Oddly enough, it was the expression on Bill’s face that started the whole thing.
I had steeled myself against any emotions, any bending of will, any…softness.
But then he looked over at me with that…that look.
All my steel crumbled.
And things spiraled off in a very different direction from any we could have imagined this morning.
But that came later.
First thing today, we set off, with the kids, to go pick yet more blueberries. I picked around five pounds or so this morning – not as many as last time, but we didn’t stay as long, either.
Next, big treat for the kids, we got Ronald McD food and ATE IT IN THE CAR.
Yes. Ate it in the car while we drove to Attleboro to go to the Capron Park Zoo. The kids and I all had our cameras, naturally, and what a sweet little zoo it was. Kind of like our own beloved Roger Williams Park Zoo, only smaller. And their big draw, at least at the moment, is that they have a white lion. He’s not purely white, but definitely white in comparison to his two tawny female cohorts.
His name is Ramses.
The lionesses are Nyala and Kayla. I don’t know which is which.
There were also the usual (I’m so jaded) emus and kangaroos and tortoises (tortoi?)…and a really nice little Tropical Rain Forest with all kinds of interesting looking birds…
Like this one…
And this one…
And especially this one…
Not to mention these two…
I kind of wanted to jump in there and play with them…
Anyway, after we saw all the animals, Bill and the kids had some lemonade. Bill had your traditional lemon-flavored lemonade.
Julia had cherry…
And Alex had raspberry.
Scary, I know.
And then the kids played for a while on the Capron Park Zoo’s huge playground. Bill and I hung out in the shade.
And then we all trooped back to the car.
As we were leaving, Bill asked if I wanted to stop at the gardening place and I said no, because I thought he meant the little garden area on the Capron Park land. Then I realized he meant this organic gardening supply store, and I said okay. I love the smell of farm stuff.
The store was just a few minutes’ drive from the zoo, so we were there quickly. We all got out and headed in. The store is in a big old barn, and with all the hay and feed and seed, it smells pleasant (to me) and earthy and inviting. The main “store” part was through a door to the right. Inside, they had organic pet foods, wild bird seed, and, over by the cash registers, canning supplies. I didn’t even get a look at the rest of the store – who knows what other goodies they had in stock.
We wandered up an aisle, and I tried to keep the kids close by – they had zipped up the aisle to my left. We met up at the end of the shelves, near a rustic, spiral staircase in the corner. And build into the underside of the stairs was a large cage. And down at the bottom of the cage, the kids saw these:
Alex wanted to take a picture of them with his camera, so I took one with mine, too, as a backup, in case his didn’t come out okay. Of course, no one was there to back me up, and mine isn’t all that great either, now that I look at it.
Bill went back out to the seed n feed area to read organic fertilizer labels and a few minutes later the kids wandered around a corner and discovered these guys:
(Again, I took a picture in case Alex’s was blurry…but mine isn’t so sharp either.)
I kept telling him, it’s not a zoo! You don’t need to take pictures! But he didn’t listen.
The two kittens were more interesting anyway. Probably because they had more room to move around. The bunnies – there were five or six of them – were in a pretty small cage.
Bill still wasn’t back, and I was ready to get going, so the kids and I went looking for him. He wasn’t out there in the sweet-hay-smelling outer area, so we went back in, peeked up and down the aisles, and then the kids lost interest and went back to watch the kittens. I told them to stay put and went back down one aisle to look in the wild bird seed room. And that’s where he was. Just standing there. He’s decided to go completely organic with the lawn (we’re already organic in the vegetable gardens and about 90% with the flowers, so this was inevitable, but he has to make these DECISIONS sometimes). I said “Great. We didn’t know where you were, by the way.” (I’m sweet, I know) And headed back to make sure the kids hadn’t been sold to a traveling circus.
Bill, he of the longer legs, moved on ahead of me and saw the kids playing with the kittens, their small fingers poking through the chicken wire.
And that’s when it began.
That’s when he turned, and looked at me, and gave me that look.
The look that said “They’re so unbearably cute!”
And I looked back at him sympathetically, because yes, they were. The kittens. And the kids. And especially the kids IN COMBINATION WITH the kittens.
And then we had an entire conversation with our eyes and eyebrows.
It went something like this:
Him: They’re so cute!
Me: I know…sigh.
Him: Wouldn’t it be fun to bring them home? The kittens, I mean.
Me: Yeah, it would. Ah well. Some day. (Inside I was all “ohmygodohmygodpleasepleasepleasethey’resoCUTE!!!”)
Him: Yeah, you’re right.
Me: Why…were you thinking of…?
Him: Mmmmmmmmmmmm…wellllllllllllllllllllll….I don’t know maybe…………….
Me: Well if YOU want to…
Me: We’d have to take them both.
Him: (no expression, but I found out later he’d thought the same thing from the start)
Me: They’re probably brother and sister (by way of explaining why we would need both)
Him: (I must be losing my mind) Mmmmmmmmmmm
Him: I can’t believe we’re going to do this.
Me: HEE HEE HEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Me either.
Really. Okay, NEARLY all of that was done with eyes and eyebrows. The actual whispered words started with me saying we’d have to take both. Also, at some point, the kids came over, chattering about the kittens, and we shooed them away so we could hold a terse, loudly whispered conference.
