Monday, August 31, 2015

My $215 scatalogical failure

For most of the summer, I've had a cat poop problem. As most of you know, I have three cats. I have a big cat box in my bathroom, which is cleaned daily. My cats are inside/outside cats, about 50/50. Only Frannie is willing to use the litterbox exclusively though Evie will do so if she finds herself in the house too long. Sammy won't. He just won't.

My second landlord has discontinued the first landlord's practice of mulching the shrub beds and my cats, my neighbor's cats, other neighborhood cats, and the occasional passing dog with an inconsiderate owner have taken to using the beds. In the heat of this summer, it stinks. And it particularly stinks under the windows of the petless couple in the front apartment so I've been diligent about cleaning up after Sammy but I am tired of cleaning up for the neighborhood.

Several online locations recommended bark mulch as a solution, saying the cats wouldn't put their paws on it because of splinters. I asked my landlord about it and he said go ahead. He didn't offer to pay however. So I bought 13 bags of mulch and hired a friend to clean the beds out and spread the mulch. They look so much better.

And the cats are still pooping in the beds. If you have ideas, I'm all ears!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A great quote

William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An ugly brush with sadism

I do my best to keep most of these posts pretty positive but I feel a need today to express both my outrage and deep grief. Yesterday on Facebook, a friend posted a desperately distressing video called 30 Seconds in the Life of Sara. Sara is/was a cow in a factory farm. This is not a video about the horrible conditons these animals live in. It is a video about sadistic cruelty and brutality to these animals. I only watched about six seconds and I turned it off because I couldn't bear it. A white man (shown only from the shoulders down) punches the calf in the head several times, stuffs a rope down her throat, and then strangles her with it. I stopped watching at this point because I was sobbing and close to throwing up.

Cruelty to animals is incomprehensible to me. Dog fights, cock fights, torturing cats and dogs, beating and starving horses. How is it that we have raised this man in the video to be someone who does that? Who is so powerless, so full of hate and rage, that he will torture a defenseless creature and still have his job and perhaps have his behavior condoned and even applauded by his fellow workers.

I wept off and on all day yesterday and today. And for the first time in decades, I thought yesterday about suicide, questioning whether I could continue to live in a world that lets this brutality, this sadism happen. This and all the  terrible things that humans, mostly men, do to women, children, babies, and other men. It was a fleeting thought, but sometimes it is just too much to bear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Disney/Pixar's Inside Out

Yesterday my good friend Sue and I took our inner kids to see Inside Out, a dazzling animation about feelings and memories. Personifications of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust run the Headquarters and help a young child maintain her core memories and deal with her feelings.

A lot of the film is hilarious and clever and the visualizations of these attributes are wonderful, both because they are spot on and because they give us something to see when we experience those feelings. I would love to have seen this as a child and, that notwithstanding, I learned a lot that is helpful for me.

Anger always gets his way, Disgust is haughty and exremely well dressed, and Fear is the laughable coward, but Sadness is the ugly duckling, the most unwanted character, who in the end saves the family. A really important message for me and maybe others.

If you have some issues with your feelings, you might enjoy it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Unwelcome fellow campers at Camp Innerkid

Some unpleasant changes here at camp. On Sunday, the camp director closed the little store. She'd seen that I'd been way overcharging my account on candy and ice cream bars. Then on Monday, a new load of campers showed up.

First, off the bus was Bonnie Boredom. She weighs about 500 pounds and came lumbering into the cabin, throwing that weight around. She sat on me most of the afternoon and everything that had been so much fun the week before, she sneered at. Coloring? for fools! Reading? Who cares! Writing a poem!? For sissies! The only thing she was interested in was napping. Oh, and did I mention she complained and complained about the heat.

My other new bunkmate for a couple of days was Rhonda Restless. She took the top bunk and kept jiggling her legs and flopping around on the mattress so that Bonnie and I could hardly nap. As soon as lights went out the first night, she dragged out a suitcase that had her private stash of desserts. I've done my best not to break into that stash.

Yesterday afternoon, Bonnie and Rhonda took a hike (after I told them to) and I was able to settle down again. I've asked the director to ban them from camp. Hope she listens.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rolling with change

I've received two pieces of information this past week that have rattled my stability cage a bit. Both of them have helped me remember to consider change as a good thing instead of something to rale against.

I got a letter from the manager of our studio co-operative saying that as he had suspected, our building is going up for sale (the original owner died some years ago and left it to his sister. She died at age 96 last March). The historic building (it was a commercial laundry for about 65 years) has been an artists' coop since 1977 but in today's hot real estate market, it will go to a commercial developer for condos or apartments most likely. I've loved having my studio there. It's 9 blocks from my apartment and affordable. We have another 7 months but the loss of it is coming.

I also got an email saying that my steadiest client has hired an in-house editing manager. She will be organizing things, which we freelancers have needed, but she will also be doing reports and finding ways to cut back on the time we spend on the reports. The rub is that we're paid by the hour so that will diminish our income as well as make fewer reports available to us contractors.

In each of these cases, I thought about getting upset and then just let it go. I want to be somebody who embraces change, even the ones I don't want, rather than fighting them or complaining about them. I read a lovely thought today: Shift from thinking that things happen to you to thinking that things happen for you.

I'm curious to see what gifts these two big changes are going to bring.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A poem that moved me at the Hood River Plein Air Writers Gathering



What Remains
By Sarah Sullivan, inspired by Mt. Hood Winery


A cooper made the oak wine barrels. The wood came from Washington. The grapes came from the west field near the stream. The water came from Mt. Hood down the river into the irrigation ditch. This year the water is rationed and the grapes will be smaller.

In the soil are stones from as far as Idaho that came in the floods 12,000 years ago. Imagine a torrent of water 10 times the combined flow of all of the rivers in the entire world. Incomprehensible, like the tree becoming a vessel and the glacier making its way into wine.

We worry about the water and the mountain. We know the glaciers are receding and the summers are going to be more like this one. Unbearably hot. Fires everywhere.

Still, in the fall the geese will fly in long, loud V’s over the vineyard. The deer will gather under the apple trees, and a few of the salmon will make their way back upstream through the warming water.

Try to remember the exact place where we came into being.