Of Cats and Bags and Accountability

So, like everybody else on the planet, I made a few goals. Goals are nothing without action, and action comes only with accountability. Or something supercilious like that. Basically, I have happy things to share, so bear with me.

One of these goals was to be more intentional about my eating. The Christmas season was a culinary free-for-all, and I’m paid for it in the end. My giant back end. There that is. Christmas technically lasts until January 6th, so I had a whole bunch of days before dealing with that one. But I have. I am eating a good breakfast every morning. And I must tell you that Belgian waffles with chocolate chips and whipped cream is a good breakfast. I would venture so far as to say it’s a great breakfast. What? Don’t look at me like that. There were strawberries, too. And some powdered sugar, and… I digress. Anyway, intentional eating has been a success.

I’m being very conscious about my to-be-read list. It grows smaller daily. Mostly because I refuse to add anything else to it for a while. I am making a little headway. It’s hard to divide time between crazily devouring pages and crazily creating words of my own. But I have not brought anything home that I didn’t add to my TBR list. In fact, I have taken very little out of the free bin at my favorite used bookstore. And that, my friends, is progress. The bin is bigger than a coffin and has been stuffed to the brim with free books. FREE BOOKS! I have come to understand that free isn’t actually free, since it costs me bookshelf space to store. If I don’t have a reasonable intention to read the book in the next couple of months, back it goes. It’s almost like I’m growing up. I said almost. Don’t be afraid.

And here’s my most exciting top secret news. I had planned/hoped/dreamed/wished  to finish my current manuscript within the first couple of months of the new year. And  (drumroll, please) now (Helloooo? Where’s my drumroll? Desk, head, keyboard. I’m not picky. That’s better. Thanks!) it’s done. The first draft, of course. It’s warty and ugly and not fit for human consumption (yet), but it’s finished. I’ll be moving into rewrites and beta-reading over the next few weeks, which is more exciting than I thought it would be.

But am I content? No. I’m so ready to start another project! My husband thinks I should blog for a little while instead, but I think that’s mostly because he knows if I get involved in another book project immediately, we will never finish Downton Abbey. He’s probably right.

I have a new goal, too. I want to rework my blog page and add some drop down menus and categories. This one will take me a while because I’m not sure I can make that happen on this theme. Changes are coming. It’ll be fun!

So how is your list coming along?

Oh, yeah. The title promised a cat. I meant it figuratively, as in letting out a secret , but when I looked at my latest upload of photos, there were 107 new ones, mostly of my cats. It seems I am missing Piper more than I thought, and my way of dealing with it is to take a blue-million snaps of the two cats we have left. Meet Kisses. Until I work through losing Piper, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of her.

This is me every morning in winter. Every, single one.

This is me every morning in winter. Every, single one.

Christmas Wishes

Christmas magic makes wishes come true.

I wished for some pillows. Husband and I like to prop up in bed to read, write, study. We each have a propping pillow,  giant, king-sized cuddly monsters that make life so cozy. When I was away for the weekend, husband discovered that two pillows are better than one. He was right. And life became a competition to see who could hit the hay first. The first one in bed got them both. You snooze, you lose, right? In order to maintain marital harmony, I wished for pillows, and I got them.

They are glorious. A new one for each of us. Now we both have two. Of course, when my husband went away for the weekend, I discovered the ideal number of propping pillows is four. Don’t tell him. He’ll find out soon enough.

And do you know what big pillows arrive in? Big boxes!

 

But the best Christmas wish?

Toots

My girl. She turned 18 back in June.

I wished that Piper would still be with me at Christmas. We had a scare at Halloween, and I wasn’t sure she would make it, but she did. We celebrated our 19th Christmas with her this year.

There’s a thing about wishes, though. Sometimes you get what you ask for and no more. I did it all wrong. I should have asked for another birthday, another Valentine’s, another Spring. We let her go on New Year’s Eve.

Logically, we’ve known the time was coming to say goodbye. No one lives forever; even that ninth life will run its course. But the heart isn’t logical. It felt like she’d always be here. I couldn’t imagine life without her. couldn’t picture a day when she wouldn’t be here laying on my feet while I wrote. I’ve lost my muse.

I want a do-over on my wish. I’d do it better this time.

 

Nearly Wordless – Wait, What Day Is It Again?

I always get a little discombobulated when we have a holiday. In my mind, it’s Saturday, which normally means no post at all. But I’m a giver.

I know it says nearly wordless, and look! Words! Bear with me. I got a new camera. It isn’t super-expensive or anything, but it’s my first dSLR, and it is intimidating. The how-to guide is 400 pages. I tried it a few times with little success. I hate things that prove that I am make me feel stupid, so I put it back in the box and continued to use my little camera. Until yesterday. I sent my little camera with my daughter on her mission trip and picked up the 400 page manual. I made it 25 pages, and then I gave up and just started taking pictures. I am in love.

Click to enlarge.

And then there are these. Click to enlarge them, too.

And we went to see my friend’s puppies last night. I’ll leave you with this.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

The One Where I Shock My Readers

You opened the post. I’m so glad I didn’t scare you away. Do you ever find comfort in the sameness of things, of knowing exactly what to expect, be it reading a blog or ordering your same vanilla latte every Friday morning from the same employee at the same little coffee shop? Yeah, me, too. And sometimes you walk in to that coffee shop on a Thursday, or that familiar face has been replaced by someone you’ve never seen before, and it’s jarring. The safe place has been compromised. Brace yourselves. The battlements have been breached.

