One Cat Apartment

One cat apartment is more a statement about who rules the dwelling as opposed to how many cats can abide there.

Be prepared for a complete makeover of your life, possessions and habits when you decide to become a one cat apartment dweller.

I am permitted to reside here of course because I provide  the means, the food and creature comforts.  I am rewarded for this with the cats rendition of love.

My black spotted cat dutifully wakes me at 4:30 a.m. no matter what my condition (that is irrelevant, everyday is a new day!) and makes sure he is my top, and only priority for the day (he will allow me my amusements when he chooses to nap).  Hmm, now that I think of it, it is a lot like being married.

He delights me with all his antics, quirks and character.  As my world of valued possessions is increasingly reduced to being tucked into drawers or at ceiling level, I am mesmerized by his boundless energy, enthusiasm and curiosity, or by his plain old bad mischievous behaviour.

He is certainly good for me, though I am frustrated by his persistence to do wrong (chew expensive art supplies, dig up plants, repeatedly relocating things on shelves to things on floors).  People comment I am a much nicer person in the possession of a cat.  In fact, many pushed me to get one after suffering me a year catless.  My Mother used to plead with me to go to the gym for the same reason.  Everyone benefited afterwards.

I must admit I had never heard the expression One Cat Apartment until I got my new cat.  My lease limits how many people can live with me but not pets, or what kind.  It doesn’t need to.  No matter what the size of my living space, one cat is enough.

Even now while writing this, little four foot is into forbidden places, knocking over stuff and squeezing into areas I could never reach into.  Creating havoc because I dare to ignore him.  He never tires of this, he delights in it.  It keeps me very humble and reminds me of what really matters in life.  Things are replaceable.  Sam (my cat) is not.

As Christmas comes and my house is devoid of decorations, for the same reason as when I hang my clothes on the rack to dry, within moments all is on the floor, I am forced to be content to have all that glitter within me, and shine from the inside out.  Little cat is only 6 months old.  Presently, everything is one big Christmas gift to Sam, to be unraveled, dispersed, played with and ultimately destroyed. The years will pass, cat will settle down and my concealed dormant Christmas tree will once again be released and brighten my room.  I am not overly bothered by this.  I am an enthusiastic little kid putting decorations up, and then procrastinating until July to put them away.

When he jumps up into my lap unexpectedly, looks up at me with bright golden eyes and purrs warmth and love into my heart, I know I have a forever blessing cradled in my arms.  This is the true meaning of every day of my life, not just Christmas; peace, love and joy.

I should wish for everyone to have a One Cat Apartment.

Magic Flute

B flat  B flat  C  B flat  E flat  C . . .

Hap-py Birth-day to me . . .

This year’s birthday I can play this tune for myself!

Long ago, my parents convinced me that I was not musically inclined.  This was to keep our house quiet. Like most children however, I longed to make noise, and any noise can be music. The flute was the instrument I most wanted to learn.

In the cult movie Harold and Maude, Maude introduces the young Harold to music (ahem, among other things) saying everyone should be able to make some music.  She chooses for him the instrument that most suits him, a banjo.  That little snippet from the movie stayed with me because I knew the flute was what I should play.  This desire never left me.

I had a bit of music education at school, but was never encouraged to pursue making sounds.  Music was kept at a distance.

My Mother took me to classical music concerts because she liked to be a Princess.  We’d dress up and shine in our box seats one Wednesday a month.  She did not want me to learn music, she disdained the music ‘snobs’ who knew everything about certain pieces, how and why they were written, how they should sound, what they meant.  “You should bring your own interpretation to it” she’d admonish me. “Just listen to it and let it take you where it will.”  I did derive a great deal of enjoyment from those evenings, and I got to hear some great musicians, including Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma.  Musicians had a gift, they were special ‘others’, born to make music.

Then, one day, just a year ago, a friend told me she was buying a piano.  She hadn’t played in years and missed it.  I casually remarked on my musical inability and how I always wanted to play the flute.  Well, she pulled out a piece of paper and in a matter of minutes taught me how to read basic music.  “Go get your flute” she smiled.

And I did.  A nice student rental.

I even took lessons, until my bank account couldn’t support that any more.

When a tune first appeared from my squeaks and squawks, I experienced magic.  Those little black orbs with sticks in them lifted off the page and danced!  No longer a passive listener, I became creator!  Mary Had a Little Lamb!  Ode to Joy!  Freres Jacques!

