The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World


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Coping Skills I’ve Learned from the Cats

There is no disrespect intended toward dogs in this post.  I like dogs too but they don’t fit my lifestyle.  Cats do because they unerringly, 100% of the time, shit in the intended place.  So here in public for the first time, I thank Carla, Riley, Scruffy, Belinda and Ginger for that small, but important  kindness.

People get a strange look in their eyes when you tell them that you co-habit with 5 cats.  You always get the crazy cat lady (guy in my case) jokes and the cruel visuals that cat-haters love to share.  Apart from university, I can’t recall a time that I didn’t live with cats.  The longer I’m around them,the more they teach me.  I’m a true believer that dogs learn tricks and cats teach tricks.  We added Ginger to our family in November.  It was a challenging  point in time for me and adding another cat, in this case a kitten, to the house gave me a real lift.  If you ever find a time when you’ve forgotten why or how to laugh; just add a kitten to your world.

On to lessons learned… Firstly, find and lay in sunbeams.  Now, I could go all metaphorically on you and yammer on about some airy, fairy crap.  But, I actually mean this literally.  After days and days of snow and clouds there is so much to refresh you in just laying still in the sun for a couple of minutes.  I knew some of the value of natural light before.  When we built the house we made sure the back had a southern exposure and put lots and lots of windows in.  We got great light and energy savings.  But only recently have I begun to just lay in sunbeams be they on the floor or on the bed.  Just like magic.  There is no need to think, no need to do anything but absorb.  Maybe you’ll nap, maybe not.  But your first instinct will not be to bitch or dwell on shit or keep all tensed up.  So, politely ask the cat to share and try it.

Secondly, regardless of how intense things get, there is a real benefit in taking a break.  The introduction of a kitten to the house certainly raised the activity level.  Feng Shui refers to this as raising the level of chi.  There’s a lot more tussling and playing than there has been for a while.  But when you are enjoying a good cat tussle, you’ll notice that quite suddenly both cats will stop and act all cool.  Maybe paws need to be licked (or crotches), a good scan of what’s going on in the room or simply a flop over to rest.  These pauses are sudden and end just as suddenly when one or both leap back into the fray refreshed and invigorated.  So, I’ve come to value and even, plan interruptions in everything I’m doing just to recharge.

Lastly, enjoy companionable silence.  My wife seriously doubts I’ve learned this lesson and insists I’d be a better husband if I were mute.  But, there is no one in our house that gets to do anything alone.  When I work at home there is always a cat under my chair and one sleeping on the chair beside me.  Not a single bed in the house is used without feline assistance and support.  A quick cuddle and a purr keeps you from feeling all alone.  I could do without the assistance in using the washroom – a lesson I learned from my wife called “keeping mystery in the marriage.” – but all in all there gets to be a comforting support in companionable silence.

I know I’ve still got things to learn and the cats insist they’ve lots to teach me.  Some lessons like the joy of drinking from the toilet I have yet to and likely won’t embrace.  And I still can’t get my leg over my head so I can lick that sweet spot but I’ll keep trying.


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Axiom: Let sleeping children sleep. Note: they are not committed to returning the favour!

Last night on the way home from swimming lessons, Maya fell asleep in the car.  It’s not my fault.  Just because I had the car really warm and that I drove to some extra places on the way home and the vibrations from the car were just right, there is no reason to think that  I may have encouraged it.  We really did need to visit the store that sells patience and hope to parents.

So there I was, home at 6:15pm and Maya is dead asleep in the car.  So I took her into the house and manhandled her into pajamas.  Then I laid her head gently to rest on her pillow and settled in for a nice, one-child evening of watching Survivor.  Once Milo was asleep, we settled into bed ourselves, perhaps entertained ourselves a bit and the night was over.  In theory, that is.

1:15am    – the pitter-patter of small feet wakes me up.  I can’t believe it’s morning already.  Nope.  Maya is too hot to sleep.  Fix her up by reducing the blankets and laying with her for 20 minutes.

2:22am   – “Dad, I can’t sleep in my bed anymore.”  The fact that I wake up is the only clue that I have  that I actually fell back to sleep. Take Maya back to her room, relocate the cat that is purring too loudly from her pillow and lay with her for another 20 minutes.

5:18am   – The icy cold hand touching my neck rips me from deep sleep.  I’ve clearly been dreaming something creepy because I scream in terror.  Loudly.  With my heart pounding in my ears, I launch into a half-hysterical lecture that no, it is still five O-fucking-a clock in the morning and it is not time to eat, nor time to watch tv, not even time to pee.  But it IS time to be asleep.  March Maya back to her room, find the appropriate amount of stuffed animals, move the cat – who is now purring just right apparently – back to the pillow and lay with her for 20 minutes.

6:20am  – accept the fact that I may as well make breakfast and pack the day’s lunches since there is only 10 minutes left before the alarm.  Vow to myself that if she falls asleep in the car tonight I will form a one man orchestra and march around her with drums, kazoos and her ukulele playing Good Day Sunshine as loudly as possible.

Where can I buy a bull horn?