And that’s what happened today. Totally out of the blue. Bill went over to talk to the people behind the register, and I hung out with the kids, giddily not saying a word about what was going on. It was so much fun. The KNOWING and their NOT knowing what was to come. I love that feeling.
The owner of the store came over to where the kids and I were, and he had one of those little red laser things – he directed the little red spot of light onto the floor in front of the kittens and we watched them bat at it with their tiny paws. Alex begged for a turn. And then Julia did.
And then Bill came over, and right about then, Alex turned to say he WISHED we could bring one of the kittens home.
And we said “Okay. How about both?”
And his eyes and mouth became enormous Os, and I’m telling you that look of stunned joy already forgives any damage the kittens do to my hands and legs as they learn when to use their claws and when not to.
Alex told Julia, but it took a bit longer for the message to sink in with her.
Next up, time to get the kittens – they are brother and sister – out of their cage and into a couple of boxes for the journey home. The owner picked up the little gray one – the girl – and brought her into the room where the cash registers were. She was bundled into a cardboard box with some slits cut into the sides, and the top was taped shut. Another man came over to get the white-with-assorted-spots-and-patterns one. That one was the boy. And that one was NOT pleased AT ALL to have his routine interrupted. He flailed his legs out, kind of like a lobster splaying his big claws and stretching out his tail right before you put him in the pot of boiling water. His little claws were out, too, and he ripped the man’s hand pretty deeply a couple times until the man let go and the little guy scurried behind a barrel of dog biscuits. The girl behind the register came around and got the kitten by the scruff of his neck, and he didn’t scratch her at all. He, too, was popped into a newly ventilated cardboard box and locked in with a strip of packing tape.
I filled out paperwork while Alex and Julia laughed at the selection of greeting cards in a rack nearby. Bill stood nearby, a dazed look on his face and a free bag of kitten food in his arms. The kittens have already been seen by a vet and have had their first round of shots. We got vouchers for about half price for their future spay and neuter adventures.
And home we went. The two kitten boxes on my lap. I tried to send out soothing, loving thoughts to the little male. The girl behind the register had told us he tended to be a bit shy at first. That’s okay. I’m good with shy kittens.
We drove home and along the way asked the kids what they thought they might name their pets. You may have already surmised that the boy kitten is Alex’s and the girl kitten is Julia’s. You would be right. Anyway, I told the kids they didn’t have to choose names immediately, but they already had names picked out.
So, without further ado, I give you
Scratchy (the boy cat) (named by Alex)
And Softy (the girl cat) (named by Julia – “because she’s so soft” – and because Julia’s four and that’s how she names everything.)
They’re about 9 weeks old, and AREN’T THEY CUTE??????????????
Sorry. I tried to control that but I couldn’t help myself.
We let the cats out of their boxes in the kids’ room after we’d put out food and water and set up a temporary litter box.
They both beelined under Julia’s bed and we all sat on Alex’s bed waiting for them to start to explore.
Softy is the bolder one. She’s already friendly with us, rubbing up against our ankles and mewing her tiny, squeaky little meows at us. Scratchy hangs back a bit, checking out the situation before venturing forth. After they got a bit comfortable, they started playing together. And oh, it’s been SO long since I’ve watched kittens play together. They’re hysterical! Stalking and creeping and leaping…running and then skidding out of control across the hardwood floor…tapping at the kids’ stuffed animals with their dainty front paws…Scratchy boldly attacking the laces of Bill’s sneakers.
We originally planned to keep them in the kids’ room for a few days before introducing them to Blur, my seventeen-year-old one-eyed tabby,
but then I figured Julia would probably wake up at three in the morning, as usual, and forget about shutting the door behind her and the kittens would be out anyway. So after dinner we opened the door. Blur had a look at the little varmints and wasn’t all that interested, although later she kind of skulked away nervously when Softy ventured into the basement. Scratchy, to my knowledge, is still in the kids’ room.
Alex is a little concerned that Scratchy isn’t as chummy as Softy, but we’re explaining that it’s such a big, scary experience for such a tiny kitten…he’ll come around when he’s feeling secure. But I have to give Bill credit for coming up with the best analogy – he asked Alex “Were you a bit scared on your first day of kindergarten?” Alex said yes, a little. And Bill said “Well, this is kind of the same thing for Scratchy. But just like you, he’ll be fine.”
It’s a quarter to ten now, the Sox and Angels are playing and unfortunately we’re losing. Our kids made a couple of trips downstairs after Bill put them to bed. The kittens apparently didn’t that lights out means “stop playing and go to sleep” and their noisy acrobatics were keeping the kids awake. But Julia’s last visit was a while ago, so I’m thinking both sets of brother and sister are sleeping now.
Our family has grown – completely unexpectedly. I believe it was fated. We weren’t seeking a pair of kittens, but we could not have left them behind. We can play lots of “what ifs” – I wasn’t even going to go with Bill and the kids originally, but the white lion kind of dragged me by the camera strap. What if I’d stayed home? Would Bill have decided to get the kittens? He was definitely planning to stop at that garden supply place, so he’d have seen them….
Ah well. Who cares. They are here. And after a bit of Buyer’s Terror, Bill says he’s glad we have them. And so am I. And of course the kids are.
I’m not so sure about Blur.
Anyway. That’s what’s been going on here today.
Food-related posting will resume tomorrow.