Wednesday, April 28, 2010

City Kitties in the Kountry

(Warning: mouse dies.)

Every now and then, an unfortunate field mouse notes that the mud room door of the farmhouse has the tiniest gap at the bottom. Just large enough for an itty-bitty field mouse, if it holds its breath, to wiggle through. And just inside that door is a bowl of cat food.

So Mr. Mousie awaits the cover of darkness, sucks it in, belly-crawls toward the Manna From Heaven, and startles Bes the Doublewide Kitty, mid Midnight Snack # 3. Bes' howl brings her five siblings running.

The Staff does not mean this unkindly, but these Kitties good mousers. They spent their formative years in a cluster home in the city. A cluster home with the Gold Standard of Pest Control. The closest thing to a mouse in their lives pre-farm was a dying cockroach. (Although some of the older Kitties remember the day the wren flew into the house. They watched as The Staff used a broom to swat it out an upstairs window.) The very first Field Mouse Incident, in fact, took place while the Mother-in-Law and her little dog were visiting...guess who caught the rodent?

Since the Great Humiliation at the paws of the pesky pup, The Kitties have developed a strategy. The Staff has cursed loudly, and often, especially in the face of impending tornadoes, about "herding cats". While The Kitties found this vastly amusing (and, by the way, they think The Staff grossly overreacts to twisters) they also noted the opportunity in their numbers. They developed drills. Foster chases Veronika down the hall. Veronika chases Foster up the hall. Dewi chases Bes around the kitchen island. Bes.....gets a snack. Violet times their runs. Mona hides under the sofa. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ad nauseam.

And, last night, finally, the payoff. Alas, Poor Mousie...herded to death. But The Staff is going to have to handle things around the farm for a while. The Kitties have some recovering to do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

In Praise of Older Kitties

If life passes in a blink, our fuzzy companions are with us for a mere nanosecond. They are our first "children", our birth children's best friends, our confidants, keepers of secrets and volunteer tasters of new recipes; our favorite necks to hug, and occasionally the bane of our existence...gone in a flash...although we remember the days of string chasing and shoe chewing like it was yesterday.

I have the softest spot for the Old Kitties; who still take a roll in the catnip, and gum their Kitty Treats. But I am especially soft on Violet...sweet, sweet Violet. The daughter of a feral mom, captured in an abandoned building in Gainesville, GA. Who had no idea that humans came with caresses; no idea that her white self with the black nose, looking for all the world like some kiddie scribbled on her proboscis with a Magic Marker, is remarkably beautiful. Who howled in disbelief when handed over to us from our vet, her he whispered, "Stop complaining! You're on the way to Kitty Heaven!" Who can cancel out evil in the world with a "meow".

Violet is 16, and in kidney failure; every day I give her fluids (which involves a big needle) and a potassium tablet. She forgives me, if I also give her Seafood Medley Temptation Treats. And, if I let her drink water out of the dirty dishes in the sink...and if I give her a little scratch on the butt every now and then. And access to the empty yogurt containers. Today, she upped the ante...Violet wanted a taste of the violets I gathered from the horse pasture.

I tried to change the subject. Picked her up, clipped her nails, put her down...Violet returned to the bouquet. Handed out treats, Violet headed back to the violets for dessert. Moved the flowers to the safety of the master bath. Violet looked wounded.

Then I remembered that birthday cake with candied violets years ago. I have no idea who was feted, just that beautiful cake. People eat violets. Maybe cats can eat them, too. A quick check with poison control indicated that violets pose no harm to the Kitties; and, in fact, Violet is not the only cat with a taste for violets! I returned the bouquet to the window sill, and looked the other way while Violet had a nibble. (Followed by her little brother, Foster, who can't stand to miss out on any adventure...)

The violets in the pasture are fading, now. I hope - with all my heart - that Violet is here to enjoy the first delicious, purple, taste of spring, next year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

There should be a Law!

I am all about Economies of Scale, and Multitasking, and Consolidating and Maximizing. I plan my errands during smog alerts, so I only make left-hand turns. No retracing steps for me! No wasted motions or carbon-squandering...and my vehicle has rounded edges, so it slips oh-so-easily through the air. With nearly 40 miles to the gallon, the Audi tt and I are practically energy-invisible. And we are proud of our practicality.

I am so practical, in fact, that I had my children on the same day...two years apart. One giant party! One date to remember! And what two-year old doesn't want his very own baby brother for a birthday present? (Silly me, I also believed that the brothers would never forget each others' birthdays...yeah, well...)

This practicality would have played well in, say, August. When there is really not a lot going on except Back-to-School Sales and the occasional Tax-Free Holiday for Appliances. Or February, with the exception of Valentine's Day. But I chose April. And this year, I ended up with

Two birthdays, Easter, AND World Rat Day on April 4th.

I couldn't decide whether to hide the birthday presents, wrap the Easter eggs or hoist the World Rat Day flag first.

What we did:

The Grand was experiencing her very first "I Get It" Easter, so we started with an egg hunt. The potted plants magically (thanks to Unka Drew) yielded colorful plastic orbs filled with jelly beans. Then Easter baskets all around, filled with - depending on who you are - a stuffed Easter Snake (it goes "ssssssssss") and a stuffed Easter Banana; some edible Easter grass and Easter Buffalo Jerky...and the obligatory Easter Burt's Bees hand cream for gardeners.

Followed by Easter banh mi - Vietnamese pork, chicken and tofu sandwiches.

And a platter of sweets from the local Korean bakery; alongside the traditional Birthday Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie.

Some origami the shape of kayaks; and a birthday gifts. And a Remote-Controlled plastic rat and Rat t-shirt for the Rat Aficionado in the group.

A mandatory Easter/Birthday/International Rat Day nap.

Then a FAB Chef Liu Chinese Dinner, featuring shredded tofu and lamb skewers and pork buns and veggie dumplings. And, the most delicious chocolate mint birthday cake.

Are you confused yet?

I want to sing songs..."He is Risen", "In Your Easter Bonnet", "Happy Birthday" and the National Rat Day Anthem - the theme from "Ben"? But I am too confused...Happy Easter, Happy Birthday, Happy National Rat Day! And to the Bosses of Holidays, could we spread them out a bit next year? I think it will help with candy and card sales...