Living With Hobbits

I was under the impression that I shared my house with my housemate, her dog and four cats.  But it has occurred to me recently that I actually have three hobbits rather than cats in my house.  Let me explain.

Milo – part Himalayan, part Hobbit

Timmy, Houligan and Milo look like cats and to some extent, they act like cats.  But when it comes to food, these three old felines are more like hobbits.  By that, I mean they expect certain conventions to happen every day on a schedule.

First there is breakfast.  Milo, in particular, likes his to be served by eight in the morning. He is frequently disappointed, but he tries to make it clear that it is expected.  He has a gravely, cello-toned voice that resembles a string being plucked on that instrument.  He does not hesitate to stand on top of me and inform me that breakfast time is imminent.  So, upon my awakening, I am summoned to the kitchen to prepare their repast.  All felines attend, except my real cat, Jellicle, who actually prefers her meals to be served in her chamber, which is my bedroom.  On rare occasion, she will deign to join the others in the dining area.  Within a few minutes, there is usually not a single morsel of food left in the dishes.  Practical Timmy, (think Samwise) the cleaner, ensures they are all properly cleaned up.

Houligan on the back of my chair, a comfy place. Part American longhair, part Hobbit.
Houligan on the back of my chair, a comfy place. Part American longhair, part Hobbit.

Recently, Houligan has taken a penchant to running water. In his shrill, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard, howl, he demands that the water in the bathtub be turned to drip in order for him to get a drink.  As soon as he believes that I have stirred a little in the morning, he runs for the tub and begins his insistent request.  His Christmas present this year is a small fountain with running water.  I do hope this alleviates this issue.  But hobbits do like things fresh, don’t they?

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cat hobbit – drawing by R. Averett

By mid-morning, Milo is now seeking second breakfast.  Just a little snack, please, to tide him over to elevensies.  And sometimes Houligan will join him in this request.  Both Milo and Houligan are very thin cats and I can attest it is NOT from a lack of food.  To be fair, Milo has only eight teeth left in his ten-year-old mouth and Houligan suffers from an over-active thyroid, which makes this almost fourteen year-old cat seem downright anorexic.  But he eats at every opportunity. So second breakfast it is.  Usually a little more of the moist cat food, although sometimes it might be a bit of canned tuna or a little bit of leftover chicken.  Unless I keep this a secret, Timmy will join in, coming into the room as if it is his right to be fed.

Timmy getting beauty sleep.
Timmy getting beauty sleep. Part Persian, part Hobbit He looks deceptively small in this hobbit bed, but he’s really about 16 lbs .

Poor Timmy, another ten year-old, is not possessed of a svelte figure.  He is a roly-poly hobbit with big, demanding eyes and a small voice.

Then it’s time for elevensies.  Yes, they demand this also.  Milo likes a bit of salmon or more chicken, if you please, but will also eat some egg, particularly if there is a bit of sausage in it.  Whatever you’re having will do just fine, thank you.  And this is quite literally.  Chorizo and eggs are very good and a ham omelet is divine.  Houli will have a little bit, but mostly he would like one of those little dry biscuit treats that I keep in pouches for the boys.  Usually Timmy sleeps through this because he is partly Persian and he needs his beauty sleep.

At last, there’s a break until mid-afternoon.  Usually, I eat something around this time, an omelet or salad or sandwich and that is a cue to the hobbits felines to gather for their portion once more.  This is not a simple request.  No, it is a command.  They will surely expire if they don’t have bites of what you’re eating.

Jellickle, the princess, an American longhair.  Not hobbit.
Jellickle, the princess, an American longhair. Not hobbit.

Somewhere around five-thirty, the company will gather in the dining area again and wish for their supper.  All except the princess, of course, who is patiently waiting on her bed in her chamber.  As one friend once said, cats work magic.  If they stare at the bowl long enough, food will appear.

If the weather is nice, then Milo might request patio dining on the porch and on his particular perch on the tree.  I might point out that there is always dry morsels of food available in a bowl for the on-going munching the felines sometimes prefer, but nothing is a substitute for the tablespoon of moist food that they enjoy at these meals.  Frequently, there is a shuffle after the initial few bites in order to sample each other’s bowls for quality control.   Houligan races Timmy to get to Jellicle’s bowl for any leftovers there.

Dinner for PK and me is usually around seven-thirty, which, of course,  is also to be shared with the company, which now includes the canine, Flynn..  A morsel of meat here, a bit of cheese there.  Make sure they are all getting their fair share, although Milo’s opinion of “fair share” seems to translate to a 3 to 1 ratio.  Houligan has a particular fondness for gravies and sauces, so those should be left for him.

