Monday, April 30, 2012

And Then There Were Nine...

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." - Emma Lazarus, Statue of Liberty, Mittens the Cat

So my last post about the Orange Kitten was just the beginning of what becomes a story of strife, rejection, consternation, and adoption.  Read on. 

It was last Monday night and a teacher-friend’s daughter had just returned to her car from night classes at the local junior college.  What should she find, but a box of four kittens on the hood of her car!   Kittens that were too young to not have a mother.  Kittens that were about a week or so old.  Kittens who were dumped by doofuses who should be sterilized and never allowed to reproduce. 

Teacher-friend’s daughter has a good heart and takes the kittens home, even though she could have just set the box on the next car’s hood.  Teacher-friend has another teacher-friend who has had success in hand-raising kittens, so they pawn…  I mean, leave the kittens… in her care.  Teacher-friend’s teacher-friend feeds the four kittens for three days with a bottle until I catch wind of the story. 

“I have a lactating cat!” I announce.

And so it was arranged that the other teacher-friend would deliver the kittens to me, just moments before an impending field trip to the zoo with my oldest son, so that I could pawn…  I mean, leave the kittens… in the care of Mittens, our new mother cat. 

“This is her first set of kittens,” I told them.  “She doesn’t know that four more don’t usually show up a week later.”

I had the kids pet the kittens profusely on the way from the school to my house.  That way they would at least smell like us.  Their eyes were matted and their fur a bit unkempt, but maybe Mittens wouldn’t suspect they were dumped. 

We plopped the four new kittens in the box with the five existing kittens and left for the zoo.

Hours later we returned to find Mittens happily snuggling with all NINE baby kittens.  Apparently she has a heart for adoption.  She’d considerably cleaned up the kittens as well and everyone appeared happy and satisfied about the situation as evidenced by a pile of sleeping kittens.

And the story would end there with “and they all lived happily ever after”, except for this one kitten.  He’s bigger than all the others.  I’ve named him Bubba due to head size and have been fascinated with his behavior.  He swats and plays and gets the other kittens in headlocks.  His ears stand up.  He’s getting teeth and he administers the bunny-kick to all his unsuspecting siblings.  Everyone else lays there like a slug.  No teeth.  Folded ears.  Thinking “WHYYYYYY?????” when he grabs the in a choke hold. 

So, not only did the doofuses dump the kittens, they didn’t even keep the litter together.  Here’s three from one litter and a bonus kitten!  Two mama cats without babies now, somewhere out there.

Thankfully, through the magic of Facebook and a few mushy photographs, most of the kittens are already spoken for.  I still have a couple that I may end up giving away as parting gifts at Bunco, or perhaps as an end-of-season prize for soccer, but if there is anything to be learned from this, it is this:

  1. God gives animals a heart for the innocent, wayward, and helpless, so surely that is a part of himself he has instilled in us as well. 
  2. We would all do well to heed the advice of Bob Barker and “have your pets spayed or neutered”.
And maybe our doofuses too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Orange Kitten

"Happy is the home with at least one cat." - Italian Proverb

I am not a fan of orange cats.  It’s not that I think they are any different from any other color of cat.  I just don’t care for orange ones.  And I believe there are enough stray cats in the world, that should I go to choose another cat, I should be able to find one that is not orange in color.  Orange cats are also known as “blonde” by my 7YO. 

Second in line on my Cat Color Hating Scale is a calico cat.  Not a fan.  Probably because of a black and orange calico cat name Kiki that would not let me pet her when I was a child. 

So the 7YO’s cat, Mittens, had been killed by a car late last summer and a cute little mostly gray kitten had shown up at the neighbors.  (She undeniably had peach colored calico mixed in with her gray fur, but I was willing to ignore it because she was a nice kitten.)  The neighbor didn’t want her, so I said I would take her home with me.  The 7YO promptly named her Mittens and she became his own. 

Fast forward to about a month ago.

I’d thought about getting Mittens fixed, knowing she was borderline on the preferred age of six months to have her spayed.  But was she getting fatter?

The 7YO noticed first that she had “milk suckers”.  Great!  Maybe I could still take her in…

Let me just say that nothing riles up the pro-choice/pro-lifers at this house like an unexpected teenaged cat pregnancy.

How could we not let her have the kittens? 

