Anticipating A Mac Attack

The relationship that a person has with Cats is as mystical and mysterious as they are. Dogs however, live to please and have you at “woof”. It’s common knowledge that Cats are natural born hedonists and for that reason alone, it makes them less popular. Sure, they will seek to charm you with their antics and take some pleasure in putting on a show, but even then, they have to be in the mood and the feedback they get from you needs to be something that they find rewarding.

After my daughter and her husband became Dog people, one of the Cats they had, Jake, just could not adapt the way that their other Cat, Peanut did. He hid under the bed and lived in fear which was very sad because Jake was a burly brute, twenty one pounds of black and gray tabby. He was also what’s known as a  Hemmingway or polydactyl, with seven toes on each foot which made him look even larger. To see this gentle giant cower in fear was too much for me to take so I convinced my daughter to let Jake live with ‘grandma’ and ‘grandpa’.

The move was confusing to Jake, and although he had shared our home when our daughter was on Summer break from college when she first acquired him, it was all strange to him. Trying to blend in with our four Cats was also difficult. Micro was the only male and the three females had roles that consisted of Isis the Queen, Rhiannon the Princess, and Astarte the Duchess. Micro was definitely the court jester and he was fine with that, until he needed to confirm his masculinity. A few slaps to the head made him think that his appointed position was quite acceptable.

Jake was slow to come to grips with the fact that his parents were not going to take him back to what was familiar, though unpleasant, and the transition was hard on him. He obviously was not going to dethrone the monarchs and he had too much dignity to juggle balls for tuna. He kept his distance from the ladies, and reestablished his relationship with Micro, though the two had been apart since our daughter returned to school and took Jake with her.

I remember it so well and think of it often, even though Jake crossed the rainbow bridge about 4 years ago. I was sitting on the sofa and Jake was sitting on the floor about ten feet away. I looked at him and he looked at me, but this time when our eyes met they seemed to lock onto something that up until then, had been separated by invisible distance. Suddenly, he got up, jumped up onto the sofa and enfolded himself in my arms. His purr was as deep as what he was feeling and was so strong that he made a chirping sound between the rumbling, resonant tones. In that moment he totally accepted his new home, and me.

You have to earn a Cat’s affection. It’s not done with food, toys, or constant petting. It develops with a blend of love and trust that builds just like the bonding relationships that grow with others of our own species. Maybe that’s why people who dislike Cats find them to be distasteful. For one thing, those people see a distinct separation between animals and humans and for that reason, feel that they should have the upper hand. Dogs are fine with this and except for the instances of having their owners having to establish themselves as ‘alpha’ to keep them under their control, they find their place in the pack and contentment within it. That bond is not something they have to work for like a person has to do with Cats. No one successfully ‘masters’ a Cat. If a person needs to be the one in control and dominate when it comes to an animal companion, then a Cat is not for them. It will be a relationship fraught with contempt and aggravation. If the idea of sharing your life with a smaller, domesticated Lion or Tiger still appeals to you and you don’t want to deal with the behaviors and mindset that are part of the equation, best get a virtual version on the internet.

There are different aspects of the relationship so it depends on what an individual wants from a Cat, be it free spirited side-kick, rarely seen roommate, or doorstop. I prefer the symbiotic relationship that occurs on their terms. It’s so much more rewarding. I don’t ‘have’ my Cats, as in ‘own’ them. They are my companions, confidants, and equals. They are family. They are independent enough to not ‘need’ me, they ‘want’ me.

Last year over Labor Day weekend we adopted Hmandu…yes, as in Kathmandu. It just seemed as if the grief over losing Micro had softened enough to want to fill the space that he had left. I chose his name because he looked rather exotic with his Bengal markings, and he had a spiritual countenance about him. However, the more comfortable he got with his new home the more curious, adventurous and raucous he became. The little guru went juvenile delinquent and began to test my patience as well as that of the former Princess, now Queen Rhiannon, and Astarte, still the regal, long haired, blue eyed Duchess.

