Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free at Last

I think my animal phase is coming to an end. For a while there, I wanted a life like Jeanne Marie Laskas' in Fifty Acres and A Poodle, or Bob Tarte's in Enslaved by Ducks, full of personalities and incidents and drama. As if our four cats and our daughter's rabbit weren't enough, we let our son pick out guinea pigs (you can't keep just one--she might be lonely), and then, encouraged by Ron's interest in parrot ownership, I wanted a bird like Tarte's Ollie, who "simply took it for granted that when he squawked, we would cater to his whim. It didn't matter if he was stranded on top of the highest oak or merely wanted another spaghetti noodle to nibble on, then fling at us. He gave the order, we obeyed--and were typically punished anyway." After doing a lot of research into different kinds of parrots, we reluctantly concluded that the only kind of bird we could be committed enough to own is a parakeet. So we got a lovely white parakeet from a newspaper ad, and then a green one from a pet shop to keep her company. Our hunter cat Sabrina got the first one in a highly dramatic accident, so after the solemn burial we got another white parakeet from a pet store. One of Walker's original two guinea pigs died, apparently of natural causes although at the relatively young age of 3, so we got another one on loan, Sandy, from another pet-lover who'd gotten Sandy as a companion for her guinea pig whose companion had died....

Now we have cats of 7, 8, and 9 years of age, a 5-year-old bunny, two 3-year-old guinea pigs, and two 2-year-old parakeets. We're getting a bathroom built onto our house, this being the house that when we picked it out, I said to Ron that we'd need another bathroom if we ever had children (although when I said that I pictured moving, rather than building. My mother once asked me when I had last cleaned an apartment oven, and I remember looking at her and saying, "mom, I don't clean. I move.")

This morning when I was thinking about the book Fifty Acres and a Poodle, I went downstairs, where most of the books are, to look for it. For the first time in my life, I couldn't find a book that I'm pretty sure I own. I got Growing Girls from the library, and I remember liking it so much that I found the one that preceded it, The Exact Same Moon, and then I ordered Fifty Acres and a Poodle from Amazon. What with some storm drain problems in the last few years, along with a leaking upstairs shower, a florescent light that we can't seem to fix, and preparations for moving bookshelves out of the way to accommodate construction and plumbing, it's harder to find books in our downstairs library than it used to be.

Yesterday when Ron and I had our half-hour planning session between running kids and ourselves, I said "guess what time the contractor's coming in the morning" and he heard "guess what pet is coming in the morning." After our laugh, I realized that I'm less likely to let myself be enamored of (and subsequently enslaved by) anyone new. I've cut my hair short. I'm throwing out old clothing. I want to drag fewer 20-pound bags of food and bedding and litter into the house. Somehow without noticing I must have turned my face away a little from the excitement of a burgeoning household and started looking for a new oven; you know, one that will just sit there quietly and stay clean.


Alison said...

Wait - you cut your hair???

Jeanne said...

My hair is now down to my collarbone, after spending the better part of 30 years going down to my shoulder blades. My kids said I went from looking like "the mother in Little Women" to "someone on the cover of Redbook."

Cschu said...

Well, most of us would not consider that you had "cut [your] hair short." It's still pretty long, in my book. Just seems short to you, by comparison.

On to the more relevant issue of cleaning (or not) ovens. Just buy yourself one that is self-cleaning. You DO have to turn it on a special cycle to make it clean itself, but then you can avoid having to move out of your house so soon. It's a big savings in time (considering the house-hunting, and packing and all.)