Parenting on the Prairie

Good Wednesday to you all!

Just thought I’d take a little break from the frantic pace I try to achieve in my attempt to get a week’s worth of work done in the two days that Edie’s at daycare to share a couple parenting related pieces of news.

#1 Our Crazy Cat Had Kittens

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Yeah. Pixie, my husband’s pixiebob cat, turned the new carpet under the bed in the basement bedroom into a maternity ward yesterday while I was out and I came home to find her nursing four squeaky, stripey, adorable kittens.

I discovered her situation early last week when she was staring at us through the glass door on the deck. I went out to give her a scratch and, well, there was no denying the cat was knocked up.

So we let her in to watch her and make sure everything went smoothly.

And the cat was thrilled.

Turned out the little person living here didn’t share her sentiment. Because while Edie loves the kitty when she’s outside, passing her by for a point and pat on her way from the car, she isn’t so keen on another creature sitting on her mom or dad’s lap or brushing by her chair. I mean, clearly the cat should know better, it has her name embroidered on it for gawd sake.

Nope. If that cat gets anywhere near that chair Edie makes a beeline from across the room to show her who’s boss.

And on Sunday, when the cat dared climb up to share my lap with Edie, I watched my sweet innocent baby stare straight ahead to divert my attention so that I wouldn’t notice her little hand reaching over to try and pinch that cat’s paw.

So now we know my kid has a jealous bone and it’s not just reserved for humans.

And now we have four more cats to help teach her a lesson about sharing.

I’ll keep you posted. And also, let me know if you want to add a stripy kitten to your family. (Warning: they are a tiny part bobcat)

#2 I’ve Been Editing a Parenting Publication

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but since September I’ve been working as the editor of a Western North Dakota based parenting publication. It’s been a fun little project that has been unfolding pretty nicely and has been available as a free publication for readers to pick up in Western North Dakota. But we’ve recently made it available online and have a nice new website to go with it, so now you can read it too if you’d like!

www.prairieparent.com

Every issue I write a little “From the Editor” piece about what I’m learning on this new parenting journey and then my great set of writers tackle a variety of issue from staying healthy to where to get cute clothes and everything else that’s on the minds of parents out here on the prairie.

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This month’s issue is about love and there’s a really cute section called “Kids Talk” where I go out and ask kids really important questions, like what are they thankful for and how they think Santa gets to all the houses all in one night.

This month they tell me what love means to them and it’s adorable. You can read their answers here:

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If you’re interested, you can follow Prairie Parent on Facebook to get the latest updates.

But I’ll keep (most of) the kitten and Edie stories right here where they belong.

Well, it’s curling night tonight, so I better start stretching now!

Peace, love  and the glory of motherhood,

Jessie

The law of the land and other gruesome truths…

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I grow vegetables. Vegetables attract bugs. Bugs attract frogs. Frogs eat bugs. I like bug-less vegetables so I like these frogs. So I don’t mind when I wear my shortyshorts to the garden and they jump splat on to my bare legs. Nope. Love them.

And because we live right by a stock dam we have the slimy creatures hanging out all over our lawn. Dozens of them jump up and make their presence known when I wander out there. I don’t mind protecting them from my stupid dogs. We help each other out.

Or at least I try…

But I still can’t get over that unfortunate incident with the lawn mower last summer. It haunts me. I was so careful. I was giving them time.

But that particular frog needed more.

And that’s nature.

The law of the land.

And that’s what this week’s column is about…

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At the ranch, circle of life can be tough to witness
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

When I was a little girl my big sister and her friend rescued a baby robin from a knocked-down nest. I was so young at the time that the memory doesn’t have any details, except for the way that creature’s eyes looked before they were open, all blue and puffy, and how naked and impossibly fragile it was.

Tonight I’m out on my deck listening to the coyotes howl and watching a couple does come down the hill to take a drink in the dam. They’ve been creeping slowly toward their spot, shaken but not deterred by what sounds like a muskrat slapping and splashing in their water hole, and I’m wishing he would cool it. I mean, all those girls want is a little drink.

