Posts Tagged ‘cat’

A friend is someone who sneaks around in the kitchen late on a Sunday and makes a celebration even though her housemate has been sick and in bed and disgruntled all day and is sleeping even though she knows a party was planned.   A friend does it anyway, and leaves a nice envelope near the cake so that the sickie gets up and sees it: it says: “Happy Birthday to our Beautiful HouseMate Susan.  We’re so happy you came into our life(s) !!

The card is perfect, as you can see.  Jade and I do a New Joisy accent routine that is made up to fit any occasion with thick accents and very ethnic gestures and big attitudes all the time.  This is perfectly like us, except that Jade (the shorter one) doesn’t have that shape at all, but is petite instead.  However, the hairdos are good, and the clothing looks pretty authentic.  I love the horses very much because they are blessed friends too, lucky to have each other to go through slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with.  (I’ll bet those horses are glad to have the cowgals off their backs!)

Anyway, I , the grouch, am so touched with these perfectly beautiful deeds and gifts.  We will remember this party forever– not for the grandeur or the guests (though I shall put a picture of the one guest who crashed the party), and not for the venue or the fancy getups.  We will remember this because it happened at a dark time of year with some dark things happening to folks we know and some uncomfortable times for us too.  We were happy at this party.  And so was the cat. (He liked the vanilla ice cream the best.)

old swimmer


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Certain things happen over and over again, even if you don’t want them to.  Or even if you want them to, they happen very often at the most surprising time– or at least sooner than you would like.  Or later.  Like weather does.

  • Last Spring and This Winter

What you see in the large image is what the shop looked like about 10 weeks after we moved to this remote cabin about 800 feet up in the Olympic National Forest foothills.  A perfect spot for making art and carving bowls.  The boxes you see in there are unpacked items that had not yet found a good place to land, and the mess in the carport was stuff left from the previous tenant(s) who have enjoyed this property over its forty some years of existence.  The picnic table is sitting at that odd angle with its nearest side missing its bench board, because of the many times the driveway there has been badly flooded with run-off from the high mountains over to the left.  In rainy seasons, endless water comes from those hillsides, and in spring snow melt makes it even more dramatic.  The picnic table just kept sinking and sinking, and its big bolts rusted out and the wood expanded and contracted and then split, leaving the bench on the ground and rusty bolts sticking up at people contemplating finding a seat.   I find this table indispensable for outdoor carving and other messy projects.  I am indebted to the landlord for refusing to move that table (as if anyone could move it without simply sawing it up and burning it in the fire pit.) He knew how handy it always had been.

As you see, July turned into January of the following year, and the records will show that we had a record breaking winter storm during the first part of January which dumped well over a foot of snow all over the place.. over our trees (some of the well over 100 feet and with limbs stretching well over fifteen feet laterally, with lots of good surface footage to collect heavy loads of snow), and piled up an extra-huge layer of white on the picnic table.  Attatched to the building there are tarps to direct the wet or frozen material from the eaves to somewhere outside the unsealed base of the building.  The floors are not graded, and water likes to run inside. It is a garage, after all, most people think!

I have been maintaining two moats that go abreast of the building– the one of the left is currently a swiftly running river which, by human design, skirts the underpinnings of the building and sends the rushing water off into the woods as it slopes down behind.  On the right side is a smaller moat leading from the flood-prone graveled area to a groove dug around the periphery of the carport, which also (if debris is kept clear) moves toward the back of the building and then down the gorge to the right.  I have no idea where it goes from there, but am just happy to see it not staying near my shop for any length of time.

The cycle of seasons is clearly a life-principle that reminds us mortals that there are systems that we don’t control.  And the same sorts of things happen in all realms of life, for better or worse.

The repeat of relationship dysfunctions insists on reappearing time and time again.  Even through generations, things happen a certain way because they ALWAYS happened that way in a given family.  Opening one’s eyes to see the patterns is very difficult.  And while it is  difficult to understand the pattern as regards other people in an “off” relationship, it is nearly impossible to get any objectivity as to one’s own patterns within the cycle.

Dance of Anger is a helpful book.  Case studies on close relationships that are awry– and the story of how certain people approached mending this.

