When I was a little bitty boy just up off the floor
We used to go out to Grandma’s house every month end or so
Have chicken pie and country ham, homemade butter on the bread
But the best darn thing about Grandma’s house was a great big feather bed
It was nine feet high and six feet wide, soft as a downy chick
It was made from the feathers of forty ‘leven geese, took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick
It’d hold eight kids ‘n’ four hound dogs and a piggy we stole from the shed
Didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun on Grandma’s feather bed
~ From “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” by John Denver
You might remember that in June, instead of donning my rainbow gear and freedom rings and heading into the City for the LGBT Pride Parade, I drank lemonade at a friend’s block sale and came home with a kitten. Or maybe you don’t know me at all so you don’t remember jack about my life because you just landed here after searching on “eye charts” or “lesbian moms and babysitters” or some other kinds of unseemly things I understand some of you may be searching for when you wind up here with me, on my queer adoptive parenting journey – where mostly I talk about coffee grounds spilling out of the coffeemaker 15 minutes before the first bell, or landing flat on my back on the slippery wet deck two days ago with no one home but two barky dogs, the kitten, and a big orange cat whose only language since June is hisssssssssss. Maybe you meant to come visit me today. I don’t know. I’m curious, though, I have to say.
Today’s blog, however, is a non-blog.
Today’s blog is the sleep-deprived, my-kitten-changed-my-life blog, and I don’t really mean that in a good way. I mean, I do love the kitten and all… but the life altering parts of his personality… how shall I explain? Usually, you read about kittens and it’s all “ooooo” and “awwwww” and fluff and nonsense and the kitten
never jumps on anyone’s head at 3:12 a.m. or hisses incessantly for 20 solid minutes at 4:14 a.m. or wakes the stubby-legged dog who needs to be carried
downstairs at 4:37 a.m. for a pee and a wander through the backyard. But this kitten is different. This kitten does all these things.
Last weekend, we drove this kitten – his name is Johnny – to Madison to live with our eldest daughter in a college apartment, but her roommates took one look at him with his fluffy squirrel tail, and his litter box, cat carrier, carpeted climbing tree, seven catnip toys my partner packed him for his journey, his blue blanket cut into scraps for a fort in the carpeted tree, one canister of food and a litter scoop – and gave our eldest daughter a look to beat all looks. So within twenty-four hours, he was back in the car sleeping on the lap of our youngest daughter for the long ride home. It’s a two and a half hour drive from Madison back to Oak Park and people tell me cats don’t like road trips, but this kitten is different. This kitten thinks he’s a dog.
He wrestles with the dogs, greets us at the door, comes when he’s called, and chases away the big cat who’s lived with our family all his life. In the summer, when all the pets pushed freely through the dog door in our playroom, before we knew for sure that Johnny had FIV, when the world was deliciously bright and our kitten’s future was undetermined, we slept. We watched television peacefully at night. We made dinner on the stove without a squirt bottle in-hand. The pets had space, and the kitten – Johnny – had no power in his back legs to jump onto counters. But now, my nights are a bit like “Grandma’s Feather Bed.” Except that I’m over forty and less resilient than I once was.
Which makes today’s blog a non-blog, a rant on life with too many pets, an ink blog test on sleep deprivation — because try as I might all week, I can’t think of anything to say.