The way we do this circle of life thing seems so painstaking sometimes.

Deer on horizon

A few weeks ago all of the ranch dogs turned up with porcupine quills in their noses (well, all but our big old Lab who learned his lesson years ago when he came home full of sorrow and one tiny quill barely dangling from his nostril).

So my husband and dad had the task of pulling a few quills from snouts after work that day. It wasn’t the first time.

And if those dogs don’t learn their lesson, it won’t be the last.

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These are the things that happen out here. Sometimes between the beautiful sunrise and sunset we’re reminded that nature is not the Disney movie we’d like to imagine it to be.

For example, earlier this summer, Dad was driving his side-by-side down the road with his brother and his two dogs. They were taking it slow, noticing the scenery and catching up when he noticed a baby killdeer running and flitting beside them. So he slowed down and remarked on the tiny bird, pointed it out to his brother, marveled at the little creature. And just as he finished saying some tender thing about being a witness to new life, his pup jumped out and snatched it up, bit it right out of the air like a scene out of an old Loony Tunes cartoon, feathers flying, tiny bird leg dangling out the dog’s mouth.

And that was that.

I have dozens of similar stories that I could pull out of the archives to help illustrate my point, like the time Mom’s cat drug a not-quite-dead-chipmunk into the house, or the one where my husband smashed a mouse with his boot in the middle of our living room in the middle of Easter dessert while his big sister stood shrieking on our couch.

And I have one about bats that I don’t want to get into right now, but why I’m bringing this all up in the first place is because just the other day, in the middle of a visit about the baby, my grandparents and my nephew going to kindergarten, Mom pulled out the latest.

“Oh, did I tell you about the bird in the sink?”

No. No, she hadn’t.

“Oh, I was standing at the sink and a bird flew up out of it.”

“Wait. A bird flew out of your sink!?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Well anyway, it flew up at me and then started banging against the window and so I screamed.”

“Yeah, I bet you screamed.”

“And Dad came huffing in, wondering what was going on, you know …”

“Because you’re easily startled.”

“Yeah. And so he was able to grab the bird against the window and bring it out to the door to set it free.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

“But, well, then I heard him holler, ‘Don’t look, don’t look!”

“Oh, no …”

“Cause the cat was out on the deck …”

“Oh. No.”

“And as soon as that bird left his hands, well, she got up off her chair and snatched it up, and that was that.”

If this were a Disney movie, I think that would have turned out differently.

Yes, the law of the land is hard to buck sometimes.

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Blame the cat, not the cat lady.

Now, you all know I’m an animal lover, so I don’t think I need to really go much further to explain that if I could take all the stray dogs in the world with me on a walk, then I would do it. I would do it because they need a walk, and a scratch behind the ears, and a dog needs a girl.

A girl needs a dog. 

We’ve been over this.

But a cat? I’m going to tell you right here, I’m torn on this…

As you can see, it’s been a lifelong struggle…

Because, frankly, if I’m going to be honest, and well, I’m going to be honest, I love them too. But they drive me crazy.

CRAZY!

Kittens? I can’t get enough. I. Can. Not. Get. Enough.

Fuzzy fur. Spontaneous attacks on nothing but air. The snuggling. The purring. The napping in weird places. The obsession they have with my guitar case and Christmas ribbons and random dust bunnies and streams of sunshine coming through the window.

And the fact that they generally always figure out the litter box situation quickly. I appreciate that.

I also appreciate that a kitten is too tiny and innocent to shed it’s fluffy hair all over my pants while she’s napping there and I’m doing my work. I like that about kittens. I like that they’re genuinely interested in what I’m doing during the day, and they want to be involved with it. It’s adorable and they’re small, so they don’t get in the way…much.

Speaking of small, I also like that kittens are too tiny to get up to the glass of milk I’ve left out on the kitchen counter. Same goes with the plate of bacon or the bowl of chicken noodle soup. Kittens might be able to smell it, but they’re reaction is restricted to their youth and their tiny bellies attached to tiny legs, and I like it.

Yes, I like that kittens generally stay on the ground or on my lap or on my shoulder where they belong.

