Cats and Plants

Early this morning I did what I ought to have done when we first arrived:  took the dogs on a walk.  Emilie, the only other early riser in the household, came along.  We followed a track that probably leads to the home of one of our landlords.  The sandy soil showed lots of tracks:  cattle, raccoon, perhaps deer.  Bird tracks curved around like long freehand loops of fancy stitching.  A garden-hose-width band of tiny dotted tracks may have been left by mice.  We saw coyote droppings, which I am told are properly called “scat.”  We passed deer blinds, heaps of scrap, and a whole lot of mesquite.


When we returned, Greg was up and sitting on the trailer under the carport.  He and I drove to the Kingsbury post office to check our mail and chat with the friendly postal employee.  Saturday hours, oddly enough, are six to nine a. m.


Before I proceed, I should explain, in my directionally-challenged way, the principal towns of our immediate area.  The farm where Greg grew up and his mother and stepfather now live is close to Luling, a town of five thousand eighty.  Greg attended Luling schools, and his mother worked there as a teacher and administrator for many years.  But while Luling proper is in Caldwell County, the farm is actually in Guadalupe County.  And the part of the farm where we will eventually live has a Kingsbury address, not a Luling address.  The house we are renting has a Kingsbury address, too.  (Kingsbury is small, really small.  The post office is in a kind of trailer, tidy and well kept.)  If you go through Kingsbury you will get to Seguin, a good-sized city with a big H-E-B, a Home Depot, and a Wal-Mart.  If you go through Seguin you will eventually get to San Antonio.


If you go the other direction, away from Kingsbury, you will get to Luling, and if you keep going you will get to Lockhart, which is bigger than Luling but smaller than Seguin.  Past Lockhart you can get on the new toll road that will take you around Austin.  And that is about the extent of my understanding of local geography.


We asked the friendly postal lady where to find free-range eggs and good breakfast tacos; she directed us to Luling for both.  So to Luling we went.  Jarrito’s is a Mexican restaurant in the parking lot of H-E-B, with good food, good coffee, and good service.  Greg ordered a breakfast platter with chorizo and eggs, chunked fried potatoes, refried beans, bacon, and sausage, all for a price surprisingly low to people used to north Texas.


While not occupied with customers, our waitress worked at a nearby table on a publicity sign for a candidate for the Queen of the 55th Annual Watermelon Thump, Luling’s famous town festival, to be held Thursday 26 June through Sunday 29 June.  It seems funny that in seventeen years of marriage, Greg and I have never attended a Thump together; but we plan to attend this year’s Thump, which serendipitously coincides not only with our move, but also with Greg’s twenty-year high school reunion.


Late in the morning, the whole family drove to Greg’s mom and stepfather’s place.  We got some things out of our storage containers, and Daniel moved a load of brick for his grandparents.  Ann fed us lunch, and then the kids swam in the pool across the road, which belongs to Ann’s renter.  I mentioned that I wanted to line the shelves at the rented house but did not want to spring for shelf paper.  Ann cleverly suggested freezer paper, and then gave me some.  She also lent us her camera, as ours is still in Krum.


Our rented house may be thought of as three shotgun-style strips running northeast to southwest.  Beginning at the northeast end, the center strip contains kitchen, dining room, and living room, all in a row.  The strip to the northwest has a bedroom, a bathroom, and another bedroom.  All that comprises the main body of the house:  792 square feet of more or less air conditioned space.  The third strip is an enclosed porch running along the entire southeast side of the house.  Part of it is screened; the rest is glassed.


Greg and I have the bedroom opposite the kitchen; the girls have the one opposite the living room.  Daniel has the non-air-conditioned glassed porch.  One of our living room windows looks right into his room.  He blocked this window on his side by securing a shower curtain rod over the space and hanging his clothes from it.  Inside his room is an inoperable hot tub which has never been drained.  Indeed, it cannot be drained by ordinary means.  It was apparently installed before the porch was enclosed and so cannot be removed.  The standing water contains fist-sized blobs of black mold and the carcasses of lizards that perished in the foul liquid.  Surprisingly, this dreadful mere does not stink.  Someone has been tossing chemicals into it; so it is sterilized, sort of.  But we don’t really want our son sleeping beside a vat of this stuff, so it will have to be siphoned.


Ben and Ann came over in the afternoon to see our progress and to bring us three electric fans.  Greg set up a tiny one on the kitchen windowsill above the sink so I can catch a breeze while doing my kitchen work.  Before our move, we had been intentionally getting by with minimal air conditioning, relying on open windows and ceiling fans, and saving AC for the hottest part of the day and for sleeping, so we are fairly well conditioned to the heat.


Saturday evening, the whole family took a trip to Seguin, with Greg still trying to orient me to my surroundings but no longer making me drive.  Golly!  A trip to town!  H-E-B and Wal-Mart, woo-hoo!


While we were out we went by a house-moving place we have passed many times before on our comings and goings between Krum and Luling.  Having a house moved to the land might be a good option for us.  We saw lots of buildings on jacks, as always, but the gates were closed and there was no sign, so we could not make contact with the movers.  We will keep trying.


In the dining room, Greg opened a box marked “sewing things,” and there were Daniel’s plants!  All our moving boxes were secondhand; this one must have been labeled by some previous person.  Daniel moved his plants to his porch room, set them on a window ledge that seemed to have been designed just for them, and gave them a drink of distilled water.  They all seem quite well, undamaged by the sudden and prolonged midnight that descended on them Friday morning.  I am relieved.  I have been praying for these plants.


There are several barn cats hanging around the place, and we have named most of them.  Shirley, a friendly female calico, was named by Anna Friday night.  Emilie named another, darker calico female Sandy, and called the resident tom, an orange tabby, King Louis the Younger.  A second dark calico, similar to Sandy but smaller, was named Kit by Daniel because of her large ears.  There’s also a young solid black cat of unknown gender, which I named Inkling.


Sometime Saturday, Emilie heard some mysterious mewlings.  She and Anna went looking for the responsible cat but couldn’t locate it.  Later, Greg observed Sandy with a kitten in her mouth, taking it inside the barbecue grill left by the house’s former occupant.  She entered through the boxy portion on the ground and climbed up to the higher cylinder part, where she installed her family of two kittens.  It can’t be very pleasant in there, with almost no light, and only a metal grate between the cats and the ashes in the bottom.  One kitten actually fell off the grate and was trapped below, inaccessible to the mother.  Greg fished it out, put down some cardboard over the grate, and blocked the gap where the kitten had fallen, muttering something about “dumb cat.”  Sandy seems to have accepted the improvements to her nursery, but mother cats like to move their litters around a lot, so we’ll see how long she stays there.

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