For two of this lot, a small dessert is in order around ten.  It used to be whipped cream licked off my fingers, but recently Milo and Houligan have taken to simply lapping cream out of their dishes.  Not that they wouldn’t like to have a bite or two of the whipped stuff if I am indulging.  Who said cats are lactose intolerant?  When they’re part hobbit, that is obviously not the truth.  I have to say that this addiction of theirs is so bad that until they started drinking the cream, I was literally being held at claw-point to have whipped cream.

Now, lest you think that the crew is done for the day, there is still their nightly elevensies, the final petite meal of the day.  I tried to cut this one out and it brought out very vocal complaints from the head hobbit, Milo.  Even the small mewl of Timmy joined in on that.  So, one last meal, sometimes followed by crunchy treats for Timmy and Houligan, then at last, they are ready for bed.

At times, it seems like this crowd eats a lot, but in reality, they get about one can of moist food each when the day is done, but they do supplement with extra “hobbit” food throughout the day.

Apart from the eating habits, I do need to point out that my cat hobbits all have furry feet, are curious about everything, and don’t need a ring to rule anything.  Perhaps cats secretly inspired Tolkien’s hobbits.

Shopping and Holiday Stress

Since we’re so close to Christmas and businesses have literally gone nuts with sales promotions, I thought I’d tackle this as a subject of today’s blog.  For quite a few years, the kick-off for Christmas shopping has been the day after Thanksgiving.

I think this traditional start for shopping goes back to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, an event that was actually started by Macy’s employees in 1926.  It’s said that so many of the employees were immigrants and they wanted to do something like the festivals they had back home, so they thought a parade on Thanksgiving was a good way to give thanks to their new country.  In a short time, it became the symbol of the start of the holiday season and soon people began using it as the signal to begin decorating and buying gifts.

As a child, I remembered it being a wonderful time of year.  The decorations downtown went up and the Christmas tree at San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso went in right after Thanksgiving.  The city was filled with lights and ornaments.  The manger scene was set up in the Plaza.  In the downtown department stores, many of them had wondrous displays of Christmas and winter scenes.  They had Santa’s toy shop in a window, the manger in another and Christmas morning in yet another window and just display after display depicting the joy of Christmas.  It was a delight to children just to walk along the street peering in one window after another.

I would take my $5 or $10 dollars on the bus downtown to go shop for my presents for the family.  Obviously, that money was worth a lot more in 1960 than it is now and I was able to buy something for everyone with just that little amount of money.  Of course, the trip took a long time as I went down all the main streets and into the Plaza so I could soak in the beauty of the holidays.  It was all very magical and people seemed to be filled with the joy of the season.

Over the past decade or so, the start of the holiday season seems to be creeping steadily forward.  Thanksgiving hasn’t even started when decorations begin going up and displays in the stores come out.  Gone are the beautiful Christmas windows with the valuable space being occupied by sales items with a winter theme, but not much of the holiday spirit. This year, some of it was out before Halloween, although the Halloween lights easily transitioned to holiday lights.  In the past few years, shopping on Thanksgiving has come into vogue.  I was pleased to see some companies refusing to open on Thanksgiving so that their families could enjoy the holiday.  Other companies waited until later to open.

But why is it necessary to open at all?  Does it really translate to more sales or just earlier sales for business they would have gotten on Friday, Saturday or Sunday or even the following week?  Then they have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Green Monday.  Some business had Black Friday sales all of November and are still going on.  Black Friday extends to Cyber Monday, which in turn lasts all week.  Suddenly, we, as potential customers, are being bombarded with sales that are aren’t really all that special.

Even my email has been loaded with sales, day after day, for the past month and a half.  Any business that can possibly cut their prices by fifty cents 50 offhas called it a Black Friday sale or a Cyber Monday sale, even though it has nothing to do with electronics or computers.  It’s just too much.   Don’t stress because you missed a sale or didn’t have the money when the sale was on.  There will always be more of them coming up after Christmas.

It’s time to get back to the real meaning and joy of the holidays.  It is not buying lots of gifts, getting false discounts or shopping until you’re short-tempered and not having a good time.  It’s about the promise of the season.  No matter what religion you are or aren’t, the holidays are about the beauty of the winter season, the rest period for your body and your spirit and the preparation for the coming promise of spring.  It’s about reaching for your faith and gaining insight into yourself and your place in the Universe.  It’s about being with your family and friends, sharing moments that don’t come often and being thankful for everything you have, even if it seems like you don’t have much.  It’s not about material things.  It’s about love, family, reflection and peace of mind and spirit.

So, take some time this December to reflect on what is truly important and wonderful about the season.  Let me know your thoughts about the holidays .