How about that Tiger Woods?

So, how about that Tiger Woods? I was home yesterday afternoon as he was coming up the 18th fairway. Michelle was there and she, Mike, Judy, and I were all watching the golf tournament. Usually a golf crowd is quiet and exhibits a certain amount of decorum. But not this one. It was like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Pretty exciting stuff. The tragic hero redeemed, with new-found humility. Between his tomcat excesses and swinging too hard he had a great fall, but unlike that Humpty-Dumpty guy, he managed to put himself back together again (with, of course, the help of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.) Good for him.

Now that the High Holidays are over, Mike’s life is getting back to normal. Between having had no food or water for almost 24 hours, and spending all day at temple on Yom Kippur, he was pretty exhausted. He did tell me it’s okay to tell you that he did have 2 cups of coffee Yom Kippur morning. He isn’t really that much of a rule follower. He says what he got out of the whole experience is that he does want to be the best person that he can be, which is what God wants for/from him. And that God will help him as much as Mike allows him to. Not that profound really, but from my perspective, pretty accurate. What comes naturally to a cat can take a lifetime for a person to figure out. And some people never get it. Mike gets a thought for the day on line from an AA-related website. It was either yesterday or today that the idea came across to try to see yourself as God sees you. I think it’s just another way of saying, be the best person you can be: humble, loving, lovable, compassionate, honest, selfless, true to whatever you believe in. Mike’s rabbi mentioned the story of Moses and the burning bush during one of his sermons on Yom Kippur. I think the key to that story has to do with Moses paying attention to what was going on around him in his life. According to the story what caught his attention is not that the bush was burning but that it wasn’t being consumed by the fire. Apparently, walking through the desert in Midian one encountered burning bushes all the time. I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, if he hadn’t stopped and looked more deeply he would have missed his encounter with God. So pay attention, y’all. I don’t think chances will come along in your life every day to have a life-changing encounter with God. Have any of you ever had a burning bush moment? If so, please write and tell me about it. I would like to learn about it, and might put it up on the blog.

So, things are progressing with the disposal of Judy’s parent’s house and belongings. I may have mentioned before, or possibly not, that there has been a potential conflict brewing. Back around 1980 her parents got a notion to go out and buy some beer. So they went out and got a six pack of bottles of Lite beer. They each had a beer, lost interest, and the four remaining bottles and little cardboard carrying case took up permanent residence in the back of their bedroom closet. They never threw anything away. Now, Judy has two brothers so there are only three heirs. Mike has always wondered how the three of them were going to divide four bottles of beer. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any value to the item at this point because the carton is torn open and  two bottles are missing. So it’s not like it could find its way into a museum. Almost everything is resolved in the estate now except for the division of the beer. The remaining four beers and the carton have taken up a new residence in our garage. I’m including a picture so that you’ll know I’m not making this all up. Any suggestions on how to divide four beers three ways will be welcomed. I don’t think anybody actually wants to drink this 40-year-old beer, but it’s more the idea of just having it.



So, also yesterday, Mike got the bright idea to get out his pole saw and trim a branch of his Japanese magnolia that was encroaching on the roof. He didn’t think it would reach, but at full extension, he was able to reach the branch and saw about halfway through it. About that time the handle separated from the business end of the saw, leaving it, literally, up a tree. 20180923_164528

Strangely enough, Mike said nothing to Judy about any of this until Michelle came over to hang out. He enlisted her help, and they got out a step ladder which was entirely unsatisfactory. Mike was able to reach the saw, but couldn’t budge it. So they got out a bigger ladder (one that I had never seen before as it lives in the basement where I never go) and propped it against the tree which Mike could hold onto with one hand while he gripped the saw with the other, fruitlessly jerking it back and forth like a maniac. All this while Michelle is holding the ladder steady so Mike wouldn’t topple over. Mike admits he was thinking about all the patients he has seen who have ruined their lives falling off of ladders. But he would be more careful. Next he went into the garage and found a heavy hammer. He climbed back up the ladder and started whacking at the end of the saw handle, also like a maniac. I should mention that I was watching the operation from some small distance away, in consideration  of my own personal safety. All of a sudden with a mighty whack the saw and the tree branch both came tumbling down. It could have been ugly, but no one was hurt, no thanks to Mike.

In other news of significance, Judy brought home a small can of some different kind of cat food. I have told you before that Shayna Maidel will eat anything in a can with a picture of a cat on it. This particular product was tuna pate.  I won’t mention the brand name, but I will say that their commercials are immensely annoying and feature cats singing a meow song. But it isn’t really cats singing. Anyway, we all turned our noses up at it, that is, all of us but Shayna Maidel. Well, the next thing you know, she is hurling up a pool of liver colored liquid. It came up as fast as if she had just bolted down a centipede. Not the most pleasant story, but I just thought you should know. Luckily, she didn’t ruin the good carpet. Actually, we don’t have any good carpets. As Mike and Judy both say, you can have nice things or you can have cats, but not both. I’m glad their priorities are sound. Well, so long from Happy Meadows for now. Be safe, be well, love on your pets, and have a blessed and wonderful 5779.

