Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Favorite Cats

Iroh and Millie are more than just four-legged roomies (if you couldn't tell from my previous posts already). Some say that animals are incapable of having personality, but to me Iroh and Millie are as distinctive as myself or Richard Simmons!

Millie is a playful, mischievous kitty with a dangerous smart streak. She's a smart cookie that'll avoid capture and run circles around any wrangler; then find a creative hiding spot on the fly, hunkering down with the patience of a monk. She decides who she wants meet and when she wants to meet them-and she lets you know what she thinks!

While she has her share of street skills, Millie is definitely a bit prissy. Treats must be exactly what she's craving or they will be left to go stale. Thinking of giving her a treat from the dinner table? It better be a neat, dainty portion without any slimy, scraggly parts before she'll nip it out of your hands.

She enjoys bird watching and sunbathing as much as she enjoys barreling across the apartment at top speed and clambering up to the ceiling on a scratching post. Millie prefers a healthy balance of rest and play in her life and doesn't indulge in kibble like her brother. She seems to prefer just enough kibble to satisfy and not quite enough to put on the pounds.

Millie won't back down from a battle, no matter how big the opponent. Whether combating her older brother, Iroh, or fending off a bothersome human-Millie pulls out all the stops in a battle.

Iroh is a completely different animal.

Iroh is an amiable cat that loves anything edible. He's not a dumb feline by any means, but his conviction can be easily overturned by the presences of treats. Iroh radiates relaxed wisdom and his steady, casual gaze is calming and endearing.

Iroh's appearance is full of contradictions. His black coat is occasionally plagued by dandruff and is permanently marred by a bald patch from a abscess removal during his stay at the Seattle Humane Society. One ear sports a jagged tear and his large fangs hang comically past his furry chin chin.

In spite of this his stride seems more "king of the jungle" than a raggedy hobo-cat. Instead of begging, Iroh demands treats and kibble-even pets-through direct verbal and non-verbal communication. Quite often he sprawls out in an open space seeming to invite demand brushing and petting and attention.

Even with his kingly air, Iroh is a good sport. Accepting baths, being held and petted even when it's not entirely his idea and riding in cars without any complaint. He's not much of a fighter or a runner. When it comes to "fight or flight" Iroh chooses "freeze" and prefers rolling over on his side in surrender.

Don't let his energy conserving techniques fool you, he has a playful side. Occasionally he can be coaxed into a play session with a bit of string or into a fight with Millie when the mood strikes him. On the whole, Iroh dedicates most of time to kibble and resting.

So whatever your perception of animal psychology, the fiance and I are pleased to respect our two cat-roomies' personalities and thoroughly enjoy them for who they are!

The cats aren't just roommates, they're also wonderfully therapeutic. Whether it's their personalities or simply their "live-in-the-now-animalness" they calm me and comfort me when times get rough. And who doesn't appreciate something warm and soft to cuddle with when the darkness creeps in?


Along the same lines, the fiance jokingly recommended I get a service dog to aid in my anxiety and depression. Even though I am a glaring CAT PERSON after some research into psychiatric service dogs I'm  thoroughly interested...

Time will tell what will be!

The Flying Scotsman

Last night the fiance and I watched "The Flying Scotsman." This film had been recommended for us on Netflix since we first signed up and we hadn't yet watched it, but I'm very glad we did.

The film follows the journey of a bicyclist with an innovative bike design that takes him from an unsatisfying job as a bike courier to a world champion cyclist. 

The kicker? He's a Scottish underdog struggling with mental disease.

This movie is a wonderful watch for any movie lover. It does focus on an athlete's journey but I wouldn't pigeon-hole this film as a sports flick, it's much more than that. 

The depth of the film sneaked up on us while we marveled at Graeme Obree's struggle to the top. There were hints of dark moods coming over Graeme but this film upped the ante with a stunning cinematic peek at Graeme's mental turmoil. 

My fiance was concerned once he saw the darkness of the film, but I was so bowled over by the film's depiction of Graeme's depression/bipolar mood swing that I felt uplifted instead of brought down.

Usually suicide, suicidal thoughts, or depression depicted in films triggers my own depression but this movie was the first in a long while that hasn't affected me in that way. It could be that Graeme overcame his disorder but I think it has more to do with the way his mental illness was depicted and how he found help in the film. 

After seeing "The Flying Scotsman" I'm inspired to find more powerful and objective depictions of mental illness-even if it scares me a bit to watch those films and risk my mood. The first step is being aware of my own sensitivity :o)

Let me know if anyone has recommendations!

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's Really in the Water?

Last night I had a wonderfully quirky dream that involved the Puget Sound's aquatic animals. I'm not sure what exactly triggered the dream but it involved trash and magic.

In the dream some magical force from the sea drew all the aquatic animals into the sound near Seattle. The power then drew all the refuse and garbage from the sound and dropped it into Century Link stadium. In the dream the trash mounded over all the stadium seats while seagulls circled and crabs skittered across the pile.

