I Dream Of…

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite TV shows was the 60’s classic, I Dream of Jeannie. While I enjoyed the humorous plot and puzzled at the maladjusted love story between Jeannie the genie and her human “master,” Tony the astronaut, I mostly loved the show for its costumes and interior design. It only recently occurred to me what a huge impression the show must have had on my tastes. From collecting old, illustrated editions of Arabian Nights to having a distinct taste for embroidered silks in rich jewel tones, comfy floor pillows, and mid-century mod furniture and paintings, it all lines up with the looks that fascinated me as a kid.

Even though I was pretty sure I’d be moving out of my apartment this year, I’m getting ready to renew my lease, after all. My landlord only raised the rent by $10, and I haven’t been able to find anything available in my price range (something between “free” and “flat broke”) in a safe neighborhood. So I’ve decided that if I have to stay in my studio apartment for another year, I might as well make the best of it. What if, instead of thinking of it as a shoebox – tiny, cramped, inconvenient – I think of it as a magic bottle – still tiny, but full of possibility and romance, a place where my dreams can come true?

The first thing I’m going to do is redo my bathroom. It’s the tiniest room, and the easiest to make look totally different with just a few touches. I bought a fun/funny vintage shower curtain a few months ago that’s covered in a cartoon jungle theme. It lifts my spirits, and I intend to keep it for future use, but it’s time to make some adult decor choices. I found this shower curtain on Poshmark that fits the overall look of my house pretty well. It’s originally from World Market, but I got mine brand new and unused, for $11 – awesome deal.

showercurtain

Geometric Multicolor Shower Curtain, from World Market – $29.99 (unless you get lucky, like me!)

Next up is new towels and a bathmat, a little piece of art, a medicine cabinet, a corner storage rack for the bathtub, a basket for under the sink to store towels, new bathtub handles, and a plunger.

I’m thinking strongly of buying Turkish bath towels, since they’ll take up much less storage space, and be so much easier to wash by hand than traditional terrycloth towels are. The last time I had to wash the towels, I had blisters on my fingers the next day. I’m not sure where I’ll get the bathmat, but the last one was $5 from H&M.

As for the art, I might end up making a collage, or framing a cool postcard. The piece that I currently have hanging in the bathroom is just that – a pretty vignette from a postcard I had sitting around.

The idea of a medicine cabinet just popped into my head yesterday, while walking around the local reclaimed building supply store. I have so little storage space in the room, and almost no counter space, but every inch is taken up by bottles and tubes and brushes. Maybe if I can find a small enough medicine cabinet to hang on the wall, I’ll get just a little more space. I’ll do some digging and see if that’s a good solution. This is reminding me that I also need to see if there’s a way to fix the cabinet drawer, which makes this terrible screeching sound every time you pull the drawer out.

As for the toilet, the flap needs to be replaced, and I really would love to have a decent plunger. I’ve been using the cheap, pointless plunger that came with the apartment when I moved in three years ago, but it’s time to move on. Which reminds me – I would LOVE to have a new cat-deterrent toilet paper dispenser, and a toilet paper holder that I can stack rolls in for later.

Oh well, that’s a lot of dreaming and planning for one little room. I’d like to have this done by the end of July, so I’ll update you guys once the bathroom is pulled together. I’ll even take some before and after pics, so you can see how it turned out.

One Foot In Front Of The Other

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless our walking is our preaching.” – St. Francis of Assisi

When I first started seriously considering going on pilgrimage, I made this silent agreement with myself that I would only approach the concept of the journey from a place of positivity. I guess that might sound strange – after all, what’s there to be negative about when you’re considering a soul-shaking adventure that promises to completely change the way you encounter the world from that point forward? Positivity wasn’t part of my grand plan; it wasn’t something that I carefully decided on and then tried hard to fulfill – being positive was just something that happened, then continued to happen. And now that I’m writing this blog post, I’m finding that indeed, I’ve been used to thinking about this trip in such glowing terms that it’s hard for me to put words to any underlying worries.

(Side note: Yay for positive thinking! It actually works! This is especially important since I’m generally kind of a realist in the day-to-day, definitely not anything near to being a Pollyanna.)

