Friday, August 14, 2015

In Memoriam

I love this image of Cat's bravest moment. It was only the second time I saw her climb a tree, and the first time to make it this far up into the branches. She appears to be scouting for her next meal, or perusing the horizon for predators. But in reality, she is just a few feet from a bedroom window where she can be pulled to safety by a willing human.

She never was an adventurous cat on her own. The last time she was in a tree was in 2004. I had had her only a few weeks and we were still working out the details of our pet owner/pet relationship. She had rebelliously run away one morning and a wandering coyote forced her to find safety in the tree outside of my condominium while I was at work. As soon as I got home and she heard me walking up the sidewalk she started scolding me for leaving her in such a predicament. Meow, meow, meow, meow...."How could you?"

That was the first incident in a string of many over our eleven years together that she communicated her disappointment in me. Cats are like that. No matter what you do right for them, there's always more that you could have done, better.

Dogs on the other hand go with the flow. They are more than willing to give you more credit than you deserve at all times, hoping that their affections will result in a bit more food, or a few more minutes of play time. 

I had been only a dog owner. I was raised with pet dogs, not pet cats. So when Cat came into my life I knew I would have to deal with catitude. And I also knew that she would be infused with dog-a-tude.

Completely unaware of the unnaturalness of it Cat learned how to come to me when I called her. She learned how to comfortably travel in a car and in an airplane. And she knew how to interact with people who hated cats in ways that would make them love her.

She was a loyal and entertaining companion whose absence has left a far greater void in my everyday routines than I could have ever imagined. I miss her more than I thought possible. I know with time that the emptiness will dissipate. And I'm grateful for the memories and images she has left in my heart and my mind forever. 

If you are currently challenged with the grief of losing a pet check out Catster's Seven Things that Help Me Cope with Grief after Losing a Cat.

There's No Place Like Home

Georgia O'Keeffe's Inspiration: Abiquiu, New Mexico
Today marks the 30th day I've been on the road and away from home. I've travelled through eight states and logged over 3,500 miles. I'm road weary and homesick.

I long for the personal comforts that even the most luxurious hotels cannot offer. Comforts like the weak shower head in my bathroom, sitting on a squatty beach chair on my patio, and the sound of the school bus cruising through the neighborhood promptly at 8:15 each morning.

I'm not complaining. Everywhere I go I meet people that tell me how much they would like to be in my shoes, to escape their daily routines and wander. I am grateful that I don't have a regular job and a daily routine, but I think they are all romantics.

Great cinematography is somewhat to blame for glamorizing life on the road.  Landscapes captured on film don't capture the smell of excessive motor heat, the eye fatigue caused by incessant sun glare on the dashboard, and the effect a crippled car engine can have on your sense of security.

It's not as glamorous as it appears.

In fact, it's work. Mapping a route, arranging lodging, managing a travel budget, driving for hours and hours in unfamiliar territories all takes concentration and effort. And take a wrong turn or have a mechanical difficulty and your best laid plans could be gone with the wind.

Twice in those 3,500 miles my 14-year-old german sedan begged for additional coolant and oil, hardly unexpected considering the length and temperatures of the drive. However neither were readily available in the far western reaches of the great state of Texas near the New Mexico border. Tracking down the necessary lubricants for the foreign car was like participating in a scavenger hunt. Eventually I found the shops and supplies needed to do the job and get me back on the road, but not without ingenuity, flexibility, and plenty of patience.

This morning I am grateful that I have nearly completed my journey. The last leg of it is scheduled for Tuesday morning when I will board a plane from here in Texas back to North Carolina.

Even road weary I am so grateful for this life full of spectacular vistas, new adventures, and shared time with family and friends. And most especially I am grateful for returning home to my shower, my beach chair, and the neighborhood school bus. It is so true, there really is no place like home.

Is there a road trip in your future? Check out the Independent Traveler's 20 Safe Driving Tips before you leave home!