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The Feline Philosopher

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Questions and Answers

July 20th 2005 12:44 pm
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My mom is always looking for answers. The right answers, of course. The answers to life’s mysteries and concerns (both pressing and not so pressing). For some of the answers she simply turns on the TV (ah yes, another hot and humid day is expected), or opens a newspaper, book, or even the Internet (whatever did we do before Google?). For other answers she turns to family, or friends, sometimes to God, and when desperate, even to me. Personally, I think she should do the latter more often. Now granted, I’m only a cat, and my key answers (“yes, there’s food in my bowl”, and “yes, mom still loves me”) are few, and perhaps not profound, but I, being a philosopher cat, could tell her a thing or two.

I could tell her for example that she has it all wrong. That she has it backwards. That she’s focusing on the wrong side of the equation. And that what she really needs to do is to ask the right questions. Yes, that’s right - forget about finding the right answers; ask the right questions!

Again, to use myself as an example “Is there any food in my bowl?” and “Does mom still love me?” are essentially the only important questions, for me at least. Fortunately, once you do ask the right questions, the answers are often easy to see. So, I would tell my mom to shift her focus. Trying to find the answer to the question, “Do I have any talent?” for example, is a waste of time. The right question becomes “What if I have the talent, but can’t find the courage to use it?” Ah, now it becomes much more interesting!

Some other right questions I would urge my mom to consider include:

“What do I really want to do?”
“What am I afraid of?”
“What is the best choice for me to make?”
“What can I learn from this?”

And perhaps more importantly:

“Am I loved?”
“Have I loved well?”
“Have I been compassionate?”
“Have I done anything today to make someone’s life a little bit easier?”

In my humble feline opinion, the questions can sometimes be more illuminating than the answers.


The Write Life

July 18th 2005 12:04 pm
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"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by." - VITA SACKVILLE-WEST


Mom’s To-Do List versus My Tah-Dah! List

July 16th 2005 6:24 pm
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As you’ve probably guessed, my mom makes those silly to-do lists. I’m sure you know how it works. When she gets up in the morning, she sits down and tries to plan what she should do for the next twenty-four hours. The very fact that the preceding sentence contains the word "should" ought to be a major clue as to how much fun that usually is. And while I’m not trying to disparage my mom, I don’t quite understand why she goes through this daily ritual. It’s not as if that list differs substantially from one day to the next. It’s not that she enjoys doing all of the things on the list, or that she even gets the satisfaction of crossing out every single item by the end of the day. Not even close! So why?

Now, the best thing is not to have a list at all. Ever. If something is that important, then you’ll probably remember it fine all on your own. But, if you have to have a list (let’s say you’re a borderline obsessive-compulsive, which is what I suspect my mom is, even on her best days), then consider this idea. I personally don’t really feel the need to do it myself, but as an exercise to show my mom, here is what I would suggest. Instead of an inane to-do list, why not compile a tah-dah! list of what you’ve accomplished that day. It could include everything from important stuff to goofy, fun things. And just to help demonstrate the difference, let me show you a list that my mom would probably put together, and one that I would most likely come up with, and see which one you’d prefer.

Mom’s To-Do List:

- do grocery shopping
- do dishes
- do laundry
- vacuum pet hair
- make up bed
- clean windows
- look for work
- e-mail friends

My Tah-Dah! List

- ate, ate, ate!
- licked bowl clean
- licked fur clean
- rolled on floors and left my mark
- slept on bed
- looked out windows
- played, yeah!
- catmailed the Scootster!

Do you see the difference? Do, do, do (dull, dull, dull) versus fun, fun, fun! And isn’t it a lot better to reflect back on the day and see just how pleasurable it was, rather than starting it off by listing a tedious bunch of things that either a) won’t get done, or b) you won’t enjoy? Now tell me, which one is better?

[note: Mom says I should (there’s that word again) really give credit and confess that the Tah-Dah! List idea isn’t originally mine, but something I borrowed from Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World. Moms can be such poops at times.]


