That Way Lies Madness

“Trust people to be who they are, and not who you want them to be.”
~ Richard Templar

The “period during which we function” known more familiarly as life, is full of contradictions. Richard Templar, author of “The Rules to Break” illustrates this clearly in his book. His Rule number 83 says: “Trust everybody”, while Rule number 84 on the very next page states unequivocally: “Trust no one.”

Confusing? On the surface, yes, but once he explains his concepts it makes sense. He theorizes that, “Trust is a wonderful feeling, with all the love and security it brings, so why deny yourself? That way lies madness.” And who in their right mind would choose madness (although I have often thought of it as an interesting alternative to sanity.) But on the next page of his book, he says, “…I can contradict myself if I like”, telling us that “Trust is a personal thing, and it has a lot to do with nuances and intuition about the person in question. Trust people to be who they are, and not who you want them to be.”

Templar argues that “The fact is that you must be a trusting person in order to feel at ease with yourself and life” BUT, and this should be the underlying advice to anyone who takes on life as a hobby: “…there’s no need to be stupid about it.” He says that he has friends that he would trust with his life, but he would not “necessarily let them look after my cat.”

What is a contradiction? On one hand contradictions can be ambiguities and paradoxes; on the darker side, they can be inconsistent and illogical. Ambiguities are hard to define in that they express uncertainty—or “something that can be understood in more than one way”. Paradoxes are enigmatic, puzzling, even mystical. They can readily be defined by one of my favourite sayings: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Inconsistency and things that are not logical are harder to contend with and make trust all that more difficult.

Templar is right on both counts—but I can simplify his wisdom down to a few words: Trust, but don’t be stupid about it.

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm  Comments (17)  
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Worship

Inca Trail 06

Inca Trail (Photo credit: Pedro Martino)

What is that

Sneaking in through the slats

Of the shutters on my dining room windows?

My cat found a place to sit in its slanted presence

In front of the open door~

I am feeling more cheery, zesty even

Could it be?

Tell me it is so—

Has the sun finally decided to show its shiny face?

I am almost afraid to utter its name

Afraid it will be scared away

To hide behind the clouds again

Sun

Sun (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

Its rays lost in the mysterious ether.

I understand the Incas now.

Is the sun showing its face in your neck of the woods–sometimes bliss is just enjoying the sunshine.

Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm  Comments (42)  
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My Family Loves Our Cat

I am thinking about writing a book about the like/dislike relationship I have with the family cat. I got the idea from Richard, Meredith Viera’s husband who just wrote a book called  something like “I Want to Kill the Dog”.  (They were on Dr. Oz  and I did not take notes, thus I may not have the exact title). The dog loves Meredith. The dog does not like Richard. And Meredith admits that the dog has “barking issues”. Richard says the dog never stops barking. So I was inspired. The following offering was written quickly and just off the top of my head and digresses, but I am thinking that part of the  charm of the book will be its digressions. This is just to give you a laugh or two, and is not even in draft form yet.

Tell me–would you read a story about a cat, but really about my family? So here goes nothing:

My family loves our cat. I mean loooooooooves the cat. I do not. Sometimes I like the cat. Sometimes I do not. Like. Him. Much.

Pretty Cat

Not Kitty Bob but close (Photo credit: katsrcool (Kool Cats Photography)

This morning, for example, after everyone had left the house, the cat wanted to play. Or kill me. I am not sure which. He kept pouncing at my legs and lightly plunging his little sharp cat teeth into my calves. He is “cooling his jets” as it were, in the basement right now. I did not like the game, or the attack. I am still trying to decide which it was.

We named our cat Kitty Bob. Not because we are from the southern United States and like names like Bobby Jo, Jim Bob, or John Boy, though they do have a certain rhythm and lovely cadence. Quite simply, we thought the cat was a female so we named it Kitty (original, right?). Once it was exposed as a boy though we added Bob, so he would not get a complex (you know, the boy named Sue complex). It used to be embarrassing to call the cat from the front door. Now, I don’t care.

Naming things is not something I do particularly well. None of my dolls or stuffed animals that I owned or parented as a kid had names, because I could never decide on a name that was good enough or descriptive of their characteristics. I had a big blue bear and a pink and blue poodle—they were known as Bear and Poodle. I had a teenage doll (my mom never bought me a Barbie or it would have been easy to name)—I called her my “teenage doll”. The only doll I had that had a name was Betsy Wetsy because she came with a name and rather dubious habits of hygiene (she wet her diaper). My sister had a doll called “Tear Drops”—I think she cried (at least she didn’t wet herself—though as a kid I liked feeding my doll water and it leaking out of her.)

