The Interloper

Sammy

Harry and I have been getting along I guess. He’s annoying but that’s nothing new.

Harry thinks he can sneak up on me.

There is one thing though. We got a new friend. Cactus. Friend? Actually no. That’s not true. He’s a sheep in wolves’ clothing…An interloper…A fiend…a liar and a cheat.

Cactus

Harry

Cactus? He’s okay! Likes to be scratched. I like it too. It’s good!

Sammy

Harry’s still an idiot. It’s “good”? This from the cat that chased his own tail this morning. There were plenty of toys, but no, his tail is what he plays with. What!?

Did you hear that!?

Cactus

Sammy

Shhh…. there it is again! He thinks I can’t hear him! He’s talking about me behind my back!

SAY IT TO MY FACE BITCH!!

Harry

Cactus doesn’t even talk. Sammy’s being dramatic. She’s just mad that I got to him first. She’s jealous of our relationship.

Sammy

Relationship? Hah! Ummm…Harry doesn’t even know what that means.

Harry

I’m going to play while I answer this.

Relationship? Yeah, I know what that is. It means something is mine. JUST mine. Not hers.

Sammy

I can’t…

What Harry doesn’t know is I knew Cactus waaaay before he did. He was about half the size he is now. Came in a box which my humans lifted him out of. Honestly, I had a good feeling about him at first. Great color, positive vibe. I immediately started purring when I saw him. And then Harry was like “Oh! A box!”

Harry jumped in the box right after my female put Cactus where he sits today. I watched him grow from two pieces to one. I encouraged him, purred the whole time. He was great full! I left him alone, he seemed tired after all that growing and gratitude. That was an entire day ago! When I woke up today, there was Harry! All over Cactus and Cactus was like, “Ohhhh you’re the best! Use me as a scratching post! You’re the only cat in the world!”

Harry

Look! I’m only a nose and mouth!

Sammy

I can’t believe I was so wrong! Normally I’m an EXCELLENT judge of character.

What happened!?

Harry

Everything loves me. That’s what happened. Not my fault!

Me and my BFF.

Sammy

I love how Cactus isn’t saying anything now. It’s fine. We can be cordial. I won’t be purring for him anytime soon. I’m done. There’s still fish.

An American Rant

Capitalism, has no business in the betterment of people. People aren’t commodities. We think, we feel, we’re emotional beings,even if you don’t recognize that. As babies, we cry when we need food because we can’t say we want food. As babies, We cry when we’re hurt because we don’t have the words.

We all just want to be ok, ultimately. Why are we here? To procreate? To make money? But why do we make money? To barter? The ancient Mesopotamians discovered the barter system. I give you this, you give me that. That was a way to balance things. That person gave me some beads in exchange for fur pelts. I wanted beads, we had an extra pelt. Today’s version of bartering is far more complex. If you consider what we’ve made of capitalism it’s perverse. Today’s capitalism is, keep the poor poor and the rich rich. It’s worked if you’re on the right side. COVID-19 has shaken capitalism to the core. It has rendered us helpless.

We’ve all looked to a capitalist system for help financially and physically. We did a good job initially. Government providing unemployment, even if it took months to make a difference, pandemic pay, 1 stimulus payment expected to get us through mortgage payments, rent, student loans, existing medical bills. We all know it didn’t but it was something, right? We should be great full right? However, this pandemic shows no signs of slowing down evident by the uptick in cases recently.

Some of us were on furlough, which meant we had health insurance but still had a job to go back too. That time has past. There’s officially no job security, no health insurance, no hope. Where do we go from here? Where is the hope? Where is the positive outlook necessary for our mental health? What happens now?

When Harry met Sammy

Samantha Rebecca Rodriguez- Harris “Sammy”

I had my own inside. It was great. Humans who served me well, places to look outside, warm. Then one day, the humans brought in this little grey and white thing they called Harry.

At first I thought he was cute. Wasn’t too adept at say, covering his poo, but I taught him. I’ll admit, I thought of him as the kitten I’d always wanted at certain times of the month.

The good old days

Then something unspeakable happened.

Mouse

It was my toy. We’d talked about this many times. He blinked like he understood. Honestly, I was impressed! I didn’t know he was intelligent enough to be so deceptive. Machiavellian! Did I use that right? I sit on books. That’s how you learn.

Harrison Chase Rodriguez-Harris “Harry”

Mouse? Yeah, I know him. Good guy! We have fun! He was on a table one day and as a cat, it was my job to knock him off to see if he landed. He did! I got excited and I might’ve grabbed another toy and jumped over him. That’s all!! Why? What did Sammy say?

