“It’s hard to concentrate on the work at hand when a kitten is playing at your feet.”

The neighborhoods we walk in and bike in often contain derelict houses, overgrown lawns/lots, jagged unfriendly pathways (seriously I could keep up an entire blog mocking the HQX sidewalks). One time last summer as we made our way across Hoquiam and Aberdeen to get our groceries my daughter, irritated at the broken bottles, garbage, and variety of obstacles she was having to steer past on her new, almost-too-big-for-her bike, querulously asked, “What is this, a Glass Parade?”

This morning at 5 AM when I finally surfaced out of a lovely sleep as I realized I’d been hearing a crystalline “tink”, “tink”, “tink” for some time. I came to and discovered Hamilton the kitten was on the windowsill, six inches from my head, repeatedly and rhythmically tapping the window-blind cord stop against an empty glass. I removed the cat from the sill and disentangled my feet from her slumbering brother and got up for a glass of water and heard the sound of one of my adult cats outside, fighting/arguing with another feline from the neighborhood (you know that low, threatening cat-growl that sounds so alarming).

So that’s when the phrase, “Cat Parade” enters my mind, i.e. a world with Let’s Face It, too many tuna-breath little scurriers who, somewhat humiliatingly, follow me through the house and much like my children enjoy nothing more than being with me as I A. sew or B. cook. In fact as far as sewing goes at this point when I’m in the back room contentedly stitching the floor is so littered with cats in such extremely excessive states of repose I often feel embarrassed for them and myself because of how much pleasure we take in our company.

As I type this I feel one of the kittens begin climbing my back (fortunately I’m swaddled in a blanket so I don’t scream in pain and anger). I reach back and gently grasp the animal; you can tell it’s Hamilton because she has a very fat, round tummy (her brother is quite skinny). A few minutes later and she’s up watching me, cuddled up near my computer monitor. A couple minutes after that and she’s become singularly obsessed with attacking the mouse (computer-mouse that is) on the desk.

This is Hamilton:
Natural Defenses Hamilton is blurry in this picture. Now we own an incredibly cheap camera, I admit it, but nevertheless I rarely end up with an unfocussed picture like this. So I’m pretty sure she looks blurry because she is starting to feel sleepy.

Don’t tell anyone I was online reading “kitten quotes”, but I totally was, and I liked this one:

“A kitten is so flexible that she is almost double; the hind parts are equivalent to another kitten with which the forepart plays. She does not discover that her tail belongs to her until you tread on it.”

I know my kittens are just sort of Nothing to anyone else, just a blip, another mouth to feed or a series of rather uninteresting anecdotes. For me the little ones remind me how fleeting life can be; how special is our Now and our time of self-discovery. My kittens remind me of the incredible good fortune I have, how I find I am able to give a little more to care for one more person or one more body and how I can always find more love. My kittens (are far, far, FAR easier than caring for a child but) remind me of babies and newborns and that when one chooses to care for others there is a lot of feeding and cleaning and loving-up and chores and just plain stewardship and often the acts themselves are the “rewards” and not all see how this is so. Some of the people I like best in the world are those who care for others – deliberately and with great joy – because people/pets/the world all need care.

But I’ll tell you one thing. If I’m going to own four cats I’m a little resentful that there have been moments when I totally want to sit down and have a cat on my lap and none of the little creatures are willing to provide.

I have the feeling I could own twice as many cats and never get that lap-love guarantee.

r.i.p. & pbbbth

We had a milestone today – a really crappy one. Early, early this AM one of our pullets was killed by an opossum. This was Felix Jr. – or “Rattlesnake” as the neighborhood kids called her for her speed. She wasn’t fast enough apparently. The other birds were shaken up but today with a few strawberry tops and sunshine they seem to be back to normal.

Ralph buried the bird last night and trapped the possum, bent on murdering it. I tried to talk him down. He is not a vicious man but he was heartbroken and angry. I told him What about the possibility of baby possums? etc. I went to sleep hoping I’d convinced him.

This morning while he was at work we IM’d:

me: Did you kill that opossum?

Ralph: No.
I won’t, either.
I read about them a lot this AM, and had a change of heart.

me: Good

Ralph: They’re not very intelligent, they’re migrant, and they eat whatever they can find. They’re opportunists, and generally beneficial to various areas by cleaning up organic matter – carcasses, often – when available.

They’re kind of like zen animals, doing largely good things.

Besides, that piece of shit dug out from where I’d trapped it.

Ha! But: yeah.