I am by nature a person who abandons things I cannot solve.  Really.  No wonder I have several really special friends who have accused me of being disloyal and abandoning them.  Well, it was out of self-preservation.  How did I get into these relationships?  Out of caring for the good things in these worthwhile and excellent people.  But I can not weather the storms that arise in these particular close relationships– not with the tools I currently have.  How long would it take to teach a 74 year old woman new tricks?

Actually, I have had professional counsel that leaving these relationships alone was a good move– because the gyrations of keeping them alive was going to make me nuts. I was told that the other party, in each case, was one that needed therapy also, and that was not something I could do for them.  And they would not.  One of the very serious mistakes I have made over and over again is choosing just the kinds of interesting folks who will get into this interplay with me– and it’s likely because it is a pattern that I grew up with and thought was normal.  I thought it was just natural to be bullheaded and to have close relatives who were also bullheaded and self-absorbed.  (Not a good combo if two such ones try to collaborate without some professional coaching.)

So, I need reworking — but I’m too tired now to do it. (the bullheaded part of me is insisting that that is true, and my aches say amen.)

I hope others will get smart soon and find out soon enough what is causing a disagreeable and disheartening demise of good friendships and other relationships.  Identifying the pattern is the biggest part of stopping the cycle.

It can, happily, work the other way.  I like the way bread teaches you how to handle it so that the loaf comes out smelling and tasting exactly perfect– a win win. You make mistakes, but you adjust…and you read about yeast and flour and heat and timing and try again.  In a while, you wonder how you didn’t make a good loaf of bread!  You forget the clumbsies you committed because you and the bread have created a cooperative give and take that works for both of you and produces something special.

May the readers of this enjoy mostly good cycles and learn to make the most of them.  Like all that snow in the small picture above… it makes the green happen next spring.  And the table gets lower and lower.  Soon a bench will be moot.

old swimmer


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Just one bough of the Red Huckleberry bush outside my window.

Maybe it is too much coffee, but I think it’s more likely the weather.  September in the Pacific Northwest is often my most favorite month for clean air, brilliant sunshine and sparkling changes in the woods.

I tried sleeping several times today — after all it’s the day after the weekly huge project of setting up, running and taking down the Farmer’s Market booths.  Usually on Sunday I do a lot of catch-up sleeping.   But today my attention kept wandering out the window, no matter how good being prone felt.  I have the most wondrous forest outside my big bedroom windows, and today, as I tipped my head back on the pillow to see the upside-down view beyond the head of my bed,  the sunlight had just hit a bough of red huckleberries making them into translucent orbs of magical lights on the green bough.  I had to grab the camera and go out there.

Along with the huckleberries I took shots of what I consider KCQ’s tree… a giant sequoia that my cat, (Kitty Cat Quantum) climbed in terror in the early spring months and where he could not get down until an arborist, tree-climber expert came to rescue him!  There is no way to take a close=up shot of such a tall tree.

The tree soars well over a hundred feet into the air, and the cat was lodged about forty feet up where the branches begin.  He didn’t know how to get down.  (being mostly an indoor cat.)

Is it okay if I change my favorite time of the year to September?  It used to be April because that was the beginning of wonderful summer months of vacation and such.  But now I like September for other sorts of reasons.  The smell of the sun on drying leaves.  The amazing changes in the colors– different from one day to the next.  The possibility of snow.  The cleansing of rain.  The drama in the sky.  The thankfulness of the land for moisture after some dry weeks of late summer.  The changing of the guard in the wildlife.

My son said it’s quite possible that Elk will come down from the mountains and appear around here as the food becomes more scarce in the colder elevations.  I do know two cougars are lurking around this area– they have been seen.  It may well be that their regular prey are coming down — the deer and elk.

I saw two adult Mulies and a young deer leaping away over the lawn when I went out two mornings ago. Lovely to see.   A carpenter bee has made a perfectly round hole in the side of our house.  I will have to get some diatomaceous earth to put down that hole to rout out her eggs and keep our house from becoming an extensive apartment building for carpenter bees.

Someone came and dug a great trench on the watery side of the garage I use for a workshop.  It is going to save me from working in a flooded garage this winter.  Now I must figure out how to be warm in there.   There’s an old wood stove, but no stovepipe.  Insulation is needed.  Rubber padding on the floor.