Sammy

Harry said what!? No, no, no, okay, actually he’s not that smart. He was careless, reckless, there are no words. I immediately distanced myself from him.

I had claimed that blanket but then…

Harry

One day, Sammy acted like I wasn’t even there! She knew I was, I marked everything! Even the humans! I would play with mouse, and they’d cheer! Whatever, Sammy can think what she wants. I can stay away from her too!

I knew Sammy was on my bed but there was a human between us. She refused to move! Two can play that game!

Sammy

It’s not even about his theft, it’s his absolute disregard of MY things! To this day! Mouse-gate (that’s what I call it) was years ago, but his dismissive attitude has never changed! I mean, how about, “I’m sorry Sammy, I was wrong and you were right.” I don’t understand what’s so hard about that.

Harry

If anything, Sammy should apologize to ME! She told me I could play with her toys. I remember she said that, then she made a noise like a bird and I ran to the window….

Sammy

I made a noise like a bird?? No. There was a bird and the idiot ran to the window like he could catch it! Made the most ridiculous sound! He just opened his stupid mouth and like, breathed out, quickly, multiple times!

Harry

Whatever… I’m sorry she’s hurt. You know what? Sorry not sorry. Does that make sense? It does to me. I do me, you do you right? THERE DEFINITELY WAS A BIRD! She knows it! She makes the same sound when there’s a bird or anything! I’ll just keep taking pieces of my food and put it on the floor even farther away from her while we’re eating. Deal with it!

Sammy

Can we get past this? I don’t know. It’s sad really. I did everything I could to make him feel comfortable and he treats me like this? I don’t know.

Two Weeks Later….

Sammy

Update: We moved insides. It was terrible. We were both put into bags against our will. I’m really trying to block it out. When we got to our new inside, my bag opened and I ran to the smallest place I could find. I was trembling and cold. I think I was more figuratively cold than literally. Unfamiliar smells EVERYWHERE! Harry joined me and pressed himself against me which, I’m not ashamed to admit, was comforting.

I forgot all about mouse-gate. It’s in these desperate times you really understand what’s important. I love my humans but only another cat could’ve understood what I was going through. “Water under the bridge” as humans say. I know because I’ve sat on lots of books. As long as Harry understands that the scratching thing is MINE, we’ll be great!

Samantha, A rescue story.

Sammy, tuxedo, Aries, Taurus rising, speaks human, cat and opossum.

Hello, I’m Sammy, my full name is Samantha Rebecca Rodriguez-Harris. My female human likes to tell people she named me this so the terrible humans who touch me inappropriately when I don’t feel well have to say this full name. I personally don’t care for it. I’m 9 years young and still beautiful according to literally everyone. I tolerate another cat, Harry, but only because I have to. That’s a story for another time.

Harry thinks I don’t see him. Idiot…

I’m a native New Yorker. Queens to be exact. I had a typical kitten hood. Raised by my mom, had three annoying siblings, never knew my dad, went out on my own around 4 months old. I was young, thought I was invincible, I even challenged Possum (an opossum, her parents weren’t very creative) a couple times. Stared her down within an inch of her life! Thought I had it made until it got cold. REALLY cold.

That’s my foot. Great right?

I had a dark night of the soul. It lasted for a while. The cold was deadly, literally! Remember Possum I told you about? Froze to death. I was actually on my way to her to make peace and maybe see if she’d huddle with me. She’s a real piece of work but we’re both furry, right? Worth a shot. When I got there….. well, you can imagine. At first I thought she was just sleeping but she wasn’t. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t remember everything after that, just the cold and the terrible hunger. There was a point where I didn’t have the strength to keep moving so I just plopped down right where I was. I think there were human hands reaching down from the sky (this may have been a dream).

Sometimes I still dream about the hands but I wake up just before they reach me then find it hard to get back to sleep.

Around 8 months old, I couldn’t tell you how, (the hands?) I ended up in a small enclosed area with a large tree, some cats thought it was real, I knew better. Didn’t matter though! It was warm! Plenty of places to sleep, food all the time! I didn’t care that there were loud obnoxious humans constantly looking at me, I mean who could blame them?

On a warm box. Look at my face. See? Ignore the cut on my neck ( you should see the other guy, that’s Harry).

One day, a human reached through the leaves of the tree to pick me up. Hands!! This time I was ready! I bobbed and weaved, I was more annoyed than scared. I jumped to the top of the tree and saw another human. She blinked her eyes slowly at me then respectfully looked away. As I was admiring this human, the other one got me! Put me in some kind of bag! Very undignified! I was in there for a while, traveling in some kind of pod. I complained the whole time. The respectful human was making soft sounds, something like, “it’s okaaayyyy….awwwww…” I complained about that too but to be honest it was nice.

