rid of in a hurry - I did mention that the Alien in the Basement was no longer in the basement, didn't I!?! There is also a good supply of waste wood around that Mr. DBM can collect to his heart's content. It is waste wood - honest. We only collect it under the cover of dark because we work during all daylight hours and so night time is the only time we have to do our collecting. However, there are definitely downsides to the development and the one that has been bugging me the most is the use and abuse of the road.

This road leads out of the development and on to the nearest main road, so obviously a lot of people that live here use it to get to wherever it is that they are going and back again. Unfortunately, all the large, hairy, dirty, hard-hatted men also use it as their carpark. There are cars everywhere, both on and off the road. And the problem is not restricted to just cars. There are also huge dump trucks arriving and leaving throughout the day, clogging the road up and dumping their contents all over the road. I suspect that the contents of their trucks are actually destined for places other than the road, but much of it seems to end up on the road, along with all the sticky, gooey, clay-like mud that also ends up on the road after being transferred there from the truck wheels. This mud then ends up all over my lovely, shiny, freshly washed car (I will have to admit to this being a bit of an anomaly, since I only actually wash my car about once or twice a year. When I bought the car - the first new car that I had ever owned, I was full of good intentions. I even bought a car washing kit and a big, fluffy, looks-like-I-have-my-hand-up-a-lamb's-bottom mitt to dry the car off with. Said mitt has only been used once and my lovely new shiny car is looking a wee bit dusty these days) Get back to the plot, DBM! Oh yes, mud all over my new car, gravel spraying up everywhere, cars and trucks blocking the road. And then there are the dumpsters and the huge stacks of wood and other building supplies everywhere as well as the ever-widening potholes that are at present large enough to swallow a small child (which I am OK with), but I will not be so happy once they get large enough to swallow my lovely newish car. Well, on the day in question, things were even worse than usual, since some huge behemoth of a truck was stopped in the middle of the road. Now, I drive a small car, by North American standards, so I figured I could just about squeeze through, but I realised a lot of cars and trucks would not get through and it was this that lead to the brief exchange of pleasantries outlined above.

So what should I have said, bearing in mind that I only live 100 yards away? Obviously, nothing. I should have kept my big, fat mouth shut and done what any sane and rational person does - gone to City Hall and put in a formal complaint. I am pretty sure some normal individual has done that, since the child-swallowing pothole has been filled in and the road is now cleaned on a regular basis - at some ridiculous hour in the middle of the night, so disrupting my much needed beauty sleep. It's no wonder my looks are going down the drain faster than dirty dishwater! If I had decided to stay and argue with the workman, I could have pointed out all the legal liability issues that come with blocking a road so that emergency vehicles can no longer pass down it. Or I could have cited Bulletin 93-11, which states that it is the developer's responsibility to keep city roads clean. I could also have just politely requested that they try to keep the road clear and how very much we would appreciate it, thank you very much, all said while smiling sweetly. That never works for me though, since my smiling sweetly usually ends up in some kind of grimace. Once again, Mr. DBM is much better at that than I am. I think that my biggest problem with this whole argument was the lack of an argument. What kind of intellectual comeback can you give when someone just says "Shut up!"?

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Alien has left the basement.

The chair has breathed a sigh of relief. The basement has a fresh breeze flowing through. The cats are no longer being used to sweep the floor and the TV has finally been switched off. The alien has left the basement. Yep, Moon, my brother, aka the alien in the basement, has finally left and the world is happy. I am happy because I get my chair back, Mr. DBM is happy because he gets his basement back and, most importantly of all, my brother is happy because he gets his life back. He has left the basement behind for sunnier, warmer climes and the waiting arms of his loving and beautiful wife, M. What more could a man ask for?

Originally, my brother was only supposed to be here for a week, visiting with his then girlfriend, M, for Christmas. Then it was two weeks and, oh by the way, we would also like to get married while we are visiting. Then it was, well, perhaps a week or two more while I wait for my work visa, but don't worry, we are paying for it to be rushed through, so it shouldn't take long. The days passed - no news. The weeks passed - no news. Of course, no news is good news, so not to worry. More questions, more paper work..........surely they must have made a decision by now? They wouldn't drag it out this long if they were going to say no, would they? No, of course not! Positive thinking, that's what is needed. Just need to be patient, all will work out in the end. Why would they say no? I was starting to run out of inane platitudes to try and keep my brother's spirits up and he was threatening to make a run for the border when finally the news came through - granted! Everyone, including my chair, breathed a sigh of relief.