English: American television journalist and a ...

American television journalist and a former political advisor, George Stephanopoulos  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Fil...

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both of my sons have the name George, the youngest as a first name, the eldest as a second name. I do not like the name George particularly (except for George Clooney, George Stephanopoulos, George of the Jungle,…okay so I do like the name George–just not when it is applied to my boys). I call the boys Adam and Tyler. (Both their grandfathers were named George, except my dad went by his second name because he did not like his first name, so it is his fault I do not want to call the boys George.) You would not believe how hard my husband bartered, begged, cajoled,  lobbied for the name George. And I was being just the tiniest bit stubborn. I thought we were going to go home with no name kids. Anyway, the crux of the matter is I have trouble naming things, people, and animals.

Okay, that is it — doesn’t sound like a barnburner best seller does it–oh well, sometimes bliss is going back to the drawing board…………

Possibility Revisited

~ Champagne  View ~

~ Champagne View ~ (Photo credit: ViaMoi)

Last Monday I posted this quote. This week I am reposting it with some context–it is my weekly column for the newspaper:

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” ~ Margaret Drabble, English author

“Things I Know for Sure” is a topic that Oprah takes on monthly in her magazine. She is sure about a lot of things, but I imagine a column called “Things I Do Not Know For Sure” would have a longevity far outlasting our lives on this earth.

Sure is a strong word, a confident word: one that should not be bandied about lightly. This I know for sure. When you start to work with a word whose cousins are unquestionable, undisputed, certain, definite, unerring, infallible, and accurate among others (sorry to the cousins, better known as synonyms I have left out) then you should be certain of what you are saying. I am hardly ever “certain” of what I am saying, as so many factors make up a situation.

I like Margaret Drabble’s quote that, “When nothing is sure, everything is possible” as it gives you leeway. If you know something for sure there is no wiggle room.  Sometimes you do not need wiggle room, but sometimes you do. And in that wiggle room there is space for possibility.

I am going to take on Oprah’s generous mantle and give you some examples of things that I do know for sure. There are certain givens when it comes to being sure about something—I know for sure that I love a variety of people in my life: my husband and kids and my family among them. But most of us know these things for sure. (Not all of us—some of us were given families that are hard to love—I was lucky in this respect). But here are some other things that I know for sure:

1. Even though this is the last week in February, and it seems like spring will never come– it will. For sure. And it will surprise us. Every year I am surprised when the trees bud and sprout leaves; when the daffodils show their frilly heads; when I no longer have to don coat and hat and mitts and boots to go out the door.

2. Unless there is some other reason to do so, I will always write up this column and council news as the deadline looms dangerously close. I wish I did not know this for sure.

Cat Woman had a Jet too!

Cat Woman had a Jet too! (Photo credit: Felix_Nine)

3. I will never become a cat woman. Or Cat Woman. The first because I only sort of like the cat we have (the one my family loves to bits); and I am too old to be cast in a Batman movie. Also, I am not an actress (though I am not sure this is a real prerequisite to playing Cat Woman). There are a number of other obvious reasons I could not be Cat Woman, but my ego is too fragile to go into them.

4. I will never become a gourmet cook unless I have someone to clean up after me.  Sure, I would love to cook to my heart’s content, and I admit my fast and frenzied time in the kitchen is cut short by the thought of having to clean up the mess I have made. I would even try recipes that have more than five ingredients and three steps if I had someone cleaning up the havoc I have wrought.

5. I will continue to spray Pledge in the air and put the vacuum out to make it smell and look like I care about a clean house. I do care about a clean house, but once I clean it, I would like it to stay that way. What I know for sure: it will never stay that way. (And for good reason—people have to live here.)

6. I know for sure that now that Council is only twice a month, there will be no more surprise meetings of less than an hour. I am sure this will not happen—if we get out of there in less than two hours it is a miracle. Then again, do we want the business of the municipality rushed? I think not—but I do remember those short meetings fondly.

7. I now know for sure that I will not get an exclusive interview with the Queen. First of all she has acquiesced to a number of interviews over the years; and second, it is not in this paper’s budget.

8. I know for sure that I will not be writing a column about all the things that I do not know for sure. I will save that for Volumes 1-13 on the subject. Each a thousand pages. There is a lot I do not know for sure.

So, you and I are just going to have to placate ourselves with the fact that knowing things for sure really does limit possibilities—and who would want that?

