Friday Morning Freedom

coffee

I let the cats onto the back deck this morning. I can see them out the dining room window, together but not together, exploring the backyard. Chloe sticks close to the chain link fence. She sniffs to discover all the places where nocturnal animals have crossed into or out of our yard. Rex hears the window open and stares at me. His golden gaze says “what do you want?” He’s more concerned with the small gaps in the fencing. He pokes his face through them and gazes at the trees and bushes and birds on the other side. Meanwhile, Chloe bites off grass tips that stand up taller than other pieces. I figure this is okay, since we don’t have goats.

Out the front dining room window, I can see and hear traffic. Cars, trucks and buses rush by in their morning commute. The occasional runner or cyclist pass on the pedestrian path. Walkers pound up and down the hill in pairs, like heeding the last call to board Noah’s Ark. Mornings inspire momentum.

Mornings have always seemed sort of magical to me. How does God do it, day after day? Each one crops up new and whole, sprung out of the earth’s turning. As children, we learned Earth’s rotation causes us to see a sunrise and a sunset every day. Systems for seasons  and moon phases have been set for millennia, yet still present unique and ever new. This morning, the clouds pulled back from the north like a sunlit snowy blanket. A thin scrim of hazy cloud remained, hiding the mountain. Our infamous marine layer lingered nearly all day yesterday, allowing us to barely reach 70 degrees by day’s end.

This is my last free Friday before I step back into the working world. I’m not sure what lies ahead. But I think I’m ready to rejoin the fray. Mornings bring hope. I’m reminded of this Bible verse, written in one of the darkest times in Israel’s history:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” – Lamentations 3:22-24

 

 

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Aside

Tuesday Life

douglas firs

(source)

I’m sitting here on our side deck. The sun warms my back. The wind sways the hanging baskets, releasing the intoxicating fragrance of yellow, purple, white and pink-striped petunias. Rex lounges on the porch at my side, soaking up the sunshine and the company.

It’s pretty great.

Part of me doesn’t want to go back to work. Ever. This summer, home with the kids, Jonathon and my folks, has been lovely. I only want to play and have fun, like a female version of Peter Pan. The other part of me, the practical big sister-mom part, longs to do something constructive and lucrative. Those don’t necessarily go together, mind you, but it would be nice.

I walked down to the bank earlier today to deposit a birthday check. I ran into someone I used to work with.

“I miss seeing your smiling face every morning!” she exclaimed upon seeing me.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love those people who work at the City? I miss them. But I know I’m in the right place for now.

I’ve applied for at least a dozen different positions. I had an interview last week for a job that sounds promising. They’re checking my references now, and the references of the other possible candidates.

I hate waiting.

I’m trying to keep busy. I clean. I do laundry. I bake. I shop. I meet up with friends (thank you, by the way). We attend church and serve in the worship ministry. These all help keep hope alive and to focus on other things.

But I detest limbo. It makes me squirm. What’s next? What now?

I can hear the bell tower in Evergreen Square tolling the hour. I can see the blue mirror of Oakland Bay shimmering in the distance. Our house sits above the city, and I can see a bit of Loop Field, Railroad Avenue, and the edge of City Hall.

It’s strange to be outside of it all.

All around me, the tall Douglas firs testify of God’s faithfulness. Running into friends reminds me of God’s goodness in all circumstances. Sitting out here in the fresh air, just breathing, helps me to find peace. I don’t have to be in the thick of it all right now. I don’t have to know all the answers. Instead, I can embrace what is.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.” – Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat Came Back, Part 2

rex-returned

Last night, we watched a movie called The Christmas Candle . I know it’s February. Don’t judge. We enjoyed a fire in the woodstove along with some pizza. The movie’s themes about faith and prayer and God’s timing touched a nerve. We’re waiting on so many things. Rex needs to come back, I thought. My parents need to find a house of their own. Ruby needs some good neighborhood chums. And many more.

Suddenly, Ruby shouted, “Rex is back!”

His furry face appeared at the back door. I got up to open it to let him in. It’s been so cold, dropping down below freezing the last several nights. I had started to worry about him. I swung the door open. He skittered away. His face registered disbelief. “Do I live here?” he seemed to ask. He crept towards the opening. I stepped back. He sniffed the air, looking for something familiar. He circled to the left. Rex craned his neck forward, peering into the comfortable room. Then he ran into the house.