We’ve kept our hens pretty damn safe considering we’ve been in four different homes with them in neighborhoods with people who let their dogs loose. This is a good track record considering we’ve owned chickens for a couple years now (at least I think it’s about that long, and I canna be fucked to look it up on this blog) and besides loose canines the raccoons and possums can be quite determined (they have all night to get to it as hens at night won’t raise an alarm nor defend themselves). Our good track record and our loving TLC is comfort right now when, like any pet owner, he and I both feel guilty, sad, and suppressed that something went wrong.

We are sad at Felix, Jr.’s passing.

In other awesome pet news we’re dogsitting my mom’s poodle/terrier mix Tuck, who loves me very much, likely because I treat him very well and take him everywhere I go. Today he’s had a stomachache from eating something wrong and he’s alternated between keeping his tail clamped over his ass and his back humped up in pan, vs. shitting into the clamped tail, the latter of which led to the most vile shit-cleaning experience I’ve ever had (reader, please ponder on my breadth of experience). While I was at it I gave him a Dr. Bronner’s bath. Ralph dried him off and put him out on the deck to dry in the warm sunshine, where he currently sits and I where I decidedly hope he is not brewing another Fecalstorm.

Ralph and I just made the below video while cooking lunch for ourselves and an extra kiddo (lunch concluded with strawberry shortcake made from home-baked poundcake and lovely local berries, ripe and red all the way through). It cheered us up. (Soundtrack by my husband):

EPIC NAP:

The Sad Life of Kittens from ralph hogaboom on Vimeo.

(Let me tell you a little secret, it was LOUD and ACTIVE in the kitchen while this was made, also, the kittens followed up filming by a huge, huge long nap on my bed).

the worst kind of benefactor of them all

Oh god, it’s past 10:30 PM so I’m kind of too tired out to go through the whole cycle of blame.

I mean it would seem at first like the fault lies squarely with my mother, but actually the catastrophic snowball shame effect began days ago, when Karen and Shelly posted a Thank You to their pattern testers on the blog… and naturally I wanted to glance through the websites and photos of those I keep company with, as a pattern tester… and maybe to Ralph and the kids and my mother I talked a little about this or that, and maybe at lunch the other day on a totally separate topic I encouraged my mom to go visit her ex-boyfriend, because she’d been so into him and exclusive and they had a torrid affair then she dropped him like yesterday’s moldy potatoes… Well…

Long story short:
OH NOES

My MOTHER – who heard me wistful about the two kittens I’d seen on the abovementioned blog (and maybe I said I’d like to ADOPT two kitties but in the future when we can afford them! I was sure to add) – went out to her ex-boyfriend’s place (on my advice being a friendly daughter!) and he coincidentally produced two kittens out of the tandem strains of awkwardness and his (now-unrequited) love for her, and she came directly from the little commune out there and SHOWED UP ON MY DOORSTEP and when I opened the door she blurted out, “I have kittens” and proceeded to get them out for me, and just as my stomach sank and the kids swarmed over them and made every promise under the sun to care for them, and I said, “Mom… I can’t afford ‘free kittens’ right now, I mean we had to borrow grocery money from you this week, and they need de-flea’ing and food and shots and…” she then promised to pay for these various and sundry, thereby rendering herself a Kitten Benefactor if you will, and this news was so surprising and allowed the crack of hope to form in my stone heart such that I shared with my husband and upon hearing the financial bounty he took back his threat about bringing home a Drownin’ Sack, and my mom went out and got their little litterbox and litter and food and enough flea medicine for the next eight months for all my kitties ($60 just for this medicine!), and we cuddled and loved up the little Fish Mongers and the kids were so happy and I felt all tickled and then she said,

“Well, I gotta get back to work,”

And left us with these Ridiculous! Little! Bundles! of Doom! It was like this huge TRICK!

So the kids and I whipped the house into shape and made the beds up and put out fresh water and food (some fancy-ass shit!) then piled warm laundry in a makeshift bed for them.  While I finished chores and packed our bikes for a trip out the children instinctively began ascertaining litterbox training (the cats were indeed tidy in this respect) and by the time we biked by my mom’s she was out in the yard so we all went to eat lunch at an outdoor ale house and hey, while we’re celebrating let’s each have a spicy Bloody Mary. And my mom paid for most of lunch and the kids and I picked up groceries for homemade pizza and we headed home and had a summer afternoon and evening with our new babies and the neighbor kids and my mom later came over for the pizza too.

I seriously do not know how today became a ridiculous party. But it did.

Welcome to the household, Hamilton (female):
Tiger-Like Markings

and Laurence (male):
Laurence, The One With

Who can count and tell me how many mouths Ralph’s income has to feed?
This Is Bullsh*t