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Alethea & Athena
Happy Mother's Day! 
8th-May-2016 05:31 pm
On Facebook, it kind of seems like the new tradition for every holiday is talking about why that holiday isn't so great, and it's kind of bumming me out. I think our brother-in-law had the best attitude about it, because to hear him talk, he had a legitimately terrible childhood, but today his post was along the lines of, "For all of you who have the kind of mothers you'd like to honor today, good on you, and for the rest of us, solidarity." In other words, it's nice to have a special day for your mothers if you want to, and if you don't think your mother deserves it (which really doesn't sound nice when you put it that way, but unfortunately there are mothers like that), you don't have to worry about it. I think people get too caught up in "societal norms" and whether they should be conformed to or abolished. A)Why is there no middle ground? And B)who says we all have to do something just because a lot of other people want to do it?

But enough about that! We have a much more important thing to talk about today, and it came in the form of an unexpected but appropriate visitor. Page likes to go outside in the mornings, so we opened the door for her and came and did stuff on the computer in the office. Sometimes when she comes back in, she will meow as if she wants something, but usually she doesn't seem to actually want anything, so we've learned to just say hi to acknowledge her and carry on with what we're doing. But this time, she kept meowing, and it took on a tone of, "Come on, you have to take care of this!" So Athena went out to investigate.

She looked out the door and there, to our surprise, was the cat that adopted our neighbors. I thought that was pretty unusual, especially considering the fact that she'd just had kittens, and she's clearly at least a little protective of them, because once when we spotted her on the neighbor's patio, she hissed as we got a little too close. (That was the first time we noticed the kittens.) Anyway, because it was so unusual, I wanted to see it, too, so I moved over to get a good view...and I didn't see her. But I did see a miniature version of her. Apparently one of the kittens had gotten adventurous, and she came along to supervise. Of course, when they saw me, they ran back to the neighbor's patio.

And that would have been cute enough as it was, but there's more! Page wanted to go back outside around lunchtime, so we opened the door for her. Once again, it wasn't long before she started meowing. This time, we were in the living room, so Athena was able to look over and see that same kitten getting adventurous again. I guess when Page goes outside, it gets curious to meet her or something. This time, we just sat back and watched. We have a lovely row of weeds growing on our side of the fence between the patios, and the little kitten was intrepidly making its way through the jungle of stems. It was super cute, and we were like, "You know, you could just go around..."

As we watched this, one of the neighbors came out and started sweeping the patio. Clearly these cats have formed their relationship with the neighbors purely for the food, or they don't like brooms. Either way, they weren't fond enough of this neighbor to stick around...so the mother and the other kitten took refuge in our patio! Awww, we had the whole family! (Except for the dad, who we saw sitting outside their front door when we got home from buying groceries yesterday.) There are two kittens, and the intrepid one is a little more gray like the dad, and the other one looks just like the mom but is apparently also very shy. As soon as it got to our side of the fence, it hid in the shadow of the weeds, right next to the fence. (I'm sorry about the weeds; we had one grow last year and it took us forever to finally say fine, we'll pull it up!, and then this year we had several of them sprout, because as you all know, that's how weeds work. Sometimes I think it would be nice to pull up all the weeds and plant some low-maintenance flowers there, but we so rarely go outside that the thought doesn't occur to me enough to act on it.)

And the mom...didn't really like it in our patio, so she totally bailed. I really don't know what was up with that. Athena said it looked like she thought about coming inside, but since Page was guarding the door, I guess she decided it wasn't worth the potential fight. So maybe she was checking around to see if there was a better refuge for her kittens, knowing it was relatively safe in our patio (we stayed inside and watched through the window). She came back before too long.

But eventually we finished lunch and then it was time to go to church. I'm not sure how Page feels about the neighbor cats, but her tail wasn't puffy like it used to get, so maybe she's open to the idea of making friends. But not too open, because eventually she came inside and started scratching up the couch, which I took to mean, "For goodness sakes, why haven't you closed the door yet!?"

And that is the tale for four kitties.

