Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Empty Nest

My heart broke a little Monday night when I had to come tearfully home from the SSE auction in Rock Springs minus a kitten, but it's also buoyed by the fact that he's spending the rest of the week at Cara and Gar's on a trial basis. Hurray for lovely cousins who can't resist kittens! I'll be at The Point Saturday for our annual Halloween party and I can check on their progress then; they have an older, very possessive cat named Twinkie who may object to such an interloper, but maybe he'll adjust like my grouches did. Time will tell. He'd be so happy there, and I know they'd take care of him.

Brent theorizes that our shared trauma at the shelter is the reason we bonded so deeply, but I'm sure it was more than that. I tried to tell myself otherwise, but I was in love from the moment I scooped him up, when he head-butted my chin, delicately licked it like he was sampling ice cream, and then curled up in the crook of my arm and started batting his own tail. I've fostered plenty of kittens I never got very attached to, but he was different from the start. And as much as he drove me completely mad half the time, the apartment is so distressingly empty now that it's almost no comfort to return to.

The grouches, for their part, are doing what they can to make up for his absence. Maybe they fear that if they don't show a little affection, they'll go in the black bag and never return, like he did. Or maybe they're relieved; maybe they realized how much they enjoy my attention because he usurped so much of it. B.C. is spending more time than usual on my lap and Kitty sleeps at my shoulder and pokes her head into my hair (which could just be 'cause it's cold). I can't get any alone time now in the bathroom (which was scarce before) and they both half-heartedly batted at the yarn I was crocheting with tonight when the ball rolled across the floor. I resolved to try to make more of an effort to play with them more often in the style they prefer; just string, thank you, no furry mice or balls or feathered wands. The kitten played with anything, but B.C. will chase the red dot from the laser pointer for a few turns around the kitchen. He's so bulky and trundling that it's disturbing, though, like a moose running. He has always been elegance without grace, and I love him. I love both my grouches, don't get me wrong, and I could never part with them.

There were other contrasts between kitten and cats. I hadn't noticed that my cats had aged; they're both ten this year, certifiably "older," and though they're both still gorgeous and trim, their soft, thick coats have lost some shine and their eyes aren't as bright. B.C.'s got horrendous halitosis and a squinty, pink, watery eye that comes and goes (the vet said it's nothing to worry about) and the always-cranky Kitty's pushing crotchety and they both sleep under the heater all day. They're still curious and haughty, but there's no mistaking it; they're old. I'm not complaining. They're predictable and respectable. But it's just sad to realize that the hard part is coming.

I sent four of the baby's favorite toys with him and to keep the hurt at bay I put away the evidence that he was here, the bed and tiny plastic food and water dishes I kept in the bathroom and the rusty cake pan full of litter, and even so I miss him far more than I expected to, especially when I find one of his little tri-colored hairs or a bit of string or feather he left somewhere. He was only here for just over three weeks but I got so used to his noise and energy and curiosity. I miss the weight of him on my arm even though it meant typing with one hand. I miss him trying to bat my glasses off and biting my earrings out of my ear; one time I thought he'd swallowed a tiny silver ring, but it was looped around his new little white fang. I miss the way he enthusiastically planted his front feet in the food bowl when he ate and how often I had to laugh at him, like Sunday night when he fell into the toilet trying to get to the knobs on the open lid that rest on the seat when it's closed. It would have been easier to send him away if he had been a rotten little jerk, but he was a model citizen and a joy. He never destroyed anything or used his claws on me in play, and even though he was into everything, he simply made me happy.

I'll survive, and hopefully Garrick will be as enamored with him as I was Cara is and they'll name him and love him and I'll see him sometime years from now, sleek and happy, when I'm home and visit The Point for a weekend of four-wheeler riding and hill climbing and Rae Dell's comfort food and Ed's latest project. Oh, and for her part, M was awesome in the car on the way to the auction, holding the poor upset guy up to the air vents and keeping a level head even when he barfed onto the blanket in her lap. Luckily cats give you signs when they're going to chuck, and after that he settled down in her arms. Thanks so much, dear, for taking care of the little bugger.

The scholarship auction was good fun as usual, even though there's never time to visit with family, and I donated three crocheted hats and three collectible Dept. 56 figurines to the cause that I was glad to have off my hands. I got a pumpkin cobbler mix, an odd and lovely beaded ornament the auctioneer labeled "The Torpedo," and some of Eileen's unbelievable gingerbread cookies (they came on a brass platter with a candle, an antique key, and a poem about how Santa gets into houses that don't have chimneys, but as charming as that is I just had to have the cookies). Morgan got a gold frame of pressed wildflowers in a rare and stunning teal. Cheri's been pressing flowers up on the mountain, too, and I loved the ones she did for us from Grandma's funeral bouquet, but I am afraid of the collection she exhibited this year. She's been gathering giant moths that cling to the shop light until they freeze and fall to the ground, so she presses them in with the flowers. They're absolutely beautiful but they're seriously the size of small birds and I think they would give me nightmares.

We've been gutting Bud's office to suit Jeff, who became the boss on Monday (damn skippy!), and winterizing the plant and outbuildings at work. I've been crocheting madly and planning for the Halloween party and Thanksgiving in Kansas City. And I'm bursting with more things to write but as usual, they'll just have to wait.

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