Early any given morning, the sun creeps through the blinds as the alarm clock wakes. Two stations play at once, static crackling out in between. A blind hand taps around reaching out from under piles of blankets, finds the snooze and silences the caterwauling for eleven more precious minutes. It begins again.
Up and out of bed, careful of bedspring creeks and hardwood moans, he eases the door closed allowing her a few more moments of sleep. Cats arouse, carouse and weave among chair legs. They fall into their morning roles of cute, precious and adorable to wrangle breakfast out of him a few minutes early. He lends scratching fingers to bellies and backs, taking advantage of the acting before the post-meal ambivalence sets in until the afternoon theater commences again for the 4pm snack time show. Unconvinced of their sincerity, he forgoes an early serving of breakfast. Shower comes first today, as it does each morning despite the kids’ cajoling. He treads onto the hardwood resisting an urge for an emasculating, barefoot scamper across the cold floor to the thermostat. A swift, practiced click and the rustic wall furnace stirs to life.
A push of a knob, a fling back of the shower curtain and a reach for the towel then a thud against the door followed by a whine sounding more like the cry of a old, pack-a-day bag lady than a sweet black and white, two and a half year old cat’s meow. He winces, wondering how long River had been hollering and knowing full well it began two minutes after he shut the door. He cracks the door open. She pokes her head in, large yellow eyes peer up at him, yet undecided whether or not she actually wants in. Out in the dining room he can hear Luci, truncated from Lucifir, rubbing on wobbly chair limbs, knocking about on the hardwood.
Out of the bath, to the carpeted living room, an escort of two at his feet – River and the stark black Sheldon, the baby of the bunch. He sits on the couch to pull socks on catching sight of Luci on the kitchen counter, staring, waiting. He allows a glance at her. She raises a pleading, limp-wristed paw. He shakes his head unable to suppress a grin. Oh, she’s good.
Into the kitchen, passed Luci scratching her head as he walks by and collects their dishes from a lower cabinet. Stacked, fitted one on top of each other, Sheldon’s brushed aluminum, metal bowl with black, rubber sole was bought after his first week with his newly adopted family. It was a compulsion to sweep up after himself, to clean up the crumbs left around his bowl. A coo inducing trait until the third time he swept the bowl off the table, scattering kitten food across the the floor. River’s blue plastic dish rested in the middle also rubber footed. She, as a kitten, was also responsible for sending her dish off the table but not for cleanliness’s sake. She drove her dish over the edge for sheer exuberance for her meal. Luci’s ceramic bowl, illustrated with cartoon cats in chef and waiter dress, formed the base for the kitty dish pyramid. A dish held in such unrealized regard by her until she sent it hurling to a floor shattering on impact one afternoon, a result of a rambunctious romp around the house. In her eyes, shock staring down at the shards. She had peered up at her parents with loss across her face. Two hours of meticulous reassembly and half a day of superglue drying later the dish recovered.
He stepped into the garage, River and Sheldon’s bowls in hand for a scoop of food each. Sheldon still on kitten food, River is on a diet of salmon and chicken – no byproduct – dry food. At the edge of the open door the three sit, starvation on their faces. The panges of hunger after a full eight hours since last evening’s meal evident in the pleading expressions. An amused, yet unsympathetic shooing with a big toe allows him access back into the kitchen.
The two younger siblings fed, Luci receives her special breakfast, a portioned can of wet food and half a little white pill crushed and clandestinely sprinkled over morning meals, doctors orders. Twelve years old, an overactive thyroid but she can still outrun and outmaneuver the wily Sheldon, eleven years her junior. Station taken at his feet she whines and stares tired of her consistent third place feeding. Proper portions mashed into her bowl and pill speckled over her food she leads the way back to her anointed spot mewing directions over her shoulder. Sheldon interrupts his eating, jumps down and follows waiting for the culmination of his morning routine, a chance to lick the spoon.
Back to the kitchen as his mate cracks the bedroom door, she waves on her way to the shower. Two eggs each, toasted english muffins – one with honey, one just buttered – , a bowl of bulk bin cranberry granola, soy yogurt and apple juice adorn the coffee table when she’s toweled and dressed for the day. A cup of coffee and an episode of Dr. Who later, now it’s time to sit down to write.
This is my morning grind.