When Words Fail and You Can’t Find a Tune

I’m not one to have writer’s block, but the past few months I’ve been caught in what feels like a concrete bucket where the words slap around the unforgiving walls,   breaking up just as they start to make sense.

One would think by now I would have rounded up a proper tribute to the one and only Hippie Chick. But, I can’t seem to, as the saying goes, “wrap my head around it.” I just don’t feel up to it although the “feelings” are almost overwhelming.

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve probably let just about everyone down. The neighbor, the long-time friend, the family, the co-worker, the little “sister” – I just don’t have it in me right now to offer much in the way of me. And, when you feel this way, people get angry with you. The human condition is at best, a frail one. When you’re a tad out of sorts, everything feels amplified tenfold. I think of it as just a symptom of the times we’re living in; everyone anxious, spiraling from one social media message to the next.

I also try my best to not take anything personally. However, the fact is, I’m a pleaser. That’s not likely to change, despite my best efforts to not care, to tune it out, to just move on and leave it all in that proverbial rear view mirror.

I miss having Hippie Chick to hang out with as I’ve pulled down the curtains. I miss the purr, the comfort of knowing that the fat fur ball is simply there.

As I write this, I hope the words come back. For now, I’ll take what makes sense now and rejoice in the words splattering back from the concrete wall.funny-pictures-cat-has-writers-block.jpg

 

 

 

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Don’t Rest High On That Mountain. Go Chase Rabbits, Birds and Squirrels.

We’ve been silent for a while on this blog trying to get our thoughts together to pay tribute to someone who was loved to infinity, if only that love could have kept her here.

Hippie Chick and JB lost an old friend a few weeks ago – our sweet fur angel Allie Bug.

Long before there was an HC, there was the Bug, Bug. Allie was a feisty, spitfire of a red dachshund with a determined attitude and a gentle spirt, filled with incredible innocence. Despite her seemingly naivety about the big bad world outside her dog door, Allie was at heart an old soul. You just knew Queen Allie had roamed the Earth centuries ago, perhaps with a crown, scepter and jewels, of course.

Allie Bug was HC’s cousin of sorts – not by blood but by friendship. The daughter of JB’s good friend, this short legged, stout “wiener” dog with a crooked snout and front paw, showed love with heart eyes and a ferociously wagging tail. She hunted big squirrels out her living room window and barked loudly at birds, the wind, a car, a kid on a bike or generally anything that moved within her area. When Allie was in the yard, you knew it.

Born in January 14 years ago, Allie lived with a few health challenges that she valiantly overcame. From a sensitive stomach to Cushing’s Disease in her later years, she took her treatments and her doctor visits like a little sergeant. She was a favorite at the animal hospital and when the decision came to put her struggle to breathe to rest, everyone in the building collectively wept.

It’s easy to cry over Allie but she was one privileged pup. She wanted for nothing; carefully nurtured, with every need met.

But this old world kicks all of us over to the next in due time, no matter how much we’re pampered and protected. Fur kids’ time within this realm is brief. The other world always demands that they return sooner than we want. Truthfully, if we had our way, we would never, ever let them go.

Allie Bug may have crossed over but as long as we have breath, she’s alive in our memories and in our very soul.

It was a long-running joke that if there were a million Allie clones in a line-up, it would be easy to pick out the original. All one would have to do is look in the eyes – the eyes that carry the spark of Heaven.

We know we’ll pick her out of that line-up one day. And, this time, we’ll never let her go.

Until then, chase rabbits, Princess Allie “Bug, Bug.”

Signed,

HC and JB

PS: We love you Allie’s Momma (Lisa)

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The sweetest snout we’ve ever known.

 

We’ll Keep Holding On.

It’s that time of year when one starts feeling the feels. The sickening yet hopeful feeling of what a new year may bring. This blog launched a  year ago with big hopes and dreams. Have they materialized? No. But, have JB and HC kept going, kept writing, kept sharing? Yes.

Hippie Chick’s Right Foot Up Life has seen some success this year. Her Facebook page continues to grow and she tweets and shares on Instagram. She even had a feature on her local news channel. Her T-shirts, mugs, and the like still remain for sale and she has sold a few items.

But, a year later and there’s no great reason to shake the tambourine, to say, this is it, we’ve made it.

Will we continue? Probably so. Neither one of us likes to give in or give up. It just seems though that people don’t really want to read or think..or laugh and share.

