Better Clucking Through Chemistry

Morningtime and I have rarely gotten along. We're like relatives who see each other once or twice a year at family gatherings, socialize only long enough to remind ourselves that we truly have nothing in common, and then part ways utterly grateful that we can drop the fake smile that is making our cheeks ache.

Sigh. Perhaps I am overstating. There was that 15 week span in 2000 when I delighted in every Tanzanian sunrise.
But come on, if it takes an Ngorongoro Crater horizon to make me happy at 6am, there really isn't much hope for a Durham, North Carolina morning that starts with step-sliding through a pile of cat barf, right?

Anyway, I've found that Morningtime and I get along best when we have a routine to depend upon. A set of tasks that takes our minds off of each other so that we can both go about our own business. My wake-up routine now consists of staggering to the kitchen, putting on a kettle of tea water, and assembling a small plate of peanut butter toast and pile-of-pills-to-be-taken-with-food. The pill pile currently consists of a Women's One a Day multivitamin, a fish oil supplement, a calcium supplement, and an antidepressent (40 mg of Celexa). Once my herbal tea has steeped (Celestial Season's Tension Tamer Extra), I gather my plate and mug and head out to the deck to sit in the cool morning breeze. I am usually welcomed sweetly by my critters, who cluck, mew and snuffle their greetings while I struggle to keep my eyes open. 

Unfortunately, routine or not, my mornings rarely go as planned. I already mentioned this morning's cat barf (Though I respectfully left out the bitching and cursing that followed. Your welcome.). Ths morning's 2nd incident involved a pet pile-up of epic proportions. As I opened the back door and shuffled outside, Tiny Dog pushed ahead of me so as not to be left inside. The grey cat Atticus, who had been waiting outside for just such an opportunity, immediately rushed us and assaulted the poor dog with a full frontal lovefest, rubbing this way and that, unaware that his love was unrequited. TinyDog, of course, screeched to a halt and tried to backpedal away from the cat's unwanted embrace.  Five curious hens then waddled into the gap to see what all the fuss was about.  A total of seven (7!) little critters were all of a sudden directly under my feet as I swerved like a drunken coed, trying to avoid smooshing someone. I ended up sort of slowly tumbling sideways and resigning myself to some light bruising even before I hit ground. The good news: I saved the tea. Not a drop spilled. The bad news: The toast and pile-of-pills went flying. Helpless on the ground, I watched as 1-2-3-4, my entire early morning pharmacy was gobbled up by the chickens. Multivitamin. Fish oil. Calcium pill. And the 40mg of antidepressent.

Somebody is going to be one mellow chicky this morning and she isn't me. Sigh. But, like my good friend Nancy always says, "Oh well!" As the chickens set in on the peanut butter toast, I pulled myself to a seated position, leaned against the back wall of the house, and took a long drag of my Tension Tamer Extra. My TinyDog curled up on one side of me, my Atticus cat on the other. I sat outside on my ass in the cool September breeze and determinedly ignored Morningtime for all that I am worth. True story.


Resurrection Post

This blog is back from the dead and all 3 of my followers have Kris E. to thank for it. Kris is an important person in my family's little world because she kindly gave loaned me one of her kittens, Atticus, several years ago. I say loaned because everytime I complain about his constant antics and misadventures, she gleams her pretty eyes at me and says sweetly, "You can always bring him home." Then I have to explain that we actually do love him. Really, we do.

Anyway, Kris wanted to see more of her cat, so here's a little video just for her:

See, we do love him:


Once upon a time...

There was a little boy who had a little hat.

A snatch-able hat. A bite-able hat.
A lucky hat.

The care and keeping of such a hat can be very complicated indeed.  This weekend, surgery was necessary.

The procedure itself:

Now fully recovered.

My work was subjected to professional scrutiny:

Apparently, I pass muster. Boy and hat are back in business. 

Next project is already on the needles:


Sadness and Gratitude

Yesterday I dropped Isaac at school knowing that I wasn't going to see him again for over a week.  He has gone off with his Daddy on their annual trek to the frigid outskirts of civilization, aka Minnesota.  Today Isaac is no doubt getting into all sorts of relatively harmless yet thrilling mischief with his 11 and 12 year old cousins.  I am glad that he has this time to climb and play in the Minnesotan half of his family tree and, to be honest, I am also grateful that I no longer am required to accompany him.  As a matter of fact, foregoing the annual week-long shut-in with my cranky, conservative in-laws was one of the first benefits I noticed when I was suddenly single back in 2005. 

Still, every time Isaac leaves this life he has with me to join again with the life he and his dad live together, I feel a very slight slide of grief in my gut.  It is not a large grief -- thankfully I have been recovered from the full-fledged anguish of my divorce for some years now.  But it is an aching little loss each time I have to relinquish my child for days at a time.  And it takes a second to rebound.  In the past, I had become so accustomed to that regular visitation of separation sadness that I did not attend to it like I should have.  I would have passed the day in a fog not even knowing that anything was bothering me at all. I would have been disappointed and anxious because of my unproductive day but I wouldn't have even touched the original feeling of sadness that made my day what it was.

