Is this photo of the battling brothers more interesting like this?
Or possibly this?
With just a slight rotation, each photo tells a different story.
Happy #Caturday from Marcel and Loki!
I’m the last one up and about each morning. Zippy, the dog, and cats all get up earlier, leaving me alone in the closed bedroom. When I’m fully awake and ready to greet the day, I call to Zippy and he opens the door so that these two can jump up on the bed to greet me.
According to Zippy, Marcel the cat and Emma the pup pretty much ignore each other until it’s time to come see me. And then it’s a whole lot of head-butting and grooming on Marcel’s part. Not sure what motivates that loving behavior, but it’s a hella nice way to begin my day. And for that, I’m grateful.
Emma, however, might have other feelings.
My days often begin with hoop-dancing in my living room where I put on loud music and dance around for 20 minutes or so, snapping my fingers and singing off-key. In addition to the birds (and squirrels) at the feeders outside the window, I’m also frequently joined by Emma. Typically, she’s in whatever room Zippy is occupying but something about the music and my dancing gets her going, and she’ll suddenly appear in the entryway, wagging her tail and smiling at me. That’s my cue to begin howling.
Emma immediately joins in.
She usually stays out of the way, content to howl from the edge of the dance floor, but this morning she moved in close to the action.
You’ll have to trust that my hoop is spinning around me and my head is thrown back to howl with Emma. Zippy sprang into photographer action when I called to him, but the camera had the long lens on it which didn’t allow for a wide angle shot.
But baby, we were both howlin’ for you.
Over the past week, the entire household moved room to room, following the sun. The Costco Box Condo is typically a prime late-morning location, but ever since I put the bed on the upper level, Marcel (in white) won’t go up there because he has an aversion to all non-human beds. This means Brother Loki is free to lounge in the penthouse or on the second floor. He’s happy most anywhere he can nap.
In this image, though, it feels as if Marcel is silently admonishing me for ruining his perch. Know what? I’ve just decided I will remove that little bed.
Well done, Marcel.
Not sure what it is, but whenever I take days off from posting here, it’s hard to get going again. The blog-less days stack up and it seems I’m powerless in the face of all that inertia.
Or maybe the truth is that I’m at peace with my state of rest.
Until I’m not. And I guess today was my limit. However, I don’t have a whole lot of energy, news, or imagination right now so I’m going to post a photo from December. This sun-bathing Marcel represents the entire family this winter as we all follow the sun as it shines through different windows throughout the day.
This photo also symbolizes the many ways I’m at peace with my state of rest in terms of housekeeping. As you can see (pun intended), that window is quite dirty. I take the blame for the dust and finger smudges, but those sneeze speckles are Marcel’s fault.
So, that’s the post. Whew.
Here’s Marcel on the coldest day of the year, tucked in between the venetian blinds and drafty window. Wouldn’t be me, on multiple counts. But I can’t fault anyone for following the sunshine.
Fortunately, we’re at a balmy 44 degrees right now. No sun, though, which might explain why Marcel is currently curled up asleep on the bed.
Happy #Caturday to all who observe!
Last year, I took a series of photos of Loki and Marcel so I could make a birthday card for our neighbor who takes care of them while we’re away. I went back to them now in search of a #Caturday image, and couldn’t resist this one of them half-heartedly struggling to be free of Zippy’s grip:
Or this image of weary resignation:
Or this photo of the brothers looking off in the distance, as if hoping help was on the way:
It’s a banner day on this #Caturday!
For once, it’s Loki rather than his brother Marcel taking center stage.
It’s a challenge to get a good photo of a black cat, but yesterday Zippy did a fine job capturing the double-boxed cat (with his crappy phone-camera, no less!)
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!
The ear is the avenue to the heart. ~ Voltaire
And pink ears are an expressway to my heart.
Monday evening, my mother-in-law died.
Contrary to what books and movies would have us believe, not all mothers-in-law are control freaks who believe no one is good enough for their sons. Some are kind, loving, and supportive.
It didn’t feel that way at the start. The first time I met Alice was when Zippy brought me to his parents’ home in Colorado for Christmas in 1988. At the time, he and I had a long-distance relationship between our two California cities. When it was bedtime, Alice showed me where I’d sleep, which wasn’t where Zippy was sleeping. I remember the depths of loneliness I felt lying in that room in an unfamiliar house filled with people I didn’t know. Loneliness plus resentment for the uptight mother of my boyfriend.
