Thursday, October 10, 2019

group hug

It's a little awkward when humans do it -- gathered in a circle, in an embrace of protruding elbows and squashed faces -- and still, there's tenderness in the effort. Group hug! A show of team spirit, of support, of love.

Cats, on the other hand, have no problem with this at all. As I feed them in the sheep shed, I watch as they first eat, then, taking a pause, they gather on the deliberately lumpy blue quilt (they like the hills and bumps!), with Dance going down first, then the others, all eight of them (sigh...) piled high for one big mass of cat fur, licking each other's faces, purring in deep contentment.

Cats are not pack animals. They can function alone (Stop Sign surely does). On the other hand, if socialized and rewarded for their playfulness, they retain that kitten love of closeness. In this particular group, they are indeed like a pack of kitties. A tad fearful of strangers, happy to find warmth among their brothers and sisters.

A morning of catch up work, some of it outside...

(planting Hellebores, aka Lenten Rose; Pepper always follows my digging practices very closely)

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(we're getting a freeze tomorrow... so long, nasturtium!)

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(Autumnal prettiness...)

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All this after breakfast, of course.

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As I glance at the paper (is it still "the paper" when you read it online?) and learn that Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish writer, won the Nobel Prize in literature. She is so very different from the last Polish Nobel laureate in literature! In 1996, Szymborska won for her very beautiful and very readable poetry. Tokarczuk, who is both unconventional and outspoken (and therefore not necessarily popular with some in the Polish government), writes in ways that force you to think as you read. The Polish Minister of Culture tweeted recently that he hasn't been able to finish any of her books. (A statement more about him than about her writings.) She may not be an easy read for those pressed for time and so may I suggest at least a look at an essay about her? It appeared in the New Yorker this last July. (You can read it here.)

In the afternoon, I pick up the kids.

(If he is interested in a book, she then is interested as well. Even if it's a flap book for toddlers.)

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Yesterday, she was more independent, he was more clingy. Today, she is more tired, he is happily occupied with any number of silly things.

(She settles into drawing, he sorts snack foods on the floor)

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There is a bit of a challenge: Snowdrop has dance class later in the day and she is not one who likes to stay within the confines of a schedule. When she is engaged in play, she can be extremely pokey, begging for just one more minute, delaying, delaying, until the clock has moved dangerously close to the hour of class. It's not that she doesn't want to go to wherever it is we're heading. She just wants to go there on her own time.

(Sparrow watches, trying to understand why there's suddenly a rush to get going...)

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There was a time when I could whip up two little kids into some state of readiness and  cart them off to one lesson, then the next -- no problem. But today, I am very much aware of the fact that I am a generation removed from the moms and dads who are chasing toddlers in the waiting area as their daughters (the class is 100% girls) dance. Since we do the transfer of kids and their stuff at the ballet studio, I must cart all their school junk along with a squirming boy to the lesson, at the same time that I need to hold on to Snowdrop's hand in this very busy with traffic part of town. I'm wondering how this will work when we add snow shoes and snow pants and caps and scarves and mittens to the mix! Today, we merely have to contend with a little bit of a downpour. "Cover my school painting, Gaga!"

(Storybook Ballet)

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In the evening, Ed and I talk a little about the cats. The dynamic has changed a bit: Little Gray was the one you could always count on to be at your side. Now, it depends. Every one of the lot has at least a little fear left. We can work to lessen the grip of that fear, but with 8 of them, it's slow going. But there's progress! These guys may never be lap cats, but they definitely are inching toward being our good pals. Little Gray set a good example.