Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Move Too Soon

Shadow continues to rub against my ankles every morning and at other times, too. Last night she was purring, loudly, a real purr, as she continued physical contact. She looks at me more, too, I think. Eye contact has to be good, right?

She still bothers Bella, though. There was a spat in the middle of the night, and this morning, also last night when I got home. This a.m. I had to resort to the Squirt Bottle. Fed them separately, usual procedure now, and I closed the door so Bella could eat in peace.

A few minutes later, I was at the computer when I heard Bella mewing to come out, so I opened the door. Now I'm at the office, and I have to trust they are doing okay together.

Made a mistake yesterday a.m. by picking up the little cat when she rubbed against my ankles. She squirmed desperately, so I put her back on the floor, and she ran as far from me as she could get. A move too soon, on my part. Still, at least now I know I can get a hold of her to take her to the vet for spaying, if that certificate ever arrives. And, she didn't bite me or scratch, just wriggled. She is becoming tamer. I would love to pick her up and cuddle her, but not yet.

I need a book on feral cat behavior and how to tame them. Can anyone recommend one?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A wild cat now runs into my house, on purpose

We had a situation the other night. I went to the movies with my friend Shani, to see "Capitalism," the Michael Moore film, and when I got home about midnight my downstairs neighbors met me at the door. They were upset, and understandably so, because water had leaked from my bathroom into their bathroom. That was Tuesday. I was up till 2 a.m., watching movies & trying to calm down. Men from the co-op came on Wednesday, another day off for me, and took down my neighbors' bathroom ceiling. They found the problem, and it wasn't my fault. It was nobody's fault, so the co-op had to take care of installing a new tub drain, and trap, or something. Turns out I share it also with my UPSTAIRS neighbor, and three people live in that apartment, vs. one in mine and two downstairs. I had to take the whole day off today for the plumbers.

They came before 9 a.m., as I was getting up. I was about to feed the cats, but the men started making a racket before either one could eat her breakfast. The kitties were freaked. Even Bella hid in the closet. The plumbers had a heavy-duty drill that broke thru my drain and even the tile floor. The one working downstairs was drilling, too. The whole floor was vibrating. The little cat disappeared early on, I think behind the couch.

They were done about 11, and it's been nice and quiet since. Both cats are circling around, not fighing. Last night when I came home from an art gallery reception, it was pretty late, too, about 11. Again, Bella was waiting by the door, so when I opened it, she ran out. I thought I saw Shadow, too, but you know how shadows are, you're never quite sure what you see. Bella stands out, being mostly white, and she was on the lawn, eating grass, but there was no sign of the little one. I told Bella "In the house," and in she went, as she does (such a good girl). As she walked up the brick steps to the front door, the little dark one ran really fast, in the door and up my stairs, thus proving she had, indeed, been out. That's amazing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Squirt Bottle

I've had to introduce the squirt bottle to Shadow. It's really a plant mister, with a top that has two settings, mist and stream, like Windex. It contains plain water in a bulb-shaped blue plastic jar. The stream setting works better for my purposes.

Shadow launched one of her attacks on Bella this morning, and I had the Squirt Bottle at the ready. I got her, and she ran under the crib, but I wanted her out of my room completely, so I got her again, in the side. Success! She is the ultimate moving target, though. I am surprised I hit her at all.

Bella long ago learned the purpose of the bottle, so if she is doing something bad, like biting the calves of my legs as I walk down the hall, on scratching on my wooden closet doors, I squirt her. Usually she runs away at the mere sight of it. Also, if I say, "I'm going to get the squirt bottle," and open the linen closet door, she stops and regards me with extra-huge green eyes. She knows.

Usually, with Bella, I don't need to use it more than once or twice a year, but now it's on my dresser, like a small blue sentinel.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Away for the Weekend

It's a week since my last post, and things are going well. I got an envelope from Friends of Animals, but it contained their magazine, not the the spay certificate as I hoped. Now Shadow is looking suspiciously fat. I hope she's not pregnant. It could have happened while she was still in Ali's neighborhood, I suppose. Maybe she's just growing.

