It's not my fault. It's the cats' fault. [How about now?] This story requires some background:
Josh moved in at the beginning of August, and brought his (cat) girls, Maggie and Feliz, with him. We followed the proper protocol: lock them in a room for a month, and never let them or Raja (my boy) see each other. They can smell one another under the door, etc. At the same time, we locked Raja in our bedroom to minimize his anxiety with all of the noise going on during renovations.
Starting in September we would let everyone out for an hour or so, then back in the room. We gradually increased the time until finally after about two months, I think, the doors were opened for good.
Obviously if a cat is locked in a room a litter box is required, so Maggie & Feliz had theirs, and Raja had his in the master bedroom. I didn't really enjoy this--litter in the bed is a result, both carried by his paws as well as our feet from the litter that was perpetually on the bedroom floor (hardwoods--bamboo--I installed it myself). I find litter in the bed quite annoying.
Even after the doors were open, we often shut the doors during construction to keep the cats contained, which reduces their stress. Once the house was on the market at the beginning of the year, we moved Raja's litter box downstairs to the office. That's when the trouble began.
Maggie and Feliz would chase Raja through the house. We didn't realize the dynamic we had set up: Raja is a very timid cat, and Josh's girls are both much more social and assertive. Raja was spending all of his time on our bed, even after the doors were open, so as to avoid the girls. Thus, they reached a detente that they didn't publish anywhere: Raja may be in the bedroom (actually, on the bed), and Maggie and Feliz may be everywhere else. When he had his space in the office they deigned to let him have that space as well. So, he can be in the bedroom on the main floor, where we fed him, or in the office where his litter box and water were. Do you see a logistical problem here?
Every time he wanted to go to the bathroom he had to run the gauntlet, as well as when returning to the bedroom. the would literally chase him back to his room (sometimes he wasn't allowed to go downstairs) and onto the bed, even jumping on the bed to intimidate him, if I may anthropomorphize a bit.
Josh, ever thoughtful as he is, began getting concerned last week that Raja wasn't getting enough water. So we decided to put a bowl of water in the bedroom.
[Are you wondering what the heck this has to do with my being naked? I'll get there shortly.]
Josh was right: Raja wasn't getting enough water. He was drinking lots of water, so it was good we had the water up there. Lots and lots of water. Water, water, water. It occurred to me to possibly be nervous, but Raja has always been so faithful with his litter box that I considered the risk to be quite low.
Until last Thursday.
Last week Monday through Wednesday Josh took Raja down to his office when he (Josh, not Raja) was working. Raja would use the litter box and hang out for a while, sometimes running the gauntlet to get back to home base.
Thursday Josh didn't go down to his office. I know you see it coming.
As we were getting ready for bed, I walked into the bedroom and saw a LARGE wet stain on the comforter. "Oh, he didn't pee," I thought, "he just threw up." No he didn't--he peed.
On my bed.
On my down comforter.
I'm quite happy to state that I almost never get frustrated with cats, and never when a 'misbehavior' is caused by their stress. I was nowhere near angry with him; indeed, I felt sorry that I had put him in this position. Knowing how faithful he has always been with his littler box, I was quite sure he held it as long as he could, stressed out, and then lost the battle.
I feel like a bit of a bad cat-daddy as a result, but 1) I'll get over it; and 2) that's not pertinent to the story.
I soaked up everything I could with paper towels, then we stripped off the duvet and put the comforter in a large trash bag, in the garage where it would stay cool (we left the following morning for the farm--no time to wash it). I washed the duvet in enzymes, which solved that problem completely. However, an industrial washer and dryer are required to wash a down comforter.
[We're almost there; do you have any guesses yet?]
I intended to leave work by 4 today to get time after work and before a call at 7 tonight to wash and dry it. I checked the instructions of the enzymes and realized I didn't have enough time: the comforter needs to soak for an hour in the enzymes, then finish the cycle, then wash again, then dry. No small project.
[Here it comes; are you ready?]
There's no way to start a Laundromat washer, cycle until wet, then turn it off for an hour. First of all, there's no way to shut one off (that I know of); second, others would need it more than likely, so I couldn't waste the time. So I made an alternate plan.
I mixed the enzymes, waited a few minutes for them to activate, then put warm water in the tub (between 75 and 110°). I'd soak the comforter there for an hour, squeeze it then go to the laundromat.
Have you ever tried to soak a down comforter in a bathtub? I'll bet not. Because the better question is: have you ever tried to submerge a down comforter in water? Or a related question: have you ever tried to hold a beach ball under water? It ain't easy.
If you're a scout and have received your swimming merit badge, or whatever the analog is for girl scouts, or ever taken a water survival course, you learn that blue jeans (without holes) make nice floatation devices: take them off, tie the ends of the legs together, put them over your head with the knot behind your neck, then holding the waistline below the water, "splash" air under water until it fills with air. The water causes the threads of the fabric to expand, as well as adding water tension to the surface. As long as the pants are kept wet, they hold air pretty well.
Now imagine that same phenomenon with a queen-sized down comforter. (No jokes, please. Oh what the heck: jokes, please.) It's actually more challenging than a beach ball, because you push down here and it pops up there.
Being a thinking man, I went to the kitchen and got several cooking screens and racks. I thought I could use them to push down on the comforter. It didn't work--the air kept moving away from where I pushed down.
[ok, you see it coming now, don't you?]
I decided the only way to soak the entire comforter all the way through was the man-handle the thing. I took off my clothes and got in the tub. Even that didn't work at first: I'd kneel here and push there with my hands, and the bubbles would simply move. So I hearkened back to my four months in Asia living with a Thermarest and sleeping bag with stuffsack: I started at one end, squeezed all the air out, then rolled it. Kneel on it. Roll, kneel, roll, kneel, until I got all the way through. It got even more challenging at the end, and I finally did it. I then spread out the comforter and agitated it. I looked a bit like Lucille Ball stomping grapes, except that I'm a man, not a woman; I'm stomping on a comforter not grapes, and I'm naked. Other than that, I'm sure we looked a lot alike. I could make more comparisons, but this is a family show.
Then it's time to get out of the tub. I turn on the water and use the hand-shower to shower off my legs and arms. Then dry and get out.
I mentioned the enzymes: the product is called Odor-Mute, and it works AMAZINGLY well on cat urine: it gets rid of the odor completely and passes the black light test (urine--including human urine--phosphoresces under black light). Curiously, it's the exact same enzyme that's in Adolph's Meat Tenderizer. So not only have I been removing the urine smell from the comforter, I've been tenderizing myself. I must be very tender by now. Throw me on the grill.
Well, I have my clothes back on by now, and it's been almost an hour since I set it to soaking. It's time to go squeeze the water out, and go to the Laudromat. Hm. I'll probably have to get naked again.
Wonder whether it will come out all right? Wonder whether I'll make my phone call at 7? Wonder whether I'll die of boredom at the Laundromat? or get mugged? or meet an angel or something?
Check back later to find out. This is my cliff-hanger.