Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cat Tales

If you are not an animal lover you may as well skip this post, because I am writing about cats, most particularly, my cat, the bella Bella. Those of you with cats or who have had them, know you never tire of watching them. The past few days I have spent more time laughing than anything else.

On Sunday she finally figured out that she could jump from the window sill to the mantel. It is pretty high and that jump is sort of around the corner of the chimney, but having made it once, she has done it over and over. The first thing she did was explore and check out everything I have on the mantel. Then, deciding there wasn't enough room to lie down, she proceeded to kick a pair of bronze candlesticks off. When she started getting too familiar with my great grandmother's mantel clock, I decided to move it. That gave her ample room to lounge, which she is now doing, waiting for me to tell her to get down.

Nothing in my house that is high has anything on the top. The bookcases have bare top shelves, the filing cabinets in the office have to be empty, and now the mantel is partially denuded.

But the cutest thing was this morning. Since I have been going to work at the bookstore 4 or 5 days a week, she has been alone more than she likes. Actually, being alone at all is more than she likes. This morning, when I started to leave I didn't see her anywhere and I figured she was sulking somewhere. But as soon as I opened the front door, she came out from under the chair by the door, with her favorite mouse in her mouth--packed and ready to go.

I had to put everything down and play with her for a few minutes before leaving. She has now moved from the mantel to my lap and is kneading my arm on the inside of the elbow making it very diffcult to type.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Saturday I participated in that time-honored ritual "going to WalMart." Don't get me wrong, I think WalMart gives good value for the money in most cases, but that doesn't mean I enjoy my infrequent trips there. My first mistake was in leaving WalMart until the last of several errands I had to run, so by the time I got there I was tired and seriously considering not even going but I needed a combination of pharmacy and grocery items and could get them in one stop.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the parking lot, I had to park at the very end, about as far from the entrance as you can get. Ordinarily I don't consider that a problem, but Saturday was very cold and windy and the walk into the store was not pleasant. Neither was the shopping. It was very crowded and everyone was driving their carts at top speed and I nearly collided with two or three people just trying to navigate through the pharmacy department.

But it wasn't until I finished my shopping and started to the check out that the real trouble began. They had many checkout lines open but you have to be very careful or you end up in a "20 items or less" line, or a self-check line, both of which I could not or would not use. I finally spotted a line with one person just finishing and only one other in line and I zoomed up to take my place.

The person just infinishing was trying to use a card of some sort, credit or debit or possibly even food stamps, but every time he put his PIN in, the computer would refuse it and print out a little strip of paper the cashier would hand to him. I assume that was supposed to save him the embarrassment of having her announce to the world what the problem was. He kept insisting that the number he was using was correct and swiping his card and going through the whole thing again. After about the third time, I looked behind me to see if I could get out and find another line only to discover there were three people behind me and no way to leave the line without making a huge fuss. Finally the cashier called in a supervisor, who did little to help the situation, just going through the swipe, PIN input, print out the little sheet several more times.

It was only after about the third or fourth time with the supervisor that she finally did what she should have done in the first place, she cleared the sale from that position and took the poor man off somewhere to sort things out.

Then the man in front of me decided to pay for his puchases with the exact change which involved digging in his pockets, his wife's purse, etc. to find the exact coins. I was tempted to hand him my change purse but decided that would only probably delay things more.

The only thing that could have made it worse would have been that I had something that didn't have a bar code but I guess that has been saved for another trip, because I finally got checked out and headed to the car. When I got there some idiot had squeezed into a non-parking space next to me, making it impossible for me to get the driver's side door open. So after loading my groceries, I had to get in the passenger side and climb over the gearshift to get into my seat. Of course, just as I managed that, the person came back to his truck!

Trying always to look on the bright side of things, I suppose I should be thankful that at the advanced age of 71 I can still climb over the gearshift!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rainbow Dull's Challenge

Two things most people don't know bout me!

1. In my mind I have a grand voice, a la Kiri TeKanawa or Maria Callas. In fact I have a small, well trained boy soprano type voice well suited for choral music, but in the choir or in church or anywhere I am singing, my inner ear hears grand, glorious notes soaring ever upward!

2. In all those years (30+ ) that I was traveling around the world to new assignments, I was secretly terrified every time I took off for a new place. I never admitted that fear to anyone, but many times only the fear of embarrassing myself made me continue with the plans for the assignment. In the beginning it was only a fear of something new and different and that was easily overcome, but for my last few assignments it became real fear of survival, particularly after I had to leave Bogota because of kidnapping threats against me. To read your own name in a intelligence report is pretty gut wrenching!

I never thought of myself as particularly courageous over all that, I was of course doing something I wanted to do and could have stopped at any time, but looking back on it sometimes I am amazed at what I survived and still kept doing it! Coups, earthquakes, pestilence (yellow fever and cholera epidemics in Nigeria), narcotrafficantes, civil war, mortar attacks, CODELS (congressional delegations), and TRAFFIC!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Walking the Labyrinth

Happy New Year!

I spent New Year's Eve with friends. We began by walking the labyrinth at Christ Church, in candlelight with soft music in the background, all with our individual prayers for the new year.

The origins of the labyrinth are lost in the mists of time (I guess one of my new year's resolutions should be to abandon cliches), but in modern times many churches have them. They are a way to concentrate your attention in prayer or meditation. Several years ago when Christ Church restored our then "gym" into now "Bowen Hall," we decided to have a labyrinth painted on the floor. It is open on Friday evenings for anyone to come and walk it for whatever mental exercise it brings to the surface. For me, sometimes I never get my mind to focus on any one thing, but lately I have found it easier to concentrate on meditation or prayer. Maybe because my life has become simpler and more focused on me.

My prayers last night were for peace in the world, especially the Middle East, and in thanksgiving for my family and friends.