May 6th – “You’ll be right in the center of all the action today, so get ready for excitement.”

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I had been waiting for my strawberries all spring to ripen before picking. The first round was eaten by slugs and beetles. After I got rid of the slugs and beetles (by slaughtering them in a bucket of soap water), I thought my strawberries were safe. I was wrong.

The next week, there were seven almost ripened strawberries. I said to myself, “Tomorrow they will be ready!” That was the last I saw of them.

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In the morning, I brought my metal colander with me to the garden to collect the strawberries. There were none.

All the ripened strawberries I eyed the day before were gone. Whoever ate them had a good nose and could smell which ones were perfect for picking. The only thing the culprit left behind was a dug up plant, leaving all its roots helpless and exposed.

There was no reason for it to uproot the plant. It served no purpose. I think it was leaving me a message, telling me, “You better have more for me next time, OR ELSE!”

Since my thief was a very capable and competent opponent, I threw a net over the strawberries and held it down with a row of potted date and olive plants. I had the net from last year to deter the birds from getting my berries. There, I thought. Let’s see what you do now!

It struck again that night. There was only one ripe strawberry available and it took it. It knocked over one of the potted plants to get to it. I could tell it wasn’t satisfied with the offering, because I found another dug up plant.

There wouldn’t be many ripe strawberries for a while, so I thought I would be left alone for a while. I was wrong, again.

I had forgotten all about my mystery strawberry thief because it had been several weeks since the last strawberry incident. It was 3 a.m. when I heard the first knock at the cat door.

It was a gentle knock, not loud. When we had 3 cats in the house, I could tell which one was coming and going by the sound of the cat door. Mr. Ox was loud and clumsy, making a “BANG” when he went in and out.  The Bowie was hesitant, but quiet, and the door would rock back and forth a few times before she exited, making a “tick, tick…tick, tick” noise. Little Rooks was the swiftest. He had been using the cat door for years and came in with just one, “tick.” The Bowie and Mr. Ox passed away this last year, so it’s just Little Rooks now.

At first, I thought it was Little Rooks because the door didn’t make much noise. The motion was gentle, but whoever was there didn’t make it in on the first try. It knocked on the door quietly again and got in. I could hear its claws on the hardwood floor and saw a dark cat-like figure walking through my bedroom. I sensed something was off.

My partner was doing his very early morning meditation in the living room and Little Rooks had taken his spot on the bed next to me. I was too sleepy to get up right away, so I reached into the darkness to the other side of the bed to see if could feel a lump of feline fur. It was there.

Slightly surprised, I sat up to see if I was mistaken. Little Rooks looked at me with bright confused eyes, wondering why I woke him up and what the big deal was.

I jumped out of bed, almost giddy, because I thought it was either Reggie or T.S. Eliot, two neighborhood cats I was forever trying to invite into our house without incurring the wrath of Little Rooks.

I walked into the living room where our surprise guest was searching for the kitchen. I still couldn’t make out who it was, and called out a little too loudly to my partner, “There’s someone here,” causing our mystery creature to scurry wildly into the bathroom.

I turned on the hallway light to get a better look. It didn’t wait and darted back into the bedroom, then out the cat door as I pursued.

Our bedroom has a sliding glass door. From there, I could clearly see who was sneaking up on us at 3 a.m. in the morning. It stayed right outside the cat door for a few seconds, waiting to see what my next move was. I had never seen this animal before, but I knew it was our strawberry thief. It was surprised that it got caught, but had not given up its mission to forage for food in our kitchen just yet. I could tell by the look in its eyes.

I screamed excitedly to my partner in the other room, “It’s a RACCOON! It’s a RACCOON! He’s still here! He’s right outside!” Two seconds later, my partner appeared in the bedroom with a long stick and plans to bop the creature on the nose, but the raccoon was gone.

By the time I got back to sleep, the sun was already up. I gave in and started my day. I went outside to check on the strawberries, and to my surprise, they were still there. No uprooted plants. I don’t know what its next move will be, but I will be waiting.

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April 19th – “You are determined to succeed, even if odds are stacked against you.”

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Little Rooks has been guarding his territory very well. Most of the wandering cats don’t come farther than the fence where the catnip pots are.

This cat looks like Little Rooks, but has a tail. His name is T.S. Eliot.

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Reggie is the only one brave enough to come to the cat door where Little Rooks sits, waiting for intruders.

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Rooks lost his catmates a few months back, so I’ve been trying to help him make new friends. He doesn’t like the roaming cats coming into the house, but I have gotten him to tolerate Reggie when they are outside.

I don’t know what Reggie’s diet is like so I give them both dental treats when he/she is visiting. They can now eat together!

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April 6th – “You know intuitively that things are going to go your way, even if all visible signs point in the opposite direction.”

