Digging, picking, burrowing lies
Searing, scorching, burning hives
Slicing, stabbing, filleting lives
Beating, beating, beating
Crushing, smashing, splintering
Eroding, drowning, consuming
Nerves deceive my soul and I am pain
Hello, my name is Heather and I’m always one cat away from being a crazy cat lady. I adore cats, and grew up in a household where strays were always taken in and loved. Cats ruled the house–not in the hoarder sense–just in the don’t sit in that chair because the cat’s already there and we don’t disturb cuteness in progress.
But this story is not about me (just in case you missed the title). This is the story of one of my boys.
Max was born in a feral cat colony. His mother was already two generations feral and she delivered a litter of 5 kittens; 2 boys and 3 girls. Max was the runt of the litter, and when I adopted him at almost 3 months old he only weighed 3.4 lbs. His brother, Sam, my other boy and firstborn of the litter, weighed 7 lbs. Their 3 sisters had to be returned to the colony because they proved to be too feral to adopt out.
When Max arrived at my home, he huddled back in the carrier while Sam cautiously crept out. I turned to corral Sam and Max shot under the bed. It took a lot of coaxing and reaching and eventually picking the entire bed up at one end to finally get him out. Until he finally started filling out, he was able to hide himself away in great places like under the stove or in the alcove above the guest shower. The biggest thing was Max needed a hiding place. He was the quintessential scaredy-cat . Max was always my special boy. I was the only one able to approach him and pet him. And I loved him for it.
My husband at the time, however, took Max hissing at him as an affront. He was angry that Max would hiss and reject any overture he made to him. He tried to force Max to take treats out of his hand and became increasing hateful of my poor little kitten. Every time I had Max cuddled in my arms, he would complain about what a “mean and ugly face that cat has, that’s not a happy cat”. All because Max was scared of him.
Then, while we were still teaching boundaries, he caught Max up on the kitchen counter. Instead of saying no or yelling or clapping his hands as we had agreed would be our training methods, he snuck up and scruffed him off the counter. Those of you who have normal kitties may be nodding your head sagely at that point. “Ah yes, scruffing calms the cat down while still asserting a familial dominance over them.” Those of you who have ever spent time socializing a feral cat have already peed yourself laughing at what came next.
Feral cats have no spine. Max, startled and already distrustful of the man, spun around regardless of the scruff and SHREDDED his arms and hands.I was sleeping already when this happened, but the yelling woke me up and I, for the first night of the next two years, stood in between Max and the husband.
Later that month, I woke up to a horrible crashing noise and went out to the living room to find my ranting husband holding a metal broom. No, that’s not quite right. He was hold half of a metal broom in each hand and was advancing on the corner where Max liked to hide. I ran and got in front of the hiding spot and asked my husband what was going on. Max had hissed at him when the husband took the broom out to sweep. Right, kitten’s hiss when they’re scared. Why is the broom broken?
Because my soon-to-be-ex-husband SWUNG IT FULL FORCE AT MAX AND HIT THE ARM OF THE COUCH WHERE MAX DOVE BEHIND A SPLIT SECOND BEFORE IMPACT.
That was it. 10 years of marriage in which I was consistently abused in some form or another and knowing I should get out. But at that point, right then and there, no more.
I was done.
There was nothing my ex could have done to win me back. I’ll put up with years of you coming after me, but once you go after the innocent creatures I brought into my home to love and care for, you went from maybe more therapy will help us to I hope you rot in hell for ever even THINKING about touching my babies.
From that point on until I finally kicked my ex out of the house, I slept on the couch with the cats. He would never have another opportunity to hurt them. I was elated, but also ashamed. I pet the boys for hours, apologizing for their first few years in this house. Max especially. Max didn’t want anyone even looking at him except me. He hid for days in my shower, only coming out when the bathroom door was closed and locked. I had a small interim roommate and, while Sam eventually allowed her to pet him, Max wouldn’t even let her catch a glimpse of him unless I was there.