Last week was pleasant enough. No fights of any magnitude. Thursday night I did laundry, and in bringing it inside, I left the door open. Bella walked almost out, and Shadow followed. I was like, uh oh, she's gonna run away and I won't be able to get her back. But, I called Bella. Bella turned on the threshold and came in, Shadow following. Whew! I had Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (yesterday) off, for a trip to see my daughter, and, as it turned out, my sister, tamer of feral cats. She gave me a laser light pet toy.

My neighbor Marta had agreed to feed them while I was gone. I warned her not to try to touch the little one, and everything went fine, apparently. I called her the first night, feeling as I had when my kids were little and I called the sitter to check on them.

"I saw the little cat," Marta reported. That was better than I expected. I thought Shadow would hide when someone new came in.

Got home in the late afternoon yesterday. Bella was the first one I saw, at the top of the stairs as usual. We touched noses, our homecoming ritual. I fed them both, and there was a little chasing, but no fighting. At one point, both cats were lounging on my bed. Bella slept with me all night, purring and kneading her paws on my side as she often does. I left my door open, but no little cat invasions. It was peaceful.

This morning, Shadow kept rubbing up against my legs, even though I had just put food down for her. She was not saying 'I'm hungry;' it meant something else. Dare I hope she was telling me she missed me? She sat on the foot of my bed while I was listening to WNYC and sipping coffee for 15 minutes or so. She looked so relaxed, and I felt flattered. She's been with me a month and a half.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dinner a la Crate

Shadow wouldn't go into the carrier, even though she hadn't eaten all day and I put a saucer of freshly opened canned food inside. But guess who did: Bella!

It was the funniest thing, to see the big white cat slowly and suspiciously walk in.

Usually she hates the carrier, and, when I first got it out, she ran into the little crack in the couch where Shadow used to hide. Then she came out and walked around the crate, sniffing the food inside.

I was watching TV, unconcerned about who went in, but thinking if Shadow did take the bait, I'd take her to the expensive vet, just to get the spaying over with.

Bella nibbled a bit, came out, sat on my lap, I petted and praised her, she got back down and went into the carrier again, and ate some more. "Looks like you found a safe place to eat where nobody will bother you," I said.

Spaying, Part I

Shadow has an appointment at the vets' tonight, but it remains to be seen if we will get there. If she goes into the carrier, I will take it as a sign, and bring her in.

If not, I'll get the spay/neuter certificate from Friends of Animals ($65 for a female cat). There's a vet near me who participates in the program, only charging $35extra for pain meds when she goes home. They do ferals on Thursday, not handy for me this week, and the girl at the vet's office warned me the certificate takes a long time to come in the mail. And don't ask me how I would give her pain meds.

My vet does not participate in the program, and for two nights' boarding, plus surgery and everything else, they will charge $345. It's a big difference.
If anybody wants to check the FoA, it's

The kitty is still wild, but funny. This morning I heard her scratching at something that turned out to be my rubber rainboots, the stretchy part on the side. No damage. She rubbed against my ankles in the kitchen again. Oh, my neighbor agreed to feed them while I am away this weekend. I warned her about the feral, but I am sure Shadow will hide when she sees Marta. Hope she doesn't bite her, like one of my sister's cats did when a neighbor came in to feed him. His name was Buster, and Kitty always described him as a "barn cat."

Kitty's neighbor had to go to the hospital, and Kitty paid the bill. I really hope that doesn't happen this weekend!

Barn cats generally have no manners. In a house, they don't know how to behave, jumping up on tables and stuff. However, some cats raised in a barn have an innate sense of how to act in a home.

I am pretty sure Shadow is a barn cat. She did jump on my desk, as I could tell the next day when I saw papers and my glasses on the floor. This morning she ran around my apartment with so much energy, I wished I could let her out to run and climb trees. Our barn cats used to climb ladders to get to the hay mow. They really had the life.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ali Pays a Visit

Worked with Ali today, and his next-door neighbor was our minor. They knew Shadow months ago, of course, since Ali and his father saved her.

Ali drove me home, and I asked them in to see Shadow and Bella. What a nice visit! Shadow was stretched out on the couch, although she hid when she saw them. Bella had been in my room, and she came out when she heard us. She turned on the charm, and I was so proud of her. We played with the Cat Dancer toy a little, I knowing she was thinking, You faker! You never play with me unless we have company. Unfortunately, this is true.

