Saturday, October 30, 2021

Good, Kind, Caring Things, For All

The Beach Chair Book Club dressed up and shared a potluck for Halloween. Skylar and Maria realized they haven't enjoyed this school activity since they were sophomores. I am so glad to be included in BCBC, so I can have these last glimpses and chances to appreciate this school that has been a part of our lives since 2009.
I was trying to think of some interesting thing to say. Maybe write about these leaves, or about the weather, or about how much Geoff is accomplishing with... well, with everything. He was filling my bicycle tires with air, and I was sitting laying down very close to these leaves, and trying to not feel exasperated about this invasive vine that I have been battling for three years. Instead of grousing, I took a picture, holding my phone upside down, because I was determined to not sit up. And in that same time, Geoff also changed the battery on my bike.

And speaking of our bicycles, we've ridden over 4,000 miles. Four thousand cycling miles! I still think of My Very Big Adventure, the one where instead of riding wary little loops around the same familiar streets, I am riding to Massachusetts! I've imagined going by way of Oregon, then on to Wisconsin. I've written about this a number of times, and I think of it often. Often, but less frequently. You see, when I drove to Oregon, and back, this summer, I was reminded of what a real life bicycle ride looks like, on narrow roads, with lumber trucks, and fifth wheels, and winding cliff-side passages, and long stretches of remote highways. Mostly it's about other drivers. Those same other drivers were shockingly indifferent, speeding, tailgating, honking, cutting people off, running stop signs. I am sensitive to the issue of careless drivers, but I am not the only one to notice there is a crisis out there! And I have witnessed first hand how readily people seem to be willing to shrug off and deny the trauma. It's kind of ironic, because I have to suppress and deny my concerns and fears, too, otherwise I would have nothing to do with driving, or even riding in a car, and bicycle riding is, sadly, kind of terrifying, so I go out pretending/hoping it's all going to be fine. In fact... I am sorry I even develed into this! I thought I was going to celebrate over 4,000 miles ridden around, with Geoff, on our bicycles.

Where was I?

Oh yes. I don't think about my imaginary ride across the country as much as I used to, because I came to realize that actually doing that ride would be far more complicated, and scary than I can cope with. This is a sad realization, because I have let unfortunate facts curtail imaginary, daydreaming pleasure. I have detailed notes about routes and roads, and appealing sights, stops from my front door and up the coast, across the middle bits, into the Northwoods, around the Great Lakes. I've anticipated vistas, and coffee shops, quiet byways, where I would be wrapped in the beauty and wonder of a winding river, quiet woods, gentle, mild adventures, idyllic, poetic, make-believe. (In some future time, when a great-great grandchild, or an estate sale plunderer, comes across one of my notebooks, chock full of meticulous notes, and specific mentions of a cafe, or Amtrak timetable, of crossing the bridge to Mackinac Island, I wonder if they will marvel at my feat? But, I am here to set the record straight: It didn't go down like that, but imagining it could happen was satisfying, and motivated me to act at least a little braver than I feel.)

New Subject: Cats.

At long last, I have taken all of the kitties to their veterinarian. And they all got a clean bill of health! I was more relieved than I expected to be. We adopted the babies, Feynman and Saki, only a few months before lockdown, and vet visits simply fell off of my radar. Dr T is caring. He came out to talk, not just about the cats, but the family, asking about the young folks, and how we've been holding up. His own three littles are well, and getting back into a groove. He asked if we had concerns about our kitties. Feynman's weepy eyes are just that... weepy. He saw no cause for concern. And Saki's roundness? Is he happy? asked Dr T. Yes. He is happy. He just loves food, like no other kitty I have ever known. He loves it. Loves. It. Dr T laughed, and said it's good we do portion control, and that we are mindful, but Saki is well, and happy, and what else can you ask for a kitty? I am so relieved. It's been such a long season of worry, of trying to manage things, invisible things, insidious things, and I just want happy cats, and considerate drivers, women's reproductive rights, billionaires sharing the costs of living in a civilized society with affordable education, healthcare, and progressive action to save the planet. Simple things. Good, kind, caring things, for all of us.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Black Ratty is Back!