You come here to see this:

Pyxis planicauda. One of the rarest of the Malagasy dwarf tortoises. Critically endangered. Hatched this week. You're welcome.

Pyxis planicauda. One of the rarest of the Malagasy dwarf tortoises. Critically endangered. Hatched this week. You’re welcome.

 

But today, I bring you this. Click to enlarge them. I double-dog dare you!

 

I know. They’re mammals, not reptiles. Sometimes I need to shake things up.  I do hope you’ll forgive me.

 

*** Just so’s you know, these aren’t my puppies. I have the privilege of puppy-sitting for a friend. Photographing newborn puppies? Sure, twist my arm, why don’t you?

Would Time Stand Still

The biggest surprise is that it comes as a surprise to me at all. I’ve known how it all will end, that it will end, and sooner rather than later. I’ve even said it out loud in my most grown-up and matter-of-fact voice. And yet  I am rocked to the core of my being.  One soon, she’ll be gone.

Looking good for an old lady.

Looking good for an old lady.

 

It may come as a surprise to some, but I can be very logical, even practical. Her body has begun to fail her. A diagnosis of kidney failure was our first reminder that time, as it is with all of us, was limited. “She’s an old cat,” I said. “She’s lived a good life.” We held her, I wept. I had always imagined fifteen years with her, but you get what you get, right?

Time passed. Her organ failure did not progress, and she thrived. And when she approached the magic age, when she turned 15, I thought I must be ready. I said “This may be our last Christmas with Piper.” And we gathered around to fuss, to pet her, to appreciate her for a moment. Fifteen turned into sixteen, followed much too quickly by seventeen. With each passing year, the ritual becomes less meaningful. For awhile we could believe that this scrappy cat would defy all logic and the limitations of biology and live forever. I believed it.

But time doesn’t stand still, and nothing, no one, goes on forever. She is failing still more. My wake up came three days ago as I watched her struggle to climb the stairs, her back end swaying as she tried to keep her legs under her, an issue she has never had before. That was the moment I was struck by the weight of inevitability, the moment my heart heard truth. We are going to lose her.

No matter what I said before, how logical and detached I could be, I did not believe. I believe now. Borrowed time takes on new meaning when it comes to someone you love.

She still has some fight left, her paws tapping out a playful cadence as she tries to catch the string on my jacket. She purrs. It takes little to make her happy. A warm lap, a soft stroke. She eats, both our biggest victory and our greatest fear. When she quits eating, we will know that it is time.

She is living the dream now. The cold is hard on old bones, so I heat a rice sock to warm her. She experiences privilege unknown, the lone animal invited into the inner sanctum; my bedroom. I ignore these self-imposed restrictions and my ensuing allergy attacks, and invite her under the blanket to curl up on the electric mattress cover. Her preferred perch is on my lap as I write. Not only do I comply, I insist. I take her with me when I change rooms if she is not already sleeping comfortably. I need every stolen moment I can get. To prepare.

But how do you prepare? How do you say goodbye to someone who has shared your life and your adventures for going on 18 years? I am at a loss.

You Mean NOTHING To Me!

No, not you! You mean everything to me. I’m talking about the time change. Daylight Saving Time kicks in this weekend. When I was a kid, and even in the early years of marriage, fall was my favorite because I got an extra hour of sleep! Yay! Now I could not care less about the big event. I’ll give you five reasons.

She’s old and set in her ways. She expects breakfast at 5:30 as it is, and we don’t get up  ’til 6.

If she even thinks she’s going to miss a meal, she protests.

Our train-wreck of a cat. She’s not as dire as she looks. Even her photo won’t align right.

She only pretends to like us.

’nuff said.

Enjoy your hour, if you can get it!

Advantages to Keeping Reptiles

1) No one takes your ice cream. Because it’s resting on a bag of frozen rats.

2) You have a use for all of those college text books. 

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The more weighty the tome, the better. I recommend something other than the Twilight series. Not only are they rather lightweight in a literary sense, trade paperbacks aren’t heavy enough to hold a rosy boa in its cage.

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3) Overnight visitors are rare. Buy one snake, and suddenly all the out-of-town family is piling into a hotel. And they invite you to swim in the pool. Double score!

4) All the neighborhood kids think that you’re the coolest parent in the entire world. What kid doesn’t want to share a room with a python?

5) Your bad-itude level increases exponentially. People will not mess with you when they hear the words “Yeah, I’ve got to go home and feed my boa.” There is no need to add that said boa is five inches long.

BIG, SCARY BOA! Do not be messing with me.

There may be a few disadvantages, too.

1) Cages can’t be kept too near a window. Not because of drafts, but because their red night bulbs give the neighbors (and the cops) the wrong idea.

2) It’s extra sad to open the freezer and realize the only thing you have to eat is a bag of rats.

3) It’s hard to find a house-sitter. 

4) Reptiles have no respect for the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” 

5) People who live in the same house don’t appreciate nearly drinking a mouse that is thawing in their favorite cup. There might be an entire blog post on this particular topic. Sorry, sweetie! I’ll try to remember to quit using your cup!

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: A Marriage of Convenience

Squish has decided that Blossom the Brainless Cat is almost as good as having a little brother. And it’s the closest he will ever get. (Why do I hear God laughing every time I say something like that?)

Blossom has decided that it is fall, and Squish is warmer than the laminate flooring. It’s a match made in heaven. Or Purgatory. I’m not sure how long this will last.

I can’t explain the helmet except to say that perhaps he is preparing for the bumps along the road to a true relationship. Or he was riding his bike in the family room.