After they left, I fed her -- in the kitchen, hurray-- then watched the last of Penn State's victorious Homecoming game, reheated the ratatouille from last night, then watched "Sex and the City" episodes with Bella on my lap. She felt very relaxed, which made me happy.

Who's the Alpha Cat?

It's 9:15 on Saturday morning, and I am at work, waiting for our daily assignments. "Dog's Best Friend," an obvious pseudonym for the guy who sits next to me, is an expert on animal behavior. He's had Dobermans, Rotties and now a single pit bull, whom I've met. She seems very sweet.

I love to talk to him about animals. I told him about the two cats lying peacefully on my bed last night. He was pleased, but not particularly surprised. I told him Bella had the position of superiority, up by the pillows, while Shadow was more toward the foot. He figured as much, but said something I'd been thinking, too. As she grows bigger and more sure of herself, she is going to try to become the alpha cat. Then I'll see either fur flying or Bella giving in.

This morning it was more of the former. Lots of running and chasing, and me trying to figure out where to put the cats, where to put their food. I think they put on an act for me, hoping I'll stay home to referee. They are just going to have to work it out, or else. As the vet tech said when he handed me Bella's carrier after her anorexic episode, "Deal with it, Bella."

I think Shadow has done Bella and me a lot of good. For me, she brings back memories of the farm. This morning in the kitchen, she rubbed against my ankles again. It's becoming a regular thing. She only does this in the kitchen, where the food comes from, but she'll do it when the food is elsewhere, as it was today--hers in the living room, Bella's in my room. I was barefoot as usual. I'm not afraid of her, and she knows it. I heard something like purring, but, as I told my co-worker, not real cozy, relaxed purring, but sort of a frantic purring, purring that was asking for something. All of a sudden I remembered the cats at the barn doing the same thing. They were pretty wild, too. My sisters and I were told not to pick them up, and with a few exceptions, we obeyed.

It was my grandparents' farm, but my uncle Donald did most of the outdoor work. My grandmother did not allow animals in the house, but she made exceptions for certain dogs like Butch, a faithful German shepherd, and Teddy, who came later, a boxer. We have a picture of my sister Kitty, wearing summer pajamas and leaning back on Teddy as if he were a backrest. I remember Nana feeding him Cheerios with milk out on the back porch.

All of our dogs and cats were dropped off sneakily by people who saw that the farm looked like a good place, and it was. It's actually what I wanted to do with Shadow, but nobody in Hope has a dairy farm anymore.

Another big exception to Nana's house rule was Gus, the gigantic tom who my uncle particularly liked. He was the only cat I remember being in the house at all, although I do remember my grandmother shooing some out the kitchen door with a broom,when they tried to come in from the front porch.

Donald watched Westerns after dinner in the beat-up green armchair, the kind with tassles on the edges, his feet on the ottoman, smoking Winstons with the enormous gray and white Gus on his lap, relaxing after a day of hard physical labor.

"Gus, you old reprobate," Donald used to say, rubbing the cat's head fondly as the cigarette smoke curled up through the lampshade. I see it perfectly in my mind, and I am glad.

I think now that it's possible Donald identified with Gus, or wanted to, and that's how I learned the meaning of the word reprobate. I was probably 6 or 7. Gus would disappear frequently, and sometimes came back battered, with a scratch down his face or a torn ear. Nana thought he was filthy and full of fleas, which was probably true. She couldn't very well defy her son, though, since he did most of the heavy farm work. (Grandpa did some milking and haying, but he had heart trouble.)

Nana and Donald must have reached a truce on it.

I do not remember any veterinary care for the cats, no shots or spaying. Kittens appeared and disappeared. Cats got hit by cars in the road that bisected the property. We didn't even get upset, because they were nameless and there would always be more. They ate rodents nightly in the fields and probably in the barn, too, and snakes as well. It was a win-win for humans and felines.

My uncle poured them two pie pans of milk after the morning and evening milking, and the felines were always very eager for it. Now, my vet says giving them milk can cause diarrhea. Considering how long I have been around cats, there is an awful lot I don't know.

The ways in which Shadow's presence has helped Bella are, 1., she gets more exercise and...I don't know what else, but there must be more. It must be waking her up more, activating her brain.