I’m very tall.

Then, I was released into a whole other life! There were about three weeks I wasn’t sure what to think, didn’t know exactly where I was, I actually stuffed myself under what I now know is an “oven”. I snuck out when I was sure I was alone, there was a litter box, some fresh water, some toys and a scratching post (as if that’s the only place I’d scratch! Ha!) My human was very patient, she slid her hand to me with particularly delicious food in it (tuna?). I got to know her smell, she was kind enough to let me lick her hand even after the food was gone. We’ve never looked back!

My first inside.

I’ve been living inside most of my life now! I can still look outside. See the trees in the picture above? There was a family of opossums that lived there. I stared them all down. One of them, Asshole (that’s my name for him), thinks he can take me. Ha ha! Its fun to provoke him! It’s always warm inside and I’ve grown to love (don’t tell her that!) my human. Even the other male human. He’s a little more respectful of my space if I’m being honest. They both feed me, all the time!

It was once mentioned that I was “too round” like it’s a bad thing. I’d call it, not starving!

I’ve moved insides three times now, each place better than the next! To any cats out there who think they don’t want a human or an inside, I say, try it! You’ll like it!!

Thanks for listening! I feel heard!😻

Becoming Harry

Tuxedo, Sagittarius, all around good boy

Hello! I’m Harry! My full name is Harrison Chase. I was first called Oney One. You see, I was hungees and I spotted something that could have been food. I just trying to get to it when all these huge things stopped and made noise. They weren’t humans, but they had humans in them. It was crazy! I guess this place was called one avenue or something? I was just a kitten so didn’t really understand humans and their voices. Anyway, all these humans were moving their paws and making weird noises, but one of them smelled good, so I went to it. I lived in what’s known as a “bar” for a couple days I think. Don’t really remember that part. Like I said, I was just a kitten.

Oney One

Next I lived in a “pet store”. The humans there called me Prince Charles. There was a tree and food. Like, food all the time! I thought “this is great!” Humans would look at me though. They all had these big heads. Some had fur, some didn’t. I don’t know. I was just happy about the food.

Prince Charles

I was taken one day. That sounds dramatic! It was though. I just remember human paws through the tree. I was on my way to the food. Next thing I know, I’m in like, a box? I don’t know how to describe it. All I know is there wasn’t food or a tree. I didn’t like it. But, it brought me to a bigger place. Also with food. Not a tree per se, but there were places I could go to look at trees. A lot of them. Would you call it a “back yard?” That’s what I’ve heard. I’m much better at humans now.

Me in my bed

In this place I became the cat I am today. Harry.

Me on mountain mommy

Sure, I still have my ups and downs like any cat, but I’m one of the lucky ones. I can honestly say, I’m home and have food.

My female human. I let her share my bed.

Places to go in Norway

Photo taken from a passenger boat traveling from Oslo to Voss on one of Norway’s many fjords. Great way to get there.

Norway is magical. No disrespect to Denmark or Sweden, both wonderful to visit, but Norway has this serenity to it and mysticism you can feel as soon as you breath in the air. I value a place by its vibe, its people, and scenery. I love to see the way the sun shines in different latitudes and how that changes everything.

I’d recommend going to Norway in the springtime. The sun only sets for for a few and even then it’s more like twilight. You might think it’s hard to sleep and it could be for some, but I didn’t think so. I experienced so much that I was exhausted after dinner. Didn’t stop me from having a couple glasses of cava, Scandinavia’s version of champagne. It tastes kind of like it’s been made inside an evergreen tree.

Is food and drink expensive there? It’s the same as a big city like NYC, Paris or Copenhagen. $15 to $20 per entree, $8 to $10 per glass of wine. $2 to $5 for a coffee depending on how fancy it is. You can find more expensive options but I refuse to spend more than that.

If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend bringing tin foil and ziplock bags, making a huge plate at your hotel’s continental breakfast (many are complimentary) and wrapping up something like a sandwich, the cheese there is mouthwatering, and bagging some fruit. Do it on the down-low. You won’t be starving at dinner so you’ll spend less.

A melting glacier. A wonder to behold while they’re still here. In May it’s not that cold. Light jacket weather.

The people there really know how to make themselves happy. Restaurants put taper candles on their tables; here in NYC, it’s votives. It’s understood that during the few hours of sunlight in the winter, all employers wouldn’t think of asking anyone to stay inside and keep working. Their government makes it clear that all Norwegians are valued and well taken care of from the cradle to the grave. Imagine that! Here are a few wonderful destinations I’ve visited that I highly recommend.

