Skip to main content

Living the House Cat Life

Please allow me to introduce my household familiar, Gretchen MurderMittens Miernik. She is a wonderful member of our family and generally easygoing, but she does make this face if you accidentally walk in on her human bed nap and turn on the light. Well, who wouldn't? At this point in the pandemic / insurrection / zombie apocalypse happening outside in the world, I seek to follow Gretchen's lead in gently setting boundaries around healthy amounts of rest--and playtime, and sharp sense, and ferocity.


As coronavirus vaccinations roll out slowly, I am also rolling out my spine and sinews, all catlike, and feeling a new balance of relaxation and strength, well-rested chill and pilot-lit alertness. I am feeling more certain that the end of the pandemic is nigh, so I have let go of some anxiety over how long this will all drag out. And at the same time, I am comfortably certain that our civilization won't roar back to pre-Covid activity levels for another few months at least, so I still have time to finish re-reading all my favorite old books and enjoy my remaining freedom from "hard pants" and all the other minor discomforts of fully functioning daily life.

In other words, now that I feel confident in the pandemic's end, I can settle down into its comforts without feeling anxious or guilty about it.

Poor little Gretchen doesn't yet know that her Girl will have to return to on-campus school one day (maybe even this spring!!!) or that The Mother will return to the offsite office, but I trust she'll relearn to enjoy that alone time when nobody interrupts her human-bedroom naps.

In the meantime, some of her habits and "cattitudes" are rubbing off on me, and I admit I don't really mind living the house cat life for a little while longer. I no longer miss very much about my pre-2020 lifestyle. I've adjusted, and I'm taking better care of myself these days. I've become a bonafide Cat Lady, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Although I look forward to a more active and socially engaged future, I've accepted this opportunity to practice The Way of the Tortie while I can.

Though she be but little, she is fierce!
Gretchen is a passionate pro at resting, cuddling, purring, and playing, which comprise the vast majority of her time each day. Her greatest value to her family is her comforting and joyful companionship, which contributes to all of our health and happiness. On the side, she keeps our house free of delicious spiders, mosquitoes, and flies. In the winter, she has a lot of time off, but though she's always eager to provide hunting services, she graciously avails herself of a long vacation.

Although Gretchen fully leans into her status as a pampered pet, she retains instincts to keep her senses and physical prowess sharp. She earns her rest by playing hard, exhibiting stereotypical "tortitude," to our endless amusement. She may transform into a warm puddle of fluff during a catnap, but we've learned that that relaxation is spring-loaded. Her sweet little toe beans contain needle-sharp retractable shanks; her muzz muzz wittle facey face is armed with tiny incisors that can lock onto the back of my slipper as I drag her across the floor.

Gretchen never complains about her aching back or exhaustion. Sure, it probably helps that she's only three years old, but I've also watched how she stretches and does high-intensity parkour every single day. Inspiring!

Gretchen appreciates her privileged life and doesn't try to slip out the door too often. (She did escape once on some kind of epic adventure for almost three days, sending her family into a full-blown panic, but she returned completely unscathed and in good spirits when she remembered how great it was to be served duck kibbles and lamb pâté in a clean ceramic dish.)

Although she has seemed content to stay inside ever since then, she stays woke to what's happening outside of the windows. She absolutely loves to watch a thunderstorm, and she regularly scans the premises for wild animals and wandering neighbor cats. She's not shy about expressing her feelings about what she sees, either, and she raises her voice and lets it be known that she will not tolerate a rival kitty on her lawn, no matter how floof. And she is impervious to the manipulations of puppy dog eyes.

She may be a bit of a NIMBY and a Judge Judy about new acquaintances, but she places immense trust in us, her caregivers. She may not understand why we must trim her claws and put her through other uncomfortable indignities on occasion, but she voices her displeasure and then lets us do it without a fight. She takes her medicine, tolerates the authority of those who have earned her loyalty, and never holds a grudge against her nearest and dearest.

Sometimes she returns the favor by trying to bite off my mascara, which I'm sure she views as besmirchment of my eye region. Most of the time, she avoids hypocrisy by clearing the dust bunnies from her own whiskers first.

