May 5, 2020, 9 Weeks Old
Hide and seek! The kittens were now big enough to have free-roam of the barn. They were five blurs running in different directions at the same time. They hid in dark shadows and jumped out to pounce on unsuspecting siblings as they passed. They’d attack, throw a few paw punches, bite an ear and then retreat to hide in a corner. Everything was a fascinating new toy.
While exploring, the kittens were equal parts daring and skittish. They’d run full speed at something that caught their attention, like a frayed rope, and then just as quickly, spook and scurry to safety under a muck rack. With all the new and exciting props to play with the grey striped kitten still thought my shoelace was worth a nibble. The chewy plastic tip was great for teething. The only time I was able to get a picture with more than one kitten was when they stopped for a quick snack and a cuddle with mama. She was still happy to nurse them even though they were almost as big as she was.
At home we were trying to occupy our hands and distract our minds from the truth. The virus was spreading like an insidious weed across the country and booming in major cities. May was going to be more of the same quiet chaos. We continued to shelter-in-place and avoided going out for anything other than food, household necessities and tending to Niki’s horse, Glorie at the barn.
The kittens were equal parts daring and skittish.
I suggested another new home improvement project I’d been wanting to tackle for a few years. Since we had plenty of time and nowhere to go it seemed like good timing. We replaced Niki’s old bathroom countertop with new, more contemporary style tile. Joe and I used our art glass skills to hand cut every tile and then puzzle-piece them together to make an attractive, clean looking design. I’m really pleased with the finished countertop and the way it gives Niki’s bathroom a more adult look.
Like the kittens, we were equal parts daring and skittish about living life in the, new normal, an overused term I love to hate. Several times I wanted to surrender to my inner weakness and fear. I ached to throw a few paw punches, bite someone’s ear and then retreat under the covers. I considered chewing on my shoelaces, but feared they’d taste like you know, horse poop. In the end, I held it together with bailer twine, the endearing love of my family, the compassionate understanding of friends and vodka.
Texting friends pictures of the kittens became a weekly treat I looked forward to.
On the bright side, when the kittens were one week old, I texted a kitten picture to three girlfriends who live in three different states. Texting them the kitten’s growth and hilarious antics became a weekly treat I looked forward to. My friends and I went from texting annually to reaching out to each other several times a week. We lead different lives, but we have a long history that goes back to high school. Over these past months, through texting, our friendship has grown stronger. We share our stories, our struggles, and our hopes for a bright future. We’re closer than ever before. These amazing ladies are tropical flowers on a volcanic slope. Their friendship is a real blessing and for that I’m thankful.
May 12, 2020, 10 Weeks Old
Stars were born! As I sorted the hundreds of pictures I’d taken of the kittens, I noticed a trend. The grey striped kitten and black striped kittens were the stars of my photo shoots. Looking back that had been the case from the first photograph. While the other kittens were content to play among themselves these two wanted more excitement and human attention.
This week the kittens took their shenanigans outside. They romped and played with each other in the yard outside the barn. The kittens were more agile than before, doing skilled acrobatic moves with slinky grace. They hid like mini mountain lions crouched in the bushes where they tracked every jerky move of passing chickens. I saw the maturing essentials of competent hunters in their twitching tails tips and their keen eyes.
It was fascinating to watch them explore new surroundings. I saw ordinary things in new ways. Trees became jungle gyms. Blades of grass were camouflage. There were still some clumsy moments when everything turned upside down, but the kittens were resilient as Jell-O and rebounded quickly.
This week the kittens took their shenanigans outside.
Photographically, the new settings and vivid colors added a lot of interest to my compositions. The kittens were fast and moved unpredictably. I shot strings of pictures in sport mode hoping to get a few good pictures that were in focus. It was entertaining to watch their bouncy moves and see their expressive little faces while taking their playing so seriously. I managed to captured some exciting actions shots that were rich with fierce kitty character.
At home, we put on brave faces. We tried to build a new routine to help us feel better or at least be a little productive. Meanwhile, the bad news was relentless. More confirmed virus cases. More deaths. Our world had turned upside down.
I walked every day to get out of the house and enjoy open spaces. I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful wooded area with lots of room to roam safely. I forced myself to entertain only pleasant thoughts on my walks. I focused on my body moving and the lush scenery around me. I listened to the birds and I felt the breeze brush my face. I reminded myself daily how lucky I was that my family was healthy, and we were together.
May 19, 2020, 11 Weeks Old
The curious kittens found new places to play in the yard and in the barn. They were flashes of fuzz darting around. A discarded roll of wire was a fun tunnel to roll around in. The tack room, with its clutter of gear made a great wrestling arena. One clueless kitten was brave enough to tug on a lead rope while a huge horse was attached. They were getting increasingly confident and boldly aware of the many entertaining nooks and props they could make their own.
It was about this time that I questioned my motives and grip on reality. I wondered, why was I so enchanted with these kittens? I spent hours chasing them around the barn taking hundreds of blurry pictures of fur. I asked myself, what makes kittens unique and different from other cute baby animals? It took some time, but I figured it out. Kittens take on the world at full speed. They’re all in all the time. For kittens, there are no obstacles only actions. Despite their small size and inexperience they’re fearless. Their zest for life glows in their mischievous eyes. It’s that blind confidence coupled with reckless curiosity that make them fascinating. I’m now convinced, it’s that fiery vulnerability that inspired Mother Nature to bless cats with nine lives to give adults like me, the gift of childish amusement.
Despite kittens small size and inexperience they’re fearless.
Like the naïve kitten leading the horse, we were overwhelmed be the enormity of the situation we found ourselves trapped in. We did our best to stay positive by exploring new nooks and props at home. Most importantly, we faced the unknown together and that’s what got us through. I also credit these comical kittens who live each day with enduring optimism mingled with good old brawling.
May 26, 2020, 12 Weeks Old
Agility training had a whole new meaning this week. The kittens were attracted to a fence behind the barn. They practiced climbing, and falling. Finding balance was a tricky endeavor. Eventually, they mastered the narrow rail and enjoyed the elevated perspective.
Finding balance was difficult for me as well. It was apparent that we’d be living this dysfunctional way of life for a long time. There would be no casual visiting family or friends. Trips to the mall to shop for clothes were not possible. The joy I used to have eating in restaurants was gone. It was time to accept that things I’d previously took for granted were now nostalgic memories of life before. The future looked different. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a clear picture of where I saw myself in six months or a year. What I did have was love, faith, hope, and occasionally good old brawling.
Writing about the kittens has been uplifting for me.
Writing about the kittens has been uplifting for me. I procrastinated opening my mind and my heart to my feelings by being silent, by not writing. I was wrong to stay away from writing so long. The logical side of my brain knows the emotional side needed time to come around to where I am now. The inner workings of the soul are complex and fragile; it will not be rushed into action.
What I want you to know is this: I’ve felt less anxious and more at ease since I posted Kitten Quarantine Countdown Part 1. Writing about my fears has made them less debilitating. They no longer have a death-grip on my heart. This has improved my attitude and has had a positive influence on my life as well as my other creative interests like art, gardening, and cooking.
You know what you need to clear the fog and get out of that dark prison you’re trapped in. Don’t wait any longer. I’m here to give you permission to do something that makes you happy. We need our strength of heart and mind for the long haul.
Thank you for reading my blog. Sometimes, I feel like I’m throwing shavings in the wind and not making a bit of difference. I means a lot to me that you are still here. You’re making a difference for me.
Don’t miss Kitten Quarantine Countdown Part 4 – Follow my Blog!
Week 13- The kittens have names! Meet KOOL-AID.