Individuality

There are five of them, just all alike except for faint subtleties of darker and lighter stripes. Two are a little blacker, one is smaller. All are fat and fluffy and happy. To me, they are just the kitties. I wish the mother had produced some variety.

To my girls, they are The Kitties. They haul them up from under the deck where the boys loosened a board so that they can easily be accessed. Bending down like little ducks, they fish them out and tenderly croon over them, one by one.

Thundercloud, Black Lightning, Fluffy, Claude, Stripey. They know them, which is which, and they never get mixed up. They know which one likes to hang onto and snag their clothes. They know which one likes to sleep in a swaddle of blankets and which one tends to scamper away, which bites their fingers with tiny nips and which one comes running to them when they play.

I ask myself, how do they keep them apart, that nest of same ordinariness?

It must be love that notices, and therein lies a parable.

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

Little Girls and Kittens-
Is there any better picture of carefree childhood? These are the offspring of the pregnant stray that we took pity on and fed Kit and Caboodle. We only found five babies. What a relief. One for each kid, they say, and they are as delighted as can be.

Favorite Things

Sometimes my children really surprise me. Most days they make me laugh a good belly laugh at least once. And occasionally the surprise and laugh are together, like the day I was reading Gregory’s writing assignment titled, “All About Me”. He began with the usual 3rd grade stats about size, age, and looks, then: “My favorite food is cellry.” This from the child who has only recently been able to eat salad without gagging. Who loves all things pale and pasta but struggles mightily with beans and broccoli… who mostly likes peanut butter in his celery. I don’t know if he was trying to impress the teacher or if it was just another of his little jokes, but I did enjoy the moment.

If I were to ask Rita which are her favorite clothes, she would probably give me a blank look, indicating that she has no time for such frivolous questions. She does, however, come up with some eye-bending combinations. You can see one of them in the previous post… the teal shirt and the light green skirt. She had another set that seemed to make her feel especially elegant. The skirt was rust colored with golden brown embroidery and trim. I thought it was kind of cute, but she consistently wore it with a purple plaid shirt. The effect was unbelievable. Her feelings were rather wounded when I just couldn’t stand it and made her go change. One day Gabe kindly informed me that he never really liked that skirt, so I dropped it into the trash can in a private moment. I don’t make a big deal out of mismatched stuff for play clothes, but I have decided that there is no point in hanging onto ugly stuff just because… 🙂

We finally found a suitable upgrade for the family Caravan. We prayed that it would keep running at least until Gabe was done with school, and it was still going strong, just rather rusty and repeatedly needing power steering fluid. Oh, yes, the AC hasn’t worked for years, one of the windows wouldn’t close, the cruise wasn’t dependable, and the exhaust system needed to be replaced. And it was due to be inspected in September. Last Saturday Gabe traded it in for a Suburban. I had made an appointment a month earlier to take the kittens to a pet shop in hopes that customers would want to adopt them, so I couldn’t go along on the vehicle swap down VA way. Instead, Greg and Livvy went along. As Gabe was filling out paperwork, he noticed that our tender hearted little girl was suddenly catching the drift that they were going to leave the van. They had to take a little walk and get ahold of the sobs. That tickled me and touched me both. There is no accounting for taste when it comes to favorites.

Addy has caught onto the thing of laying claim to certain toys or books and guarding them diligently from the clutches of any other child. I never can understand how a doll can lay unclothed and uncared for for days, and then suddenly it becomes the very most precious, sought after toy to fight about and defend and sob about at night when another child has it in their bed. She has a “peshial” book, blanket, doll, even “peshial” shoes and jacket. Don’t get me started on the rose fork and the pointy spoon and the pink bowl!