Hmandu is a teenager now, and would take dad’s little red sports car if he had Jake’s ‘thumbs’. I wanted another polydactyl like Jake had been, but Hmandu has the skills to crack safes without the extra ‘fingers’. That being said, he is bored with the ‘ladies who nap’ and they’re tired of his attempts at making them forget they’re fifteen and seventeen years old. So, we contacted the rescue that we adopted him from in search of a playmate.

There was a polydactyl female, but she was a year old and I was concerned that there would be turmoil in the castle. However, after we met her, I fell in love. She was gorgeous and had a sweet and quiet temperament so I knew that there would not be a plan to overthrow the Queen. However, we still needed a Kitten who could keep up with Hmandu and one of the new arrivals to the foster home was all that and a bag of Catnip. He and his brother took turns climbing us like trees, snuggling and purring like little jet engines. Obviously, they knew how this game is played.

My husband gave me that look when one of the boys, Macaroni, clung to him with all fours. He’s the same shade of tan that Micro was so this little weasel was clearly fighting dirty. Brother, Mick, circumnavigated my head and wound himself around my neck like a toffee colored fur scarf. Clearly, we were about to adopt two, the female polydactyl, Millie and Macaroni.

Millie had to be spayed and we were to officially adopt and bring her home the day after. However, there was an illness among the new Kittens and the foster mom wanted to put Millie on medication too so the date was postponed for a few days. Then I received an email that Millie was having trouble breathing. This was followed by another email that she had pneumonia and had to be taken to an emergency vet for oxygen therapy. I kept a vigil by my computer as the foster mom kept me updated on her progress. Hope and plans to still share our home with her ended with a phone call that brought the news that Millie had passed away in the oxygen chamber.

The grief was not lessened by the fact that we had not spent more than a few minutes with her. In my mind we were ‘family’. I was going to change her name to Skye, Celtic and lovely, and I wanted nothing more than to shower her with love and adoration and make a forever home for her that would more than make up for her lonely disjointed life thus far. It was not to be and it was so hard to understand why and what had happened  to a seemingly healthy one year old Cat.

Macaroni, aka Mac, is big enough for his surgery now and will be getting ‘fixed’ this coming week. We will officially have the honor of giving him a forever home a week from today. We inquired about brother, Mick, but he got adopted last week. There is part of me that still morns the loss of his new ‘sister’ and that will shade the event slightly, but I’m sure the excitement of welcoming the new baby and watching the interaction between the ladies and Hmandu will make this a happy event.

Hmandu is getting tired of promises of a playmate and sits by the door with anticipation in his eyes only to have us come in with groceries instead of his brother.  The ladies, on the other hand, are enjoying the peace before the storm. Interrupted naps, teaching him where the back of the line is at the food dish, and the impropriety of chasing the tails of the royals will be the norm until little Mac finds his niche in the pride.

And we will, once again, find that there are hiding places in this house that we never anticipated. Closets and cabinets will need to be checked before closing doors and the clothes dryer fully inspected before hitting the button. The food dish will empty faster and the litter boxes will need scooping more often. And I will lose my heart, once again.


Love And The Potato

During the planning stages, May 17th, 1986 was expected to be a delightful Spring day. Not too hot, with a crisp bite still in the morning air that was not quite ready to surrender to the humid soggy gulp of Summer. However, Mother Nature had other plans. It was cold and rainy with the occasional sharp sting of sleet pelting our skin like stray buckshot. Had I acquired my current reputation as a dependable ‘weather Witch’ back in those days, I certainly would have transformed the day into one fitting an outdoor wedding in the park. However, I was a borderline Lutheran back then and slid in and out between the cracks of my traditional upbringing and resisting the feeling that I was just going through the motions.

I had been divorced for seven years and went the whole shebang route with wedding number one. Considering that that marriage lasted one month past the two year mark, the church, the white gown and reception at the country club is no insurance of it lasting. I did some unsuccessful dating, due mainly to the fact that I was city born and raised and the relocation to a spot somewhere between rural and redneck America was an awkward move that never really resulted in my transformation. My wardrobe consisted of disco glitz which properly reflected who I was and no amount of stacking wood and picking wild asparagus was going to send me to the local mercantile for bib overalls.

