Simple Pleasures

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grant in paper box with quoteCats do seem to be wiser than us when it comes to many things. Rest, of course, is high on their list. All kitties seems to be unusually suited to relaxing at any time, depending on their mood and comfort. Stretching their paws leisurely, my cats will often blink their eyes at me as I go about my workday and then relax back into dreamland.

I have begun to wonder if we could learn a few things from our furry friends. After working 60+ hours per week for the past few weeks, I’m tired. I’m just plumb too old for this, I suppose. When I feel the weariness about my eyes even with a constant infusion of coffee on a daily basis, I know I need rest. That and those simple pleasures that we all take for granted as we get older.

I realized this yesterday when I had a bit of “down time” and lay down to read a book for a bit. So relaxed was I that I fell asleep for a quick nap. How I had missed that! Not exciting, that’s for sure, but pleasurable, especially for us old folks.

Life has admittedly become a chore lately. Maybe with a few lessons from my cats–and more time with the Bible–I can take my leisure and find some rest during busy times.

Wishing You a Happy (and Quiet) 4th of July

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katnissjuly4thI remember July 4th’s in rural Oklahoma. There would be family gatherings, of course, but the main attraction would always be a parade through town. Folks would start gathering along the parade route ahead of time, always bringing extra drinks and snacks for friends and family. Talk would be easy and full of excitement for the fun that would come. There were no hard words or raised voices, just good times for a small town.

And then the sirens from the volunteer firefighters and the school band! Excitement would build as the fun and noise began. The parade was short, of course, but boisterous and patriotic. Lots of American flags and cute kids and horse riders. Soon, the parade goers were past, and everyone would gather up their lawn chairs and cups so that they could attend family parties with homemade food and lots of prayers.

And in the city? I miss that closeness and emphasis on the reason for the holiday. There are a lot of fireworks and tons of food, but there seems to be very little patriotism.

Perhaps I’m just getting old and sentimental. Now my July 4th is more of a remembrance of the freedom so many fought and died for than a boisterous time.  Too, with lots of furry kiddos, I am needed to calm them through the fireworks. Today–as with so many years–will most likely bring lots of frightened glances from kitties and doggy and desperate attempts on my part to get them through the evening.

My family wishes you a wonderful and happy holiday, but in the midst of the celebrations, spare some time to think of our independence. And if you plan to shoot off fireworks inside city limits, please be respectful of others.

How will you celebrate the holiday? Big parties or quiet times?

Continuing Stories from a Cat Household

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Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval

Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval

I suppose we should have expected this. Word has apparently gotten around the neighborhood among the local cats that our house is a safe haven. With the cushy outdoor house, ready food and water, and loving people, what cat could resist? And indeed they have taken us up on our generosity, livening up our lives in the process.

It all started with the cat we call Toby. He had been hunting in our garden over the summer. Over the course of a few weeks, my husband managed to befriend him. At that time, we put out food and water each day for Toby, and he showed his gratitude with tail shakes and affection.

Little did we know at the time, though, that he would spread the word. Soon he arrived at our home one morning with a friend, Sally, She immediately took to us, claiming us as her home and family. She became a permanent fixture at our household; she would be waiting for us outside at every time of the day. Purring and pushing against our legs, she managed to find her way into our hearts, and she received daily love and food in return.

Now, those two have evidently spread the word among the neighborhood cats, and so we have another kiddo who comes daily. An orange and white kitty that we call Patches. We first saw him one morning; he was cold and bedraggled, very skinny with poor fur. With regular food, he has become quite the looker, more healthy with sleek fur. And he has even trusted my husband enough to pet him occasionally. He comes around regularly for food, water, and just some time alone in a safe place.

Yes, and we have had other cats come visit our home in the past week. Perhaps needless to say, we no longer get the opportunity to bird watch with all of the cats around. But we can have the good feeling of taking care of cats who are hungry and overlooked. Too, they give us a lot as well. Who would turn down head boops from thankful kitties?

If you want some inspiration for your own insulated cat home, then take a gander at my article:

Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

Princess Leia for a Day

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Original Photo by  mensatic on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by mensatic on Morguefile.com

For many of us, our earliest Halloween memories were filled with trick-or-treating in our neighborhoods. Those of us born in the 1970′s remember a better time for Halloween, one before stories of razor blades and evil tricksters. While our parents’ often accompanied us in our treks through the area, we went up to homes alone and often received homemade treats. Costumes were usually homemade, but occasionally we had a chance to be our heroes. For me, that was Princess Leia.

