Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Parenting Fail

I have a confession. Last night I failed as a parent and as an adult. Now I get why my mother TO THIS DAY tells the story of walking the entirety of JFK International Airport trying to find her 8 year old (me) a hotdog and failing. My father had been stationed in Iceland. He'd been there for months while we lived with my mother's parents waiting for Dad to find housing for all of us. When finally he did, my sister and I were taken out of school, removed from our doting grandparents (very likely to my mother's everlasting relief), our beloved felines abandoned - one pregnant - and here we were. About to leave the United States in the middle of winter, bound for the great unknown. We had to get dinner before getting on the plane. I was offered a steak. I wanted a hotdog. Pizza? HOTDOG.

My poor mom. Faced with little kids desperate for some sense of familiarity and comfort and she couldn't make it happen.

This morning I have complete empathy for that twenty-something woman trying to parent an 8 and a 6 year old. This morning, I am also more grateful than ever that I never had children of my own.

At midnight, about an hour and a half after I'd finally gotten to sleep, Autolycus woke me by pulling my hair. Okay. To be fair, he was kneading, but he knew exactly what he was doing. "Mom," he purred, while drooling lovingly into my face, "I'm hungry." I was annoyed, but I got up and made him something to eat.

He snubbed it.

I was more annoyed, but I took it away and offered kibble.

He snubbed it.

Angry at that point, I put the kibble away and climbed back into bed. I must have misunderstood. But the second I put my head on the pillow, there he was. Yanking my hair and, now, licking my face. I got really mad. "WHAT?? What do you want?"

The boy recoiled and slowly, sadly turned his back and curled up. A little orange ball of misery that clearly said I'd stomped on his tiny, tender feelings, you big meanie.

Still grumbling, I got up again and got him water. Maybe that was his issue. I put the dish before him. He turned his face away. His ears drooped. I could almost see his little shoulders shaking in grief.

Oh my gawd. M A S S I V E  G U I L T. Who's supposed to be the adult here? Who's supposed to remember that the boy is aged and ill and that I'm lucky to get to be awakened by him at all? That's right. Me. The cat parent who is failing as a parent on an epic scale. Brilliant. Cue the abject apologies.

He did not want to hear them. Also did not want to be touched. Okay. I deserved that. No problem. Let's try a few more food options, shall we? Let's start with the current favorite - a can of Tiki Cat Lamb and Beef Liver. (Barf.)  As I got yet another plate and dumped grotesque globules of goo thereupon, the DH, awakened by all the drama, rolled out of bed to attend to business. I set the plate of food before the cat.

He ate. No histrionics. No accusation. Just a plain, simple, intimation that I'd been 100% unreasonable about being awakened at midnight so I could dirty four plates, and three of them for nothing.

As the DH and I stood beside the bed waiting for the cat to finish eating (what? You thought he'd get up??) I sighed.

What I said then, I say again this morning: I hope to all the gods that I am the only person on the planet so fatally attracted to creatures that seem bent on exposing my every flaw as a human being.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Repelling Boarders

Shortly after midnight, last night, Autolycus woke me from a sound sleep to indicate that he was hungry and would I please provide him with a midnight snack. This by way of kneading my hair with intent to harm. I rolled out of bed and got the boy a plate of food, which, of course, I had to take *back* to the bed because, what? You expected him to get up?? He tucked in.

I took the opportunity to check on the girls. Cuillean snoozing in her heated bed atop the fridge. Check. Hatshepsut - uh oh - Hatshepsut is stationed at the door to the cockpit. Standing at attention. Her gaze riveted in that clear "Mom, something's out there" gaze I'm finally coming to recognize.

I grab the flashlight. Oh, look. The canvas door has been pulled open. The 2 gallon water jug I put in front of that door (to keep Hatshepsut from letting herself out) has been shoved to one side. Great. We had a visit from the local masked bandit. Except. The compost bag is still inside. Huh. He must not have gotten in past the water jug. Flick off the light and start to turn away.

Hatshepsut does not abandon her post. In fact, she repositions. It isn't quite a shout of 'you idiot, it's still out there' but it's close. So I scan the cockpit. Looks clear. And I open the door. That's when I hear it - this odd, metallic scraping sound. Thinking I'm walking into an enclosed space that contains a raccoon, I hesitate, my heart going from 'wish I were asleep' to 'oh shit' in a flash. But no. The noise is coming from outside the boat. I flip on the overhead light with the intent of scaring away anything or anyone lingering outside my boat. Doesn't work. Just blinds me. Flip the light back off, suck up my courage and unzip the door to outside.

