Just A Cat

He’s laying at my feet,

soft, black, and sweet.

Some scoff, he’s just a cat.

He looks at me and purrs,

and I stroke his velvet fur

as some sniff, “Isn’t he a little fat?”

But I don’t care and I don’t shift,

not even for an itch,

because I like it, where he’s at.

Even if he is, as they all say.

really,

just a cat.

A Meeting of the Time Travelers’ Political Party

Sometime in the future.

“We’re still awaiting results. The past is changing, but the results are still coming in.”

“More importantly, we still exist.”

Murmurs of agreement went around the gathering; the general consensus before they’d begun this endeavor was the greatest proof that they’d succeeded in the past was that the party didn’t exist in the present.

A west coast reps was the Planning Committee Chair. Calling for order, she continued with her report. “We unleashed COVID-19 at the end of 2019. Sadly, but as predicted, this had the desired impact. Travel was reduced, leading to less armed conflicts as division between neo-fascists and the rest grew. Many refused to wear masks, as predicted.” She gave a nod toward another rep, who briefly beamed in acknowledgement. “The economy suffered as the working poor had their incomes cut by substantial amounts, leading to dissatisfaction that guaranteed Trump would lose the 2020 election. A vaccine was found, with limited impact, also as predicted. Likewise, Trump’s administration failed to plan ahead, as predicted.”

Rep. Bacon, Chair of Predictions, said, “They’re egregiously predictable, which makes for the situation of that time even more unfathomable. They’d consistently demonstrated no concern for human life or welfare, eschewing all principles in favor of increasing personal wealth among the wealthiest. It doesn’t make sense. It — “

“It is human nature,” said the Human Nature Chair. “Let’s not have another polemic.”

“Also predictable,” another rep called to a brief burst of chuckling.

The Planning Committee Chair resumed. “COVID-19 variants have been introduced as we speak. Given the failures to wear masks, plan for proper vaccination in advance, resistance to and distrust of vaccinations, and rallies and protests on behalf of the defeated president, a surge in cases and deaths will be seen in 2021.”

“But will that be enough?” another rep asked.

All eyes turned toward the Chair of Predictions. He pursed his lips. “We don’t know. It remains to be seen.” He put a hand up. “That’s not meant as a joke. If it doesn’t have the desired impact, well…we do have greater variants lined up.”

Thoughtful silence reigned for several seconds. “Is the asteroid still in play?” a rep asked.

The Chair of Predictions nodded. “Yes, but we’re holding onto it as our trump card.” He grimaced. “No joke intended, again.”

“So it won’t be deployed until…?”

“That’s right,” the Chair of Predictions said. “Twenty twenty-four.” He bleakly smiled. “If needed.”

SAFday

I decided that I needed a holiday.

My wife agreed. “It would be great if you went on a holiday and went away.” Falling silent, her expression gained a dreamy aspect. I waited for her to say more, then left to have some coffee. By that, I mean, I went into the kitchen. I rarely go to other coffee shops these days, unfortunately. Our kitchen coffee shop has been out of pastries for a while. Not even crumbs are in there. I looked.

I was serious about needing a holiday, but not about going away. I’ve been intermittently thinking about this holiday since December 22. Back then was the shortest day of the year in these parts. The sunset was like 4:39 PM. It hadn’t been much of a sun, not making a great effort to light the day or warm us. I guess it was put off by the rain and fog. I know that I was.

I enjoy sunshine. I’m a person that’s happy sitting in sunshine, so long as it’s not too hot, I have something to drink and a book (or laptop, I guess), and a little shade (and sunscreen) to protect me from the sun. I’m not a freak. To that end (that is, celebrating sunshine, not being a freak), I thought, I’m going to celebrate when the sun finally sets after 5 PM.

I’ve been diligently tracking the information. Every morning, I rise and say, “Alexa, what time is sunset?” And she answers, explaining information about Sunset, Florida, causing me to yell, “Stop, Alexa! No! Bad Alexa! Bad. No treats for you!” Then she starts whining, and I relent, giving her a treat, because I’m not really a mean person. Although I do wonder why I bother; she never eats the treats. The treats sit there until one of the cats notices it.

Today’s sunset is 16:59 (if you can believe Alexa — she does work for Amazon, and they have this issue with deliveries coming when promised…so, you know…). That means tomorrow’s sunset will be after 5 PM.

Oh, my excitement! There will be a sliver of light (weather permitting) after five PM. How will I celebrate the moment? (Well, probably not with pastries.) More importantly, what shall I call this day? I shall, after a moment of thought, call it SAFday: Sunset After Five day.

Yeah, it’s weak. But it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

(I wonder how long it would take Amazon to delivery a pastry?)

New Case of Amazonitis

Amazonitis struck again. Packages were supposed to arrive by Sunday. When such didn’t happen, I checked the calendar (yes, yesterday was Sunday and today is Monday) and the front porch (nope, no package — but was it stolen?) and then went to Amazon. After clicking on Orders and Track Package, I was given this message:

Now expected January 11 – January 12

We’re very sorry your delivery is late. Most late packages arrive in a day. If you have not received your package by tomorrow, you can come back here the next day for a refund.

Well, where was it, then? When I checked on Saturday, they assured me it was ‘on the way’. I clicked on a link for more shipping details.

Wow. I was impressed! That package worked hard on Friday, making tremendous progress from Vancouver to Portland, rushing between Amazon facilities and carrier facilities. Where’d it go after that?

