When Dreams Attack

I know I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been reintegrating into regular life and applying for jobs and, and, and. But I need to write. It’s a part of me. Every time I try to get away, I find myself missing it. It’s one of the tethers in this world, at least for me.

I found Ruby sitting on a couch in the rotunda the other morning. She was crying.

“What’s wrong, baby girl?” I asked. I sat down next to her and hugged her.

“I dreamt that Chloe died,” she sniffled.

Uh oh.

“Oh, I’m sorry. But she’s fine.”

I pointed out the black Muppet cat, curled at her feet. Ruby nodded.

“I wanted to make a blanket out of her fur.”

Um.

“So I cut off her head.”

Whaa…?

She started sobbing.

“Then I saw her ghost.”

OK. Now what, God? I breathed in and out, holding her. I decided to ignore the ghost comment.

“Ruby, do you really want to make a blanket out of Chloe’s fur?”

I looked down at the long, luxurious fur on the most mellow cat in Christendom. It is very soft and touchable, yet manages to get everywhere. It has always reminded me of

troll doll

But she doesn’t need to know that.

“Well, I want to keep her around. I don’t want her to die.”

Folks, I believe this is how taxidermy on household pets got started.

“Chloe won’t live forever. And I’m sure you’d never cut off her head. Let’s enjoy her while we have her. God gave you the sweetest cat. There will never be another Chloe.”

Isn’t that what we all need to be doing, appreciating where we are, when we are, and who we’re with? Tomorrow is not promised.

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  – Psalm 103:15

I hugged Ruby a little closer and smiled at Chloe. I swear Chloe smiled back.

Ruby & Chloe

 

 

 

 

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The Song

The Song

 

As I sit

Alone

I hear the rain

Hitting the roof

The cats curled

Black commas

Furry pauses

This early morning.

 

I listen

I wait

In rest

Patient pause.

 

Between the drops

I sing

Lifting my voice

To praise

the One.

 

You sing back

Rejoicing over me

Our voices blending,

Our hearts

Together

In early morning hymn.

treble clef

 

 

 

The Cat Came Back, Part 1

Our cats have acclimated to the new, larger house surrounded by a  circle of tall trees.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Yesterday, I headed out for a run. Both cats wanted to go out. They had each been out for a few minutes on their own. I thought, Cool. I can get a short run in and let them back into the house when I return. They’d be more than ready, on sensory overload with all the new smells and creatures and crevices to explore.

Only they weren’t around when I returned. I called. I traipsed around the back of the house a little, calling. Silence. Not even crickets.

I went back into the house to get ready for work. By sunup, I reasoned, their furry faces would appear at the back door. No big deal.

Sunup came and went. So did the afternoon, then the evening. I got home from kettlebells and everyone else greeted me except the cats.

Now I felt terrible. If only I’d kept the felines corralled. I could have nudged them away from the door and then they would be safe.

After rehearsal last night, we drove by our old house to see if they’d gathered there, like a safe place. We wandered the yard and turned lights on. We cried out. Again, silence.

Ruby was pretty upset. We prayed for the cats’ safe return. I prayed, too.

“What if they’re gone for years?”Ruby wondered.

I told her we had to have faith and be patient. Nobody’s good at it, but everyone gets a chance to practice it.

“You know,” Jonathon said. “I’m going to miss Rex more than I missed Rita. Rex and I have a love-hate relationship. He thinks I hate him,” he mused.

I know I did.

This morning, I had a feeling. I dressed for a run and walked out back. A light snow fell, stinging my eyes.

“Chloe! Rex!” I called, trying to be quiet because everyone else slept.

“Meow!”

Chloe appeared. Somehow, she got stuck on the other side of the fence from us, in the neighbor’s yard. I walked her over to the gap in the fences and she slid through. “Reunited, and it feels so good…”I held the black Muppet cat in my arms.

She ran into the rotunda and straight to her food bowl. I petted her back. Little bits of pine needles and burrs stuck to her, a testament to her 24-hour exile. She plopped down on the carpet. Her purr filled the room.

Thanks, Jesus, for returning Ruby’s favorite cat. We praise you for answered prayers. OK, Lord. Please send Rex right over.  We’re ready.

chloe-ruby

 

 

 

 

 

Saul Sorrow

Photo from godcenteredmom.com

Photo from godcenteredmom.com

I went out for a short run in the early spring morning.  The air, fresh from yesterday’s downpours, smelled of apple blossoms and wet growing things. The trees dripped. The sky sparkled with a few far off star-gems set in a backdrop of black velvet.

Upon my return, I opened the basement door to get some supplies. As I came back up the stairs, Rex ran down them.  I sighed. Every time someone goes down there, at least one of the cats rushes into the cavern. Cats remain trapped there for hours sometimes. Chloe spent a night down there once.  You’d think they’d learn after the first few times.  But they don’t.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we sometimes get what we want but it isn’t what we expected. Or hoped for. I read in 1 Samuel today, chapters 9-12. Samuel, the boy who grew up dedicated to the service of God, is tasked to find a king. God doesn’t like this.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ – 1 Samuel 10:18-10

The Israelites wanted to be like other nations. They wanted a strong national leader. God wasn’t the ticket – elusive, intangible, seemingly remote. No. They wanted to be like the cool kids.

Samuel’s farewell address says it all. The children of Israel still act like, well, children.

“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.  Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.

 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.  But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”  – 1 Samuel 12:20-25

So, God gave them a king. Saul started out well. He listened to Samuel’s counsel. Then it goes off the rails.  Read on for more details.  Sometimes God answers our prayers, reluctantly, dragging his feet as it were. Perhaps a more accurate word is He allows things to happen because we hold fast to them in a white-knuckled grip.