In addition to the big pile of garbage in the stadium there were several abandoned/sunken boats dropped onto the I-5 bridge at UW. Talk about a traffic jam.

All of the animals hung out downtown for all the news cameras and gathering crowds. The sea-slimed trash was putting out quite a stink and the large "stunt" drew lots of media attention.

Somehow signs came out with pictures of the animals and trash and quippy lines like, "would you want to live like this?" There was a media fury over the water pollution and refuse dumped into the sound and scientists giving their best guests about the amounts of trash in the ocean worldwide.

At the end of the dream there was a vague sense that Seattle was up-in-arms against the trash and pollution in the sound, major change on the horizon.

The dream made me wonder-how much trash is really out there in the water? Out of sight, out of mind it must have had time to build-up and a lot of us have already heard about the giant plastic island floating in the Pacific. (Google it up-it's unbelievable)

I don't know if I'm a softy or I'm extra-sensitive because of my struggles lately, but I'm emotional just thinking of the problem. Contemplating just how many creatures are affected by the waste is a gargantuan effort-and so many of those creatures are simply amazing.

Maybe seeing that dead whale at Longbeach has pulled all those creatures a little bit closer to my heart-hell, a dead bird on the road plucks at my heartstrings!

(Not to mention I can't pass a honeybee crawling on the ground without lifting it to a shrub where I assume it'd be safer... the fiance thought I was kidding the first time I halted in the midst of a walk to "save a bee," but I was genuine! He's also become used to me directing our traffic away from slugs crossing our paths or when I move a stranded worm off the sidewalk to some grass.)

*le sigh* I guess all I can do is put in my two little cents and send happy thoughts out into the sea and keep hoping for the best.

Baby steps, Hannah. You can't heal yourself and save the world's sea life all in a day's time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Interesting Thursday

I was inexplicably anxious and reluctant to leave the apartment for my volunteer shift this week. The fact that I would've appreciated the assistance of a chainsaw while squeezing into my cords that afternoon didn't help my mood...

Once I reached PAWS I enjoyed a substantial chat with my supervisor and the conversation seemed to pluck my mood even more into the spotlight of my  mind.

The mountain-cat, Barry

We were simply chatting while working. Musing about the lack of volunteers and the even more troublesome lack of good volunteers. With the busy season coming soon he needed to know if I would be hanging around through the summer-I reassured him that I was and he admired my commitment.

 Accepting the compliments was difficult for me. Accepting any compliment is difficult for me. 

I minimize my qualities and exaggerate my flaws. I don't hold myself to a average standard that the rest of society functions by-I hold myself to a much, much higher standard and it wears on me like heavy iron shackles.
Mia-a cat of two moods that shift with the flip of a coin!
Sweet meows to moody growls and hisses...

I love volunteering and taking care of oodles of cats, but it does hamper my schedule occasionally and it is work.  I just don't credit myself with much achievement for being a reliable, hardworking volunteer. 

I do what I'm asked to do and try to socialize each cat and leave notes whenever I can, but I forget that the majority of people don't dedicate their time in that way and some that try do not become reliable or long-term volunteers.

Rolling the uncomfortable feeling around in my mind I realized how little I liked myself. How worthless I feel and the deep vein of disgust I have for myself that runs deep through my being. I'm ashamed and angry and grief stricken by my perceived failure and loss, my life missing its target. 

Adorable Lisbeth, snuggly senior with a shy streak.

The rest of the evening I was in an odd, moody haze. The fiance was fretting at my quiet, pensive mood and asked frequently what I was thinking and if I was anxious or thinking of self-harm. I couldn't handle the pressure of the inquisition-I reassured him and dismissed him while I snuggled in bed, trying to regain an even keel.

Eventually he went to bed and I stayed up writing in my journal and musing. I realized how often I reacted angrily toward the fiance for loving me-for caring or being affectionate because I hated to confront the hatred I nurse toward myself.

It was a heavy realization. It still weighs on me now.

I've heard you can't love someone else until you love yourself and I'm terrified of what potential damage I have wrought on our relationship by forgetting my self love and drifting into my familiar resentment.

Not exactly the kinds of things I wanted to be thinking about while planning my wedding but that's therapy for ya-it stirs up some hidden, heavy feelings and my emotional stew is full of guilt and shame that makes the going even muddier.

Candles are just too much fun

This is what happens when a couple of goons decide to let their candles flare til they snuff themselves out. We expected them to all be out when we woke up the next day... then after breakfast and lunch and then once we got back from grocery shopping.

But they burnt on!

Eventually over 18 hours after lighting the plate of candles the fiance put them out of their misery!

That's not the whole of it-some of the wax got voted off the glass-island...

It was pretty easy to remove the hardened wax but we were certainly surprised at the large wax-spill in the fireplace. We didn't feel silly at all until we took a huge wax chunk from the hearth and plopped it onto the dinner table for inspection-fanning soot all over the table.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Snakes on a Trail!

Yes, there were many snakes on the trail.

Many, many snakes.

