Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Story of Outside Tiger (AKA “Doodlebug”)

When I moved into my condo in February 2001, it felt luxurious for me and my three felines to move from a 750 sq ft, one bedroom apartment into a 1100 sq ft, two bedroom condominium. Still, I felt I was on the verge of becoming the weird lady in the corner house with all the cats. I definitely wasn’t looking to adopt any more animals.

We settled in nicely. Tommie, Mommie, and Cat all found their favorite sleeping spots and especially enjoyed spending their days napping tummy-side-up on the patio. Spring turned to summer and summer turned into hot. After one uncomfortably sweatable day, I came home to discover my kitchen counter throbbing with ants.

I swore under my breath and began to evict the offending insects. As I cleaned, my furry trio danced around my feet, begging as though they were hungry. I shooed them away because I always left out a large bowl of kibble so they could freely feed.

My Outside Tiger
After banishing the bugs, I tugged off my work clothes and grabbed a shower. Still, the tabbies swirled and yowled outside the bathroom door. “What the heck do they want,” I wondered.

Before throwing myself in front of the TV for the night, I checked the kibble bowl. Damn. It, too, was alive with ants. I swept the kibble into a plastic grocery bag and tossed the bag outside of my front door. Ahhh, now I could cool off and watch the tube.

Just as the opening credits for ER started, I heard something rustling near my front door. Crap. I figured a possum had come up onto the porch, attracted by the kibble smell. When I peeked out the window, I saw a rake-thin tabby, wolfing down the kibble, shaking and twisting his head when the ants stung his face.

I ran and flung open the door. I wanted to give him fresh kibble—not trash. But he ran as soon as he heard me move.

I struggled with my thoughts. Four cats is definitely too many. And yet, this beautiful leonine animal was so thin I could see his ribs and hip bones nearly piercing his skin. I decided he could be my “outside tiger.”

Each night, I put a fresh bowl of kibble outside the door and wait next to the window to be sure he got his dinner. After a few weeks, I could leave my front door open and watch through the screen door as he enjoyed his dinner. Finally, after a month, I could sit on the steps and watch the sun set as my outside tiger nibbled kibble.

The best day came when, one evening, I felt a tentative paw on my leg. It was followed by a tentative tiger as he crawled into my lap. Tear flowed down my cheeks as I petted his golden tabby fur and sleek muscles. I had resisted loving this creature because I didn’t want the responsibility or stigma of being “the cat lady.”

But outside tiger taught me that creatures and situations are transformed by love.


I notice that I can be pretty dang project-oriented toward knitting rather than process-oriented. As a result, I put a lot of pressure on myself and rob myself of enjoyment. In my knitting, I'm working to be mindful of when that critic kicks in...and of when that GOTTA GET IT DONE, GOTTA BE PERFECT mindset kicks in.

Today, I was working on a purse. I made a few errors in learning the pattern (trinity stitch) and felt calm about it; however, when I got to the point of having to rip out a row of purling, I'd just had enough. Instead of forcing myself to rip, rip in that moment, I just put my knitting back in the bag and scheduled a teaching appointment with my teacher. And I feel peaceful. I can continue if I want to or I can wait until I see my teacher. But it's okay because I'm learning to master a new stitch.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Natural Highs

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry ).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. The beach.
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
24. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
25. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
26. Your first kiss (the very first).
27 Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
28. Playing with a new puppy.
29. Having someone play with your hair.
30. Sweet dreams.
31. Hot chocolate.
32. Road trips with friends.
33. Swinging on swings.
34. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
35. Making chocolate chip cookies.
36. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
37. Holding hands with someone you care about.
38. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
39. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
40. Watching the sunrise.
41. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
42. Knowing that somebody misses you.
43. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
44. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Agitated and Itchy

Damn but I'm agitated today. Not irritable. Just unable to settle down. I feel like jumping up all of the time. I start to work and I immediately want to work on something else.

It was dang near impossible to go to sleep last night. As David Byrne said, "I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax." Will I fulfill my hope and go headlong for glory?

I spose this is the upper boundary of normal, buzzing around the perimeter of hypomania.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Creative Hibernation

I think my creative self is mulling over what to do next; however, there's nothing I'm burning to knit. Even leafing through my stash of knitting books doesn't inspire. Maybe I'm a little burned out. I dunno.

Because of my restricted driving status, I didn't attend the felted scarf workshop in Long Beach. I did buy a drop spindle the other day. I haven't figured out how to spin yet though. I plan on creeping in on Tuesday night to give it a try.

My cats are passionately in love with the roving that came in the drop spindle kit. They really get freaky with it. They act the same way as they do with catnip. Cat is the sweetest girl kitty and yet, after a few minutes of rubbing her face on the roving, she spiked me (without claws) when I tried to take it away.

I leafed through the book "Intertwined" the other day. Wowee--that's some weird and intriguing yarn. I can't really imagine becoming a spinner...but I'm interested in learning how to make yarn.

I've been working my buns off at work and that sucks up a lot of my creative energy, too. Even though it's technical writing, it's still writing.

So, I don't know what's up with me creatively. But, it's normal for me to burn hot and cold, to wax and wane in my interest towards my hobbies. My brain is wired that way.

And yet, my creativity walks forward. After college I took drawing and loved life drawing. I took painting and loved the smelly, juicy forgiveness of oil paints. Through the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts I learned to make paper, masks, and weave baskets. Mada Leach and David Speck were awesome teachers.

When I fell in love with basketry, I searched until I found the Misti Washington Gourd and Basketry Guild. I wove all kinds of baskets for several years. I even travelled to the AMB Convention in Michigan and the Indiana Basketry Convention.

One day, while I was shopping for basketry supplies, I saw a class for making books. I took the workshop and soon abandoned basketry for book arts. I travelled to the San Francisco Center for the Book to take workshops from master printmakers and book binders.

When I was hospitalized for depression in 2001, my desire to do anything disappeared. For years, the only thing I did was kung fu.

In 2006, I noticed a knitting store near my martial arts studio. I signed up for classes and learned to knit.

Friday, February 08, 2008

New Hobby?

It's weird. After obsessively knitting for months, I've absolutely run out of steam. Part of it is due to the restricted license preventing me from attending knitting classes, but another part is that I've got no interest.

I wonder if a new hobby is waiting for me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Phoebes and Lantana

On this first day of the Year of the Mouse, I stepped out into cloudless blue skies and sunshine. I'm so grateful for the violet and ivory lantana that surrounds the office building and the peeping cheeps of Black Phoebes as they buoyantly bounce from tree to tree, looking for lunch.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Firetrucks and Slinkys

Today my lunch excursion to Target's dollar bin yielded a plastic firetruck and tiny Slinkys. I'm starting to be tempted to slow down a bit in my excursions, or to branch out and select a single $5 item.

I've even started to notice the sale items at Starbucks--wondering if a young person might like a cool coffee mug or adult "sippy cup."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bipolar Disorder Defined

Bipolar Disorder Defined

An opportunity to learn
Creativity in coping with Chaos
Determination to defeat the deceptions of Depression
Self confidence in spite of Setbacks
Generosity to live for others when hope has Gone dry
Compassion for the broken.
Faith that God has a beautiful purpose—
even for me.