Saturday, March 31, 2012

I am Sam

So I guess it’s about time I wrote about the cat.

The stupid cat, as I so rudely refer to her as. Even though you might already hate me for this, please read on.

In my life, I have had numerous cats, and I’m not even a ‘cat person.’ At one point I had three cats (all at once). Occasionally I have referred to any one of the past or present cats in my writing – but ONLY occasionally.

And now, I have one cat – only one. But this one is not part of the previous group of three. This is a new one, who actually looks like one we used to have, so people who come to visit think it’s the same one of the previous three. But that would make the cat 20 years old, which IS a possibility, and something that could have gained my family status in the Guinness World Records book, which truly would have been neat….but I digress.

(did you follow all that?)

So now we only have one. But not the same one of the previous three….oh never mind.

I refer to her as ‘the stupid cat,’ which really isn’t very nice. I don’t know why she gets on my nerves, but I think it’s because I just don’t have time for a cat underfoot. I don’t wish her harm, just so you know. I would never hurt her, and I don’t yell at her - I do love her. I know I will cry when the time comes for her to go to kitty heaven, and with our house seeming empty without her, I will likely get another cat.

Not to replace her, mind you. No one cat could replace her.

I truly am an animal lover; I wish them no harm. When she first came to us as a rescue cat, she was very, very sick, so I had to take her to the vet - A LOT. Then I had to shove medicine down her throat - no fun for either of us - and she might remember me as a meanie, but…I saved her life. So see? I have been nice to her.

I consider our household fortunate to be able to have ANY kind of animal at all. A semi-lenient landlord and allergy-free human family members make this possible. For this, I am grateful.

I know I’m going to end up in purgatory for all eternity for referring to her as ‘the stupid cat.’ I realized how bad I had become when someone who I have known for a long time asked the cat’s name – they only knew her as ‘the stupid cat.’ It’s Sam – short for Samantha. I know it’s shameful of me. I think I need to stop this.

And you would think as an owner of a cat, I would be writing funny little stories and anecdotes about her. But I don’t.

I do feel sorry for the poor thing, as she doesn’t deserve my negative thoughts. She does nothing wrong: no shredding of couches and no puking up of hairballs every five minutes. There is no scratching, biting or hissing, and her litter box is properly used. I don’t even clean said box, nor do I clean the cat-hair covered couch. Someone else in the house does that, because frankly, I just don’t have time for that nonsense.

But you would think like me if in your busy life, feeding a cat was just ONE MORE THING TO DO (but really, how hard is it to plot canned cat puree in dish?). But don't worry, I do feed her and clean her dishes. She gives me no choice. As soon as I come home from work, she snakes her way around my legs, following me around, waiting to be fed. I have a tendency to REALLY harm myself when I trip and fall (breaking this, twisting and tearing that), so tripping over a hungry cat does NOT a happy mommy make. If I prolong feeding her because, say, oh MAYBE I have to start dinner for the HUMANS in the house first, she sits by her bowl with her back to me. I’ll give YOU the cold shoulder, MISSY! I snarl (yes, I have said this to her before) (but she doesn’t understand me, for some reason).

So out of guilt, I figured it would only be right I dedicate one – at least ONE – story about her.

Because as a cat owner, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do. Write about my cat. So there, I did it. I wrote about her. I think this makes up for my evil thoughts against her. Don’t hate me.

Hemmingway had many, many cats, and although I am not sure he ever wrote about them, I doubt he ever called them ‘stupid.’ I think I have a lot to learn from him. Well, maybe not a lot, but some. Despite being thought of as a bit odd, he IS now famously famous.

But they say all writers are odd. And they say the same about ‘cat people.’


So before you think me cruel and undeserving, telling me how there are many out there who would love to have her, remember this - I just wrote about her, I do feed her, I DO pet her, and I guess I kinda like her…. My house of four would seem empty without her.

Oh for God’s sake. Excuse me, but she’s doing something cute. I have to go take a picture of the - er, Sam.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What's Luck Got to Do With It?

While the cynical believe ‘luck’ to be untrue, the phrase ‘the Luck of the Irish’ is, historically speaking, confusing. But as luck would have it, some folks have proved this contradictory and somewhat contentious phenomenon,believable.

You can’t consider the tragedies endured by the Irish, lucky. From 1,000 years of invasion, colonization, and exploitation, to the Irish ‘potato’ famine resulting in starvation and emigration of over 25% of the population, I wouldn’t consider all that very lucky.

But then a few Irish guys left Ireland around the time of the famine in 1845 (not together, mind you – by coincidence they met up in California, discovered each others’ background, and danced a jig), and did something pretty nifty. William Shoney O’Brien, James Clair Flood, James Graham Fair and John William Mackay started ‘The Consolidated Virginia Mining Company’ in Nevada, where years before a claim was made called the Comstock Lode. Their mining company would eventually earn them well over $100 million dollars in silver, as well as the name the ‘Silver Kings.’ It is said that because of their cultures’ tragic history, the Irish guys were thought of as dumb and poor, and therefore, apparently, completely incapable of doing something fantastic (this in the eyes of fellow miners). And so, of course, the only plausible explanation for their great discovery and wealth was that of having luck – Irish luck.

And so the confusing term was born – ‘The Luck of the Irish.’

And as for the Irish folks back home? Life improved and boats sailed back and forth between the Emerald Isle and the Land of Opportunity. Somewhere in all that my family tree was well underway, and the leaves and seeds of that tree blew all over Ireland, the east coast of Canada and the United States.

And here I am. I’m pretty darn lucky, if you ask me.

I am not a historian, but it’s amazing what you learn when you research a little.