Being solitary is not something I fear or dread. I was a single mother, I had my career as a hairstylist, a few close friends and frequent trips back to the city on weekends so finding husband number two was not high on my list of priorities. Besides, I was becoming somewhat commitment phobic. However, I did long to converse with a male companion that didn’t focus on the subject of agriculture and cows. The main activity in a small Midwest town revolves around working all week and having a stool in a local dive bar that conformed to your ass on the weekends. Not my idea of a good time. I loved concerts, plays, going to nice restaurants and yes…dancing ’til the wee hours in clubs.

When the marriage fell apart I had moved back home with my parents. My father died shortly after I filed for divorce so that left my mother, my daughter and me to fend for ourselves in rural Wisconsin in what had been our Summer home. This got old after 6 years and I got the itch to at least meet someone who I might have a future with. Selecting one of the local good ol’ boys was not an option. In January 1984, in a moment of ‘what the hell’ I placed a personal ad in the Sheila Wood column of the tabloid, The National Examiner.

His was the second letter out of 40 that I pulled from the manila envelope I received in about a month after placing the ad. What fun! Some were too eager, some were too good to be true and some were looking for a means to a green card. But, Randy’s letter was different and subconsciously reading between the lines of our mutual Star Trek interest and chit chat was the knowing that he was the one.

Letters lead to phone calls and finally in December, almost a year later, that first face to face meeting. If anyone doubts that the ‘Universe’ will find a way to connect you with your destiny let me dispel that. Randy was living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A place to which I had no plans of going, much less even being aware of its existence. We spent a week together, during which he proposed. He flew back to South Carolina for a few months before he packed up everything he owned, left his home and his family to be with me. I had found him a near by rental cottage, he quickly got a job and throughout that year we planned the wedding.

Nasty weather aside, the rest went off without a ‘hitch’. A Lutheran minister was willing to marry us without the classes that my church required. The reception was to be held at my home on the lake so we just moved the ceremony there as well. About 25 people, several cases of champagne, an array of food that my mother and I prepared and a cake that I decorated myself thanks to a class I had taken, made up the deliberately private affair. My 8 year old daughter was my ‘maid of honor’ in a lavender floral print dress I had sewn. I also made my outfit, a soft silver gray skirt and jacket with a lavender satin camisole. My bouquet was white roses and my favorite wild violets. The groom wore a rented tux in a coordinating shade of silver gray. We were married in the warmth and glow of the large fieldstone fireplace in the living room instead of the park on the mountain.

After the luncheon and reception we left for our honeymoon in the closest small city with a Holiday Inn. On the way we stopped at the convenience store where I worked to see my coworkers who were not able to attend the wedding. One of my favorite customers was there so he made a brief fuss over my being there on my wedding day. He went up to my new husband and said, “I don’t believe I caught your name, young fellow”. Randy, in his tux seized the moment, stuck out his hand, and stated with confidence, “Bond, James Bond”. The man shook his hand and replied, “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Bond”. We still chuckle over having Mr. Pemble think I married James Bond.

More important than the vows we exchanged 28 years ago, I assured my man that life with me would never be boring. His usual response is, “That much is certain”. There have been rocky spots, but none so difficult that we couldn’t see our way to navigate through them. He is and shall remain for all time, my knight in shining armor. How blessed I am to have found someone like him. We’re both Leos so I said we would either have the greatest love or kill each other. Happy to say, we’re both still alive.

Time has a way of putting a burnish on things and marriage is no exception. Once you’ve passed the test that time puts before you, it rewards you by giving you a taste of nectar so deeply sweet that you never want to come up for air. You complement each other to the point that the two of you even breathe as one.

So to you, my Highlander, thank you for 28 glorious years. Your appetite for adventure and the fact that you admittedly love ‘crazy women’ has proven to be advantageous as I continue to evolve and transition since we met. Laughing and loving with you has been the stuff that Faery tales are made of. How blessed am I that one was written that included me because there was a time I doubted that they were true. You made a believer out of me. Happily ever after.

Groaning Pains

I prefer to think of myself as complex, or even complicated. Wearing either label sounds so much more glamorous in a bohemian kind of way than to say that I’m ‘difficult’. A Witch like me will sashay on the cat walk of life with it emblazoned on my chest, doing it all with unforgettable style.