Does anyone remember? Black Ratty? And that we were missing Black Ratty, Cairo's most beloved Ratty-Rat? It was a long spell we endured, longer than since I wrote about it. And by now, I had no presumptions of ever seeing his ratty, again. It was sad, actually. I projected my sorrows and frustrations on that missing rat, and ascribed all things that went wrong, felt tenuous, on the void, the mystery. Then, while excavating cleaning my office, I discovered Black Ratty at the bottom of a basket. Of all the rewards, or benefits of laboring away tidying up, nothing could top this reunion. And Cairo? Oh, Cairo played it cool, and you're probably not surprised about that. He sniffed it, knowingly, and looked at the Ratty, with a sideward gaze, calculating how much emotion he could afford to extend, without sacrificing his feline ego. He went with a barely perceptible glint of recognition, before turning his head, as though he only felt indifference. But, later that night, without witnesses, Black Ratty was pulled from the covers, singled out in a ritual of affection, elation, and dropped on the floor. True love.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

More Lists

Grace Hopper is taller than Tasha, and taller than Ada. I think all of her height may be in her legs. They are long, spindly. There are moments when she looks like a gazelle, or a graceful deer. Only brief moments, because she is not conventionally graceful. We did not intend for her name to be ironic, but she is ungainly. She skids to a stop, then bolts. She stumbles, gambols and capers and it's hard not to imagine that each hoof is navigating indepently from her brain. She is in perpetual motion, constant stirring. Tasha and Ada have benefitted, because it's not possible to sit still when Grace is around. We all gambol and romp a little more than before, now that this kid is around, and it's fun, invigorating. Good for the heart. Good for the soul.

Geoff brought home a very large... thing. Is it a cart? I guess it's a cart. It can tip, like a dump truck and it's very sturdy. We are moving things. All the stuff and things, and whatsits, of which we have many. One thing the cart will do nicely is haul hay and feed from the van down to the chicken run. And another thing the cart can do nicely is give rides. Geoff treats me to little loops around the driveway. I can't explain how this is fun, considering we have cars, and bicycles. But there is something appealing about sitting in an oversized wagon, and slowly riding loops around the yard. It makes me contemplate solar batteries, motors, and cruising to the end of the street. I try to think of a good excuse for pursuing this whim. I should probably add brakes to my daydreams. Grace didn't think it was worth bothering with and in a flash she leapt out, looking like a tiny reindeer at take-off.

I recorded the goats running around, while Geoff gave me what I affectionately call a hay ride. Then, I did a quick edit, added music, and posted a Reel. I didn't think it was my best work, but the Algorithm sure liked it. It's had 8,786 views. That is far far far more views than any other Reel I've posted. I don't know why. If anything, I think it proves that algorithms, and social media are remarkably random, arbitrary. Either that, or I should produce more content including Geoff's backside. His legs are going viral! I've always appreciated them.

Well. No one actually asked for pictures from my visit to Ikea. I mentioned the excursion in the side bar... Chirp-Chirp-Chirp. I talked about being enthralled by the shiny new things, and how I appreciate visual references, something I hope will help me achieve good taste, make mindful choices, strive for order and other noble goodnesses. No one asked for pictures, but I am going to post them, anyway. I need the reminders, and I need an excuse to sit here, alone, in a quiet room, because my neck is locked, and I am feeling a twinge of self-pity and hopelessness... is there another word for hopelessness, that is not quite so without hope? Maybe I am only hope challenged, or hope deficient. Or. Perhaps, even something as simple as recognizing pretty scenes, appreciating order, calm, organization, inspiration... these I believe are an indication of hope. Wanting to enjoy inpsiration and beauty, it seems to me is a promising sign, a worthy pursuit. Last night I wrote this post in an entirely different mindset, headed a whole other direction. I made some valid points, and it may have been enough to express those ideas, without sharing them, to reap some benefit... like clairty, relief, but I am glad I slept on it. As much as I am struggling, I desire to feel relief, to enjoy those moments of clairty, to nurture, even the smallest signs of hope.

