Cat-tain America

I thought a new cat was a good idea.  After saying goodbye to Shasti through tears and heartache in the vet’s office a couple years ago, it seemed that it was time.  My dog, Buddy, needed a pack mate, and I needed a four-legged family member who would pose for pictures.  

And then kismet got involved.  Oliver was born into a litter on an Arkansas farm, the inhabitants of said farm being the mother and father of a friend at work, this friend choosing to post irresistible pictures of six-week-old kittens on Facebook, and this author deciding all of this was divine timing.  I IM’d the friend, and she drove back to Tennessee with Oliver in a crate.  

Oh, my doodness.  Little kitten nose and little kitten paws and little kitten meow.  How could I have known he would become a terrorist?

The first few months weren’t bad.  He was still small enough to lock in a bathroom when we weren’t around, and his peanut brain was still unaware of options that would render this situation unacceptable.

Then he got bigger.  And wiser.  And faster.  

And more evil.  

It began with the peace lily.  That peace lily had never done a thing to that cat, but somehow it seemed a perfect catnapping location.  I woke up one morning to find gorgeous long stems bent at ninety degree angles and two green eyes mocking me from the bed made of the stalks.  

I bellowed like a bee-stung grizzly.  “Damnitolivergetout!  Get out!  GET OUT!

I propped up the stems the best I could, trimmed away those with no hope, and readied my spray bottle in case he attempted to return.  He did several times, which caused me to bellow anew and run through the house like a lumberjack chasing a leopard and spraying water on the couch, the coffee table, pictures, the television, drenching everything except the actual cat.  

The next morning, I met the same situation.  More peace lily lost to the warmonger.  More bellowing.  More spraying.  

The third morning, the same.  But it was now my fault.  I’d had plenty of time to build a privacy fence around the peace lily.

Next came the furniture.  The couch held up pretty well, but that one chair, MY chair, the chair with words printed on it that makes me feel like a writer when I sit there, sipping tea, listening to Beethoven, and getting lost in Google quicksand because I need to know what year zippers were invented, that chair has only one natural predator – Felis catus.  

When I catch him with claws ripping through my writer’s chair, I snatch him up, take him directly to his scratching post, and demonstrate scratching behavior.  He has yet to follow my lead, but my nails look like Dracula.  

He’s not stupid.  That I know for sure.  He learned what a spray bottle does in one squirt.  In fact, we’re on our third spray bottle because he destroys them when we’re not looking.  He knows that the beep of the alarm system means the door to the sun porch has been opened, and he makes it there from any location in the house with a speed that would bring tears of joy to Pavlov’s eyes.  And he knows the specific sound made by the barely audible whoosh of air created by the almost silent opening of the plastic container in which his food is kept.  

But “no”?  Oh, no.  His only response to “no” is a meow that bears a strong resemblance to “je ne parle pas anglais.” 

I thought it was the final straw when I watched in slow motion as he stretched to full height, curled his paw over the lip of the pot holding the Hawaiian Ti plant, pulled to lift himself up, tipped the pot off the plant stand, sent pot and plant hurtling to the floor, the pot busting into pieces, dirt skidding across the hardwood, plant coming to rest sideways on the ground like an injured soccer player, dog looking on in disbelief, me bellowing, “Daaaaammmmnnniiiiiitttttooollllliiivvveeeeerrrrrrr!”  The world resumed normal speed as the cat dashed by me and into his secret hideaway under the bed, just out of arm’s reach. 

After about 20 minutes of recovering the scene in an appropriately dramatic fashion wherein I called that fur-covered tornado every name in the sailor’s book of nasty names, I started to ease off my demand for his banishment.  The broken pot revealed plant roots squeezing through the hole in the bottom indicating a re-potting was past due, so maybe it wasn’t so bad.  While sweeping the dirt that had slid under the sideboard, I swept up an errant ten dollar bill and grinned like I had done something praiseworthy.  Then I went to the store to buy a new pot and found the most adorable royal blue and teal pot that would perfectly match the sun porch decor, and on the way home I felt myself shifting in the direction of feeling bonafide (sigh) gratitude for the damn cat.

He’s not so bad I suppose.  He snuggles like a baby in the mornings. He settles down sometimes in the afternoon and watches TV from the armrest of the couch.  He sneaks under the covers at night to spoon my back, blanket up to his chin like a child. 

Sure, some days he’s the Scar to my Simba.  He’s the Shere Khan to my Mowgli.  He’s the Mr. Bigglesworth to my Austin Powers.  

But other days, . . . that cute little nose, those cute little paws.  

Oh, my doodness.  

