All posts by mercurialforte

I'm just peeking out of my writing closet.

Feline Friday: My least favorite holiday

I LOVE National Hug Your Cat Day. It’s soon becoming one of my favorite days of the year. Inkblot is not amused.

Whatever idiot human decided to create this ridiculous “Hug your cat day” should be put in the town square and have rotten vegetable matter thrown at him or her all day.

All day long.

It is due to this horrid idea that I have to endure the picking up and the hugging and the …ick… kisses!

The human female loves it. She gets up in the morning to find us and give us each a kiss. Then she sneaks up on us while we’re napping to give us a hug. Then she tempts us with treats then gives us more hugs.

Sigh.

Perturbed Blot
This is my face all day on National Hug Your Cat Day. Please make it stop.

Since my…

… husband doesn’t read my blog, I’m going to share a funny story.

Several weeks ago I was at the archery range when my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I looked the the caller ID, saw it was my husband’s boss, K, and slipped the phone back into my pocket thinking it was a misdial. He’s done it before and I couldn’t think of any reason K would be calling me. When the phone buzzed again two minutes later, I practically dropped my bow and ran off the range having the momentary panic that my husband had somehow chopped off an arm with a case lid or something equally horrible.

Those who know my husband (also K…. hmm, this could get confusing… I’ll call the husband KB for the purposes of this post) know he is a consummate professional and confirmed workaholic. He would say he’s not, but… he has a high-blood-pressure inducing mid-western work ethic combined with a level of perfectionism not seen since Michelangelo painted the Sistine chapel. His bosses love him, his co-workers have a healthy level of respect for him, and labor at venues groan when they see him coming because when KB is on the job – it’s a big job.

So, why did K the boss call me? He wanted me to book a vacation because every time vacation would come up in conversation at work KB would laugh it off and go on his merry way.

I am the family travel agent. I am quite nearly neurotic about travel. The way I see it, there is simply too much to go wrong to leave a trip up to chance. Airplanes get delayed (a lot), luggage gets lost (even when you’re flying international business class), hotels lose reservations when fully booked (haven’t had this happen to me yet, aaaand I may have just jinxed us…), shuttles don’t show up… I could go on and on, but I won’t. My point isn’t to make it look like I’m an uptight traveler (unless my luggage gets left on the tarmac at JFK when I’m flying business class to the UK, then I get downright pissy) – I just like to have as many of my bases covered as possible. I virtually walk neighborhoods via Google maps (This is how I found the Doughnut Plant in NYC. You must go there. You must try the rosewater doughnut.) I like to know as much as possible about where I’m going so I’m armed with information at all times. Sometimes information is even better than pepper spray.

So, I found the only hole in the company calendar for months and found a cruise that happened to fit right into that hole.

And they had a suite available.

Now, I can’t say that we’ll be eating much beyond ramen noodles for a bit, but on the rare occasion we travel together for something non-work related – we do it well and in style. Besides, on the ship we will be making up for the ramen.

We’re going back to Alaska. I may be the only person on the ship hoping it rains, because rain is like a vacation for me. I may even ask the concierge if she can make it rain for me, just a little bit every day would be perfect.

Soot poses with a Lion at Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were best friends for about 30 seconds.
Soot poses with a Lion at Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were best friends for about 30 seconds.

Soot will be coming with us. He’s great on a trip and he went with us to Alaska the first time. Soot loves towel animals. If I looked hard enough I could find some pictures of him sitting on the bed with the turtle, or the swan, or the mice.

Right now, I’m trying to convince someone to rent a 50-500 f/4.5 – 6.3 Sigma zoom lens to me. I was all excited about the Sigma 150-600 f/5 – 6.3 but the aperture was getting a bit tiny and in Alaska – which has great potential to be overcast – I need the widest aperture I can afford. Anyway, we’ll see what comes of that. I’m really not prepared to buy one (see the ramen reference above), but I’m not sure my 18-270 will cut it for calving glaciers, playful porpoise, and … you know… whatever black bear I might entice into the path of my lens while I’m slowly backing away. Very slowly backing away.

Edit: After digging through my digital archives to no avail I finally went deep. Really deep. To my print albums. The first time my husband and I went to Alaska digital cameras were still only a toy for the rich. Or, at least, the richer than us. So. Here it is. Soot and his friend the towel Elephant as arranged by our room steward…

Did I mention how much I love... I mean, how much SOOT loves towel animals?
Did I mention how much I love… I mean, how much SOOT loves towel animals?

