Not a Cat Person

I am not a cat person, or so I’ve always thought. Howard and I had a succession of dogs, probably close to a dozen at different times. They were members of the family, and sort of acted like people. I could not imagine cats being anything like that. But a few months ago my friend Amy offered me an opportunity, or rather three of them. A mama cat had dropped by her house when she was in the family way. Most of the kittens had been adopted by the time I showed up, except for three tawny, writhing kittens left, all males. I said thanks but no thanks and went home. The idea of a cat was now lodged in my brain. Cats are easy, I told myself. One didn’t have to walk them. And I would not have to ask anyone’s permission to adopt one. (Howard would definitely not have loved the idea. The last time a homeless ball of fur appeared at our house, he kept mentioning Shark Bait. ) Okay, deal done!

Soon after I adopted Tigger I noticed that he frequently cleaned his toes by licking. This was fascinating. He would stretch his feet and his toes and claws would spring out. He would then immediately start licking, no stalling around. Yuck! Still, if I were a four year old boy I’d probably be envious. No more baths!
I can’t believe cats have all their cleaning supplies on board. When I go to clean my area, I first have to face a cabinet full of bottles with neon colored labels all of which say pretty much the same thing. I find this boring and a waste of time. My cat is much more economical – I envy him. He just begins licking whatever site needs attention with his perfectly designed scrubby tongue. I googled this once, to find out why this approach worked for Tigger but could only make me sick if I tried it. The answer is in his stomach, which has its own strong chemical disposal system. Wow.

Cats are smart, Tigger especially. His foster mom told me he was the smartest of the litter. He teaches me games, like Where’s Tigger. I have a sheet covering my ancient sofa which falls gracefully down the front. Tigger noticed that this could be a new hidy place. When he crawls under it I pretend he’s gone missing and call out, “where’s Tigger?” If a paw doesn’t come shooting out from the drape, I’m supposed to poke him with his toy which he will then bite, although he much prefers to bite my feet.

I wish to dedicate this post to two of my friends, both named Linda. One declares she is Not a Cat Person. The other Linda is a Three-Cat Lady! Stay tuned, I may write more next week…


“Lets go for coffee!” such welcoming words, especially if you like coffee. For me, coffee warms and inspires. If I am sitting with a friend, the blessing is doubled. I need people, the give and take of conversation, the warmth of company. If I have something on my mind it is important that I talk to someone. I think it is a great favor when someone lends me their ear, so I have to be prepared for their opinion and be tolerant of it.

My problem is that when I am emotionally needy (as has been the case in recent years) I tend to cling to my friend. So before we part I try to give them something, too. I was not always this way. I had to knock around in the social world, misbehave, insist on my own way, be rejected then corrected, before I realized what was up. Truly! And I was over 60 at the time.

Then, more recently, I thought about a young friend of my family, someone so young I remember when he was born. Now he’s a dad with his own family. He is a most engaging person because he really listens to you. This is true no matter where you are or what the occasion. It was his dad’s 60th birthday party when I first recognized this amazing quality. He greeted me warmly and asked how I was doing and what I was up to these days. I was impressed because this is not standard social fare, at least not for me. Too frequently I wait impatiently to tell my story.

Come to think of it, my Howard was a lot like my young friend. He thrived around people, and he could always make them laugh. One of the most moving times I recall was when he called an elderly friend who was very ill. They talked guy talk for awhile, scolding each other for this and that and laughing like little boys. I only heard half the conversation, but I never forgot it and Howard’s booming laugh in the midst of it.

So, yeah, I’m working on being a better listener even when my heart is saying, “Hey, I need you…!”

My ‘Hood

This is about my yard, my sweet half acre. It is grassy, and we once had a garden in back. Howard also planted a magnolia, 30 years ago and now it’s big. This is May, so the great white blooms are getting ready to come out!

Lots has changed here over the years. Howard is gone, so are many of my neighbors. However, I made sure to meet the new ones as they moved in on each side, next door. I’m glad I made the effort and glad they are here.
I know many of my neighbors, and I can see activity from any window in my house. That’s because the roads are skewed to each other, and there are hills too. My house is on a through street, connecting us all to two main arteries with lots of bustle. There is an alley about 30 yards behind my house, built for trash collection years ago. I like to walk along it and observe the neighborhood, especially the progress on the construction widening one of our main roads and taking the curves out. This is a big deal – immense sewer pipes are going in, utility poles are uprooted and replaced, and piles of old and new dirt are everywhere.