It was my first year of school, and we were to have a Halloween parade through the school grounds. I was thrilled at this; I was to be Princess Leia, the beautiful heroine of Star Wars. Of course, the costume was not that pretty. Those costumes of the 1970′s were plastic and rubber, heavy masks with an apron-type covering for the body. But when I put on that costume, I was Leia. I was powerful and wonderful. When the time came, I boldly donned my costume and took my place in the parade.

Indeed, that was perhaps the highlight of my Halloween experiences. At that time, the holiday was still an ideal experience, one in which I could become my favorite characters. For a few moments, I could shed my childhood life and create a better, more fanciful me. Despite the smell of rubber and the swish of plastic, I was Leia for a holiday, and it was great.

Competitive Enrollment at My College

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Original Photo by  hotblack on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by hotblack on Morguefile.com

Who would have thought that enrolling in college classes could be a competitive sport? I certainly didn’t, at least until the university that I was attending decided to make the order for enrolling in classes based on lottery. Yes, you read that correctly. The lower your number, the sooner you would be able to enroll, thus giving you a better chance at the classes that you might want. I’m sure that it seemed like a good idea at the time, but little did the administrators know just how much their students might want the advantage in enrollment dates.

We received the message that semester through our advisors as email had not yet reached our little corner of the universe. They informed us that we must line up outside the door of the administration building on a certain day. At a specified time, the door would open, and the lottery tickets would be handed out based on our position in line. Clearly, all would be handled with modesty and decorum, correct?

Anticipation built over the next few weeks. Rumors were passed among the students, and certain ones like myself expressed our desire to be one of the first in line on that fateful day. Indeed, I knew that I would be getting up very early that morning, and I was not the only one.

When I arrived at campus, there was already a line forming outside of the building. Students were talking nervously, wondering about the outcome of the lottery. After I had taken my own place in line, students continued to arrive, and anticipation—and anger—continued to build.

And then it happened. The door to the building opened, and the woman with the tickets appeared. It became total chaos. I and the other students left the line and began running for the door. My experience with my mother and our post-Christmas shopping certainly came in handy that day; I was ready to run for my prize, the lowest lottery ticket possible. Other unfortunate students found themselves pushed down and shoved aside in the grass. Some of us managed to reach the door and get one of the coveted tickets. Luckily, I received my ticket without hurting any others around me. I escaped the chaos as soon as possible with my ticket firmly in my grasp.

Did the school have some fallout after their plan? They sure did. We received apology letters soon afterward, with the university providing the new schedule for enrollment, sans lottery. I did feel bad for those students who were hurt on that day and felt that the faults in the university’s plan should have been obvious to the administration. It was certainly one of the oddest moments in my college career.

Water Problems, Both Urban and Rural

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Original Photo by o0o0xmods0o0o on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by o0o0xmods0o0o on Morguefile.com

Reading the local news this morning, I discovered that there was some threat to our local water supply. I once thought that living in a city would be entirely advantageous, but there are certainly drawbacks to any living situation. Such interdependence and close living quarters to thousands of others can provide threats that I wouldn’t have expected many years ago.

In the past, I lived mainly in rural areas, many of which relied partially on well water. Although the movie version of water wells can often be idyllic, drinking local water that has been untreated can be difficult, and if anything will most likely make you wish for a nice, commercial soda pop. There are reasons other than cultural that many rural folk drink sweet tea.

In one town, the water was particularly bad. When first turned on, the water coming from the faucet would be black and smell like the dickens. We would let it run for at least ten minutes before it would appear anywhere near clear. Obviously, preparing meals, washing dishes and clothes, and taking baths could be problematic. Clothes might stain, and our teeth began to deteriorate. And for those folks that might not realize it, bottled water didn’t always exist. We mainly drank soda as the smell of even filtered water could be off-putting.

During the most recent controversy regarding the use of fluoride in our city water, I wondered if those who opposed its use had ever drunk water like we had back in that small town. To be honest, I’ve been grateful since moving here that I had water from the tap that was drinkable and lacked an obvious taste or smell. Clean and potable water is a blessing that so many of us don’t appreciate, at least not soon enough.

And now? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with our current water problems. Part of me right now is wishing for a private well, but that’s just not going to happen. For now, I suppose I’ll drink up.