And I like that they’re claws are tiny too, so whatever imaginary thing they are trying to hunt next to my couch won’t wreak too much havoc on the leather or the rug underneath.

Bottom line here? Kittens are tiny versions of cats, so they are adorable, less destructive, they sleep more, they stay off my kitchen counters and I cut them slack because they are babies.

And they are fluffy.

But the thing about kittens is that one day, and it happens pretty quickly, you wake up and discover that their legs have stretched a bit, and they have noticed it too, and so they use those legs to explore a universe in the house that is supposed to be off limits to felines.

But cats don’t give a shit about rules. That’s the thing. If you have a cat for a pet, you know this.

Ever tried to get a cat to sit on command? BWAH!

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Ever tried to teach them to come to the sound of their name? Yeah RIGHT!

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And to those people who have somehow figured out how to get their cat to use the toilet and flush afterward? All I have to say is that was probably the cats’ idea in the first place. You just happened to catch her in the act when you noticed she was in the bathroom and you were worried about her unrolling the entire spool of toilet paper.

Because cats are sorta little bitches like, with their own agenda…which is: I will love you when I chose to love you. You will pet me when I want you to pet me. I will sit on your lap when I wanna sit on your lap and I will always, no matter what, ruin your world when you are trying to wrap a present or type on your laptop or print something out of the printer. And if you decide to get a Christmas tree, I will own it. I will try to climb to the top and shame on you for thinking otherwise.

moms cat

And when you’re not around, I will jump on the counter, because, really, you likely set that perfectly seasoned chicken out for me. And if you get after me, I will humor you by acting offended and scared, but as soon as you go into the other room, I will just jump up there again.

Oh, you wanna leave town? If you leave town I will definitely be up on that counter. And also the kitchen table. And also the chandelier if I can swing it…

God forbid you leave town.

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Yeah, cats only sorta like us, but they suddenly get all hurt when we’re not around at their command, filling their bottomless food dish and being undyingly available when they decide they want a snuggle.

Do I sound harsh? Maybe. But I come from a long line of cat people.  My two sisters happen to be the biggest feline worshippers around and I doubt they could argue with any of my reasons that cats are sorta horrible really.

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And I’m only bringing it up today because I really believed my little orange baby Cheeto was never going to grow up and out of her sweet, smushy, fluff…

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but then I came out of my office to find her on the counter licking the butter straight out the uncovered dish.

Dammit.

I shouted a profanity, jumped around and flailed my arms to try to scare the devil out of her, but I’m afraid her transformation has begun.

And I’m afraid I will love her despite of it, just like I have with the two other felines who scream at me from their perch in the garage rafters every time I open the door, lest I forget their twenty-seven scoops of food and the pat on their head on my way out the door, because, I mean, mousing is hard work.

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But so is pet cat ownership.

There. I said it.

Now you can too.

A girl might need a dog and a dog might need a girl…but a cat?

A cat will make you believe she doesn’t give a shit one way or the other…

A cat will play games with your head. She’ll create in you trust issues. She will make you needy for attention.

She will grab you by the heart strings and then maneuver you like a puppet.

And that’s why they just might be superior after all, which I hate to admit… But if you don’t agree, well then, at least I’ve done my part to make my case for the Crazy Cat Lady in all of us. Because they get they’re claws into us when they’re young and innocent…so it’s not our fault…

It’s theirs.

Amen.

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Sunday Column: Mouse catcher, cow chaser, heart breaker…

Well, it’s all about the pets these days around the ranch. Just in time for the snow to fall we have a couple more furry friends to help keep us hunkered down and warm.

I tell ya, between keeping the tiny kitten inside, alive and well fed and working to prevent the puppy from destroying my boot collection and all of the rugs in the house, it turns out Big Brown Dog, the easy one, the established member of the family, just wasn’t having the takeover.

Seemed like he needed to create a way to be noticed…

So last week he went out for a run around the ranch, checking things out, making sure there weren’t any giant sticks or random animal bones he missed dragging into the yard. He needed to get away you know. The damn puppy was driving him crazy with his crying and jumping, and nipping at his nose.