Now, you have to understand, I have really enjoyed having my brother stay. I haven't actually seen him for a couple of years now. We did arrange to go home last summer, on our way back home from a summer jaunt in Southern Africa. Unfortunately, as we were flying into Heathrow, he was flying out on his way to L.A. He claims it was not done deliberately, but we have our doubts.......Anyhoo, this is the first time that we have spent any length of time together for years and we have discovered many things about each other. For instance, my brother is still using the same jokes that he was using the last time I saw him, and the time before that, and the time before that.......Nothing new there. I think that this is one of the reasons he loves M so much - all the jokes are new to her. Unfortunately, due to language issues, she doesn't actually get many of them - either that or she just doesn't think that they are funny, which is quite possible. We also found out that we don't fight or argue any more. Can you believe that - nearly three months and not a single argument! We did come close over a couple of topics - whatever you do, don't mention the fox hunting!

One thing that my brother has discovered is that he can actually like cats. He has always been a dog person, but since I only have cats, he had to adjust and by the time he left he was actually threatening to catnap Tess. Luckily for her, his bags were dangerously close to the weight limit and she is no lightweight! I am not entirely sure how much the cats liked Moon - I suspect it was a love-hate relationship. He loved to torment them and they hated it. He would poke them, pull their tails, pluck the little tufts of hair between their toes, tickle their toes and sweep the floor with them. At one point, he even ate their last can of tuna! Now, Willow would take this up to a point but once that point was reached - watch out! She didn't just growl and paw my brother. Oh no, she actively pursued him, chasing him down the stairs into the basement and then swiping at him everytime he tried to walk past. You might think this makes her a rather miserable cat, but I ask you, would you like to have your tail and the hair between your toes pulled mercilessly? Tess took a while to warm to my brother, since she is the ultimate scaredycat, but eventually she seemed to take a perverse pleasure in being tormented. She would just lie there and take it for the most part, only resorting to the claws out, serve you right swipes in extreme cases of toe tickling or tail holding.

So, I am happy my brother has moved on, but I do miss him. It is odd going downstairs in the morning and not finding him sitting at my kitchen counter, glued to his laptop. It is odd coming home and not finding him sinking into my chair, glued to his laptop and the TV. Whenever I see a VW Beetle, I have no one to punch (Mr. DBM does not approve of such childish games). Whenever I see a cute dog, I have no one to go "Oooooohhhhhh, look at the doggy!" Now my neighbours think that I am the crazy one when they catch me leering over the fence and looking into their living room - before it was Moon. And, no, there is no hot, sexy guy or woman in there - just a very cute puppy called Chachi. And, most importantly of all, my cats no longer have anyone else here that thinks that they are the most wonderful cats in the world!

Cheerio Alien in the Basement. We miss you!

Monday, 10 March 2008

The T word

Dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump, dadump.
Scrtchhhhhhh, scrttchhhhh, scrttchhhhh, whoooooosh, swish, thump!
Purrrrrrow, mow, rrrrrreow, prrrrrow, ow, eeeeeeeow!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of my cats responding to the T word, starting from the bed, down the stairs, racing around the corner at the bottom of the stairs as fast as possible and skidding to halt, using my legs as a convenient stopping post, and then demanding the delicacy, now!

The T word is the one word that we have to use carefully around our furry little friends. Actually, I am the one that has to use it carefully, since it requires a voice of a high enough pitch to get the frenzied response. I just love to stand in the kitchen, armed with the can opener and a tin of tuna. A moment of anticipation, followed by "Toooooooooooonaaaaaaa!" After a slight delay, you will hear the whomp as a cat launches herself off whatever bed she is sleeping on, followed by the inevitable sequence of events outlined above. You have to make sure that you have positioned yourself in just the right place so that you can view the spectacle that is my cat trying to take a corner at high speed with no traction - we have laminate flooring, you see. As the cat leaves the carpeted comfort of the stairs, she will hit the laminate flooring at speed. Her legs will keep turning, but there is no longer any forward momentum. Claws try to grip and fail miserably. The backend starts to drift outwards as there is a loss of traction by the rear paws. The cat will try to countersteer with the front paws and steer out of the slide by increased acceleration, all the while looking slightly horrified by the indignity of it all - cats are supposed to be graceful, after all. She will finally regain control and hurtle at full speed towards the finish, the tuna, only to lose it all again as she discovers that her braking system also fails to operate on this particular surface. She sails past her intended target and usually ends up crashing face first into my legs or a kitchen counter, depending on her angle of approach. This will be accompanied by a soft, furry, satisfying thump. A moment of quiet and then all hell breaks loose in the meowing department if the tuna is not placed on the floor right then and there. Not that either of my cats actually meows - the noises that emanate from them are more usually crosses between meows and purrs with trills of various lengths inserted for added effect.