We saw garter snakes sunning themselves and heard them rustling away as we passed. Our first sighting consisted of me pointing and saying "snake" while the fiance stepped behind me. That is how you tell an Eastern Washingtonian from a Western Washingtonian!

I picked up one on the way back up the trail and it was quite long-nearly two feet, maybe longer. As a child we played with garter snakes but they were comfortably under a foot long. This hulk I dropped as soon as I saw him trying to curl up to grab me!

Most of the snakes have very similar patterns but different colored stripes. After a curious Googling I discovered that Western Washington has three types of garter snakes and they tend to have similar patterns but different coloring.

The snakes we saw were northwestern garter snakes, common garter snakes, and western terrestrial garter snakes. Some had yellow stripes, others had red or orange, and a few had light green stripes!

In more tasteful* trail news we hiked a familiar trail but at a different time of the year. Lime Kiln is a nice trail with river views and artifacts.

Last year we hiked it in the summer with thigh-high undergrowth and massive mudholes. This time the muddy parts were a bit smaller and less slimy and the undergrowth was just starting to grow.

Among the undergrowth were dazzling white trillium flowers.

When I first spotted the trillium blooms I thought immediately of my best friend. She has been contemplating a trillium tattoo for years since it has religious meaning for her and is a doggone pretty flower too!

It was a good hike that definitely got my heart beating and involved petting quite a few handsome doggies.

HBF on Patrol

Date: Saturday, April 14, 2012.
Location: Bellingham, WA
Time: Approx. 5:45 PM
Incident: Witnessed a car-pupping in progress. Offender was medium sized mutt with white snout and tan shaggy hair. Wet nose evident. Accomplice in passenger seat. Owner of the vehicle was able to regain control and declined assistance from the authorities.

Friday, April 13, 2012

You can say that again.

I was watching some Hoarders online the other day and one of the "patients" said something that spoke to me:

You never know how deep you're buried until you start to dig yourself out.

I have learned that over and over again throughout my life but I hadn't really realized it until that random episode!

It made me think-we've all heard it before...

We need the worst times in life~

To appreciate the beauty of the best times.


Part of my challenge is to acknowledge that bit of wisdom every day of my life. Appreciate every blessing and have faith that after he storm clouds the sky will clear instead of letting my illness convince me otherwise.

We all have the opportunity to embrace and change our lives-no matter what age or stage, we can turn things toward the light. 

It can be a rough road, but life does provide the appropriate "sunblock" in the form of family, friends, therapists, doctors, and gifts of joy to encourage us allow the way.

Light-I'm gonna find ya! No matter how long it takes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Whoa! Progress!

I actually sounded like myself on the phone today! Okay-I was leaving a message for my hairstylist, but still-I sounded Hannah-ish not meek, weak, and indecisive.

Small victories count and I'm marking this one down :o)

Friday, April 6, 2012

APRIL Comes in Like a Lion

April 1st the fiance and I went on a day trip to Bellingham to visit/meet one of my old bankin' girlfriends for brunch and see the town.

I was excited to see my friend and we chatted up a storm but things between me and the fiance were a bit tense. Well, mostly I was pretty tense and picked a fight about turn signal use on freeways and then he got tense and even more tense after the poor service at the restaurant. At least the food was great-check out Bayou on Bay-hopefully we just got the C-line waiters or something.

Anywho, we ended up in one of those intense, long talks about the wedding and how I feel so attached to the wedding planning as a reflection on myself. I basically said, "I'm done." No more wedding planning. I may make some decorations but I ain't plannin' and I ain't worrying. My main concern with the wedding will be purging the worries from my thoughts!

The next day I completely missed therapy. I set alarms and was set to leave the house "right on time" when my phone's clock displayed 2:20 and not 1:20. Double checked the times on the microwave and computer and realized that I was a whole hour off schedule.

Luckily there had been an appointment cancelled for that evening and the fiance accompanied down to Seattle for my therapy session. Once again I was tense and agitated and soon quivering with anger and frustration. I was ready to go to therapy and explain to my therapist how pointless all this effort was and that we should just recognize I'm a dead-girl walking and let me go to my death and save everyone else the trouble of dealing with my disease.

Didn't quite turn out that way.

I actually began the session in a curled up, quivering ball of rage that quickly devolved into snot and tears. Straight talk was too intense so the entire session was carried out in complex metaphors. There was one about a fawn in a field surrounded by dark woods and another about a room full of people that were actually safes lumbering around with painful memories and hurt secreted away in their locked compartments.

It was all a little kooky and I can't imagine being in the fiance's position of sitting there and watching the whole performance, but it got me turned around and I definitely felt lighter afterward.

My mother came up to visit the next day after I had met my ornament friend for a yoga class. The next couple days Mom helped me clean the apartment and get some momentum going by keeping me out of the house and awake all day helping her find her MOB dress for the wedding.

We found the dress and on Thursday I had a good session at PAWS while today I was able to get out for a short walk by the lake AND do laundry enough to see the bottom of the clothes hamper!

March was a rough, rough month and April got off to a rocky start as well-but I think I sense a bit of my tension dissipating and a little more fire kindling in my soul.