Friday, October 11, 2019


Any Wisconsin gardener who is not scurrying around her precious yard today, bringing in pots of tender plants, picking the last of the tomatoes (or any other fall bounty), has either given up on the whole shebang for the year, or is ahead of herself and has done all this earlier. Me, I'm scurrying. Three pots of annuals -- to the sheep shed. Four grand orchids split between the house and the sheep shed. One rosemary bush to the house. And so on. Tonight, we expect a freeze. Not just a light frost, but a real freeze -- the kind that will make your garden shiver and wilt.

But first, the cats. Ed and I are a little at odds here. On a continuum, where you have "cautious and risk averse" on one end and "tough and gutsy" on the other, he and I land on opposite poles. Typically, this is sort of amusing. He teases me about my cautious nature, I nag him constantly to take better care. But there are times when we clash. Over small things.

Today -- bang! We go to feed the cats together, for the fun of spending time with them. And this is when Ed decides to let the cat door down to its shut position. Little magnets hold it in place. I worry that the cats will not be able to get in or out. They now have to push against it with their heads. Will they?

Most of them manage just fine, but Dark Pink does not. She stays outside pushing and scratching ineffectively with her paw, meowing all the while.

This is too hard for her! You need to change that door!
You need to wait. She'll figure it out.
It's wet and cold and she is hungry.
She'll figure it out.

She didn't figure it out. She went back to the garage with what I'm sure was a broken heart.

Of course, Ed's probably correct. In fact, she may be flipping the damn door, back and forth, even as we speak. Still, I know that I am more protective with the kitties. If I think they need help (by my human calculation), I want to step in. Ed's a big picture guy. They are capable of doing this, Nina. Let them do it on their own.

After the cats, after the plants, we eat breakfast.

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The winds pick up, the temperatures drop. Are we that close to November? Yes we are...

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In the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop. Just Snowdrop. On Fridays, Sparrow's dad is with him.

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Snowdrop and I spend the bulk of the afternoon reading. We finish yet another Ramona book. At the end of it, my eyes are brimming with tears. Snowdrop, too, feels the emotional swell of the final chapters. The story line is so sweet, so touching in its simple truth (it's about the little spunky 2nd grader and her relationship to school, to her family -- in other words, it's every child's story).

We have only a few minutes left afterwards. Snowdrop wants to watch an Olivia video. Now, I have nothing against the videos. They're all of ten minutes long and they usually have some small  message of hope and resilience. But Snowdrop gets hooked on them. Once she is given the go-ahead, you can bet she'll ask for another. And another.

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A little amused, a little exasperated, I finally tell her (after listening to impassioned pleas for "just one more!") -- I am never ever going to play a video here for you again! She is crestfallen! "My friends will probably tell me that they go visit their grandmas and watch videos there. I will have to say that I cannot watch any at my gaga's house! That will make me so so sad!" I smile and tell her that of course we'll watch stuff together. I didn't really mean "never."

We get in the car then and I drive her home. During the ride, she is quiet and then she asks -- Gaga, why did you say that? About never watching videos?
I tell her it was just a momentary feeling of frustration, a small overreaction.
So you said it to get me to stop asking for more? 
I suppose so... It was a little bit of a tease. I wasn't serious. Did you think I was serious?
Yes. And it made me so so so sad...

I told her then that it was a bad tease. That you should never tease someone in a way that makes them sad. I said I would not do it again. To myself, I thought -- how myopic we are in the way we listen to stories! I'd just finished a whole book about a little girl who felt that her behavior was causing her mommy, her teacher, any number of other people in her life to not love her. In the end, she learned that she was wrong, that she was very much loved despite, no, because of her spunky ("sparkly") personality. Why had I so quickly forgotten that simple truth -- that kids take your words seriously? Very seriously?

Ramona had wanted to be her family's little rabbit. I reminded Snowdrop that I had once referred to her that way: bunny rabbit hop hop.
She asks -- When you call me by an animal nickname, can it be that? Bunny rabbit hop hop?

I catch her foot with my free hand and give it a squeeze. Yes, little bunny rabbit hop hop. Yes I can. 

In the evening, Ed and I spend time trying to reassure the cats again. It appears that in our absence from the sheep shed, they had gone exploring. Their sheep shed adventure took them over the keys of Ed's computer, triggering a very loud video on sheep sheering. The sudden flash and noise of it send them all flying to the barn.

Come inside, little guys. There'll be a freeze tonight. Come inside.