Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Have Done A Dreadful Thing.

First off, a big Happy Birthday to Ed and Fraser who both celebrated their natal days yesterday.

On the other hand, since I gave a little music box to Fraser, and he's been playing it intermittently all day, I'm beginning to wonder about the wisdom of my actions.

Monday, July 09, 2007


My cat Babe has just died.

She'd been having a little trouble eating for a while, and a lot of trouble eating recently, and it turned out to be a cancerous growth underneath her tongue, for which the long term prognosis from treatment was virtually non-existant. The vet was very nice about it - he let me sit with her for a while alone before he put her to sleep, and after, and gave me lots of tissues and things. I know that this was the best thing for her, but I still feel really bad about it.

She was both the sweetest and most stubborn cat I've ever known. I inherited her from a flatmate about eight years ago, and through that she turned from an incommunicative scaredy-cat to one that thought that cuddles, and play, and purring was the only way to go. She's been the most constant thing in my life through three moves, a new city, a new job, and giving up that job to go to University again, and she took all that disruption in her stride. She's taken her various health problems, the most serious of which was blindness, also in her stride, and despite everything has always managed to be happy about life.

The funniest thing I ever saw her do was claw open a bag of catnip on my bed. I found her a little while later sprawled in approved Take Me Now position, with little green leaves spread all over her and the bedspread. The second funniest thing was when she fell in a fish pond - she was the most dignified bedraggled cat I've ever seen. She used to decide that it was time we went out into the garden, she used to decide that it was time we went to bed, and when she'd decided these things she'd jump up and run to the door everytime I got up, and keep on doing it until I followed her. She had the most delicate paws. Since I've been home I keep expecting her to wheeze into the room and expect a cuddle, or thump down the stairs after me because she wants me to let her out the back door.

Catherine once said of her that she was like a dreadfully polite old lady who yet managed to indicate to Cat that she was less than the chewing gum beneath her shoe. She also said this: To My Sister's Cat. She liked sitting on computer keyboards and boxes. She liked sleeping next to something warm. She liked to purr.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I have this Thing about posture. Basically, I've had trouble standing up fully straight for, well, as long as I can remember, and it's been bugging me for, not as long as I can remember, but certainly since early adolescence when all that self-critical self-examination kicks in. In my case, this wasn't helped by my mother's well meaning bullying about seeing physios and doing exercises to help straighten out - basically I, and I think my sister Cat, got stronger bodies but serious emotional issues out of the experience. To the couple of people I know who have Things about eating and food, yeah, I get it. I don't give a toss about breast size, don't mind (much) if I have a stomach and bum that aren't the flat feminine ideal currently prevalent, but I really really mind having a curvy spine. I also get the whole suite of self-destructive behaviours that go along with having a Thing, in my case slouching, or sagging, or not getting any exercise, all of which would help the thing that I have a Thing about.

I have a tendency to go through phases of trying to help myself out, and letting it slide, and I'm currently in the upslope of the former, brought on by my mother getting bad arthritis in her feet. I tend to inherit body type stuff from her, so I went to see a podiatrist for advice on preventative measures, and instead of examining my feet (well, he did a little) he gave me this big big talking to about using my abdominal muscles to support the rest of me, and walking more softly (hey, sore ankles are linked to a tendency to stamp when walking. Go figure!), and yet a new set of exercises which he said would make the postural stuff easier.

I have to admit that the guy has a point. I had some very weird days when I was trying to start the whole suck-tummy-in-thing, walk-softly-without-losing-all-forward-acceleration-thing, sit/stand-up-straight-thing and everything else in my body was complaining about being out of wack, but things seem to have settled down and I'm noticing more flexibility and definitely more airflow, which is cool. But it's still a bother having to remind myself of what I ought to be changing all the time - some advice I was given for meditation once was that the mind is like a cat tied by a string, the cat will keep wandering, so you have to notice that it's gone walkabout and gently draw it back by the string to where you want and sit it down quietly, and then again and again and again until the cat settles down. And so my example is sitting on an hour long flight, with an hour previous in the waiting room because the plane was delayed, with my back straight and my feet well-balanced on the floor spending the entire time thinking about how much I just wanted to sag. Stupid cat. Stupid string.

Love to all.

Commonplace Book

There is an obvious danger in the business of examining a labyrinthine world such as that of the Confessions from the kind of perspective I have assumed. Any optic one chooses risks setting certain features into a prominence that may turn out to have been exaggerated; it may at the same time minimize the importance of features which, examined through a wider lens, turn out to be far more prominent than the narrower vision could allow. Every scholar fears the moment when he may have become prisoner to a point of view he has cultivated far too long than was good for his objectivity. And yet, his only therapy is to present the findings that his point of view enabled him to uncover, even at the risk of being premature. Others, then, may succeed in widening his vision before it is too late. In presenting his findings, he must (for sweet clarity's sake if for nothing else) suppress the ever-nagging temptation to resort to the subjunctive: "If my view of the matter be correct, then it would follow that Augustine means this." But the indicative mood, habitual in English exposition, tends to convey an air of greater confidence than the writer himself often enjoys: give me a scholar and he will know what I mean. My hopes are that whatever features of the Confessions' landscape I may have left in the shade were not deliberately ignored, or half-consciously excluded, because their message positively militated against the thesis propounded here, and that the Augustinian scholar will be sensitive to the number of hesitant subjuntives that still tremble behind my regular use of the indicative mood.

O'Connell, Robert J. St Augustine's Confessions: The Odyssey of Soul, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969, pp viii-xi.

Well it made me laugh. I know the feeling.