Oslo

The Oslo opera house. Designed so people can walk all over it. It’s like climbing a sandstone mountain.

While Oslo is a very cosmopolitan and bustling city, it still has that serenity to it. No one’s ever in a hurry, people are friendly and it’s incredibly clean. I’d recommend spending two or three days in Oslo. There’s so much to see and while it has an excellent bus system, it’s a very walkable city. Wide sidewalks, no shortage of places to sit or stop for a bite. It has a dichotomy that I love. It’s very industrial as you can see in the picture above. That’s an area called barcode. It also has areas that are steeped in history and vibrant color.

Oslo has a rich seafaring history. This is its biggest dock with many statues depicting simple family life.
This picture was taken from the top of the Oslo opera house at 10pm.

Voss

Voss is a sleepy little town located between Oslo and Bergen. It’s right on the banks of a fjord so you can go swimming or kayaking as you see the gentleman doing here. It has a charming town center with plenty of small shops to browse in. It’s a great stopover to grab a bite to eat at one of its charming little boutique eateries. I had some ice cream and I swear it was creamier and somehow lighter than anything I’d ever tasted!

This is the residential side of Voss. People live tucked right into the mountains.

Lom

Lom stave church

Lom’s claim to fame is that it has the oldest stave church in Norway. Stave churches were built by Christians in a time when Viking gods still watched over the land from Valhalla. Legend has it, that if you see a boulder near a church, it was thrown by a disgruntled giant in protest of the growing Christian presence. Christians am I right? That’s what the giants would say to each other in their giant pub over giant pints of mead poured by elves. Giants are gone from Norwegian hearts today but elves? They’re everywhere!

They fall asleep in the most adorable of places. Whatever you do, DON’T WAKE THEM!

Lillehammer

Notice how many benches there are in the sun? Because of the limited amount of sunlight in the winter months, Norwegians know how to soak it up while they can.

Lillehammer played host to the olympics and remains a premier ski destination. I like it for a different reason. Nestled in the mountains, it has roaring rapids that go right through your back yard if you live there.

It also has an interesting vibe. It’s in conflict with itself. It has that serenity but there’s an edge there. It’s as if it was put there recently, like the last 100 years. It’s actually at the surface while the peace and calm lay comfortably beneath it. Something happened there and I actually saw clothing in a store window that looked like it was straight out of the American west in the early days of the Mormons arrival. There’s also some satanic graffiti!

Not a costume shop.
If you think that veil parts in the front you are mistaken. The interesting thing about this is that she’s facing, or not, a modernized replica of an old Viking settlement.

If you’re into weird yet beautiful, Lillehammer is the place for you.

Bergen

This is the first thing you see if you fly into Bergen airport. Bergen?

Like Oslo, Bergen is a big city but it’s quirky and a little edgy. Just a little. One of the best things you can do in Bergen, is get lost. Every little turn you make will show you something different.

You can take the funicular (cable driven cars designed to travel up a steep incline) to see all of Bergen. There is food and drink available up there and if you’re lucky you might run into a few billy goats. This is one way people commute to the city center from their homes up in the mountains. The other way is hiking. Norwegians are very physically fit. You won’t find many handicapped accessible entrances here.

I’d recommend visiting classical music composer Edvard Greig’s house which is now a museum. He got his inspiration from the natural atmosphere around his house, the sound of birds chirping, wind rustling leaves, the hypnotic lapping of the tranquil waves coming from the shores just a short stroll from his house.

Bergen has a creative creative energy to it. It’s brightly colored buildings only add to this.

Bergen is known as the city of seven mountains. Here’s one.

Although we can’t travel right now, I know we will eventually. Norway is a great place to reset and get back to nature. Happy travels!

5 signs your cat is cuter than anyone else’s

It’s a fact. Cats are cute. Always have been. Even the big ones, tigers, lions, not that you’d want to approach them but don’t you kind of want to rub their tummy’s when they roll on their backs? Cats were revered in ancient Egypt but I can’t help picturing the great pharaoh Rameses like, “hewow, who’s my wuv! Is it woo?” Yes, we’re all secretly ridiculous when it comes to our cats, but no cat is cuter than yours and here’s why….

1. He sometimes sits in a cat loaf position.

Harrison Chase. This would be a good pic for the cover of his autobiography.

Just try to resist putting your hands on his hips and kissing his face. I dare you.

