Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Good coffee is a thing of beauty

There's nothing like a good cup of coffee to start the day off and make me feel about as joyful as these kids.

My old coffeemaker died a couple of months ago and since I was still anticipating a possible major life change where I wouldn't need such a thing, I put off buying a new one and have used a single-cup cone filter. OK coffee, but variable from day to day.

I spent last week in California considering this major life change and, in the end, decided I was better off staying where I am. I had rather a whirlwind of a trip -- total of 6 days, including two days of driving -- but it was enough and while I could have stayed an extra day, I opted to drive on  home. I was ready. Pretty tiring trip for an old broad like me, though the body and mind handled it better than I expected. It's been almost two years since I'd made this trip, so I wasn't sure what to expect with all the fatigue and lack of energy I've had in recent months.

I vegetated for a few days afterwards -- recouping from the entire 6 days -- but since I had to do a bit of grocery shopping in order to eat, I also researched coffee makers and found one I wanted available at the local WalMart. Small drip coffeemaker. Nothing special, just small. After a few days of trial and error, how much coffee for my large mug, one or two filters, today I think I have found the perfect recipe.

Two filters, definitely. I learned this trick back in 2000 when I worked for the president and winemaker of a good Napa Valley winery. One morning I was making coffee and he came in and suggested I use two filters. In his lovely French accent and winemaker terminology, he explained that two filters gives the coffee more time to 'macerate'. This was a new concept to me, but he was right. The coffee and the water stay in contact longer, plus the two filters seem to create an end result that has less residue even though the coffee is strong. Perfect!

So, now that I'm apparently here to stay (and not at all sorry about that), I need to turn my attention to many other things that have been on hold for these months as the decision hovered over my life. It feels good.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Time out

She doesn't know it, but she's been given a reprieve from wearing the dreaded halter and traveling many hours in the car.

I decided to leave her here, with the neighbor across the hall (a cat lover) coming in to feed and play with her. I doubt she'll even miss me.

She was sick for a month or so and during that time came to refuse food she'd been happily eating for a long time. I think she somehow associated the smell of that food with illness. She often tossed it up after eating, though the problem wasn't with the food. But, she didn't know that and instinct probably took over. Now, she's gotten really fussy. I bought new brands and flavors of canned food. Open them up, she loves them for a day or so, then acts like it's poison. This is pricey cat food, and I'm about to just let her have a diet of all dry food. Tired of wasting money and effort.

She also just had her first 'time out' this morning, and it seems to have worked. She was having a hissy-fit for an hour or so after I gave her food she sniffed and didn't want. Doing things she knows are off-limits. Showing me who's boss. So I put her into her carrier for 5 minutes or so. First she was quiet, then she rattled the door trying to make it open. When she got quiet again, I let her out and she immediately followed me, seemed contrite, then hopped up on the bed for her usual morning nap.

Since today is Easter Sunday, and I'm a Buddhist, it seems appropriate to post a link to a BBC documentary entitled Jesus was a Buddhist. The evidence seems pretty convincing, really. But if it's not your thing, that's OK too. We each have to follow our own truth and conscience and I make no judgment about paths others walk.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Training harness

She may look calm, but she's just resting up for more battles. This is one seriously unhappy cat! Took her to the vet first thing this morning because she's been doing all kinds of weird stuff around food and digestion for a month or more, particularly yesterday. So I decided the cost would be worth knowing she was OK. I suspect that she was on her way to improvement anyway, but at any rate the doc couldn't find anything but made a few suggestions. At least I know she's not in imminent danger of death for lack of help. Took her a few hours to forgive me for that one.

And then -- I decided she needs to learn to wear/walk with the harness. Gave her plenty of good exercise when I first got it on, running around the house trying to get away from it. Rolling on the floor, scratching at it. Nothing worked. So she's resting up from all that, but I'm sure the battle is not over. I do think I may get a different halter, a different design, before actually taking her outside with it, but this one will do for learning to explore the hallways on the leash. Not today!

I'm headed to California for a week next month, and have been debating for a couple of months whether to board her ($$$), let a neighbor feed her (she'd get really lonely, already doesn't like it when I leave her even for a short walk outside) or find a way to take her with me. I'm still debating, but at the moment, taking her seems to be winning. I'll have to keep her in a cage for the 4-5 days we're there, but it's a big cage and she seemed quite happy in the cage at the shelter when I got her. There's a nice covered and protected gazebo right outside the kitchen door there, and I can put the cage there, take her out for walks and attention during the day. Get some tranquilizers for the two long car trips. Those work well for cats who don't travel well, and she is terrified when I put her in the carrier and into the car.

