I sat outside this morning after seeing Victoria off to work and looked around me. The sky was dark off toward Tampa with angry storm clouds. All around me the winds swirled with that soft sense of impending chaos which always precedes an approaching storm. At first, there were no squirrels. There never are at times like that. They know, somehow, that all hell is about to break loose, and they batten down the hatches.
But eventually Sunny came down the tree. She stopped halfway down the trunk and looked at me, making that chittering noise I’ve come to associate with squirrels asking “friend or foe?” When I said “Hey, crazy girl” and she heard my voice, she came on down the tree and hopped up onto my knee for the first peanut of the day. I watched her as she ran back up into the tree and sat on one of the lower limbs, munching on that peanut, and ate a few peanuts myself. That’s the morning ritual, having a breakfast of peanuts with the squirrels.
There weren’t many squirrels out there this morning. As I said, storm winds unnerve them. Sunny’s two youngins finally came down the tree and took a few peanuts from me. But when no one else showed up and Sunny wandered off, I looked up at the sky, which had begun to lighten a bit. I opened the buffet (which means tossing out sunflower seeds, which are actually what we feed the squirrels – the peanuts are treats), took one last deep breath and felt the wind playing across my skin and in my hair once last time, and then went back into the house. I had things to do.
The cats inside had needs. Their food and water bowls were both low. Booger and Sabella were waiting for me in the kitchen, sitting beside this source of growing anxiety to draw my attention to it. Order and peace were quickly restored by filling up their bowls. Booger started eating and managed a few mouthfuls before Sabella nudged him out of the way and took over the food bowl. Like all good big brothers, Booger sat back and let Little Sister have what she wanted, waiting patiently for her to finish and move along so he could go back to his morning snack. Boo watched them both from an inverted position (on his back) in the living room, waiting for the traffic to die down.
After the downstairs critters were squared away, I went upstairs to check on our new kittens, Lucius and Claire. They both lay on the shelf behind my drawing table. Claire, the crazy one, hissed as I approached, but she didn’t run away. I petted her first and soon had her purring, then switched to Lucius as he made it clear that he expected equal treatment by pushing his head under my arm. The purr factory came to life as I petted them both. They seemed to be competing to see who could purr the loudest. I knew better than to expect much from this. As they always do, the moment I sat back in the chair and was no longer touching them, the purring stopped. They both stared at me as if I was an alien thing that neither one of them had ever seen before.
We’ve been gauging our progress with those two not by how much they’re coming out of their shells, but by how much less they hiss and hide from us. As I sat there and stared back at them, I couldn’t help but thing that it’s been a week since they came home with Victoria. They’ve made progress, but they still have a long way to go.
Both Victoria and I have doubts. Lucius could be put into general population right now if not for Claire. Poor Claire, though, is clearly fragile. She needs Lucius. But poor Lucius, who comes to life and is a normal, playful kitty the moment you touch him, feeds off of her paranoia. Lucius is bold and inquisitive. Just yesterday he was playing with Sabella through the crack at the bottom of the door. But Claire makes him anxious. Surely if Claire is so certain that something is wrong, Lucius should be on alert. If I walk toward them and Claire starts hissing, Lucius responds to the hissing. So he has a perpetually confused, but curious, expression on his face.
As Victoria said, with them it’s one step forward and four steps back. I actually don’t agree with that. We’re making progress. But they’re definitely going to have to improve by leaps and bounds within the next week or so. We can’t up-end our lives and the order of the house to accommodate a couple of fussy kittens. They’re simply going to have to adapt. It’s as simple as that.
Before I left them, I looked out the windows at the trees blowing in the wind outside. It’s good for the kittens to be up there, instead of in the small bathroom. At least upstairs they have more room. And with the movement outside of the window, they have more stimulation. All I could do was shake my head. Dealing with them was beginning to take up too much of my days, and I had other things I needed to address.
I said goodbye to the kittens and quietly left the room. Downstairs I had things to do. Empty the litter box. Make up the bed. Sweep the kitchen. Vacuum the carpets. The larger bathroom had been smelling strongly, so I had resolved to give both bathrooms a good swapping. But first things first. I came downstairs, made a sandwich with the last of the Manwich spread, and took a couple of Goody’s powders to head off the aches that come when rain threatens, and got to work.
As I did my chores, I thought about the new music Victoria and I are making with Windhaven. Our friends and relatives might have taken little notice to our newest song, but we had received enough positive reinforcement from strangers to console us that we’re on the right track. An online friend told me “I’m not sure if you know this but your band is BRILLIANT”. Victoria and I both needed to hear that. If our friends and relatives were any indication, you wouldn’t know that we had just finished a new song, for the amount of interest we got from them. When songs land with a dull thud, the first thing you start thinking is that maybe the song is no good and people just don’t want to say so. So it’s always great to get some positive feedback from someone who doesn’t feel obligated.
That online friend had offered to help spread the word about Windhaven by offering some of our CDs to subscribers of her mailing list. It’s a newsletter for writers (which is how we met), but she’s offered to feature Windhaven in the Spotlight feature. I told her we were trying to find ways to make a living, and that, quite frankly, Windhaven showed more immediate promise than writing. At least with Windhaven we have the immediate potential to get gigs and make money. With writing, you mail off your manuscripts and sit tight for months, hoping that eventually you’ll rack up a sale. So… this will help.
My headache was getting worse by the time I finished with the vacuuming. Not not that the noise was any help. As I put away the vacuum and considered what to do with the rest of my day, I wandered into the living room to check the temperature in the house. We’d been keeping the windows open because it was so cool, but I was feeling rather warm.
As I am likely to do, I stopped at my computer to check Facebook and e-mail. Nothing of importance had come in. I e-mailed some information for a friend who has offered to help me put together my divorce papers. Sifted through the spam in my e-mail inbox. Posted an article to Facebook about how the courts are helping banks screw over homeowners. And with the relative calm that settled over the house, I found myself staring at the computer while savoring the breezes that occasionally come in through the open windows.
It was time to make something of my day. Should I resume working on the demo that Windhaven hopes to have ready by November 27th, when I’ll play a largely solo show at the GCDA’s 6th annual chili cook-off? Or should I work on putting together the sets for said show and learning the new material? The latter was likely. Much of the grunt work on the recordings will have to be done by me. But Victoria needs to be brought back into the loop. Windhaven has had too much time off. Victoria needs to sing.
So… another day…