My own favorite thing right now is fresh tomatoes, sun warmed and mellow.  I like to imitate Gordon Ramsey and tell the children to go out to the garden to find me “one. stunning. organic. beeeautiful. tomato.” for my salad. 🙂

This next bit is more like unfavorite stuff, but I need to tell you the latest kitten story. We had that appointment at the pet shop. We got there early, but sorry, someone else already had a litter there and they only take one litter at a time and they don’t have my name anywhere despite the fact that one month earlier the girl on the phone clearly reserved this spot for me. So I didn’t ride along to VA with my husband on his day off… all for nothing? I guess the pet shop lady felt a little sorry for me, since she told me that I can bring the kittens again on Labor Day. Sigh. Okay. The good news is, one got adopted. If you wanted the pretty orange one, sorry, but you missed your chance.

I have now suffered the ultimate humiliation in finding homes for these kittens. On Labor Day afternoon we loaded up the crate at the pet shop with 6 kittens still very much homeless. Something desperate in me snapped. Why not try cold calling? Okay, kids, we are gonna stop at all the farms and see if we can find someone who has a spot for them. By the fifth farm I was so traumatized by rejection that I was going to drive right past, but Alex begged me to let him try. He started out by saying, “My mom is too embarrassed to ask you this, but we have some kitties…”

(I will never be unkind to the steak salesman again.)

A Quiver Full…

Once upon a time, about 2 years ago, a Lady saw a sign, “Free Kittens”. She was looking to replace a very special cat that her husband had rescued, crying, from the ditch beside the road. The special cat had, inexplicably, never gotten a better name than Cat.

Maybe because she was so grateful for her rescue, Cat had never scratched or clawed, no matter how much she was pulled and pushed and cradled by the inexpert love and care of a tot who stepped on her tail and a two year old who pawed more than petted. She had also, surprisingly, never produced kittens. She was a perfect cat. But she was gone, completely disappeared.

The lady stopped to check out the free kittens. They were nondescript, grey tabbies, just like Cat. It was a good sign, she thought. She took two little kittens home for her two little girls. One grew to adolescence and disappeared, just like Cat. The other one, the new resident Cat,was a little aloof and entitled. She didn’t like Meow Mix, only Special Kitty. With time she birthed a fine litter. In the family mini van. Everyone was a little surprised about that. The kittens were not too bright, apparently, for they self destructed on the road, all but one who went to live on a farm.

Pregnancy number two produced two girls, White Nose and Callie, and two boys, Atlas and Claude. Not in the van, but under the porch. The cousins from North Carolina took a shine to Claude and he moved to the mountains where he continues a sleek and happy existence.

Cat 2 was a very good mother. Her kittens thrived, although none of them had the happy disposition of the Cat they replaced. Nevertheless, they were petted and loved and they certainly kept both the mouse and the garter snake population down. Cat 2 got pregnant again, but those kittens were never found. Then Cat 2 got pregnant for the 4th time. She was quite faithful in that way.

The Lady’s husband looked at her and said, “This. Is too much.” She had a surprise for him. You see, Atlas had grown up and turned out to be a girl too, and Atlas was also expecting. Four ravenous cats go through a good deal of Special Kitty. And there were going to be more mouths to feed very soon.

“We will give away free kittens,” she said to her husband.

Cat 2 was the first… one kitten. Very prudent and sensible. She kept her baby out of trouble, under the front porch. Then one day the little girl on the swing jumped off and came flying into the house, “Mama, Mama, Mama! Atlas just laid a kitty under the slide! I just saw this bubble thing and then all of a sudden, there was a kitty!” Over the course of the next few hours, there was another kitty and another and another and another and another and another. Seven babies under the slide on the wood chips! The little girl felt sorry for their inhospitable surroundings and made them a bed of peony petals. She fed Atlas milk and lay there under the slide to watch the babies knead and paw their mother as they nursed.

The Lady started drafting a Free Kittens sign in her head, as attractive as she could make it, seeking to replicate the one that drew her down that farm lane a few years ago.

Because, you see, the thing is, White Nose and Callie are also about to pop.

Free Kittens.