Adam, our younger son, has a great job, at least as far as income goes. Granted, I haven’t calculated inflation and such into it, but at age 31, he makes more than I did at age 44. On top of that, it just happened, as older brother Aaron was getting his PhD. (by the way, can anyone use a doctor in communication? Still job hunting in CoVid), that both boys settled in downstairs at our home. Five years later, they are still settled, and it’s a pretty good deal, with housing, meals, garage and utilities all paid. Actually, Cheri and I should mind, but we don’t – we’d love for them sometime (sooner than later) to decide it’s time to move out, but it really has been a blessing to have them downstairs. They are great company, and it was really great when I was traveling, to know Cheri wasn’t rattling around alone in the house. They tease and kid and shoot screaming monkeys up the stairs. It’s just fine.
Like I said, Adam does well financially. Since the basics are covered in his living expenses (he does take care of his car, which for the past 8 months has seen very little driving), Adam has a lot of expendable income. He consistently wins the contest for most packages delivered by FedEx, UPS, and the post office each week. Perhaps his greatest expenditures are clothes. Lots of clothes. Next, strangely enough, are electronic and mechanical doodads. Small kitchen appliances, enhancements to his entertainment center, and other stuff. He is, however, pretty generous, and will often order something, especially that makes his mother laugh, like different odd stuffed animals. For Thanksgiving, we have a two-foot tall ear of corn, with a little face on the front, smiling as it sits next to a goofy looking turkey with a western hat, on our mantle. Stuff like that. I know, I know – I tell him every week he should just sock tons of money away, but he’s having fun, and it’s a pandemic, so creating moments of fun is worth the price.
I’ll tell you about the latest outlay, but first I need to remind you of the other members of our household. Three cats. Thor is our skinny Siamese, who talks incessantly, and who seeks out heat wherever he can find it. He has been known to climb next to his younger brother from another mother – Hermes, our tawny colored beefy shorthair – and slyly and slowly push him off his warmed up spot on the couch, which always brings a tussle of sorts. Hermes is really a sweet cat, but also very smart and kind of pushy, when he decides he wants something, like a scratch or a pat when we first come home. Not for a moment – but for as long as he can get us to scratch his head or his back. Long time.
Our final baby is our largest one. She is Phoenix, a big, big orange cat, and the sister of Hermes. She is probably twice the size and weight of Thor, and she knows how to throw her weight around, when she wants to sit somewhere, or get some food. The boys know to stand back and let her through, since – I’ve always believed – she probably spent a little too long in the birth canal, and although she is very sweet, most of the time, she doesn’t shine in the academics department. Big, pushy and not-too-bright, and never misses a chance to munch on the cat food.
When we first moved into the house five years ago, in part to appease Thor, who begins to whine if the temp in the house is less than 70, or the sun doesn’t shine and superheat the back of the couch, or Cheri isn’t around for him to sit on her lap, we bought small cat bed that you can plug in, and it heats the center. Each cat took his/her turn, and sometimes, we would look and see both Thor and Hermes curled inside. It was a good bed, but as it happens, the heating element seemed to wear out, and with that, the attraction of the cats to spend any time in the thing. Eventually, it made its way downstair, unplugged, a castoff from the Great Heating Project.
Back to Adam. About three days ago, UPS delivered a good-sized box addressed to you-know-who. Adam opened it, yanked out a plastic bag with something in it that had been vacuumed packed, opened the bag, and suddenly a rather large, furry, super soft cat bed came flying out! Over two feet round, it looked like a brown donut with the donut hole still attached. It was incredibly soft, and Adam explained that it was made to feel like a cat’s mommy, inviting the 14 year old kittens to climb in and be transported back in time.
In the first hour the bed was on the floor, Adam lifted Phoenix into it, and, as typical, she nestled in and began to “make biscuits,” as we call it, as she kneaded the side of the bed, the way little kittens do to their mothers in order to produce milk. As I said, Pheeny is not the sharpest knife it the drawer. After about an hour, she hopped out and found somewhere else to sleep – or maybe she stopped by and got some food.
That has been the last time any cat set foot in the bed. It has been vacant, uninhabited, and standing as a testament that even if something looks like it would be great, it doesn’t make it so. Now, we have tried. We put the cats in the bed, at which moment they leap out and run away. We have put the cats in the bed and held them there, thinking they would discover how soft and nice it is. Again – leap out, run away. We have gently patted the bed, trying to talk someone into using it, and they turn and get on the couch, or go find another human bed to lie on.
Now, we are used to finding all sorts of catnip toys or halves of Easter eggs, or little stuffed mice on the floor, or just under the edge of a chair or the coffee table. We will frequently hear one or another cat rustling around in their toybox to find something to play with, and the leave for the assistants to pick up and put away. What’s embarrassing, though, is to walk by a huge furry cat bed that’s still in pristine condition, only used one hour by a pudgy orange queen cat.
We have mentioned this unfortunate situation a few times to Adam, but his response, coming from the basement, so he doesn’t have to see it, is that the cats will eventually get used to it, and try it out. But you see, that’s not the usual pattern of behavior – usually, when something new comes in, even if it is an empty box, it is immediately set upon by at least two of the cats, who completely explore it, try it on, and own it. To have something intended for a cat go completely unused, and truly ignored – well, that’s troublesome. I’m glad I didn’t buy it.
In about a week and a half, Thanksgiving decorations will come down, and we will take the weekend to put up all the “stuff” of Christmas. There is a tacit understanding, at least between Cheri and me, that if said bed has not been occupied, it will make the trip downstairs to find its place next to the other bed. I suppose soon we can open up a used cat furniture store…
The truth, we all know, is that sometimes, even when our best intention is to do something marvelous or wonderful, or we decide something is like that, it can happen that we miss the mark, or, when it is dependent on another’s preference or opinion, it just might not fly. Doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the truth. Even, I must say, if we are deeply intentional about something, it still may turn out a complete bust. That’s usually ok, and outside of a small ego burn, we move on.
It’s when we heavily invest, either our resources, or our hearts into that something, and it turns out to be a real stinker, that we find ourselves questioning other decisions we have made, choices that we opted for. Instead of a confident, sometime mistake-making persona, we are transformed into scared or timid choosers, who are betrayed by our errors, instead of trusting our good opinions.
So you make a mistake. Who cares? So it didn’t go the way you wanted, whatever “it” is. Who cares? So long as your approach to things/events/stuff is intentional, and not haphazard, thoughtful, and not careless, any errors you make are worth making. Don’t give away or give up what you believe, as long you believe it’s worth believing. Maybe the difference between raging success and utter failure – are only three finicky spoiled cats. That’s not worth changing the world for…
Word for the day: kilderkin. Pronounced as it looks, KILL-der-kin. Today we look at measures that we never learned in school. A kilderkin is a 1/3 of a hogshead. It’s also equal to 2 firkins, or 4 pins. Easy enough. The measurement is actually still used today, but limited to how beer is carefully measured, especially in Europe. A barrel, which we know about, is an actual measurement of 36 imperial gallons. (a barrel was made to hold a barrel) A hogshead would vary in its amount, depending on the liquid, from ale, of 63 gallons, or wine of 52.5 gallons.
The word, kilderkin, has two possible roots. One is from the Dutch, where the word actually means “small child,” and would refer to the size of the container up against a full barrel. Others believe it came from the Latin quintal which meant about 100 pounds.
However the measurement, I doubt, even up here where the polka reigns, that we will ever hear, “Roll out the kilderkin, we’ll have a kilderkin of fun…”
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.