The various complexities that complicate things can cause my logic to be mine and mine alone to the point that no one else can ever see things from my vantage point. Apparently, it seems to be so far out in orbit that the Hubble telescope can’t even find it much less home in on it. That being said, when I do what I feel is ‘sharing’ things, it has come to affectionately get referred to as my ‘rants’ by those that I ‘share’ with. Complex women tend to feel better when they are able to verbalize the things in their minds that others might consider to be space debris. Even if it is, it can’t just circumnavigate the universe without crashing and burning at some point in time so talking about it allows for a softer landing. My husband of almost 28 years is my ‘go to’ person when I need to be ‘grounded’. He puts things in perspective for me and most often keeps me from having to gnaw on my Vera Wang platform pumps when my version of things may prompt me to say what I’ll have to apologize for after the fact.

If you have seen the show, “American Horror Story: Coven” and Jessica Lange’s portrayal of “The Supreme” Witch, you might recognize me. That is why I consider myself so fortunate that there are people in my life who, have come to not only expect me to fly off the broom handle from time to time, they might even love me for it. After all, I keep our Coven interesting and when a Coven lasts as long as MoonShadow has…you need interesting.

Covens are families in every sense of the word and unless your blood is the consistency of water, you stand by each other through good times and the smattering of bad. Some members have known me since it all began in my living room in the early 90’s, but some are more recent. They don’t have the advantage of the certainty that, “she’ll get over it”, the way the founding Witches do. When my logic spins that yarn and knits it into a nasty, scratchy sweater, the urge to tear it off and throw it out has got to be irresistible, but they find it within themselves to just smooth it out and wear it anyway.

The odd, but beautiful thing is, that over time it softens and has the ability to become a favorite. It’s familiar, the color is complementary and it gets comfortable. It shows some signs of wear, but the repairs are done so well that no one can see them anymore and no one remembers how the snags got there or cares. The strands that bind us have been pulled tighter and they glow with a well worn shiny patina.

This Coven, this family, is a vital part of my life. If we just bobbed along the surface of nice, we would never know how to go deep and weather the storms. We’ve been tested many times. Relationships that forced us to learn to be more accepting, personal issues that taught us how to be committed to those not related by blood, things that made not helping someone something we never even considered. Then, there is my predictable propensity to misunderstand the perfectly understandable.

All in all, being part of a Coven makes a person grow in ways that other more mainstream groups don’t and can’t. Being on the fringes of what is considered tolerable, yet unacceptable, puts us on thorny common ground. When Witches are not being abhorred as evil we are being dismissed as flakes who personify roles that run the gamut from ridiculous buffoons to demonic. When the bright light of reality is cast our way, it usually categorizes us as tree hugging hippies who aren’t even organized enough to host a sit in. So, being social outcasts tends to help us form an instant bond, but when that bond is allowed to test its limits the real Magick happens.

I am so grateful that I have found my place among people who are capable of loving me since, as I have indicated, is no easy task. But, as I know so very well, the thing that may set a person apart by displaying traits that are diverse in the most unusual way, is the same thing that allows them to sense things that defy the normal senses. Given the choice, ‘weird’ wins every time.

Never surprised, but always amazed is the state that I find myself in most of the time. You’d think that by now the exclamation of, “OH WOW!!!” would not escape my lips as much as it does. The age and the experience thing has taught me that I’ll never be so old that I don’t want to experience even more. Growing beyond myself is something that I am constantly stretching to do. Thunderin’ tap dancin’ Christ, I love life!!! Even when it hurts.

Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like Being With The Coven

“Enchanted” still pulsates with residual love, even though I just received a message that my Coven family has arrived at their perspective homes. I sigh, relieved to know that they are safe and back with all that is familiar. The familiarity of home always comes with its own measure of comfort no matter how wonderful the journey was that enticed us to leave it. The confined spaces that walls provide take on the characteristics of batteries, accepting the charge of energy and holding it for a time, until it gently dissipates and all that remains are the testimonials of the experiences. Memorials in the form of mementos and gifts exchanged become the placeholders that have the power to make us relive these precious moments.

