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Edmonton Journal: On living with cats again, some Airbnb drama and getting roasted on Twitter



EDMONTON, ALBERTA – I came to this city on July 18, spent the first two weeks in absolute lockdown quarantine, ate moose meat and went through three different fans before my Airbnb neighbor, Alastair, loaned me one that made all the difference between getting a full night’s rest and sweating like a pig in agony.

Shamefully, I haven’t done much more than my quarantine routine since getting my freedom on Saturday. Other than making the two-block walk to Rogers Place to see the Avs and a couple other NHL games, I’ve mostly just stayed in and lazed around.

I plan to change that on Thursday, when I think I’ll rent a car for a couple days and just do some drivin’ and sightseein.’ Jasper is about a 3 1/2 hour drive, a beautiful place of mountains and lakes, and I might just head up there.

Problem is, if I do that, who’s gonna look after the cats?

A few days ago, Alastair started making preparations to move to a new place, a house near Whyte’s Ave. Think of Whyte’s Ave. as kind of the Denver Highlands area of Edmonton. Alastair is moving because, well, among other things, there’s been a bit of drama in the Airbnb building. I don’t want to embarrass the landlord, because they’ve been super nice to me. But there was/is a bit of a “pest control” issue here. The story goes that there is a person who lives on the first floor who is a genuine “hoarder”, whose place has gotten to the point where there a bug outbreak occurred.

Bug-killing powder lined all the hallways of the building recently, and apparently an exterminator will come tomorrow and really give the place a big chemical blast. That also partially explains why I’m planning on getting a car and getting some time away. The landlord was very nice in giving me a discount on the Airbnb stay because of the bug thing.

While Alastair has been running back and forth from his new digs to here, I’ve been cat-sitting for his two felines, two males named Nugget and C6. Nugget is an orange tabby and C6 is…I’m not sure, but a very pretty cat, with brown and white fur. They are both very big cats.

At first, they were skittish being around me, but right now we’re one big happy family and I have loved having them here. I mean, it’s been lonely doing this whole thing, and the cats have legitimately made me feel less so. Nugget has a very chill, lounging personality. Nothing flusters him much and he mostly likes to keep to himself. But occasionally he’ll make a visit with me up on the couch or on the bed, and he likes a good scratching and belly rub when he does.

C6 is much more of a wanderer, pretty much always moving from room to room and checking things out. He likes to hop up on furniture (as you can see above) and on the window sill and just likes to keep a good eye on everything in his orbit. For the first day, I couldn’t find him in this apartment. I made a panicked text to Alastair, saying I was worried that he jumped out one of the windows, the one that isn’t screened in. I’m up on the third floor of the building, so it was a very scared Adrian Dater that looked out that window the other day, worried I’d see a dead cat below.

Alastair assured me that, ‘No, he’s just found a place to hide for a while.’ Then, a couple hours later, there he was, walking in the living room. I still don’t know where that cat could have hid, and I went over every square inch of it looking for him that day. Now, C6 is much more relaxed around me and is often by my side, including at this second as I type this.

This is C6 and me last night, chilin’ on the couch together, watching some Season 4 of “Breaking Bad.”

Here’s a typical shot of Nugget:

My wife is allergic to cat hair, so I haven’t lived with a cat for about 23 years. I love cats. I love how cooly indifferent they are to you, how agile they are, how smart they are.

I made the local papers here the other day too. Some of you might have heard already, but I took a dig at Connor McDavid the other day on Twitter, criticizing his “personality-deficient” demeanor and speculating that he might not be much of an inspiration to his teammates. It came off a bit meaner than I meant, which of course always happens to me on Twitter. My real self just doesn’t translate well to Twitter.

Well, No. 97 scored a goal 14 seconds into his next game, and finished with a hat trick in a big Oilers win. Needless to say, I got absolutely roasted on Twitter. A local longtime columnist made the whole thing the focal point of his story on the game. Hey, at least I was described as a “long-time, well-respected hockey writer from the States.”

Many others weren’t as kind.

Hey, I’m a big boy, I can take it. If you dish it out, you gotta take it. Like many others the other night, I take my hat off to Mr. McDavid.

I’ll tell you one thing though: I hope I don’t have to try to eat any real crow while I’m here. But maybe I can handle that too. I’ve already tried the moose meat, after all.

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