Five in a Hole

Three-year-old Tammie, and seven-year-old Niki sat in the center of the living room floor playing with their dolls. Dropping down onto the sofa next to Arnie I said, “Girls…bedtime is in five minutes. Start putting things way for the night.”

As if to contradict my bedtime announcement, the setting sun peeked out from behind a cloud to send a shaft of brilliant light into our living room. The result was a splash of color resembling spilled orange pop on the wall behind the sofa.

Leaning back and closing my eyes I said, “The last two weeks have been crazy! All I did was run, run, run! It seems like I’ve hardly been at home. I’m glad I have the next three days off from working at the hospital!”

Arnie grinned, “If you’re trying to make me feel sorry for you…it’s not going to work. I know how much you enjoy running around to garage sales, visiting family, and shopping!”

Sighing tiredly I explained, “Honey, too much of anything, even good stuff…is still too much! The house needs looking after. Haven’t you noticed how messy it’s been?”

Arnie shook his head, and looked around. Then he said, “Oh!” as if suddenly realizing.

I sadly surveyed our living room. The ironing board was set up behind my rocking chair. A half-ironed shirt dismally hung on one end, waiting in vain for the return of a hot iron. Newspapers and mail littered our chair-side tables. An empty glass on the floor between the loveseat and wall peeked out at me. It was coated with a dry, milky residue.

Flicker, our big black and white tomcat chose that moment to jump up on the sofa. He flopped down and began to stare at us. Arnie scratched the big feline baby on his belly and said, “I noticed something that I’ll bet YOU haven’t noticed.”

Rousing myself from Flicker’s hypnotic rumbling purr, I asked, “What’s that?”

“Have you seen Squeaker lately?”

Frowning, I tried to remember. Our mostly white, calico female cat HADN’T been around very much. I wondered aloud, “Where has she been? Is she all right?”

Arnie laughed. “If you weren’t always so busy, you would have noticed. Squeaker has been getting very fat…”

Delighted, I asked with a smile, “She’s going to have kittens?”

“The kittens are already here! Squeaker was sunning herself in the porch when I got home this afternoon. She’s thin now, and I could see she’s been nursing a litter.”

Looking around at my cluttered house I groaned, “Oh-my-gosh! I wonder where they are.”

The next morning I took a load of clothes that needed to be washed to our basement. I generously poured detergent into the washer drum and turned on the water. While waiting for it to fill, I looked around. During the summer I came down here only on wash days. The fieldstone walls were damp, and the air was cool.

As I dropped clothing into the soapy water I heard a small voice questioning what I was doing. “Meow?” Behind me, in a shadowy corner stood a wobble-legged, gray-stripped kitten, its tail high in the air and eyes wide open. Peeking out at me from behind a cabinet and a storage rack were two other wide-eyed babies.

By mid afternoon Squeaker had moved all five kittens from her dark, cool, basement neonatal hidey-hole, into our bright, sun-warmed back porch. Niki, Tammie, and I sat on the green carpeted steps playing with the fuzzy babies. Each received a name.

The first kitten to toddle to my side was ‘Doc’, a very dignified, intelligent looking character who wore a dark suit with subtle stripes. Next, a little calico girl-kitten tumbled over to my side to see what Doc was up to. She wore dark lines that resembled eyeliner extending from the outer corners of her eyes to her ears. She looked like the Queen of Egypt, so I named her ‘Cleo’.

Carefully checking out each corner of the porch like he was planning to make an investment on it was a small furry gentleman wearing the most perfect pin-stripe suit I’d ever seen on a kitten. I named him, ‘Mister’.

‘Daisy’ was a very shy, mostly yellow and white calico girl who resembled her mother. The last kitten was ‘Mousie’, a smoke-gray kitten. This one eluded each and every eager grab we made for her. She seemed content only to hide in the shadows where she could intently watch what we were doing.

As adorable as these kittens were, my house couldn’t handle seven cats! So Squeaker’s babies grew up and moved away, just like human children do…only faster. Niki and Tammie enjoyed playing with them, and missed them when they were gone.

My ‘Five in a Hole’ experience was quite a shock! It demonstrated how I wear side-blinders at times. The surprise tumbling mass of baby kittens made me slow down. I plan to enjoy Niki and Tammie before they grow up and leave home.

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