And so, our ignorably calico Mittens has been ballooning up over the past several weeks.  The kids couldn’t wait until she “pooped out her kittens”.  They had already begun petitioning to keep one of the kittens as a “family cat”. 

“If there is a blonde one, can we keep it?” my 7YO asked. 

“I don’t really like orange cats,” I told him.

“Why would you say that?  When they grow up, they get all shiny and nice, and they look professional!” he told me. 

Professional cats. 

What will they think of next?

And so the days had been accomplished that the cat was either to have her kittens or explode. 

Yesterday morning, she wasn’t waiting at the front door to be let into the garage for breakfast.  She wasn’t in the garage at lunchtime.  I got to thinking that I hadn’t seen her all day and I’d been home for most of the day.

I checked with the neighbor lady who said she hadn’t seen her either. 

I decided to check the barn.  On my way out to the barn, I peeked my head under the roof of the well house.  There was Mittens and her kittens.  Four little dark blobs. 

But wait…. 

She moved her front paw.  And there… what did I see?  ...but another blob that was undeniably ORANGE!

I could almost hear God laughing!

I kept the secret until the kids got home from school.  My 7YO was so excited that he “happy cried”.  We relocated Mittens and her kittens to our back porch so they would be protected, and the kids could pet the kittens every day to keep them tame so that their fate of leaving this house to go to a new one will be as expeditious as possible.    

My 7YO then prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for my blonde kitten.  It is just want I wanted.  It’s my FAVORITE!  In Jesus' name we pray, amen.”

It looks like we’ll be keeping a kitten, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grandma Hazel

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  2 Corinthians 5:6-8

My Grandma Hazel died on Saturday.  Went home for Easter, I suppose.  I woke up Saturday thinking that she would probably die that night because the next day was Easter, so when my Dad called about 6:30 pm, I really wasn’t surprised at all.  We lost Grandma Hazel a number of years ago, really.  Dementia took her from us.  She wasn’t who she used to be, who we really remembered as our Grandma. 

Several years ago, before she entered an assisted living facility.  The family had an auction of all her personal effects.  Family members got what they wanted out of the house, but the rest was auctioned off to the public.  Everyday common crap really.  Nothing really special. 

I had wanted pictures from her house.  I’d heard for 30 years that she had pictures of my brothers that died in infancy.  I found them hiding in a chest of drawers along with a lifetime of pictures of people I knew and didn’t know.  Pictures are a high commodity to me, as I don’t have as many as I used to due to my house flooding while I was a teenager several times.  I also took pictures of my cousins and other family members, leaving behind the vast majority.  I wish I’d taken more.  I wonder what happened to the rest of the pictures now.  Probably got thrown away. 

Anyway, the skull up there is a treasured reminder of Grandma Hazel to me.  It is an ashtray.  I guess you put your cigarettes in the glasses.  Why would a skull need glasses?  Why would Grandma Hazel have an ashtray?  She didn’t ever smoke that I knew of.  I always assumed it belonged to my Grandpa Taylor who died before I was born.

This ashtray sat on an end table beside the couch where Grandma Hazel always sat with her crochet.  She’d watch Days of our Lives just about every day, and was hardly ever without something to crochet in her hands.  I can remember her holding me on her lap while she crocheted.  She taught me to crochet when I was five.  And where did she keep her crochet hooks?  Here in the back of this ashtray.

So when we went through the house to see what I wanted to take, I purposely left the ashtray.  Surely someone other than I would want it for sentimental reasons.  One of my aunts probably. 

The day of the auction came, and I went.  Not because there was really anything in particular that I wanted, but because I wanted to see how it all turned out.  Grandma Hazel had a huge Budeweiser picture of Custer’s Last Stand behind her stove my whole life and we all thought it might bring quite a bit of money, even though we all thought it to be hideous.  Another leftover from Grandpa Taylor, I always assumed.  Some man bought it because his dad had had one just like it in his barber shop when he was a kid.  He paid $500 for it and felt compelled to make a speech after.  He said, “This is going in my house, and it ain’t EVER coming out!”  Glad he liked it! 

As I walked around, I saw more stuff that had been stuffed away in closets that I remembered.  I was looking through boxes when, lo and behold, there was the ashtray – the head, as I call it – crochet hooks still sticking out the back.  I guess no one else waxed nostalgic over the skull like I did.  But it was up for sale!  To strangers!  I had to have it!  I couldn’t just go stealing it out of the box.  The auctioneers had all the stuff inventoried.  And the money from the auction was going towards Grandma Hazel’s long-term care.  What if this ashtray was worth more than that Budweiser picture?  How was I to know? 