Possibility is the ultimate bliss–what do you think?

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm  Comments (45)  
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Finding My Bliss ~ Day 2 ~ January 2, 2013

Hungry Calico kitty named Calleigh

Not Kitty Bob–but close.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cats do not like ketchup. You may wonder how I know this, but I am really quite certain. At least my cat, Kitty Bob, does not like ketchup.

Yesterday, while searching for my bliss, I forgot to buy cat food. I had Kitty Bob’s usual dry food, but I always put a dollop of cat food pâté on top to make it more palatable. I learned this little trick from my neighbours, whose cats I took care of when they went on vacation. At the time I started taking care of their cats, I did not have one of my own. But they gave their cats dry food with a dollop of the pâté. So when Kitty Bob adopted us one November morning about seven years ago, I used this method of feeding.  Kitty Bob has never complained so I must be doing something right.

On occasion I run out of the pâté, and give Kitty Bob some cut up beef or chicken or even gravy to make the dry food a little less dry. He has never complained. Until yesterday. I could not find any leftover meat to give him. Or gravy.

Schedro_ketchup Dansk: Ketchup sælges typisk p...

Heinz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I put the dry food in his dish as he swirled around my feet waiting to be fed. I scoured the fridge for something interesting to put in his food, as he pretty well refuses to eat just dry food. (Spoiled you say? For Sure.) I spied some ketchup.  It was NoName, not even Heinz (which is made in the next town over so I should be ashamed of myself.) So, I thought I would try it. I did not go overboard, just added a nice amount.

I put the dish down. He eagerly went over to it ready to chow down. He looked at it. He smelled it. Then he took a step back, and turned his head slowly to look at me. I told him to try it, it was good. So he moved forward again, trusting me. But he just could not eat it. The look on his face said it all. Disappointment. Hunger. Disappointment again.

He left the room and ran into the living room to sit on his latest favourite perch which is a table by the front door. It was cold out. Kitty Bob does not like the cold—but I think he was thinking that a little bird would be more luscious than what I was serving up.

I took his dish and cleaned it out. I left no trace of ketchup—just poured some more dry food in and left it for him. I am pretty sure he did not touch it. When I told my husband I thought he was going to split a gut. He thought it was so funny that Kitty Bob was so discerning. Then he went to the store and bought some cat pâté to go over the dry food. He is a sucker for the cat. He will do anything for that cat.

So my husband brought home the pâté and put it on the dry food. The cat then deigned to eat it. I believe he may have royal blood. The cat had found his bliss.

So, since this year is going to be the year I find my bliss, I will share it with those around me, and consider it a day well done. If someone in my household is blissful, then so am I.

Have you ever found your bliss in strange places?

Published in: on January 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm  Comments (62)  
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My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown (Photo credit: Elizabeth/Table4Five)

Last year I was about to buy a new Christmas tree when I had a conversation with my son who is away at college. That conversation resulted in this offering (slightly edited for you) which I wrote for my weekly newspaper column.  As I get ready to put up the tree this year, I am not even thinking about getting a new tree–the die is cast–and until it falls apart, it will be part and parcel of our Christmas traditions.

The decision has been made. No new Christmas tree this year. I bandied the idea about and even went so far as to look at some of those fancy pre-lit trees. But I talked to my youngest son, Tyler, who is coming home in a couple of weeks from college, and he said no to a new tree. He wanted our traditional, though far past its prime, spindly Christmas tree. I call it our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as I have to finagle with the branches to get them not to droop, and wedge it back into a corner, forcing all of its branches forward, thus producing a thicker, more (seemingly) luxurious tree.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that if I want a new tree, I should get a new tree, and not necessarily listen to the nostalgic whims of my son. But, I too, had doubts about getting a new tree. And some of the new ones I looked at were really no better than the one I have, once I put my magic spell on it.

I decorate our Christmas tree as if there is no tomorrow. The branches are layered with ornaments we have received over the years. Homemade and store-bought share space on a tree that groans under their weight.  But the stars of the show are all the decorations that both my sons have made over the years, carefully wrapped in tissue until they are brought out  to be placed lovingly on the tree.

Macaroni sprayed gold and arranged in wreath shapes, reindeer made from those old large Christmas light bulbs with antlers shaped out of chenille pipe cleaners, sleighs cleverly fashioned from popsicle sticks, tissue paper stained glass bells and stars, and pinecones with glitter galore will adorn our tree again this year. Of course we have a million other ornaments, each imbued with memories, or just purchased because we liked them. But really, our tree, like yours, is just an excuse to walk down memory lane for a few weeks in the dark bleak midwinter.