Friday, October 16, 2009

National Feral Cat Day, Oct. 16

Who knew? Maybe Shadow and Bella knew, for they have been very good since a bad spat this morning, as I was getting ready for work. I took an emergency annual leave day, because I thought "I've got to get a plan going" for the feral.

I was a little panicked last night when my daughter called the situation "untenable." It kind of is, but you should have seen them today. They love it when I'm home. The little one enjoys music. She lay on the couch like a regular cat, a first. While I was going through my piles of mail, I played old CDs. She's a folk cat, I thought, remembering Phoebe, a tiger striped cat we had in the 1970s, who especially loved Joni Mitchell. I was home all of today, except for going to Rite Aid to get a flu shot. It was nasty out, cold and rainy. A good day to be indoors. Lucky little feral. It's really Ali she has to thank.

I called my vets' office again, to see if I could cancel Shadow's Tuesday appointment for spaying, in case I found a cheaper place. They all seemed like a hassle, though, and Bideawee wasn't much less than the price my vet quoted. The woman I talked to at Bideawee told me Shadow has bonded to me! Can you imagine? I told her S. was lying at the top of the stairs for a long time, and then on the couch. Oh, the other night she greeted me at the top of the stairs, but that was only because Bella was confined to my room.

I've gone in my room twice in the last hour, and both cats were lying quietly on my bed, an unimaginable first. Celebrating National Feral Cat Day, no doubt.

One one of the Websites, I found out today is National Feral Cat Day. On another, Friends of Animals, I learned that Priscilla Feral is the president of that organization. It has spay certificates that may be purchased online, and certain vets honor them with a discount. But not mine, I found out when I called. They are already offering a 10% discount for any services to strays.

The Mayor's Alliance has a Feral Cat Initiative, and a beautiful, rich Web site. Maybe I'll vote for Bloomberg after all.

I did not cancel Shadow's appointment, but they said I could on short notice, like if I can't get her in the carrier, and it wouldn't be a problem. They're very nice over there at Astoria Veterinary Group. (Might as well give them a plug.) The plan now is that I'll take her over there on Monday evening, they'll do the surgery Tuesday, and I'll pick her up Wednesday evening after work.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fingers and Toes

It's been more than a week since I wrote here. Things are pretty much status quo. Some nights we play musical feeding dishes. One night, I made no effort at all to feed either of them; just sat on the couch watching TV while the two cats roamed around, munching dry food. There was no hissing, no fighting. Another night, I put on gardening gloves to protect my hands, just in case I had to pick up a certain kittycat.

The day I took Shadow to the vet, which was Sept. 15 (hey, a month ago), she scratched my finger as I tried to grab her out from under the heat register in the bathroom. I put hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin on it right away, and a Band Aid, but sitting in the vets' waiting room several hours later, I noticed it was really sore.

This evolved into a visit two days later to my doctor, who told me to always see an M.D. when a cat scratches you. She said it was infected, and I must soak it in Betadine solution for 20 minutes, several times a day. Bacitracin is preferred over Neosporin, she said, so the cut stays open to let it drain, if it needs to drain. OK, that was taken care of without need of antibiotic.

When I got to my doctor's office, her assistant volunteered her opinion of my feral cat: Have her euthanized. I was pretty shocked, and, no, I am not planning to kill her.

The other night Shadow got me on the side of one toe! It wasn't her fault. I unintentionally sneaked up on her when she was eating in the kitchen, she sensed or heard me coming (I was wearing rubber flip-flops, pretty quiet, if you ask me, but she has really good hearing.) She did a panicked run, her claws scrabbling on the tiles. For a second I thought she was going to run between my feet, but one nail grazed a toe on my left foot. It hurt a little bit yesterday, so this a.m. I poured some peroxide on it. It foamed up, so, I guess there were some germs, but nowhere near as many as she had a month ago.

I so admire the little feral. One morning I was in a hurry to leave for work, but had to move my son's girlfriend's car for alternate side parking. I had been in the midst of cleaning Shadow's litter box, so I left it on the wooden chair by the front living room window, through which I had glimpsed the empty parking spot right in front of my apartment. Rushed off to catch the bus, forgetting to set the box back on the floor.

That night, I found she had used her box. I couldn't imagine how she had managed to balance, in the box, on the chair. Such a good girl! I praised her a lot.

