Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 13: Know Who’s Calling You By Name

Kitty

I read an article on the internet recently that said that although cats most certainly DO know their names, and also recognize their “owner’s” (yes, those are scare quotes) voice, they just don’t care.

Loki definitely knows his name. And by “his name” I don’t just mean his official name. He also knows “kitty-boy,” “lovey-boo,” and half a dozen other endearments which I will spare recording here on the premise that too much sugar is bad for your diet.

I also know that he DOES care. I am not just a demented cat owner (although I am surely that). When I am hanging out with Loki in the evening and the morning, and he’s close enough for me to hear, if I say his name he immediately starts purring.

Although he’s pretty good about coming in at night between 9 and 10 o’clock, sometimes if he’s late or the weather is spectacularly awful I’ll call for him by name. I always feel a little bit like a chump doing this, because it only occasionally gets an immediate result. But quite reliably he’ll show up a few minutes later. A substantially delayed appearance is rare enough that I tend to get quite worried if he hasn’t returned after 10 or 15 minutes.

Loki is not a dog, but he knows his name and he responds to it of his own free will. He’s never currying approval or following orders, but he will acknowledge my interest with purring and head butts. He knows who he is and he deigns to keep company with me. We make accommodations for one another.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


A Year Ago: Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 8: The Catfather

Cat highlighted on rug.Here’s what you need to know: Loki will make me an offer I can’t refuse…
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Flowers, Two Kinds

Girl walking in front of graphic window display.

This is my lame placeholder for my six year anniversary of meeting Bob (hey, it’s Trader Joe’s!) and for Valentine’s Day (artichokes are flowers too). I realize that I’ve been pretty largely MIA from this blog for awhile. Chalk some of it up to winter weather, some up to the new camera which takes great pictures but isn’t so much fun to actually use, some of it to the seasonal mood dive that makes doing much of anything feel like a monumental and yet worthless undertaking.

Something’s gotta give. I’m sure eventually it will.


A Year Ago: Heart of the Calla

Close-up of calla lily.Something of a tradition, flowers on Valentine’s Day…
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Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 12: Start The Day With Love

Kitty sleeping on bed with paw extended

Those of you who’ve known me for a long time know that I am not a morning person. Really, this cannot be overstated.

I hate alarm clocks. I loathe dragging myself from the arms of Morpheus any sooner than absolutely necessary, and much prefer to wake naturally when the god of sleep releases me himself into consciousness.

So why, you may ask (and rightly so), would I willingly set my alarm a whole hour earlier than actually needed for my morning obligations? WHY????

Because every day is better when it starts with love.

In the evening, Loki will curl up with his head on my ankles. When I turn out the light, he moves up and curls up next to my torso. By morning, he is near or on my head. As I stir, he will knead my neck or scalp, and push his furry face right up to mine.

To describe this as adorable is to exercise serious understatement.

In the course of a quiet hour before I actually get up from bed, I get to pet the cat. I get to snorgle the supersoft kitty-belly. I get caressed on the cheek by a gentle forepaw. Loki will curl up in the curve of my arm and my whole body will resonate to the purr vibrations. Sometimes I’ll sit up and read, but much of the time I just hang out in a dozy fashion with my kitty.

This practice is the ultimate stress-buster. It’s just impossible to feel miserable and aggravated while lounging around with a furry bundle of affection. And it is well worth the hour-earlier start to the day to not rush from bed to board to door in an empty and frantic fashion.

Because I was consistent with him as a kitten, Loki knows that he is not going to either get fed or get let out right away when I wake up. He knows that this is a togetherness time. Every now and then he’ll indicate a certain impatience after half an hour or so. Because I trust his temperament and our routine, I know he’s not gratuitously making a fuss, and will get up sooner than usual to tend to his needs.

This is the royal road to peace and contentment: start the day with love.


A Year Ago: Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 7—Kisses

Loki waiting for me to come in.When I open the door to my home, more often that not Loki is perched atop the back of my armchair by the door… [read more]


Geometry Theorem

The worst of the cold weather seems to have passed. Still, it’s not frolic-outdoors weather, what with the fog and the rain and the leaden sky and all. It’s more like: hide-under-the-covers weather. (Although my friend Abbie seems to imply that’s not an acceptable strategy. Hmf.)

My solution to this dilemma is to carbo-load. And to try to make something every now and then. Mostly knitwear.


Two Years Ago: Immigré

Portrait of BobAsheville will have yet another new resident sometime in February… [read more]


Ghost ABC

Storefront of empty ABC store, Asheville NC

It shouldn’t have affected me at all. I never once set foot inside this store in the 2 years I’ve been living just three blocks away from it. I watched with some interest and consternation as its modern death-star-ish replacement went up (four blocks away, opposite my local Hess), blotting out part of the blue ridge skyline from the road. And in fact I recently *went in* to that replacement, which is surprisingly chic in an industrial way, to buy a bottle of fancy bourbon as a present. So I had no reason to feel nostalgic or desolate or indeed to experience any emotion at all.

I learned, when I moved to the neighborhood, that this building was the original Ingles market, the Ur-Ingles from which all others sprang. The Ingles too moved on down the road to the shopping center where it could properly sprawl. All that remains in this vintage building of no great architectural merit are a home furnishings store and a party supply shop. Both seem sort of sad and I have no idea how they stay in business.

Despite my total lack of skin in the game, I nonetheless was awash in melancholy when I made this picture. Part of it is just disappointment that Hendersonville Rd. is so relentlessly commercially ugly and filled with largely uninteresting stores, fast food venues (including a new Bojangles next to the new ABC Store, gah!), and car parts (also new), mattress, or motorcycle vendors.