Yesterday, after sending my son off, I watched myself and saw that I was a little checked out, more scattered than usual.  I had the urge to burrow and be still, to find a crappy novel and read it all the way through in one sitting, to nap and nap and nap.  In the past, that's exactly what I would have done.  But after a year and a half of skill-based therapy aimed at teaching a person to be mindful of present experiences, it has become fairly difficult to check out like I used to.  Someday I should try to express how annoying it can be to just want to take a good, long escapist coma-nap but to be unable to do so because of my damned Wise Mind.  But maybe that's something only a DBT graduate would understand.  Instead, I'll just say that I am so glad for the hard won awareness that now allows me to say, "Isaac is not here and I am sad."  I am so grateful for the new ability I have to keep company with that sadness as it inevitably fades.  I rejoice that I can connect the true and real feeling of sadness with the behavioral urges I am experiencing.  And that I know so much better now where to seek comfort when I am sad, such as in exercise and time with friends, like I did yesterday.  Every day I am reminded that being a whole and healthy person does not mean that difficult experiences do not occur or that I will suddenly morph into the first human who is exempt from the experience of grief.  It just means that I am able to do those challenges better.  Yeehaw!


Caturdays at Our House

This is our cat Atticus:

Often known as Badicus:

He is the product of an ill-advised love affair between Miss Maggy (current house mate of Kris E.) and an unidentified Old North Durham alley cat (It was a cold winter night and he was very persuasive.  Miss Maggy doesn't like to talk about it.). We met him only a few days after he was born.  He charmed Isaac immediately but I was a harder sell.  Honestly, it's been a few years now and I'm still not sold on this guy (Just kidding, Kris!  No, you cannot have him back). 

I can't figure out if his feline intelligence falls well above or well below the norm.  It makes little difference, I suppose, because the result of either is the same -- MISCHIEF!  I think he must just get bored or something.  He loves to carefully tap-tap-tap-tap a full cup of milk off the edge of a table, drawing the suspense out as long as possible.  He seems to find the floors of the house offensive, preferring instead to leap from one item of furniture to another, even scaling the tops of doors and the door frames.  Plastic objects hold an unholy allure for him so Isaac has a number of small dinosaurs, snakes and sharks with chunks that have been chewed off.  Don't even get me started on his rubber band compulsion.   He constantly harrasses our other two cats, both of whom had their fill of him about five minutes after he joined our household.  When Atticus was a kitten, my fat cat Ralphie used to sit on him to keep him quiet, but that hasn't been effective in some time. 

Ralphie has been in a perpetual state of irritation since we brought Atticus home.

When he is truly out of his mind with boredom, Atticus finds the single spot in the house with the best acoustics (the corner in the dining room) and yowls at the top of his lungs.  For being so easily bored, though, he sure is a skitty kitty.  He once ventured across the road in search of something interesting to do and got lost for two weeks.  He was so terrified by his heroic quest that he wouldn't come when called so I had to trap him in a cage I bought from Lowe's that was intended for rabid raccoons. 

For all of his faults, though, that cat loves the hell out of Isaac.  Those two chose each other, I guess.

A few weeks ago, I heard Atticus yowling from the backyard and went out to find that he had gotten himself into mischief again.  He was on top of the shed and couldn't figure out how to get down.  All I can say is it's a good thing he has Isaac at this point because my motivation to rescue is at an all time low.

Why can't he just find a cozy spot and stare into the fourth dimension like the other cats do?


History lessons from a 9-year-old Montessorian

My son goes to a trendy private school.  He receives a whole-child, internally-motivated, peaceful-problem-solving, diversity-celebrating, juice-box-and-sweet-treat-free education.  We love our little Montessori community, really we do.  But sometimes I worry that Isaac, who is developing into a stellar human being with a heart of gold, is missing some of the finer academic points.  Take our conversation this evening for example.  We dined out tonight at Chili's, which for some reason Isaac refers to as "El Chee-lays" in a fairly convincing Spanish accent. If we were eating in Chile, of course.  Anyway, here's what Isaac explained to me:

Isaac: "Mom, you know that crazy French general, Napoleon Dynamite?"

Me: (Cough, sputter, choke) Ummmmmmm.....

Isaac: You know the only thing that guy is famous for?!? Being short!

Me: Uh, are you sure?

Isaac: Well, and he was completely insane and tried to take over the planet.  Which isn't allowed. They had to arrest him and put him in a jail all by himself on an island with 1000 guards.  I think it was Alcatraz.

Me: Hmmm.  Where did you learn about this?

Isaac: Everybody knows it. Also, I heard about it when my class was at the pool for swimming lessons.  Alex said he couldn't do something because he is too short and Jovann said that Napoleon was short and he practically took over the world so being short is no excuse for anything.  Can I have some of your french fries?

I know I should have corrected him but honestly, I didn't know where to begin.  I was baffled, so I defaulted to intitiating a goofy-face-making contest across the chips and salsa.  Consequently, my child went to bed tonight with the same Captain Bizarro understanding of world history that he woke up with this morning.  And I guess it isn't entirely the fault of the overpriced-crunchy-granola education, is it?


I'll eat you up I love you so

Every itty bitty boy needs a great big boy to adore.  For Julian, all things big-boy-wonderful start and end with Isaac.  Just look at those cousins: