I haven’t written in three weeks, not since the post I wrote about the third cat of the summer dying just a week after we’d adopted him. I can’t imagine why I might not have been feeling very ebullient.
I did throw myself into a project, though. In recent months, I’ve been working on my memoir, which will in all likelihood go by the same title as this blog. It’s a story that’s impossible to tell without delving deeply into the nature of family relationships. In the instance of my own family, the relationship between myself, my mother, and my grandmother in particular. That was a story unto itself, so I outlined it with the help of a shitload of letters that I came into the possession of when my grandmother’s childhood and beyond best friend had them sent to me. They spanned from 1940 to the mid-2000s and told quite a tale that told me a great deal about my grandmother and how she may have contributed to the troubled relationship she had with my mother. I put all that together with what I had of my own material in the form of photographs, memories, and genealogical data to piece together a century-long tale of adventure, sorrow, intrigue, despair, and resolve.
It’s early yet, so I don’t know if it will be something that stands by itself or if it will be part of the memoir, which now needs its second serious editing pass. That will take a while and will be an interesting exercise in seeing how good I am at slowing down enough to really analyze my own writing well enough to significantly cut it. Right now it’s like a music piece with too many notes, so it sounds busy and muddy. Some of them have got to come out. I do think that if each project were edited properly that they could be put together, and that along with all of the photographs, letters, and genealogical data I have, it could be really really cool.
So that’s what I’ve been working on. And when I’m working on a big project, everything else slides. Including my blog. I needed something to work on, though, to get through the stress of the cats dying. After the first cat died, I planted a 6’x8′ garden with corn, beans, and squash that is now (mostly) looking pretty darn good. The broomcorn is blooming and there are baby melons on some of the vines. The beans are flowering, too, so I expect some of those soon as well. The whole thing needs fertilizer, a tilling, and mulch. It’s somehow comforting to see the continued result of something that I planted while deeply in pain and attempting to manifest life after experiencing death.
After the second cat died, I finished up the first editing and collating pass of the memoir and sent it out to anyone who had expressed interest in looking at it. It was much cleaner after I had taken out some travelogues that should really be appendices or a little book of their own. I also fixed some of my attempts at playing with writing in third tense rather than first. It was fun, but sounded pretentious and removed my ability to use that device when I needed to fill in important events that needed describing in that sort of style. Plus, it’s my story: I should write it from my perspective. Then the third cat died and I worked on the family history project.
So here I am with a lot of potential, and a lot of work. One of my oldest and best friends who also has an English degree has been graciously lending her help to me on this project and was kind enough to let me know that my request for editing help was a little premature, but gave me enough to work with using my introduction to allow me to do the same to the rest of the book (and to the other one, now that it’s been written). Fortunately, I have the ‘problem’ of having to take words out, rather than put them in. No teacher has ever accused me of using too few words! I should just make a list of rules to follow and get to identifying everywhere they’ve been broken.
Back to cats, some good did come out of the whole situation. In an effort to make me happy and to save face for the organization, the people who adopted the sick cat to us in the first place graciously adopted the two kittens we were fostering to us for free. So we are a three-cat household again. Our existing cat has warmed right up to them, incredibly. We thought that she might not, given that she’s so old. Indeed, she was quite upset for several days, particularly because we had moved her food dish to be closer to theirs so they could get used to each other’s smells. Once everything was back where it was supposed to be, she was happy again and they’re all getting along fine. And of course, kittens!!!
We’re still fostering cats, as well. At the moment, we have a mama and her two young kittens, about 5-6 weeks old. Which means they’re stupid-noises cute. Mama’s still a juvenile too, and has a high-pitched chirrup-y meow that is also incredibly cute. I’m looking forward to finding homes for them, despite my fondness for them. I’m sure there will be some heart-tugging when it’s time for them to go, but I’ll be happy when they find their forever-homes.
But wait, there’s more, now how much would you pay? Today, I’m picking up a set of 3-week or so old kittens to live in our back bathroom. If they weren’t begging for kitten fosters at the moment, I wouldn’t, but I have the space and it’s hard for me to ignore emails telling me that if they don’t foster kittens, others will be euthanized. Yes, I’m that sucker, but it’s me and suckers like me that are attempting to keep Austin a no-kill city, which we (mostly) are. So having an extra set of kittens is a trial run. If it’s just too much to handle, we won’t do it again, but hey, it might be fun and it’s a good thing to do. The only drawback so far is the increased expense in cat food and litter. And having to sanitize our hands constantly, at least for a couple of weeks (standard initial isolation procedure). On the upside, kittens!!! 🙂