The things we do for the lovable little critters in our lives. 😸 Or should I say, the things they manipulate us into doing for them. Much more accurate.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quiet morning at the ponds

The ponds can be especially beautiful in early mornings, any season. This is a photo from fall -- last year? Year before? Doesn't matter. It's timeless.

I didn't make it out quite this early today, but early enough that it was quiet, other than the geese flying around and honking. Many signs of spring out there. I hadn't planned a walk today -- the body is whining a bit because I've really pushed the yoga and stretches for a couple of weeks -- but a gentle stroll in nature is always a good thing. Plus, the day dawned without rain and the cold sunshine beckoned. There will be rain later, no doubt. It's that time of year.

Life goes well here. I still have some asthma brought on by exercise, after the bout of bronchitis, or whatever it was. It's getting better, though, and doesn't stop me from walking. Merely slows me down. I go years, decades without this making its presence known in my life, but it's always there, lurking, waiting for something to trigger it. But it also always goes away and I expect it'll do that this time as well. Just a matter of when.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Boredom and hall crawls

So, in an effort to stop myself from time-wasting, eye-straining and wrist/shoulder straining, I've deleted all games from my little tablet and removed them from easy access on the computer. If it comes down to it, I will disable them on the computer, but I don't think that'll happen. Merely stopping at the first impulse should be sufficient.

Drastic? Yes, perhaps. But with me, it often takes drastic measures to effect a change, especially a change that has to do with idle wasting of time, or keeping the mind/body occupied by doing nothing.

Boredom has led me to play with the tablet while watching TV in the evening, and that's certainly not good for the eyes or conducive to sleep.  A long-standing (decades!) habit of playing the darned things has in the past led to repetitive-motion issues with my wrist, which eventually extended to the elbow and beyond.  I stopped/slowed down the habit.  Then a few years ago I slipped up and that eventually led to muscle issues in the upper arm and neck. So I slowed down again. Stopped for 3 entire months last summer, no problem.

But it's going to take me awhile to completely lose the itch permanently, so I thought I might as well start right now. Like all other things that need to be let go, it's fascinating to observe how the mind reacts, when it gets an urge and reflex wants to move the arm to make it happen, and again when I don't allow that reflex to follow through.

I often have trouble finding enough to do to fill those empty moments, but I'm noticing that an easy thing to do is simply get out of the chair and move the body. Doesn't matter how -- just move it. Stretches, yoga, balance exercises, body-weight exercises like push-ups and squats, core exercises. And more and more often, I'm taking to 'walking the halls' of this building. Including going up and down the stairs at each end and the middle. All help fill the time.

Yesterday, during one hall crawl, I stopped in the exercise room and used a bike machine that also works the arms, for awhile. I don't like to use that too early in the morning, because there are apartments on either side and the machine is rather noisy. Eventually, once the body becomes stronger after this recent bronchitis episode, and once the weather seems conducive, I'll graduate to walking outdoors once again.

Friday, January 12, 2018


The usual reaction to the big bad noise machine (AKA the vacuum cleaner)

We can add this to the list of things I'm having trouble wanting to leave behind. I had thought it would be easy to merely return her to the shelter, which would find her another good home. That's still possible, and they would care for her forever if need be, but it's more complicated than that.

She was about a year old when I got her, which is a little over one year ago. During that first year she was seemingly raised inside and, in my opinion, around kids. People who played with her, because she loves interactive play. Somehow, she ended up on the streets and eventually turned into the shelter by a woman who found her and took her in briefly. I'm not sure how long she was at the shelter, but she had to wait out the period of time when an owner might claim her, at some point got a good medical checkup and tests for bad cat diseases, and the necessary preventive inoculations. Plus, being spayed. After healing from that, she ended up ready for adoption. Still a kitten when it all started, though not a tiny kitten.

It took her over a year to begin to really trust me. I didn't realize that until I began noticing new signs of affection from her. She's changed, for the better. Much more loving, more trusting. She's apparently locked onto me as her person. All of which makes the idea of returning her to the shelter, then being adopted by yet another person or family, seem rather cruel.

The solution seems to be to try and negotiate taking her with me, if indeed I decide to make this big change. Not sure how successful I'll be, but -- my famous mantra in life -- the worst they can do is say 'no'.

