Sunday, December 30, 2012

A cat on the fiscal cliff

Clem was getting a bit concerned.  There were all sorts of folks on the radio and television talking about it being the end of the year and were asking people to give stuff away because it was the end of the year.  Just a week ago there had been that big hooha about the end of the Mayan calendar, and whether it meant there would be earthquakes, hurricanes and all sorts of other disasters.  Well, this year had included all of those things.  There had been an earthquake up where the yarn lady’s sister lived just recently.  It was a little one, but it was an earthquake.  There was that hurricane this fall, followed by a blizzard, and then there had been several other big storms with trees torn up by their roots.  If that wasn’t disastrous, Clem did know what qualified as a disaster. 

Humans seemed to give away things when they didn’t need them anymore.  If you outgrew your clothes, you gave them away.  But money, why would they give away money at the end of the year?  It wasn’t like it was expiring or anything, and the humans always seemed to need it.  The fiscal cliff that Congress had built was going to make it so folks would need more money, at least in Clementine’s estimation.  She wasn’t sure, but it sounded like folks were going to need a lot of money because they’d have to take an expensive elevator to get to the bottom of the cliff, otherwise they’d fall off on their way down. 

This seemed like one of those horrible situations where folks didn’t talk about what was really happening, especially to kids and cats.  It must be that there was some disaster that would happen on Monday night or Tuesday morning and the folks who would be most affected by it were giving away their money, assumedly because they weren’t going to be around to need it.  When Clem arrived at that conclusion she began to wonder if the yarn lady had been giving things away more than usual.  She usually gave away the stuff she knit, so that didn’t count.  She also gave away, or at least took away, the things she baked.  She had been baking a lot more, come to think of it, but on the other hand she’d recently brought in all those huge bags of flours and sugars.  She wouldn’t have done that if she wasn’t going to be around to use them, right?

It seemed to be mostly about money, though.  Clem had no idea if the yarn lady had been giving away her money.  All the radio pitches and emails weren’t like folks who came to your door and begged for money.  The yarn lady would have used her checking account or credit cards to give her money away, so Clem decided she’d have to check those online accounts.  She knew the yarn lady’s passwords because every time she entered them she said them out loud.  She’d explained to Clem that it helped her remember them.  Something about multimodal learning.  See it, say it, type it.  So, Clem logged in to the bank account, and was immediately overwhelmed.  Debits?  Credits?  Pending transactions?  What did these all mean? 

She fiddled around on the website until she found a place that listed all the transactions in order from most recent to oldest.  Hmm, water bill, cable bill, electric bill, groceries, yarn, more yarn, property taxes, more yarn.  Boy, she bought a lot of yarn.  There didn’t seem to be any transactions at all that looked like she was giving her money away.  For one thing, they were all odd amounts, and not like what the emails and radio pledge drives were asking for.  She carefully logged out of the bank account and logged into the credit card account.  This one was a bit harder, as there were more steps.  Uh-oh, there was a security question.  “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”  Clem panicked for a moment and then remembered.  She carefully typed in “What do you mean, an African or a European Swallow?” and it let her into the account.  There weren’t a lot of transactions here, but some were for even amounts that could be donations.  But why would she put them on her credit card if she wasn’t going to be around to pay that card?  No, it didn’t look like the yarn lady was planning to not be around after the year ended.  Maybe some other people, but not her.

Since she was already on the iPad, Clem looked at the calendar.  Yup, this year would be over tomorrow at midnight.  A more careful look showed Clem that she’d already lived through the end of a year in 2011.  She hadn’t thought about it much at the time, probably because the yarn lady had made such a big fuss about Christmas and not the end of the year.  She’d also been much younger then – not even a year old, so it wasn’t surprising that she hadn’t thought about such things.  She’d been just a kitten and what kitten thinks about the world ending?  She’d thought about yarn balls and Christmas presents. 

Clem turned off the iPad and folded her paws in front of her and thought deep thoughts.  Even if the world did end tomorrow at midnight, was there anything that she, Clementine, could do to stop it?  She sighed; there wasn’t a darn thing she could do about it.  Therefore, why was she bothering to worry about it?  The only thing that Clementine had any control over was little kitty self.  So, Clem gave herself a bath and took a nice long nap.  Even if the world ended, she’d been clean and well-rested. 

Photo courtesy of Scott Denny -

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