The sensitivity of my cats to the T word never ceases to amaze me. We have been carrying out experiments in the Don't Bug Me household to test this. We wait until the cats are fast asleep. And I mean fast asleep - asleep enough to not even budge when you poke them with a spoon. Asleep enough to not even crack an eye and give you that "Piss off, I am sleeping" look that only cats can do. Asleep enough for me to brush Willow for 10 seconds without actually losing my hand. We then take up the tin opener and place it on the can. We have determined that just the initial puncturing of the can is enough to set off the tuna response. But there is more to this natural wonder - the cats will hear this pfft as the opener pierces the can even with the TV on full volume, the taps running, the dishwasher going, and the fan above the oven on. The miracle of the cats ear. No matter how hard you try, we have found it impossible to open a can of tuna without two furry fiends winding around your legs within 2.3 secs.

The whole cartoon effect of my cats trying to go anywhere fast on the laminate floor is endlessly entertaining. My brother, aka the Alien in the Basement, and I have spent many hours amusing ourselves by throwing various small rolly objects around for the cats. If they are in the right mood, they will take up the chase. Of course, they are cats, so they can't look too eager to do anything that you might want them to and on many occasions we have to pretend that we are not interested in what they are doing. If they think that we are watching, they will just sit there, washing their paws, deliberately not looking at the rolly object. But sometimes, if you judge their moods just right, the entertainment will begin. Roll the object just past them and sit back and enjoy. Their whiskers will twitch and their little bums will start waggling in the air. They will start to hop from one back paw to the other - the tension will build, the excitement will grow and then - away she goes. Of course, this suffers from all the lack of traction problems mentioned above. The back legs circle and the cat goes nowhere for about 2 seconds. Then off she goes and inevitably misses the intended targeted, sliding right by, often ending up on her side in the process. Of course, she is a cat, so she will just lie wherever she ends up and start cleaning herself - well, she meant to do that, didn't she! What self-respecting cat would waste her time chasing around after small, rolly objects? Even more entertaining is making sure that the rolly object lands just in front of a nice solid object - a door or a wall will do. Well, I am sure that you can imagine what will happen...........

Get Over It and go for a nap instead!

Yesterday was "Get Over It Day", so whatever I was going to post about yesterday, I am not going to post about now, since I got over it!

Today is National Napping Day, so I am not going to post anything today, since I am going for a nap instead.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Baby Bump - not!

Let's not beat about the bush here. Let's not pretend that you hadn't noticed. Let's admit the fact that it is no longer possible to hide it beneath a nice, baggy jumper. Let's face it, I look about 7 months pregnant. Unfortunately for Mr. DBM and me and for my poor old Mum, who has four children, but not a single grandchild, I am not. I am also not fat, so its not a question of "Is she pregnant or has she just eaten too many doughnuts?" In fact, I have skinny little arms and legs and a bony arse - which just make the not-a-baby bump stand out even more. So, what is the problem? Am I incubating the next Alien? Sometimes, I can imagine it inside me, squirming, growing, biding its time until one day - eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, out it pops, screeching and screaming, all covered in viscous, gelatinous slime. It turns it hideous head, full of needle sharp teeth, a string of saliva lengthening from its mouth, reaching for the floor. Its nostrils dilate, and it surveys its new world. And then, it is gone, streaking and sliming across the room, screeching its goodbyes......OK, so my imagination is getting the better of me. I don't have a gaping hole in my chest, and I still look 7 months pregnant. In fact, I have looked as though I am pregnant for about two years now and that got me thinking. How long can one be pregnant? Aren't people starting to wonder why I never actually deliver a bouncing baby DBM junior? So I did a bit of research on which animal has the longest gestation time. I bet you can't guess. I certainly got it wrong - I just went for the largest animal, hypothesising that it would have the largest baby with the longest gestation time. Here are my findings:

Gestation times:

Humans - The normal gestation period for humans is between 37 and 42 weeks (259 - 294 days). I tried to find out what the longest human pregnancy was, but had quite a bit of trouble, mostly because of a lot of hearsay and personal experience. You know the kind - "My Aunt's sister's niece's best friend's daughter, the one with the dodgy ticker who walks with a limp, since her left leg is shorter than her right, who had that dog that ate the dead squirrel - you know the one, what is her name? Well, I heard that she went for 53 weeks" The other problem is the fact that doctors generally do not let pregnancies proceed beyond 42 weeks. This is because the placenta starts to deteriorate around this time and if labour is not induced the baby is in grave danger of being still born.