I worried that the home I’d brought him into had irreparably damaged him and he would live out the rest of his life in hiding and only accepting me.
But then something happened. My roommate moved out and it was just the boys and I for the very first time. We made the most of it. Rearranging the back room to be a room filled with their things, making sure that no room was off limits, no place left unexplored and mama always there for cuddles and pets.
And when my mom came for a visit, Max finally decided he wanted to come sleep on my bed with me. Correction: sleep on my pillow and my head. It’s now our ritual. I tell him it’s time for bed and he runs in, hops up between the pillows and settles down waiting for me to put my hand out so he can use it as a pillow.
But it goes further. He started hopping up into my lap as I was trying to type, demanding pets. He followed me around everywhere and didn’t stay hidden all day. Yet, I knew in a few short months my boyfriend (now fiance) Dave was moving in, so I made the most of the time and apologized for his world being changed again.
I warned Dave repeatedly that he’d probably not even see the cats his first month here, let alone get close enough to pet one and that Max was a one person cat who may come to tolerate him in a few years. I was so focused on my boys and what they’d been through that I forgot to take into account the nature of Dave.
Week 1: Sam adopts Dave. Dave now belongs to Sam, the expert emotional blackmailer, and I marvel that Max has walked by him once without running.
Week 2: I return to work and Dave calls me excited to say that after I left, Max hopped up on the bed and curled up next to him.
Week 3: Max has decided sleeping between us is perfect. He cuddles up to Dave while still using my hand as a pillow. Dave is over the moon that Max is choosing to be this close to him.Max also steps up the amount of time he spends in my lap.
Week 6: Max finally flops on the floor in front of Dave, which is our boys’ way of asking to be pet. Prior to this date, he has NEVER flopped for anyone but me.
I still carry an immense amount of guilt for the times I wasn’t there to protect my boys from my insane and abusive ex, but if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know when I finally would have made the decision to leave him. I see them becoming more and more the cats they should have been and it unbreaks my heart just a bit. And when Dave had the broom out the other night to clean up a spill, Max actually walked up to him and sniffed it. Then flopped for both of us to lavish attention on him.
Perfect love drives out all fear.
It’s just a word. Just one, small, single syllable word.
And yet this word destroyed me at age 4, again at 11 and more times than I can recall in my 20’s. And here I sit in my 30’s, torn and bleeding around the wound the word insists on opening in me over and over and over until I fear I have nothing left.
I can’t remember the last time I was able to see that word without shuddering. Lately, it’s become a full scale meltdown and all because of that one, stupid, insignificant word.
It’s an ugly word, easily spat with the contempt it deserves. Often not enough in the face of those who wield it as their chosen weapon. Like my grandfather. He taught me the meaning of that word before I’d ever even heard it.
Those who never know anything other than Webster’s Dictionary’s Definition of the word have been spared a fate far beyond death. It is the conquering of not just a body but a mind and soul. It is the ultimate power play intrinsically designed to leave the conquered irreparably damaged.
There are so many days I walk through and breathe just fine, but it waits. On assassin’s paws it creeps in slow circles. Crouching. Watching. Waiting to pounce at the first sign of happiness.
God, it is so hard to hold my head up right now. The word sits on my shoulders, pressing me to the ground, whispering in my ear, showing me things I never want to see. Memories.
I try to light the word on fire, to sweep away it’s ashes, but find only the blisters singeing my own flesh. I welcome the pain because it is not the word. It is not the conquerors. It helps me feel. Yet, that way is lost to me now. Shoved away by promises I fight to keep.
My anchor, so far away, desperately clings to me. Tries to hold me as the word goes after our ties, one by one. He fights and pleads while I slip away and chase the silent world where the word does not exist.
I will the anger to return. To burn me from inside out. I’ll become a crucible. You can scrape away the impurities. I promise I’ll shine one day. And the next time the tarnish surfaces, you can hold me and we’ll walk through this together.
The word wants in. Just like those who used it as a weapon on me came in. Tore me apart and left me bleeding. For now all I can do is walk forward. And when I can no longer walk, I will stand. And when it takes that from me, I will crawl. Towards the word. Towards all the word screams to me.
