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August 22, 2005
Um, we need to turn the watering can the other way, with its handle facing out, for What's-Her-Name, I tell Q. It gives her a better approach.

What's-Her-Name would rather to drink from the old metal watering can than from a dish, so I keep it full to the brim. I came upon her doing this once, and watched her until she noticed me and scurried away. Another time I came upon her up on her hind legs, as tall as she could make herself, drinking from the birdbath. She likes to find her own sources of water, in the wild -- puddles, water in a saucer under a flower pot, trickles of water meandering down the path from the watering of plants. Finding water herself is independent, an important What's-Her-Name value.

Look, she's doing it again, I tell Q. What's-Her-Name is standing at the watering can, her chin level with the rim, drinking steadily. Isn't that cute? "Cute" isn't a word that usually springs to mind where What's-Her-Name is concerned. But this is cute. The birdbath thing was cute.

What's-Her-Name is not one for cuddling. She'll accept a neck rub, but is at pains to hide her evident pleasure at it and will never sidle up to you and ask for one. She's compromised the plantings in every window box we've ever had by jumping up into them to stare in the window at us, a startling sight if you're not expecting it. I believe this means she wants to come inside, although she has never said so -- I only think so because, when you open the kitchen door, you hear the immediate thump of a cat hitting the cellar door and in under two seconds she has shot into the house.

She hates asking for things. I feel exactly the same way. Having to ask underscores one's dependence. The asker is weak, needy; the askee has all the power. I don't want people to know I need anything. This is ridiculous. Everyone has needs. We all need help now and then.

Maybe we refuse to ask because we think the answer will be NO. What's-Her-Name was found in a junkyard without her front claws -- that can't have been a good thing. Maybe underneath our independence is loneliness and fear, fear that help will not be on the way. We make a preemptive public relations strike in favor of our own independence, confidently asserting it every chance we get, before anybody asks. No, no, I'm fine, we say, don't need a thing.

But it is nice if someone keeps the watering can filled to the brim, and turns it around so it is easy to reach. Whether we admit it or not, someone cares for us and invites us to care for each other in a life more full of love than of lonely pride.
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