Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Cheap Entertainment at Our House

There is nothing like a kitten to provide hours and hours of cheap entertainment. Again, we have a kitten in the house, and our home dynamics have changed once more.

When Diamond and I were on our daily walk on Friday, she took a keen interest in the kudzu –covered bank near the beaver pond down the road from our house. I knew she had found something, but didn’t know if it might be a turtle, an armadillo, a grasshopper, or some other small animal. I let her off leash and began listening. Coming from the undergrowth was a meek little “meow.” Oh no! Not another kitten! I waded into the twisted vines to investigate where she was sniffing. I heard a “PFFFT” coming from deep in the brambles, after which Diamond quickly went into reverse and backed out. I took her over to the edge of the road and put her into a sit-stay, so that I could get a better look at whatever she’d found. Out from the kudzu leaves poked a little black and white face, showing curiosity, fear, and false bravado. I put my hands out, palms up, and this adorable little kitten approached me gingerly, sniffing my fingers. Scooping it up into my arms, I immediately felt a ferociously strong purr box. Diamond waited patiently in her position, but I could tell that she was keenly interested in her find. I released her, and she headed right back into the kudzu. While I held the kitten, now snuggling up in my arms, I heard another “meow”, as Diamond sniffed further into the mess of kudzu vines. I tried to coax this second set of vocal chords out into view, but wasn’t able to see the other kitten. It was too scared to take a chance on us. After about five minutes, with kitten in arms, we reluctantly left the pond bank, and headed back home.

Entering the house where Phil was resting in his lounge chair, I announced, “Look what Diamond found.” Phil knew that it was a kitten, as this has happened more than once since Diamond has come to live with us. I put the kitten into his lap, where he flipped it over, announcing, “It’s a little girl.” I was elated. With two male cats in the house, I was ready for a little female. I took her back from Phil, while he prepared a welcome-home meal for her of cat chow and milk, and loved on her a little more. Her purring never stopped, and she didn’t object at all to being held the way our Rocky does. After letting her down to eat, we let her investigate her new surroundings, and except for being wary of Diamond, who was chomping at the bit to smother-mother her, she settled in just fine.

Big Tom sauntered through the cat door shortly after Little Girl arrived, gave her his typical “ho-hum, another cat in the house” look, went to the food dish, and pretty much ignored her. Rocky, on the other hand, was traumatized. One glance at her, and he went into an over-drive frenzy of kitty panic, zipped through the cat door, and disappeared. We didn’t see him again until suppertime, when he slunk back in, hoping not to encounter this new monster in the house, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed back to the safety of outdoors.

Two days later, the little kitten, still without a name, sleeps next to me as I write. Tom still ignores her, and Rocky has decided that even though she is terrifying, he doesn’t want to leave the good life he has here, and steers clear of her. She and Diamond touched noses this morning, which delighted our sweet German Shepherd mommy dog. Hope springs eternal. For me, I’m in love. She slept on a pillow above my head last night, and I roused once to feel her nibbling on my hair and to listen to her beautiful purr. When I awoke this morning, she was curled up in one of Phil’s big hands, receiving a gentle petting from him.

The little girl has already made us laugh until we just about doubled over. She declared war on her shadowed reflection in the wood floor, attacked the door mouse doorstop, spent twenty minutes wrestling a piece of yarn, chased the laser pointer light all over the living room, doing flips and turns as she pursued it, and practiced her left hook on Diamond’s nose when Diamond got a little too close for comfort. She also got stung on the face by some kind of insect that she captured. But most of all, after figuring out how the cat door works, she proudly practiced going in and out several times in a row.

There’s just nothing more enjoyable than a kitten! Now to figure out the perfect name for her, because we’ve decided she’s a keeper!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cottage Industries - A Sign of the Times?

I was driving down I-20 a few mornings ago, daydreaming as I drove to my job over near Spaghetti Junction. I had been listening to country music, as I always do when I’m in the car, and for some reason it had begun grating on my nerves. I switched off the radio, and was enjoying the silence inside my car. Because I wasn’t bombarded with music, I became more aware of my surroundings, namely the other cars on the highway. A new phenomenon became obvious to me as vehicles passed me and I whizzed past others, giving me pause for thought. I began reading magnetic car signs.

The first one that caught my eye was an old pick-up truck towing an open trailer loaded with lawn mowers, rakes, blowers, and all the stuff needed to manicure a lawn. Pasted to the driver’s side door as I passed this slow poke was a magnetic sign advertising “ABC Lawn Service”. I glanced as I passed, noting that inside the truck was a young man and woman.

Next was a mini-van that buzzed by me. The first thing I noticed was the extension ladder fastened to the roof. The magnetic sign on the side of this vehicle identified the young woman driving – “Kim’s Chandelier Cleaning” - complete with phone number and website. Kim, who I assumed was the driver, was an attractive African-American woman, probably in her 30s or 40s.

A little further down the highway, I discovered more interesting reading. There was a sign stuck to the side of an old sedan. It read “East Atlanta Courier”. A man about my age was the driver, and he was obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. We were at a place on the interstate where the traffic was stop-and-go, and we inched forward side-by-side along the jammed-up highway. I knew he was in a hurry, because he was drumming the steering wheel with his hands and was furiously chewing on a piece of gum. He kept answering his cell phone, talking for a couple of seconds and then hanging up. I imagined that he was updating someone on his progress, while carrying an important document or package to its destination in Atlanta.

Once traffic began moving again, more cars and trucks of varying ages and conditions caught my eye. I saw one advertising a “fix-it man”, another hawked “cake decorating”, and yet another claimed to be “carpenter, dry-wall, painter, plumber, electrician.” Wow! A man of many talents in that old truck! I also saw three Mary Kay decals on back windows and an Amway bumper sticker. I hadn’t seen one of those in years. I also passed four more lawn care trucks and trailers. This must be a pretty lucrative business, or at the least a relatively easy one to start up.

All of this set my mind to thinking about the people supplying these services and products. I wondered if they, like me, had been the recipients of a lay-off visit from human resources somewhere in the past couple of years. Were they still looking for work, or had they used their ingenuity to reinvent themselves with independent businesses in order to make a living? I was curious, and also impressed.

I then began thinking about myself, imagining what my magnetic sign might say if I had one. Of course, “Jennie Lou’s Treehouse” came to mind, as this is the name of my Saturday market booth. What would I advertise - my home-baked breads, jams and jellies, the cotton and bamboo fiber wash cloths that I knit and crochet, photo note cards, rag rugs, dried herbs, fresh vegetables? Or would I hawk the services I provide – research, organization management, meeting planning, tutoring, writing? I would most certainly need a super-sized sign for all of the little things that have kept me busy since I left my last office!

I turned into the driveway of my part-time job, which by the way, is located in my friend, Beth’s, home, and is a very successful independent enterprise. I was ready for a day of utilizing my talents to help her business flourish. I grabbed my bag filled with bread, jelly, and vegetables from my garden, and entered her home ready for a day of research, proofreading, organizing, data entry- whatever tasks she had ready for me.

With one last thought of the people I had “met” on the interstate, I said a quick prayer for them to succeed in their endeavors, and began my workday.