There comes a time, however, when you must confront potential issues, if just to work through them and visualize what your solutions might be should problems arise. For me, my greatest concerns about this trip have been focused on either side of the Atlantic: my cats’ wellbeing while I’m gone, and my physical stamina on The Camino. 

If you’ve ever read my other blog, Compass & Quill, you’ve probably seen me mention my two cats, Izzy and Munky, at least a few times. Though I wouldn’t go as far as some cat ladies and say that they’re “my life,” they are definitely my fur babies, and I love them. When you decide to share your home with another living creature that depends on you, there are always going to be some sacrifices made for their wellbeing. For instance, though I don’t always have the money to go to the doctor, they always get a yearly vet visit, stay current on their shots, and get the healthiest food I can afford. They make a mockery of my upholstered furniture, despite constant claw clipping, double-sided tape, pheromone spray to keep them from being stressed, and a dozen other tries at possible deterrence, but that doesn’t mean that I’d ever consider declawing them. And now they’re going to cost me a pretty penny for a pet sitter while I’m gone.

But even though I’ll most likely have at least a couple of people looking in on them on a regular basis during my absence, I still worry. Izzy is high strung and only likes one human – me. The last time I left for a couple of weeks, even though she had constant care and companionship, she still meowed herself hoarse at the door, waiting for my return. What’s she going to do when I’m gone for a month and a half? Luckily, Munky loves everyone. I doubt he’ll even notice that I’m gone as long as he’s still getting back rubs on a daily basis. But I’m afraid to think of the stress I’ll be putting poor Isabel under by being gone for an extended period. There’s no real solution, so I guess it’s really not something I should think about too much more. I’ll shower her with love for as long as I’m here, and I’ll make sure that their cat sitter is the best possible choice for a loving surrogate while I’m out of town. After that, it’s out of my hands.

The other thing that worries me is the physical toll of walking 500 miles. Unlike the cat situation, this is something for which I can prepare myself. However, much like the cat situation, no matter how much preparation I undergo, it is inevitable that there will be a considerable amount of pain involved. If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading so many Camino autobiographies, it’s that I will think that I’ve thought of every eventuality, but I’ll miss something. But the best I can do is try to go with the flow. Put in as much work as I’m capable of, then take my chances.

Right now, I’m walking about seven miles a day on average, with a 15 lb. backpack. I’m going to try to keep upping that number (pack and distance), until I’m closer to walking 10 miles a day with a 25 lb. pack. Hopefully that will negate some of the shock to my system when I kick things off in St. Jean Pied-de-Port. I’m also going to need to start doing some thorough stretching on a daily basis to try to get my hip and back pain under control prior to leaving. If anything has a real chance of sidelining me, it’s going to be hip/back/knee pain or a major blister. Unfortunately, I’m really prone to blisters, so I’m not sure if there’s much I can do to avoid them, other than properly breaking in my hiking boots, wearing good socks, applying some sort of non-chafing cream/lotion my feet every day, and bringing along plenty of bandaids and moleskin patches for hot spots. One thing I should be much more worried about, but am not letting bother me just yet, is the fact that there are no hills or mountains anywhere near my home in New Orleans, yet much of the terrain I’ll be covering in Spain is hilly or mountainous. The best I’ll be able to do is start walking at steep inclines on the treadmill, and hope that helps a little bit. Other than that, all I can do is put my boots on and just put one foot in front of the other, and trust that they’ll get me where I want to go in the end!

Have you had any worries about walking The Camino, or about leaving your life behind to go on pilgrimage? How did you address them?

There’s No Place That’s Home

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It's crappy, but you're not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

The only existing photo of my old bedroom. It’s a crappy shot, but you’re not missing much. Notice the missing bits of ceiling and walls, and the unfinished state of the other walls. The floor was particle board. Taken in the summer of 1999, right before I left for college (I think).

