Up Too Early ...
It wasn't intended but I found myself awakened by nothing in particular this morning. I toss and turned ... I laid really still ... I shifted ... I stretched ... I finally decided my inner self had other plans for me today. I got up. Flipped the coffee on a full hour before the scheduled 5:30 memory setting. I stood there watching the coffee drip with one of my cats doing a figure eight around my legs. He must have been outside because his fur was cold against my legs ... and damp! Putting some fresh food in his bowl removed him from my space. Enter cat #2 - again the figure eight and again food in her bowl ended the routine.
It's a funny thing about cats - they're so demanding and yet a few food pellets in their bowl and they're so pleased purring all the way into my lap as a gracious thank you for my efforts. The next day those same food pellets only return a disgusted look as if to say, "That's it?" Cats ... !
Mark is our latest rescue coming from the Ozark-Dale County Humane Society. He was to be fostered as he was not adoptable due to an issue with fecal matter being deposited on area rugs. I offered to see what was going with him and tried to acclimate him to dogs and children (that is to say, grandchildren). He spent the first two weeks hiding behind the couch coming out only to use the litter box to urinate and to defecate on the area rugs. Daily, I'd scoop up the rug, deposit his deposit in the litter box in hopes he'd "get the message." I provided food and water behind the couch for him inching the bowls farther away each day.
Speaking to my mother about our newest arrival, she - being an expert catwoman - suggested our vet check Mark for Giardia - a parasite. Mark was given Flagyl and in a matter of a day or two he was using the litter box for all his deposits! Still living behind the couch, I called the shelter manager to let her know the "poopy problem" had been solved. She was thrilled. The next step was to encourage Mark to interact with the family. It didn't take long either ... in fact ... he now rules the three dogs and other cat. He is, in fact, the alpha male, and he likes it that way.
The next problem we encountered is Mark going from window to window and door to door. It wouldn't be long before he found his way out and I knew it. I call Ruth at the Shelter ... I explained I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep him in ... he was desperate to get outside and play. Ruth said to let him out. No problem ... I opened the door to the backyard and he dashed. I rather expected him to never return. We have a six-foot privacy fence around much of our yard - that which is seen by the street and a six-foot chain link around the rest of the yard. I watched Mark for a bit but found myself bored when he collapsed in a sunny spot. After just a few moments, he started rolling and rolling, arching his back, then chasing his tail. A butterfly piqued his curiosity and off he went on a hunt. Leaping high off the ground, smacking his front feet together in hope of capturing the elusive bug. Then he hovered in a ball, feet tucked firmly under his body. He started to squirm and wiggle then rolled enough to lose his grip on the butterfly. He watched it for a long time - flitting from one bush to another. He was so much fun to watch. Once he caught me looking, he sprawled out on the grass and took a nap. What a stinker.
I knew I had to just let him be and within a few minutes he poked his head in the cat door. He wriggled in and headed to the pantry to eat. Within minutes of finishing his food, he vomited whole pieces of food ... an unexpected treat for Columbus, our Jack-Russell mix. I began to give him smaller amounts of food realizing he'd be a shelter cat for a long time and was more used to getting it while the getting was good! I figured I could retrain him to eat more slowly. I was wrong. I purchased a special bowl with obstacles protruding up from the bottom of the bowl forcing him to work a bit harder for each bite. It worked like a charm! He still manages to eat too much too fast, but he's getting better.
Now, Mark easily scales our six-foot privacy fence and torments the neighborhood - though once in a while he comes dashing through the cat door with his tail all puffed up and eyes as big as saucers! A quick 'hello' relaxes him ... then he's off to his favorite spot for a nap.
