Monthly Archives: January 2017

Elegiac

It was a tough week to lose Padme.

Padme Pattertis Paddingtail joined the B-Ks in September 2002. We were living at 1005 at the time and reckoned it was time for a kitten, plus it was Jim’s birthday. When we went to the kitten foster house and Jim noticed an energetic li’l badass trying to sneak out of the room, the woman in charge told Jim, No, you don’t want her – she’s the bad one. Jim responded by scooping the kitten up in all of her terrible and tawny badness, and thus began our lives together. She put up with a lot in her almost-15 years, including a Star Wars name, a move, the eventual addition of 3 other cats, undignified nicknames such as “Paddles” and “Squeaks on a Stick”, watching her favorite young humans grow up and eventually leave, and the vacuum cleaner. She hated that thing.

Things Padme enjoyed included shredding paper, hopelessly messing up balls of yarn, drinking/grooming loudly, eating plastic bags, chattering at birds out the window, her humans (in order: Jim, Cody, Lilly, me), belly rubs, and the sun. That cat enjoyed the SHIT out of the sun and the breeze on her face. In fact, a few days before she died – we had just discovered she was sick – Padme suddenly appeared in the kitchen and made for the back door. She had shown zero interest in going outside for weeks, given the weather and her heretofore-unknown-to-us illness, but that day was a bit warmer and I thought, OK, you can go out, and opened the door for her. She stepped out and sat on the back steps. A few minutes later, I looked out the window and she was still there, gazing over the driveway and into the neighbor’s yard with the breeze on her face and a look in her eyes that can only be described as “faraway”. I let her back inside when she was ready, she looked up at me as she passed through the kitchen, and she went and resettled herself on the couch. That was Friday, January 13; we said goodbye on Monday, January 16. This is how I imagine she’s spending her time:

She will live on in our garden, amongst the birds she loved/hated so much.

It’s kind of a crappy week when it’s bookended by the death of a friend and a Presidential inauguration that most definitely ushered in… something. However, Saturday was a new day, and a good start.

Protest is an excellent tool of rebellion and resistance, but what comes the next day? The day after that? The day after that? The weeks, months, years after that? Yesterday’s protests were global and sent a very powerful message, but the day-to-day work is in our heads, homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Here are 10 totally free activities we can consider integrating into our day-to-day, if we’re not doing some or all of them already. I know I’m not. They’re really small steps that will help us get ready for bigger steps, should we need to/want to take them.

talk to a neighbor about squirrels, the weather, whatever, and check if they need anything | go to the library, if you have access, and see what they have to offer, because it’s a lot, and get a card if you don’t have one | take five minutes to breathe deeply, because most of us are not breathing to full capacity | appreciate a work of art – music, writing, painting, etc – seriously, take it all in | read or listen to something that makes you uncomfortable (see: library) | find out more about where you live, even if you’ve always lived there or plan to leave ASAP | related: get a bead on your local elected officials and ask them why, when, and how | pet and say hello to a dog or cat or guinea pig or gerbil or bird or whatever and look them in the eye while doing so | while vigilance is ever-important, step away from the news once in awhile | take a page out of Padme’s playbook and enjoy the goddamn breeze on your face

Love, and luck, to all of us. Oh, and…

Do the Other Things

I can’t tell you how awesome it’s been to have a young astrophysicist in the house for the last few weeks. Not only that, but a young astrophysicist who’s willing to entertain the thought, read the book, see the movie, have the conversation, explain the concept, accept the hug, and make the pancakes.

Not to mention the young political scientist/photographer, who can parse the Constitution, by amendment, on demand, give context to every film, take photos of everything that leave one wondering how the…, give incredibly thoughtful gifts, and eat all the leftovers.

Films we have watched since mid-December:

The Right Stuff
Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: A New Hope
Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Rogue One (twice)
Hidden Figures
Apollo 13
Snowden
Finding Vivian Maier
Operation: Avalanche

The Hobbit (fan edit)
Fellowship of the Ring*
The Two Towers*
Return of the King*

*in one sitting, 1/1/2017


The weather has been good in fits and starts, and when it’s good, I walk. Longtime readers know that I’m a huge fan of the local prairie preserve. Let me tell you something about that place: It is still magical, so magical. But the surrounding land is being developed within an inch of the park’s life, and the construction and resulting buildings have become a bit of a distraction for me – it’s really not that big of a park, you know? My feeling this way about the only quiet, natural, prairie-of-some-size within easy distance from my domicile leads me to wonder if it’s time to start thinking of other places to spend my time. But when I run across the sculpture there, a subtle part of the landscape yet so alien and apart from it, it forces me to review my perspective. I always walk around my favorites, because NEW ANGLES, Y’ALL.

This might be my favorite, because when you approach it from most directions, you don’t see the heart. Here it is, just for you.

 

There is our life when we’re around others, outside our primary four walls (AKA “home”), and then there is time alone, at home. Who are you when you’re at home? What do you believe? What do you do? Do you sing into a hairbrush? Do you get into comfy clothes the second you get home? Sit as though on a throne playing with dolls, like [SPOILER ALERT]┬áJenna Coleman’s Queen Victoria does on the day of her coronation? Watch TV? Think unpopular thoughts? Cook things and eat them? Or bring them to the neighbors? Pet the cats? Check for Facebook likes? Secretly play U2? Work?

Lately I see 909 as a retreat, an oasis, a fortress, a small-but-mighty enclave, vibrant and private, unassuming and welcoming, a destination. Home. It’s been home for 12 years… what’s different about 2017?