Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

on hospitality

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

Today is less peachy-keen than yesterday. Still very low levels of kidney pain – most of the day, non-existent – but I am fatigued, and suffered a good deal of nausea rising in the later part of the day.

I do the best I can: rescheduling an appointment, making a few more. Laundry (a neighborhood gentleman came over and helped inspect our dryer), dishes, and food – cupcakes and chicken sandwiches for our later event. Drive to the bank to make a deposit.Thankfully, the deposit gets there before the check for rent pulls funds.

Put the house in order; light candles. Cut out three layered t-shirts; return pattern to envelope and filing system. Fold clothes and make a pot of hot, strong tea.  Drive the rainy distance along the river out to pick up my children, and one other young one, at the bus stop. Put a call in to a friend.

The sandwiches, the tea party: a few visitors today, one very special. My friend E., my daughter’s best friend A. – and the kitten new to A.’s home. A kitten almost identical to our own Pip, but of a fluffier nature with a hard, round, low-slung belly.

You can see why it was pretty important we make it a real Occasion.

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party 

A. and her kitty leave a little after 8; I tidy up. It’s 9 PM – my makeup is fading; my body feels ill. My son collapsed at six PM, clothes and all, in his bed – lights on. His early bedtime somehow leaves me feeling lonely, sad and ill. The early sunset isn’t a great help, either.

I remind myself that just because I am not feeling well, does not mean those in my home are similarly afflicted. It is so important to give them all the love I can.

No matter what!

of flannel and warm fuzzies

August 4th, 2010
(I have three whole followers on my little food-update Twitterstream – and one of them is my own husband! Make no mistake at just how much of a nerd I am who does a bunch of stuff hardly anyone else cares about!)

Today one of my ladyfriends L. came to visit. She’d been a student of mine at GHC winter before last. I really like her. She’s sweet and funny and since she likes sewing and fabric well, we have plenty to talk about. I was a scattered hostess, trying to cook up the daily fare and talk sewing and try to keep my wits about me under duress because the neighbor kids were in and out and they were a little rambunctious. Within their first five minutes in my home they’d broken my back screendoor and put their hands in the goldfish bowl and smeared the results (combined with the extra stuff on their hands, a few of them are routinely very dirty) on my front door. While L. was here I made a chicken pot pie for the kids tomorrow and a devil’s food cake with fresh strawberries and cream for the lot today, which incidentally when I served the kiddos I only got back three out of seven forks; the rest are outside God-knows-where.

I enjoyed L.’s visit very much as she’s a person I genuinely enjoy. She brought me fabric gifts and I cut off a length of a lovely deep-purple satin for a project for my daughter.  Before she left I asked her what she might need. Her eye fell on three yards of a lovely Alexander Henry flannel I had on my shelf (dear reader, I image-searched to find you the pattern and now I am weeping and gnashing my teeth with fabric-lust! And I didn’t find the fabric anyway). It was a wonderful bit of yardage and perfect for the pajamas project she was contemplating. I rarely have more than a yard of any particular fabric anyway, as I am rather quick to sew up what I buy. Seeing this L. asked if I was sure I wanted to gift it. But I felt like absolutely; I’d had the yardage for about four years now and had stashed it away as one of those “precious” items but had not cut into it. It felt wonderfully freeing to gift it, part of this was happiness at giving a present that was well-received and part was happiness at letting go of my hoarding impulse.

In other news I am buried under email despite my best efforts. Some email provides a respite, something lovely to read. Some is designed specifically to get my goat. For instance, my husband and my brother Billy like to call me Bird and make fun of my beak and dirty feathers, delivering various pathetic attempts at wit and commentary now and then or emailing me pictures of fat and/or clumsy birds. They especially like to tease me if I’m sleepy or have had something alcoholic to drink.

So Billy writes, “Hey, I found a clip of you online.” and sends me this:

And finally. There’s something insulting about how much I run around trying to get shit done with THIS under my nose at every turn:

You probably aren’t even noticing Laurence’s back leg extended at maximum pleasure-stretch while he sleeps!! WHO LIVES LIKE THIS?! The only thing they like more than sleeping on my down comforter is sleeping on a pile of warm laundry on the down comforter. They get up to this about twenty hours a day. The rest of their time is spent eating food and liberally pooping in the litter box. Then once we’re in bed they form a rift in the Space-Time Continuum to make MORE time to fight viciously, usually in my hair, until my just-fallen-asleep ass has to re-stumble out of bed and throw them in the bathroom to sleep. And I am not even joking, they immediately stop horsing around and sleep. All night.

