Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Fails

This year the first day of fall fell on September 22nd. At least that's what the calendar says. Mother Nature apparently had some last minute details to attend to, so she ignored the calendar and waited until Monday, September 27th to send a bit of cooler air this way.

I love fall. Who doesn't? There is just something so refreshing in the air that says screams "Wake up! The oppressive heat has been banished (for a day or so anyway.) Get moving! Clean something! Strew faux pumpkins all over the place! Decorative corn should be displayed. Ceramic scarecrows must adorn the shelf above the TV. Fill the pumpkin basket with pine cones. Yeah...that's cute. FALL is here! Rejoice!"

Didn't it say that to you?

Cooler weather also means I can finally get to a couple of projects that I'd been putting off. It's not quite cool enough to open the windows for the four hours that it will take my oven to self clean so I still get a pass on that one for a while, but I can at least do a bit of gardening now. On the way back from picking up the gardening soil and mulch, I wondered if I should try moving the overgrown salvia or just rip it out. It's very pretty in early spring. Later in the summer the bees love the flowers. The problem is that it is just much too tall for the area it's in now. I decided a while back to replace it with Candytuft, which, according to the seed packet will give me "white dainty blooms" that "cover a dense mat of dark green foliage." That sounds pretty, doesn't it? Anna and I had fun watching the soil pellets "grow" in warm water and then planting the tiny seeds. Most of them have sprouted and are waiting in a tray on my window sill.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do any actual gardening yesterday. As soon as I got back from Lowes, Emily called me from school because she accidentally left her binder in her last class and by the time she retrieved it, she missed the bus. When we got home, we were greeted by a friendly, thirsty black lab who thought the best way to show me his appreciation for the water he found (in Ke-Kat's bowl) was to run into me - several times. Ke-Kat was NOT amused by the interlopers behavior. Emily picked up her cat and tried in vain to hold on to him, but Ke-Kat thought that the top of her head was a better than her arms. That was about when my oldest, Danielle, decided to join us - with a broom. Now we may very well have been in danger of being licked to death, but I didn't see the need to exasperate the situation with weapons, so I sent her straight back into the house. We borrowed a leash from my SIL and Emily set off to find the doggy's owner. By then, it was time to get my younger two from the bus, supervise homework while cooking supper, feed the kidlets, bring the older two to CCD class, fold clothes, pick up the older two from CCD class, remind the children that they do, in fact, have to take a bath every single day and that brushing teeth wasn't optional. After sending them all to bed it was, at last... quiet.

This morning, I decided to get the grocery shopping finished early. I got in the car...and gagged. Guess what happens when you forget to take gardening soil and mulch out of the back of the van? Uh huh. It wasn't nice. Dear readers, you will be happy to find out that I did not throw up. It was close, but somehow I managed to keep my breakfast where it belonged. After removing the offending bags, I sprayed the entire van with febreze in hopes that if it didn't take the smell completely away, it would at least add a nice lavender tinge to the manure stench. Then I put the windows half down to let the vehicle air out.

Three hours later, I cautiously tried again. The smell was bearable. I sat behind the wheel, started the engine...and got the unnerving feeling that I wasn't alone. He couldn't have, could he? I turned my head and there he was. Curled up ever so cozily on the back seat, Ke-kat raised his sleepy head and gave me a look that said "Let's see if that stupid dog can find me in here."

Yep, Fall is off to a brilliant start.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Today is a special day in our home. On Sept. 5th of 2009, my daughter Emily came into the house bursting with excitement. She'd found a tiny kitten under a wheelbarrow in the yard. Now you must understand - I had successfully avoided giving in to the "can we have a pet" plea for a long while. Four children is plenty enough responsibility thank you very much. A pet means more work for me. A pet means increased bills (vet visits, pest treatments, food, toys and so on.) A pet means arranging for care when we go on vacation and figuring out how to bring an animal along when we are forced to evacuate for hurricanes.

I didn't want a pet. My Emily did. She is the animal lover here. Animal Planet is her favorite TV station. There was no way I could look at her face and say that we couldn't keep that scrawny bag of fur. I did say that she first had to go to all of the neighbors to make sure that the kitten wasn't for them. No one claimed it. It was so tiny that we couldn't imagine that it had wandered far on it's own. Later I found out that our local shelter had just begun imposing a drop off fee for unwanted animals, so I suppose it's likely that someone decided that our yard was a less costly place to dispose of the creature.

Since there was no way I was allowing it in my house, Emily and I built a makeshift home out of spare bricks, wood and chicken wire. I'm not totally heartless. I wanted it to stay safe! At the store, I bought kitty chow, flea bath and a flea collar...plus a couple of toys. Later we got a tag for the collar. Emily checked for important parts, declared the kitten a "girl" and dubbed her "Cookies and Cream" - Cookies for short. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to call her that. To me, the kitten was and will forever be "Ke-kat."

In those early weeks, I discovered something important about the kitten. When ever I noticed Ke-kat digging a hole, I knew to get away - FAST. You see, kitten poop happens to be the absolute worst smelling stuff on the face of the earth. They bury it in order to survive. No creature could stand being near that foul odor for long. No creature but Emily of course. She didn't care if the kitten pooped on her shirt. And it did sometimes. Especially when we gave it milk. Emily searched the internet and decided that milk wasn't good for Cookies. As the person who does the laundry here, I completely agreed.

After a couple of months we realized that we didn't want MORE kittens, so I checked around to see about getting Ke-kat fixed. The local vets wanted $200 for the operation. It was explained to me that the procedure was more intensive for female kittens. I understood that, but wasn't ready to shell out so much, so I kept looking. A friend told me about the SPCA in New Orleans. There it would cost us a mere $50 for the "fix" and another $40 for the shots. We packed Ke-kat up and took her in. Later that morning, I got a call telling me that HE was ready for pick up. ummm...excuse me? He? Yep. He.

I should have figured out earlier that s/he was a he. After all, every time he sees me, he immediately lies down and stretches so that I will bend over to scratch his belly. It's not that I think that I should have seen certain parts that would have given me a clue. I'm just pretty sure that a female would totally ignore my existence. Ke-kat, however, loves me. He brings me presents often. Not a week goes by that I don't open my door to find a dead frog, dragonfly or lizard waiting for me. When I garden, he showers me with attention by leaping out of his "hiding place" in the flowers and grabbing my hand. When I have gardening gloves on, he isn't shy about sinking his claws in - I can only assume that's because he wants to pull them off in order to view my hands better. Thankfully he doesn't use his claws when he uses the same move on my legs to prevent me from stepping back into my house.

Yes, Ke-kat loves me. He doesn't have a clue that, a year ago, I was secretly hoping that Emily would come home with news that he actually belonged to one of our neighbors. He doesn't care that I was furious with him after he ripped apart the screen on the dining room window or that I shoo him down from the top of my van each time I catch him up there. Ke-kat is part of our family and he knows it. He loves me...and I kinda like him too.

Happy "found you under a wheelbarrel" Day Ke-kat!