There’ve been…

… a new rash of posts lately stating what not to say.

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it still sort of rankles me.

Sure, as a woman who has chosen not to have children I wish people would stop saying “You’ll regret it.” I mean, too little, too late, people. But, that doesn’t mean I want to squash the conversation.

I understand these lists are about making people think. Trying to make them more sensitive, but honestly, I want to know exactly who the clods are. I don’t want them hiding behind false friendliness just because they read a list. If someone is so socially inept as to walk up to a person who makes things by hand and then say “This is what happens when you don’t go to college,” well, I think they should go right ahead.

Of course, the people who would do that aren’t going to change simply because they read a list that told them what not to say.

I am naturally curious. That might be the reason I get along so exceedingly well with cats. These lists make me over analyze everything that could possibly come out of my mouth until I end up saying nothing at all. I’m not naturally an a-hole, so my well intentioned questions never see the light of day because I’m too busy trying to make sure I don’t offend anyone.

Questions and the occasional social faux-pas are one of the many ways we learn. Conversation is how we experience new points of view.

Let’s stop finding ways to squash the conversation and look for better ways to open it up.

Feline Friday: Chemicals, Schmemicals

Inkblot and Ember eat a steady diet of Royal Canin Renal support dry kibble. The husband and I don’t go out a lot. We don’t spend our money on much else, so the kitties get the best food we know of – which was prescribed by our veterinarian after Inky had a particularly nasty kidney infection. I guess that goes to show one can sell me just about anything after my cat gets sick.

IMG_2081
Inkblot has no appreciation for internet nonsense.

The female was upset – again – by the internet.

This is a common occurrence. If she didn’t order toys and treats for us from the magical land of “Amazon,” I would recommend she stay away.

This week she stumbled across an article discussing food. Human food. Personally, I find the stuff revolting. How can they even think about eating a different thing at every meal? I like my dry kibble. It is all I will eat. Ember, of course, is a feline trash can. She eats “tuna” and “marshmallows” and “carpet bits”.

Well, I could admit to the occasional chewing of sisal from our cat tree – but that is all. And the human female always yells at me when she catches me doing it, then hacks at it with scissors until all the tempting dangly bits are gone. Sigh.

No. Wait. I also eat expensive cables and power cords. My favorite is anything from Apple. The female says I have “Cadillac” tastes.

Here’s the thing about this article she read – and this is coming from a cat with a street quality education – humans should realize that all things they refer to as “food” are made up of “chemicals.” Try to pronounce every item on the following list: Alpha-Lineolic-Acid, Asparagine, D-Categin, Isoqurctrin, Phosphatidyl-Choline, P-Hydroxy-Benzoic-Acid, Pantothenic Acid, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Fructose, Sucrose, and Silver. Now, tell me if those ingredients would prevent you from eating an… apple! That’s right. Your friendly, harmless looking neighborhood apple is actually a chemical bomb.

Try this one: Aspartic Acid, Arginine, Isoleucine, Methionine, Pentadecanoic Acid, Glucose, Sucralose, Fructose, Lactose, Maltose, Galactose*, Phenylacetaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, Formaldehyde, Acetone, Benzene. The chemicals listed here are just a few of the items in an egg. From a chicken. *I always knew chickens were from another planet. It’s the feathers and the clucking.

So, what am I trying to say here? Just eat. Maybe my humans could cut down on the bright orange cheese powder – THAT doesn’t seem natural – but otherwise, eat some fruit. Eat some vegetables. And eat whatever else you want. Food doesn’t make you fat. An excess of calories make you fat. I’m a cat and I know this. Maybe next week I’ll talk about the charge that sugar is killing us… Well, no. I’ll just do it now. Yes. Sugar will kill you if you have something called Diabetes. It will also kill you if you dump a five pound bag of it down your throat all at once – or since I’m a cat – it will kill me if that five pound bag falls out of the pantry and onto my head.

Feline Friday: Going to the Vet

Ember
Ember

This week, it is not we the kitties going to the vet.

The Mommy is.

She’s a little agitated. A little more of a short fuse than usual. She’s told us that we have to be nice to her when she gets home.

She wanted me to talk about something important this week, but she didn’t talk about important things, so I’m an uninformed kitty. The Mommy has always said that if I’m uninformed I shouldn’t spout my ignorance. So I mostly just spout about the fact my kitty dinner bowl is empty.