Oh, joy! My neck just popped, and opened up a little ways!

Has anyone noticed my crush on green? I post a lot about the blues, the Arrowhead Lake Blues. But green has been near and dear to my heart, too, and I am going with it. And it slips in and out of my radar, but I doubly love blues and greens, together! I say this, staring at my green and blue teacup. I think of the quilts I have pieced and sewn, the shawls I have crocheted. Oh, it is for certain. I love the blues and greens.

I've been to Ikea twice, now, and both times I wanted to cook in this kitchen. Geoff joined me the second visit, and he declared that this is the kitchen we should build (you know, if we were building a kitchen.) I like his certainty, his go big mindset! My mistake, or limitation is seeing this space and thinking, what can I take, reasonably, and use to achieve the happy way I feel in this room? My approach is not big enough! I'd come home with a chalk board and tea towels, and imagine that I am going to achieve a clean, uplifting, organized, refreshed kitchen, just because I have the same apron.

Funny thing... now I have these pictures, and have taken some time to really gaze at them, and I find the bright white counters a little too stark and glaring, especially contrasted with the deep green... almost like a gash, a paved highway through the forest. Already, I sense that I would liven this up with more colors, and mess (let's be honest, please.) And. About that word, "mess," maybe I want a kinder word, a word that hints at the "mess," but in a gentle fashion, with an appreciation for the sources of our messes... cooking, playing, eating, rushing through the house before heading out the door, distraction, interaction, chasing goats, chatting with friends, living. Not all of our messes are damnable, some are profoundly good. I love that sink. And the open shelving (even though I can't imagine it would leave us with nearly enough storage, and then I think of dust, and cringe.) Okay, but I do love the apron, and the hooks on the wall, and the softness of pine accessories against deep forest green walls.

All right. So, I took a lot of pictures, and in each instance I was seeing something appealing, something to strive for. Let's see if I can distill what I desire, admire.
1. Open shelves AND closed cupboards, because I know I like to display things, and I know I need to hide things. Both. 2. And maybe this helps show me that the appeal of this orderly scene is probably achieved by not stuffing it all to the gills! Note to self: More purging!
1. It looks nice. 2. Looks can be deceiving. Even though we are talking about creating a mudroom, a practical entry, I think I need to reject this offering, because it's not realistic. We have an avalanche of shoes, and a tsunami of coats and bags and hats... our natural disasters need big solutions, industrial sized fixes. Cute and charming will simply not do the job. Note to self: More purging. But besides purging, which with seven residents, will only go so far, I think we need to embrace our truths... We have stuff, and that stuff needs shelves, drawers, closets, storage! Possibly labels. Okay, definitely labels.
1. I should be framing more art, more photographs. 2. I should be donating the framed art (read: faded prints that are 30 years old) that we don't appreciate like we used to. 3. Get the framed art and photographs on walls. And probably paint more of those walls. It's time.

I dunno. I think this just reminds me that I miss the Redwoods, and entertaining. I think it reminds me that I like spaces that exist indoors and outdoors, simultaneously. Also, that I am deeply thankful that I can enjoy the outdoors inside, without buying plastic plants.

Very good. A little self-analysis, a little consumer appreciation, with a measure of realism, a pinch of objectivity. This has been almost cathartic. My take away points... 1. More purging 2. Be bold 3. Make lists, and use those lists for organization, to keep track of what's coming, what's going, and to define time and space, and help me to keep a hopeful course. 4. Settle on a course, or two, and don't mind so much if things wobble or stray... goals are good.