Cats And Their People

Verses Only A Cat-Lover Will Understand

winter morning
the cat curled up
in my office chair

our cats dwell above
our comfort zone
in the softest seats

we once had two cats
now we have our soft chairs
ah, spring!

I have a nice, comfortable office chair beside my desk, just the right height for me. Trouble is, it’s often occupied by one of our two cats. Yes, common sense would say, “Evict it,” but they look so comfortable curled up in a ball and I’m a softie. Also, if I do remove them, they persist in returning and I have to evict them every time I come back to my chair from doing some errand. So I keep a folding chair standing beside the computer to open quickly if I don’t want to work for long and don’t feel like evicting the cat.

When I came to the computer one morning, Pookie was occupying my comfortable office chair and I didn’t push him off. I took the folding chair, then when I got myself a mug of coffee fifteen minutes later, Pookie wandered out to the kitchen, too. I hurried back to the office in time to see our other cat, Angus, jump up and settle comfortably into the chair Pookie had just vacated. So I took the folding chair again. When I got up later to refill my mug, I returned to find Angus in my office chair and Pookie on the folding chair!

Many times Bob and I come into the office to find Angus in his chair and Pookie in mine. Usually both are evicted. There are limits, after all.

Pet owners will know that cats have a certain sense of entitlement built into their nature. They may claim you as their people, but they make it clear who comes first in the grand scheme of things. Whose comfort is of greater importance, whose not so much. When we had three cats, our aged Panda claimed the most comfortable recliner as her throne and would not be ousted.

Nowadays when I’m in the living room settling into the recliner Angus snuggles down in the other recliner and Pookie gets the sofa. Or vice versa. Often one’s in my lap. However, Pookie has discovered a spot under our bed right over a floor heat “warm spot” and often stretches out there on cold days.

Generally a house cat will want to be near their people. That is, if they feel like it — or if something interesting is transpiring. I had a cat years back that always came to watch me re-pot my houseplants. She’d have her nose right in the pot to get a close look as I scooped in the dirt and packed it down. She was Siamese, with a uniquely curious personality.

But now that it’s spring and the mice in the woods beside us are active again, we get our chairs back. A cat’s a cat for a’ that and a’ that.

Truth, Lies, and Desk-ku

According to haiku poet David Lanoue in his book Write Like Issa, “Many poets and some editors of journals dislike so-called “desk-ku”; haiku dreamed up as works of pure imaginations. Such writers and readers much prefer haiku to erupt from raw, genuine sensations and feelings.”

the furious sea’s
cat-and-mouse game with the ship
the band plays on

I guess this is desk-ku, since I’ve never been on a cruise, nor at sea in a storm. I was on a whale watch cruise once and did sense the power of the deep sea below. Also, I’ve read A Mighty Tempest by Michelle Hamilton, who describes her own experience in a small craft during a ferocious storm. So I let myself envision what might go on if a wild storm suddenly swept down on a cruise ship and picture the wild sea tossing even a behemoth like that into and out of troughs. I imagine the crew trying to distract passengers from the danger and keep up morale. I remember the story of the Titanic, how the band played as the ship went down.

In reality, cruise ships nowadays have enough weather-watch equipment to avoid that kind of a storm. Passengers would be ordered to their cabins until the danger was past. Oh, well…exciting to imagine.

This thought of genuine experiences and emotions versus writer imagination brings to my mind a similar sentiment expressed by a couple of different friends: “There’s no point reading fiction. It’s just lies someone’s dreamed up.”

To which I’ve replied, “Not very many writers just dream up everything they write in their stories. While the setting itself is invented, fiction involves weaving in incidents we writers have seen, heard, and experienced ourselves. The characteristics of our heroes and villains may be over-balanced compared to real-world people, but if they behave too irrationally, the story is spoiled and the reader disgusted — unless they like fantasy.

I think of Jesus, whose parables have come down to us through the ages, and how He left his stories open so readers could put themselves in the place of his characters. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus no doubt had a real situation in mind. He didn’t tell this as a dry account, however. He didn’t explain how “Twenty years ago back in Bethlehem, A, a middle-aged farmer, had two sons, B and C. One day C decided he’d had enough of working long hours in the fields; he wanted to see the world. So he says to his dad…and then he takes his share of the inheritance and heads off to xxx where he shells out his shekels on booze and parties. Etc.”

