Rind of Life?

I fully expected that my acclimation to retirement would be fraught with inner conflict and turmoil as I transitioned from working 40+hours to being idle, but I have found it to be just the opposite. I am filled with such peace and clarity! My day is full enough and can be fuller or more low key, determined by my energy level rather than my to do list.
Something akin to the lifting of the hormonal fog after my hysterectomy I can see and understand to the depths of an issue and patience abounds. Stuffing your life into the hours remaining after your career has sucked up your allotted 24, seems so intolerable now. The people who choose Alaskan subsistence living over the career path make so much sense! Making a decision with a thin understanding but because a decision is necessary can only breed dysfunctionality.
We so often live on the shriveled rind of life while the true fruit withers and dies just below the surface.

Ghastly Ghost

The feral cat problem is a tragic situation with little hope of ending anytime soon, but when I see a suffering animal I try to take some action. I know that feeding strays is wrong but I have fed them because they are a creature of God I should try to lessen their suffering. Such is the case this week when I saw a cat my daughter named Ishmael showed signs of an upper respiratory problem. I know those are a symptom of worse diseases like leukemia or feline HIV.

So I contacted the local shelter, brought home a trap and set it up in an effort to take the poor thing to the shelter. (And yes, I understand his fate, but such has to be balanced with his quality of life and suffering and spreading these deadly diseases.)

First night, I’m watching TV, I hear the noisy slam of the trap door and I rush out the check my query only to find…..the wrong cat. It is a beautiful long haired gray who looks all cuddly and sweet…..well she was giving me the equivalent of a good feline cussing right at the moment, but she looks like the cat from around the corner and very healthy. So I let her go, whoosh! She’s off with no looking back. I reset the trap and go to bed.

Early the next morning I hear the door clang again! “Bingo,” I think! “GOTCHA!”
Nope……same damn stupid cat.

“Really?” I say. “Really? You didn’t learn anything? Aren’t you embarrassed?” I was embarrassed for the cat; it had blown my idea of feline superiority over dogs out of the water. To get caught in the same trap twice was humiliating. I let the trap door slam noisily shut on its exit to frighten it and maybe sear this life lesson in its little brain.

I reset the trap for the next night, 4:30 am. “Bam” again! Slightly leery I go out into the early morning having already decided if it was the “Stupid Cat” I was going to leave it incarcerated until day break.  OMG it is a pissed off and pissed on raccoon. The little fella had peed all over the place and things were flying ….arms, legs, tail, and cat food!

The moment it saw me it froze. I sat down to observe, because I had never been this close to a wild raccoon, and to consider my options. He was good at the staring game, not even a blink. After a few minutes he begins panting, it must really be stressed. Poor thing I didn’t want to relocate it because of the pee, plus it might be someone’s momma. So I decided to let it go too, but not until after it gave me the raccoon equivalent of the cussing that the “Stupid Cat” had given me.

After cleaning up the raccoon wee I reset the trap for the next for the next night. Again, early morning hours “Bam!” Got something again!

This was something cat horror stories are created from…..I do not know if its eyeball was in there, all that was left was a red socket. It turned its head widely, scanning with its good eye and when it saw me it exploded in a fit of hissing and screaming and paw swiping I was afraid would wake the neighborhood. I backed up to be less of a threat and after a moment it calmed down, but the head scanning was unnerving. I had a feeling it didn’t see well with the eye that was left.

It might have been a white and gray long hair Persian type but its fur was so dirty and lacking in contrast that it made me think of a ghost. It was a “ghastly ghost”, with two paws in the grave already. Its nose was scared, its ears torn; I could only think this was an old Tom, driven to the same battleground time and time again by hormones and instinct.

A towel calmed him for the ride to the shelter, and my heart was heavy, but I knew he would suffer no more.

“Jesus, lift him up to kitty heaven he is so tired and sick. Amen.”

Hawking

I have been watching two young and beautiful Red Shouldered Hawks learning to hunt. Their adult feathers are just coming in, they look like they are wearing pantaloons and they are as awkward as teenagers! Their prey has been worms and bugs but they swoop and attack with such intensity it is comical. Their tiny protein morsels will soon give way to the rabbits and squirrels in their small domain and they will become more stealthy and refined, but now they are hovering and running and missing the fence and so just too fun to watch.

I understand that hawks can easily adapt to suburban life and it was been nice to see my neighbors stop for a moment and watch their antics with awe and amazement.