So I hung around waiting on the box to come up for sale.  In the meantime I bought her sewing cabinet for $20 because I didn’t want furniture dealers to have it.  I bought a little dilapidated wooden bench that always sat beside her bed, and I bought a pair of ceramic chickens that always sat up on a shelf in her kitchen.  Better for me to have those things than people to whom they only had resale value.  And probably little of that! 

So the time comes for the box that contained the head to be sold.  It was in a line of six boxes that contained all kinds of stuff.  Two boxes of mason jars.  One box full of old quilt squares.  And a few cardboard boxes best described as miscellany.  I even tried to kind of hide it in the bottom of the box under a doily, but auction goers are pretty undeterred by such things as a doily.  One lady even looked at it. 

The auctioneer announced that we would be bidding for “choice box” in this round.  Tension mounted.  I was sure everyone there was interested in MY box.  I had worked out in my mind that I’d try to get it for five or six dollars, so I wasn’t just going to go crazy!  The bidding started and I had some stiff competition, but when my final bid of $5 was topped with one for $6, I stopped just as I’d promised myself I would do.  The other lady had won.  The auctioneer asked her which box she wanted and she took…

The big box of mason jars.

Whew!  I still had a chance! 

I assumed we’d be bidding on our choice of boxes again, but the auctioneer announced that we would be “cleaning up” this lot!  Great!  Now I’d be bidding on the rest of the boxes all at once!  More tension! 

Bidding started again, and I stuck true to my decision and only went up to $6.  But this time, it was enough!  I’d won the whole lot!  Junk boxes and all! 

A lady standing near to me came up and said, “Did you really want those mason jars?”

“No,” I said.  “I only wanted this,” and I reached in the box and pulled out the head.

She laughed and said, “How much do you want for the jars?” 

“Three dollars?”

“Sold!” she said, paying me, and quickly carted off at least part of my loot.

Later, I made a couple of lap blankets for Grandma Hazel to use while she was in managed care, but even those have been returned to me.  Some junk just keeps coming back.    

It’s funny to think how we all treasure our personal effects so much, but yet what would be left after the auctioneers come through?  Those things we think of as being sentimental to others, might not really be what they associate with the person at all.  And to think that something purchased for only $3, net the mason jars, could become one of my prized possessions!

Here’s to all my memories of Grandma Hazel.  I’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come.  May she rest in peace with the Lord until we are all reunited, and may her memory live on forever in our hearts.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fishing Adventures

"As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen."  Mark 1:16

We have a new fishing hole.  Actually it is quite a large pond on an acreage containing lots of cows that we have to climb the fence and walk quite a ways to get to, but we have permission.
No, really, we DO have permission.

It has been verified by an old man named Jack who thought we were poachers or something.  What would we be hunting?  Cows?  And all we had was a BB gun.  Not likely to be very successful in the poaching world. 
Anyway, after threatening to call the Wildlife Department on us, he verified with the owners who, sure enough, knew us and had given us permission to fish there.

After our interrogation ceased, we continued about our merry ways.  Here is a pictorial of our fishing fun spaced out over three or four days in the past couple of weeks.

This is what we're looking for.  Sunfish. 

The hub bought the boys a Red Ryder BB gun again motherly advice.  Apparently I'm the one who was supposed to obey. 

This was the first time my 7YO had gotten his hands on the gun. 

My husband found this in the woods and brought it to me.  Romantic, huh?  

I was lured to the far side of the pond where I saw some ducks.  Turns out they were plastic.  No wonder ducks fall for it! 

This one must have hit an iceberg.

The kids found a "make your own cow" puzzle.

And frogs.  I won't even tell you about our run-in with a cottonmouth or how my little one stepped on a garter snake.  And took 10 years off our lives!   

The hub borrowed this boat from the neighbor and we carried it all the way across the cow pasture.  I guess it was worth it from the looks on their faces. 

And finally on our last trek out, we caught a decent number of fish.  16 in about 30 minutes.  And some were actually visible with the naked eye.  Still can't figure out what this one is.  Is it a striper bass? 

Hope you're fishing for memories today and I hope you catch some big ones!