It will destroy me, just like it did so many times before, but this time I have my own weapon. And there is no one to wield this word’s power on me but me. And after all…it’s just a word.
And I can say it without shuddering, without tears, without desperate panic, and maybe someday without blistering pain.
Prior to yesterday’s surgery, it struck me that it would be prudent to make my wishes clear on the division of my stuff. And by my stuff, I mainly mean my shoes. So I put a post up on Facebook and then was informed by my best friend, right before being put under, that I needed to make it into a blog post. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I dreamed about while under anesthesia. I was informed repeatedly not to sign any documents or make any big decisions for at least 24 hours, but since I’d already started it 17 hours BEFORE it should hold up under scrutiny.
Here is the first will and testament of H.C. Palmquist.
1. First things first: my boys go to Dave. He has already adopted them and, more importantly, they’ve adopted him. Even Max. Dave refuses to be separated from them.
2. My shoes. … bury me with my top five favorite heels. The rest are divided up as follows:
a. Johanna is allowed to pick out three pairs to grow in to.
b. Buttercup is allowed to pick out two pairs to grow in to. Now this might get a little tricky since she once stopped an entire game of Pick-up Sticks to peruse my shoes. She then announced that she “couldn’t wait to grow up and be a mom so I can borrow all of Aunt H.C.’s shoes.”
c. Christina Evans get first pick at all of them and may lovingly care for my Giulianna’s.
d. And, for the exciting finale, a two woman sack race through the wash between my mom Phyllis Jackman and my sister CJ Redwine to determine who get first pick at the remainder. Loser of the race gets second pick and has to carry the winner’s luggage. Although, something tells me Johanna might see these and beat them both to the finish line.
3. My yarn goes to Pauline Campos, may she learn how to crochet … in time for her 50th birthday. The caveat being she must finish this blanket.
She also gets first crack at my clothes, which will be a total of about 5 items she would wear.
4. My laptop stays with Dave. He can use Chicken Invaders to communicate with me from beyond the grave.
5. All my Nintendo DS games go to my three nephews, but my Wii, Wii games and Game Cube games go to whichever nephew can beat my Tetris score. Better start practicing, boys!
5. My books. After careful thought, I have decided Valerie Demetros and her daughter Julie should get the first crack at them. Any one who consistently drives to the hospital to spend hours in the waiting room for just a few minutes of time with me deserves some of my most prized possessions. Not to mention the pita bread she brought.
6. My pills. Hell, sell ‘em and pay for Johanna’s college. … Just making sure you read this far. Just avoid anyone who’s been on Intervention. You should’ve seen the look on the pharmacist’s face when I handed her this.
7. And the only other collection that comes close to rivaling my books and shoes is my PowerPuff Girl Collection, which I hereby declare shall be used to start a museum so all can experience the best cartoon series ever made.
One of the best lessons I have learned in the past few years is that stuff is just that. Stuff. In the end, what matters is the life, love and laughter that we share in our brief time on this earth. So, while I obviously survived the surgery, I still challenge each and every one of you to never waste a moment you are granted.
I admit it, I got an early peek at this cover and I’m so excited that the rest of you finally get to fall in love with it! Not only that, but if you head on over to CJ Redwine’s blog, you can enter to win a SIGNED COPY and some DEFIANCE SWAG!!!
So what are you waiting for, huh? CLICK NOW: http://yabookscentral.com/component/content/article/25-info/11435
Apparently, WordPress is eating posts again.
Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my review and giveaway of Dawn Metcalf’s LUMINOUS! Unfortunately, due to recent hospital copays, I only had the funds to choose one winner, but if you didn’t win, please GO OUT AND BUY A COPY NOW! It’s THAT good. So, without further ado, here is the winner using Random.org.
Congrats, CJ and your book will be on it’s way soon.
HOWEVER … Denise, your comment about wanting this book for your 8th graders spurred me into action, and it might be possible for me to get you a signed copy for your classroom! Please send me your contact information to hcpalmquist at gmail dot com.