But he didn’t settle. He trotted into the main part of the house. He looked the downstairs over. He came back and ate some food, then he was off to explore again. He peeked at the woodstove with its fiery logs putting out powerful heat. He looked at each of us. He and Chloe sniffed each other as if to say, you’re back, too. He spied the blanket in my lap and seemed to recall its cozy qualities. Because after he ate and drank and groomed himself, he settled in my lap.

Rex got lost. He’s a little thinner for not having eaten for 2 nights. He had some gunk stuck to his tail. He probably slept little, nervous as he is. When he took off Thursday morning, he had no idea how strange his world had gotten. He dove into it headfirst and then didn’t know how to get back. We left the litterbox outside because I’d heard cats can smell it a long way off and find their way home. But I found little pawprints and scattered litter on the ground. Someone decided they wanted to be civilized instead of pooping in the great outdoors. I don’t think the litterbox acted like a homing beacon, at least not for him.

Rex’s return reminded me about when we get off track with the Lord. Sometimes we’re off for a few days. Sometimes we’re off doing our own thing for years. That time off the road of truth makes us leery to come back. Will God accept me? Does He still love me? How could he, after all I’ve done? The fact is He’s always waiting, His comforting embrace on the other side of the entry way. Yet He won’t barge in. He waits for us. All we have to do is open the door and cross the threshold. Then, like Rex relaxing in his staff’s owners’ presence, we remember that we belong.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” – Revelation 3:20

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

 

 

 

 

 

With Knobs On

So, I know you’ve been wondering what Rex has been up to. It’s a burning desire, I know. Well, no dead rodents of late. But observe:

rexs-chalk

A chalk collection of several lovely pastel shades, compiled over a few mornings. A new piece showed up each dawn. I should point out that only the tiniest yellow stub belongs to us. Ruby and I told him we needed orange and green, possibly pink, to be able to draw anything cool. So far, no dice.

This morning, I found:

gold-door-knob

In case you can’t tell, it’s a gold-toned door knob. It’s one of those that needs a key to lock it. It’s away from its door, alone and unprotected. Rex carted it off. Hope whoever lost it made alternative arrangements. Wait, maybe Rex put the door somewhere, too? Stay tuned, folks.

If you’ve lost some sidewalk chalk or a doorknob, hit me up. I’ll take care of you. Maybe I can get him to bring me a Ferrari…

 

 

Friday Flotsam

what do people do all day

(source)

Remember this book?

Richard Scarry wrote and illustrated some of the most memorable children’s books. I remember looking at his books and trying to figure out which of the professions I might like to take on as an adult. Perhaps you have a natural curiosity, and you must know:  What have people been up to? Since everyone’s a worker and all.

Well, yesterday I finished the Title VI report. Which is not the same as CA Certification, like I originally thought. Title VI has to do with civil rights. CA Certification has to do with WSDOT allowing us to manage our own transportation projects. Anyway, the Title VI report has many attachments and lots of contractual language. Mercifully, for government reports, plagiarism is not only expected but encouraged. No need to reinvent the wheel. It’s done, awaiting city administrator signature. Whew!

Jonathon’s managed to put in a new window in our bedroom. He tore out the old screen door and rickety steps leading up to it. He trimmed out the new window and painted it this week. It looks like it’s always been there. Beautiful.

Zac scored 100% on a financial intelligence essay. He said the reviewer wrote something about how “its” should have been “it’s”. Folks, “it’s” is only used for a contraction of it and is. Period. Zac knew this, and the reviewer didn’t. Proud of that kid.

Ruby created a black spider out of fuzzy pipe cleaners. She gave it googly eyes and a mouth using scrap materials. I’d show you a picture, but I don’t want to scare you.

Rex, fully recovered and back up to fighting weight now, killed a rat. He looked very pleased with himself. I spied it, gray, soggy and very dead, in the carport this morning. I’ll spare you a photo of that, too.

Chloe threw up on the carpet and yet managed to espouse no knowledge of the fact.

Last, but not least, if you work in a garage, you might find this bonus reading material in the bathroom…

predator extreme mag

What have you been up to this week?

Rex and the Ick

Rex at vetWarning: this post references lots of bodily fluids and yucky stuff.

I took Rex to the vet yesterday. He hadn’t eaten since Thursday or Friday of last week. You might say I’m a bad cat owner, but hold on a minute. Rex is a predator. He eats lizards, mice, moles, voles, insects and squirrels. And who knows what else. It seemed entirely possible that his stomach might be upset from digesting whatever the heck he ate. I wanted to give him time to get over it.

