Computer Repairs Ahead

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“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” (Edward Hopper)

April 23, ‘15

Oh,  how I wish today were as warm and bright as April 23, ’05….

But, it isn’t.  Here in the northeast, we seem to be in an April Shower weather pattern, which means that for the past three days we’ve seen a few widely dispersed moments of sun and blue sky, but precious few….  For the most part, the sky is gray with dark gray clouds and occasional outbursts of rain.  It’s also quite chilly.

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I’ve known for a few months that my computer needs some work that I’m unable to do.  It also needs a good cleaning.  Since I’ve been out of work, I hesitate to spend the money for the repairs.  Fortunately, with repairs, the cleaning is free.

I’m planning on taking it for repairs late this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.

I don’t like the thought of being without my computer for 24 hours or more.  I think I’m on it just about every hour of my waking day –sometimes for moments, often for actual hours.  I think I can’t bear the thought of an evening without N*tflix, or time without Freecell, or F*cebook or email.  I’ll have to process words in a notebook with pencil on paper.  Photo upload and processing will have to be put on hold until my computer is back home.

Hopefully, it will make it back home in good working order.  There’s the off-chance that installing a core program over the tons of data I’ve saved will wipe out many files.  Without that core program, I can’t back up data on my computer.

Rock and a hard place….

I’ve come to a point where, in order to complete some projects I’ve begun, I need my computer to be in good working order, so will have to ‘bite the bullet.’  I’m putting as many files as possible on thumb drives.  I’ve uploaded all my photos to a cloud.

I’m hoping to be back online soon.

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Life with Kittens –now called Billy and Hilly — has been sweet.  These two little bits of new life have been good for my soul.  They’re affable, innocent and trusting.  Their antics bring laughter.  They’re heart-melting cute.

There have been a few minor problems.  They both had travel induced and food-change diarrhea.  They’re only 7 weeks old, so aren’t quite trustworthy about using the litterbox.

Their instincts are good – they leave the area where they’re playing or sleeping — but aren’t as discerning as to the difference in texture between kitty litter and my favorite rug as I’d like them to be.  Like some little kids, it seems they’d rather play than heed the urge to urinate in the proper place and put off the urge until the last minute – and don’t quite make it.  I’ve dealt with that by keeping a close eye on them and even go so far as to carry them to the litter box if they haven’t gone in the half hour since they last ate or woke from a nap.  All a kitten has to do is appear as if assuming the position and I carry that one to the litter box.   They seem to learn quickly and so far today, have been more responsible for themselves than I’ve had to be.  When I hear a scratching sound, I go there and give them much praise.  I think that within the next week I’ll be able to safely say that they’re ‘litter trained.’

To ease the diarrhea, I cooked plain rice into a soupy mush and added a bit of shredded chicken.  They scarfed down a few bowls full in the past couple of days and the problem now seems to be solved.  They both have hearty and enthusiastic appetites.  No finicky eaters, here!

They’re both very curious about my parakeet.  She’s boldy and courageously let them know who’s in charge and other than those few pecks at their tiny little feet,  seems to be very accepting of having Billy and Hilly sitting alongside her cage and watching her play and eat.

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Two Kittens from Arkansas

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a poem from

OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS

 

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,

It isn’t just one of your holiday games;

You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter

When I tell you a cat must have

THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

First of all, there’s the name

that the family use daily,

Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,

Such as Victor or Jonathan, George, Bill Bailey —

All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names

if you think they sound sweeter,

Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames;

Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter —

But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you,

a cat needs a name that’s particular,

A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,

Else how can he keep his tail perpendicular,

Or spread out his whiskers,

or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind I can give you a quorum,

Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo or Coricopat

Such as Bambalurina or else Jellylorum —

Names that never belong to more than one cat.

But above and beyond

there’s still one name left over,

And that is the name that you will not guess;

The name no human research can discover —

But the CAT HIMSELF KNOWS,

and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,

The reason, I tell you, is always the same.

His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation

Of the thought,

Of the thought,

Of the thought of his name:

His ineffable effable

Effanineffable

Deep and inscrutable singular name.

 

– T. S. Eliot, “The Naming of Cats”

April 18, ‘15

Today was THE Spring day we dream about on Ground Hog day and long for through the last 6 weeks of winter.  The kind of day where the sights and the smells of spring are prevalent and make one’s heart involuntarily sing….  The song in my heart began at 6:30 a.m. when I opened the back door and stepped out on the porch to hear the spring birds singing spring songs.  The air smelled sweet and clean. The air was also warm enough not to bring on a chill.

And today is the day I go to Litchfield to pick up the kittens!  I felt so eager I was ready to leave the house a good 20 minutes before I actually needed to leave!