Today I'm thankful for getting a visit for the neighbor kitties, having a ride to our x-ray appointment on Tuesday, having appointments for temple recommend interviews, the super delicious salted caramel susans they're currently selling at our grocery store, and getting chocolate in church for Mother's Day.
9th-May-2016 12:52 am (UTC)
It is sad when people feel that something that should be positive needs to be all-out rejected, for whatever reasons. I just got back from my own newsfeed that was one person after another sharing lovely photos and memories of their mothers, so I know it can't be everyone who thinks that way... (a few also wrote about/for those who were grieving for various reasons on this day, which is certainly something we should recognize and respect!) It does bring up questions of how we perceive the "societal norm"—maybe the people expressing frustration were seeing only lots of happy posts, and felt like they needed to share their differing experiences, but then you wound up seeing an above-average amount of those. Maybe all the happy posts on my newsfeed put others in discomfort and made them feel like they couldn't express their sadness. Maybe Facebook is pulling social experiments again, skewing certain users' newsfeeds more negative and others' more positive to see how it can mess with people? (actually, I don't want to think about that last option.) It is a reminder that I should be mindful of others and not so wrapped up in my own happiness that I fail to see their hurts, but on the other hand I shouldn't lessen my own joy because of that. One maybe relevant anecdote: on the way home from church today we drove past my mum's work, and she commented that she felt guilty for not working when her coworker (also a mother) had to be there instead (my mum won't work on Sundays in general, but this being Mother's Day, the flower design department would be extra busy, and her coworker has to work every Sunday shift). My dad commented that she shouldn't feel guilty because that implied doing something wrong, which of course she wasn't, so after some back and forth we settled on her feeling sorry for (empathetic, if you want to use a fancy word) her coworker, which is different than guilt. I think, as we are led, we should continue to share joy in a sensitive way!! Even if facebook isn't manipulating newsfeeds, their previous experiment did suggest that people who see more positivity tend to post more positively in response :)

So on that note, thank you for writing about kittens!! Aww, Page is a cat-aunt :D Did you say before what colour the mama cat is? (because it's very important to me to know what these cats look like.) It is sweet that she adopted your neighbour, and then temporarily you. My friend's family got adopted by a stray last year and woke up one day to newborn kittens on their porch (you may have seen the photos I posted around that time and following) and it was so cool to see how the mama instinctively sought help when she needed it, acting in the best interest of her babies.

(ps: you don't need to apologize about weeds. they're only natural, and sometimes they're beautiful too. i'm sure something appreciates them!) (but yeah, they can get out of hand. last year i let a few grow because i didn't know what they were and my curiosity wanted to see what they'd turn into, and there were some cool ones that eventually got interesting flowers and i enjoyed the experiment, but this year, like you say, they've multiplied , and it really does look overgrown and i worry about it crowding out the flowers i did plant and i should do something about that so the neighbours don't start giving me dirty looks...)
9th-May-2016 01:46 am (UTC)
There's been a lot of positivity on our Facebook, too, but there was just enough negativity that we were annoyed. For Mother's Day, it's usually not people complaining about terrible mothers, but complaining about Mother's Day talks that are given in church, where people apparently list all the superhuman things that their mothers did, and it makes them feel guilty about their own shortcomings. There's a lot to dissect in there about why this particular complaint bothers us so much, but for now suffice it to say it stood out.

Anyway, we really like that story about figuring out the true nature of your mom's bad feelings for her coworker. We think that was a great analysis and an important thing to remember. We're kind of stuck in the middle of differing opinions where on the one side, we have people feeling guilty all the time for things we think they shouldn't need to feel guilty for (like eating too much cake, or being too tired to do X or Y or Z), and on the other side, we have people being jerks but not feeling bad because "guilt is a nonproductive emotion". So it was really nice to read about your family looking at the situation and breaking it down in a logical way.

We have not said what color the mama cat is. It's not quite tortoiseshell, but like a black and dark brown tabby, with long hair. And also with some tan stripes. We really ought to take a picture. The cats are elusive, though, so we can't make any guarantees. But we might be able to get pictures of the intrepid kitten if we make sure to grab a camera or iPad next time we let Page go outside.

(That's part of why we let the weed grow, too! When I first saw it sprout, I was like, "Ooh, I wonder what kind of a plant it is!" It has yellow flowers which turn into a kind of thistley dandelion, but they're smaller than the dandelions you usually see, and more of a bush than a single flower. Fortunately for us, our weeds are confined to our fenced-off patio, so we, our guests, and delivery people are the only ones who ever see them.)
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