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Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorm’

As a Pagan, I generally like to do my version of worship outside. Nature is the ultimate chapel, especially when you grow up around things like Giant Sequoias. But living in the perpetual suburbia of dusty SoCal isn’t really conducive to casting a circle in the back yard, so I have a small altar in my bedroom. When not in use, it’s closed off in a modern version of a secretary. I figure my Christian husband doesn’t need to be reminded that he’ll be spending his afterlife in Purgatory standing in line surrounded by screaming children because he dared marry out of the faith. He claims he’ll be fine as long as I’m there with him, but I’m thinking I need to apply for a waiver so he can join me in the Summerlands. Who needs to spend eternity with screaming children when we can do that any weekend at the grocery store?

Anyway, part of the accouterments on the altar are five small wooden boxes, each holding the cremated remains of the companion animals I’ve had over the last twenty-plus years. Three dogs and two cats, and lots of memories. I miss them – and all the ones that came before – terribly. It’s been over a year since the last one made his crossing, and being at home alone weighed on me more than I realized.

Sometime in May or June – I don’t remember exactly when as I was deep into a black hole of depression at the time – I stood at my altar, crying, just ‘cause. (I was doing a lot of crying during that time with no real reason as to why. Just a chemical imbalance that was wrecking havoc on my system.) I saw those five boxes and suddenly understood what I needed to do. I asked those five companions for help. I asked them to guide a new companion to me, to help an animal on the Underground to find its way to us.

Most of my animals have been foundlings, in one way or another: the husky was picked up in the desert of Joshua Tree by a friend; the first cattle dog was a lost puppy wandering the alley behind my house; my little black feline familiar was part of a surprise litter some other friends of mine had; the wonder mutant polydactyl feline jumped onto my shoulder from a tree when I went outside one night to try and figure out where that mewing was coming from; and the second cattle dog came with my husband, who I think followed me home from the zoo. Or maybe the circus. Anyhoo, they all arrived more by circumstance than by conscious choice, so I figured I was due for another. My husband and I had been talking about going to the shelter and adopting someone, but he kept convincing me we weren’t ready yet because of our slim-to-none financial situation. Intellectually I agreed. But the growing sense of isolation building inside was tearing me apart emotionally.

In mid-July we were hit by the tail end of Hurricane Dolores. She gave us rain like we hadn’t seen in years. She dumped on us several times over the period of a few days, ending with a rip-roaring, thunder-n-lightning, honest-to-goodness gulley washer on a Sunday afternoon. My husband and I had been outside enjoying the rain earlier in the weekend when we startled a cat out of one of the doghouses still on the back patio. At the time I didn’t think too much about it – neighborhoods always have cats about, and cats are smart enough to get themselves out of the weather as dogs run around chasing rain drops. At least somebody besides the spiders was getting use out of the houses. The next day when the skies really opened up, I looked out the patio doors to enjoy the show and saw a splash of orange in the doghouse again. The cat was back inside and curled up quite happily as Mother Nature drowned the brittle excuse we have for a yard. I took it as a good sign – thunderstorm and cat; two of my favorite things at the same time.

When I saw the cat outside again the next day, I decided to put some food out for him. He was woefully thin and dirty and very skittish, disappearing at the faintest hint of a human. He just seemed like he needed a break and I certainly needed the company.

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At first I wasn’t sure what to do about him. The finances weren’t any better, so I initially thought maybe I could get him calm enough to get him to the shelter and to a forever home with someone else. No one seemed to be looking for him – he didn’t match any description on the local lost animal sites, and he’s not chipped (yet). But, you know how that goes. Over the course of nearly four weeks, I spent a few minutes every evening with him outside. He gobbled up the food I gave him and listened to me babble on about whatever. At first he would slink in under cover of dark, wary of the crazy cat lady sitting in the open patio door nattering on, but then we got into a routine. After a couple weeks he started talking to me as I brought the food out. And then I was finally allowed to pet him, briefly. His fur was like straw and I could feel nearly every bone in his back. A couple days later he actually let me pick him up and set him in my lap to pet him. Suddenly it was like a new cat showed up. He relaxed and purred and head-butted me – the ultimate cat compliment.

That following weekend he was a full time house cat. He had some adjustment issues about staying in – he’s an un-neutered tom (to be taken care of in the coming weeks), so he was still a bit territorial about his patio – but he’s down to happily looking out the windows now without needing to exit. Regular food and attention has allowed him to blossom. The skinny has become a healthy sleekness, while that straw fur turned to satin. He took to the litter box right away, seems to like the idea that he has a lap to sit on whenever he wants (which is just about all the time), and thinks catnip mice are the bomb.