That’s the first and last thing she ever did to upset me. No exaggeration. And after I got to know Alice, I realized her decision to put me in that bedroom by myself wasn’t a comment on me or my relationship with her son, but because she didn’t want to make assumptions.
Alice welcomed me with open arms and later extended her endless love to Wildebeest and Zebu. If Alice was a stereotype, it was as a devoted grandmother. She genuinely loved spending time with her grandchildren. Wildebeest told me a story yesterday about the time Alice and Stu took care of Zebu and him for a weekend while Zippy and I went out-of-state for my high school reunion. He’s foggy on the details — maybe he and his brother were fighting over a toy or complaining of boredom — but he remembers it was the only time Grandma got mad at them.
I believe it. Alice was the queen of easy-going. She loved family and friends, and was always the first to laugh at herself. She’d do something — such as accidentally sitting on her camera in the church pew at her other son’s wedding — then let out her trademark “woooo,” followed by a giggle. One time, she agreed to help me make curtains for the boys’ bedroom. After many, many laughter-filled minutes trying to figure out how to thread the sewing machine needle and bobbin, we gave up and called her capable seamstress neighbor who set things right while Alice and I laughed some more.
Once, Alice agreed to accompany me to a doctor’s appointment where she stayed out in the car with the boys. Toddler Zebu was still very attached to me and didn’t handle separation well. When he began crying, Alice struggled to get him out of the car seat, growing more confused as his wailing reached epic proportions. In later years, Alice told the story of how Wildebeest leaned in at that moment to say, “Read the directions, Grandma.” She then read the instructions on the car seat and was able to release Zebu and calm him. But in her telling, all credit went to Wildebeest.
Alice was generous to a fault. She feared and disliked cats, yet cut out cat pictures for the birthday cards she’d make me. When she flew to Alaska to help out after Zebu was born, she told me to let her know if any of her behavior bothered me. She said this knowing that the recent visit from my own mother had caused more problems than it alleviated. Once, after Stu and I had a spirited conversation about our differing political views, in which he was literally hopping mad and called me a communist, Alice forced him to phone me the next day to apologize. Honestly, I thought it was pretty funny seeing my father-in-law so wound up, but Alice didn’t want to risk hurt feelings. Family mattered.
Alice was nineteen when she had Zippy (Stu was twenty-one). Alice had four children by the time she was thirty, a mind-boggling realization when I had my first child at 30 years and barely considered myself mature enough to be a parent. Over the years, Alice and Stu apologized to their kids for supposed mistakes they’d made and opportunities they hadn’t provided. But from my perspective, that young and very poor couple accomplished a miracle: they raised four well-adjusted children who not only loved their parents very much, but also love and support each other.
Over the three weeks following Alice’s heart surgery at the end of July, those four children worked together to help their ailing mother. They coordinated efforts so Alice, who was deaf and suffering dementia, would never be alone in an unfamiliar place. Under increasingly scary and difficult circumstances, those four hung together in their shared goal to ease their mother’s discomfort.
And now Alice’s smile and laughter are only memories. Our hearts are shattered, but I’m deeply grateful for the years I had with my mother-in-law. My wish for her now, wherever she is, is that there are buffets rather than menus. Because for her many fine qualities, Alice struggled to make decisions. Eating out with her was a study in patience. But maybe there are menus and waitstaff. In which case, as Alice was fond of saying, “I hope it all works out.”
I am incredibly grateful for the domestic gifts Zippy bestows upon me. Namely, handling all the cooking and grocery shopping. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t have to cook or shop. Except when it’s absolutely necessary, such as when Zippy has Covid. (Note: he is feeling better although still testing positive).
He first tested positive a week ago tomorrow and hasn’t had much of an appetite. Lucky for both of us. Him, because that meant he wasn’t subjected to my lack of cooking skills and me, because I wasn’t forced to exhibit my low-level kitchen intelligence. Zippy tolerated my quinoa and steamed broccoli (that I daringly “spiced up” with some snap peas and cut green beans) and the minimalist spinach “salads” garnished with halved cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic dressing. I skated by until last night.
It all started because I’d noticed a head of kale in the drawer.