2. She rolls on her back and sometimes lets you rub her belly. Sometimes.

Samantha Rebecca Rodriguez-Harris. I make the vet call her this.

I mean, it’s just too good of an invitation. Even if she wraps herself around your hand biting it, it’s worth it. That’s cute too.

3. He brings a toy to bed with him. Look at Harry…

Lobster 2016-2019

Carrying a toy in his little mouth is cute enough but plopping it down on your bed, circling it, then plopping himself down next to it, better yet, on it, is just too cute.

4. She does that thing with her paws that dogs do when they’re standing.

Belle and her sausage paws

You want to kiss both of them multiple times and you don’t even care where they’ve been.

5. He likes to play “peek-a-boo” like a baby.

Who’s dat? Who? Is it Harry!? It is!!

They maybe don’t “like” playing this game, but you know you do. It’s just too too cute. Look at that little pink nose! Just look at it!!!

The Art of Juicing

Nowadays, you have to go out of your way to find joy.  It’s still there but hidden under layers and layers of fear, anxiety and a general feeling of impending doom.  This has become our default setting, our lock screen.  Still, it’s so important to do everything you can to find moments throughout the day that lift your spirits.  Your physical and mental health depend on it.  

One of the most horrible things happened to me early on in this pandemic shutdown. My juicer broke. At any other time, this would’ve been fine, but at that time, any little thing had the power to break me. It was horrible. It didn’t go quietly. It had a death rattle, shook uncontrollably. I was juicing beets at the time. BEETS! Major clean up job, like an hour. The beet juice made its way from my counter to the inside of my cabinets. I’m determined to make my apartment undesirable to anything that crawls.

Rather than dwell on this experience which only added to my downward spiral, I ordered another juicer off Amazon. I know, I know, Amazon has profited off this shut down, but in the moment, I needed relief and the hope of living to juice another day. I filtered when shopping, least expensive first, I’m furloughed so have to be really careful about the money I spend. I found a small and quiet one, a wide mouth slow juicer, ENZOO is the brand. I found it difficult to take apart the first few times but eventually got the hang of it.

It didn’t come the next day, or the next, I didn’t think of what would happen if most people ordered at the same time, even sent a “where the fuck is my juicer!?” email, felt like a real asshole when I got a response letting me know they had limited capabilities. It came a week later. That day was like Christmas morning. During that juiceless week, I came up with a way to get the most out of the process of juicing, determined to make myself feel pure joy again. This may seem pedantic but I make schedules for a living and I’ve realized I could use that to facilitate positivity for myself rather than productivity for the benefit of a large corporation.

Here goes….

  1.  I put on music that calms me, or just puts me in a safe place.  I love “Global Chill” Pandora radio.
  1. Set the stage. I wipe down my surfaces with a pleasant cleanser. I use a natural lemon scent, but use whatever smells “pure” to you. You’re engaging your olfactory senses here, in a positive way. I like to use my small kitchen counter for the juicer and my small kitchen table for chopping. That way, I’m going to two different places even though I’m never leaving my NYC apartment kitchenette.
  1. On your purified surfaces, assemble the juicer, and lay out the cutting board and your veggies and fruits in a bowl. Note, I’ve already rinsed this produce in warm water for 20 seconds as if I were washing my hands. In the bowl they look like a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers.
  1. Take each piece of produce out of the bowl and chop them into smaller pieces. Use your juicers instructions, I listed mine in the recipe. I like to start with the apple because I peel the slices and snack on the skins throughout the process. Place the chopped produce back in the bowl. There’s something meditative and rhythmic about this step. I could lose myself in that.
  1.  Now comes the actual juicing.  I recommend juicing the garlic and ginger last so they don’t influence the other fruits and veggies.  As you go, you’ll notice your kitchen will start to smell like a fresh garden.

Now its time to taste your juice.  I do this looking out my window at the tree to the right of my building.  The fresh and gardeny taste is only enhanced by this and I can imagine myself frolicing in an un developed field amongst tall sundrenched grass and wildflowers like the pagan princess I imagine I once was.

All is well at this moment, as long as I don’t look at the dead tree to the left.


Enjoy!

Recipe:

1 medium beet, follow your juicers instructions regarding beets.  Mine says to peel the rough exterior off and cut into strips 1 inch wide

1 sweet apple, I recommend honey crisp or fuji

3 carrots, chopped in half, lengthwise

3 mini cucumbers or 1 large cucumber cut into 1 inch strips, no need to peel

1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 large red or yellow bell pepper, yellow is sweeter

Two medium tomatoes

2 inch piece of ginger

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, according to taste