I am half a mile from a high school and less than 2 blocks from a neighborhood pub. Nonetheless, there is lots of green space and massive trees, a joy in summer. Such is life in this small town in the South.

I may have to leave this house for a variety of reasons, but then again maybe not! A fair amount of uncertainty is going on, true also for our country and our world. No one living today, in May of 2020, needs to be reminded of it. I believe if we trust God, the One who made us and who demonstrates His love for us through Jesus, we will calm down and become the people He created us to be – Faithful, peaceful and generous.

Cooking is Love

My son is back here in Virginia for a visit, after years of residing on the West Coast, so I’m getting to know him all over again. After several years of living alone, I now have another adult to consider!
One of the biggest adjustments for me is the kitchen protocol. My son worked in restaurants for a period of time, and he’s very familiar with how things should be done to eliminate germs and cross-contamination of food. Me, I’ve just been a working mom for years, and so established my own routine, in my small kitchen. Paul made it clear there were some bad habits I needed to break.
Patience is a gift of the Spirit, thank God! Without it I never could have kept my cool while learning a new protocol. I had to remind myself that I love this person, and he is right most of the time. Also, he undertakes the cooking chores most days.

As a cook, I generally wing it. After forty-some years of cooking for the family, I figured I know lots about it. (I’ve since found out I was wrong in several areas.) When my son cooks, however, he follows a recipe. To me, some of these are complex. The only dish he doesn’t need a recipe for is veggie and chicken burritos since he has made it many times.

I love Paul’s burritos! The other day, I decided it was time for me to take on more of the cooking chores, while my son went for a hike along the river. I had watched him make them, all the steps, but I was nervous, so asked him to tell me again while I took notes. The biggest challenge for me was the chicken prep. Real chefs know that raw chicken is loaded with bacteria and demands careful, respectful handling. It was a shock to discover that I had been doing chicken wrong for decades! Paul talked while I took notes, as the sun dropped lower in the sky. Good thing this was a local hike.

As soon as Paul was out the door, I cranked up my Chuck Berry station on Pandora and began to prep the. vegetables. I was having fun! Everything goes better with music. The vegetables were ready for roasting and it was
time to sauté the chicken. The olive oil was hot in the skillet, the raw chicken waited in the fridge. I remembered most of Paul’s lesson and dove in.

In awhile, I heated the tortillas. Then Paul came in and helped me deal with the avocado, a tricky job. I rolled the tortillas–perfectly! They were yummy, and the veggies were and good and flavorful. The chicken was tender! So, I found that this mom still has the knack. !!

Something New

I remember a novelist once writing, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something new.”

It’s been years since read that story by T.H. White about King Arthur and his mentor Merlin, but I am taking up that challenge now. I find that every new experience and endeavor enlivens my mind and will. Here in Virginia, we are finally approaching spring after a cold, wet winter. There is more light and an occasional day in the 70s, even close to 80. The wild things are responding. I especially notice the birds. I love to hear them in the morning, and I’ve determined to learn their calls. This requires focus and discipline, skills I need to practice.

A couple of weeks after my friend Steve died, I went to lunch with a friend from church whose gentle conversation helped me a lot. Afterward, I remember sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes watching the birds flit thru the trees in front of my car. I was still numb with grief, but the natural activity before me drew me out of it for a minute. I began to wonder if bird watching would be a good diversion for me.

Weeks later I followed through on this idea. My daughter-in-law was the one who suggested I get a bird feeder, so I did. The resulting activity in my backyard precipitated new conversations and picture sharing with Paul and Kari. This was very rewarding for me, since they live 3,000 miles away in Oregon, and every conversation is a gift. There have also been conversations with neighbors and friends who have bird feeders. Sometimes they help me identify the birds and their calls. It is a delightful adventure, all because I was willing to learn something new.

You could start a new project. I have a new project on the home front, now that I’ve decided to move. My house maintenance schedule has become compressed. There are all kinds of decisions to be made and contractors to deal with, alongside the daily routine. Believe it or not, this is a helpful distraction from grief, now that the most recent loss event is a year behind me. I feel more balanced and competent, even peaceful. The way I think God wants us to be.