This morning when I left for work, after three glorious days off, little Shadow jumped up on my bed and made herself comfortable. I was pretty fearful of what Bella would do, but left the house anyway because I didn't want to be late.

I work for the City of New York, and they make a very big deal about punctuality.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Got home about an hour ago, having stopped to get Fancy Feast on the way. My house was dark and cold; the wind was blowing pretty hard all day and I left the windows open. So, I closed windows, turned on lights, and opened cat food cans.

The little one was in the living room, and Bella was in my room, where I had left her all day with a light on. I could see her shadow under the door, so I opened it, out she came like she had missed out on all the action all day.

Feeding them was interesting. It's after cat-dinner now, and Bella's back in my room, and yowling. She wants to come out. They seem to enjoy fighting, but I hate it. "Can't we all just get along?" I asked them.

Bella ran down the stairs, followed more slowly by Shadow. It may have been her first time on the stairs. Nothing much happened. Shadow came back up, then disappeared into the closet. I gave Bella her food in her old spot in the kitchen, while Shadow stationed herself under the rocking chair, where she has a good view of the kitchen, living room, hallway, and anything that moves in between.

Holding Shadow's food, I wondered where to put it. I took it over by the couch, where she ate for the first week that she was out of the bathroom/prison. Not interested. Meanwhile, Bella was eating well in the kitchen. No more mime of covering food with litter. Of course Shadow stalked her and chased her out of there. Bella ran into my room, so I brought the rest of her dinner there, too. God, this must be really boring to you readers. I moved Shadow's food to under the dining room table, and I see that the saucer has been licked clean.

I knew this conflict would happen, as soon as I found out the little feral was a female.

Bella's trying to defend her turf, and Shadow is challenging her. Shadow goes after her with such vigor, speed and athleticism, I have to admire her. Bella's built for comfort, not for speed. And, she's a lot older.

One of the vets in the group I go to told me the first time I brought Shadow in that keeping her would shorten Bella's life, because of the added stress. Another vet in the same practice told me if Bella accepts her, living with a companion cat will help her live longer.

Just peeked at Bella's dish, and it, too, is clean. Good.

Now she came out and scratched her claws on the cardboard thing in the hall. Little cat heard her, and came racing. There was spitting and chasing, but no attack. Ha, exercise for Bella. Maybe I should look at it that way.

Bella goes up on my bed for refuge, or maybe it's military strategy: to claim the high ground to repulse the invader. I don't think Shadow would dare get on my bed, at least not yet.

Maybe this will work out, and both cats will be better off. I'm just not sure how much time to give it. Or if I should keep them separated at night, or what. I know I don't want them fighting. I never did like confrontation.

A Chunk of Fur Gone

I was off yesterday, thank goodness. Got home late, due to a union meeting after work. We had the usual upsetment over feeding dinner, so I gave Bella hers in my room. She does this scratching thing, as if dinner is shit, and she's trying to cover it with sand. It's very insulting to me, as I tried hard to give her a nice meal. (It was canned chicken cat food, with real cooked chicken from the fridge mixed in, and a little mashed sweet potato, too.) The little one ate hers up.

I got up early yesterday morning 'cause the cable guy was coming to disconnect my cable box, which he did, at 8 a.m. Too expensive, especially with all these vet fees. I made myself bacon and pancakes, with coffee, fed the cats, cleaned their boxes, looked around my living room at the piles of unopened mail, and went back to bed. Slept till noon. I'd closed the door, and Bella was snuggled up against me looking so calm, it was wonderful. Then I noticed what I thought was a cut on her leg. It's actually a pink spot, where her white fur was removed, but the skin is not broken. I wonder who could have done that?

Poor Bella. She is really getting the worst of it. I can't believe how feisty this new cat is. Again this morning, she rubbed up against my legs in the kitchen. It's becoming a regular thing. She has such potential! I'm getting messages on Facebook, from three friends, to the effect that they bet I'll keep the little feral. "You're an old softie," one of them said.