My guess - the blue whale. Gestation period of 10-12 months, resulting in a calf weighing in at approximately two and a half tonnes. Now that is one humungous bouncing baby!

Longest mammalian gestation - the elephant - at 22 months, birth weight of 265lbs. Now, that really makes you think about the blue whale. In half the time, they end up with a baby that is more than 20 times the size of an elephant calf. What on earth is that whale eating? Burgers, fries and ice cream - all supersized? Is she having cravings for doughnuts soaked in lard? Maybe deep fried mars bars with clotted cream? In reality, she is eating tonnes of krill - but I have to think that they must have been eating sausages, wrapped in bacon and deep fried in batter.

Longest animal gestation - turns out that it is the Alpine salamander. They live high up in the Alps and the higher they live, the longer their gestation period, up to three years at altitudes of 1,400 to 1,700m. Can you imagine the debt those babies owe their mother? "I didn't carry you for 36 months to be spoken to like that....."

Now, there is another contender for the gestation throne - the frilled shark. This mysterious creature of the deepest, darkest ocean has kept its pregnancy well hidden from all nosey neighbours and gossiping workmates, so the truth is not out there. But, scientists in the know seem to think that the gestation period could be as long as three and a half years!

The next question that I asked myself was, naturally, what is the shortest gestation period?

And the winner is......

The opossum, with a gestation period of 12-14 days. By the time the poor opossum has worked out that she is pregnant, she has already given birth and has ten hungry mouths to feed. "Aw crap, not again"!

One more interesting gestation fact - seahorses are the only animals known where the males carry the developing young. He has a brood pouch, where the female lays her eggs, and after two to three weeks, presto, baby seahorses. Now, there may be some human males that want to gestate a baby, but without a womb, where is the foetus going to gestate - in a box? Stan / Loretta may have to be content with it being every man's right to have babies.

Back to the beginning of this post, where people mistake my not-a-baby bump with the real thing. What do you do when someone comes up to you and comments on your baby bump when you are not actually pregnant? Who is the more embarrassed? Since I am getting used to people commenting on my not-a-baby bump, I suspect they are more embarrassed - so how do I let them down gently? I have, on occasion, been able to pretend that I didn't hear their comment. That lets both of us off the hook with no red faces or awkward giggles. No profuse apologies are required and no explanations for the apparent baby bump are needed. However, there comes a time when it is not possible to discretely ignore a well meaning comment or question. When someone comes right up to you and asks when the baby is due, you can hardly just ignore them. So, you have to just have to suck it up and face the embarrassment head on. This does, of course, mean that you have to explain what the bump is and sometimes I just don't want to do that. It is a personal thing, and not something that the world and his wife and their neighbour Ethel need to know. So perhaps I should just lie and say May 30th. I will have to keep adjusting that date as my non-pregnancy continues, which might tax my lying abilities and it really is only going to work on people like Ethel, that I don't know and will hopefully never meet again. Otherwise, I am going to have to start making up birthing stories and new baby miracles.......

Still, there are some advantages to having the bump. You know those parent only or parents with child parking spots. Well, they really bug me. Do parents lose the ability to walk when they have children? Are they now on a par with disabled people who really do need to be nearer the store? OK, so I can appreciate that they might need wider spaces, so that they have room to get those all the bells and whistles push chairs out of the car. But that doesn't mean that they have to be up there with the disabled. Put the extra wide spots at the back of the carpark - the exercise will do them and their children good. That being said, I do love those spots. They are very often empty and I will pull into one. As I get out of the car, I will rub my aching back and stroke my not-a-baby bump and head for the door. What - are they going to ask me to pee in a cup?

Are you still wondering what the cause of my not-a-baby bump is? I would tell you, but this post is getting rather long, my fingers are starting to seize, and I am not sure that I am quite ready to bare my not-a-baby bump to all, not just yet.