I’m a firm believer that “house” does not equal “home”. It’s probably due to a combination of factors. My childhood house was never completely finished; my father built it, but never had enough money to finish it. The eaves were never filled in, and there were walls and doors missing throughout. Consequently, although my family lived there for my entire life until I moved to New Orleans, it felt a little like squatting. It’s tough to explain the nuances, but it was never comfortable; I was always scared there, and hated being there alone. After I moved away, the house was demolished. Somehow the empty plot of land scares me even more.

During college, I moved to a different apartment every year. The place was always different, but my roommates, two of my best friends, were always the same. They became my home (and still are, even though they’re both so far away – one in Texas, the other in Croatia). After college, they both moved away, and I was on my own again. It took a couple of years, but eventually I found a sweet little half of a double shotgun house that I felt could possibly be a settling-down place. A couple of months later, I lost both the apartment and everything I owned when Hurricane Katrina hit. At first it was devastating, but eventually I realized how freeing it is to not have such strong emotional attachment to physical goods. In years since, I’ve downsized a couple more times; my cats, computer, a few important books, and old photos are all I really need to get by.

When I was a kid, since I hated being inside my house, I spent most of my summers hanging out in a tent in the yard, reading what felt like endless stacks of books. I devoured books as a kid, but horror, fantasy, and historical fiction were my faves – as long as they had cute boys and/or dragons, I was good to go. The Chronicles of Prydain and the Anne of Green Gables series were summertime must-reads; I read both series every summer from 11 to 17, and still remember how it felt to yearn (pretty much equally) for the affection of Princess Eilonwy and Gilbert Blythe. I wonder what it would have been like if they’d met?

Is it any wonder that this built-in need for magic and romance led me to a love of medieval art history? Of course, the magic of it all was beaten out of me pretty early in undergrad, but I’ll never get over the romance. I think that every day on my pilgrimage is going to have at least a touch of that wonder built in. What it won’t have, however, is homesickness. When you don’t equate the feeling of “home” with a place, it’s hard to dwell (ha!) on thoughts of somewhere that you aren’t. I do worry that I won’t have the ability (read: available technology) on the road to write as much as I’d like, though, and that bothers me a bit.

The one time I’m “me” lately is when I’m writing. In my day-to-day, I’m having kind of a tough go of it. It’s hard to explain; life probably looks peachy from the outside, but it’s kind of a dim time for me – hence the decision to get the hell out of dodge and cross the Pyrenees while I’m at it. I spend my days so tightly wound, dancing on the edge of my breaking point. Most people don’t see this about me. I’m a Scorpio; we’re built to naturally insulate our feelings. It’s probably why a lot of us end up becoming emotional time bombs. Over the years I’ve learned the hard way that even when I think I’m broadcasting loud and clear, other people tend to find me inscrutable. I let loose steam on my blogs, and every now and then in conversation with a trusted friend. Mostly, though, it’s the writing that gets me through.

Lots of people write on the road, but it seems most are doing it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Some books that I’ve read were sketched out on cell phones and tablets, and I know that it’s possible to find a place to power up your tech gear in many alburgues. The worst bit is the extra weight. I’ll hate to add more to my pack load, but I need to capture my thoughts. I’m not quick at physically penning words; a keyboard or voice recorder will be necessary. I’ll most likely be using an iPad mini with an attached keyboard, or maybe a cheaper tablet – I’m not sure on that just yet. It will have to be light, and I’ll probably have to give up some other comfort (like extra socks, or shampoo, or what-have-you) to bring it along. But it will be worth it.