The hawk’s adaptation is good for all of us.Image

They came knocking, knocking

Yesterday morning a couple of nice gentlemen from a religious congregation showed up at my door at 9:30. Early risers, they are ….

I was still in my PJs, my hair standing on end because I had been out late the night before . . . the martinis were . . . really good….

The day before my dermatologist froze a spot on my upper chest, and it was a huge, quarter sized seeping blister, hanging there ready to explode . . . .
I opened my door, and they tried to not look shocked…..

One gentleman had a cane; the other looked like a nightclub bouncer.

I listened to what they had to say, and then my security alarm went off.
I went and turned it off, came back, they persisted.
My cell phone rang, I quieted it, they continued.
My cat made a dive for the open door and ran ungracefully into my bare foot. They persisted.
My house phone rang. Finally, the man with the cane, said, “we should let you get that, please accept this pamphlet . . . .”

Those guys suffered, bad. They tried. I hope they get lots of “points” for entry into heaven or however that works for them.

I wish they knew to not visit retired ladies houses before noon, and leave the bouncer sized dude at the tabernacle, scared me to death!
You know those little wimpy “Elder Dave” and “Elder Mark” guys in white shirts? (Why do they all have the same first name?)
I think I could take them down, even in my PJs!
But the bouncer guy, he made me nervous!

After a while I realized how funny the whole thing was!!

I also realized I’ve missed all of these wonderful people who come to my door, while working all these years:
Hoover vacuum salesman (didn’t even know they still did that!)
A Republicans for Something organization
Time Warner sales man (wish he had come with the AT&T U-verse salesman, now that would be interesting)
Church of Eternal Light
The Elder guys
Just to name a few . . . . . .

“God helps those who help themselves”

Yes, I know it isn’t a biblical quote; instead it is one of Aesop’s fables about Hercules and the Waggoner. See the Waggoner got his wagon stuck in the mud so he got off, threw down his whip, and prayed to Hercules to get him out of the mud. But Hercules appeared to him and said, “Dude, put your shoulder to the wheel and get yourself out!” Thus Aesop’s moral was “the gods help those who help themselves.” Somewhere I read that Benjamin Franklin caused the confusion about gods/God, but the phrase like many maxims has POWER regardless of who wrote it.

You can fall down in the middle of the road and lay there asking for someone to pick you up. But, why would you? You could pray for strength if your body is all scuffed up, or confidence that you can’t actually “die from embarrassment”, but why wouldn’t you take the initiative to crawl up on your hands and knees and get yourself up?

If you want something to happen then you have to make it happen, by force of will, or faith that you can “do all things through Christ” but you still have to make the first move. You still have to act on that faith. You have to light that fire! If you don’t do it no one else can do it for you. No amount of prodding on my part will light the fire under you! Not my praying, nor cajoling, nor threatening will change anything; I could talk until I’m blue in the face (trust me, I know this because I had a teenager once upon a time) but until it becomes YOUR desire, YOUR passion it’s all dust in the wind.

Derby Weekend

I had a fantastic day; I watched the sun come up, started to go out and fill the bird feeder and didn’t get around to it until 8pm.

I bought more mulch, red this time, and pots for my burro’s tail pots, I cleaned out more flowerbeds and prepped for mulch, I created a worm box, so I can grow my own fishing worms, and use the run off to fertilize my garden! I trimmed the Japanese maple and added my little elf statues. Even had a visitor, bought a salad for lunch and ate it out on my back patio! I bought top soil to fill the dead spots in the front yard and fixed the bird feeder again that the squirrel has destroyed.

I worked really hard, like when I didn’t have time, like before I retired. I don’t know why I did so much. Am I still prisoner to the time monster? There have been some days that I haven’t had the desire to do anything all day; and in spite of the fact that I say that I am free to do as I please, I still feel a twinge of guilt for doing nothing.

I am beginning to imagine my life has been done like a fast forward pencil sketch, but now I have the time to fill in the details. Will there be strike-throughs and eraser smudges? What details would I have filled in with my daughter’s childhood were I given the time back now?

Saturday I spent part of Derby Day with friends (Thanks for feeding me again Carol!) then took a drive to Deam Lake to see a friend camping in the horsemen’s camping area. There were mules in abundance including 4 mini-mules, or dwarf mules. They had pulled a cart in the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade on Thursday. They were the size of a miniature horse, and had been sheared to the point of looking like grey velvet. They were gentle and sweet, with markings that looked like they had been painted on with a brush. God’s artwork. I didn’t take my camera . . .