And for those of you who are curious, please know that this is a lengthy thought process, lengthened by weather and other people's busy schedules and travels. I doubt that a final decision will be reached before April or May, and I'm unlikely to offer more details until then. Sorry -- but please know that if I decide to do this, it will be a really good thing for me. In many ways. So, no worries!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Our crazy minds

So. I'm on the cusp of making a really big life decision. It's a decision that will bring major changes, including giving up most material possessions and foregoing entertainment. I can still keep my car, personal necessities, income, can use some kitchen stuff but not others.

I bring this up without further information because it's been really fascinating to watch my mind as I've been mulling this over, watching where resistances come in. Resistance to giving things up. I already knew I could deal with the big stuff, or I wouldn't even be contemplating the change. But I've had a giggle or two about some of the small stuff.

Like, my really nice burr coffee grinder. Probably too noisy to take with me. And my beloved heavy-duty KitchenAid mixer. Could take it, but not sure if it would be at all useful. That's actually where the resistance comes up the worst. That mixer. What do I do, give it to Goodwill? Doing that would certainly be good for me, in terms of learning to let go of material things that aren't useful. But I'd hate it. Fight it.

Giving up watching college football is also something I'm struggling with. I can/will do it, of course, but I haven't missed an Oregon game in years, and don't look forward to starting this year. I can always follow the news and know how they're doing, of course, but not the same as watching. I especially get a giggle over this resistance. The strength of it.

Everything else is just stuff. Most of it came from Goodwill anyway.

No real decision will be made for a couple of months, or maybe more, as I sit with this and mull it over every possible way. Sorry to leave you in limbo until then. 😼

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas or..... whatever

The view from my desk chair this morning. Sun just beginning to break through the fog. Damp outside, but above freezing, which is good. Had a little freezing rain yesterday morning, which I had to scrape from my windshields in order to visit the grocery for a little comfort food. Did not want to see it continue and have another big ice storm like last winter!

Whatever you celebrate today, or if you are in the Bah Humbug! category (like me), have a wonderful day, filled with kindness and love and peace.

Friday, December 15, 2017


Hallelujah! Tonight the new white mouse made it to favored status in the food dish, along with a couple of plastic milk jug rings and the beloved blankie.

This is real progress. Prior to now, she's been fairly indifferent to this mouse. But tonight after a friend left I dug it out of the pile and tossed it for her. She immediately acted as if she loved it.

Didn't  play with it, just mouthed a couple of times, picked it up in her mouth and headed for the kitchen (where I found it shortly thereafter) then came back and settled into her chair for a nap.

This is a big deal in her world, and consequently in mine. Perhaps there will be peace now.

The blankie, incidentally, made it to the dish before my friend left and we laughed watching her drag this blanket by a very strange gait, keeping her feet from stepping on it as she dragged it behind her. I've seen this before, but the first time for my buddy.

Maybe she'll stop staring at me now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dead mousie

Remember this bedraggled little white mouse toy? Well, it's been the source of a lot of frustration, begging and general trauma for Kat over the last two days.

And for me as a side effect.

It all started yesterday morning. I was meditating, heard Kat and the rattle of this toy as she batted it into the room and near where I was seated. Once my time was up, I noticed an unfamiliar dark object nearby, where Kat had been playing with the mouse. Picked it up and it was the 'innards' of the toy. A vaguely mouse-shaped plastic shape with a rattle inside it.

So I thought, OK, maybe now she'll use the identical replacement I bought for her last week, that's mostly been ignored.

Not a chance.

As the day went on yesterday the begging and pleading got worse and worse. I looked everywhere for the fuzzy remnants of the mouse, thinking I'd sew it back together. But I still haven't found it. And she's still been  begging and pleading and crying pitifully all day again today. She's clearly begging me to do something, also keeps pawing at the space under the fridge where I often have to dig toys out for her. But I keep looking, and there's nothing there. I can't imagine anything else that she'd be wanting me to fix.

I've tried to offer the new one, but she sniffs and walks away. Tonight, I tried her tactics. Dipped it in her water dish and blotted it mostly dry. She sniffed with some interest, but eventually walked away. I rubbed it on the carpet inside her carrier, where she sleeps a lot, rubbed it in her food dish and left it there. Trying to make it smell familiar, like her instead of whatever it smells like when new. Have I succeeded? Only time will tell. She gave up and took a nap.