Do I know that things are going my way? I don’t feel very sure about my writing project.

The new thing I’m trying to do is to clock in a certain number of hours each week for writing. Ideally it would be 20 hours. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not a crazy number for me. For years, I wrote 20 – 30 hours a week in addition to working a day job. It’s going to take a while to build that habit back up, so I’m not expecting it to happen overnight. It will likely take a few years.

Two weeks ago, I decided to set up a reward system for myself. For every 5 hours I write, I get to do 1 hour of another creative activity (i.e. painting/reading). So far, I’ve only accumulated 1 hour of fun time. I made cat yoga cards from an old calendar I wanted to upcycle:

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I know from experience that there will be many hours “wasted” and I will not have added too many words to the page. My tarot reader also confirmed this and said that I should just sit there. Does that happen to you?

I’d like to believe that all hours I’ve spent writing have been productive. That’s not true at all! There have many days and nights…even weeks when I worked on writing just 1 page. There have also been many times where I’ve written 25 pages in the course of a night. It’s very unpredictable.

It’s funny that how easily how nostalgia can distort reality. In my mind, I only like to remember all the 25 page nights, not the hours that I spent sitting in a coffee shop trying to string up 25 words to make up a sentence.

Are things going my way, even if I only have a few pages to show for it? I’d like to think so!

March 1st – “You are directed and focused in the home realm, but your efforts around the house are somewhat less successful.”

Ever since my two cats passed away, my partner’s cat Little Rooks has been acting very strangely. Change is not easy for him and he is also likely depressed. Little Rooks has been staying in a lot and making whiny meows.

Little Rooks is a very skitterish cat. When given the option to “fight or flee,” he usually flees. He’s afraid of a lot of things, but likes to be outside. What’s odd about him is that even though he’s a country cat who usually spends more time outside than in, we’ve never seen him hunt anything. He doesn’t choose to/know how to play and has been that way since kittenhood. He is kind of a Buddha cat.

Now that the other cats are gone, Little Rooks has taken up the role as the alpha cat. He takes guard outside and tries to keep the other cats from entering our yard. When he lived alone, that was not behavior he exhibited. There have been two regular visitors, Reggie, and T.S. Eliot, who have been coming by for catnip and attention. I hope that Little Rooks will becomes friends with them so he won’t be so lonely, but he isn’t budging yet. It took him 2 years to get used to my cats!  Little Rooks does not like them one bit.

Yesterday, I sat outside on my doorstep petting Reggie and T.S. Eliot. T.S. Eliot put one paw into the open door and Little Rooks took notice. He growled and I pulled T.S. Eliot back outside. I scolded myself and thought that I really shouldn’t try to push Little Rooks to make new friends. He’s not ready yet.

The cats left for other adventures and I went back inside. I thought all was well until I stepped into some cat poo in the bedroom. Message received, Little Rooks!

 

 

February 20th – “You need to keep moving forward.”

No kidding! I’ve been preoccupied with allergies, trip planning, and wrapping up loose ends so much so that I’ve let my reading and writing fall to the wayside. Noooo!

I need to keep moving forward, so I picked up a book to read. I had to return all my history books and more serious stuff because I renewed them too many times! That’s what I get for not reading them for the three months I had them.  A friend gifted me this book months ago and I’ve been saving it for a day like today. It’s short, takes very little effort to read, and doesn’t have too much plot for me to pay attention to.

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The Guest Cat comes from Japan and is about a writer in his mid-thirties who begins a relationship with a neighborhood cat. I think it’s part fiction part autobiography. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s an easy read.

What catches my attention is the author’s heavy use of descriptions in a nonlinear way. It’s something that I do and have been trying to change. I’m not sure that many readers will be able to follow my writing if I go back and forth to add layers of context and tell stories within stories. Every chapter I’ve written has been like that! When I tell a story, I leave out many details along the way and get back to them later. That’s what makes me a terrible storyteller in person. In writing, I can edit, rearrange, and add more details, but it doesn’t work so well if I have to do it live. I’ve confused a lot of people in my time!

But maybe I shouldn’t try to accommodate all types of readers. It would be a miracle if I could even get one person to read my work! It’s silly that I imagine that there will be a group of people.  The Guest Cat is a New York Times best seller so there were a lot of people who could follow nonlinear storytelling. Perhaps my storytelling style just needs a little tweaking, good editing, and some cats.

February 19th – “Seek out unusual sights, foods and even people.”

This weekend, I went to my first cat show where I found unusual sights and people.

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Last October, I went to my first dog show which was an entirely different experience. There were hairdryers, barking, and crowds of serious looking people wearing suits milling about. The cat show was laid back and I didn’t hear very meows. This event was much smaller than the dog show I went to, but I imagine that even if the cat show was as big as the dog show, it would still be relatively calm compared to a typical dog show.