Once the writing is taken care of, the only other issue I’ll have to take care of to feel really at home on the road is to make some friends. That shouldn’t be too hard – a bottle of wine and a great story or two go a long way when you’re all new to a place. I find myself hoping that maybe out there on The Camino, I’ll meet new family, and I’ll be able to extend my feeling of “home” to other corners of the globe. Soon, I’ll be at home in Australia, maybe, or perhaps Belgium. Maybe some of my eventual home team are from Wales, or Italy, or Slovakia. Who knows? I’m excited to find out.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New iPod | Crazy Markovich
  2. of raging wants | Anawnimiss
  3. Daily Prompt: Our House- The impact of family to our psychological mind | Journeyman
  4. Streaks in the Darkness | Exploratorius
  5. Home: Tankas | 365 days of defiance
  6. To London For Love & The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  7. Daily Prompt: Our House | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Cumbraes, 1962 | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  9. Launching Pad | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  10. Daily Prompt: Home | The Wandering Poet
  11. evergreen | yi-ching lin photography
  12. My family are huggers, and it’s always been an awesome part of life. | thoughtsofrkh
  13. Daily Prompt: House | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  14. Daily Prompt: Our House | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  15. Short Plat – A Short Story | Kilbo – Chris Kilbourn
  16. The House in Middelburg. | Hope* the happy hugger
  17. BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE | SERENDIPITY
  18. Home, Sweet Home | Home’s Cool!
  19. Daily Prompt: Our House « Mama Bear Musings
  20. The Gray House | A Sign Of Life
  21. Childhood Memories of Home | Unload and Unwind
  22. Home | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  23. 272. My Childhood Home | Barely Right of Center
  24. Children Must Be Seen And Not Heard | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  25. My Childhood Home | A mom’s blog
  26. Chained Childhood… | Haiku By Ku
  27. Minutely Infinite | Is home where the heart is?
  28. House of Haiku | Finale to an Entrance
  29. An Ode Full of Home | L5GN
  30. Formerly known as home | Le Drake Noir
  31. The rising of the Sap Nymph: an erotic poem | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  32. The family home | Sue’s Trifles
  33. Daily Prompt: Our House | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  34. A Trip Down Memory Lane | Views Splash!
  35. DP Daily Prompt: Our House | Sabethville
  36. DP: OUR HOME | Active Army Wife
  37. Daily Prompt: Our House | Rolbos ©
  38. Daily Prompt reply…3/3/14 | TheWritingMommy
  39. The Halls of Childhood | meanderedwanderings
  40. View from the attic | Standing Ovation, Seated
  41. Charity Begins At Home | AstridOxford
  42. breakfast music | peacefulblessedstar
  43. Our Old House | Flowers and Breezes
  44. Houses and Home | The Nameless One
  45. Thoughts of home | FUNNY…PECULIAR
  46. Childhood Memory… | Cats, Coffee, And Life At Random
  47. Homeless in your heart? | Emotional Fitness
  48. The Tracks–Home: Daily Prompt | Finicky Philly
  49. Moving Away | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  50. My first house: “mango tree” / Ma première maison: “manguiers” | Write for learning
  51. It Was Ours | The Book of Shayne
  52. “Tomorrow you’re going to be four!” | djgarcia94
  53. Our House: Slugs and Stairs (Daily Post) | Fun with Depression
  54. Burning Down the House in the Middle of the Street « psychologistmimi
  55. The House That Built Me | The Shotgun Girls
  56. Are There Five Interesting Facts About Me?
  57. I freaking love this house | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  58. Our House in the Middle of the Street | thanks for letting me autograph your cat
  59. Daily Prompt: Our House | Cancer Isn’t Pink
  60. Early Memories of Home | The Silver Leaf Journal
  61. Quietness in the Houusse!!! | The Salmon Yatra
  62. Daily Prompt: Being Reminiscent! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  63. Our House | viver para contar
  64. A Fresh Start | Menimèse Creare
  65. Daily Prompt: Home | Winging it
  66. The phone, the farmer, and the Batman. | Trucker Turning Write
  67. Our home, home on the Office Range | Institute for Hispanic Health Equity
  68. Life is Home | Live Life in Crescendo
  69. Our House | YAP + film
  70. Staying in Focus/Daily Prompt: Our House | Staying in Focus
  71. Home | A picture is worth 1000 words

Another Day, Another Laundry Pile

Everyday isn’t laundry day in my house, though sometimes it sure does feel like it. I don’t mind doing the laundry, though. This is my first apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer, and they’re both brand new and awesome. For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have to hunt for quarters any time I need clean underwear, and the dryer actually DRIES my clothes. It’s revolutionary, I tell you.

Of course, we all know who absolutely adores laundry day – the gorgeous Miss Isabel. She’s always happiest when towels are part of the mix, but earlier today I was on a roll, and thoughtlessly unloaded and folded a dryer’s worth of towels quicker than she could make it to the bedroom to come play. Realizing my mistake a few minutes later, I threw a couple of the clean towels in with the next load of things to dry, so she could still enjoy a good snuggle. I’m such a sucker, but as you can see, it was totally worth it.