Keep reading, keep sane … er.
Growing up in California pretty much ensured I was well educated in recycling and caring for our environment, however, my parents found a way to take it to a whole new level. Here are the rules of recycling.
1. Sandwich baggies, contrary to popular belief, are not one-use-only disposable plastic. They are to be saved, brought home, washed out and used again. Only when they cease to be airtight, or used for a substance that even dad won’t condone putting a sandwich in afterwards, may they be thrown away. It is not uncommon to find sandwich bags draped over various things like the soap dispenser or the faucet.
2. The box a bible comes in has many uses. Every year, someone in the family receives a NIV Bible for Christmas, that is until they open the box and find something completely different inside. I was the last to receive a new bible and that was over 25 years ago. All those celebrity conservationists have got NOTHING on my mom.
3. When the dryer belt burned in half and started the load of towels in the dryer on fire, nothing was wasted! The towels were salvaged and used as shop towels for the garage (although, no one but my dad would touch them due to the smell) and the dryer belt was used as a cat toy. Mom draped it over the ceiling fan and it provided hours of entertainment for us as the cats chased it in circles. What? You think any member of the household was saved from snark just because they had four legs and a tail?
4. Being the youngest, I was well acquainted with hand-me-downs, even when it came to underwear. But what to do when even I couldn’t wear it anymore. Underwear dustrags! There was an entire drawer full of holey underwear in mom’s closet for battling dust bunnies. Who knew they succumbed so quickly to Hanes?
5. Wrapping paper has more than one life. I know the rest of you are thinking of all the wrapping paper you’ve used as fire kindling, but such was not the fate in our house. When unwrapping presents, one did so with utter care–dad preferred you to use a knife to cut the tape since mom taped EVERYTHING. Christmas morning, after all of the presents were meticulously unwrapped, dad would straighten and smooth out every piece and then roll it all up into a tube to be used for the following year. Mom let us know beforehand which wrapping paper she was sick of so we could “accidentally” rip it. If you’re in the market for vintage 80’s wrapping paper, slightly used, don’t even bother with eBay.
6. Even vegetable gardens were a source of recycling. It wasn’t mulch, but something far more “green” oriented. One year, mom planted a single cherry tomato bush and a zucchini plant. We enjoyed the crop that summer, but it the true big picture genius wasn’t discovered until the following year when, unassisted, four cherry tomato plants sprung up where the original one had been and zucchini plants took over the rest of the backyard. We had so much zucchini, people several streets away would close and lock their doors when they saw us coming with our bags and bags of zucchini the size of Hulk Hogan’s arms. The cherry tomato plants grew taller than the back fence and dad finally offered the majority of them to the grocery store right behind our house. But, the story doesn’t end here. The plants came back EVERY YEAR even after my dad rototilled the soil. Now that’s not letting any seed go to waste! My sister and I finally rebelled when zucchini pancakes were served for breakfast one morning. NOT the tasty morsals you’re imagining. Think rather of shredded zucchini in your Bisquick.
7. Toilet paper. Stick with me on this one. My sister and I are only a few years apart, so we were both in high school at the same time for two years. Which meant our house was TP’d once or twice. On one such occasion, the perpetrators went so far as to hold the end of the roll, while tossing the rest of it OVER our two-story house. They were THOROUGH. Our entire roof was draped with the stuff, and dad was LIVID–like purple face, vein in the middle of the forehead bulging livid. He cleaned it all up … remember the wrapping paper? He rolled it all back up. Into giant, mushy, grimy rolls. Put it all in a large paper bag and stuck it in my sister and I’s bathroom. For us to use. I mean, the man was obviously dedicated to recycling. Mom, figuring she’d helped reduce half a valley’s worth of carbon emissions with her zucchini, took pity on us and gave us fresh rolls.
As Christmas season approaches, I realize how much more I can do to live up to my green potential and continue the legacy. Does anyone have a good pattern for a Target plastic bag crochet rug?