Who knows? If only there was some capacity to track these things, some system whereby the packages are provided a number, and then under that system, let’s call it a tracking system, where its progress is followed, with details provided to the expectant customer about when it’ll arrive.

Fortunately for me, in this issue, it’s again not at all crucial. It’s more of a minor annoyance. I put the annoyance factor below the football team that I root for (we’ll not speak their name) getting bounced from the playoffs. It’s not like the package is carrying critical medicine, desperately needed food, or almost as importantly, coffee.

This is more of a first-world whine about setting expectations and having those expectations dashed. (Well, ‘dashed’ is a little strong. Let’s say, ‘failed’.) Yes, I’m aware of COVID-19. I’m aware many people are at risk out there for this stupid little package. I’m grateful to those people. I’m just having a little pre-coffee Monday morning fun, venting. It’s not like I have places to go.

It’s not like I’m a package.

Trying

Nursing a coffee

nursing a care

marshalling thoughts running

like cats

here and there

trying to make a semblance of sense

trying to move into the present tense

on the outside I look to be comfortable and free

on the inside I hope no one else is like me

wrestling emotions cause they’re stealing my soul

wrestling hopes and dreams, writing down goals

another day living, another day spent

another day wondering where time and energy went

Perspective

He said, it’s just an accident, it’s just a death. Nothing to worry about, not worth the mess.

He said, everyone gets sick, it’s nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about, it’ll all come clear.

Then, when it was his own family who died, he said with a sad face, who could’ve known that this could take place?

Next Year

Picked up some library books the other say. The library set up is working for this lockdown era: go online, put a book on hold on my account. They send an email when it’s ready. I have a window before it’ll be put back on the shelf, giving me time to plan when I’ll go down there to pick it up.

I go several times a month. There’s a table set up outside, under a canopy, Saturday through Thursday, noon to four. Tape is used as markers to indicate the traffic flow and safe distances. Patrons line up six feet apart. The librarian comes out. We’re all masked. You give your name; the librarian goes inside and return with your books. Your account number is verified verbally via the last three numbers. They give you your books and you go on your way.

As part of the process, a slip of paper with the book’s title and its return date is printed. On that little slip are also two little financial gems. One states how much money you’ve saved yourself by borrowing from the library. The other tells how much you’ve saved this year.

The first is $26 on my slip of paper today. That was for two books. Both are hardcovers. Neither were published this year. I suspect I could get them for less than twenty-six dollars used.

The second number is $660. That’s how much I saved this year, they said.

Well, I don’t know about that. I pay a little in taxes each year for this. It was a bond issue for the county library system, and it’s part of my annual property taxes. I don’t think they take those taxes into account when they tell me how much I’ve saved.

But I like the system. I’m a writer. I’d like people to buy and read my books. It’s great that the library system pays books to fulfill that for writers. I hope my books end up in the library some day. It’s also an excellentway to save on trees, innit? Buy a book and let multitudes read it.

All that led to ebooks. These books were available to be borrowed as ebooks. ebooks do even more to save trees, although we then get into the sticky situation of electronic waste.

I don’t do much ebooking; I like the personal heft of the thick books in hand as I carry them around and read in various postures. I know I’m silly and sentimental that way. I could use ebooks and save more trees. Yet, I resist.

I blame blue light for some of that resistance. I watch television (so cut down, you reply) while I’m running in place (oh, you answer, that’s a little different) or using the Stairmaster as part of my exercise. I’m not good at reading while walking (though I’m trying). I also spend a lot of time on the ‘puter reading news (so cut down, you suggest) (I probably should, I answer, as not much of the damn news is good for my spirit), writing, and editing. I don’t want to add the strain of reading ebooks to the strain I already thrust on my eyes.

Nothing is as clear cut as it first appears any longer, whether it’s environmental impact, saving money, or selling books. Our lives are choices, decisions, and compromises. I could, instead of running in place or exercising while watching television just curl up with a book. I could, instead of using a hefty volume, make it an ebook and reduce other strain on my eyes. Or I can go to audio books —

Yeah, don’t even go there. I am a fan of audio books; I’ve used them when driving long distances, and I’ve used them while exercising. I’ve found, though, I prefer the inner voice that I create when I’m reading something.

So, I’ve thought about these things. I recognize some of my habits are comfort ruts. Comfort ruts can be pretty useful in periods of stress, such as, say, a global pandemic. Then again, it may be that I’m just too lazy to change, modifying that ‘too lazy’ to ‘too old and set’.

This is just one facet of existence. These same sort of exercises go on with other things as we live, from medicines to using plastics to cars to public transportation to fossil fuels to recycling to GMOs to organic food to nutrition to healthcare to eating healthy to money to politics to welfare to taxes to social security to war to equality to fashion to music to film to being healthy to relaxing to having fun to —

Well, that point is hammered in. Life is a busy process of constantly re-balancing all these choices. I wonder what’ll it be like in another hundred years.

Strike that: let’s just see what it’s like next year.

Santy Paws

Santy Paws, Santy Paws,

where are you?

What holiday mischief

will you put me through?

Are you climbing a tree

that you shouldn’t touch?

Or stalking ornaments

that you think are lunch?

Maybe you’re unwrapping presents

while I’m out.

Oh, Santy Paws, Santy Paws,

come out, come out!

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