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Life Sometimes Feels This Way

keep calm

Ten Ways to Good Health

While we were on vacation, we bought this tea cup which came with some great advice.

The Politics of Rocks

We have a rock wall surrounding our yard and the four neighbors who share this rock border have four very different attitudes to the question of who owns the rocks on the wall.

Neighbor #1: “These rocks belong to me.” We simply cannot convince him that the property lines runs down the middle of the wall (several surveyors have also been unable to convince him of this) and, as a result, we are having constant skirmishes. This is our most volatile and unstable border. All negotiations have failed, and he now conducts regular border patrols. No leaves or sticks are allowed to linger on his lawn, either, and if you cross the border you so at your own risk.

Neighbor #2:“Take my rocks, please.” This neighbor doesn’t like the rock wall. The stones are constantly falling into his yard and causing mayhem when he runs over them with the lawn mower. He wishes to export as many rocks as possible, and we have a very liberal trade agreement with him. He barters rocks in exchange for help in repairing his lawnmower. Both our properties thrive from this mutually beneficial arrangement.

Neighbor #3: “Who cares about rocks?” The rock wall is not part of his vision of his property. He doesn’t care if we shore up the wall or take it down. His laissez faire attitude requires neither a trade agreement nor border patrols. It is an open border; kids freely cross it and rocks can be added or subtracted with impunity by either side (with the understanding that the wall itself is never dismantled). Free exchange at its finest.

Neighbor #4: “Rocks? What rocks?” We have a fourth neighbor, whose house sits behinds Mr. Take My Rocks, Please. His property shares the smallest section of the rock wall. He never exhibits any curiosity when we work on the wall, and when we once asked him if we could take a beautiful piece of quartz from his side of the wall and offered to replace it with a stone of equal size, he gave us a quizzical look and uttered the now-famous reply, “Rocks? What rocks?” It never even occurred to him that he had any claim on the rock wall. A Neighbor without Borders.

And how do our neighbors view us? We are not entirely certain, but we believe it goes something like this:

Mr. These Rocks Belong to Me sees us as a hostile nation and has instituted sanctions.

Mr. Take My Rocks, Please views us as a harmless border country with a different culture that is not understood but tolerated since our odd fondness for rocks supports his domestic policy.

Mr. Who Cares About Rocks probably views us as a neutral state. We don’t go to war with him and do not interfere in the politics of his nation.

And Mr. Rocks? What Rocks? Perhaps he sees us as a young country, building our infrastructure and cementing our borders. Perhaps he views us a materialistic nation bent on acquiring more wealth (in the form of rocks). Or perhaps, if someone were to ask him about us, he would reply, “Neighbors? What neighbors?”

The Kindness of Cats

Katie (the gray tiger) taking care of Zoe after her injury.

Last week Zoe, our ten-month old cat, dislocated her jaw. To prevent her from re-injuring herself while she is healing, we have been keeping her confined to the master bedroom. We assumed that we would have to keep Katie, Zoe’s sister,  away from Zoe during this time. We thought Katie would be upset because Zoe smelled like a vet’s office. Katie was used to rough-housing with Zoe and might inadvertently hurt her. She would hate being locked in the bedroom, etc., etc. So when we brought Zoe home, we whisked her into the bedroom, closed the door, and wouldn’t let Katie in.

Katie wasn’t going to put up with that. Zoe had been missing for over eighteen hours. (Katie and Zoe were found by a construction crew in an abandoned restaurant when they were one week old. They were part of a litter of six and no mother cat was in sight. The kittens were taken to the local animal shelter and bottle-fed. We adopted Katie and Zoe when they were five weeks old. They have never been apart.) She sat outside the bedroom meowing non-stop. She scratched the door. Her meows became howls. We tried to calm her but she had only one goal: she wanted to see her sister. We finally relented and allowed Katie into the room and braced ourselves for the inevitable hissing and spitting once Katie got a whiff of Zoe’s Eau de Vet’s Office.

Zoe was high on pain medication. Her eyes were dilated and she was walking sideways. We had tried to get her to lie down, but she was too busy marveling at how groovy everything was to relax. We placed her on the bed and Katie jumped up to see just what was going on. She approached Zoe, who was rolling around on the blankets, and started sniffing. We were ready to grab Katie as soon as the fireworks started.

And then Katie lay down next to Zoe and began to wash her. Zoe, amazingly, calmed down. She snuggled close to her sister. Katie put both paws around Zoe, hugged her close, and continued to bathe her. Zoe fell asleep. Katie remained on the bed holding her sister and purring.

It has been one week since we brought Zoe home. Katie has spent nearly every hour of every day with Zoe. She seems to prefer being locked in the bedroom with her sister than having free run of the house without her. What a world it would be if humans had the kindness of cats.

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