It’s a good life. (For them.)

if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense

“Mama, mama, mama!” I’ve run a bath for my son in the middle of the day; he and our kitty Mabel just spent a solid hour in our greenhouse exploring and eating tomatoes. They are both filthy upon their return. Now he’s calling for me, his voice audible over the sound of rushing water.

“I need a knife,” he tells me when I come in. He’s crouched in the tub, naked, his hair blonde and skin golden as the sun, with two of the dirtiest heels I’ve ever seen.
He needs a knife – in the bath, while naked – because the bar of soap is cemented to the bottom of the clawfoot tub. I decline the request for cutlery and peel it loose, hand it to him.
“Did you see me pee in the greenhouse?” he asks presently. This is funny. Because he knows on some level I’d tell him not to urinate, you know, right on the food we eat. He can’t figure out a way to ask me if I spied this naughtiness (I did not) without coming out and outing himself.
“Oh,” I say, declining to answer the question (this child, I’d hope to keep him in the illusion Mama is all-knowing, all-seeing).”Do you think you should have done that?” I ask him.
“Well, I put Mabel outside when I did it,” he defends.
So… pissing in the greenhouse, totally fine – as long as you don’t subject the 14-week old kitten to the sight of it.
Meet Mabel


Today we adopted a new kitty. She has been a little shy. And sleepy. Here she is conked out on my 50 lb. bag of flour:

Meet Mabel
(image taken by Ralph’s computer camera and adjusted slightly for “kitten glow” effect)

This morning, before we found her, I joked that in acquiring a third Hoga-cat we were crossing into “animal hoarding”. My joke was made a bit stale later that day; it was clear from the moment we set foot in the kitten’s house of origin that this woman was in fact a hoarder. There were at least twenty cats on the premises and she had two litters we could choose from. The trailer was very stuffy and reeked of cat and cat urine, and many of the animals did not look too healthy. Touching, and sad, just before we left this woman (who seemed very shy, giving only two-word replies in a sort of downturned mumbling speech) opened up her body language and darted forward to give us her name and number should the cat “not work out”. “I’d rather have these kittens back then just, you know, dropping them off to just any house,” she told me. I assured her we had two cats already we took very good care of, and that we adopted kitties for life.

I thought of the cat-shopping advice I’d read – to pick a cat that was disease-free, clean, had her shots, bright-eyed. While we ultimately chose a little ginger tuft of fur who looked lively and seemed affectionate enough compared to some other kitties around the place, she also had a cold (eye discharge), ear mites, and seemed small for fourteen weeks of age (however, roaming older sibling litters indicated the family of cats might run small). Tonight I realized as Ralph and I gave her a bath – and he carefully pulled each and every flea off her body with tweezers – that if any family was going to be able to nurse a wretched little scrap back to full vim and vigor, it was us.

Sophie was an amazing little girl during this. She held the cat on the car ride home (I thought to bring a towel, worrying that using one of our cat carriers might have an upsetting odor to our little “orphan”), completely calmed the creature, and when we arrived home both helped her in orienting to the litter box and food dish, as well as spent a couple hours walking the cat in a sling against her chest (Ralph later reported he saw Sophie out in the yard cupping the kitten in the sling with one hand, then plucking a strawberry, putting it on the ground, and smashing the berry with a rock – all the while talking quite seriously to the cat about the nuances of this particular branch of science).

Most of the day I go about not thinking of the amount of neglect, suffering, and the lack of stewardship of the planet employed by the human race. This little tiny creature wrecks me. Her life is nothing, and yet it is all she has. I cannot personally adopt too many kitties, and of course adopting a domesticated animal (and sterlizing her, and caring for her all her life) is probably pretty damned insignificant on the list of ways to make the world a better place. But today we brought home a living breathing little spark, who has been bathed, eye drops administered, fed properly, and given lots and lots of love, and whose path will continue on with us for a while.

Welcome home, Mabel.

nearly a barf-o-rama

I feel absolutely crippled – physically and a bit mentally – by how busy it’s been around here these last few days. All very, very enjoyable stuff: waitressing, teaching, birthday presents, desktop publishing jobs, having company, sewing, having more company, more sewing, garden work, and two trips to Oly.

I Want You Out, Bro
Harris Vs. Ralph. Every day.

Next week is this quarter’s last class. I have enjoyed teaching so much. But I look forward to not having to help anyone for a while, and being able to focus on my own things.

