I have a random mish-mashy update post for you, so here goes.
I know what you’re thinking – but in spite of the fact that I am the most Photoshop-happy photographer ever, I actually did very little to this photo. Not that I didn’t try; but none of the bells and whistles really added anything to the original, so I just sharpened and contrasted a bit and called it a day. But the color here was all in the sky, not added later.
I made another trip to the Villa de Matel retreat center last week; I wrote about going in June and have shared occasional pictures from that trip, but I only made reservations for one night last time and it wasn’t nearly enough for me to process my thoughts, let things go, and move back into my own little happy place where I usually reside. I knew when I left last month that I really needed more time, so I always planned to go back in July, and this time I made my stay three nights instead of one. It was PERFECT.
Interestingly, I felt like I got the closure I needed after being back for about thirty minutes! It was as if I’d just rushed off last time without stopping to leave all my baggage on the altar (they have a beautiful chapel) and ended up still carrying it with me. So as soon as I got checked in this time, I headed straight to the chapel. sat my butt down in a pew, and got to work. I ran through all my negative thoughts, and my hurt feelings, and the wounds to my self-esteem, and just said you know what God? I’m really really tired of carrying this around. I’ve been struggling since May and I don’t want to do that anymore. So I’m putting this all right here and walking away from it for good, sound cool? And God (or whatever) was all, cool man, go for it. So I did. Of course, then I had three more days to read and write and really kick all that stuff to the curb, but after that chapel visit it was as if everything had finally been dislodged and it was all pretty easy to knock away.
I’d started not to bring my camera, because I took a lot of photos last time I was there, plus several years ago I took a ton too, and the place hasn’t changed so I didn’t honestly think there would be anything to photograph.But my husband suggested I just bring the camera along anyway, and I am glad I did, although I only spent a few hours total shooting anything, and I’ve only had time to process that top shot. I took different lenses, which gave me the opportunity to look at things differently, so I’ve got a lot of macro shots to edit and share, and for the first two nights I was there I was actually the only person staying in the retreat area so I got to have fun bustling about at 11 PM taking photos of everything with the flash on, but other things have gotten in the way of me editing them, so let’s move on to that now, shall we? Be back with more Villa photos later. And by the way – being the only person staying overnight in a huge building that looks a bit like a castle is pretty much the most awesome thing ever. Don’t worry – I was far from truly alone because it is a convent and one entire wing is the Sister’s residences, and they have full security and all that stuff on staff. But two floors of one wing belong to the retreat center, and it was really cool to be able to just wander around in whatever disheveled state I felt like it without being bothered, until my last night a bunch of other people showed up and ruined the fantasy.
So I was doing that all last week, and came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated enough to finally take on something I’ve been considering for a few months now:
That’s right – we got a new kitten! Her name is Violet, and I do not have any good photos of her because, unlike Simon, Violet is NOT into posing for the camera. I’ve tried to take photos with my phone, and she’s just a blur, so I sure haven’t bothered bringing out the big guns to get her picture. She is a bit of a terror right now, but when she sleeps nothing can wake her, which is what she was basically doing here, so there’s that.
I got her for what is apparently one of the worst reasons ever to get a second cat, according to the internet: because I felt Simon needed a companion. For the past several months, he’s been getting pretty insistent with his play, which has always been what I’ll call ‘aggressive’ – he is not mean, but he does pounce, nip, and on occasion, scratch, and he always has. There’s no malice in it, he’s just always been one of those cats you have to know when to get out before he goes full-cat-Rambo on you and nips too hard or scratches too much. And lately, he’s been pouncing at my feet constantly; even, on occasion, pouncing at them even HARDER when reprimanded, which was starting to bother me a little. Then about a month ago he started randomly licking things for no good reason – lids of jars, my soda bottles, the neck of lamps – and while I’ve read that this could be a sign of some sort of nutrient or vitamin deficiency (which I am keeping an eye on) it is also a possible sign of boredom leading to obsessive behavior, and as playful as Simon wants to be, i could see him getting bored easily, since no one else around here is all that down for playing. So, enter Violet.