For as standoffish he was when he arrived, he's a snuggle-bug now! Each evening when we sees me on the couch he jumps up making himself very comfortable - don't worry about me! - and purrs so loudly I can barely hear myself think! His paws knead and knead and knead and I still haven't even touched him! It's only a matter of time before he demands to be pet by pushing his nose into my nose or kissing me or nibbling on my ear lobe ... finally I give in to his demands and he curls into my lap. Peaceful ... for now ...
as·sump·tion [uh-suhmp-shuhn] noun 1. something taken for granted; a supposition: a correct assumption. Synonyms: presupposition; hypothesis, conjecture, guess, postulate, theory. 2. the act of taking for granted or supposing. Synonyms: presumption; presupposition. 3. the act of taking to or upon oneself. Synonyms: acceptance, shouldering. 4. the act of taking possession of something: the assumption of power. Synonyms: seizure, appropriation, usurpation, arrogation. 5. arrogance; presumption. Synonyms: presumptuousness; effrontery, forwardness, gall.
It seems to me we, as a people, assume an awful lot. I observed this at a local grocery last week. A man walked into the store just before me. We actually walked in side-by-side at one point when we exchanged a friendly nod and smile, but his long legs gave him an advantage and it wasn't that we were actually together, so I comfortable dropped back and allowed him the lead. I doubt he even realized I was near. From behind I could see he was nearly barefoot, his flip-flops looking rather thin and ... well ... floppy. He appeared to be grasping one of his shoes with his toes to keep it on his foot. His pants were too short for his long legs and his hair was all over the place. As we walked in, I was ignored, and all eyes were on him. As he went aisle by aisle he was being watched - first by one employee, then another. I doubted he noticed. I did.
He hadn't taken a cart as I had, opting for a handheld basket. I was intrigued by the onset of employees tracking his every move. Was he homeless? A known shoplifter? Why all the attention? As he gathered items in his basket, I added items to my cart. His items were calculated as though he had a plan. Me, too. I lost him in the dairy aisle but met up again near the checkout - a store employee and a manager keeping him within sight. I had about the same amount of groceries as the man but he motioned that I go ahead of him. I declined, but he insisted. I wasn't sure why, but I moved ahead. His actions were of great interest to the store employees and two more joined the manager.
I was so intrigued by the fuss I stayed after I had paid for my groceries. I heard the man say good morning to the cashier. She didn't respond, but rather rushed his items along, bagged them and said, "$26.11." Period. No please, no thank you. The man took out a debit card - which the cashier found odd - and ran it, then stepped aside after receiving his receipt and found a bench near the exit. He was still being watched. One of his purchases was a new pair of flip-flops, which he promptly retrieved from the bag. Removing a small knife from his pocket netted a great deal of attention from the staff - one of the employees had his cell phone in hand ... ready. The man cut the string separating the flip-flops and put them on his feet. He put his knife away.
I was still standing by the door and still wondering just what the fuss was all about. I watched the man gather the rest of his items, throwing his old flip-flops in the trash receptacle and leave the store. He was smiling. Now I was totally confused. I followed the man and as we had entered the store, we left the store. Management and staff relaxed and assumed their responsibilities. There was no conversation.
As I walked to my car, I called to the man, "Excuse me, sir?" He turned around, still smiling. "What's the deal? Why did you receive such a fuss in there?"
We continued walking side-by-side and he said, "I'm a college student and writing a paper about how people look change how they're treated by the public."
"Oh, really? How many stores have you played?"
"This was my 26th and it's always the same. But, I'll have to say, only three people in the last three months bothered to 'deal' with me at all. You're one of them." He smiled and continued, "You can be proud; people are afraid of people who are not in their league, or look as though they 'might be trouble' - you didn't do that. You smiled as we entered the store and nodded, acknowledging my presence. Most people have avoided me."
I shook my head and asked him if he always entered as a down-trodden or had he tried other scenarios. He said he tried many situations but his favorite was a bum. He was very well received when he came in wearing a suit - even catered to. He shook his head. "It's always fun to wear a suit into a shop for young people, especially because I am a young person," he said ... "same reaction as this store. The bottom line is people do not warm up to people who are not like them. It's pretty sad."
We parted and I had to agree ... what's wrong with us anyway?
Who Am I?
I am what I am ... nothing more, nothing less. It's not that I know more than anyone else ... it's just that I've lived longer than a good many and have experienced life. I am a people watcher, a listener. I don't judge ... we all have a journey ... thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you.