He’s too old for this.

So he took a hike to clear his mind. He needed his space. He needed to follow his nose…

Dog in Night

Turns out his nose led him straight into some sort of trouble, because Big Brown Dog showed up back home after dark with one of his top canines poking through his lip.

And a scrape on his foot.

And on his face.

“What the hell did you get into you poor, sweet animal?” I asked him as I kneeled down by his bed in the garage.

He just looked at me with those sad brown eyes and said nothing, because no matter how I wish they could, they can’t talk.

I called Husband out and he scratched his head, and the dog’s head, and we wondered together there looking at him what sort of adventure didn’t quite turn out as our dog had planned…

So the next morning I hoisted the stiff, sore, pathetic, sweet 110 pound dog into the back of my car (front feet first, then the back end) and we drove to the vet where they fussed over him, put him under, did a few X-rays, put the lip back in place, stitched up the hole, pumped him full of meds, prescribed enough pills to sedate an elephant, and $430 later they sent us on our way.

But not before he took the world’s longest pee outside the clinic…I mean, it was like 45 minutes…at least three patients came and went before he was done…

And then I loaded him up (front feet first and then the back end) into the car and back to the ranch where he struggled up the steps to his spot by my side of the bed and slept the bad memories away.

Poor Hondo. Always a lover…never a fighter…

8 years ago, a month after Husband and I were married, we took a trip to a farm about 70 miles from the ranch and my new Husband picked out Hondo from a litter of squirrelly, wiggly, chubby, adorable brown pups. He picked the one that seemed the most even tempered. He picked the darkest chocolate one he could find. He picked the biggest. He picked the best.

I paid $200 for that dog. He was Husband’s birthday present. He was going to be his bird dog. His hunting dog. He was the third member of our family and he’s been quite the companion, the steady link, the wagging tail when we got home.

Hondo the lab as a puppy...awwwww

Hondo the puppy…awwwww

And he’s gonna be just fine. Right now he’s under the heat lamp on his bed next to the new puppy who is likely trying his damnedest to get the big guy to play with him.

I know from experience the softie will warm up to the pup, just have to let him heal up…and let the pup grow up.

And then the two of them will be off getting into their own kind of trouble out here together.

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I wrote this week’s column before Hondo went off and got himself buggered up, but he proved my point anyway. That these animals out here are part of the fabric of this place. Growing up out here as a kid, these dogs and horses and goats and cats and lizards we were charged with learning from and taking care of were what made the place magical.

But beyond their magic they served a purpose. They had a job to do.

Hondo’s job these days might be less bird-hunting and more companion, but the new members we’re growing up and introducing will have their place soon…

Mouse catcher.

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Cow chaser.

IMG_8972Heart breaker.

Rain on a Dog's Nose Coming Home: Learning many lessons from animals
by Jessie Veeder
11-9-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

But for the next few days the big brown dog and I have a date in the morning for three pills stuffed in summer sausage and another in the evening before bed.

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Puppy + Kitty

So this was basically my day…
IMG_2708IMG_8565IMG_8575IMG_8571IMG_8596IMG_8597IMG_8591IMG_8587 IMG_8608IMG_8615IMG_8624All I have to say right now is that getting a tiny puppy and a tiny kitten at the same time is a great idea in theory (you know, best friends forever and all that shit) until said puppy runs out to the living room with two cat turds dangling from his mouth.

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Annnndddd…..goodnight…

Bravo to the magic hour…

It’s been pretty scorching hot around the ranch these days, and I’ll tell you it’s not because of the sexy outfits I’ve been wearing to stay cool.

No, that’s not it at all. It’s just typical late July/early August for you. But you have to appreciate a place on the map where in the matter of six months you can experience a 130 degree weather shift.

March

July

Seriously.

I will be remembering this past weekend of 90+ temperatures when I am in my seven layers topped off with a hooded down parka that reaches my ankles.

Oh yes, I will remember.

But this morning as the thermometer stretches toward 80 degrees and it is only 8 am, I am remembering 30 below…and thinking no matter what, I like summer better. Hands down.

