It’s been a while since I mentioned them, but yis probably remember we got two cats – Mittens and PeanaBudder. Mittens is the black and white one that got an extra claw on each paw and pretty much just purrs, eats and sleeps. PeanaBudder is the smaller, wiry brown one that climbs the curtains and tries to jump on top of the fridge, and basically just acts like a furry little mental patient.
The two of them couldn’t be any more different. Mittens will come in the room, rub up against my ankle, wait for me to pat the arm of the chair, and then jump up and just purr as soon as you start pettin’ her. With PeanaBudder, it’s more likely she’ll come flyin’ at ya from the couch, bounce of your chest, both legs, spill your beer, knock over your bag of chips and leave you a scratched, bloody mess as she bounces around the corner and out to her food dish in the kitchen.
When we first got suckered into takin’ them two kittens home a few years ago, I never thought they’d last this long since there’s always cars up and down our street, and about ten dogs in the neighbourhood. But right from the start, Minnie didn’t let them outside. She said if them cats get outside, we’re gonna end up with fleas or kittens, and I don’t want either.
Now, last weekend was Mother’s Day and the kids decided to do somethin’ real nice for Minnie. Rosie came to me and Little Bill and said she had an idea. She said any time her and Minnie’s out and they drive by a house that got window boxes with flowers in them, Minnie just raves about how nice they look and how she’d love to have somethin’ like that. So, Rosie says, how about the three of us all pitch in and make a nice window box for her?
You can buy the flowers and soil, she said to her brother (since he’s still hangin’ on to his part-time job at the grocery store). You can build the box, she said to me. And I’ll set the soil and plant and arrange the flowers, she said.
And you know somethin’? It went off without a hitch. I found a good sized piece of scrap plywood I had out in the baby barn and after a few days of sneakin’ out there when I could, I had a nice little box all cut out and nailed together, and I even had a bit of white glossy paint in a can from the last time we painted the railing on the back step, so I painted ‘er all up. Little Bill gave Rosie $20 for the soil and plants and I gave her another $10, and Saturday afternoon before Mother’s Day she was out in the barn for two hours gettin’ the dirt in there and plantin’ the flowers and makin’ it all look nice.
Sunday morning I told the kids – don’t worry, I know the best way to wake your mother up for the surprise. Now I guess a nicer way to do it would have been breakfast in bed or somethin’ like that, but I figured I’d try somethin’ a little different.
While Minnie was still asleep outside, I got the kids to hold each end of the flower box up to the kitchen window and I got out the hammer and nails and started drivin’ ‘er into the ouside part of the window casing. I knew the bangin’ would wake Minnie up, and I thought she’d storm downstairs all cranky and half-asleep cursin’ about all the racket, and about this kind of loud nonsense wakin’ her up on Mother’s Day.
Sure enough, after I got a few nails into one side, I cocked my ear in the open window and I could hear her feet thuddin’ down the stairs, and then she was cursin’ all the way from the bottom of the stairs, through the livin’ room and out to the kitchen.
What in the hell are ya doin’? she said, her eyes still all squinty and half-stuck-together with sleep. Her hair was all stuck up on one side like she just got electrocuted and she lost one of her slippers comin’; over the stairs.
Surprise!! me and the kids yell, and then she realizes what we’re doin’, and she comes outside in her housecoat and starts givin’ the kids hugs while I drive the last nail in to hold it in place.
Oh! I love it! she says. Just what I wanted, too!
And we’re all standin’ around lookin’ at how nice the flowers are and what a nice job we did when all of a sudden, a furry brown flash bursts out the window, bounces off my shoulder and gumboots it across the grass and under the baby barn.
PeanaBudder!! Rosie says. She’s not allowed out!
And for the next half hour, the four of us are on our hands and knees tryin’ to reach under the baby barn to get the cat out. Of course, she’s crazy as a bag of hammers, like I say, so every time I’d aaaalmost reach her, she’d just haul off and scratch me. Eventually, we just had to give up. Rosie stayed out there another hour or so, but the cat just wouldn’t budge.
Each of the last three mornings, when I come down and get my tea and sit down at the table, there’s the cat, on the other side of the window, sittin’ right in the dirt in the box of flowers. Of course, the first day, I flew out of my chair and went outside to try to grab her, but she bolted down the driveway and it was only when I got down on all fours again lookin’ for her that I realized – I was in my underwear.