#Caturday: Portrait of Defiance

It took mere minutes for Marcel to discover the warm laundry just removed from the dryer. And when I went back down with my camera to document his trespass (which will result in white hairs all over my sons’ new dark-colored sweatshirts and socks), Marcel didn’t budge, despite his aversion to cameras.

I guess that cat is more averse to attempts to shame him into moving than he is bothered by the paparazzi. Another guess? There’s a lint roller in my sons’ futures.

It was 20 years ago today

Today is Wildebeest’s birthday (which he shares with his cousin…Happy Birthday again, James!) I haven’t yet talked with Wildebeest today because he’s out doing fun stuff with his camera and friends. But here he was 20 years ago,  making a wish before blowing out the candles.

Wildebeest. November 4, 1999

I don’t know whether that particular wish came true, but I do know that today my son is happy and healthy, which means my wish came true.

Happy happy birthday, Wildebeest!

Thankful Thursday

Horse Gulch. Durango, CO.

Yesterday we hiked with our elder son, Wildebeest. It was pretty warm and we opted to cut the hike short on Emma’s behalf because despite the bowls of water we gave her throughout and the handful of treats, she still made a beeline for every patch of shade where she’d pant accusingly until we got her up and moving again.

Still and all, it was a wonderful hike. It’s always good to spend time with Wildebeest and was especially nice seeing him in his natural habitat. A happy son makes for a happy mother.

Stockholm from the bus

May 2017

I’m in the process of deleting gazillions of emails from an old account and just came across this photo. I’d forwarded it after taking the pic with my phone. It’s not a great photo, but it reminds me of the anticipation I felt as we arrived in Stockholm.

 

The next day we’d be seeing son Zebu who was studying at Uppsala. Oh, happy day!

Sunday Confessional: I’m having more fun than Marcel

Soon after adopting feline brothers Marcel and Loki in October of 2013, son Zebu vowed to buy me a baby sling to carry our loving, snuggly cats. Despite my frequent reminders of his promise to me, years went by with no sling. And then this past Mother’s Day, Zebu surprised me. It’s safe to say he also surprised Marcel.

This photo was taken in May during Marcel’s initial and longest stint in the sling. But you can tell by his ears that he’s less than thrilled with the situation. I tried putting his brother in it last night and he wasn’t having it. At all. And then Marcel humored me for all of fifteen seconds before escaping.

Maybe they’ve figured out it’s technically a sling for small dogs and are philosophically opposed to debasing their royal cat selves.

Or maybe they just really, really don’t want me carrying them around like babies.

Equilibrium restored

Elder son Wildebeest came home for a visit last week along with a friend’s dog. When Wildebeest initially asked if Little Miss could come, I worried about her chasing the cats. But because my son and the doggo adore each other and because Little Miss’s human went on vacation without her, I told Wildebeest to bring her. I’d protect the cats as best I could.

Well, Little Miss is a very small dog. She’s essentially a furry football. Plus, she’s ten years old and more interested in snuggling and naps than chasing anyone. Instead it was Loki, my shy cat who’s afraid of birds and studies insects from a respectful distance, who was the aggressor. We tried hard to keep the peace between them, but multiple times over the past week Loki cornered and then chased her. Each time after it happened, Little Miss quivered in fear. Last night, Loki snuck up to where Little Miss was snuggled in Wildebeest’s lap and smacked her hard with his paw. I heard the frightened yelp from the basement. By that point, all the humans in the house were fed up with Loki’s bullying behavior. We were on #TeamLittleMiss and wondering what in the hell was wrong with the cat.

Well, Wildebeest and Little Miss headed home this morning and an hour or so after they’d left, Loki sat outside my writing room door and cried. I let him in and draped him over my shoulder. He immediately rubbed his head against my cheek and purred. And purred. And purred. As I held him, my frustration evaporated. I hadn’t consulted him before inviting a strange dog into our home and I have no idea what transpired in his life before we adopted him. Maybe he’d once been terrorized by a furry football. In any case, our reconciliation lasted about ten minutes and then Loki wanted to get down. I let him out of my writing room and got back to work. I’m guessing my handsome and loving kitty went to take another nap.

Equilibrium restored.

For anyone in need of a smile

I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!

I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.

Saturday Funny

I unearthed this document while cleaning out a drawer. I’m the “T” and Wildebeest is the “F” in this exchange from his elementary school years. (In case you can’t read my scrawl):
T: For someone who didn’t want to go to the Lakewood Heritage Center, it sounds like you had a swell time.

F: (nodding vigorously) I got cheered up after the front of the bus caught fire.

Happiness is . . .

Zippy and I ran around the neighborhood with Emma this morning. Lots of sunshine. The rest of the day was filled with NBA basketball viewing plus a last-minute decision to bake cookies. We had (just barely) the ingredients for oatmeal raisin cookies and I made those while the games played in the background. Wildebeest and Emma napped together partway through the afternoon. Zebu went downstairs to shower in preparation for a family photo, but that was a couple hours ago and we haven’t seen him since. My best guess is he’s now napping, too.

Pretty much an ideal day.