Because after a long, hot day where we’ve watched the sun emerge from the horizon and make its merry little way across the sky, beating down on our lawns and flower beds, sweating up our skin as we stand there, coaxing the flies to buzz around our ears and the corn in the east to stretch its arms a little higher, we sigh and sip our iced tea knowing that in a few hours we may be awarded a sweet reprieve. A breath. A sigh. A little cool-off before we hastily throw some burgers on the grill at dark and crawl under the sheets.

I call it the magic hour.

Others call it evening. Sunset. Dusk. Twilight. It’s that fleeting time where the sun moves slowly toward the west side of the world, promising soon to sink below the horizon, but not before it casts long shadows, turns the hilltops to gold, calls out the dragonflies, kisses the coulees with cool air, and fills our nostrils with the scents of crisp clover, wildflowers and grasses.

It’s the perfect time to grab your horse and head for the hills. Because if it was a windy day, the witching hour calms the breeze. If it was a hot and muggy day you might find yourself some cloud cover at the cusp of an oncoming thunder storm. If it was a sunny, 80+ day and you are out during the perfect time, you will literally feel the temperature dropping around you and your skin cool down as you ride or walk in and out of the draws and up the hill to catch the sunset.

We wait for it here, the magical hour, as we wipe our brow, salty and glistening from a day of work or play. But it’s all about timing, and we have turned it into a science.
See, if you jump the gun too early in the day, you will be saddling your horse in the intense sun of the late afternoon. The flies will still be nasty, you will be sweating profusely, your horse will be stomping at the pests and heat and you might get a little cranky riding toward that sunset waiting for the orange ball in the sky to move along already.
If you head out to the barnyard too late you will be rushing things trying to race the dark. And by the time you get on and move out you will have missed the the moments where the sun highlights the black backs of the cows on the side hill, the air shifts and cools your skin, the sun changes from yellow to pink and the deer might be moving and emerging from the thick trees. And your ride will be cut short, because once that sun touches the last hill your eye can see, it gets dark fast.
So you can see why it’s a craft can’t you?  You can see why we watch the sky, take notice of our skin and the shadows and when the sun is in the just the right spot, more west than middle, more down than up, more moderate than hot, we pull on our longer sleeves, head to the tack room to grab a bucket of grain and saddle up.
We climb on and head out along the edges of the oak groves and stay in their shadows while the sun moves a little closer to the edge of our world.

And when we’re cooled down we climb up to the nearest hill to see if we can catch a deer as it moves out of the trees to graze among the clover, to watch the dragonflies dart and dive, to catch the moment when the landscape turns from a painting with all the right highlights to a mysterious shadow with a strip of orange hovering above it.
And before that sun greets the other side of the world completely, we turn and head back home, cooled off, satisfied, decompressed, a little tired, a little hungry, a little more alive…
Because it turns out there are others who are waiting in the shadows for the cool down, for the sun drop, for the magic hour…
for the dragon flies…

And we don’t want to miss their show…


Bravo summer.
Bravo sky.
Bravo my crazy cats.
Bravo, bravo, bravo magnificent world.

Like a cat to my curtains…

I am having a bit of a complex, so bear with me here as I explain myself.

You know the cats?

The cats I swore were going to be in the barn, just as soon as they were old enough? The ones that were destined to be hearty mousers, country cats, tough cats that dart through the snow, sit on top of fence posts and watch over the homestead. The kind of cats who take on raccoons and live to tell about it, with one less eye or one less limb.

Cats who will whoop a dog’s ass and then turn around to take on a porcupine.

Remember that plan?

Well, somewhere between forgetting to name them, trying and failing to keep them off of the furniture, carting their feline asses to the vet for a $100 special shot, hollering “dammit CCCAAATTT” from across the room as they come screaming up from the basement, ricochet off the easy chair, do a triple flip landing on the love seat and then flinging their limber bodies, feet first to attach like velcro to the curtains…

…oh, and their developing love affair with the pug…

I have forgotten to let them outside.