I worried it was getting a bit droopy and asked what I could make with the kale before it went bad. Zippy replied, “Lots of things” in a tone that implied those many “things” were most definitely beyond my reach. “Like what?” I pressed. “Like “kale and potatoes,” he replied. “I can do that!” I proclaimed.
And Reader, I’m pleased to announce I did do just that. I successfully prepared a meal. All it required was for Zippy to stay on speakerphone through the entire preparation. Halfway through the conversation when I apologized for being so inept that he had to talk me through the process as if I was defusing a bomb, he admitted our cooking conversation was the most exciting part of his day. Sad commentary on a week spent isolating in the basement. But for me, the excitement I derived from the experience was the fact that (with Zippy’s guidance) I didn’t botch the timing on everything as I have in the past when attempting to create something in the kitchen. I successfully timed:
Okay, that last step took too long and the kale still came out a bit undercooked/chewy. Other than that, I killed it!
But wait, there’s more! Today I went grocery shopping, at two different stores. Not only that, I’ve already returned home and put away the groceries . . . and it’s still daylight! So what if Zippy could have accomplished the same amount of shopping in a fraction of the time it took me? So what if I had to call him from the first store to help me locate the sliced sourdough bread? At the next store, I figured out all on my own where the salad dressing was shelved and confirmed there were no avocados. And is ketchup really necessary?
So, yeah. This past week has been a stark reminder of my very privileged life in which groceries and meals magically occur. For many, many reasons, Zippy and I are both looking forward to a full recovery and him resuming his reign.
Marcel and Loki are indoor cats, but we allow them supervised time on the deck. The only rule is they must stay where we can see them and aren’t allowed around the corner where the bird feeder and bath sit next to the patio. Loki always immediately cruises down the deck and around the corner where he flops down and begins rolling around. Unfortunately, his outdoor time is nearly nonexistent because he still hasn’t made the connection between that behavior and getting put back inside.
Marcel, however, abides by the rules. Here he is this morning, strolling the deck railing, as Zippy and I stretched after our run.
I missed a great photo opportunity of him sniffing at the budding maple leaves, but did capture this tender moment between Marcel and Zippy.
Marcel is intensely interested in odors — ALL odors — and was fascinated by the post-run aromas coming off Zippy. Glad someone appreciates them because . . . WHEW. 🙂
When the brothers began a joint grooming session this morning, their synchronized licking (back legs held high) made for a great photo, and I hurried to grab the camera. But by the time I returned, the session had come to an end.
They’ve been napping there for hours (surprise-surprise) and the entire time, Marcel has kept watch over my project notebook. When I gently removed it from beneath his sleeping body just now, the pages were warm. I choose to interpret that as a positive review for my latest middle grade novel.
Marcel lives the life I crave: sitting in a southern-exposure window, basking in the sunshine as clouds float past in the blue-blue sky.
This photo’s from November, but today followed the same script: Marcel sprawled along the sill, eyes closed as he soaked up the solar rays. Hey, if it ain’t broke there’s no need to fix it.
It’s Saturday which means it’s time to feed the composting worms. Translation: time to chop up food scraps. Because my wrists are sore (probably from shoveling very heavy snow this morning), Zippy kindly offered to do today’s chopping.
Zippy? Um, no. Those chunks are still much too much for my worm friends.
“I think you over-chop,” Zippy said in response to my thanks-but-no-thanks. “They can handle bigger pieces.”
For sure, the worms can handle scraps this size. But bigger pieces take longer to eat which gives mites more time to lay eggs on the scraps. And that scenario only results in one thing: more mites. Yuck yuck yuck. Mites are my least favorite aspect of vermiculture and it’s worth my time to expend way more effort prepping worm food than anything I make for my consumption.
So, off I go to chop some more. The mites won’t thank me, but the worms and I will be grateful.
Here it is nearly 5:30 of the p.m., sun gone for the day as temperatures drop and daylight slips away. I’ll admit, this is my least favorite time of winter days because of the increased risk of gloomy feelings that often involve beating myself up. As in, “you squandered those precious hours and what do you have to show for yourself now that it’s cold, dark, and dreary?”
Not playing those reindeer games today.
Right now I’m basking in the glow of my accomplishments: Coffee and Wordle. Exercise. Smoothing out trouble spots in my middle-grade novel, revising chapter 8, and falling in love with the manuscript all over again. A thoughtful phone conversation with Zebu. Laughter. Laundry. Email plus research for climate action meeting later this week. Finishing the excellent We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan. Healthy eating. Sharing snuggles with dog and cats (with special shout-out to Loki for lying down next to me while I did foam roller stretching).
