Phoenix is fat. Not the city – our orange colored female cat. Now, she is a big girl to begin with – when you put her up beside our skinny little Siamese cat, Thor, she brings more than twice the weight and size to the matchup. We have one more cat, Phoenix’s brother, Hermes, who is a large cat in his own right, but still a bit dwarfed by her size. I mean, her paws are huge, and her tail is just big.
However, she is also pretty fat. Unlike some cats, who are pretty intelligent, Pheeny (as we call her) is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, she’s more like a soupspoon. What she lacks in basic intelligence, however, she makes up in appetite. I expect she will hit the food dish perhaps 15 times/day. With that effort, over the years she has added weight to her basic size that makes her formidable, in case the boys want to bother her, or sometimes just walk by her. “Paws of Death” strike out and whack them, reminding them that indeed, she is the queen.
She is also the undisputed world champion baby of the family. The boys are well cared for, of course, but Pheeny has managed to wrap our two adult sons around her little/big paw, and get them to do whatever she wants.
I’m not kidding. They spend most of their time in our basement, and so Pheeny will stand at the top of the stairs and call out with her most plaintive cry, until they stand at the bottom of the stairs, and encourage her to come. Every time. Then, she wants to get lifted up onto the couch (she can jump up easily) and take her place as the throne of the lower level.
Her purr is gigantic. I know that Siamese cats, like Thor, rarely purr, but if you get really close sometimes, you can sort of hear his little motor running. Phoenix’s purr is like a drag racing engine, revved up to a super high RPM. When she is pleased about anything, it almost drowns out the television. As of late, she has continued to push her dominance over the sons, as she stands at the bottom of the stairs, crying until one of them reaches down, picks her up and gives her the “elevator” to the top of the stairs. Again, she is fully capable of climbing stairs, but it’s far more convenient – for her – to have her servant boys attend to her needs.
One of her other daily habits is to come into my office in mid-morning, and lie down and purr on the floor. That works for a little while, but my office also has two recliners in it, for when we are watching television upstairs. Phoenix has decided she owns one of them, and so eventually – usually while I am trying to write something – she will go over to her recliner, and again, meow with a pitiful sound. Now, I know it makes no sense, but one time, back in the distant past, I went ahead and lifted her up on to the recliner, on top of the two very soft blankets, so she can curl up and have her morning nap. Since that time, it has become my task. Lifting that fat body up on to the chair (that she could easily jump up on herself!), and patting her five times on the left side of her fat body. At that point, she them climbs up onto the arm of the chair, looking like she is sitting atop a motorcycle from Easy Rider, and then after a moment or two, finds her napping spot, where she will sleep for a good four hours or so without moving.
Such is the life of a princess – well, actually, a female cat is known as a “queen,” so that’s what she is. She does have some skills, however, that reveal themselves from time to time to our utter amazement. Like yesterday…
Being the retired kind of guy that I am, I find that early afternoons bring a time when the world seems to say, “Maybe you want to take a nap?” Being polite and willing to go along with many things, I agree, and so I slip over to my recliner, put my feet up, and enjoy a delicious bit of shuteye. Yesterday was one of those times, and I succumbed to the relaxation without resistance.
However, as I laid there, comfy and unworried, I suddenly had a sense of foreboding wash across me. Not sure of the origin of it, I opened my eyes for a moment, and when I looked over, I saw an enormous orange cat, no longer sleeping, but perched on the arm of her recliner, facing me. Now the recliners are kind of far apart, with a big end table between them, full of remote controls and such. At first I wasn’t sure what Pheeny was up to, and then it sunk in with a mortifying clarity – she was planning to jump from her chair, over to mine, I guess to see me, and make sure I didn’t take a nap? I’m not either a physics nor math major, but it didn’t take a lot of calculation to see the inherent danger. Fat cat, with no where to land after she launched.
My mind went back in time to when she was just a kitten, and was climbing on the table, and looked over at a desk a little ways away. Before I could stop her, she leapt, and with perfect precision, completely missed the desk and looked like flying squirrel, all the way down to the ground. She was little at that time. Now, she was not. Pounds and pounds of orange cat was going to head toward me in just a moment. I talked with her, pleaded with her, asked her politely and then just said, “No, no, no!”
Do you remember watching those Evel Knievel jumps over incredible distances, and you just knew there was no way he was going to make it? There she perched, all four legs on the arm of the chair, wiggling her rear end, as though she was a lioness about to pounce on an unsuspecting gazelle. Over a jungle chasm. 100 feet deep.
I was frozen in fear and panic – and then, in a flash, she jumped from her chair’s arm, and aimed for mine. I couldn’t believe it – she easily cleared the distance, and landed nearly on my lap, overshooting the arm of my chair! And without raising her front legs in victory, she just waddled across me, and sat on the other arm of the chair, and then back and forth and back and forth, finally coming to rest on my lap, which very quickly meant that my legs were going numb from the weight resting on them.
Well, things calmed down for bit. I still had no understanding of why she had to jump over and see me, but it happened. I found myself drifting back toward a nap – remember that? – when after about 10 minutes, I was awakened by more movement. It appeared that her majesty finally wanted to get down. I moved my legs to allow her easily slide down the footrest to the floor. Nope – not going to happen. Instead, Phoenix made her way again across my lap, and onto the arm of the chair. Perching there for a moment, she then again leapt back across the chasm, over to “her” chair, and then slid down on to the floor, and waddled out of the office.
I began to wonder just how far she had jumped both times, and so I got out my trusty tape measure. The unofficial mark for her standing broad jump was 38 inches! Just for fun, stand at one spot on your carpet, and without running, just leap forward as far as you can. If you jump 38 inches – over three feet – without falling on your rear end afterwards, then well done. Phoenix did it, twice, like she was heading toward the food bowl.
I guess “big” trumps “fat,” especially when you have a goal in mind. I guess, when you have an idea, that becomes a plan, that becomes an action, you just may have a great chance for success, even in difficult conditions. Granted, Pheeny is just a cat – a big, ol’ orange fat cat – with a tiny little brain, by any account – but she was determined, with no fear, no doubt, no hesitation or reservation, and so impressed the world (at least me) with her amazing feat!
So – what are you thinking of doing? What hairbrained idea, or goofy thought have you had, that the rest of the world might call you crazy for doing? How will you amaze the world today? How will you set aside fear, and doubt and concern of failure, and just go for it? You know that our world opens up to those who dare, and to those who, despite a safer path, decide to do something great. Intend your life to be surprising! Just stand on the arm of your chair… and jump.
Word for the day: mull. Pronounced muhl. Of course, we all know what this word means – we use it often with the word “over,” and when we use it to talk about ourselves, it’s always to present a thoughtful, deep-considering presence. When we “mull,” we think carefully about something, right? We cogitate, or ruminate, and take time to “turn something over” in our minds until we come to a good conclusion or decision.
Our use today is a development of the original word – not making mulled wine with all sorts of fruits, or standing on a mull, which is a Scottish promontory, but the original word is Middle English, mullyn, meaning “to grind to a powder, or to pulverize,” from the earlier Latin, molere, “to grind or crush.” To “mull something” at that time was more than chopping or even mincing – it is ground to pulp. So, take that big idea, that big problem, and do more than just toss it around for a moment – grind it up, take time to ponder and to pulverize. Now you are truly mulling it over…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.