In honour of our cat, we don’t put tinsel on our tree, as a choking cat is not a festive thing to see—and as the rest of the members of my family are quite taken with Kitty Bob, I make this exception without much regret. But if that cat does to the tree what he did to the tree last year, one of his lives is going to be threatened. Thankfully a teddy bear took the brunt of his indiscretion and could be thrown in the washing machine, but I was none too happy.

On a more festive note, once I wrestle the lights onto my “old” un-pre-lit tree, the rest is gravy.  At one time I made my husband do this job, as I found it frustrating. Now I just wind the lights around the tree in a “come what may” fashion, and they actually look better than if I do it carefully. I have learned over the years that by dressing the tree with about a thousand ornaments, those obnoxious wires will effectively be hidden from sight.

A Christmas tree, no matter how battered, is the repository of memories past, present, and future. Maybe next year I will get a fancy dancey pre-lit tree that has all its branches, but this year I will be happy with what I have.

(Note: 1. This is next year, and I will not be getting a fancy dancey pre-lit tree. 2. The cat did not do the unspeakable to the tree last year.)

What traditions do you have that cannot be broken?

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random Things

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort.

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cristian Mihai wrote a blog with ten random things about himself and he got 150 likes and over 50 comments, so I thought I would give it a try to see if I can garner stats like that–so far only my About page has come close to that in “likes”, over a period of a year, not a day. (I have had some good “like” days, but never 150).

So here they are:

1. Like Cristian, I thought driving was too complicated, so did not get my licence until I was 35. Cristian is right, driving is too complicated.

2. I went to University until I was 27.

3. I love frozen Hostess chocolate cupcakes (the ones with the squiggle on top). I deny myself this treat until I can deny myself no longer.

4. I love watching General Hospital. This is a very difficult thing to reveal as it is my guilty pleasure. I have been watching it since I was fourteen. I gave it up for years cause it got weird (someone froze Port Charles or something)–and I don’t get to watch it everyday–but my answer to all of those who scoff at soaps — it does not kill your brain cells. This btw is my big reveal.

5. I love to read cook books. I don’t love to cook. Actually the cooking part is okay, it is the cleaning up part. I can channel my favourite food network cooks and chefs all I want for inspiration, but I know they do not have to clean up their messes.

6. I am not half as interesting as some of my favourite bloggers, but that does not stop me from posting.

7. I love the fall and all things autumnal. I love the word “autumnal”.

8. I was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth, just lots and lots of years later. I consider her my soul sister. Can two very white women be soul sisters? I think so.

9. I have noticed that when I make a posting–if it is one where I need to be bolstered, the blogging community goes all out with kindness and compassion.

10. Despite what I write about my cat, I really do like him.

There you have it — ten things you could have lived your life quite happily without knowing.

 

Or Not

Carl Sanburg's house where he lived while he w...

Carl Sandburg’s house. Now a Chicago landmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It is necessary ….for a man to go away by himself …to sit on a rock…and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?’”* So said Carl Sandburg. My answer: “Or not.” Admittedly a succinct, even superficial response, nonetheless I sometimes wonder if we should really be so navel gazing. I have noticed in my numerous decades on this earth, that too much introspection can be harmful, and that those who do not put in the time to ask the questions that Sandburg put forth are perhaps happier than those of us who delve into these depths.

According to Wikipedia (that repository of somewhat questionable knowledge for the lazy), Carl Sandburg was born in 1878 and was the recipient of not one, not two, but three Pulitzer prizes. He was a much celebrated writer and editor–so, he can be forgiven for being a deep thinker—it obviously paid off for him. But I am still wondering about his choice of a rock to sit on to contemplate his wherewithal.  Why not a couch before a roaring fire, or a comfortable bench overlooking the park, or even a sandy beach? It seems we need to contemplate life from a hard place, or the proverbial spot between it and a rock.

Of course I am not a great philosopher (or even a poor one), but if I take my cues from my cat, strangely named Kitty Bob (try shouting that out your front door when you want your cat to come home), I note that he takes no comfort from hard places, nor do I think that he contemplates life much beyond eating, sleeping, partying hardy all night away from the house, and getting all the attention in the world from three of the four members of this household (yes, I am the holdout—but in my defence I feed him and clean out his litter box, and on occasion at the urging of those who love him, pet him).

Now, I am not saying we should all act like cats (or maybe I am), but a house cat with a good home and people who love him, has it made in the shade. (What would this post be without its clichés—I am single-handedly bringing them back into vogue).  My cat thinks he owns the place, and in essence he does. Pretty well anything Kitty Bob wants, KB gets. Here is an excerpt from some of the conversations that go on around this house all concerning the cat:

1. “Oh, let the Kitty Bob sit in your chair. You don’t need to work at your desk right now, do you?” (For some reason Kitty Bob has taken to sitting in my desk chair of late, and is quite put out when I have to move him.) He is very indignant when I unceremoniously dump him out of my chair and he must sit somewhere else, and it seems the members of this family think he should be able to sit where he pleases too. (For those of you taken aback at my dumping him out of my chair—really, I just gently lift him out and put him in another chair—I don’t want the Pet Police after me.)

2. “Kitty Bob likes sitting on my suitcase—I’ll get him another one to sit on, so he will be happy.” It seems that Kitty Bob’s happiness is a priority at my house. No rock for this guy. The back story: When my youngest son Tyler was home for Thanksgiving, he left his suitcase laying out flat in the hallway upstairs and Kitty Bob started to use it as his comfortable place to nest, so that when Ty needed to gather it up to go back to school, he went and found another suitcase (mine!) for the cat to lie on. And the cat is still using it as his upstairs “getaway” every day—taking his leisurely naps on it. He does leave it to eat and do his duty, but he spends hours on this suitcase. Who knew?

3. “Pet the Kitty Bob, mom, he wants you to pet him.” I do not think the cat cares if I pet him, but I give him attention to make the other humans at this house happy. And their response always is: “See, he is starting to purr, he doesn’t purr when I hold him.” The secret here is that I feed the cat; the cat knows that I am the purveyor of all things “meow mix” so of course he purrs–he wants to be fed, and he recognizes me as the giver of food.

Anyway, my whole point in this is–why go sit on a rock, question life, ruminate over your failures, and make plans to make your life more worthy if you are a cat? It is just us foolish humans who have not yet found the meaning of life: eating, sleeping, and getting a lot of love, who need to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to ask life’s questions.

*Thanks to grosenberg.wordpress.com for the quote.

Comforts ~ Day 6 Or I Did Not Kill the Cat!

bob

bob (Photo credit: kittykatfish)

I know this is not a very good title for a post about gratefulness. But I am going to be speaking on behalf of the family cat, Kitty Bob today. I am translating for him because I know he is very grateful. So in Kitty Bob’s words:

1.  I am grateful that my mistress did not use up one of my nine lives this morning after I peed on some very important papers that took her hours and hours of work to complete. They had mostly numbers on them and not words, so I know it was not the work she likes to do, but the work she has to do that I relieved myself on. I have heard her say many times that she does not like doing bookwork so I thought she would not mind. She did.

2.  I am overjoyed that my mistress did not bundle me up in a bag, tie it with twine and put me in the car and take me to the country and drop me off. I would have probably found my way back, but I do not think the reception would have been very warm.

3. I am thankful that she just yelled at me put and me in the basement and closed the door. I know she will feed me and she will forgive me as she always does. I also know that the three males in the family love me to death and will sneak me treat and hugs while I am being punished.

“I vow to make my mistress happy and to never pee on anything that should not be peed on again.” ~ Kitty Bob (my mistress made me say this, but there are just no guarantees—a cat has got to do what a cat has got to do.)

Published in: on August 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm  Comments (64)  
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Day 9 ~ 200 Words

Bob the Cat

Bob the Cat (Photo credit: CJ Sorg)

Kitty Bob is our family cat. My two sons and husband love this cat—I mean they really LOVE it. I like the cat. Therein lies the rub.

From my oldest son, I hear: “Mom, the cat is trying to get your attention. Pet the cat, he thinks you don’t love him.”

“Honey, look at the cat. The little kitty wants you to pet him. Isn’t he cute?” says my husband, known in some circles as the Cat Whisperer.

“Mom look, Kitty Bob loves you,” my youngest son will say, trying to get me to engage with the feline.

I am not taken in by these things. I know what the cat wants. The cat wants to be fed. All the time. The cat does not want me to pet him. He knows I am the keeper of the Meow Mix, and the only reason he rubs against my legs is to get me to feed him. It is ironic, that the only person in the house not in love with the cat is the only one who feeds him.

I feel deficient sometimes, like I am missing a gene or something.

Published in: on July 14, 2012 at 1:31 am  Comments (44)  
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