There's the raccoon. On the finger pier, just aft of my boat, staring at me over the corpse of a brand new 2lb bag of cat kibble.

No longer merely human, I hiss at the little bastard and climb out onto the transom. He grabs that bag of kibble in his teeth and bolts. I pursue, still hissing. It's raining. It's almost 1AM. I am dressed in a tee shirt and a pair of fuzzy slippers. But I chase that damned raccoon up the dock for several yards - to that light post Autolycus is looking at in this photo - until the raccoon decides discretion is the better part of supper.

He drops the bag of kibble and makes his break.

I only wanted the kibble. That's Autolycus's favorite. Stuff is $12 a 2lb bag. That raccoon can just pay for his own damned bag of noms.

I only hope none of my neighbors were up at that hour of the night. . .

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Lost Kitten

Had a dream last night. I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say there were two kittens. One plump and happy and outgoing. The other was smaller and shy. The two were sisters from the same litter (and thus, ostensibly, ought to have been the same size.) Insert all the random weirdness that is dreaming here. Until. Somewhere in all of that nonsense, I realized I hadn't seen shy kitten in a very long time. She hadn't come out to eat or anything. Uh oh. Cue the dramatic and heart-wrenching John Williams score. I HAD TO FIND HER. And I was scared to find her all at the same time for fear that I'd come across only her dry, shriveled up corpse. I did find her, curled up in a clothes drawer (even my subconscious gets cats) with her sister. She was tiny. Pitifully thin and wasted. But not dead. The dream ended with all of the emergency measures and plans to nurse her back to health.

Why tell you this? Because that kitten is writing.

I haven't written a single sentence on any story since the middle of November. (The kitten I haven't seen in a long time.) Sure, there are excuses and moderately good reasons for it. But the fact remains, I've been looking for that particular kitten for the past two weeks and with this dream, it's clear I'm holding a limp body in my hands - a body that's just about ready to give up unless I initiate some drastic intervention.

For the curious, the fat, outgoing kitten is day to day life - the things that suck up all of your attention when given the chance.

Funny. I know what to try for a sick kitten. Droppers of water and kitten formula. Warmth. Physical contact close to the heart (kittens cue off of mom's heart beat, so tucking a sick kitten against your skin close to your heart helps.) I don't know what to do for sick writing. Except maybe to approach it gently with the intention of dribbling in a few words at a time many times a day. I'm told it's a sign of a healthy mind if you begin taking positive action to solve problems in your dreams. Don't recall where I saw that, but I'll take it. And trust that it will spill over to actually solving the not writing problem. I hope.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Amazing Day

Yesterday, something amazing happened. It had been a rough day. Autolycus, our bob-tailed boy, was sick with a terrible cold. Everything we did to support his health only seemed to sink him deeper into misery. I hadn't managed to get a word written since Monday. Those of you who know me, know that means that I'd begun disintegrating since it is writing that keeps me sane. Ish. By this time, the doubts had hit full force. Everyone else in the world writes faster, more, better. If you have a pursuit you love, you may know what I'm talking about.

Then. Out of the blue, on Facebook, I get this from my cousin:

"Thought I'd let you know that "Nightmare Ink" helped Betty get through her chemo treatment like "sliding through butter"! She started reading it off my tablet & didn't finish so I found my old Kindle & charged it up & surprised her with it the next week. She was giggling like a girl! So thank you so much!"

Yeesh. Still makes me tear up.

I think I've mentioned my Aunt Betty before now, but just in case, here's the story again. See, I was a lonely kid. My fault, really. I kept waiting for my passel of cousins to yell, "Come on!" No one ever did. So I got left behind a lot. (I don't wait for an invite anymore. I barge right on into the group.) One particular day when all the other cousins had gone off to have fun while I ended up sitting on my grandmother's porch feeling sorry for myself, my Aunt Betty walked up with a box and plopped it down next to me. "Here," she said. "Read these. You'll like them." It was her collection of Andre Norton books. I started one and I was hooked. Andre Norton and my Aunt Betty are directly to blame for infecting me with the writing bug. :)  How do you thank someone for something like that?

