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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cat-aiku No. 9, Abject Terror ~ Seek Solace from Fear

Photo credit: J. D. Morehouse

Small black cat trembles,
Lying on the monitor.
Her fear plucks my heart.

Sunday we walked a few miles before dinner. He'd ridden his bike and I'd walked my "real" walk, but it was beautifully 77 degrees and sunny - we just wanted to be outside. He brought the camera I asked him to carry, in case we saw anything interesting to show in a post about Limes' walk. We didn't but that may be because we were so engaged in talking that we didn't see anything around us. He wore shorts and I wore short sleeves and it was a pleasant afternoon.

I walk in the dark before dawn every morning, returning home for coffee and a shower before work. I flip on a morning newscast I thoroughly enjoy, mainly because of the meteorologist - Sherry - a beautiful, fun, humorous, environmentally responsible woman of 50 who openly says she's 50 and I kind of like that. I buzz around home getting dressed, grabbing food for lunch, checking the DayPlanner to see if I have anything to do, and listening to what Sherry has to say because weather affects my walk, camping, and our business.

She said a strong front was rolling in. We'd get hideous winds on both ends of it and a tremendous drop in temperature. The wind was promised by lunch time Tuesday. A quick dawn e-mail: "You'd better ride in the morning today, Badger, because the afternoon should be pretty horrid!" It roared in when he was 5 miles into the ride. Around 10:00 a.m., it began to suck the huge glass and steel doors of the office open and closed, open and closed. When it threatened to snap the opened doors off their hinges, I finally locked myself in.

My little black cat, Virginia Woolf, is terrified of the howling wind. That makes us two of a kind. Dylan pussyfoots around our home, seemingly oblivious to it, but VW shakes and her small face looks worried. She sticks close to me as I move through our rooms. No humane person could fail to notice this little morsel suffering as the blast screams through the breezeways (great word!) of our community. Although I have double-paned windows, the blinds clatter in the window frames.

This morning the BlackBerry woke me as it is supposed to do. I could hear the tempest snapping the Summerlin banners in the streets, so I dressed accordingly and set out on one of my older walking routes. I began to spin the local park 6 years ago. It's no longer my only route and it's not even my favorite or most exciting, but it is familiar and comfortable. This walk is efficient because it requires a half-mile walk to and from the park, and the circle around is very close to one mile exactly. It requires no thought, few glances at the Garmin (at least to measure distance). There is a decent grade, sharp enough to pull at the abs when I walk uphill. I enjoy a variation of uphill, downhill, and when the wind blows, a variation of into the gale, away from the blast. Except for today.

I wore more clothing for the walk than I have since last spring. I needed it against 40 degree temperatures and wind chill factor in the 30s. It made me feel clunky and constricted. I hit top speed pretty quickly and made it to the park in really good time. The cold didn't bother me as much as I'd feared, although I forgot gloves and needed them. I saw none of the familiar early morning park walkers - they were probably all smart enough to stay in. And I started the circles.

I have enough IQ points to understand the finer points of both randomness and odds. But I struggle to comprehend how and why the wind blew straight into my face on the uphills and either broadsided me or blew straight into my face on the downhills 100% of the time. I would love to have watched that wind direction screen on Sherry's broadcast! It must have looked like activity in a Waring blender. My eyes streamed, my nose streamed, my ears froze (note to self: get out the hat), my hair was nearly torn from my skull, and I had to mouth-breathe. For hours. The thought I struggle to quash each time it arises came visiting: "Why do I do this? I am not required by anyone to do this!" But I am. I require it of myself.

Arriving home, first cup of coffee in hand, I remoted Sherry onto my TV screen. She was reporting all the numbers that tell the story - temperatures in different neighborhoods, wind speed and chill factor. She reminded us to watch out for cars in lanes next to us because cars can be moved by the winds. She told us that it is colder today than any time since last March and to be sure to grab a coat this morning . . . . . no shit, Sherry. An hour later, I took up my charcoal gray pea coat that is like a new gift every year when I wear it for the first time. I think the gift of a coat is lovely - the spirit of wrapping the recipient in warmth - and mine was a gift.

This post was not meant to be a weather report, but rather a commentary on change. Seasons change and we adapt, of necessity. Sometimes changes come abruptly and the necessary adjustments seem harsh. Only a couple of days ago, I walked in the sun. It was faded, autumnal sun, not summer blaze, and I liked it. Now it seems wintry. The Badger has a phrase for the time of year we're stepping into - the heart of darkness. But not every day will be as extreme as the past two. Sometimes the conditions will be tolerable. Spring wiill come again. And a camping date has been set. We have several potential destinations, and the final choice will be made based upon weather. We will select a location where the chinook won't tear us to pieces and so it goes . . . .

In my ears right now: Shrieking wind. Wailing wind.

Something that charmed me: I found my black leather gloves tucked into the pockets of my pea coat, right where they were left last spring, waiting to be employed again this winter. It made me feel sturdy. Ready for whatever comes my way. Things change. I can be prepared and deal with change.


  1. Maybe Bob Segar's "Against the Wind" should be in your ears right now.

    I hear wind in my ears quite a bit, but I think it's tinnitus.

  2. Ha, Kirk, one of my favorite tunes! Also Dust in the Wind, They Call the Wind Mariah and, let me see . . .

    Sitting up here in my aerie, I can see all the palm trees snapping like cracking whips, debris flying through the air . . . I don't care for it mcuh, and VW is probably huddled beneath the bed, terrorized.

  3. Very fine "caiku"


  4. Virginia has my sympathies. You've had this ex weather guesser trying to figure out why the wind is blowing all over the place. I love a good puzzle. Word verification today was vishi as in; I vishi a merry christmas, I vishi a merry christmas and ahaphi new year.

  5. Ha, Tag! Very good. How about, "I vishi wouldn't talk so loud. It's very distracting."

    If you figure out what can be done to stop the Wind Festival, I'd give you a tip of the hat.

  6. I used to dance for the goddess Pele to bring snow to Oahu. That never worked either.

  7. Nor does the telephone dance cause an avalanche of carpet cleaning requests to occur.

  8. The Wind Festival continues unabated. It's perverse.

  9. Perverse, indeed. Does that make us perverts? I just stepped out of a 2 hour massage - a luxury by the standards of many. I'm feeling relaxed, enlightened, grateful, hopeful, nearly in love with Stephanie . . . until I opened the door. FREAKING wind - noise, chill, debris in the air. . .

  10. A cat named Virginia Wolf--love that!

  11. Ha, Erin! I have an affinity for Virginia Woolf, much deeper than just "I like her writing". So the female cat has her name. She is called "Virginia Woolf". Some people miss the point and call her just "Virginia". Uh-uh. Virginia Woolf.

  12. Limes, I've never read Virginia Woolf.

    I HAVE watched that one movie with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.

    Does that count?

  13. Oh, Kirk, Liz and Dick don't count! Virginia Woolf, however, is not to be missed. If you don't read all of her works, you should read A Room of One's Own or To the Lighthouse. But even more than her writing, I love her biography. She was a beautiful damaged person. At an age very close to mine, she put stones in her coat pockets and jumped into the river. Imagine being that unhappy and ill . . . .

  14. She did it on the eve of World War II, right?

  15. VERY good! Virginia, her sister, her husband and an entire group of artists and writers, including E.M. Forster, formed a collective called Bloomsbury (my parakeet's name) after the London neighborhood where they lived. I find all of those characters fascinating.

  16. Hey, I'm for freethinkers everywhere. That's why I read your blog.

  17. Well, I thank you! Both for reading and for concluding that I am a freethinker.