Thursday, January 24, 2013

The cat who does not walk by herself

Our cat Red has become the talk of the neighborhood—she's the cat who goes for walks along with the family dog. People are always asking me, "Is that your cat?" and, "How did you get her to do that?" The answers are "Yes," and, "I didn't—it was her idea."

Princess Red is our newest cat, but not our youngest. She used to belong to our neighbors, who got her from a shelter. When they moved to an apartment that didn't take cats (or so they said), they asked if we would take her. After all, we already had three cats; obviously we were cat lovers.
Four cats seemed like verging on crazy-cat-lady territory... but we hated the thought of her going back to a shelter. And that was right when the economy had hit a point where there were news stories of shelters being overrun with pets from people who'd lost their homes to foreclosure. So we accepted her.
The neighbors had complained that she would "get in your face." Well, she does—but only when she wants some petting. If I'm sitting in the recliner, she'll climb up onto my chest—yes, her face in my face—and purr and purr and insist on being petted. However, if I give her what she wants, after a few minutes she's contented and jumps down. She just knows how to ask for what she needs.
I know she's had at least two owners before us... possibly as many as four. She was six years old when she came to us. She's had several names too. The neighbors called her "Lady," which was appropriate, but my husband didn't like it and came up with "Red." I'm the one who added the honorific "Princess."
Soon after we took her in, she started following me and the dog, Butch, when we left for our walks. At first she didn't follow very far. The neighbors had kept her inside, so she didn't know the neighborhood. But I thought it was cute, so I would encourage her and call her and slow down the dog as far as I could coax her along.
Gradually, she followed us farther and farther. Sometimes she fell behind early, if something scared her—a dog, children, lawn equipment—but one day she followed us on our entire walk. And soon after that it was so routine for her that she was waiting at the front door for me to get home from work. Walk time!
Like everyone else, I wonder why she does it. Sometimes it's a real workout for her—her legs are so much shorter than mine and even the dog's. Cars and kids and dogs frighten her along the way. But still she persists.
Naturally I've gone pop-psych and speculated that she has abandonment issues and doesn't want to be left behind. She cried so piteously the first time I took her to the vet, I was sure she thought I was returning her to the shelter. Especially when she didn't cry at all on the drive home.
But maybe that's anthropomorphizing. You would think she'd have gotten over it by now, more than two years after we took her in. And that wouldn't explain her clearly anticipating the walk when I get home from work.
Red is at least part Maine Coon, the first cat I've ever had that wasn't a domestic shorthair. I've read that they're more sociable than the average cat. Maybe that's part of ittoo muchshe wants to be included in the fun.
A vet once told me that there as many cat personalities as people personalities. All I know for sure is, Red just wants to go. She'll fall behind, but then she'll run to catch up, darting under the dog's leash and letting her tail brush it as if it's a finish line tape, and then she'll roll on the sidewalk for a tummy rub.
I guess she just got the cat personality that likes to go for walks. Maybe that's all the "why" I should ask for.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


A week ago Tuesday I was RAPT for the first time.

Someone I don't even know gave me a knitting pattern electronically via the Ravelry pattern store. She had read one of my posts about losing my job, and wanted to help make my week better. I love that!!

RAPT stands for "Random Act of Pattern Tuesday," a takeoff on the phrase "random act of kindness." A Ravelry user chooses another Ravelry user, scrolls through their pattern wish list, and purchases one for them.

The consensus is that this idea originated with late blogger and designer Karrie Steinmetz, aka KnitPurlGurl. [This link may fail... there's no telling how long her family will leave the blog up.] Since her unexpected death last November, her readers and fans have been perpetuating the practice in her honor.

So what was I given? The pattern for the beekeeper's quilt by tiny owl knits. Isn't it cute? It's very popular on Ravelry because the work is portable until assembly, and you can make all the "hexipuffs" out of bits and bobs of yarn—ideal for me, since I can get started with leftover yarns I have stored away. (Yarn is NOT in my budget while I'm unemployed!)

Here's my very first hexipuff. I made it with yarn left over from a hat I made for my sister. I actually dyed this yarn, and it was my first dyeing project as well. I have plenty left over from the hat.

I confess, when I first heard of Random Acts of Patterns, I thought it was cute, but on the other hand I was a little cynical. OK, I had a bitter thought: "No one's ever given ME a pattern." Yeah, I'm selfish like that.
Well, now they have, and now I sort of get it.
Maybe when I find a new job, one of the things I'll do to celebrate is send someone a pattern.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I lost my job Friday, January 11, when my employer abruptly went out of business.

Now it's Sunday evening*, and I think it's just started to hit me in the last few hours. I feel heavy, like the Earth's gravity suddenly doubled.

To add insult to injury, I still have to go in to the office tomorrow... a handful of us were tapped to box up files and whatnot. I'd rather cocoon for a day or two. Or on a practical level, get busy searching for a new job. (Not to say I haven't paged through job listings already...)

The usual self-recriminations. The writing's been on the wall; my husband's been bugging me to look for a different job for two years. I thought about it; I did update my resume.

Also, I started this blog, though not quite knowing what for. Because way down deep, I truly would love to build some kind of creative enterprise. Like, say, Heather Ordover of the CraftLit podcast.

I had actually almost forgotten that, I'd stuffed it down so far. But I heard about Seth Godin's new book The Icarus Deception and checked out the audiobook version from my library. I haven't even finished chapter 1 yet, but it reminded me.

And yet.

My husband is on disability. He's trying to start a business, but even once he gets it going he will only be able to work at it part time. We can't get by long without me having a solid income.

It was when I realized he couldn't support us that I started stuffing my desire for something other than the 8-5 grind. His medical issues have required good insurance, and I've developed a couple medical issues of my own over the years.

That said, I'm not sure Godin is saying you have to be self-employed to live the way he's advocating. I hope he will get into how to live creatively in the context of a J.O.B.

And then? how about another curve ball?

I remembered during church today something I heard on the Joni and Friends podcast recently. She interviewed Steve Saint, a missionary who has suffered a spinal cord injury. He said,
...We have to decide in life whether we’re going to write the story, or whether we’re going to let God write the story. And, I decided a long time ago that I’m going to let God write the story. It’s in the tough times that we really have to decide, okay, am I really going to trust God to write my story?
THAT is what I need to do. That's not really a curve ball—that's a relief. Of course I will apply for jobs and do all the other things needful in this situation. But I'll try to remember to do them prayerfully, remembering He's going to give me my daily bread... and He's going to write my story.

*I wrote this on Sunday evening, but didn't post until Monday.