I saw a lot of bobtail cats like these Japanese ones.

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There were also talkative Siamese

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fluffy Persians

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and more!

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British Shorthair

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Burmese

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Norwegian Forest

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Some sleepy cats

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The best in show was a medium-haired Japanese bobtail.

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November 30th – “Everything is changing, but you still have your duties to uphold.”

Attending to my two cats are the only real duties I have. When you’re a crazy cat lady like me, everything you do revolves around making life as best you can for the felines.

Mr. Ox and Little Rooks got plenty of pets and attention today. In addition to their regular cat food, they got freshly cooked salmon and chicken.

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They look happy and comfortable, so I’m going to go on with the rest of my day.

November 15th – “Someone’s going to get pretty bossy today — try to make sure that it’s not you.”

Bossy people are annoying. What’s more annoying is when I’m the bossy person!

Here are some signs of bossy behavior:

  1. Pushing to be helpful.
  2. Insisting they have the best answer.
  3. Pressing you to consider all options.
  4. Interrupting and being outspoken.
  5. Needing to prove they are smarter than you.
  6. Acting driven to be right.

I found this list insightful because it provides a nuanced definition of bossiness that I hadn’t considered before.

I don’t think I was guilty of it today, but when I am bossy, I mostly exhibit bossy sign #3 or #4. I’m not going to beat myself up over this because I don’t know anyone who has not been bossy before. Okay, I do know a few acquaintances who have not shown me their signs of bossiness. However, I have a feeling that during the 99.99999% of the time that they spend outside my presence, they’ve had at least one opportunity to be bossy.

I used to think that my cats boss me around, but it’s entirely inaccurate according to the list above. Telling someone to do something doesn’t necessary mean that he/she is being bossy.  Sometimes people (or in this case, cats) simply want tasks done.

When my cat meows at me by the litter box, there is no psychological motive behind their demand. They aren’t trying to be “right” about something or trying to “prove that they are smarter than me” even if I might think so! Cats simply want the litter box cleaned because it’s dirty!

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I’ve been reading What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Cat again. There’s an article that talks about rationality. It’s interesting that humans try to measure how rational one person is to the next. There’s no point to that. Compared to a cat, I think that all humans are irrational!

At the end of the day, I don’t care who’s right or smarter than me. I just want a clean litter box!

November 11th – “Create more harmony and calmness…to improve how you feel when you’re at home.”

My bedroom has been filled with a mish mash of landscapes and cats since September. When I put them up months ago, I left space for the new paintings I would make. That didn’t happen, so the canvases have been hanging on my wall looking pretty awkward.

The obvious lesson here is that when you spend too much time thinking about the future, it’s easy to lose sight of today. In planning ahead for future paintings that I didn’t make, I didn’t get to enjoy my work in the present. The empty space was not harmonious and annoyed me! I kept the paintings there because I thought it wouldn’t be long before I would add new ones. I was so wrong!

Last night, I decided to end my suffering and took them all down.

This morning, I sorted the paintings, took out the ones that I didn’t really like, and rearranged them on the wall. Immediately, I felt better!

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It’s amazing what a difference a small change can make. My horoscope also said that my home redesign “doesn’t have to be a major project,” which I found to be a great tip. Sometimes it just takes a little effort and attention.

I would still like to improve my painting skills, so instead of saving empty space on my walls, I sketched out a couple of cat paintings.

I’m leaving these on my desk until they’re done. If I don’t post the completed paintings in the next couple of weeks, please send me a message or comment!

November 3rd – “Do not put off the boring stuff just because it’s boring. Get it done as soon as you can — and then you can hang with your favorite people.”

I did a bad thing today. I didn’t follow my horoscope!

I worked most of the weekend and it’s catching up to me now. I had quite a lot of work to do today, but was too tired and unfocused.

Instead, I spent part of the day improving my cat photography skills.

Here’s Mr. Ox meditating on a zafu pillow.

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Little Rooks is a manx with a bob tail.

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This guy is a neighbor’s cat who has been hanging out in my yard regularly looking for moles to hunt. My partner named her Regina, but we aren’t positive if she’s a he, so I call her “Reggie.”

 

I think this is a pretty good head shot.

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Since I didn’t follow my horoscope today, I suffered the consequences.  I was supposed to meet a friend in the evening after I finished working. I didn’t do any work and he ended up cancelling. I don’t think it was a coincidence at all!

I spent the rest of the night finishing the my Nutella jar and did the work I was supposed to do earlier.

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It’s late now and I’m tired.

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I swear I’ll never go against my horoscope ever again! Okay, we all know that’s a lie. I think I’ll need to suffer a few more times before I learn my lesson!