Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 9: They’re Just *Things*

Watercolor-style rendition of cat on stairs.

I acquired a lovely new rug as a housewarming present. Loki has commenced to shred it.

My leather armchair and matching ottoman, which survived nearly 20 years in pristine condition, have been reduced to a mass of punctures and scratches in 8 months. They used to be my nicest pieces of furniture.

My expensive honeycomb windowshades are an irresistible target for clawing and climbing.

From time to time a thing of value that is supposed to not be on the floor lands on the floor in a catastrophic fashion. This is not the result of malicious behavior, but of exploratory curiosity.

And although he’s mostly grown out of his kitten moniker of Señor Poopifeets, there’s the occasional brown pawprint somewhere I really wish it weren’t.

The upshot is that I can no longer possibly be house-proud. At best, I can keep things reasonably clean and hold the cat hair down to a dull roar. My belongings ARE going to be mauled and in disarray. There will be brown bags and boxes and cat toys strewn about the living room.

I can have neatness, control, and unmarred furniture or I can have Loki.

I think I’ll take this as an opportunity to practice detachment from inanimate possessions and loving-kindness toward the little furry creature who shares my home.

A Year Ago: Folded

Rock with folded layers.Thank goodness that I went on a walk with Bob in the luxuriously warm afternoon…
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Little Red Love Machine

Red scooter in late afternoon light.

As I was taking this photograph near Katuah Market, a hipster young man walked by and said, it seemed somewhat sneeringly, “You’re really proud of that scooter, aren’t you?”

To which I replied, “It’s not mine, but it sure is pretty.”

Maybe he didn’t mean to be supercilious. I hope not, because it really is a little red love machine.

A Year Ago: Anxiety Pig

Line drawing of a pig.One of the truly fabulous resources for a person who has just moved to a new city and doesn’t know anyone is Meetup
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Giving Up

Watercolor effect image of calla lilies.

It’s Ash Wednesday, and so I was moved to decide what I would give up for Lent. A Buzzfeed quiz I saw on Facebook came back with the counterintuitive result that I didn’t need to give anything up, but rather I should add something constructive.

Wisdom from Buzzfeed? Oy.

Nevertheless: I have decided to give up fear of rejection for Lent.

A Commitment of Trees

Watercolorish rendition of tree twigs.

Yesterday I planted 15 tree saplings on my property: 3 redbud, 3 persimmon, 3 black cherry, and 6 crape myrtles. It was the hardest physical work I’ve done in years, and every muscle in body aches today, especially in my hands and forearms from breaking up the heavy, clayey soil. And I still have 6 flowering dogwoods in a plastic bag in my basement awaiting another day with nice weather (Sunday, maybe?) to be put in the ground.

I expect the redbuds and the crape myrtles to grow pretty quickly (if, indeed, any of them survive at all). But the black cherry probably won’t even set flowers until a decade from now, and they’re unlikely to produce a full harvest of fruit until twice that time, or longer. If they thrive, and if the land remains intact, those cherry trees may one day grow to be 80 meters tall. I won’t live long enough to see it.

So I’d like to propose a new collective noun for multiple trees planted as saplings: a commitment of trees. For the cost of about $20 to Buncombe County, and a couple of bags of soil ameliorating mulch, I’m hoping to leave a legacy of beauty in my neighborhood for generations to come.

All fine and good: last night I was so grateful that I’d insisted on installing a soaking tub in my master bath.

A Year Ago: The One of My Dreams

One-shaped pipe in grassy area.Do you know what you really want?…
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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.

Look at this animal and tell me that—short of brute force implementation (I am bigger than he is, although my claws are nowhere near as sharp, nor my teeth as pointy)—this cat ever does something that he doesn’t acquiesce to.

This is an animal who knows who he is and what he wants. He is relentlessly persistent in pursuit of his goals. He has gravitas. Mess with him at your peril. A bribe only works if he would be doing that other thing anyway, and so nyah-nyah you’ve just given up a bribe for nothing. He is master of his domain (which, by the way, is also your domain, except you just live in it; he owns it). His charisma and purity of intent ensure that he will remain on the throne.

Welcome to the family: you work for the godfather now. Don’t you forget it.

A Year Ago: More Than One Step

Cement steps with zigzag shadow.It’s been quite awhile since I’ve felt like I had so many irons in the fire simultaneously…
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Window silhouettes.

Caught in the fog.
Caught in the branches.
Caught unawares.
Caught out.

There’s always a catch.

A Year Ago: Veranda

Biltmore Inn, Asheville, NCNo amount of googling thus far has enabled me to determine…
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Loki in the Snow

Watercolor-effect image of cat in snow with footprints.

By a trick of the eye and software, you can’t clearly see Loki’s leash in this rendition of the photograph. Never mind that sleight-of-hand: what’s astonishing is that instead of standing on the porch expressing his utter disdain and WTF?itude, Loki is seen actually picking his way through an admittedly much-attenuated snowfield.

The air was warmer, there were tufts of grass sticking through here and there, and His Furriness did indeed deign to venture forth and get his royal paws cold and wet. It must be said, however, that he didn’t put up his usual struggle when it was time to go inside again.

Two Years Ago: Winter Arrangement

Dried flowers, vase, windowsill.Here’s another iPhone picture. This one required some significant post-processing…
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Pewter Sky

Monochrome appearing sky with mackerel clouds.

It’s not uncommon for writers to reach into the cliché bag and pull out a phrase like “leaden sky” when they wish to convey an atmospherically gloomy day’s weather.

But that was not this day. This day had a pewter sky that darkled and gleamed like the surface of a repoussé-adorned drinking vessel. I stopped in my tracks as I was carrying a particularly odious load of garbage to the bin, and risked the escape of a kitty to retrieve a camera and take this photograph. I want to emphasize that this image is NOT in black-and-white, despite its monochrome appearance; it’s a full-color image of a landscape that appeared to have all the color leached from it. Eerie.

It’s another kind of mackerel sky—one appropriate to this stage of winter. The mountains around Asheville give us some pretty spectacular skyscapes.

A Year Ago: My Neighbor John

John Guciardo, Mountain Metal Arts of AshevilleThere was a loud knocking on my door. I wasn’t expecting a visitor…
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Heart of the Calla

Close-up of calla lily.

Something of a tradition, flowers on Valentine’s Day. Bob gave me these calla lillies for our anniversary.

Snowy Letterbox

Metal mailbox with snow cap.

There was a break in the weather, the sun came out, and I put on my boots to take a walk. (I offered Loki a chance to go outside, but he took two steps onto the porch and thought better of it. Lemme back in neeeeeeooooowwwww.)

The snow was wetter than last night, since it’s been warming up all day, but still pristine off the road. I started photographing mailboxes, beginning with my own.

Number 701 with snow toppings.

It was good to get outside and stretch my legs, as I’ve become a bit stir-crazy here. Tomorrow’s likely to be a mess too—will see whether my floor duty will still happen. If it does, I may opt to walk there rather than trying to drive on the extremely messy roads.

A Year Ago: Penitence

Black and white image of magnolia blossom and foliage after rain.Today’s Ash Wednesday service at All Souls was beautiful and heartbreaking…
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