So meet Roan, my new feline overlord. And proof that, whatever your faith, sometimes you get exactly what you asked for, and it’s totally cool.

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Habits are strange. It seems inordinately easy to fall into a bad habit, while way too arduous to build a good one. And vice versa. Breaking bad habits (smoking, over-eating, drug abuse) are a grueling trek akin to hiking Mount Everest, while establishing good habits (exercising, eating right, writing everyday) makes that little walk to the top of the world seem simple.

I bring this up because after two months of complete and utter brainlessness, trying to get myself back into writing – AT THE VERY LEAST – a weekly blog entry is sort of like swimming the English Channel with no endurance training. Yeah, I can swim, but, man, that water is cold and choppy, and the other side seems so very far away… What the hell was I thinking???

Most of the time I sit down at my computer and have no idea what I’m going to say. That’s just the way we pantsers do things. I might have a kernel from a topic in the news or something that happened, or a general (read: extremely vague) thought I want to share. Sometimes all I have is a really cool title. I have several short stories like that right now – really cool titles, and not a word more. Someday the stories will show up. I hope.

Anyhoo, here I am trying to get back into a good habit. When I went wandering around in that great empty space of my mind, I found that there actually have been several cool things that happened lately. On the grand scale, the US Supreme Court (finally!) decided that marriage is a legal right accorded to ANY two adults willing to make the commitment, regardless of gender, sexual identity or orientation. And Iran (grudgingly) sat at the bargaining table with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, and hammered out a deal on their nuclear technology – a diplomatic resolution to a potentially devastating future for all concerned.

Of course, American conservative politicians are frothing at the mouth over both of these, ranting on about the fall of civilization and the destruction of “good Christian values.” Neither of which any of them seem to actually understand, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I’ll never fathom why they continually want to run around in fear screaming about the sky falling and needing to condemn everyone else for not doing the same. It seems a lot of wasted energy for nothing. Just think how wonderful the world would be if they worked that hard to actually accomplish something positive? So I have two things to say in response to the fright-right: 1) stay in your own bedroom, and 2) give peace a chance.

I could go on and on about both topics, but don’t really see the point when there are already millions of words on the Internet supporting all the various sides and arguments. Go forth and laugh and point, as you will.

No, I’d rather talk about something far more important that happened this weekend, a combination of events that really helped me feel better in so many ways.

It rained.

And I don’t mean the usual spit-take we’re offered here in SoCal, I mean an honest to goodness, rip-roaring, pouring-assed-rain thunderstorm. It seems there was a bit of a hurricane down off the west coast of Mexico, and the remnants of it splattered ashore here. It clouded up a little on Friday (which had it’s own excitement as a wildfire closed down a major freeway here. See: “Wildfire on SoCal freeway…”), then we had some drizzle and then actual rain on Saturday. My husband and I went out back to enjoy the weather, startling a stray tom that had taken to one of the doghouses for shelter. He bolted off and we laughed in the rain.

Sunday saw more of the same, off and on for most of the morning. And then in the afternoon, the skies opened up and we had a genuine gulley-washer. It poured. It thundered. The rain sluiced off the roof in great sheets. The brittle little nubs of grass we had left in the yard were drowned. For a good while, the water running down the street (what SoCal calls rain gutters, the rest of us call useless) was even with the sidewalk and threatening incursions into the yard. It was glorious!

We stood on the front porch a long time, basking in the thunderous energy. I tried to capture some of it on my phone, but the video quality was poor and didn’t really do it justice. It went on for some time, and then we finally wandered back into the office to get back to our lazy Sunday afternoon of Internet cruising and videos. Something caught my eye as I was about to sit at my desk. I took a better look through the blinds and realized that the stray from the day before was back in the doghouse, nonchalantly bathing himself as if he owned the place. We don’t have dogs right now, so I guess he’s claiming squatter’s rights. I didn’t mind. The Goddess had seen fit to give me a thunderstorm and a feline visitor on the same day. A nice double play if ever I’ve seen one.

It was something I really needed, a pleasant helping of my favorite things to drag me out of my slump. Feeling content, even happy, I’ve been given a reprieve from the darkness. Oh, I know it’s only temporary – such is the nature of depression – but it gives me something to work with and for. It gives me hope.

Here it is in the waning hours of Tuesday, and the stray is still out back. He’s a lovely ginger with beautiful gold eyes, but very skittish and obviously in need of some TLC. Somehow a little canned chicken made its way out there, right next to a bowl of water. I have no idea how that happened (wink*wink). But four days later, he’s come to some level of understanding that this is a safe place to be. At least for now. Being on the animal underground we could be just a way station, or we could be the forever home. We’ll just have to take it one day at a time, just like everything else in life.

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