I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb

Two Sundays in a row
I took this picture last Sunday, thinking it would be the only snow I'd see here in Bellingham this winter. But no, today it's snowing out there again. As I sit here in my warm bed, the snow is falling outside yet again. It shouldn't be as profuse as last Sunday's, but you never know. We have the same situation: cold air from Canada and warm, moist air coming up from the southwest. At least I don't have anywhere to go, so I can stay inside and avoid the streets.

March is that transition month between winter and spring. I will be glad, along with most of the country, to see spring come in its full beauty. I just learned from Red the meaning of that phrase about March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb. He explains it here. It has to do with astronomy; I didn't know that.

Two things have been on my mind this past week. The first has to do with a strange phenomenon called paronychia. I never heard of this before last week, but my sister was able to diagnose the problem I was having with my finger during our video chat. Paronychia is a infection of the skin around the nail, or more commonly known as an infected hangnail. It's often caused by excessive hand washing, which I had been doing to help protect myself from germs, and others from catching my cold. I was successful in that Smart Guy didn't catch it, but boy is this a painful situation: my index finger on my right hand began to throb and swell. I took a couple of ibuprofen just to be able to sleep a few nights ago, and when I awoke in the morning a small pustule had formed on the outside of the nail. After a few uncomfortable days where anything that touched the area caused pain, it began to subside.

I went to the health food store to see what they suggested to treat it, and I was advised to soak it in warm salt water, which certainly seemed to help. I didn't want to take an antibiotic if I could avoid it, and I am confident now that I am definitely not going to have to see a doctor for a hangnail! The swelling has gone down but is not completely gone. I'll do a couple soaks today and think by tomorrow it should be in the past.

The other thing on my mind is a cat that has become a friend. We are not allowed to have any pets in this apartment complex, but the lady who moved in downstairs a few months back, Gretchen, brought her two cats along with her. The manager doesn't know and hopefully doesn't read my blog (I really doubt it). One of them is an "outside cat," she tells me, and this is the one I've made friends with. He hangs out on a chair outside another apartment dweller's area which I must cross in order to go down the back steps. When I was heading downstairs early one morning, in the dark, the cat meowed and disappeared ahead of me. This happened a few times, and I got the cat to let me pet him, although he was very skittish.

Carol, the owner of the chair, told me that she had also made friends with the cat. She sits in that chair periodically, and the cat came up to her and eventually sat in her lap, purring and kneading her the way cats do. Carol said it made her feel much better, since she was depressed before the interlude. I've started leaving milk and cat food outside near the chair, and I check every morning to see if anything has been eaten by the young tomcat. Gretchen says he's been neutered and has never been happy indoors, so she lets him stay outside.

The cat knows me now, and is sometimes waiting for me. The other morning I heard a meow outside the window, just before daylight, and I went outside and sat in the chair. Before long he was in my lap, and we had a half hour of really enjoyable communion. He purred and I was able to pull a blanket around us so we could be nice and warm when I watched the stars disappear as the sky lightened. I'm afraid I've fallen in love with this guy. Now I worry about him, wondering how he's doing outside, and listen for his meow.

We have raccoons around here, and they are definitely going to eat any food that is left outside for any pets, but they have not yet come upstairs. After last week's snow, I saw evidence of them all around the apartment complex on the ground floor. I decided that if I see any signs of them upstairs eating the food, I'll have to find another way to feed him. He is so sweet and now has three "cat ladies" who care about him: the owner Gretchen, Carol, and me. I'm glad spring is on the way for his sake, too.

Those are the two new things that have occurred since I wrote in here last week: an infected hangnail and a love affair with a cat. I do hope there is something that can be done about keeping the tom around my neighborhood. Why would it be a bad idea to have a loving outdoor cat around? He would not be doing any harm, would he? And now I'm not sure whether Gretchen will be ousted or told to get rid of the cats if she is discovered. I would hate to see the last of my furry friend. I'll keep you posted on developments in the cat department.