So, I left anyhow.  I drove to Litchfield and spent about 15 minutes on the bank of the Bantam River listening to the peepers and spring birds in White’s Woods Nature Preserve.  I made a video of this spot I love so well, recording some of that sweet spring song.  I also had conversation with 2 young women who were sitting in lawn chairs on the bank of the river who were basking in the sun, fishing, talking to each other in soft tones and drinking coffee.  We shared our joy in the day, wished each other well and then I drove off to buy some kitty litter before I went to pick up the kittens.

I went to the store where I’ve been buying litter for many years.  Usually when I stop by, there are many people there but this morning it was just the owner and me.  I like talking to her and it was nice to have the time, as usually she is very busy.  When I left there, it was 8:55, which meant it was time to go to the store where I was to pick up the kittens.

That was a lot of fun.  The store owner, her mother, her husband and a friend were all there plus 3 very well-behaved big dogs.  The 4 kittens in the large cage were amusing to us all as they were very hungry, very playful and interactive.  All 5 humans turned out to be dedicated pet owners and the conversation was fun and lively.  I almost hated to leave.  All 4 of the kittens were siblings and I felt a little bad that they had to be separated.  I also felt pleased that they seemed so un-stressed by their long trip from Arkansas to Connecticut in a van with 80 puppies.

The 2 kittens I’d selected from photos last week are so alike I’m having trouble telling them apart.  I made a list of names for these kittens, thinking I’d know what to name them when I saw them, but nothing came forth from my list or out of the blue.

It turns out they’re very laid-back kittens especially for being barely 8 weeks old.  We got to know each other a little better on the ride home as they lounged on a blanket inside my cat carrier.  One or the other would occasionally mew and one bit my finger but more as if curious as to what was this thing, not in fear or anger.

After I got home with them I let them play around the living room for awhile.  I also put Bird in her cage on the floor.  They’d never seen anything like this and are properly awed.

Then I shut them in the bathroom so they could feed, hopefully use the litter and take a nap.  Awhile later, Auntie Cindy came to welcome the newbies and to have lunch with me.    We had a fun half hour playing with the kittens who seemed to be recharged and rarin’ to play after their half hour nap.  It was while we were playing with kittens I mentioned that they’d come from Arkansas.  Auntie Cindy said “Just like Bill and Hillary!”

For whatever reason, these names seemed right.  Hillary has been used as a male or female name; consider Sir Edmund who climbed Everest….  We thought about it awhile and a decision was made.  The names that ‘the family use daily’ are now Bill and (masculine) Hillary.  They came with names so Bill is Bill Phillip and Hillary is Hillary Mikey.  I’ll never know their ineffable names.

 

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Anticipation

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There seems to be a spiritual law that if we want our good to increase, we must focus on appreciating & husbanding the good we already have. 

Julia Cameron

April 17, ‘15

I love these early spring days when Spring is in ascendancy and Winter is weakening and dying.  This past week, there has been much of Spring to love and much of Winter has melted away.

Yesterday and the day before and the day before that was much like the weather in the painting above from 2005.  Today we’re having April showers and all is tinged with clouds and gray.

Added to the  daily To-Do list are gardening chores.  I’ve made great strides in preparing Garden ’15.  I’ve started 30 tiny tomato seeds in peat pots in a tray;  I hope to see signs of sprouting in a few days.  I lengthened my garden space and turned over much of the soil in the ground  from last year’s garden.  I’m not too unhappy about taking a day off from the ground-turning because I’ve done it all that digging and turning with a garden spade and this morning, I’m slightly sore from the effort.  I’ve filled 5 heavy-duty garbage bags with sticks and debris from the raspberry patch for trash pick-up next Thursday morning.  Doesn’t sound like much, perhaps, but it’s a lot, to me.    Today I’ll plant Snow Peas at the end of the garden in the ground I just turnedand when it’s sunny again, I’ll install a fence for them to grow on.

Another thing on the To-Do list is to do what I can to kitten-proof my house.  Albert used to like to hide in a 10” x 36” space area behind the tub in the bathroom.  It was easy to block it off with a small cabinet because Albert was full-grown.  I didn’t want him to hide there because there’s a lot of fiberglass insulation in the space and I didn’t want him breathing in fiberglass.  A small kitten could easily slip behind the legs of the cabinet and get into that space beyond my reach.  The base board heating cover continues behind the tub so it will be difficult to cover such an oddly shaped space.  This morning I remembered I have a roll of Contac-paper and am going to attempt to use it to construct a barrier.   Another space that concerns me is one where a kitten could go under a narrow cabinet between the stove and the refrigerator and get caught behind either appliance.  I haven’t figured out a way to block that space but feel confident that before 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, I will.

Friends are coming to lunch tomorrow, to meet the new arrivals and celebrate the joyous event.

Anticipation is sweet.

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Two of my paintings from the Redux pile that I’ve been working on.

