Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Four-fifths of the way there

Longtime readers might remember this post of four years ago, in which Papa Cat turned 80 and said, having blown out his candles, 'Right, now I'm striking out for 85.'

At 8 this morning, knowing him to be an habitual early riser, I decided it wasn't too early to ring him and sing Happy Birthday. He had already had breakfast, read the paper, showered and shaved, done two loads of washing and watered 'what's left of my little garden in the heat', and was now settled down to watch the news on breakfast TV with the cat.

It was sad, he said, about the beans and tomatoes that he'd lost when they fried in the 40 degree heat the day before yesterday before he'd thought to put some shade cloth over them. 'But then I thought about those poor bastards in Queensland, and that put it in perspective.'


elsewhere said...

Good to hear he's still washing behind his ears!

Anon chicken hearted said...

I am so happy for him and you and your siblings. It sounds as if he is still enjoying life - which is all that matters.

Mindy said...

I love the idea of sitting down to watch breakfast TV with the cat. At least you know you will have someone sensible to talk to when the presenters start talking rubbish.

Happy Birthday Papa Cat. Apparently once men reach their 90's they are statistically highly likely to reach their 100's. Go for it Papa Cat!

genevieve said...

happy birthday father cat. Splendid effort!

ThirdCat said...

Happy Birthday Papa Cat.
Does he know he's a capricorn now and not an aquarian?

via collins said...

I do recall that's what Papa Cat was aiming for, and good on him for getting there.

I share his mutterings on the bloody 40 degree day and its destructive capacity. We suffered similar over here in Melbsville, and after such a benign summer. So many happy green plants gawn.

But as PC says, the troubles of others give perspective.

WR: bubmeta

Ampersand Duck said...

Onya Papa Cat.

It's easy to see where you get your sense of perspective from!

84, spring chicken! Strike out for 90! He sounds PUMPED.

Anonymous said...

This is so very familiar. My mother, just a few years younger, does a first rate Papa Cat impersonation (albeit sans cat).

The mantra is so ubiquitous amongst that generation, I reckon it must have been taught by every SA school between the wars. Though I don't recall Barbara Hanrahan -- who so neatly fingered the reflexive impulses of that epoch -- recounting it...

Anyway, let's call it the Adelaide Algorithm. It goes like this--

1) At every summertime opportunity, invoke the meme '...what's left of my garden in the heat...'

2) Detail the retrospective measures one has tardily taken to avoid damage to aforesaid garden. Better too late than never etc...

3) In doing so, act as though summertime conditions could not be anticipated by any reasonable person -- ie the circumstances were entirely novel -- thereby circumventing the obvious question: "Why didn't you shade/mulch/water your plants before the heatwave?". After all, everyone knows that Adelaide is never hot and dry during summer, despite geography placing it on the edge of several great Australian deserts.

4) Put one's losses in 'perspective' by invoking some beknighted community of unfortunates who have suffered truly catastrophic circumstances, Bangladesh & Africa being particularly useful points of reference during extended heatwaves.

Collectively, it brings to mind Wim Wnders' "Wings of Desire": when passing over Adelaide, all those angels would have heard was a susurrated '...what's left of my garden in the heat...'

Anyway, from one Aquarian to another, congratulations & birthday greetings to your father. As a 50-something man, its reassuring to hear of another who has uncompromisingly remained both cranky and content. Best of both worlds, I reckon....


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

As I have already remarked on Facebook, TFA, I believe I am legally allowed to quote anything anyone says on my blogs or Facebook page in the Adelaide book. I truly believe there is a law that says that. But for politeness' sake -- may I quote you? The angel is too delicious not to be given a second life in print.

Papa Cat, incidentally, as I pointed out to him during the same phone conversation, was a farmer for twenty years and is therefore no stranger to the heartbreak of crops wrecked by the weather on a very much larger and financially crucial scale, and there's not a lot you can do to save the wheat if it doesn't rain, or if it rains at the wrong time. So it's not like he hadn't had a certain amount of practice at this.

He very much enjoyed his pork fillets in black bean sauce, chocolate butterfly birthday cupcake from Duffy's bakery in Norwood and celebratory two glasses of Jansz, by the way. Happy Birthday was sung, in two-part harmony.

Anonymous said...

Kerryn, of course, I'd be more than honoured etc. Angels should fly at least twice...

Point taken re your father's farming background. Though I must say that my mother takes the vagaries of gardening intensely personally---those high-pressure cells drifting across from the west are, more or less by by her account, a personal torment emanating directly from the bosom of Beelzebub.

Being a teetotaller of an impeccably Baptist/Methodist lineage, she wouldn't approve the Janz. But her sweet tooth would be pleased by the birthday cupcake, and--being a church organist (retd)--she has enough music to appreciate two-part harmony.

So, by her mind and mine, Papa Cat's birthday has been appropriately marked.

Poignantly for me, my adoptee uncle Ludwik would have turned 90 today.


Helen said...

Happy belated birthday to Papa Cat, and may there be many more of them.