It’s probably partly the old student in my getting ready for R & D …  something left over from school days.  But I think it’s just euphoria, with the air, and the sun, and the sky, and the possibilities.

I’d like to bottle this for future dreary months ahead.  But never mind.  I’ll click my heels today, even though the Phillies lost and I have a broken fingernail that I’m afraid to clip.  Such trivia!

Just LOOK at those Huckleberries!

Old Swimmer

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“…Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string; …

Source Link:–John Donne, The Ecstasy

I’ve been watching from a place beyond the windowful of sunshine in the kitchen so the birds won’t notice me watching them.  They are feeding avidly this morning, as always, but clearly more frantically because I was late in replenishing the feeder.

In the next room, on the landing of the steps leading to the second floor, our cat also watches.  He is not hungry like those birds.  He is just full of genes that cause a cat’s tail to twitch, teeth to chutter, and eyes to narrow on something he is certain is born to be caught, torn apart and eaten.  It is just his job, he believes, deep in his bones.  He is keeping a low profile as he peeks over the window frame moulding.


(The cat of whom I speak in his kittenhood, practicing.)

He and I both are avoiding the intertwining the “eye beams” spoken of by Donne — those invisible tracks between my eyes and those of another creature.  Neither of us wants the birds to know we are watching.

The intelligence that comes in through eyes is instant, undetectable, unique to the moment, and trackless! As an artist, I have thought a lot about seeing, and since childhood, have been really charmed by the truth that you cannot know when one’s own eye beams are  intersecting another’s. Unless that other is using the same tracks as you, there is nothing to tell you that someone eye beams are making tracks a thousand thousand places in the air!

I am unaware when another creature has me in its sights.  I walk the dogs in the woods at night and know there are creatures in the trees watching me simply because I have read that night-seeing creatures do a LOT of looking at anything that moves in the dark.  (Sometimes I hear them chuckle. That’s an auditory trackable clue.)

In the morning I walk the same dogs before I take out my bag of sunflower seeds.  I am announced!  Someone with a raucous cry is yelling “She is here now,  food is coming next.”  I can’t find that jay, no matter how I look, and would not know I had interrupted his line of sight except for his outcry.  Squirrels chuck chuck at me and very tiny tinkling noises tell me the golden crown kinglets are sharing news.

I looked in the eye of a young robin several springs ago.  His claw got caught in a bit of netting I had put around the blueberry bush.  His mother was having a fit and he was jumping around in terror.  I went inside and got some small scissors while figuring out how to do this rescue in the gentlest way.

His eye was round and shiny, and his eye-beam direct and vital.  Birds don’t look at you straight on, like people,  but from one or the other side of their head.  So it is a bird profile that you see, with one eye showing.  I looked at him and called him “little fellow” in a soft voice, and put my hand over his back very gently but firmly so he wouldn’t struggle.  I could then see how to fit the scissor points so that I would cut only the plastic net to release it.   It took only a few seconds, really, to save this bird’s life.  I opened my hand and he scrambled away and up into a bush.  I left so his mother and he could settle down to regular business.

It is such a privilege to look into another creature’s eye.

I have loved and used the saying “A cat can look at a king,” (attributed sometimes to Lewis Carroll, but I haven’t yet found out for sure), for describing the freedom the cat gives himself, the privilege the cat takes for granted, and no one can stop him– i.e., to look at whatever he pleases for as long as he pleases, whether the object cares or not.  And he may refuse to look if he wants to, and often does when someone tries to line up eye-beams with him.

The Finest

The Finest

The finest would be
if any cat  a sealpoint
stretching legs together overlong–
taupe stockings against
thighs of ancient watered silk–
offwhite velvet with a nap of heaven.

Now curl cat
orderly just so
and let me own a statue.


Your satin swiveling signals
and one point’s left unfurled.

Primp just once.
combed line now abreast your prow
you yawn your face
a toothful chasm
nearly inside out (very like a snake!)

Then circle once–
yes make your mask serene
to gaze in azure–

to blink your slow cadence.
Will you sleep?

Not now as you are watching me.

(I wrote this to another cat in 1997.  copyright SGH aka Old Swimmer)

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