I’m Too Clever for My Mom, Too Clever… (everybody sing- along now!)

July 12th 2005 5:35 pm
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Ever since CatsterPlus came into the picture, mom’s been trying to take more pictures of me. TRYING being the operative word that is. Mom says it isn’t her fault. That’s she’s only thinking of the waste involved if she doesn’t use up more of the fifty slots available. I say she’s lucky to have any pictures at all. As far as I’m concerned, ten should be enough. I’ve let her fill an entire page, and she’s still not happy. How many pages does she want? And just how many different poses does she think she can catch me in?

More importantly, why should she have the right to invade my privacy and leisure time just so that she can show me off? Is that true love? And what about consent issues? Has she thought of that? Has she even bothered asking me? Worse, it’s getting to the point where she manipulates things just so that she can take a picture. If you ever see photos on my page with a certain red boa-like contraption, then you can bet your bottom dollar that she did not buy that toy primarily for my pleasure, but mainly because she thought it would be good for camera shots. Honestly!

Luckily, I’ve had a nice discussion with that camera of hers, and we are now officially in cahoots. We have pledged to make picture-taking as difficult as we can, and so far, it’s working. Being digital does have its advantages. Like the fact that the power save feature automatically kicks in if mom hasn’t clicked the button quickly enough. Which she usually hasn’t because she can’t get the right angle right away. Or the zoom in feature. By the time she does get it right, the camera’s power has shut off, or I’ve foiled her shot and exited the picture. Literally. Tee, hee - she can’t get the better of me! At least, not every time. So, if you do happen to see any photos of red feathers or the like, be assured that it took lots of time and effort on her part. Why should I be a willing participant?

(Dang! She’s looking at the camera manual right now muttering something about how there must be a way to shut off that power save feature. Shoot!)


Today’s Equation

July 2nd 2005 3:12 pm
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less heat + no humidity = RELIEF

Boy, my mom was getting awfully cranky!


“Summer sucks.”

June 29th 2005 12:12 pm
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That’s what mom says, and I agree. To prove our point scientifically, we offer the following equation:

heat + humidity = hell

Can’t argue with that, can you?


The (Somewhat Long) Story of How I Got My Name

June 25th 2005 5:29 pm
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Well, it’s not much of a story really. In fact, I’ve always thought my predecessor’s tale to be the more interesting one. He was aptly named after the fictional main character in British humour writer Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. My mom happened to be reading this when my predecessor arrived in her life, and in between fits of hysterical laughter (you must remember that mom was over twenty years younger at the time and could still be amused by teenage angst), decided that the kitten would inherit his name. What mom didn’t know at the time is that one needs to be very careful with naming, as a name can often predict the character of the one being named. As it turned out, Adrian Mole was just as insolent, impudent, precocious, and mischievous as the book character, but luckily for him, and for my mom, he made her laugh. Really laugh. My mom has matured (gotten old?) in the meantime, and is now a huge fan of Sue Townsend’s almost-as-hysterically-funny The Public Confessions of a Middle Aged Woman Aged 55 ¾. Go figure.

Okay, this entry is SUPPOSED to be about MY name, so here goes.

Like me, my predecessor (I’m so glad he doesn’t have his own page, because frankly, I’m starting to feel a bit upstaged here) didn’t want any other cats around. Just a one person, one cat relationship, thanks very much. My mom started collecting a few names in her head when Adrian Mole got old because she knew that when the time was right, she’d get another cat.

She considered Toto, but then discarded the idea since she figured that most people would simply think of Dorothy’s dog. She also had in mind Oblio, from the whimsical, yet touching movie The Point. See the pattern here? I love my mom, but let’s face it; she doesn’t have a lot of imagination. So guess what? My name, or at least my first name, came from a movie as well. My mom was watching the 1962 Shirley MacLaine film My Geisha and liked the name of one of the characters, Kazumi. She’d never heard of that name before (not surprising, since it’s a Japanese name), and decided that that would be the name of her next cat.