Cell phones, gadgets and cyber visits on Skype are an improvement over the days of missed calls on landlines and communicating via ‘snail mail’.  A time before answering machines, when it could be days or even weeks before a connection was made because it was all so ‘hit and miss’ if we dared to leave the house. However, there is nothing quite as satisfying as face to face and hand to hand contact. The fresh, warm, home-made cookie feel of hugs and whispered, “I love you’s” cannot be duplicated by anything commercially boxed. This was my existence from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning.

Issues that could only be resolved by a measured dose of ‘face time’ had been healed with the kiss of two-lip salve. Words that could not only be heard, but felt because they were spoken with lips that smiled and laughed. Eyes sparkled, got misty, and even rolled a little. Nothing was missed or hidden because it was out of camera range. The bonds that have held us together as a Coven may get stretched, but times such as this find us tugging them tighter and retying the knots until the security of what we have cannot be breached or unraveled.  I needed this. I think we all did.

Our new venture, Hocus Focus Radio, was born this past January after the conception and gestation took place the previous Autumn and was nurtured over the harsh Winter that kept us house bound.  Calls, emails, and the blurred images of ‘video speak’ could replicate what we needed, but was incapable of cloning it. The show is coming along nicely and our commitment to the dream that we all share is strong. The vision is such that it is viewed by one pair of eyes divided among the four of us. This weekend all of that was confirmed and stamped with the sacred seal of validation that I think we all needed to be assured of.

When a connection is so complete that the concept of dissolution cannot even be imagined, the term ‘friendship’ can’t begin to describe it. What took place in my life before it was blessed by the arrival of these gentle and loving beings was satisfying to be sure, but that can be said of a lot of things that never cross the line into something that transcends satiation. A Coven is a Spiritual family. It doesn’t get any deeper than that. The degree of vulnerability that it requires is not for the wary who ride the current of the fear of getting too close.

Their physical presence is absent, but their essence is still here and shall remain. It gives me buoyancy when life attempts to drag me under and reels me in when my visions might allow me to float untethered, aimlessly in space.

Blessed Be… Blessed me.

Recorded Saturday, April 12th

The Urge to Purge

Looking up at a waning Moon always inspires me to eliminate that which does not serve me. Painful emotions and defeatist attitudes can always top the list, but for me, jumping from one erroneous conclusion to the next has got to go.

Our perceptions can be so wrong, especially when we allow them  to run rampant on the endless loop of accusatory thought patterns. Many times our perceptions are governed by the mood we are in and moods can be changed. When we take the time to notice how easily we can ‘snap out’ of a negative mood simply by changing our focus from a negative thought to a positive one, we will feel more in control of our responses.

Do you ever get accused of over reacting? If I was on trial for this, I’d have been handed a life sentence. So, where did it originate? My childhood? Relationships gone bad? Being a Leo? Never one to play the blame game, I always look within and try to look for ways to make a change.

When was the last time that you set out to deliberately hurt someone? I am well aware that my razor sharp whit can cut deeply even though that is not my intention, and my honest opinion can be brutally too honest, but I can’t say that I ever used either to purposefully cause someone emotional pain. Why then, am I so quick to assume that when I am offended or crushed by someone else’s word or deed, it was intentional?

We can laugh off the joke made at our expense, if we are in the appropriate mood to do so, but if we are ‘touchy’, the same joke can raise tempers and blood pressure. The benefit of the doubt needs to be given, but if we are really concerned as to if the words were meant to be mean, we can always ask. However, if they are capable of actually wanting their barbs to sink in and spin, we need to hit the delete key on that relationship.

We need to believe that we are lovable in order to allow ourselves the certainty that those who love us would not, could not, set out to hurt us. I’m going to work on that. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to defuse the accompanying anger before I took aim and confronted the person whom I had assumed deliberately attacked me. I know how hurt I would be if someone close to me thought that I was capable of doing something so mean spirited.

The movie “Love Story” popularized the line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. I always thought it should be, “Love means being the first to say, I’m sorry”.  Even though the people who I had assumed had willfully hurt me don’t know that I thought that of them, I’m going to say I’m sorry that I did.