Really, it’s like, empty ALLL the time…

I know things happened in the world outside of our cozy house. I know they weren’t good – the Mommy spent much time on her favorite toy, reading and looking angry.

Maybe next week while she’s recovering from her vet visit she’ll talk a bit more about things outside.

This week she mostly ranted about “taxes” and not much of what she said was intelligible.

When I mentioned this to Inkblot she looked at me as if I was silly for expecting anything different.

Last weekend…

… This weekend? Er, the most recent past Sunday? I talked to my Mom. (Hi, Mom.)

This is not an unusual sort of a thing. I call every weekend unless I’m travelling or working.

Anyway, the first thing she asked was, “Have you finished your book yet?”

Well, no. I haven’t. But I’m working on it. No, really. I am.

A couple of weekends ago my local RWA chapter brought in Jodi Thomas who has, over a 27 year career, published 40 books. First of all, I’d like to tell everyone to go out and buy her books whether you think you’d like to read about Texas or not. Why? They’re great books, of course, but also, she’s an incredibly nice person. She was friendly, giving, and honest. I bought three.

The best thing she said – the most memorable thing she said, was this – “Stop stacking paper.” Basically, she means stop procrastinating, get the butt in the chair, and write. There was a story behind the phrase but my paraphrase wouldn’t do it justice. If you ever have the chance to meet Jodi, ask her to tell you the stacking paper story. It’ll stick with you.

What have I done to stop stacking paper? I’ve gotten my butt in the chair. A while ago (November 2014), I re-wrote the first half of “Separation Point” – haven’t touched it much since. Probably because I’m afraid of how much work it still needs. I’m afraid that what I’ve done isn’t good enough. Again. I’m afraid I’m throwing time at a project that will never see the light of an e-reader screen besides my own. (And maybe my Mom’s – she promised to buy a copy.) I’m afraid that the longer I take, the less likely I’m going to find an audience for my book – it might be a little bit of a niche market book.

Fear, fear, fear. That’s all there is holding me back.

In the words of my sage friend, Alex – “The first step is acknowledging the problem.” Okay, that might also be a bit of a paraphrase, but Alex is very smart and quite wise and he did say something like that to me.

I know, this isn't a convincing rainforest...
I know. This isn’t a convincing rainforest…

So, that’s where I am. Hacking my way through the overgrown Rainforest of Fear.

I may need some help sharpening my creative machete in the near future.

Everything I…

… need to know in life I’m learning from the practice of archery.

Today, as I was standing on the shooting line, staring at the target 20 yards away, I realized something.

I realized there are life lessons that are finally being absorbed. Life lessons I really could’ve used twenty (plus) years ago.

The most important is to breathe. Breathing is good. It’s my favorite, but in archery when and how you breathe can affect your shot. I breathe in as I draw my bow. I breathe out as I sight the target. I let the arrow fly.

Another is to ignore the little things. The little niggling things that annoy you. I was taught that until “Line up” is called, no one touches their bow or their arrows. Maybe I’m being too militant about this but it sounds like a good rule to me. Today there was a guy who is a veteran of the sport on the range with me. On his bag he had a “Vegas Shoot” luggage tag – a huge international indoor archery competition. He didn’t wait for the range to be clear before he’d pick up his bow and have an arrow nocked. Now, if he’d been aiming it while I was still clearing my arrows, I would’ve gone ape all over him. He had it pointed at the floor. I wasn’t in danger. It must have been some sort of passive-aggressive sign for “Hurry the heck up.” After the first couple of rounds I just let it go. I shot at my own pace. I retrieved my arrows at my own pace. Once I stopped worrying about that guy, I did so much better. That’s when I did this –>

Le WOW
Figure 1 – You are doing it mostly right.

If only I had learned this lesson thirty years ago. Or heck, even just ten years ago would’ve been great.

Practice makes – if not perfect – better. In my case I may have jumped to the thirty pound bow a little faster than I should’ve, but I didn’t want to buy twenty pound limbs, and then twenty-five, then thirty. And, while I’m pretty strong for a girl, a thirty pound draw was a little taxing at first. So, practice makes stronger, too. The first time I went back to the range after my initial lesson I caught nothing but carpet. Floor. The neighbor’s target. I had arrows going everywhere but my target. I was so humiliated. The next time I hit paper. The next I hit color … and now? Well, see figure 1.