Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Twins in the Cottage and the Joy of a Book

I have been pretty quiet in virtual life because I have been very busy with interesting but taxing adventures--a job application, a driving exam (only the first half of it), and creative projects--a writing assignment and putting two craft projects into an exhibit. In between I have been trying to persuade orphan kittens out of the barn they think of as sanctuary and helping shift cattle.

Cats and cattle, despite being predator and prey animals respectively, have a lot in common: most importantly, they only do what they want to do, they are very fond of food rewards, and they like to stay together. That may not seem like a lot, but when you have to persuade them to move or to stand still, knowing those three things is very useful. As a cattle wrangler, I would currently rank my skills on a par with most 10 or 12 year old children who have grown up on a farm except that I am a bit slower. I have to make the most of what little I know.

Moving a field full of cattle has proved easier than getting the kittens out of the barn. I can grant myself expert status with cats, but cats are so idiosyncratic that a lifetime of experience is still small change. They came to the sound of my voice for food, but then disappeared again behind the fertilizer bags, which dwarfed their puffball bodies. I moved the food further away; they came out and ate, looked quizzically around, and then back to the fertilizer bags. It was a major victory when I called them and saw a miniature tiger's head peeping up out of the tall grass right by the cottage, which I hoped would become their new haven.

The brave little tiger's twin, hidden somewhere in the tall grass, lurked along the edge of the grass and furtively into the door and around the back of the old sofa to the food bowl. I pretended not to see him until he came close enough to gaze up into my eyes. He looked as fierce as an 8 week old kitten can look. I assured him he was a tiger at heart, but in the meantime drink his milk. He did. Tonight when I went to feed the older cats their dinner, both the twins were in the cottage. If they are there in the morning, then I can feel a bit easier.

I have often wandered through crafts exhibits and thought "I could do that" and so in a moment of hubris when I was presented the opportunity to include some projects in an exhibit, I said yes. The challenge with crafts projects is that my same logic works in reverse: whatever I have created someone else could have done, too, so why should it be on display someplace?

As if it weren't hard enough to deal with that angst, I was stopped dead in my tracks with the simple-sounding task of "write a little about yourself." Even at 5am I did not like what I had written. We all know that those late night thoughts can look very bad in the light of day. This one was not good even in the dark. I slept fitfully, rose early, and put together a very short but not awkwardly self conscious piece about myself. I restitched a button on the last piece and lamented that my hand sewing has gotten as bad as my handwriting. But I was committed and I had a 9am driving lesson, so I bit the bullet and packaged up what I had and got out the door.

I proudly displayed my Pass certificate to my driving instructor and got down to the business of backing around corners of a road, a maneuver that I never expect to use except for the practical part of the driving test where a man or woman with a clipboard rides with me in my car and assesses how well I do things he/she asks. I have discovered that part of learning to be British is learning to accept those foibles--tests on maneuvers that make no sense. I think of that as the meta-test: coming to grips with how everyone else deals with the rules that don't make sense. It is easier moving cattle and cats. I understand how they think and why.

The gallery where I dropped my two projects and "a little bit about myself" is above the library in Wick. After having completed the last angstifying task for a day, I browsed the library. I found an interesting biography of Jefferson Davis, a historical description of a town in Michigan that successfully integrated years before anyplace else in the US managed it, and a description of how environmentalism is becoming part of some Christian churches. All those looked very interesting to read and did linger in my arms for awhile, but I must confess the sheer weight of them was too much for my battle-weary mind. Instead, I came to the check out with a new Tony Hillerman mystery, a collaboration of a mystery writer and a historian set in 19th century Chicago, and a DVD of a Miss Marple movie.

With the cattle tucked up for the next few days, the twin kittens in the cottage, the exhibits in the gallery, the job application in, and no immediate demands on driving or other lessons, I indulged myself in one of my favorite pastimes: curling up with a book and not stopping until it has been read from cover to cover. Since I was a very little girl reading comic books, the pleasure of disappearing into a good read has been one of the best treats ever. I picked up the Tony Hillerman with all the pleasure of a young girl with her comic books and added to that was the comfort a familiar hero, like catching up with an old friend. I read halfway through the book and then dozed on the sofa and dreamed about what I had been reading. I woke, got some tea, and went back to reading. I ate a little dinner, which my husband kindly prepared, briefly watched the news, and then went back to reading. I did not stop even to feed the cats until I had finished the story.

The next book will have to wait because tomorrow is overloaded with the responsibilities of the workaday world, but I will go out knowing that it is there waiting for me.


4 Comments:

At 11:34 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I expect working at the pharma company was one of the main times you observed the various ways people deal with having to follow nonsensical rules. Wow, this is probably a vast understatement.

 
At 11:36 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Last night I read a children's book all the way through called "The Computer Nut" by Betsy Byars, and it is very humorous. If you like bad jokes, it's the book for you.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

I might think there's a lot right here that would satisfy the "write a bit about yourself" requirement --

and congratulations on the driving accomplishment.

 
At 10:56 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Thanks Cur and Ampiggy. Sorry to be so slow in responding. I have been busy working and having adventures and trying to get back to normal. I'll blog about some of it so you can know what I've been up to.

Exhibit opening was a success. Morris's narration was brilliant in the reading of my mini micro play (his photo is in the Groat) and my photo and some of the info I sent to John o Groat newspaper got published, and I got the job I applied for, so now I can settle in a bit.

 

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