I have decided it’s much too cold. Much too dangerous. There are too many hazards, too many big birds out there. Not enough fluffy blankets.

I have forgotten I am not a cat person.

I have lost my damn mind.

And up until now I have been at a loss as to why.

Why the strange, cat catering behavior? Why do I have a litter box in my home? Why do I tolerate cat hair on my stretchy pants and anything with fur to ever sit on my shoulder? Why is there a cat on my briefcase?!!!

What have I become?

I have been struggling with this question for months, making excuses for the hairy creatures while I search my fluffy soul for the answer.

And yesterday, while perusing through the family scrapbook, I found it.

But before I  reveal the truth, the way, the light, I must warn you, what you are about to see is not for the faint of heart…

…for various reasons.

I hope you’re sitting down….

….


Ok. Take a deep breath while I apologize for the alarm. I do hope you are not traumatized in any way, but I have to say, scary and revealing as it is, I am so glad someone documented my naked, cat squeezing behavior.

Because it helped me recall how I used to love the creatures.

LOWOVEEDD THEEMMMAAAA.

Their twitching tails, pointy ears, squishy bodies and soft coats–just like a real live stuffed animal. I couldn’t get enough. I’d chase them around this very house, grab them up and, well… I was too young to remember, maybe the episode is hidden somewhere deep down in my sub-concious…

…I would squeeze them…

Yes. I would squeeze them…so hard and with so much vigor and enthusiasm that the creatures would puke.
Puke.
And this happened more than once.
Let’s just skip over the question about where my guardians were during these episodes and why they chose to pick up a camera instead of saving the poor felines from clutches of Baby Godzilla while I say:
That is passion.
And I possess it.
I always have, no matter how much I have been trying to suppress it…
…and my tolerance of garbage digging, pug cuddling, chair flipping, litter box scooping, shoulder sitting and hair ball hacking is my way of dealing with the guilt of my past behavior…
So carry on crazy cats. I will not give you a name, but I will give you my couch.
And that’s my story. And I’m sticking (like a cat to my curtains) to it.

To be a cat…


To flinch, to twitch, to leap and play
To catch a string as it’s pulled away
To tweak
To flip
To scat

To be a cat

Ears permanently perked straight up
A tail that sweeps, sleek legs that strut
Rough tongues
they lick
and lap

To be a cat

Striped and plain, spotted, plaid
Mischievous, obnoxious, bad
Scraggly
Fluffy
Fat

To be a cat

Shadow lurking, eyes that glare
Curtain hanging way up there
Quick
and smart
and way too fast

to catch them in the act

Oh to be a purring, overbearing,
whisker tickling, bare feet licking,
curiously lovely,
oh so cuddly,
naughty

Cat

 

Thank you to Jingle at Promising Poets Parking Lot for giving “until we’re warm again” the Perfect Poet Award last week. Thank you for creating a warm supportive  space for poets!

As part of the award acceptance, I would like to nominate another poet Lynnaima who has submitted her poem about words titled “The Best There Is” to the Promising Poets Parking Lot.

Onward poetry!

 

And our world is quiet again…no thanks to the cat.

So ranch life slows down a little around here in the winter when the snow is up over my knees, the horses have been turned out for the season and the cows are off to be fed up nice and plump in a more civilized area for the winter. So we go about our business, moving snow, graining the horses, feeding the dogs, feeding ourselves and taming the cats.

The cats we have in our homes to keep the mice away. The damn dirty rodents who are looking to get a taste of the crumbs we may have dropped on the floor (not that I would ever drop anything) or the sunflower seeds we have hidden in the closet.

I am not a fan of mice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of girl to stand up on a chair and scream bloody murder as the sneaky little rodent makes his way across my kitchen floor. But I have been known to wake husband out of a deep, dreamy sleep to go check out that squeaking noise I heard. And I may have used the phrase “it’s your manly duty” to convince him to find the creature in the depths of the dark night while wiping his eyes and wondering how on earth it came to this as he proceeded with caution in the war zone area of the living room in his full on mouse hunting stance…in his underwear.