Notes of Blueberries and Oak, with a Copper Finish

So, I have been promising you that I would say something about the Hebrew month of Elul, which we are well into at this point (the 28th). Elul is, for the practicing Jew, a time for reflection on his or her thoughts, actions, attitudes, especially those which indicate moral failing, of the previous year. The month leads up to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s Day) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). During the 10 day period that starts with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur Jews search their souls, repent for their wrongdoing, are judged by God, and their fate is sealed. Mike isn’t so sure about the last part. There can be no question of God’s forgiveness if one is sincere in his repentance. In order to get the most benefit out of these 10 days of repentance one needs to prepare. An inventory needs to be taken of one’s life’s activities, good and not so good, over the previous year. This should be going on every day, and for some people I believe it does. But a heightened awareness starts with the inventory taking in Elul. There are necessary ingredients to such an inventory. It has to start with honesty, leads to God-awareness, continues to the making of amends where necessary, and progresses to a resolution, with God’s help, to do better in the coming year. A Hebrew word that is used in reference to the activities of this process is teshuva. This is best translated as “return”, and refers both to returning to God, and doing His will, as well as returning to oneself, focusing on being the best and most honest self that one can be in that moment. Much is made in religion of sinfulness. Too much, in my opinion. I don’t disagree at all with the value of self-honesty, of spiritual awareness, having a compassionate code of ethics, and of trying to be the best person you can be. I just think that God made people the way they are, not perfect, and that it is their job to grapple with their imperfections to the honest best of their ability, with God’s help. So, imperfection is part of God’s plan. The writer of the creation myth in the first chapter of Genesis says that God looked at what he made , and it was very good. Not perfect, but very good. Of course, cats don’t have to invest much energy into this inventory taking or repenting business. We also act according to God’s plan, but since we don’t act against our nature, we always do God’s will. What keeps us as dialed in as we are to the spiritual side of things is the many hours we spend in meditation every day.

Mike was pulled over by an Atlanta police officer the other day. This was the first and only time in the 34 years he has lived in Georgia that he came under the scrutiny of the gendarmes. He and Judy had just left from visiting Michelle, who now lives in an area of Atlanta that Mike is not so familiar with. He was exiting the highway, and turned right at a “No turn on red” traffic light. He never saw the sign. Apparently, there were no outstanding warrants because after a driver’s license check he was let go with a polite warning. Truthfully, I think that in everyone’s self-examination they could look at their driving habits. There is entirely too much inattentive and fast driving. No doubt you recall that my little buddy Snowball was run over and killed not that long ago. ( Not so Loud, Just about Right, March 25, 2018 ). Of course, he shouldn’t have been napping in a sunny spot in the middle of  Meadows Trace, but that really is the point. Drivers need to expect the unexpected.

One area of life in which Mike is trying to improve is his food choices.  Earlier this year he decided to lose 20 pounds. He has been well aware that he could be healthier, but he could not commit to changing his eating habits. Happily, he is now half-way to his goal. But, there has been backsliding. He frequently goes to lunch with colleagues, and they like this Mexican restaurant down the street from his office. The service is fast, the people are nice, and the food is tasty and affordable. And best of all, Mike can get salsa and entrees that are not crawling with cilantro. Now, it is a well-known fact that certain foods can lead to unpleasantness down the road, so to speak. Beans, a staple of the Mexican palate, are notorious for causing flatulence. (Farting is hardly sinful, or a sign of imperfection, as it is a result a of natural biological process. Even so, you will hardly ever catch a cat letting one go. Our reputation along these lines is deservedly sterling. The main culprits are dogs, and the human male.) So, I was up in Mike and Judy’s bedroom the other night when there was this hissing noise followed moments later by the worst imaginable odor. Judy groaned in her sleep. Mike got up and went to the bathroom, not coming out for a while. I didn’t stick around for an encore, but I guess that was about that for the dramatic events. The next morning Judy and Mike were in the kitchen and I overheard them talking.

Judy said, “Did I dream it last night, or did you pass terrible gas?”

“No dream,” Mike replied. “That was the real deal.”

“What did you eat yesterday?” she asked.

Mike thought for a moment. “It must have been the refried beans,” he said. “It was a horrible smell. I’m sorry.” (I should have mentioned before that in the Jewish religion  you don’t get to ask God’s forgiveness until you have made amends to the person you have offended.)

Judy responded, “I almost got up and left the room, it was so bad. It was a complex aroma. Along with the dreadful smell of deadly bowel gas, there were notes of blueberry and oak, with a copper finish.”

You know, she was right. For a person, she has a discerning nose. And I don’t think we need to worry about Mike ordering refried beans again, at least not for a while. Well, I will leave you with that progress report. If more happens in Happy Meadows I will be sure to let you all know.  Happy New Year. Have a great 5779!