It is true I respond best to blue skies and sunshine glinting off snow. But on this Monday evening, I’m content.
We woke to a snowstorm this morning (hooray!) and it’s been fun watching the birds. The usual suspects have shown up — Eurasian Collared-dove parked in the feeder dish while a Mourning Dove perched on the rim of the heated bath — along with a visit from a Blue Jay. We do see them now and again, but they are a bit more rare, so it was a nice surprise when I spotted this one through the kitchen window.
Wildebeest and Zebu are coming for a visit and we’ve been spending lots of time cleaning the house that has become quite messy over the past months. “Wash windows” was on my to-do list but that hasn’t happened yet which means my bird photos suffer. This Red-breasted Nuthatch would appear more vibrant had I washed the window as planned.
Ah, well. As long as the glass doesn’t become opaque, I guess it’s okay.
My signature dish
impossible to conceal
proof is in the air
Today I am grateful for much, including:
One of life’s simple pleasures: the sun illuminating Marcel’s pink ear.
This image from yesterday is especially pleasing on this no-sun, gray and cold afternoon.
Boldness is sexy, especially when it’s done with a wink. ~ Matthew Hussey
Happy Caturday from bold, sexy Marcel.
years of nasal cleanliness
neti nose me best
Here are two of my favorite things: honey bees and lavender.
We still have a few late-blooming stalks of lavender (this photo was taken a couple summers ago), but not a lot of bees around. Which is why I was surprised over the weekend while reading outside on a bench I’d pushed up against the side of the house to avoid the wind. Surrounded by concrete and brick, engrossed in the pages, I became aware of a faint buzzing that got louder and louder. A honey bee flew next to my outstretched leg before landing on my arm and then my chest. After a brief pause there, it flew to my collar. Much closer to my ear (bzzzz bzzzz ). And face.
Bees fascinate me more than freak me out, however, I admit to feeling a bit nervous about this buzzing visitor. Still, I maintained my calm, congratulating myself on the chill attitude. Until . . . the honey bee moved down to the end of my sleeve and crawled in my sleeve. Chill attitude officially over! I shrieked and shook my arm to dislodge the bee, which seemed to take forever due to the layers I wore.
When the bee safely flew away-away, I chided myself for panicking. And then I remembered the terrifying bees-in-clothing experience I had years ago, and cut myself slack.
Fortunately, this latest bee interaction was entirely friendly and bees still rank among my very favorite things.
Today I am grateful the week-long paint exterior paint job was completed several hours before the season’s first snowfall.
I’m grateful we resolved a big mix-up. Turned out they’d matched the trim color incorrectly, which I didn’t realize until last night. I spent sleepless hours fretting about it and woke all out of sorts. When I spoke to them and didn’t get much satisfaction, I wisely went for a 38 degree run on the trails. The cold air and beautiful open space cleared my mind. Afterward, we talked more, they listened to my concerns, and agreed to return at a later date to repaint the trim the correct color.
It’s been 12 years since the exterior was painted and the southern and eastern exposures were brutalized by sun and weather. I hadn’t anticipated the incredible noise and disruption that would come with three guys sanding-drilling-pounding on various walls, often simultaneously. Not to mention occasionally being caught off-guard when I spotted strange men through the windows.
One more time: I am grateful the exterior paint job is complete! (For a while, anyway).
I’m very thankful for our home and our ability to pay for its upkeep. (And hooray that the supply chain issues only slightly affected the timeline for completing the job!)
It’s a good Thursday on the planet.
I was working on revisions in bed this morning when Marcel decided to check out the happenings. In true feline form, he chose to curl up on the very document I’d just set next to me.
As gently as possible, I removed it from beneath his vast bulk. Not to be dissuaded from his mission of chaos, Marcel began noisily licking the plastic bag containing my highlighters and post-its. I was less gentle in that removal.
A few minutes later, I relocated to the patio. Marcel is an indoor-only cat.
P.S. While they didn’t directly obscure my materials, a couple hummingbirds got into multiple dust-ups as I worked outside, distracting me with their darting aggression.
It’s pretty obvious that I deserve a medal for getting any work done today.