I’m advocating surrender. When we feel underwhelmed at God’s answer to our petitions, it’s time to reevaluate. Do we trust that what the Lord has done for us this far is enough?  Enough to show He cares and will always take care of us? He has our best interests at heart, even when we can’t yet see it.

I See Dogs

Sorry I didn’t get a blog posted yesterday.  I ran out of time.  Because…drumroll, please…I had actual work to do.  At work.  And stuff.  I’m working on the closeout report for the shelter project.  I’ve got a few key pieces left to fill in, then I’ll pass it on for my boss to finalize.  I can’t believe it! (insert high-pitched squeal here).

I ran just as the sky started to lighten here this morning.  I saw the sky turn peach with smudgy, charcoal gray clouds floating on the eastern perimeter.

I like animals.  I do. I see dogs and cats almost every time I run outside.  Cats, at least, have the foresight to dash away when they see me pounding along.  Cats rarely want to socialize in the early morning light.  One calico cat in my neighborhood likes to perch on the outside air vent on the front porch.  Haughty as a furry queen, she peers down on me as I pass by her house. I’m the ridiculous human, sweating out my angst to TFK.  Other felines run under cars or bushes as I approach.  They peek out at me, safe under cover, as I continue on. See, these cats have no need for either confrontation or affirmation.  They know they exist and don’t need to acknowledge my presence one way or the other. I could be bellybutton lint for all they care.

But dogs can be iffy. Dogs get territorial. They want to protect their people. They tend to announce my presence, with vim and vigor.  I wince at the loud barking, sure their owner suddenly roused from a good dream feels a strong urge to kick me into the middle of next week. I don’t make eye contact with the cacophonous canine because that implies challenge.

“Good doggie, good doggie,” I chant under my breath as I keep moving.

“Ruff!  Ruff RUFF ruff!” bellows the baritone behemoth. I jump at the decibel level. And stay out!

I don’t stop.

Most of the time, dogs appear in fenced yards, galloping up to give me the what-for.  Some pups get early walkies and yank on the end of their leashes when they see me. Today, two dogs, both wearing safety cone collars, chased me along the border of their chain link universe.  I didn’t acknowledge them.  Mostly because I couldn’t spare the air. Later, a different enormous dog, leashed and a very hairy brown, lunged at me. His owner, a trim man in his 50s, leaned  all his body weight on the leather strap to steer the Muppet away from me.

But wait!  That dog could be useful. He could, upon proper treatment, be turned into this:

muppet-fashion-sweetums-6

Now you know.

Spring Break Joy

Why is it that I feel so incredibly joyful when the sun shines here?  Anything (good) could happen.  Even laundry. Twirling and dancing and goofing off seem well within reason today.  At this very moment, both the front door and back door stand open to the sunshine.  Chloe wanders from one to the other, checking out the view. She pushes the back door open with her paw and dashes out.  Sweet freedom!  Rex, out on a walkabout, is nowhere to be found.

Ruby and I worked out together today.  She opened the secret compartment where I keep them (kettle)bells.  She yanked out the smallest one, a yellow 10-lb. torturer.

“I’ll use this one,” she said.  Then she went outside for a few turns of the jump rope.  Bored with that, she came back in.

We started with jumping jacks, which needed no weight.  I told her we’d do 60 together.  She pooped out after 20, then rejoined me. She moved her skinny arms in time with mine, her eyes focused on me, but kept jumping up and down with her feet.  Too cute.

We got down for 10 push ups.

“Keep your body straight”, she admonished me.  I listened.

I showed her squats with the sunny handled orb.  Those took a bit of coaching, as did the lunges.  She thought it pretty funny when she fell down from stretching her lunging leg out too far.  Ha ha, missy!

Dare I say she was a natural with the kettlebell swing? Amazing girl.

After a bit, she lost interest.  She had an idea.

“Mom, can I fill a plastic bag with pillows and punch it?”

Uh…

“Sure,” I panted from the other room.  What does it mean?!

She punched with all her might, grunting as she landed each blow.  Once the pillows had all their stuffing, ahem, redistributed, she moved on.  Time to get outside!

She dressed in zebra-striped pants with a floral top and brushed her hair in a rush. She shoved cheetah-print flats onto her feet.  She quick-dialed a little friend down the street and blazed away.  Spring Break!  Everybody holla!

What are you up to today?

 

 

Octavus

On the eighth day of Janathon,
Our teacher did decree:
Fifty minutes of kettlebells
Will be a workout to make us sweaty.

Okay, crappy Christmas parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, but there you go. We alternated between kettlebells exercises switched up with 5 minutes of stationary bikes.  True confession:  I hate bikes.  Even though I adjust the seat height, I never get one that is comfortable. I’m either tilting forward or leaning backward.   No Tour de France for me.  I’m beginning to wonder if my backside is simply misshapen.  I am learning to engage more core muscles because of it.  Not a total loss.

And now, for something totally different…

My dad just told me a story about the two cats he and my mom had when I was very young.  As he stroked our sleek midnight cat, Rex, he related this tale.  Brother cats, (S)noopy and Toughy/Tuffy, moved with them when they came cross-country to Dad’s teaching job in Oregon.  Yes, I realize they sound like rapper names.  Hear me out.  Dad also said they had to give the cats away after they moved.  The kitties simply did not adapt to the new Portland neighborhood. He still feels regret over that.

A few weeks before they moved, a neighbor came over and talked to Mom and Dad.

“Do you have two cats?” she asked.

My parents confirmed this.  Yes, a black cat and a tabby cat, both from the same litter.

“Well, I just saw a tabby cat dragging a black cat out of the road.”  Toughy got hit by a car and Noopy got him out of harm’s way.  Now that’s brotherly love.

Rex, golden eyes droopy with world-weariness, agrees.

Photo by lovemeow.com

Photo by lovemeow.com