Rex isn’t much of a vomiter. If he does start, he will at least trot to the linoleum. Chloe holds the honor of chief vomitess. She used to throw up at least weekly, green gushy stuff that stains. So when I found clear spit up on the carpet, I knew it had to be him. Then I found some green soupy stuff pooled upstairs on the study floor. Time to get serious.

When I put Rex into the cat carrier, he felt lighter. He didn’t struggle, like he usually does. I opened the door and shoved. He tried bracing his legs, yet I won. He complained a bit on the way to the vet, but it was as if he knew he needed to go. I heard no protests from the blue box.

The vet tech had me put him up on the shiny examination table, on top of a white towel.

“He’s a big boy,” she said, petting him and admiring his shiny black sleekness. Rex looked peeved.

“He’s usually around 20 lbs,” I said.

She leaned over and picked him up.

“I’m guessing about 15 lbs,” she said as she placed him on the scale. Rex weighed in at 15 lbs, 3 ounces. She reminded me of those labor and delivery nurses who can put their hands on your pregnant belly and accurately predict the size of your baby, like my cousin. Instead of baby whisperer, she was a cat whisperer.

The tech looped a bungee-type leash around Rex’s neck so he wouldn’t bolt. She took his temperature. Rex didn’t even peep. Not even a hiss. I knew he wasn’t well.

We waited for the doctor. A dog outside in the waiting room barked. Rex started. He did not like the idea of a dog right on the other side of the slider. He listened, ready to bolt. The dog calmed down. Rex turned his head away from me. He leaned against the wall. He closed his eyes. Anywhere but here, his expression said.

The doctor joined us. He asked Rex’s age.

“Rex is 9, I believe, ” I said.

“Ah,” he said. “Well, he doesn’t have a temperature.”

Whew! I thought.

He palpated Rex’s abdomen. He felt up Rex’s bladder. Rex looked alarmed. He stuck a narrow flashlight into Rex’s ears. He forced open his mouth and examined his teeth.

“Look at those teeth,” he clucked. “They’re awful. Both sides.”

Years ago, we were told we should be brushing Rex’s teeth. The vet offered to do it for $250. Gulp. No! And Rex would bite our fingers off or scratch us to pieces before we got his teeth brushed. No dopes, us.

“Well,” Dr. Eddie said, sitting himself down on the bright yellow vinyl bench seat. “Rex’s age makes it a real possibility for kidney or thyroid trouble.”

I knew this. Our old cat, Rita, died of kidney failure. What a miserable way to go. She drank more often and peed more often. Then she started throwing up bile, green goo. She got weaker and weaker. We had her put down.

I swallowed, listening, sending a silent prayer for Rex’s healing.

“Let’s give him an anti-nausea shot, and a pill and do a blood draw. We’ll try and figure out what’s going on with him.”

I took Rex home again. He meowed several times to let me know he didn’t appreciate the trip. At all. Once safely in the carport, I opened the carrier and released the cat. He strolled out and kept on meowing. He wandered around, in and out of the house. I went back to work.

When I got home last night, he was still talking. He had lot to say. So much, in fact, that I dumped the old food out of his bowl and replaced it with a little fresh. Then, miracle of miracles, he ate a few nuggets. I know because he started cleaning his face. Things started looking up.

I should mention the vet wanted us to try giving him some canned cat food – emergency type stuff.

“You should mix it with water and put it in a syringe. Then, down his gullet,” the assistant said.

“Not happening,” I said. The last time we tried medicating Rex, it took a lot of sweaty effort, an old towel and a few choice words under our breath.

Zac, Rex’s rightful owner,  dutifully opened the small can of cat/dog food and mixed it with water. He put it on the floor in front of Rex. Rex sniffed it and walked away. Chloe, not one to waste anything, scarfed it up. Rex can be a bit of a gourmand. Plus, anything that smacks of medicine, he avoids.

Today, he ate a couple of slivers of rotisserie chicken. Don’t worry, I gave some to Chloe too. He drank a couple of dainty sips of milk. Chloe slurped up the rest. Rex reminded us again about how maligned he was, getting poked with sharp objects and dosed with medicine.

Me, I couldn’t stop grinning. I think he’s going to make it after all.