To be fair, I am not a good player.  I cannot play a lot of notes on one breath (slur), so I am limited to songs where I can go toot, toot, toot!  My octaves are up in the rafters.  None of this matters.  A year later, a few days before my birthday, I can play the song to myself.  A nice birthday gift.

Maybe next year I can buy a flute.

Adjoining Walls

New neighbours moving in, muffled sounds coming through my living room wall.  The adjoining wall.  That unusually thin partition that both separates and joins me to my neighbours.  The common wall.  Possibly only a dry wall.

I’ve learned a few things about common walls.  Never put the head of your bed against one.  Either you’ll keep your neighbour awake with your snoring, or they will keep you awake with their lovemaking (or vice versa if you are fortunate).

Don’t put your stereo, TV, computer, gaming device or similar repetitive noise maker (a relative) against one.  You’d be amazed how far sound travels and how loud it is next door, above and below you.  I am startled by how many people who insist on doing this don’t know what headphones are.  It’d solve most of the problems, save the talkative relative.

There are hundreds of things to complain about whenever you share a dwelling with 400 other people, but noise tops the list.  It’s all those things happening on the other side of those adjoining walls.  Of course!

But right now I am the offender.  I have a very bad cold.  Very bad.  I spend the wee hours of the night with a dry hacking cough. I curl up on the sofa in the living room to spare my neighbours sleep, but at 2 a.m. probably everyone within 5 floors of me has heard I am sick.

I am currently blessed to be nestled between two very quiet neighbours.  But I dream of living somewhere where the adjoining walls are with nature.  The only form of pleasant annoyance would be birds, crickets and frogs singing, rain pattering, wind whooshing, maybe waves lapping.  Or perhaps, the sound of nothing at all, like I experienced in the desert.  And I won’t disturb anyone.

However, as I get older, and a bit deafer, I tend to get louder and my neighbours quieter, strange that.

Think I’ll go practice my flute now.

Don’t worry – it’s only for 25 minutes.

In the dining room.

It’s 2 p.m.

Mostly it’ll be a few toots, mixed with coughs.

All of you are at work.

Far from adjoining walls.

NOT on the Buses

Nasty day.  Not snowing yet, but that rain is near ice.  The bus is late, difficult to gauge by how much, they come when they feel like it, sometimes two arriving together, and then nothing for days.  My feet start to get cold.  A bus passes, too full to pick us up.  This is the daily attempt to commute to work.  Repeat the scenario on the way home, the wait so long, I could catch the next bus back to work.

Nothing can accelerate work place burn out faster than a lousy commute.  Perhaps the commute started the burn out in the first place.

Forget the advice to spice things up by going a different route.  I take the shortest, and only route available.  If there was another way, it would be infinitely longer – why would I want to do that?  Get up earlier and come home later?  Na.  And in the winter it is dark a.m. and p.m., not much change of scenery there.  Finding another route is as bad advice as standing on a bus without holding onto anything to improve your balance (yes this piece of wisdom is on the internet).  Advice doled out by people who never take the bus.  Ever.

It’s not the scenery that dulls the mind.  It is the waiting. Looking hopefully down empty roads and seeing no vehicles, of any kind, in sight.  Just blowing snow.  Or sheets of rain.  Or a nice sunset on the good days.

Once on a bus, packed in like sardines, our bulk is smashed to one side as bus takes corners on two wheels, and folded up like an accordion on sudden stops and starts.  And it stops at every. single. stop.  We get every. single. red light.

Eight a.m.  The driver sings at the top of his lungs all the way to work, in two languages.  A lot of tremolo, but not gravel down a tin chute, thank goodness. But at 8 a.m.?

Move closer to work?  Are you kidding me?!  The repercussions of that should be evident.

But busing beats walking. Walk?  I had to during bus strikes.  In January.  It took an hour and a half one way.  And I had it easy.  Some people had to walk hours and still put in a full day.  I near froze, got buried in a snow bank by a snow plow and generally believed my life would soon end.  Bicycle?  Dangerous. But brave souls do it. Koodoos to them for sure.  Plus they save a huge amount of money and get in shape.  Winter must be a blast to bicycle in.  I used to in the summer, but bike thefts are common.  So nice at the end of the day to find your only ride home is gone or worse, mangled.  No room in current office for safe stow away of bike.  I know, I have an excuse for everything.

Of course everyone has their own horror stories of taking the bus.  I could curl your hair with some of mine.

I am, of course, ranting.

I figured it out.  I have gone down the same road almost 6000 times during the past twelve years.

If I get to retire when I want, it means maybe only a thousand more trips.

I won’t miss it.