She also decided, once she became my guardian, that I should have a second name, just as Adrian did. It took her a few days, but then it hit her that because she received so much joy out of taking care of me (and was hopeful that one day I would feel joy again as well), that Joy would be the perfect middle name. When she came across the following poem by William Blake, the matter was settled:

Infant Joy

“I have no name;
I am but two days old.”
What shall I call thee?
“I happy am,
Joy is my name.”
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old
Sweet Joy I call thee;
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

And that, folks, is how I got my name. You can blame my friend Scoots (see her diary entry) for asking!

p.s. Cooper's got a great entry "A Cat by any other name…" as well. Go check it out.


Where is MY Kitty Complexion?

June 23rd 2005 1:16 pm
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I asked my mom this question repeatedly, as I noticed the increasing number of cats getting their complexion chart posted. Her answer, whenever I got one, was not very satisfying. Being the persistent kitty that I am though, I finally cornered her and got her to ‘fess up. This is what she said to me. “Sweetie,” she said, “if I filled in that complexion chart truthfully, I mean, with complete absolute honesty, then you would come off looking like a very ordinary, average cat, and I don’t want to do that to you because you’re not an average cat. You are the most special cat I’ve ever met, and that chart simply would not do you any justice.”

Well, I must admit, I was somewhat mollified. I then had a closer look at that chart and concluded that my mom was right. I’m curious when I need to be, ditto for making my needs vocally known, I’m either sleeping or running from window to window (I can never make up my mind which window gives me the better view), I’m not a Mensa card-carrying member, but neither am I a silly half-wit, and while I’m very affectionate with my mom, I’m completely timid with everybody else. Put all of that information into a chart, and you just get a straight line smack down the middle. BORING. Which I’m not.

Mom made me feel better though. “Sweetie,” she said again, “I think the folks at Catster just made a mistake and forgot some key categories. If they had thrown in Adorability and Appetite, your score would have blown that chart to smithereens.” I thought about it, and knew my mom was entirely right this time. Who needs a complexion chart anyway?

Funny, I even feel taller now.


One More Quote From Theo

June 18th 2005 12:56 pm
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"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" - THÉOPHILE GAUTIER

The following quote was passed along by my good (and wise) friend Scoots:

"The cat has too much spirit to have no heart." - ERNEST MENAULT, French writer

I like these guys; they obviously know cats well. If only everyone did!


To Scrap or Not To Scrap

June 15th 2005 7:14 pm
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My mom likes to read. And I like to encourage her in this, not only because it usually means more lap time for me, but because reading in general is, as Martha Stewart would say (not that my mom identifies with her in any way), a Good Thing. But, reading can be a Bad Thing as well. Take the other day for instance. My mom was casually reading the newspaper, when all of a sudden she gave me a funny look. I’ve seen this look before, and have been with my mom long enough to know that that look can sometimes be a Dangerous Thing. I decided to investigate as unobtrusively as I could, and had a peek at the article she was reading. It was a full-page article about something called “scrapbooking”. I’d never heard of this, and mom admitted that she had never had any interest in this popular hobby before (which is probably the Best Thing since I know just how talented she is at anything resembling arts and crafts). Before now, that is. Now it occurred to her that while she couldn’t care less about making a scrapbook about vacations, or special occasions, or anything else, it could be quite fun to make a scrapbook about me. Me! Well, folks, I put my paws on that paper and let it be known right away that that was not the Right Thing. What was she thinking? Isn’t this diary enough? So, I am happy to report that mom folded the newspaper away, tucked the idea into her ever-expanding mental “don’t bother” file, and just gave me a few pets instead - an Excellent Thing.

Hey Scoots (a.k.a. Scooter), I’ll let you and the other Catster cats know how I got my name very soon. Mom is saying something about being tired and needing me to help her take a nap. Purr!

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