All pretty ugly, all pretty downscale, all things I have no interest in patronizing. Couldn’t we have had a nice restaurant or a cute local retailer?

Freakin’ Asheville. We save all that good stuff for the tourists and the hipster neighborhoods, I guess.


Two Years Ago: Roll With It

Peeling bark.I wanted to pour soothing lotions on this tree, whose bark looks positively itchy…
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Narrow The Gate

Church interior passages.

[I'm always sort of appalled when I realize I've used a title before. So much for originality and cleverness. Oh well.]

I like the near-misses of this picture: most of the traditionally interesting stuff is happening either mostly out of frame or in the shadows. I’m curious whether this composition tickles anyone else the same way. (I do recommend looking at the larger version.)

And again, my hat’s off to the plucky little RX100M3. This was shot at 1/30th sec, f/2.5, ISO 125, and it is *tack sharp* with even-tempered noise that looks just like nice tight film grain in black-and-white.

Welcome to 2015, dear friends! May we find our way through the dark passages into the light.


A Year Ago: A Winter Story

Brick wall and bare trees.The snow and wind arrived tonight, and the relatively mild beginning to the year is being erased…
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Fence & Flare

Black & white image of gravel road, wood fence, winter trees, sun flare.

I’m tempted to say that I picked the wrong year to get my first flu shot—since I’m now two weeks into my yuletide bout with influenza. (I’m finally well on the way to recovery, but it was a pretty miserable haul right through the middle of the holiday.) The CDC says that they missed the most virulent strain this year, although it’s likely that the vaccination afforded some protection from the full brunt of it.

Whatevs. I survived. BARELY. :D

2014 is galloping to a close. It feels like it was yet another transitional year. Not a bad year, but not a year of great strides or accomplishments. I am guardedly optimistic that 2015 will be even more rewarding.

On an image-making note, I’m really enjoying playing with black-and-white using the new camera’s ENORMOUS files with their plethora of detail. This one is from a stroll that Bob and I took in the NC Arboretum in mid-December.

The light is no longer waning: hallelujah!


A Year Ago: The Sun on the Horizon

Sun glints on twigs in winter.So: year’s end…
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Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 11: Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Portrait of a Cat

My last lesson was all about freedom and love. And so, I suppose, is this one.

This is how it usually goes. Loki comes in from his day outdoors between 9 and 10 at night. I give him his yummy wet food for dinner. We go upstairs. I brush my teeth, he drinks from the tap. I finish evening ablutions, he goes and inspects my study. I stretch out on my bed to watch Netflix or read.

And usually—MOST OF THE TIME—after 5 or ten minutes, Loki will hop up on the bed with me, curl up half on my shin or my ankle, and stay there ’til I turn the light out. Sometimes, though, he doesn’t show up. Or, if he does, he goes and makes himself comfortable on the bench by the window. I have no idea why.

Probably he just wants some quiet time to himself inside. Or I don’t smell right. Or it’s too hot.

Who knows?

All I know is that my proximity is not *always* desirable. Sometimes he just wants to be alone. There’s absolutely no use fretting about it or trying to cajole him otherwise. He’ll do what he wants to do, and all the calling and sweet-talking in the world won’t get him to hang out with me if he’s not feeling like it.

And in the end, once I truly grasped this about him, it was a relief. Loki does what he wants. MOSTLY he wants to be near me. And it’s the very rare night when he doesn’t *eventually* come snuggle up to my side when the lights are out and I am nearly or fully asleep. (I do worry a bit if he doesn’t… sometimes it’s a sign he’s not feeling well.) The key thing is: it’s not about me. It’s about that cat. It’s about how Loki feels and what Loki wants, and ultimately that has very little to do what I do or don’t do at any particular moment.

He has moods. Go figure. Don’t we all? (After all, I don’t exactly love it when he wants to suckle my neck and knead my scalp with his little scimitars at 5 in the morning.) Learning how to let my cat be himself has been useful to me in realizing how important it is to let other people be themselves: feel what they feel, want what they want.

And to know that, most of the time it’s not at all about me. Even (especially?) when I love them and they love me.


A Year Ago: Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 6—Purr

Cat nestled into extended legs.There are many things one can say in praise of cats: they are elegant, fearsome, independent, athletic…
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Doorlamp

Exterior Lamp with Shadow

The new camera (and its high-resolution images) is making me want to redesign this blog. I think I’d like to have the images be a larger size on the homepage. It’s not as if I have anything else important to do.


A Year Ago: Metal Beach

Barge interior.There is a tide in the affairs of men…
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Minifall

Miniature waterfall at Asheville Botanical Garden.

ISO 125, f/5, handheld at 1/10 sec., 20 megapixels.

This is not an image I could ever get out of my iPhone. Or indeed my venerable GF-1 without a tripod.

I wanted the new LX100, a gorgeous, ergonomically excellent camera. In fact, I bought one. But the sensor failed on me after fewer than 50 exposures. Back to Amazon it went. I debated whether I wanted a replacement, but ultimately decided for a camera that would genuinely fit in a pocket—a camera I’d have no excuse not to have on me just about all the time.

Enter the Sony RX100M3.

It’s a new era: I now have a carry-everywhere camera that can handle easily 80% of the kind of images I want to make. The zoom is a 24-70mm FF equivalent. It takes some getting used to having all the controls be menu-driven. That’s not my favorite, for sure. The trade off is that I can make choices with this camera that my iPhone could never offer. And although it was pricey, this is my first real camera purchase in 6 years. Technology moves so fast now, it’s possible that something significantly more compelling will show up sooner than I expect. But for now, I think this will do me nicely.


A Year Ago: BOYD CRAI

Corroded barge with markings.All I saw was the tasty corrosion and the artful strip of hanging metal…
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