Over the holidays, we bonded by snuggling with an electric blanket by the fireplace while binging "Queer Eye."

Aaaahhhhhhhhh...

We've established some new, healthy routines together as well. I let her wake me up these days, usually before 6:00 a.m., and then I check to see whether I need to shovel the driveway before my essential man comes home from his very early work.

I'm also taking more opportunities to play vigorously, such as by sledding or climbing trees with my family. When the weather doesn't permit outdoor play and work, I do kitty cat stretches and yoga or belly dance or fun workout videos.

The days are finally growing longer. The light through our windows is strengthening into warm, bright spots suitable for curling up in. I think I am making good use of this house cat life, reveling in its pleasures and accepting its challenges to grow strong and ready for whatever comes next. 

Gretchen and I wish everyone a safe, comfortable, patient winter and--as soon as we can safely get back out there and resume the hustles of our normal lives (or try out new ones)--a happy Mew Year!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

TBT: The Magic of Essential Oils

Oh essential oils, beloved friend of loopy-goopy women of my own demographic marketing cohort, along with magic crystals, mystic doulas, organic pesticides, multi-level-marketed leggings, anything labeled as "herbal supplements," and alternatives to vaccination. The essential oil craze is something that has a basis in scientifically verifiable reality but has been endowed with magical, holy, pseudo-scientific properties for marketing purposes. I bought into it wholeheartedly before I learned that not all that crunches is harmless. All too often, legitimate fears based in reality (of toxic chemicals, unnecessary medical interventions, pharmaceutical side effects, etc.) are stoked to induce women like me to jump from the frying pan and into the fire of an "alternative" that may be at least as harmful as what it is supposedly protecting me and my family from. I still use certain essential oils for cleaning and other purposes, and I think everything I've stated in t

Pocket of Joy: Renovating to Love, Not to List

My mom and I have watched Love It or List It for years, and it's no surprise to us that most families choose to stay in their own, customized home rather than move into a new, blank box. The qualities that make a house a home are not the same qualities that make a marketable real estate property. Houses sell better when they are whitewashed into sterile, blank boxes where a new homeowner can come in and add their own personalized color and texture. If you're rich like the people on LIOLI , you can custom build a personalized home from scratch or personalize a market-fresh house in a short time, but even so, it's easier to stay in an already-customized house than to start over.  For regular people who aren't rich, turning a house into a home takes even more creativity, hard work, and time. But working class people certainly can create beloved homes. I've seen dream homes created from the tiniest of tiny houses in the humblest of neighborhoods, in trailer parks, in a

$Monday: Bog Witch Style on a Budget

Autumn in a pandemic is the perfect time to tap into your inner bog witch with wild hair, cozy clothes, forest rituals, creepy cats, fire, books of spells, and Dark Cottagecore home decor mood boards on Pinterest . You don't have to live in a literal swamp. The word "bog" comes from a Gaelic term for "soft," and it sounds nearly identical to Slavic words for gods or divinity with Proto-Slavic roots that refer to earthly fortune. Bog witches burrow into the true goodness of life nestled beneath all the hustle and polish and show of making a living. They focus on soft wealth and spiritual power. The vibe is slow, earthy, comfy, moody, sneakily seductive, maybe sticky, wise rather than smart, preferring old things to new, charming rather than impressive. It's about harmonizing with the natural environment, blending, melting, enveloping, and sinking into earthy, downward energy. Bog witchery vibes with hygge, friluftsliv , and the indigenous earth wisdom of whe

A Lightbulb Moment

All the lights are on! This weekend, my dad finished installing our kitchen cabinets as well as three pendant lights that hang above them. Hallelujah, let there be light! Now we can finally see what we're doing, giving us a boost of productivity by providing both visual access and a more pleasant work environment--which will soon become a warm, welcoming place to cook and eat and converse! This bright, warm light is a great metaphor for something else I've realized over the course my month-long home renovation staycation--which, though hard and busy, has been a clean break from my nonprofit work, my novel-writing creative work, and most of my social life too. I had an "aha" moment about illuminating the kitchen that my family has designed and built ourselves with a set of clear, warm lights that my husband and I chose together, as well as the fact that we are no longer living in other people's stuff. We're approaching 40 now, and we've finally been able t