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Peaches Near and Far II BEFORE

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Peaches Near and Far II AFTER

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Peaches and van Gogh Iris BEFORE

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Peaches and van Gogh Iris AFTER

I’m pleased with the progress although I still consider these paintings Works in Process.

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Albert’s Ashes

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All Is Well 

Death is nothing at all,

I have only slipped into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,

Speak to me in the easy way which you always used

Put no difference in your tone,

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,

Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,

Just around the corner.

Everything is OK.

April 14, ‘15

I picked up Albert’s ashes from the Vet this afternoon.

Inexplicably, from the moment I accepted the small shopping bag containing his earthly remains, I’ve been feeling less sorrowful than I have been these past few weeks – as if a corner has been turned in the grieving process, as if the Pall has been lifted.  As if he’s home and under my care, even in his transformed state.  As if his dear little ghost has gone to rest.  I won’t be looking for him throughout the house because I know where he is.

The box containing what’s left of him is on the corner of a wooden chest under the window where, when it’s sunny and he would surely be sleeping.  The flower blossoming in the pot behind the small box with the plaque on top is the flower I bought him for his birthday.  I told him it was for him, in celebration and honor of his life.  I placed it in his sleeping spot when he was no longer able to jump up to his spot.  For the next week he put his front feet on the corner and sniff the flower.  Then he’d cross the room and climb back into his sick bed on the couch, next to me.  On his last morning, he attempted to sniff the flower but was too tired, beyond handicapped, too desperately ill to do this thing his body could no longer do.  He twice flopped on the floor, gasping,  to rest before he could make it 10 feet across the room to me and climb into his sick bed.  That moment, when he tried, but failed, to make it over to the flower was when I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was time for me to call the vet.  He’d reached a point where he was suffering more than I.

Someone at the Crematorium made a small plaque out of clay with Albert’s footprint and his name across the bottom.  I didn’t expect this plaque but am grateful to whoever made it as I find it very comforting as a memento mori.

I can’t help but wonder if the plaque was fired at the same time as Albert.

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While there’s certainly been much sorrow in my life these past few months, there is also joy.  I move along and slowly, things get done.    Progress has been made in my Work.  I’ve done small amounts of Yard work and Gardening.  I’ve rearranged some aspects in my house, washed windows, cooked and cleaned.  Yesterday, out on the porch on a sunny day where the temp almost went to 70 degrees, I cleaned my cat carrier, Albert’s litter box and the rubber mat where I’d put his feeding dishes.  I used a small amount of bleach and left those things to dry in the sun.

This past Friday, I said yes to 2 kittens who need a home.  I’m to pick up those 2 kittens this coming Saturday at 9 a.m.  I’m psyched.  I texted back the woman from the Rescue Service that “I will be there!”

I know little about the kittens, even though a photo was texted to me,  except that they’re both boys who will be 9 weeks old on Saturday.

I have a list of names for these 2 boy-cats, just as I had a list of names when I went to meet the kitten who turned out to be Albert, not Stanley or Raymond or any of the other names I favored.

I’ll know who these 2 kittens are when I meet them and then I’ll share.

I’m generally a Skeptic when it comes to a carefully laid plan more than a week prior to the event, so I can’t be absolutely sure this will actually happen and am somewhat braced for possible disappointment.  But, I’m hoping this plan works well.  Anticipating un-named kittens and having Albert home feels like a healing antidote to sorrow.

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Moving Forward

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Anderson Road

You can remember him and only that he is gone

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your

back,

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes,

love and go on. 

Anonymous

 

April 10, ‘15

Today isn’t as cold or gloomy as yesterday.  A warming trend is nigh, I think I feel it coming.  I can see that the grass next door is greener than it was yesterday.  The sky is a brighter gray than yesterday.  Occasionally there are less opaque patches where a very pale blue is revealed.  There’s supposed to be sun tomorrow as well as warm temperatures; a warming trend with sunlight!  That alone makes me feel less glum than I have been this past week.

This past week has been characterized with grieving the loss of Albert and celebrating his life.  I’m planning to pick up his ashes tomorrow morning at the Vet’s.  I found a perfect urn for his ashes, which gave me a feeling of comfort.  I’ve found 2 little kittens that need a home and if all goes as per The Plan, I’ll be picking them up next Saturday.  I feel sure they’ll fill the loss of Albert in my home and help ease the pain in my heart that he’s truly gone and our era together is over.  Albert, as with so many other humans and cats who’ve died and who I celebrate, has an ineffable place in my heart.

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I found this small painting yesterday as I was sorting through stuff in a box of artwork and memorabilia.  I have several paintings of Anderson Farm, which is a place that is familiar to me since childhood.  This is a view I’ve always enjoyed.  In my past experience it was a very pretty farm and very well maintained.  The cows belonging to this farm were honey-colored Guernsey’s and they always looked so bright and clean when they were in their green pastures alongside the road.  Mr Anderson took very good care of his farm and his animals and to me, the farm buildings and animals looked like something I’d see in a story book or on a picture post-card.

