I went out today to buy cat food and other such things. I stayed out most of the evening. As I walked through the pet store, I looked at the various climbing gyms and things for cats, and was idling considering what they'd enjoy... when it hit me, they might not have enough months or years left to make it a worthwhile purchase. Awkward moment. You can't take it with you... I realized that, more than seeing them play on the cat tree, what I was really wanting was simply to see them play. Be happy. Be young again? Have more life ahead of them yet... and that they may, or they may not. Perhaps a large bulky tree wasn't a good choice right now. I picked up a small set of play balls instead. Got the other stuff I needed, and left feeling mellow but mainly relaxed. Did more shopping elsewhere (more on that later).
When I came home, I noticed all the remaining cat food had been eaten. Encouraging. The cats confirmed this when they saw I had a bag of cat food and they eagerly came over and swarmed the bag.
That was when it started to get exciting. I was having some trouble getting the tear-strip to tear, cut it with scissors, tore it open, and set the bag down while I finished opening it. As I reached for the measuring cup I use to scoop food out, Mr. I-Had-No-Appetite was so excited about the fresh kibble he actually stuck his head in the bag to try to get at it faster. I scooped fast and dumped it onto their plate, and they both went nuts over it instantly. That gave me a moment to put the bag away, and go get the wet food and put some of that out too. Then Hope went back and forth between the kibble and the wet a few times as he had some of each. Before today he wouldn't touch the kibble and barely ate any of the wet on his own. Now he's excitedly eating kibble and wet. He's not eating the full quantity yet on his own but that will come in time.
I think being off the pain meds finally gave him his appetite back! Holy wow, my cat is eating! With gusto! I am so relieved.
I also came up with an idea today for improving my crowded kitchen.
Backing up... Our living room is just off the kitchen, and it's where the dining table sits because this house has no dining room. Additionally, we project movies against that wall, as it makes a lovely surface for watching a roughly 10' wide movie. (Cathedral ceilings are excellent partners to projectors.) Due to location, the only way to get 'more storage' for the kitchen is to expand into that section of the living room. It's rather awkward. To complicate matters further, we've been getting into canning and more complex cooking, resulting in a wider variety of frequently used supplies that need to be very easy to get to. Our space demands are expanding and it was already tight.
Today I realized that we could get a buffet/hutch dealie and put all the serving dishes in it, next to the dining table where we eat, and reclaim those spaces in the actual kitchen to use for other things. If it's a tall unit, we'll need to set up the projector off to its side; if it's a half-height unit, we'll just project above it. And it solves the problem of having 'ugly' storage under our entertainment area since buffet cabinets are often pretty, while also having huge practical value.
I mentioned shopping earlier. I hit a bookstore (because dude, choice between going to the gym for dinner and exercise, or going into a bookstore? the bookstore wins today :) ). Theoretically this was to attempt to find books - again - on home organizing in a small house. (Historically, this path of inquiry has been quite the failure; their definition of 'small' house is my definition of 'enormous spacious luxury'.) And this bookstore was arranged such that gardening jumped out at me before I ever made it to the house and home section. So I stopped to look at the pretty flowers.... and especially at the 'plants for Missouri' sets of books in the local section. I learned to recognize a number of plants I'd been curious about, but it didn't touch on the particular challenges of growing vegetables here, so I passed it up. I wandered from the local books section to the gardening section.
Then something caught my eye - Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of Home. It's a blend of architecture and garden planning... and even that is an understatement. What I saw as I looked through photos and read text was the essence of connection between inner and outer. I saw architecture intentionally opened to present the greenscape just outside, so that "inside" and "outside" blurred, and there was simply, living in environment.
It embodied the essence I had imagined, so many years ago as a child, "I want a house that is all glass on the first floor, floor to ceiling on all four walls, and I want it out by the edge of the woods, so I can look outside and see all the plants and all the wild animals that come to graze. And all the weather changes, and the light, and the sunrise and sunset. It would be so pretty."
The houses in the book didn't use glass on all the walls; but they used it in key locations and with a grace that my child imagination lacked, so that the spaces would blend, and be both functional and stunningly beautiful. It is the blending of earth and air, form and space, that is exactly what I've been longing for but couldn't put into words. The book led me to looking up the architect; she is Sarah Susanka, and she seems to be doing some amazing stuff and her tagline is the Not So Big houses http://www.notsobighouse.com/. I'm normally not a fan of goofy names but the consistent use of it in the book made it easy to remember so I could look her up when I got home.
This discovery - that there is someone doing my dream architecture, and she is trying to make it affordable too, and that I found her - feels like I was just handed a key to a life-long dream, or a secret garden. I don't know if I will ever be able to afford a whole house done up pretty that way, but I can take the design ideas and use them in minor remodeling projects to similar good effect. They were simple principles, applied repeatedly for a consistent look and good effect.
Amusingly, I didn't buy the book. I just noted its name, and planned to check into the authors and any related books they had (there are many) and then consider what was actually useful to buy. I have a lot of previewing to do before I decide, but I'm excited about ALL of them.
So that was win 3. And win #4 was very simple: I found a book on successful vegetable gardening in pots, using self-watering pots sized appropriately (large!) for the plants being grown. Since I live in a rental house on a steep hill made of rock, I don't exactly have dirt to dig in for a garden. Everything will be raised bed or containers. And historically, that meant we had very VERY dry plants. Poor sad plants. Through this book I learned that one tomato plant in prime production will go through at least a gallon of water a day. (!!) No wonder we had trouble. I did buy that book.
And win #5 was a moment of driving up to my house, thinking about architecture and design, and really LOOKING to see, what is it that I first notice when driving up to my house? What if I were a visitor? And it was night, and the porch light was on, and then I SAW IT: it's shape. What makes the single biggest impact on the sense of "presence" to our house front is the combination of shape from the porch and the surrounding parts. It's not form, it's not 3d, it's entirely 2d silhouette. It's shape. So, if I am picking plants for the front, around the porch area, I need to be thinking about their silhouettes and how the shapes give liveliness to the space. Depth can be a secondary component.
So I enjoyed some dinner and soon it will be time to feed and medicate cats and get myself to bed. But I'm excited and full of design ideas and wowee it's been a great day. :)