Leaving the actual facts unsaid, Jesus invites his audience — and us today — to see ourselves in all those characters. Haven’t all of us wandered down some wrong path — in attitude if not in fact? Then something woke us up, we saw where we were headed. We sensed we were polluting our minds, bodies, lives, with garbage, and we turned around. Haven’t we all had to go back and admit, apologize, figuratively if not literally ask to be taken back into the family or friendship?

Years ago a teen wanted “freedom” from the restrictions of her Christian home. She became infatuated with a ‘leader-of-the pack’ type, the head of a biker gang, and became his girl. But those bikers worked their girls; she ended up in the pigsty of prostitution, not at all free, and was finally cast aside by the leader. One day, soon to give birth, she finally came to herself, thought of her parents, the love she once knew, and started walking. She started to hemorrhage there on the sidewalk; a good Samaritan picked her up and drove her to the hospital. From there she and her baby girl went back to Mom & Dad and were welcomed back into the family fold.

Most parents can identify with the father, anxiously watching for the return of his prodigal. Whether the child has distanced himself in fact or in spirit, haven’t we hoped and prayed they’d come to their senses, deal with their sour attitude, and get their life back on track?

If we’re honest, we can place ourselves in the role of brother B, who kept his nose to the grindstone, bearing an extra-heavy workload because C took himself off to the fun-fair for a year or two. Now here comes his long-lost brother, crawling home broke and wasted, and their father lays out the red carpet, kills the fatted calf, and is in the middle of a big “Welcome Home” party for this loser.

Some writers do spin fantasies. Even if they try to cover their tale with a realistic setting, no real human beings would react the way their characters do. In real life, if you’re harsh and demanding, often rake your friend or partner over the coals for minor faults, he or she is not going to respond with profuse apologies and promises to get it right and pay attention to your feelings from now on. Trust me. Won’t happen. Modern romances really lead you astray on this one, because real human beings will either lash back or clam up and resent — just like you would if treated that way.

When I was a girl my mom wanted me to take an aspirin for whatever “growing pains” I had, so she’d crush it on a spoon together with sugar. The sweetness masked the taste of the medicine that relieved my pain.

That’s what writers do, sort of. A good fiction writer can take real life situations, dream up a fiction setting, give various incidents a twist — so Aunt Vanilla doesn’t know this humorous bit is based on her baked beans and Uncle Shellby doesn’t realize we’re describing his snoring — and head into a story that has a theme, a point. Something to ease the reader’s pain if they’re hurting.

I recall a time when I was worried about a situation that needed to be addressed somehow. It seemed someone(s) must see the light before too much damage was done — but I could hardly go and educate the attitude-riddled parties involved. Then a story seed dropped into my fertile mind and expanded into a somewhat exaggerated illustration with the point snugly wrapped inside.

My take on the gossip after a minor accident in our community, and how you just can’t believe everything you hear, became Brother Ed’s Accident in Silver Morning Song. Poor Brother Ed had a simple incident when hauling cattle, and thanks to the arrival of a helping hand, the problem was easily solved. But when he got to church the next Sunday… When I asked another writer for a critique, he told me, “This exact thing happened to me after I had a minor accident; the gossip had us dead and dying and what-not-all.”

One local farmer read that story and said he didn’t believe cattle could ever be rounded up that easily, I told him, “I’ve seen it done.” I also researched stock trailer doors online to find out if they might occasion pop open. Yes, it has; a horseman once lost a good stallion that way.

Writer integrity is the key phrase here. Realistic fiction, like all other writing, is a blend of personal experience & emotion, eye-witness accounts, stories heard, and a LOT of research. It shouldn’t be dismissed as “Just a bunch of lies.”

Writer’s Clock

music-159868_640

“Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
The suns is so cheerily shining
and snowbanks are melting away.”

(With apologies to the original songwriter.
And thanks to Pixabay for the ClipArt Vector)

A week ago spring came back to our land and has settled in so pleasantly. Today I even saw half a dozen Canada geese overhead. Mind you, they were going south, and might have been some who wintered over down by the dam. But still, it’s the principle…

It’s been a few days since I last posted — not that I suffer from WRITER’S BLOCK so much as WRITER’S CLOCK. That is, not enough time to sit down and write everything I’d like to, especially now that the days are so spring-like and the house needs a good cleaning.