This view shows the farm looking from west to east.  From this point of view, it meant that we were halfway home from The Lake – from a place on Bantam Lake where my family spent many of my childhood summers.

I did this painting on Oct 15, but forgot to write down the year.  I’m pretty sure it was done in ’95, a few months after I moved into my place on South Lake St, which was a few miles away from this spot.  In the time in my life when gas was affordable and I spent many hours painting outside at spots where I’d always wanted to capture an image with paint.  In ’95, the cows had been gone for years and the fields weren’t planted.  The Anderson’s had died or moved away.  The barns were empty, but still well maintained.

When I discovered this painting yesterday, the memories instantly lifted my spirits.  It was done at another grieving place in my life, a little over a year since my father’s death.  When I looked at this painting yesterday I remembered sitting in a lawn chair in the grass across from the intersection on a warm and sunny Fall day, working on this painting while remembering this farm as it had been when I was a kid in the car and my father telling us it was the halfway point between The Lake and Home.  I was remembering a time when life was simple and feeling good had to do with being in the car  — halfway Home or halfway to The Lake — with my father and my family.

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Gloom

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DEPARTED to the judgment,  

A mighty afternoon;    

Great clouds like ushers leaning,       

Creation looking on.   

 

The flesh surrendered, cancelled,               

The bodiless begun;    

Two worlds, like audiences, disperse  

And leave the soul alone.

Emily Dickinson

April 9, ‘15

This past week has been filled with my own personal grief and sadness over my loss of Albert as well as abysmally grim weather.

The cold and gray has been more like Feb or March than April.

Adapting to life with Albert still present as Ghostcat has been painful although not without sweet moments or memories….  I’ve put his litter box and feeding tray out on the porch.  I’ve accustomed myself to the fact that as much as I consciously or unconsciously look around for him in his regular places, I won’t find him there, except in memory.

Cold, dreary, gray and sunless days have been as gloomy as grief.  The two combined are almost too heavy to bear.  Today is much the same as yesterday and the day before and tomorrow looks to be more of the same.   A break in the weather has been forecast for Saturday.

I talked to a friend yesterday who is going through her own rough patch.  We’ve both decided that sun, warmth and the passing of time will help lift the pall of gloom.  Emotional warmth and sunniness is up to each of us individually, which means processing our grief and constantly moving forward.

My spirits were momentarily lifted yesterday when I talked to a woman who’s promised me 2 tabby kittens next Saturday morning.  She said she’d send photos, but I’ve yet to see them.  So, I’m not putting all my hope or spending too much faith on the woman’s promise at this point in time.

The bit of hope and the momentary uplift in my spirits, however, felt wonderful.   I’m looking forward to – working for — more of the same.

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Full Circle

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EACH that we lose takes part of us;    

A crescent still abides,

Which like the moon, some turbid night,         

Is summoned by the tides.    

Emily Dickinson    

April 2, ‘15

My very dear non-human best friend and cat of my heart died yesterday afternoon in my arms in his Aunt Cindy’s car on the drive to the Veterinarian’s office late yesterday afternoon.

He’d been quiet and peaceful for most of the drive with his head on my shoulder and me cradling his blanketed body.  At first, he fought whatever it was that had so suddenly gripped him.  He fought and moaned with such force I instinctively clutched the scruff of his neck to keep him from bolting,  from scratching and biting.  I was astounded he had so much power and energy left in his body.  No sooner had I pulled his head back – the way a mother cat will to maintain control of her tiny offspring  – he relaxed.  I resettled him into the basket on my lap and that is when I felt him go limp and felt Life leaving his body.  I knew he was dead when we stopped at the stop sign at the corner of Rt 118 and Rt 202, right across from the big and beautiful Congregational Church on the corner.

We arrived at the Vet’s 5 minutes later.  The staff was expecting us and when we told him that Albert had already passed, we were escorted to a room at the far end of the building.  It was the very same room where, on May 25th, ’09, I first met and ‘fell in love’ with a kitten I named Albert when he was 2 months old.

And there he was, dead in his basket on the examining table, some 5+ years later in that very same room where our friendship and our journey together had begun, a few feet from the corner where I’d scooped  up his tiny body, clutched him to my heart and called him Albert.  He’d relaxed, leaned his head into my shoulder and began to purr.

The sorrow I feel at his passing and the pain of missing him is equivalent to the joy of our first meeting and our 5+ years together.  Which somewhat helps explain to me why  today I feel so much joy in the midst of my sorrow.

Baby Albert 1

Baby Albert, Day One

Baby Albert in basket

Baby Albert in the basket where he lived and eventually died.

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