Solstice Switch-Out – The Nature of the Kitty-Beast

fullsizerenderI love my living room window.  It is presently decorated in silver, white and vibrant red.  A cozy chair and table with a hand-blown glass lampshade sits before the sparkly window and the winter sun floods in, throwing pretty shadows on my wall to say that, yes, this is the shortest day – but it gets brighter from here on out.  But yesterday saw some minor adjustments to my beloved “blood on the snow” theme to my window.  All the hummingbird attractant red globes were removed with haste.  

Why the sudden flurry of re-arrange, re-do, re-think?  Because this year I have a CAT.

glass-lampYesterday afternoon as I sat in the cozy chair in front of the glittering-betwixt-rain-showers window reading by the light of the glass lamp, I noticed a hummingbird again outside the window, practically beak to glass at one of the red ball’s glowing splendor.  I was not the only one who noticed.  The cat on the footstool at my feet made an abrupt chirp sound, bounced once on a small trunk near the window and was instantly suspended on netting that holds up all those glittering decorations!  Her tail lashed at the lamp.  All the decorations slipped down lines towards the suddenly weighted center.

I stood, dumping my book onto the floor, stabilized the glass lamp with my left hand and grabbed the slightly flailing cat by the scruff with my right hand!  I toss/dropped the cat onto the large footstool and missed catching a falling silver ball.  (One of the ones above reflecting my suddenly endangered lamp!) Oh, well.  I was grateful I had done so much of the window with plastic ornaments, and little glass!  Small loss and literal CATastrophe  averted.

First, I did think just moving the large red globes that glow like so many hummingbird feeders would be sufficient crisis management.  But the mental image of the cat hanging on the sinking garden net made me think it was time to do the slight re-build we had planned for the window post-decoration this year.  A set of vertical cloth blinds usually hangs in that large window; but since our 2008 install of newer better windows, they have not fit properly.  The window became more shallow and the blinds were hard to open.  So we had planned to remove the blind hardware and put in a kind of false top window ledge — a deeper one that would allow the re-attached blinds to again hang and move completely free.  A long, beautiful maple board was acquired with this in mind.

I decided we would do that today instead.  The net and ornaments will come down, the board, with wee hooks behind the blind’s hardware will go up.  The window decorations will be re-hung free hanging from the top only — nothing for an ambitious kitty cat to climb.  The cat is a sweet pet, it is her nature to chase birds. (And thus one reason she is an indoor cat.) When tossed onto the footstool yesterday, she looked at me like I’d lost my mind: “Mom, it was green AND red, clearly MY Solstice gift!”  But I’d simply prefer if the window was no longer an invitation to kitty stalking, ornament breaking, and lamp or kitty endangerment!  The lamp table is moved, the couch back in front of the window as in 2015 photos.  Smaller touches of red will prevail, but the larger scarlet glass globes are in windows more obscured from hummingbirds and less reachable by cat!  All is well that ends well, right?  And IF, next year, the world has not ended?  I have my window plan all ready to brighten my dark-0f-the-year, right?  I hope I find the heart to decorate next year!  It was dark by the time we finished — daytime shots tomorrow?



Late Cat-alyzed Posting for Birthday Month

img_3478Yesterday began quite early and I never posted. But what I wanted to post about was how much of a difference animals have made in my life.  The title comes from an aggregate of two words I heard very frequently when my children were small.  I’d call them to some tasking and get the inarguable reply: “I can’t, I’m cat-paralyzed.

We always had cats.  And dogs.  Sometimes a goat, or seagull, or gerbils — or for 20 years, ferrets.  Anytime a pet was asleep in one’s lap?  You were effectively out of action till the nap ended — cats being the most nappable, it was “cat-alyzation”.  Yesterday I was effectively cat-alyzed.  The wee black beastie, Magpie, had her appointment to be spayed.  So worry over her all day, and collecting her home to lap-love her through the evening kept me from posting.

She looked so desolate in the carrier, and went dead silent.  You could see the little furry wheels in her head screeching to a halt with the thought, “Oh, no!  They are taking me back – I do NOT have a home like I thought!”  There is no explaining to a six month old kitty that it is a one day event and she will be home.  When we collected her at 1700?  No purr in greeting, just the same desolate little black huddle at the back of the carrier, not even looking at us.  Not until we got home and I had her out of the carrier in my arms and she recognized the front porch did she perk up a bit.  Then she heard the dogs inside the house and really perked up.

The dogs had sulked and whined all day, missing Magpie.  She likes them and they love her.  They greeted her rapturously, licking her face and wagging their tails off.  She was on the floor at once, cupping faces in her paws!  She was hungry and thirsty and still on pain meds, but purring like a top with joy to realize she was home!

In over 40 years of having pets, we’ve always had comments on how unusual our pets are; it baffles us to no end.  What people seem to mean is that our pets don’t act like stereotypes of their species.  I think this is because we let our pets be who and what they are; no this doesn’t mean they are untrained and rowdy beasts.  But we don’t insist on silly behaviors to amuse humans.  We don’t view pets as amusement, though they often do amuse us.  I view pets as a responsibility, rather like children are — only my pets can’t speak English to tell me what is right or wrong with them.  I taught my children that animals may not have human abilities, but that they do have emotions on par with our own and should be respected in that sense.

