My father could argue with a lot. His arguments, in fact, could be absolutely completely stone-cold-from-another-planet illogical (not to mention more selfish than the average three-year-old's), but that made no difference to him. Of course; the main point was to defend and justify the hoard at all costs. Logic was such a little thing.
But somehow, my father couldn't really argue with gardens. I don't know why; he certainly didn't care about flowers. And usually he didn't care about anyone else at all or what they wanted (or what they needed, as in actual physical needs). But something about the amount of effort involved with gardens meant he would generally leave them alone. Or at least he did when he got older, after he retired.
It was about then, when he was in his late seventies, that he was persuaded (by Tara, and I don't begin to fathom how she did it) to actually start getting rid of some of the junk cars around here. I don't know why. I don't know if being retired made some kind of difference to his thinking, or if he started to not care so much anymore because he was older, but in the late 90s and early years of the 2000s he and Tara started, in earnest, to get rid of some of the cars.
I was back here by then. And I was afraid, with good reason, that these newly clear areas would soon get refilled with junk, either through new acquisitions, or through shuffling other crap around. So I made a plan.
It was a loose plan, but it worked. When he moved a car, or a pile of junk, or wood, or whatever, I planted a garden. Now not everywhere, of course; just in the places that made sense, like along the back of the studio, or in front of the shop. And, because we're talking about me, that means I double-dug those gardens, and hauled in compost from the dump er recycling center, and bought the plants myself and everything. I don't know why it worked, but it did. Somehow, and in a way I would have thought completely uncharacteristically, he was actually able to accept that I would have some kind of legitimate grievance if he then parked a car in front of (or on) that nice new garden I put in.
Honestly I still don't know why that should have worked. Maybe he just got tired in his old age, I don't know. But it did.
So when my sister rented a wood chipper (oh my gawd the warning icons on those things!) and reduced the giant pile of brush sorta kinda over by the shed to nothing much at all, I immediately claimed that space for my vegetable garden.
It's still there, though this year it was rather neglected, both because I was busy with kittens and because even though I managed to rabbit-proof and groundhog-proof the thing there was no chance of it being deer-proof. The fence just isn't high enough.
But I was out there today anyway trying to see if maybe there was some kind of harvest I could make, it being the day before grocery shopping and so a bit of a scrounge in the kitchen.
And as I was wondering I saw Spot. Spot the Cat. Spot the mother cat who had some kittens presumably about three weeks ago now. I hadn't seen her for a few days and was worried she'd do one of her disappearing acts, like she did this summer. Because, you see, she's scheduled to be hysterectomized at the end of the month, when those presumed kittens are around five weeks old, old enough to eat solid food and be without her for the day or so it takes to trap, spay and release her.
She was just sitting there, curled up over by a tree not far away. She was watching me, but not moving, which is a bit unlike her. She's pretty skittish usually, though she is one of the ones who will come all the way up into the breezeway for some cat food.
She was just sitting there, watching me. And I realized that probably meant that her kittens were not far away, probably in one of the junk cars around there.
So there I was standing at my garden fence, just by that brown Saab that has been moved from out back, wondering.
And then two little grey kittens came out from under the car, right by my feet.
I was shocked. Not that there were kittens after all (though I was certainly surprised to have found them without even trying), but that they didn't look very young at all. I had figured they should be about three weeks old now; but these were walking around just fine, and though they were quite round they were steady on their feet. They looked more like five weeks old to me.
I guess my math was off rather a bit. Which means that old Spot can be getting fixed sooner, rather than later, probably. So now I am going to see about getting her an appointment for next week.
Later I came out with some food and my camera. As far as I can see there are two of them, or two of them brave enough to come out into the open a little, anyway. I suppose I don't know that there aren't more.
The braver of the two is in the front here:
There is a tom-cat around here I've been calling Old Scratch, which is, actually, a name for Satan himself. Old Scratch (the cat) is kind of a grumpy-looking thing and a bit rough around the edges. I think he may be the father, since this second one is rather a dead ringer:
I am naturally (and provisionally) calling the second one Young Scratch. To be fair, he only looks like an evil grump in this particular picture. Otherwise he looked like a fine young cute little kitten, in a lovely dark smoky grey with the loveliest little silver feet.
I did manage to get a decent look at the first one's butt, and he is quite certainly a boy. The other one I'm not sure; s/he may be female, actually.
Here they are together:
Not long after I took that picture the little grey-and-white guy started climbing the tire of the Saab. Would you look at that:
I was surprised because I really didn't see how they could be that old, since as far as I know a kitten has to be about five weeks old to be doing that. I don't know. I've since googled kitten pictures by age and I don't think they can possibly be any younger than four weeks.
So, here's the plan. It's the usual one.
-Get Spot to somehow get herself into a trap, again. This may be a bit tricky as I've already caught her once and she naturally enough didn't really care for the experience, though I let her go once I saw she was lactating. I figure tuna will be my friend here.
-Win those kittens over and then get them inside. This will depend on how friendly they already are; with Splotch's set they just ran right up to us, but with Aleister, who is Spot's kid, it took a lot of work and patience.
-Foster and socialize them, then get them to the shelter to get their shots &c and eventually let them be adopted. Thankfully their eyes seem nice and clear, i.e. no infections.
Oddly enough I would have thought that would sound overwhelming; after all it's what I've been doing all damned summer. But I feel glad and relieved to have found them. Because if this gets done that's it, and it feels like the home stretch. Because in this case, hopefully, knock on wood, this is not a case of there is always more.
Wish me luck. Again.