Isabel the Cat in a Laundry Pile

"Mmm...so toasty warm!"

Isabel the Cat in a Laundry Pile - Image 2

"Seriously Mum, this is the best ever..."

Isabel the Cat in a Laundry Pile - Image 3

"I'd invite you to share, but you see, it's such a small pile. It's really only big enough for one of us."

Isabel the Cat in a Laundry Pile - Image 4

"Seriously - you're not going to fit. Especially not with that black box thing strapped to your head."

Isabel the Cat in a Laundry Pile - Image 5

"Oh, all right, you can come play too!"

And much cuddling and purring ensued.

The End.

Made of Stars

Sorry that the last post was private. There are two reasons for that:

1) I needed to vent about a problem I’ve been holding inside for the last year or two, a problem that has become more intense since my move. I wanted to share without making my musings public, something I have tried to do in my private journal in the past, but found unsatisfying. I’m a fast typist, and it’s nice to be able to see many full thoughts come out of my head and start to live and work themselves out on the electronic page. Maybe in the future I’ll share my thoughts with the world. For now, however, if you really wanted to read, I wouldn’t mind, I think. The post is password protected, and I’ll share if you’d like to write me for it.

2) Since the problem concerns another person, I didn’t want to air something I really should be able to talk to them about in person. Since this person’s demeanor makes it virtually impossible for me to share real thoughts without getting laughed at for “thinking too much,” and this in itself seems to lead to a much darker future path in our friendship, I didn’t think it good to air grievances quite as publicly as I would like. My few readers know me well enough by now, I think, to know that I really don’t mind telling all about myself. There’s not much about my life that I don’t find is made richer by sharing, but this is one of those rare times when I believe the problem might come back to bite me in the proverbial ass if I let it live outside of my head and one protected blog page. I haven’t even been able to tell my best friends. Another interesting way the internet has changed relationships forever.

But enough with that. I’ve already written a major post on it today, and now I’m tired of letting negativity into my borders. From now on this afternoon, only positive thoughts. The most positive? I’m back with my band again! I have some photos I’d like to share with you of the band’s practice space, so I’ll save more musings on that precious topic for another post, but let it be known that I’m insanely happy about getting to sing again, and also to hang out with dear old friends that I haven’t seen in years, and love, love, love collaborating with.

Also in my personal news? I’m taking two free online courses in pagan studies at The Pagan Campus. I know I told you about these before, but I’m having so much fun that I had to mention them again. One class is in Numerology, and the other is in Sabbats and Esbats. I’m learning a lot, but also learning how much there is to learn, and that I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg. I love it. I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life honing my craft, and following the right path for me. Having grown up in super heavy-duty Christian country, where people believe that the devil ‘planted’ dinosaur bones in the earth to fool the weak-minded (lol, btw) into believing that the earth is older than a few thousand years, among lots of other weird, backward-ass thoughts that make very little sense, it’s so nice to get to meet people who believe in something that makes all the sense in the world, and find a religion where appreciating and honoring Mother Nature is the common thread. I don’t care to separate the Universe into multiple gods and goddesses, as many pagans do, but I also love the fact that for once I’m being given the right of way to practice what the Universe keeps proving to me every day is real and right and logical, and to finally see and embrace the abundance of love and energy we have at our fingertips, just by opening our eyes to the possibility of being proactive healers instead of sheep. Like Moby says, “We Are All Made of Stars“.

What else? Well, I made 100 overall in my last marketing class, which is good. I think that this next class is going to really kick my butt, so I should probably actually be doing homework right now instead of writing a blog post or two. But that leads me to the next interesting bit…

I dreamed a book last night. Not a short story, not part of a storyline, but an entire book. It’s not an earthshaking novel or anything, something more like a Harlequin romance, but hey, a book’s a book, and now I’m going to start putting it together. In all, I have three books in my head now that need to be written. One’s about an old haunted house in NC, one’s about ghosts and voodoo in New Orleans, and this last one is about a centuries-old curse on a New England family. I have got to get a routine developed. This is just getting silly. Think of the money I could be making, or at least the ways that I could be so much freer in my life if I just got some kind of order mapped out. With three books and the idea for a very strong small business in mind, I believe the only thing that’s truly holding me back right now is not procrastination, but rather fear. And for the life of me, I have no clue why I should be afraid of success. After all, I want so much to be self-sufficient.