The days are definitely getting longer, since here it is 6:30am and the sky has already begun to lighten. In three more weeks, the days and nights will be of equal length again as we move into spring. In the darkest days of winter, the days here are only eight hours long, and now we've crossed over into more than eleven hours of daylight! The cycle of the seasons continues to give me great pleasure as I observe the changes from winter to spring, especially in this part of the world.

I hope the coming week will bring you pleasure as well, as you observe the grip of winter's talons beginning to release. Surely those of you experiencing such frigid temperatures as -30F will be seeing some changes soon! It's inevitable. Until next Sunday, be kind to yourself, since I care about you, too.


Rian said...

Cats are easy to love... and they do seem to *lift your spirits*. I hope your neighbors cats get to stay. On a good note: They will keep rats away from the complex.

As for your hangnail: soaking in hot water is good. Then pour a bit of peroxide on it, dry it, and add a dab of neosporin. Should do fine. Of course if the redness gets worse, you should let a doctor look at it.

Arkansas Patti said...

Do keep an eye on that infection. You don't want to lose the nail. I use Echinacea for both infections and cold prevention. Works great.
So glad you have a secret love and just hope he stays secret.

Meryl Baer said...

We always had cats around growing up. Enjoy having them around. Meanwhile, watch that nail.
On the other side of the continent we are preparing for another storm tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a last gasp before spring.

Cynthia said...

I'm glad Outdoor Kitty has found a circle of friends. My cat certainly brings me a lot of happiness. She meditates with me every morning, jumps in my lap and points her face away from me, and doesn't move until the gong on my phone says we are done.

Elephant's Child said...

Our days are getting a little shorter. It is about 6.15 - and it is still dark. And much, much cooler.
Love the communion with the cat. And that he seems to have landed on his feet and has found many laps to snuggle in.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm so happy to hear a kitty has found its way into your life! Our cat Josy has been taking good care of me in my recovery. It is so soothing to have that warm, furry purring machine in your lap.
We are experiencing steady cold rain here - just plain yucky weather. But this too will pass.
Oh, and thanks for sharing the finger condition. I have never heard of it or had it, but there's always a first time. We do learn so much from our blogging family.

Anonymous said...

Our two cats died a couple of years ago, but we decided not to adopt new ones. It's too much of an emotional investment when they die and leave you distraught.

Sally Wessely said...

A community cat - I like the idea. I hope the situation does not cause problems for the 'owner' of the cat. We won't tell anyone about your new lover. ;)

Watch the finger. Hang nails are usually harmless, but you know the drill, any slight skin sore can become very dangerous. I think Rian is right. If the redness get worse, or there are streaks around it, see the doctor.

Red said...

Well, sorry about your weather. But what you do with this stuff is throw it over the mountains and then it winds around and really gives us a whack of wet stuff.
Not to worry. spring is on it's way.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Good to hear you have a kitty! They can be good company. Outside kitty cats will stalk birds..it is their nature. I would not feed that cat any milk...it is bad for them. Splurge on some cat treat in a can and shake it and he will come running...much better than milk.
Hope the cat doesn't get evicted:)

Rita said...

Yah! No milk for the cat. But--ahhh! Cat love is the best. Totally voluntary and earned. ;)

Linda Myers said...

How wonderful to hear the days are getting longer up there! We arrive back in Washington on April 2. It will be good to see the longer days.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thanks for sending us to the blog with the info on the "in like a lion; out like a lamb" adage. Like you, I was surprised to learn that it has to do with astrology.

We had six inches of snow yesterday. I shoved half of the drive and then a younger neighbor came over with her snowplow and did the rest. I'm so blessed in her goodness to me.

The snow plow went by last night--when the temperature was 10 below--and left a large swath of snow at the end of the drive. So I went out this morning and shoveled that. Now I'm ready for a cup of green tea!

It's snowfall and shoveling that helps me know that I'm not in control and that going with the flow is truly the way to live. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Take care of your finger. Have a good love with the pet ones...

Anonymous said...

Waiting for spring here in Michigan too, may not see the grass until June!