Saying goodbye to an old friend

In a few minutes, a kind veterinarian is going to arrive at our home to help us say goodbye to Zoey. She’s lived with us the past 13+ years which is more than half of Wildebeest and Zebu’s lifetimes. This morning Wildebeest said goodbye before  heading back to his home that’s a six-hour drive from here. Zebu will be with Zoey at the end.

Zoey’s last trip to Westcliffe. August 12, 2017

We’d originally hoped to say goodbye to Zoey tomorrow because it’s my birthday today. But when the vet offered to come this afternoon it seemed the best option. Zoey’s tired and has had enough, and it felt wrong to delay the inevitable. We’ve definitely made the right decision for her, but the mood is less than festive.

Rest in peace, our sweet Zotato.

Finding the balance

Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a  young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.

Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.

The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.

Feline sabotage

Today my son Zebu and I washed all our windows, inside and out. As we traveled room to room, Marcel the cat followed us. At one point he got up on the sill next to a newly-gleaming window and proceeded to sneeze. On the glass.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite as bad as this Pexels photo. Marcel didn’t shower the entire window with his snot. Instead, it was contained to a rather orderly row along the lower portion of the window. Zebu and I were mildly annoyed, but laughed about our silly feline friend as we recleaned the window. Then Marcel followed us to the next room and sneeezed on another window. Zebu and I were less amused.

And when Marcel sneezed on the third window Zebu stated the obvious: “This is feeling deliberate.”

Yup.

It’s been a day

This morning started with a run followed by delicious coffee and rice cakes smeared with peanut butter as I began working on revisions. Everything was clicking and life was good.

Looking back on it, I wish I’d bottled how I felt then because the day quickly took a number of turns for the worse and now I’m kinda worn out from it all. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t conjure up those good feelings. Damn you, life’s curves and slick surfaces!

Ah well, tomorrow means a fresh start.

All good things

Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things.
~ Dick Van Dyke

I get to hug my son

Zebu in summer of 1998

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I’m feeling especially grateful. He (and our other son) spent their entire childhoods with Zippy and me and while those years certainly held challenges, we remained intact as a family. The four of us were never forced to seek asylum, we were never denied refuge, and our children weren’t ripped from their parents’ arms. That kind of unspeakable trauma was never part of our lives. Not because we’re exceptional or more deserving, but because we were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. That’s it. Sheer luck.

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I get to hug my son. I’m weeping for those who can’t.

Who’s laughing now?

I’m in Florida with Zebu, visiting my mother (his grandmother). Today we went to the beach in Honeymoon Island State Park and I brought my camera in hopes of seeing lots of shorebirds and maybe a pelican or two. The only birds I saw were Laughing Gulls and I snapped a total of three photos.

When I saw this, I thought it was a freakish and somewhat unsettling image because it looks as if the head was pasted on another bird’s body. But when I showed it to Zebu (who doesn’t have a great appreciation for birds in general and even less appreciation for gulls because  of “their beady eyes and shifty behavior”) he thought it was a great shot.

Go figure.

Happy day to me

I’m so happy Zebu’s graduation weekend coincided with Mother’s Day because Wildebeest came back to help celebrate his brother’s milestone. We haven’t all been together since January.

Here we were on Friday.  The sun didn’t shine much that afternoon, but the happy, proud, and goofy smiles from everyone on the CU-Boulder campus lit up the place.

One year ago

Last year at this time Zippy and I were in Uppsala, Sweden, visiting our son Zebu. He took us to his favorite place to fika. In Sweden, everyone takes a daily coffee (and pastry) break with friends, family, colleagues, fellow students, etc.  Unfortunately, we went during a non-fika time so the place was empty. Still, it was easy to imagine the rooms filled with students drinking coffee and eating enormous cinnamon buns.

As I write this, Zebu is in Colorado finishing up his third final final-exam. He graduates later this week and one of my hopes for his future is that he always makes time for such a mid-day break. Fika strikes me as a very sensible path to health and happiness.

Still standing

Wildebeest, Zebu, Tracy, and Zippy on this New Year’s eve.
It’s been a hard year on the planet, but we’re still upright.
There’s definitely strength in numbers, and I’m grateful we have each others’ backs.

Happy New Year to you and yours.
Here’s hoping we kick every ass that needs kicking in 2018.

So much more to a book

This photo hangs on the wall at my brother’s house. Here he is with the smiling Wildebeest and Zebu, many years ago. I’m not sure any of them remember the exact moment the picture was taken, but love and happiness are written all over this image. It’s no coincidence that a book’s involved.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~  Maurice Sendak

Sunday Confessional: I just want a couple nice rugs

We moved into our home twenty years ago this weekend. We bought the house from the original owners and, in addition to the roof and walls, we also purchased a few furnishings from them. We still have one of the large braided rugs (the other three rugs have gone to the big loom in the sky), and it is way past due for retirement.

Over the years, six dogs, five cats, and four humans have walked on this rug (and that’s not counting the orginal owners’ years of use). I don’t even want to imagine what’s trapped between the braids. I very much want a new rug and have spent a huge amount of time searching stores and online for something decent that we can afford. I’ve already returned two (we also need to replace a tired wool rug in the living room) after the dye came off on our hands.

I realize that my rug search qualifies as a small-potatoes-problem, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing I could summon a Rug Fairy.