Yesterday, Aunt Betty, via my cousin, gave me yet another gift - the awareness that what I write might not be changing the world - but for the few hours it takes to read one of my stories, what I write might change one person's world for the better. Humbling. Easy to forget that story telling is a form of sharing love and energy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Worst Day Living on a Boat

The worst of living aboard a boat isn't when it's stormy and the boat is bouncing all over the place. It isn't when lightning strikes in the waterway not 100' from the boat - though that WILL get your attention. It isn't even when the temperatures are hovering in the single digits.

The single worst day living aboard a boat is the day the head (toilet) breaks. Because you never find out it's broken until you need to flush. And let me tell you, to fix the head in a boat requires taking the whole thing apart. Raw sewage is always involved. Bad day.

But second only to that are the days you walk all the way up to the showers, undress to get into said shower, and discover you left your towel on board the boat. A football field or more away.

For someone without a sentimental bone in her body, I am SO nostalgic over the days when my beloved would bring me a towel warm from the dryer as I got out of the shower. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Treatise by Autolycus

It is a fact of life. Cats like to walk on keyboards. Apparently, they get extra points if they can power down your box in the process - bonus bonus points if you're in the middle of working on something vital. Like a paper or a book on deadline.

One day, whilst editing the feline contributions to a document I'd been working on, it occurred to me that I'd had it all wrong. Maybe cats aren't walking on keyboards just to annoy us - certainly it's a factor - but what if it's not the actual point? Could they be trying to communicate? To someone or something? I resolved to find out. When one of the cats expresses interest in my keyboard, I open a blank document and let the feline author have free rein. I can't interpret what is produced. Not yet. And again, I'm plagued by the disturbing notion that the cats ARE trying to communicate. Just not with me. And I'm left wondering if not with me then with whom?

Reproduced below, 100% faithful to the original both in content and formatting is Autolycus's second, and thus far, lengthiest treatise. I have no clue what it means.

*+ //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////







[‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’          //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Code? Instructions? A rant against the flavor of cat food served for supper?

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Thirty Degree, Guaranteed Cranky, Threshold

Barriers. I've talked about them before. These are the things that keep us from doing what we all know we're supposed to do. For some people (me) it's exercise. I know I should. And I want to - I really do. 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day staves off migraines in a big way. So, honest. I'm motivated.

And yet.

Something stands in my way. That's a barrier. The trick is figuring out what that barrier is. For some people, it's as simple as packing a workout bag and setting out exercise clothes so the morning is a no brainer. In my case, It's the cold. Once the outdoor temperatures drop below 30 degrees, I'm done. Guaranteed grump point. No. I will not go out on an interval training walk/run. My toes are already painfully frozen in my sneakers. There aren't enough clothes in the world to make it okay. Going out on a bike ride is out of the question, too. My fingers and toes ache. What I really want to do is go out into the frigid morn and slam my face into the wind chill that riding would entail. Ever frozen the snot in your nose? Trust me. Do not want.

Last night, it struck me that I've filled my life with ways to make life harder. Plenty of people don't have a dishwasher, so I can't complain about that. Much. I *do* when I'm washing my third sink full of dishes for the day. But you know, cooking. Just cooking is more difficult - I'm working with a two burner propane stove with an oven the size of a bread box. Not to mention a tiny refrigerator and no microwave. I can't pull something out of the freezer and put it on the dinner table an hour later. This has done unfortunate things to my culinary skills and to my diet. Heck. Just taking a shower means kitting up and walking the equivalent of a football field, in the freezing dark, so I can plug the marina shower with quarters in exchange for two minutes of hot water. Then there's the walk back. Managing electrical load - I cannot be warm and vacuum the floors at the same time. It will blow the circuit breaker. The heat has to be shut down, then I can tidy up. This is essential, because my other guaranteed grump point is having my floors crunch when I walk on them. I've tried to find a medication to treat that.

99% of my barriers come down to the cold. So many people are bothered by the lack of sunlight at this time of year. Not me. Couldn't care less. In fact, I'd be grateful for the return of the rain. It would be warmer and as a  boater, I have the gear for 40 degrees and rain slanting in sideways. Frost? Not so much. If it snows this year, I may snap, take an ax to the dock lines and aim for the south Pacific. I do still love my boat - even with the challenges and frustrations. And yes. I am well aware that makes me perverse. Hush up and help me find a place in Fiji or Tahiti where I can moor the boat.