No Cook Summer Snacks

We've been living without a kitchen for over a month now while we renovate, and while I miss baking and cooking, it's also a little bit nice to not have to cook. My family doesn't have a daily takeout budget (or else we'd be paying someone else to renovate our kitchen, obviously), so we've relied on my parents to share their kitchen and home-cooked meals with us in addition to setting up a makeshift pantry in our living room filled with foods that don't need to be cooked. During a hot summer, even when we have a fully functioning kitchen, it's nice to have some things on hand that don't need to be cooked with a stove or oven--or even a grill outside on scorching days. Whether or not you have a lovely kitchen that works, anyone can stay a little cooler and enjoy a little more time to relax this summer by stocking up on no-cook snacks such as... in-season fruits and veggies that can be enjoyed raw hummus, salsa, liquid nacho cheese (no judgment), or any ot

Pocket of Joy: Heirloom Tomatoes

Among the joys of homegrown veggies and fruits, heirloom tomatoes rise the highest above their grocery store cousins. Nothing cultivated to survive mass production and shipping to supermarkets can compare to the flavor of a homegrown heirloom tomato. Heirlooms come in a startling variety of shapes, sizes, and colors with great variation in flavor and texture as well. The bright, shiny, red, smooth, uniform-looking tomatoes that show up in grocery stores have been hybridized to enhance production and durability at the expense of flavor. There isn't anything wrong with eating grocery store tomatoes in terms of health, but once you taste the sweet, brilliant complexity of an heirloom tomato, you understand right away how different and special they are. If you can't or don't wish to grow heirloom tomatoes yourself, and if you don't have green-thumbed and generous family or friends willing to invite you over for grilled bruschetta this summer (oh, the tragedy!), you can usua

Pocket of Joy: Old Books

Old books! You can judge them by their shabby chic covers, because they function as objets d'art and objects of desire on a shelf no matter what stories they tell inside. Books with leather bindings, books embossed and edged in gold, books with plates and illustrations and fancy lettering inside, books that give off the subtle scent of an aged library, books with fraying ribbon markers and tactile spines. Old books are charming, comforting, and, when they aren't first edition antiques, they are usually cheap. The stories told inside of old books can also be wonderful and so thick and rich that you can revisit them again and again, each time discovering something new or forgotten, as fans of Jane Austen and George Eliot know well. Those were stories built to last the ages. An old book can be a roundly multi-sensory experience. I once picked up an old maiden volume by Anthony Trollope that had never been read--and I know, because I had to rustle up an antique book knife to cut ap

Pocket of Joy: Hot Gourd Summer

The corn has grown past "knee high by the Fourth of July," and so have the sunflowers. The delicious bean plants keep trying to climb up their tall sisters' stalks, though the cute, fuzzy creatures of the neighborhood keep trimming them down. And in one very green corner of the garden, the zombie trash gourds have returned! Last year, they volunteered to take over my compost and apple wood stick piles, and this year, they popped out of the front yard garden (after I spread compost there) to say: it's time for another hot gourd summer! The Fourth of July fireworks are all used up and done; it is now legal to look forward to Halloween. Pumpkin spice girls and bog witches, rejoice with me! And pray to every curly shoot and warty bump that by the time these decorative gooseneck gourds ripen, my witchy kitchen will be finished and ready to display them on rustic cherry open shelves against shady green walls. Until then, it's a joy to let the gourd plants' broad gre

Check Out My...

Pantry! We slapped in some fun and easy, removable wallpaper and dug around in the garage until we found this functional beauty, a commercial-grade speed rack abandoned by a former roommate long ago.  The wallpaper is also pretty old, leftover from a project in my parents' former house. Weirdly, I just saw it featured in a bookcase in an episode of Love It or List It . As seen on TV! While we renovate, we've been going through lots of old stuff in the garage, attic, and shed to donate, throw away, or, occasionally, use in the new kitchen. I've unearthed some VERY interesting and exciting treasures from deep inside the garden shed, which I hope to show off soon.  Things are getting very bog witchy around here indeed!