Last night’s trip to Olympia yielded, among other things, the twin pleasures of fabric buying – 13 wonderful, fabulous yards of it – and dinner at Quality Burrito (recommended it by locals who obviously didn’t have children; however, it was a great meal despite hipsters and b.o. of waitperson). This evening in the bath Sophie told me she had named the plastic dragons Ralph purchased her at the craft store: Four-Winged Glory, Drake, Godzilla, Wyvern, and Cling-To-All-Surface. I admire her brain for the imagination it holds. I’m like the orange peel in our worm bin, all scraped bare and used up.

And I just want to remind the general public who reads that when you are parents to children your every peaceful, fun outing can be immediately transformed into a type of nightmare – just like that. We were about thirty feet from the entrance of the fabric store when my daughter – despite our repeated suggestions she stop reading her comic books in the car – complained of being ill, then leaned back in her seat, called out to me, and began sputtering out puke (don’t ever watch someone vomit when you have a direct view of their mouth, just a friendly tip). Our son had fallen asleep in the car so Ralph had to drop me and the sleeping boy – who weighs four hundred pounds while unconscious – off at the store and go in search of wipes etc. to manage the mess.

Sophie’s first words upon completion of the hurlage: “Oh dad – you were trying so hard to sell this van!”

invalids, some small and furry

Yes, as I type this the cat is running about around my feet and being cute. Last night the kitten turned from the docile, tame creature it had advertised itself as to, well, more of a kitten, and that includes claws and teeth and general randomness.

I really have to give a shout-out to Ralph for what he did yesterday when we brought the little kitty home. My husband had a date with a friend which he ended up being late for because he gave our new pet a painstaking, tender, very long flea-bath. He even used tweezers to remove some of the fleas, as well as a fine toothed comb. The little guy was really suffering and when the flea shampoo hit his fur the parasites started biting him. Ralph said the kitty was bleeding at the neck where the fleas attacked! The kitten seemed to feel so much better after he was dry and flea-free. It was clear he felt his situation was much improved.

The most astounding thing happened last night. I had called the Princess and was blah-blah-blahing about our kitty and he told me he was sick. Then I found out he was rather sick; a very painful sore throat. I asked – ibuprofin? throat gargles? honey and lemon? and soon realized Billy would rather just be sick, and plug along, then pause to take care of himself. You have to understand my brother is likely to have sat inside his apartment – or worse, gone out to do stuff with friends – looking like a diseased rat monkey. Even though his suffering was likely viral I convinced him to come over and let me take care of him.

My husband cut his man-date short and brought Bart along to pick Billy up. I convinced Billy to have some homemade soup and rolls, let me make him tea with honey and fresh lemon. And he stayed over and everything! In the morning I made bagels, an omelet (fresh thyme from Bart’s garden), and blueberries from my mom’s garden.

I really do like helping people. It is no trouble at all and when I don’t want to help or take care of people, I don’t. I was glad Billy let me take care of him a bit; it was fun and nice to spend time with him. And so far, none of us seem to have caught whatever disease he has.

holding up through the winter

Our house has a new center. The downstairs bedroom, now converted to ours, is now where we four end up congregating for movies, cuddling, and playing. The room has one bed and one dresser in it (challenge: can anyone identify the object on the windowsill here?). Ralph and I consolidated our clothes to a small dresser and the closet. It feels nice.

To our surprise we found being a two-kitty household is actually more fun than having one! Fancy sleeps and plays with the kids (at any opportunity she can), Blackie sits above the computer and glowers at Fancy. No one is saying this out loud, but we notice Blackie is no longer hardcore enough to pout outside for weeks at a time in protest. She skulks down from her perch regularly for food, and we pet her and say nice things to her when she does (to soothe her rankled feelings).

I bought other stuff, but this about sums it up. You’re looking at two of the top-ten staples for our house. The large econo-tub of peanut butter was something new at the store – in the only brand we buy, no less.

changes, just a few

Today we did a couple new things: we re-arranged almost our entire house (we switched my sewing room, our bedroom, and the kids’ bedroom ALL around) and we adopted a kitty named Billy. A tortoiseshell semi-longhaired spayed two-year old beauty. She was the cat Sophie liked and I agreed; she is also a small cat, like the one we already have.

I am currently putting away laundry and Sophie is talking to the cat (who remains in her caddy until the house is restored). Sophie’s bringing the cat pictures and telling her who everyone is (me as bridesmaid, Sophie as a baby, Daddy and Mama getting married). She is alternatively accidentally calling the cat “Callie” (my neighbor’s cat) and “Uncle Billy” (my brother) and filling her in on every detail of our family life.

Good girl.

I’m going to go collapse in exhaustion now.