Then there was a selfish reason for getting her, too. Simon has never been a huge cuddler, which is new for me. I’ve always had very cuddly cats, but when Simon is done with you, he’s done, and if he doesn’t want to be cuddled, forget it. He’ll swat you away. And as he’s gotten older, the less cuddly he’s become. Oh, he still crawls into my lap most nights while I’m sitting up in bed reading or playing Hearthstone on my iPad, but that’s about it, and again, it’s only if and when he decides to do it that it happens. So I was hoping a new kitty might alleviate Simon’s boredom as well as give me something to cuddle with impunity.
One of our local shelters, Citizens for Animal Protection, has a lovely shelter and they were holding a ‘clear the shelters’ event this past Saturday where all pets adoptions were free (this is the shelter where we adopted Simon). When I first heard about it, I thought oh hell no, I am NOT going to deal with that madness because it will be packed – but then I woke up Saturday morning and thought, yep, today’s the day. It wasn’t that I wanted a free cat that badly, it was just the day I finally felt ready to take the plunge. So down to CAP I went. I knew I needed a pretty bold kitten, since she’d be coming home to two dogs and one seriously playful full-grown cat, and not only did Violet seem, personality-wise, to fit that bill, but her original name was Mercy, which of course, is part of my internet/blog name, so I figured she must be the one. Plus her health record was clear, she’d already been spayed, and one of the directors of the shelter told me he’d fostered her at his house and found her to be a really great cat. So I snatched her up, and off we went!
And here’s where I broke more internet rules. Everything I read said to give the new cat its own space and leave it separated from the other pets for, like, two days, but there was a problem – there isn’t one square inch of this house that another animal hasn’t already claimed or, if it wasn’t claimed by one of them, that was a safe place to keep a kitten. I originally chose my office to be the new-cat space, but within five hours our dog Penny was hiding in a back corner of my husband’s closet, completely traumatized that she’d been replaced from her spot next to my desk. Honestly i didn’t even realized she was that attached to being in there, but apparently she was, so Doug and I decided to move the process along and start introducing Violet to the other pets right away.
We put her in a wire crate that was pretty big and allowed the dogs in first. Now, my husband comes from farmers (although not his immediate family; it’s an occupation that ended with his grandfather) and so he has that throw-em-in-a-room-together-and-let-them-work-it-out mentality, whereas I am such the opposite of that it isn’t even funny. While he felt letting the dogs sniff her while she hissed at them inside the cage was just part of the process, I was literally chewing my nails off with worry that we were damaging her for life. Then he let Simon in, and I practically went through the ceiling from the tension. There was growling and hissing and swatting and crying – and that’s just what I was going through! Before I was anywhere near ready to deal with it emotionally, Doug had opened up the gate to the crate and let Violet out, and of course in the end it was all fine. By the end of the night they were all wary, but basically OK with each other, and when on occasion the two cats would get too aggressive with their wrestling I could easily get Violet tucked away somewhere to give Simon a break, but he seemed to be fine even though he had to swat her down from time to time.
Tomorrow I take her to the vet in the morning to make sure she checks out OK. I’m exhausted right now because although the director at CAP told me Violet was fine sleeping by herself in a closed room, I of course couldn’t stand it and took a sleeping bag into my office and slept with her, which was fine from the perspective that she didn’t actually mess with me too much (unlike Simon, who spent the entire night attacking my face and feet when I did the same for him) but sleeping on a hard floor in a sleeping bag was not good for me overall, and I’m stiff and sleepy today. We left the house this morning and Violet stayed alone in the office for several hours without incident (although I did have to cat-proof it by removing every item in there that had a cord), so here’s hoping I can manage to unattach myself from her enough to sleep in my own bed tonight.
A busy week ahead, and though I have filmed a lot of reviews to share, there were some problems with the results and I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’m going to upload these vids or have to film them all over. We’ll talk more about that later, I’m sure.