So back to the luck bit….

I wonder if (remember, I am not a historian) part of their determination in finding the silver and creating their profitable business was also fuelled by the need to prove all those naysayers wrong. By chasing their dream, the four men SURE SHOWED THEM, and found the pot at the end of the rainbow.

I would like to think they proved the cynical and judgemental wrong, and finally got what they worked so hard for - all good things come to those who wait and all that. And maybe, just maybe, sprinkled in there was a bit of much-deserved luck.

In the writing world, arguments rally back and forth with many saying only hard work and determination will get a writer published, and that luck has nothing to do with it. These cynical ones hold strong in their belief that there is no such thing as luck – in life, and especially in the business of writing. They stand-fast in their belief that only with amply shed amounts of blood, sweat and tears will success happen.

And then there are others who say that luck plays a big part in it all: in being in the right place at the right time and in having the right kind work needed at the right time. Or even better – it’s a writer’s lucky day when they catch an agent, editor or publisher in a good mood, thereby granting the struggling writer much success.

I believe in hard work, but I also believe in that little shiny word – luck. I also believe good things happen to those who wait, as cliché as it is, and those deserving will be duly rewarded.

But when you’ve paid your dues, wrestled and toiled with words, rejection, publishers, and folks near and far telling you aren’t good enough, why not prove them wrong - and keep going after your dream. You never know when a little luck may come your way.

Sometimes things just happen; not only to those who DO work hard, but also to those deserving. Some might call it Karma - some might call it forces of the universe. But whatever it is, it’s there. Often thought of as an unseen, unexplainable, improbable force that someone made up, many also call it a weak explanation for why things happen to those deserving.

But what if some ‘mystical’ force like luck is out there? WHAT IF? I always go by the thought of never dismissing the possibility of something – because you never know.
I have a lottery ticket dated March 17th, to be drawn on March 17th – just in case.

So who cares what it’s called. I believe in it, and I’m calling it luck - Irish luck. And I applaud the ‘Silver Kings’ from many years ago, who were fortunate to have a silver string of luck.

Lucky for you I’m done rambling.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Emmaline Bags by Janelle

If you have longed to visit the land 'down unda,' do so vicariously through the world of fashion bags and purses, and follow the adventures of a seamstress-come-business woman, Janelle MacKay. An ex-pat from Alberta living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, Janelle keeps busy sewing and creating her business, all while soaking up the sun!

March 8th was International Women's Day, and you can support and celebrate women and their accomplishments not only one day a year but year-round by checking out various websites, blogs and shops - created for and by women!

Janelle's site not only has bags and patterns for sale, but tutorials, giveaways and great links to other sites of interest. Even if you don't sew, and aren't in the market for a new bag, check out her blog for neat stories and insights into the world of sewing, and follow as she shares stories and experiences of her venture into her new path.

I hope you'll check out her site and enjoy her blog as I do!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why Walk When You Can Fly

Duck season continues in this part of the world. And no, we don’t have THAT kind of duck season, nor do we have ‘wabbit’ season – leave that for Elmer Fudd.

As duck season is typically year round in these mild-weathered parts with the majority of the little waddlers rarely flying south, feeding the ducks, stepping around their waddling bodies, and hearing them quack overhead as they fly to the nearest pond is constant.

As I waddle my way down the path leading to the pond, I see dozens of the mallards waddling, or running as best as they can, up ahead on the path as if they too are out for a stroll. As I approach, the little duck-billed darlings waddle/run out of my way, so tame they are to fly off in a panic. Even the odd crow hoping to find something shiny hops out of my way. Their goofy-looking waddle/run/hops have me itching to yell at them (which I wouldn’t as they would think I was nuts), “Why walk when you can fly? Make the most of what you have – you’ve got wings, use ‘em!”

They have wings able to take them places farther than my own legs can carry me. Maybe it’s just easier to waddle than to fly. With all that flying to and fro, I am sure their little wing muscles must be pooped.

But when the food comes free - the breadcrumbs, sunflower seeds and millet literally thrown at their webbed feet - other than skid-landing onto a frozen pond, it’s much easier to walk than fly.

They serve as a reminder – why always walk when you can fly? Yes, sometimes you have to walk and push your way in to get to the good stuff (even if it’s breadcrumbs), but everyone has the ability to fly, so why not strive for something more? No need to poke around, letting others – or yourself, for that matter – slow you down. Why not push yourself to go further – faster - and outdo what you think you are capable of? Why wouldn’t you make the most of what you have, and do the best, if not better, than what you can typically do?

Walking might be the easiest and less strenuous way to get to what, or where, you want. But when you have flown and reached your destination, look back and see how far you have come – and be proud. Be proud of what you did by pushing yourself and taking flight, and not always taking the easy route. Be proud of achieving your goal, even if it’s birdseed - which I don’t recommend eating. Surprise yourself at where your wings will take you. By pushing yourself to do better, go farther, who knows where you will end up, and what you will see along the way.

On another day and at another park, another brace* of ducks pecked away at the snacks provided, and I realized something else. Maybe a balance of walking and flying during a journey of accomplishment is what is needed to make the most of what we have, and of what we strive to do. Sometimes I am always in a rush, and I do try to challenge myself by pushing my limits to get to where I want to go. But as a shimmering peacock made his way proudly through the ducks and seagulls, I knew: you never know who, or what, you will meet along the way if you don’t take the time to sometimes walk.

I think those ducks are on to something.

As cliché as it is - and heck, those clichés are made for a reason - spread your wings and fly. But take time to occasionally waddle.

And stay away from Elmer Fudd.

*(a group of ducks on the ground)