When our often dysfunctional family could agree on nothing else, we could agree on our pets — their needs often paramount even in serious arguments.  Our family was sometimes held together by nothing so much as the need to NOT abandon our four legged animals!  We’ve spayed and neutered ALL our pets, no pet of ours ever gave birth to teach my kids the alleged “wonder of life.”  The majority of our pets were rescues or strays we found roadside.

Not every rescue succeeded.  I re-homed a Great Pyr dog that simply was going insane due to his inability to get us all “herded” safely into ONE building.  We returned a fat, grouchy Samoyed that threatened other pets.  We euthanized a cat that couldn’t live outdoors due to some other asshole de-clawing her, and yet we couldn’t stop her peeing on everything in sight because she had grown up in a decrepit out-building that was rain and urine stained top to bottom.  My allergic response to cats goes nuts over the various proteins IN cat urine, so that was making me very ill.  But mostly, once a pet is here, they are here for life.  We care for them, and they care for us.

If this was the Middle Ages, Magpie would get me burnt alive — she sleeps curled around my neck!  So yay, for modern times!

Gratitude 17 September (Caturday?)

img_3478This morning, I am grateful for kitten paws on my face in the dim of six in the morning, and the pale dawn light shine on wet patio stones outside my window.

The light is very dim today, the air is fall coolness.  I light up more lamps in the house to counter the gloom.


Cat 0600

My hair is not a rat’s nest,

Instead it is a purring cat’s nest,

Her chin rests upon my ear,

Her three pound weight anchors me to pillow,

I wake from a nightmare of human ashes,

A paw pats my cheekbone as a purr announces,

Life and warmth and presence in now,

All the dread past and fearful future?

Collapses into morning’s first meow.


A Lull, A Lag, A Darkness, A Lingering

FullSizeRenderI’m not blogging much. I find my exercise program lagging. My current goal of yoga three times a week with days of aerobic something in between for a total of six days of work outs a week is difficult to keep. Aerobics, either on my new and still despised Nordic Track Elliptical or my old Health Rider is SO boring only something exciting on my iPad can make me stay there sufficiently to get a work out.  But cabin fever after a long winter makes me want to walk out of doors; that was the plan for yesterday.  But then as I finished a counseling appointment and coffee with one-time co-workers?  The sky opened with rain and hail.  My will failed me.

My garden awaits tilling; the Minotaur has not yet got the tiller running.  We broke the bank with our runaway to Oregon earlier and are so broke presently that I can’t do anything until payday.  The last bit in the bankbook will go this afternoon to buying a load of good soil so we can transplant an ill-thought out tree to a better location.  Everything is alright, nothing is really wrong.  We lack for nothing needful.  But nothing feels really right, either.

FullSizeRender 2I linger in bed longer every morning, sipping coffee and wishing I was still asleep.  I wake in the wee morning hours from dreams of ferrets – over a year from burying my last ferret (Helen), the grief still reduces me to weeping disconsolately in the darkness.  I dream of finding a boxful of ferret kits, for pity’s sake!  There is simply no wisdom in this; ferrets are costly pets and on retirement income, I simply cannot have them anymore.  For twenty years, though, I did and rescued them wherever they were found.  They were the pets of my heart, my “woozles” to the “heffalump” of several dogs we had in that long interim.  The woozles were my anti-depressants.  They kept me alive when my teenaged youngest son ran away.  They got me out of bed when he did tours in Afghanistan as an adult.  They sustained me and gave me reason to live when my marriage took the nuclear detonation of my husband’s long-deferred PTSD crisis in 2011.

I tell myself that soon yard and garden work will make me move and shake myself out of the curious inertia that grips me.  I remind myself there is more sunlight each day, but a darkness follows me – my personal storm cloud.  Depression has been life-long thing, low level for the most part.  I have always fought it with work, exercise and good habits of eating carefully.  But as periodically happens, it is insufficient to move me just now.

I linger, listlessly reading news and wondering what on earth is the matter with people.  The hatred it must take to be a politician telling towns they will be defunded if they legislate paid sick time, for instance.  The open bigotry of making it legal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and transgendered people.  I emphasize “people” because — yes, these are PEOPLE being treated worse than animals.  The misogyny of several states where unborn (and even damaged and unviable) fetal tissue is held more valuable than the living pregnant woman trying to keep her life (and possibly her entire family’s lives) from being derailed by an undesired and unsustainable pregnancy.  The racism so blatant in the reaction to “Black Lives Matter” protesters and to Muslims make me fearful for my nation.  I have coffee once a week with five German women; they are horrified to see America reminding them of the Germany that led to World War II.  Donald Trump horrifies them.  It all is shockingly awful.

I make sure a set of lights is on a timer to light up daily — bright red heart shapes.  Seeing them insists I must not shut down and quit; that I must keep my bitter, battered heart in play or I cannot win through to some better other side.  But I often feel like those hearts are just a tease and that my own heart’s Will is failing.

In my youth, all my best friends were very aged women for whom I shopped, cleaned, and cooked as they needed.  I often wondered at their seeming calm that seemed to mingle with a subdued sorrow as they watched the then news.  Now, I completely understand the sense that there are so many good things happening that it makes the horrible things happening feel like a bad dream you cannot awaken from at all.

Saturday we go to caucus for Bernie Sanders.  My heart not only will go on, but will go on fighting.  I simply haven’t the energy to talk, write, argue about how, where, and why any more.  But my semi-silence is certainly not consent!