Our cats definitely have spring fever and want to be out…in…out…in…out… all day long. Our lawn is slowly appearing and the gravel road by our property is nice and firm for walking on now, though the driveway is still slushy and spongy.

Wandering the internet for awhile this afternoon, I discovered another online haiku journal, the Wales Haiku Journal. Interesting! In fact I even dared submit a few of my newest verses. Perhaps with a nod to my gr-gr-gr-grandmother Jones from north Wales. Having a Jones from Wales, John Smith from London, and John Turner, an Orangeman from Ireland, among my forebears, I feel very standard-issue. 🙂

This past week I’ve been working quite a bit on my book of haiku, have transferred it to Kindle Create and set it up. I’m inserting some pictures now. Soon, soon…!

Monday night I hit the silliest glitch: I could not insert the copyright symbol. I tried every which way and listened to a couple of instruction videos supposedly explaining in detail how to create a Kindle e-book. Alas! They both slid through the front matter in a few sentences.

I enjoyed watching the one young fellow wave his hands around, though — in real life he must play a piccolo. Several times he said, “I’m sure you’ve all worked with this type of program before and know all this,” and I wanted to yell, “Would I be listening to you if I had?”

Note to wannabe self-publishers: If you’re doing your book on Kindle Create — and it really does work well — it’s best to have the Title page, Copyright info, Dedication page, and Preface or Foreword, all written up the way you want them, as well as the actual book pages, before saving your e-book document as a pdf that you will transfer to Kindle Create.

At any rate, I discovered that it’s really very simple to add that little © — once you know how. 😉 Actually, so many things in this old world are so simple once you know how!

This includes tossing out. As part of my spring cleaning urge, yesterday I opened a cupboard that I haven’t looked in seriously for a long time — and bravely threw out all those 5″ floppies and 3.5″ hard disks I squirreled away about 7 or 8 years back, when I got my new computer. You know the rationale: “A person never knows when this new flash-drive system might break down and we’ll need to go back to these…” NOT!

I hope you are all enjoying lovely days, too, dear readers.

Thieving Wind

that thieving wind
has robbed another clothesline
the flowers all pink

I posted this account 18 months back, but my new followers may enjoy it so I’ll post it again.

Does anyone remember this old song?

“I was strolling through the park one day
…in the merry, merry month of May
…and I got a strange surprise…”

Back when we lived in Moose Jaw, SK, my husband and I were strolling through Crescent Park, located right near the heart of the city, early one morning. And we did indeed get a strange surprise…

In the center of the park is a cenotaph, a memorial to those soldiers from Moose Jaw who were killed in action in the two world wars. This marble pillar with its bronze plaques was encircled by a flower bed in the shape of a big star. So think five points of the star planted to flowers and between the points lush green grass. This flower “star” was encircled by a sidewalk round-about, with several lanes or paved paths going off to the south, west, and north, leading to other park attractions.

As I said, we took our walk soon after sunrise — and it was early spring, so the bedding flowers hadn’t been planted yet. Thus the points of the star were bare black earth awaiting the bedding plants. Bob and I had come up the south path and were following around the main circle when we stopped, amazed.

There, nicely laid out in one of the star points was a pale blue nylon nightgown.

We stood there eyeing it for awhile, contemplating the possibilities. It obviously hadn’t been just dropped there; rather, it was spread out as if on display. Across the street from the park were several three- to five-story apartment buildings. Had it blown off someone’s balcony when they’d hung a few things outside to dry?

Or was this someone’s idea of a practical joke?

I stepped into the flowerbed and retrieved the nightgown. It had a few spots from its tumble on the dirt, but was fairly clean for all that. I held it up. It was sleeveless and double-layered, the outside being sheer nylon, the inside opaque. Not bad. I took it along home and washed it; the fabric proved to be in good condition with hardly a snag.

There was at the time a small paper put out locally, called “ The Shopper,” full of ads anyone could place for free. We decided to give the owner a chance to claim her lost property by placing an ad in this paper, but Bob suggested giving the ad a humorous twist in case the whole thing was a joke. So we sent in the following:
Found in bed (flower) in Crescent Park: one blue nightgown. Free to the person who can come up with the best explanation of how it got there.

Nobody answered the ad. Seeing as the nightgown fit me just fine…I decided, “Finders keepers.”