It occurs to me that, for the last few years, the latter part of May and the early part of June have been...eventful. Not so much in a good way. No winning the lottery. No fabulous early summer vacations. That's not how I roll. (Sadly. Sigh.)
Last year I trapped my first litter of feral kittens near the end of May. Whoo--fun! Well, actually they WERE fun. But so much work. I had to keep them outside until I knew they were healthy, and let me tell you, there is nothing like spending a couple of weeks kneeling on the ground several times a day with your upper half stuck inside a cage, leaning over the litter box to force your attentions on a cageful of little hissing ingrates, while the sweat pours down your face 'cause it's 90 frickin' degrees outside, all the while being swarmed by a mob of angry mosquitos. Of course it's totally worth it when you get that first purr, and see that first sweet little tabby tummy turned upward for you to rub. Totally. And I ended up with Timmy and Babs as rewards for my trouble, and most of the time they're worth it. (MOST of the time. Little devils.)
Just a few days later (on June 6....that would be 06/06/06...freaky) my neighbor's house (the house the kittens were living underneath when I trapped them, actually) was struck by lightning and caught on fire at 5:30 in the morning. Very exciting! I watched the flames shooting and the smoke swirling out of his roof...as I knelt on the ground in the rain to tend to the kittens, and prayed that the lightning wouldn't strike the tree I was under at the time! (It didn't. Thanks for that.)
Three years ago was probably the most exciting May/June. In mid-May I stole one of my neighbors' cats. (I would go on to steal the other one a few months later. I'm a cat burglar. Hee.) Why did I steal a cat, you ask? Was I that much in need of feline companionship? Not hardly. But my neighbors were horrible, inconsiderate, irresponsible assholes and, after deliberately acquiring two new kittens, promptly turned them outside to fend for themselves. They fed them occasionally, though apparently not enough. The kittens, of course, gravitated to my yard, and regularly tried to slip inside my house.
I was, at the time, trying to tame and find a home for yet another stray cat, and they were greatly impeding my progress--stealing her food and chasing her out of the box where she slept. I had a couple of increasingly animated conversations with the neighbors about the problem, but they couldn't be bothered to care for more than a few days, then they were back to their old ways. I found a home for the stray, and started paying a little more attention to the poor kittens.
I called a friend at the animal shelter and had him send animal control officers out to talk to them. That didn't help, for any length of time. Of course spaying and neutering was out of the question for these upright, responsible citizens and soon, as female kittens will do, the little girl went into heat. Where did she go, seeking sanctuary, as the neighborhood tomcats descended upon her in the middle of the night? My house, of course. At 3:00 one morning, after a couple of sleepless hours (courting tomcats are LOUD) I went and banged on their door, figuring they should be in on the fun. They refused to answer, though I could see and hear them behind the door, so I just stood and hammered on the door for about ten minutes, until I had their indoor dogs worked up into a total frenzy. Then I flipped them the bird with both hands and went back inside. I had my shelter friend send the animal control officers again the next day, and this time I thought it had worked. I didn't see the kittens again for a while, and assumed they were keeping them inside as they'd promised.
A few weeks later, of course, they were outside again, and the female was hugely pregnant. Surely they have SOME plan for kitten birthing, I kept reassuring myself. They won't just let her give birth in my flowerbed! I reached down to pet her one day and realized that, aside from the big bellyful of kittens, she was way, way too thin. Apparently they were of the "outdoor cats can feed themselves" school. So I started pouring on the groceries, and as she got bigger and bigger, and I realized that they were indeed just fine with her giving birth in my flowerbed, I decided that theft was in order. I held the front door open late one night, and she walked in like she owned the place. Surprisingly, all the resident cats seemed to agree with her--not one hiss. Amazing. (And NOT the norm.) Shortly thereafter I midwived her six, count 'em, SIX, babies in my bathroom, where they lived for the next several weeks. She was way too skinny and young to nurse that many babies without help, so I did supplemental feeding with goat's milk several times a day.
Eventually all the babies found homes, and Ruthie, as she had come to be known (named after my Grandmother, who also had six children--hee), stayed with me. I don't know if the neighbors ever knew what became of her--they never looked for her, and I never confessed. I moved a few months later, and before I did, I scooped up her brother, who I had been feeding regularly outside, and whisked him away to a rescue group. He was adopted only a week later, on his very first showing. (He was a seriously cool cat. Loads of personality.)
Was that the end of the fun that month? No, no it was not. Two weeks after the babies were born I tripped over a lawn mower, fell in my driveway and broke my arm. Big fun! The emergency room splinted me up with instructions to call the orthopedist the next day to make an appointment for a cast. The next morning I called to make the appointment, and they told me they didn't want to see me until the end of the week, to let the swelling go down. Okay. That afternoon a HUGE windstorm blew through, and I lost power...for the next three days.
Let's keep all this straight, okay? I am now: a) broken-armed and on pain meds, b) without power in the SUMMER and c) in addition to caring for my own [embarrassingly large number redacted] cats and dogs, caring for a bathroom full of needy 2-week-old kittens. Even bigger fun! (You may feel free to picture me scooping the litter boxes with one hand, with a flashlight tucked into the sling on the other arm, which is pointed in the general direction of the action. You may feel free to laugh at that picture.) Just to keep things extra-lively, I am also about to commence rehearsals for a play. A musical, no less. Singing and DANCING. The fun, it's almost too much to bear! But wait--it gets better!
Friday morning I go to the orthopedist and discover that my arm is not merely broken, it's broken into pieces. Surgery will be required, posthaste, to insert a plate, and I must immediately go to the hospital for pre-op tests. Whoo hoo!!!!! More fun than should be legal! (And let me tell you, more pain than the doctor will EVER prepare you for. If you ever hear the words "drill," "screws," and "plate" mentioned in relation to your bones--ask for Demerol. Fuck that, ask for morphine. You've been advised.)
Oh yeah, good times. For the next few weeks I worked full time, rehearsed at night, went to physical therapy 3 times a week, cared for my own pets plus the growing horde in the bathroom, did my own cleaning and grocery shopping and tried not to lose my mind. (A co-worker mowed my lawn for the rest of the summer, God bless him.) You may now picture my face when my boss's wife said to me, apparently expecting commiseration, "It's just so much work cleaning the litter boxes when you have more than one cat." You have TWO cats, NO job and A CLEANING LADY!!!! Really, how DO you cope?
Rich people are funny.
So, anyway...the arm healed well (as it should have, for $16,000), my performance was a hit, and Ruthie is one of the weirdest, silliest little cats ever. I guess it all worked out.
Still, I can't help thinking...it's that time of year again. I wonder if there are any early June surprises in store around the corner? If so...if it's not much to ask...PLEASE don't let it involve fire, feral kittens, or the words "drill" and "screw" unless they're used in ENTIRELY different ways than the last time. (Dirrty.)