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

Let’s Ask the Atheist to Say Grace

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In First Thessalonians, the Christian New Testament tells us to give thanks in everything.  The Psalmist of the Old Testament bathed in gratitude.  The Quran tells us that “any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul.”  The Buddha taught gratitude as the response to both a kindness and a slight knowing that both contain lessons, the latter often more so than the former.  Hindu practice hinges on living from a place of constant gratitude.  Countless examples of Native American literature emphasize again and again the practice of gratitude to the Great Spirit.

I could go on, but I believe my point is made.  Spirituality, religious identity, holiness — whatever you want to call it — exists in gratitude, regardless of which brand name you prefer.  Thankfulness is perhaps the most consistent element in the history of religious thought.

But, what about those pesky atheists?  Can they even DO Thanksgiving?

I’ve heard people ask that question before.  The assumption underlying this question is that gratitude requires a celestial being as the source of all giving to whom one expresses thanks.

I read a story this past week that came from Hasidic teachings which I will (grossly) paraphrase here.

The student asks the teacher, “Teacher, why did God create atheists?”

The teacher replies, “To teach us compassion.  When an atheist sees a person in need and responds to that need, he does so not to win favor with his God, but simply to act compassionately.  Whenever you see someone in need, you should become an atheist.  Act from a heart of pure compassion and remove any possibility that you are acting out of a selfish need.”

Perhaps also in Thanksgiving we should be atheists.  Rather than thanking whatever your version of God might be — man on a cloud or ethereal energy — perhaps consider who actually provided that for which you feel grateful.  Thank the farmers who raised the turkey and threshed the wheat and bogged the cranberries.  Thank the factory worker who assembled the car you drove over the river and through the woods.  Thank the furniture maker who built the couch you can potato on all afternoon watching football.  Thank the football players who gave up their holiday for your bash-’em-up pleasure.

Thank the breeder who raised the puppy who “helps” you cook.

Now, it just so happens that I believe there is a Source in the universe (though I lean  more toward ethereal energy than man on a cloud).  I have no problem thanking that Source for everything in my life.  Here’s the thing though — when I thank the farmer and the factory worker and the football player, I feel gratitude to both the conduit and the source at the same time.  If I just thank the source, well, I sorta’ skip the middle man.

We are the brokers through which Divine goodness flows from source to other people.  We show up as God in each other’s lives all the time.  I have to believe that being grateful to each other pleases God, however you see her.

So when the big feast starts, bow your head and give thanks, if that’s your preference.  Just don’t forget to kiss the cook as well.  And, always, ALWAYS, ask the atheist to say grace.  You know, just for shits and giggles.

Yin-Yang Economics

For the past few years, I’ve used credit cards as an emergency fund.

Boy, when it’s in black and white, it sounds really stupid, huh?  But, I don’t have piles of cash laying around, and sometimes piles of cash are required.  As an independent contractor, I have to pay my own taxes.  Although I have tried to be good and pay them quarterly in the past, that is often a challenge as well.  So this year I didn’t.  And this year I need a pile of cash.  And this year the economy sucks and credit has been clamped down tight.

Every one of my credit cards has had the credit limit reduced to just what I owe, and several of them have threatened to raise the interest rate to an ungodly figure if I didn’t agree to make no more charges and close the account.  I would wonder what the hell happened to my pristine credit if it weren’t for the fact that this same thing has happened to almost everybody I talk to.  Likely it has happened to you as well.

A few years back, I saw the actress Sharon Stone on some television show, probably The Today Show or something like that.  She was talking about the stroke she had experienced a few years before.  She said, and I am greatly paraphrasing, but this is the gist — she didn’t start to really heal until she stopped resisting it and instead embraced her stroke as one of the best things that had ever happened to her.  She believes that everything happens to serve her, so her stroke must have happened to serve her as well.   It was a powerful interview, and I remembered it because it had such an impact on me and also because I agreed with her.

I’ve thought about that interview a lot the last few weeks.  I’ve thought about it as I hear people bitching and moaning and fretting over the financial situation.   (Before I get flooded with responses from angry people, please know that I recognize there are many people going through very challenging times and really, really hurting right now.  Please, feel free to bitch and moan if it helps you.)   But, I’ve never believed that helps.  In fact, I believe it exacerbates the situation because so much energy is focused on “how bad it is.”

I decided this week to embrace the economy and the credit clamp-down as one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  I’ve been vowing to pay off credit cards for years.  Now, thanks to the credit crunch, I have support from the universe in doing that very thing!   I’ve been swearing that I was going to stop putting ANYTHING on credit, but always found “one exception” that I could somehow justify.  Now, thanks to the credit crunch, I will work out a payment plan with the tax man that does not involve Visa or Visa’s interest rates.  Golly, you mean there were options all this time???

I have so many things to be grateful for.  My job (both of them).  My house.  My partner.  Our family of humans and animals.  Free eggs come fall when the Dragon Bliss Chicken Herd reaches maturity.

And the credit crunch.

Thanks to the powers that be for ALWAYS looking out for me.