(No underwear photo available)

See that’s what usually happens around here. No matter how many cats we have, these wild animals turned domestic house pets usually wind up finding just enough to eat in their food dishes so as to completely lose their taste for the hunt. Well, at least their taste for hunting real, moving, heart beating pests.

Funny thing, they seem to be really good at attacking my curtains, rugs and that little patch of sun that streams through the window and onto the carpet. Yup, they’ve killed all of those things flat dead about three hundred and thirty times already.

But mice? Eh. They’ll get to it later.

Which brings me to my point about how there is never a dull moment, even in the depths of winter. Because my momma lives down the road…and she has a cat.

A devil cat.

A cat I picked out for her from the Humane Society because she reminded me of a feline we had when we were growing up named Belly (don’t ask). But I distinctly remember warning my dear mother not to blame me if all hell broke loose in their house when I brought this kitten home.

Because they asked for it.

(The devil herself)

And I delivered.

But who would have known that this cat would turn out to be all spice and not a hint of sugar. This pet does not allow cuddling, moves from room to room at lightning speeds, has eyes that stare into your soul and read all of your most hidden secrets and swats at my feet from underneath the chair every time I come to visit while I scream “Why? Why? I saved your life!”

And most annoying, if not the most unreasonable thing of all, this cat has a taste for high places and makes her home on the top of my momma’s cupboards, between the wine glasses and the fine china. A smart and perfect spot really, because if you make any sudden swatting “dammit cat get down” motions, the devil cat will indeed flee, leaving a wake of glassware and fancy, shiny things behind her.

So there she sits on top of her world despite my momma’s best efforts to find her a new favorite spot.

But this could work out right? I mean, if she’s going to be up there at least she has a great view of any rodent shaped intruders and she can finally put the moves she uses tackling my feet to good use.

So when my momma called one evening during dinnertime to let me know that pops was gone and there was a minor emergency that involved a mouse, I told her not to worry. I told her that me and my feet have been suffering and grooming this cat for a moment like this. Do not worry. That cat is ready for battle. She hasn’t lost the taste for blood.

I know from personal experience.

So I hung up the phone and carried on with my tuna noodle hot dish (my night to cook).

And when the phone rang again I thought for sure it would be a report on how her heroic pet finally earned her keep and swallowed the tiny beast whole and then got back up on her throne of wine glasses and waited for her next attack.

I put down the noodles and answered the phone.

Me: “Hi mom. Did she get it?”

Momma: “Oh, hi Jess. Ummm, well, no…no she didn’t.”

Me: “Really? Well what is she doing? Where’s the mouse?”

Momma: “Yeah, well…yeah. The cat? The cat is on top of the piano…”

Me: “Ok.”

Momma: “And, well, the mouse is on top of my curtains.”

Me: “What? What do you mean on top of your curtains?”

Momma: “Well, you know the curtains in my family room?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Momma: “Well the mouse is sitting on top of the curtain rod and the cat is on top of the piano right next to it–just staring. Just staring at it…”

Me (with a noodle hanging out of my mouth):  “The mouse is on the curtain rod? It’s just balancing up there like a little rodent gymnast?”

Momma: “Yeah. Well, and they’ve been like this for a good thirty minutes…I have my broom here and I’m just waiting for her to make her move…”

Me: “Oh gaawwwdddd. What are you going to do with the broom mom?”

Momma: “Well, I don’t know…”

Me (running out the door): “We’re coming over.”

So I grabbed husband who was secretly happy to be saved from the tuna hot dish and glad to be dressed in more appropriate mouse slaying gear and we drove down the road in anticipation of saving my momma from having to use her beloved broom for anything other than sweeping.

(Certain to be prepared this time)

I told husband she must be exaggerating. I cannot picture this. A mouse, balancing on a curtain rod?  My momma really has a flair for the dramatics, so you see, I come by it naturally…and on another note, she really should start wearing her perscribed glasses and maybe she’s on some medications I am not aware of…oh, maybe I should be worried about her…and….

….oh…oh really? Really?

(small photo taken inconspicuously with a super secret camera phone)

Really.

