My Daze with Kelcie
August 9, 2017
By a prior agreement, Wednesdays are our special days together, right here in familiar surroundings. Most of the time I choose enticing things for the agenda such as bread making; grinding the homegrown wheat into fluffy beige flour. When Kelcie, my little granddaughter, gets a little older she will add the flour into the milk, which has already been mixed with the yeast, salt and sweetener, just as her sisters did ahead of her. Her part of the bread-making operation consists of cutting and shaping the resilient dough into whatever Kelcie’s heart desires. Tiny pans are waiting for miniature rolls, loaves of bread. A diminutive angel food pan is often used for a dough-ring creation.
When Kelcie arrived on the scene today, the dough has been mixed and is in a special roomy pan enabling it to rise to great heights.
With breakfast behind us, I suggest we make the beds. With her little capable hands, she tugs on the sheets, straightening them, smiling all the while. I don’t dare think about the inevitable time when someone informs her, “That is work and that isn’t fun!” Most everything is fun to Kelcie. She has not been informed of the so-called terrible twos.
While I tidy up the kitchen and prepare for lunch, Kelcie is sitting on a swivel stool up at the lunch counter, punching and rolling the bright pink home-concocted clay. After several recipes, I at last have found one which is pliable even when pulled from the refrigerator. “Oh look, Grandma Helen, I made a snake.”
She sure had made a fine little snake ... never mind that it’s pink, the shape is authentic. Then she asks for cutters and a knife. The cutters are bottle caps kept in her kitchen drawer, along with other trinkets, and the knife is a plastic picnic knife. She very efficiently cuts off a thick roll of clay and slices pretend cinnamon rolls. All the while I have been reliving scenes from my young motherhood when little girls and boys sat at the same counter and entertained me in our house on the prairie of Eastern Montana
How fortunate I am to have these Wednesdays. Kelcie, at 2½ years of age, has a natural sense of rhythm. Die Fiedermaus by Strauss is playing softly in the background while she and I put together the colorful pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. She is becoming more adept at placement so Grandma is fast becoming an onlooker. The maker of this puzzle evidently knew the attention span of little girls; Kelcie is satisfied to go on to other activities just when that last piece is positioned into its place.
“Let’s go outside, Grandma,” she suggests after I have replaced the puzzle on the shelf along with its mates.
She grabs her hooded jacket from its hook and puts it on, allowing me to zip it up and tie the hood strings. She knows the kittens are waiting for her along with D.J., the friendly Australian shepherd. Out we go, I for a short time, and she for a longer time. She does have to spread herself around to each pet. The kitchen window is left open a couple of inches so we can talk to each other. I can see Kelcie, surrounded now by admiring animals, each awaiting their turn for pats and words of endearment.
I put the final touches on the lunch preparation. Swiss Chard is on the menu for certain as this is Kelcie’s favorite vegetable. Colorful placemats are being used today, that gesture will not go unnoticed by my little charge. In fact there’s not much that goes on which she doesn’t notice and comment on. Kelcie’s vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. My reverie is interrupted by her voice so I walk to the open window. Checking out the view from the south kitchen window, I observe a sight to behold; D.J., the dog, is lying oh so relaxed on his back with all four legs in the air, paws in a curved position. I must be imagining it, but he does seem to have a smile on his face. Of course, with a loving little girl standing nearby, he just might realize he’s in for some wonderful playtime. D. J. dotes on youngsters. One could truthfully say this dog is an incurable lover of young people.
There’s Kelcie now harvesting the last golden calendulas from the little flower bed. Probably picking them for a grandmother’s bouquet.
“No, not today; she has other ideas.” I stay glued to the window and I’m high enough so Kelcie is not aware of [my] viewing of her activities.
D.J.’s furry tummy has changed from white to a yellow adorned one. Just how many dogs can brag about that? D. J. has a satisfied look on his face, matched by Kelcie’s pink framed smiling countenance. This tiny tot could easily write a manual – “Making Pets Happier.” Turning away from the window, I can’t help but chuckle, decorating a dog’s stomach – that beats all.
“Grandma,” Kelcie says, “I hear something.”
“Do you suppose it could be an airplane?” I suggested. Huge air force planes make daily practice runs across our big sky (the consternation was still on that little face.)
“No, Grandma,” Kelcie replied.
That is when I notice the length of garden hose she was now holding in her hands. If only kids and dogs would leave the hose in place under the kitchen window. Tubing running from our water softener drains the rinse water through the short piece of garden hose into a plastic pipe next to the house. Uncoupling the hose is accomplished by a little tug.
As I was about to explain that Grandpa had a reason for the piece of garden hose, I noticed the unusual seriousness of that pink-cheeked little face. She pointed to the drainpipe visible in the protected corner of the concrete. At first glance, I saw nothing, then I took a closer look down into the pipe. A little bit of a fuzzy tail was protruding out of the elbow of the white plastic pipe. Then I heard the plaintive, weak meow.
“It’s a kitty, Kelcie,” I told her. “Now we’ll have to find a way to get her out.”
Since that bit of a tail was far out of my reach, I would have to figure out some method of luring the cat out. This was a problem I had never encountered. Yes, indeed one does need to be resourceful way out her on the prairie, miles and miles from any cat-rescuing firemen. As I pondered this problem, I decided that a bait might do the trick. A discarded pantyhose with a bit of bacon in the toe was dangled down in the pipe. After a few moments, I slowly pulled it up, no fish, I mean no cat. Down it goes again. Lunch can wait. My assistant, Kelcie, now has a confident look on her face. I can almost hear her thinking, “Grandma can do anything!”
Maybe I should send up a silent prayer. I surely can’t fail now. Again I slowly pull out the panty hose and peered down the pipe. Ah, a much longer tail was now sticking up the pipe. Anyone who has had any satisfactory relationship with a feline knows you don’t pull a cat’s tail. At this point in time, this Grandma may just have to break that cardinal rule. I didn’t wish to be scratched, but someone special is counting on me today. Throwing all caution to the wind, I quickly reached down and grabbed hold of the red-blonde tail and drew it up. Success!
Joy was spread all over Kelcie’s innocent little face. “Oh Grandma,” she sighed as she reached out to gingerly touch that skinny, wet mass of fur.
Now a ragged, clean towel would do for drying off this half-grown kitty. A saucer of milk and another pet was made happier.
Although lunch is late and bread dough rising out of its pan, the day does seem to be much brighter. Isn’t there an old children’s song that says, “Listen to the animals?” I would have never heard that weak meow, calling out for help. Thanks, Kelcie ... You are the real hero of this Wednesday. We love you little sweetie.
Helen DePuydt is a regular contributor to the Courier and a member of a homesteading family in the Saco area. All of her stories are true.