So I’m sitting in bed on a rainy Saturday afternoon, listening to The Man curse at the pieces of a bench he’s been trying to build from scratch all day, my beloved Miss Isabel cat curled up beside me, thinking of this new book, the many paths of my life stretched out before me in my mind’s eye, trying to choose the right one, trying not to hurt anyone too much, or disappoint anyone too much, but trying most of all to be true to myself.

Esse Quam Videre.

I’m trying.

 

Isabel

The beautiful Miss Isabel in October of 2011.

I met Isabel in the Fall of 2007.  It’s a long and intricate story, but let it suffice to say that my beloved cat Matthew had just passed on in May of that year, and I was devastated.  He disappeared (and after several months, was presumed dead) after over six years of successful cohabitation, and his absence left a gaping wound in my already fragile heart region.  He had been with me through everything.  I found him in a Walmart parking lot in the summer before my junior year of college, and his generally piss-poor attitude had helped me weather many a tough situation, including when we evacuated New Orleans together for four months in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  He was a tough little bastard who shat in my laundry pile, yowled for food/open doors/whatever-the-hell-else-he-wanted, and put me to sleep every night by pressing his damp nose under my right ear and purring me into oblivion.  I would often awake to find him sleeping beside me, paw slid into my outstretched hand.  He was what we Southerners call ‘honery’, but infinitely lovable all the same.

Matthew

Matthew in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina.

When Matty disappeared, I kept up searching for quite some time, but assumed the worst.  I’m not religious, but I prayed desperately for his safe return, and protection wherever he was.  He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and I learned my lesson about the dangers of that lifestyle the hard way.  He always came home, and an hour late was not his M.O., so it seemed obvious after a week that he was dead, body or no.  My friend Trin and I were getting ready to move to a new apartment in a nearby neighborhood when he left, and that was a stressful time, searching every day down the nearby streets, putting up signs, checking Craigslist compulsively every few hours.  There was never to be news, even though I kept up the search in the coming months.

After we moved, I was frightened of being alone.  Our new house was built around 1900, and we lived in the attic.  It was spooky by nature, and my disposition is such that I’m naturally afraid of dark, old places, as well as being sensitive to energies.  Though I didn’t want to alarm Trin, I was convinced that the house had some bad energy attached to it, and if she wasn’t home I’d shut myself in my room until she arrived.  Years later, I found that she had felt the same way, and tried to never be in the house on her own, either.  When Matthew was around, I had felt more secure in situations like this.  His presence calmed me, and being alone in my grief, in a haunted house, no less, was making me a little more batty than usual.  A couple of months went by, and I realized I couldn’t live without a furry companion any longer.

I was still searching for Matty every day on Craigslist, and also half-heartedly looking for a kitten to fill the void he had left.  It had to be a brown tabby cat, like him, and definitely a male.  One day, someone posted an ad for a brown tabby kitten.  I responded to see if it was male, and the person said it wasn’t, so I gave my regrets and moved on.  A few days later, the same person posted an ad about a brown tabby kitten, this time saying that if no one picked it up that day, it was going to the pound on the morrow.  This raised my hackles to no end, and I responded that I’d take her.  On the drive over to pick the kitten up, Trin and I talked about her plans to also get a kitten, and decided that if she did, she could have this female kitten and she’d find a male for me.  We walked into the house with the idea that it was a rescue mission, and found that we were more right than we could have known.  The people who had found the kitten had actually found an entire litter of kittens and their mother – all feral.  The kittens were about two weeks old, and since the mother was too tough to handle, they took her to the pound immediately.  The kittens were all given away within a day or two (hopefully they survived), but the runt of the litter remained, too sick and tiny to appeal to anyone other than a bleeding heart like me.  I came to the house expecting a weaned kitten, a cute little roly poly bundle of fur.  Instead I was handed a tiny, weak, sickly thing that fit into the palm of my hand.  She was living on milk and moist dog food, her eyes were runny, and she smelled AWFUL.  I fell in love immediately.  On the ride home, Trin asked if I still planned to give her the kitten.  I was probably a bit more gruff than I should have been when I said “Absolutely not.”  Luckily, she loves me and realized I had already fallen hard for the new baby in my life.