And while momma and I huddled together in a corner holding our breath with our hands to our chins, husband took one look at the situation, walked right over to the mouse perched up on top of a three inch diameter life line having flashbacks to his rodent childhood and all of the things he would do if the sweet Lord would save his tiny little mouse heart from a death with whiskers that had been staring him in the face for the last thirty minutes (which on mouse time, I am sure is more like a good week and a half) and reached out his manly, hero hand, grabbed the trembling creature by the tail and threw him out the door.

Game over.

Breath released.

Broom back in the closet.

Tuna noodle casserole still not delicious.

Momma found her glasses.

Cat returned to her perch.

And our world is quiet again…

…for now…

But maybe momma wants to trade in the demon cat for something more like this:

(I mean, they seem to get along…)

Just a thought.

Here’s to a rodent free weekend.

It’s Friday and there’s a cat on my shoulder

It’s Friday and I have a cat on my shoulder.

And now she’s on my lap.

And now she’s eating my computer keys.

Delicious.

It’s Friday and there is so much to get done, so much to do before a great weekend. See my little sister is coming to see our nephew (and me. I’d like to think she is coming to see me too). And so are my grams and gramps on their way to Arizona (didn’t think North Dakota was on the way to Arizona did ya?).

On the agenda is some baby snuggling, a massive consumption of cheese and wine and dips and tortilla chips and dessert and everything my little sister demands for her visits and my momma is sure to deliver. Also on the agenda is a break for me to torture little sister by asking questions about her boyfriends and parties and grades and what’s up with all of the flannel? (she is 21, but she is still my little sister you know).

Then I will ask to borrow her clothes and she will insist I don’t get them dirty and that I promptly return them for inspection. And then I will kiss her face with the dimply cheeks just like when she was a baby and promptly pick a playful punching fight where we fly around the kitchen knocking over chairs until I am laying flat on my back on the living room floor while she annoyingly performs some sadistic torture move that she learned in prison or something while I scream “Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!” and whine cause she gave me a bruise.

Cause little sister is way stronger than me.

Anyway it should be good.

But I’ve got work to do, people to get back to, music to practice, surfaces and socks to clean. A basement to organize. You know, grown up things to accomplish before I can relax this weekend.

And as I sit here hunched over my computer and look down to find a kitten purring and dozing on my lap who then promptly pops up, as if electrocuted, only to jump into my briefcase and check on the files to make sure they’re organized  I am suddenly jolted, like the kitten, by my life right now.

Because last night I ventured out into civilization to go to a restaurant, drink some wine and catch up with an old friend. And we got to talking about growing up and work and where we used to be and where we are right now.

As we were talking I recalled how I used to be in a classroom, then on the road two weeks a month, then on a stage somewhere, then in an office in the mountains, then in an office on the plains.  I used to be on my hands and knees helping to tile a bathroom shower and scrubbing saw dust off of the floor. I used to be overwhelmed at the thought of it all…all the responsibilities, all of the push and go and competitions and deadlines and waiting for the next step, waiting for my life to start.

And sometimes I feel like that still.

Sometimes.

But right now it is Friday and the pug has his head on my knee and the kitten has found a nice sunny spot to lay and the lab is out digging in the yard and the horses are grazing on a hill top way above the house and I can think of nowhere I would rather be.

And the jolt I was talking about…the jolt came when I realized I don’t give a damn about all of the above tasks mentioned.

Who am I?

Because at this moment there nothing else I would rather do than sit here with my coffee cup and rub a few bellies and bury my head in their fur and to hike to the hill and scratch a nose and thank these crazy pets for knowing always what life is really about.

And dirty socks be damned, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Oh, and while I am at it, I will give them all an extra treat to thank them, the animals, for understanding, somehow, that when husband is gone for the week it is perfectly acceptable to sleep in bed with me…and for never attempting this when husband is indeed here. I will always be perplexed and grateful for your intuition.

And thanks for helping me get all this work done.

Really. Thanks.

Happy weekend everyone.

Do something you love.

Kiss someone you love.

And lay in a sunny spot.

Oh, and by the way, little sister has never been to prison…

…I don’t think….