firework firework, siren siren

Tonight we hosted a lovely family for dinner: friends Sara* and Rob and their two kiddos.  This was after  a full day of my kids behaving, well, bat-shit crazy.  I should have known the day might go a bit sideways: both children, upon waking separately, asked me if we were going to get fireworks.  First thing out of their mouths, I kid you not.

Dinner time: I cooked and cooked and we ate and ate (spaghetti with meatballs, salad from our garden – a huge red lettuce!, roasted garbanzo beans, oven-roasted tomatoes, farl, sauteed asparagus, and chocolate-frosted rainbow cake). It’s the third of July which means lots of fireworks already. Out in the backyard watching a rather impressive display up on the hill and my daughter shouts, “Oh yeah?! We have hens and they lay eggs!”  At first I thought she was referring to our real-live poultry; no, she meant the very modest firework Ralph had procured.

After bath the kids are so tired that Sophie goes to bed crying (this is too bad) and Nels climbs into my bed, is magically joined by the sleepy kitty Mabel, and within seconds they are asleep, curled up around one another.  Two babies instinctively seeking one another out for warmth and affection.

The sight of that makes me want to have a kitten in our household at all times.

(Thank you Ralph, for working so hard on my new blog. I had that anxious feeling all day as I longed to commit Facebook-suicide. I have you to thank for making that step.)

* Sara creates and sells the best natural body care line of products I’ve ever used – NAYY, I am just an addict!

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.

"typically followed by functional impairment while awake"

Today’s ill-timed wakeup at 4:30 AM doesn’t seem to have an upside. At first I felt merely deliciously sleepy; padding downstairs to use the bathroom, washing hands, and slipping back to bed next to the other three members of the family. My children sleep snapped together like a magnet set. Today right in between Sophie’s curved small of her back and Nels’ tummy was our little kitten Mabel; purring and happy as a clam in the sand.

Getting back to sleep might be an impossibility but at least I get something done: petting this little creature, who has benefited not only from proper diet and medicine but also more love than seems possible for her tiny frame to absorb. Her narrow little rib cage feels flexible and fragile, housing only the guts she needs to eat and shit, and some kind of intense purring machine. She stretches her paw out over my chest and puts her face down, the picture of contentment. Is petting cats therapeutic? I’d read this somewhere. It certainly seems therapeutic for her, and is definitely pleasant enough.

An acute case of insomnia seems all the more cruel given yesterday’s perfect ritual of hard work, exercise, and functional menu. Last night we hosted two extra children for a sleepover; a long bike ride, a big dinner with guests roughhousing and up late. 6:30 AM and one of the children is awake. 6:30, really? This is taking me back to those days with infants; my own children usually rise anywhere from 9 AM to 11 AM. I tell myself that after the extra kids are gone I’m going to try to recover some rest; no, really I am. And I almost believe 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.