Baby Isabel

Isabel in Winter of 2007, after recuperating from her illness and putting a little weight. Notice her big, crazy brown eyes and needle-sharp, grappling hook claws.

Isabel was named after Isabeau, one of the main characters in Ladyhawke, one of my favorite films.  She grew to be just as beautiful as her namesake, with large jade green eyes (they started out blue, later changed to rust brown, and finally turned green about two years ago) and delicate features.  When she started, though, as cute as she was, I never expected her to be a beauty.  Over the first month, she ate lots of banana-flavored medicine to cure her of the bacterial infection that left her gassy enough to clear everyone out of a room.  I’ve never smelled anything so disgusting, and she was so tiny!  As a baby, her favorite spot to sleep was directly under a person’s chin, and as soon as she relaxed, she’d start farting.  It was unholy, and uproariously funny for those who were lucky enough not to be her target.  It was hard to be angry at such an adorable little baby, though, and that was good, because as soon as she felt better she began to come out of her shell.  For the next year she was a tiny terror, attacking ankles, climbing drapes, killing furniture (and bugs – she’s a great hunter), scratching, and being generally awful to just about everyone but Trin and me.  She also killed most of Trin’s beautiful house plants, which was a cause for entertainment when the plants began to slowly migrate up the wall to see how high they’d need to go before the cat couldn’t get to them.  The answer: she’s the world’s foremost house plant hunter – they never stood a chance.

Izzy & her Auntie Trin in 2008.

Now she’s older, wiser, and immeasurably calmer.  She’s still a little bite-y, but mostly just sleepy and affectionate.  She loves kisses, and rubbing faces, and we often say ‘I love you’ from across the room by slowly half-closing our eyes at each other.  At least that’s what I’m saying – she’s probably just blinking, or perhaps planning how nice it will be to smother me in my sleep.  During her first year with me, she took a shine to a particular type of mouse toy with a fabric body and white rope tail.  She gets them in sets, and plays with the green and blue ones often, hoarding the pink ones away to drag out and maul on special occasions.  She’s a crackhead for cat treats, but only the crunchy ones, and loves nothing better than being covered with a blanket or towel and roughed up a bit.  She has a very particular meow, plaintive and drawn-out, that makes her sound like she’s being punished or highly annoyed, and she issues it very often.  Just after she releases her bitchy meow, she begins purring heavily.  Like her mother, she’s not truly content unless she’s had a chance to do some kvetching.

Izzy, getting ready to start lodging a formal complaint. October, 2011.

Best of all, Isabel/Miss Isabel/Izzy/Izzy-graniada still likes to sleep with humans, and with me in particular.  Sometimes she still curls up under my chin – all 9 lbs of her.  Most of the time she stretches out along my side.  Every now and then, however, she curls up with her cool little nose pressed just under my right ear, purring me to sleep – and that odd little bit of synchronicity is how I know that prayers do get answered, after all.

(Note: I now have two cats, and both are microchipped and are indoor-only cats.  The average life of a feral cat is 2 years, and the average life of an outdoor cat with an owner who provides regular vet care is anywhere between 3 and 5 years.  Meanwhile, the average life span of an indoor cat that receives regular vet care is anywhere between 13 and 17 years.  My grandmother’s last 3 indoor only cats have lived to be 21+.  I have friends who have outdoor only cats, friends who have indoor only cats, and friends who have indoor/outdoor cats.  Everyone has their own reason, and as long as your cat is happy and well cared for, that’s the best any creature (including a human) could ask for.  However, if you haven’t thought hard on this issue, please do, for your cat’s sake – and your own.)