I am meeting my friend Shani later at a bar on the Bowery, for a beauty sample event, of all things, so I will get home late again tonight. And tomorrow I am not off, after all, but doing overtime. Looking forward to Monday, the Columbus Day holiday, and Tuesday, my regular day off. That'll be nice.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Social Time at Home

My tame domesticated cat, who sleeps with me at night, is anti-social. My new wild cat is more social. I find this really hard to accept, or do anything about. Where is the Pet Psychic? She used to write a column in The Jersey Journal; I'll have to try to find her. But she was all about Bach flower essences, which are expensive. Heck, it might be worth it to see those two kitties eating out of the same dish.

That's all that the little feral wants. (Her name is Shadow now. Cinderella was too ridiculous.) I feel quite sorry for her, as she peers around a corner at me with her big green eyes when I stand in the kitchen. Did I tell you that the other day she bestowed upon me her first voluntary touch? I was in the kitchen, opening cans of cat food, when Shadow walked up to me and rubbed around my ankles. I was pretty thrilled. She hasn't been with me even a month yet. Maybe she's not as wild as I thought.

Ali tells me that mealtime was also playtime for the cats, when they lived in his backyard. They crowded around him to the point that he had to push them out of the way of the dish, a big aluminum pan. The cats would push each other, too, and then play-fighting would ensue. No wonder Shadow misses that interaction. She's lonely. Maybe I should adopt a kitten she can play with. Bella is a lost cause, but I still feel loyal to her.

Bella must keep eating, but if I feed her in her usual spot, the little one tries to join her, and there is hissing and bad feelings. It's going to stress Bella out, and I don't want her to land at the vet's again. So now I feed her in my room. At least she eats.

This morning I heard crunching coming from the kitchen. I put the dry food dispenser back on the floor, and what do you know, Shadow was eating a piece. Her mouth must have healed. I can't wait to be off tomorrow, to spend the day with them and see what happens.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Greatest Secret in the World

Bella came home last night. The vet gave her an appetite stimulant, among other things, and said she is fine. I just have to make sure she keeps eating and drinking, duh. I paid $500 for this advice, which I knew already. I don't mean to sound so grouchy about it. They did do a lot of other stuff to check on her, and of course I am grateful that she is OK. The vet even deducted the cost of one of the X-rays ($125), which was considerate.

When I brought her home, I put Bella in my room and closed the door, but she wanted out. When I let her out, the little cat was the boldest she has been so far, meowing as if to greet my older cat. I think Cinderella missed her! She is social! What a surprise.

My grandparents had a dairy farm in Hope, N.J., a pretty little town with many stone buildings dating back to the 1700s. It was founded as a Moravian community. My friend Lin lives there, and she looms large in my hopes to find a better home for Cinderella, who is mis-named, by the way.

If anyone ever starts following this blog, please send me some ideas for a better name.

Anyway, several years ago Lin and I went to Hope's annual holiday craft fair, where I bought four wooden blocks, shaped and painted to represent various buildings in the town. One is the arched stone bridge, another the distillery, the Christian church that became a community center in my childhood, and the little red toll house that stands at the upper end of the bridge. There use to be a one-cent charge per cow driven over the bridge. Anyway, I was checking Cindy's litter pan and found the old stone bridge face-down in it. I was horrified, but no damage was done, it's easily cleaned. I put them all up higher on the window sill, a safer place. Through the evening I heard her playing with the dangling cords to the shades, so I put them up, too. Bella used to do that when I first got her.

I remembered a story my grandmother in Hope told me about her mother. When she was a young girl, she went to a county fair. She had 25 cents to spend for the whole day. She walked around the carnival, looking at what she could do or buy with this money.

There was a tent, with a sign outside saying "Learn the Greatest Secret in the World," for only twenty-five cents. How could my great-grandma resist? Her name was Barbara; I was named for her. So, she pays her twenty-five cents, goes inside the tent. The crowd sits down in folding chairs in the dim light. Pretty soon a lady comes out with a cutting board, a loaf of bread, and a knife. She demonstrates slicing the bread.

"Always cut from you; never cut toward you," the lady said. This, apparently, was the greatest secret in the world. At any rate, it became a family story, and probably saved many of us from slicing our fingers off. Many times when we cooked together, Nana told me that story, always with a little laugh and a twinkling eye. I just knew Barbara Coppersmith had shared that story with all her daughters.

Always make sure your cat is drinking water. And eating. Feed moist food rather than dry. Charge: $500. Could this be the 2009 equivalent of 25 cents in 1800s rural Maryland?