We’re entering into 2017, a year in which many of us feel anxious yet there are those who remain celebratory. One would like to think that there’s reason to continue to celebrate and be hopeful. If 2016 has shown us anything, it’s how fragile life really is.

JB grew up in a generation in which most of her idols abruptly faded away this year – from David Bowie and Prince to Florence Henderson and Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher to George Michael – the losses to Generation X have been great. Tack on Alan Thicke – Mr. Seaver himself – and we’ve been roasted on the spit.

It’s also been a brutal political year – people have been unreasonable and unkind and wholly convinced that the news sites they read are the gospel approved truth. It seems we’ve lost reason, lost our center and lost our ability to be rational from both sides, the right and the left.

JB’s lost friends to the political madness, becoming saddened by the reality of how people she thought she knew really think and feel and believe.

Maybe 2016 has been the year of true colors – vibrant, ugly colors, swirling and shifting in their heated angst.

JB and HC would both like to think that this next year will be hopeful, positive, peaceful, and prosperous. And, as we wait for the clock to strike midnight, we have every reason to believe that is possible.

But, deep down, in our core, we know it’s a long shot. We know that this time next year, we may be no closer to expanding our reach and realizing our dreams.

If you take the time to read and follow JB and HC, we say a sincere thanks to each of you. Our goal is to continue as our hearts remain hopeful.

And, if we ever break through the wall and hit the golden nugget, we’ll reflect upon this post and remember 2016 as the year of reality – realizing that the world isn’t what we hoped. We are a long way from where we wanted to be but we’re sure a lot closer than we ever thought we’d be.

So, here’s to 2017.

2016, you may have been far from right, but it’s okay. We aren’t lost.

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We may be holding on for dear life in 2017, but we’re still holding onto each other.

Standing Inside the Fire

Many of Hippie Chick’s fans know she is a kitty raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, just a short drive from Gatlinburg – a city recently ravaged by wildfires that scorched the beauty of the area, leaving death and destruction for people and animals.

While HC and her Momma, JB, were safe in their home, hell on earth was unleashed just a few miles away. Life in these mountain parts will never be the same. East Tennessee has lost lives and property and we know in our hearts something else is gone – the comfort of feeling safe and secure in our little part of the world.

When the unthinkable happens in life, we look for signs and meaning, messages to help us stay sane and rational in a world of chaos. We either give in and give up, becoming numb, or we dig in and persevere emerging stronger for the battle.

Local news reports in the aftermath of the fires shared incredible stories of survival, from mothers and fathers, grandparents, kids, tourists and business owners to cats and dogs and even pigs.

One pet pig named Charles had a story that stood out from the rest. As the fire raged across the city, Charles was left behind by his family as they fled the inferno. The family was heartbroken to leave him and when they returned a few days later, they expected to find the worst. And, they did. Their home was destroyed. But Charles, he was still there and very much alive. Singed and dehydrated, he withstood temps of 800 degrees because he burrowed down in the mud as the flames lapped all around. He hunkered down, immersed himself in the muck, and dug in.

Charles is expected to recover fully and his family is elated to have their pet pig no worse for the battle.

Who would imagine that the sign we need to give us hope would come in the form of a pig? But Charles is that lesson for how we can survive life’s most unforgiving storms.

We’ve got to entrench in the mud, feel the heat all around, but wait for the fire to pass. It always does and afterwards we can choose to emerge more resilient than we’ve ever been before.

The Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg will recover, just like Charles the pig. It’s going to take a long while and it won’t be easy, but the mud is there. All we have to do is dig in.

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Charles, after surviving a wildfire that raged all around him.

 

 

What Happens When There’s Nothing Left to Lose?

A short while ago, I took an evening off from HC duty and saw the legend Bob Dylan. I had a front row seat, right by the stage, close enough to see every tuft of hair on his wild and wooly head.

To my surprise, Mr. Dylan started the show with one of my favorite songs – a gem from the soundtrack of an early 2000’s movie called “Wonder Boys.” The movie dealt with a college professor, played by Michael Douglas, consumed by a raging midlife crisis. The song starts out with the lyrics…”A worried man with a worried mind. Nothing in front of me and nothing behind.”

It goes on to tell the tale of a man having an anything goes evening; not caring whether the sun comes up and on an inevitable path of destruction.

The chorus of the song chants – “People are crazy and times are strange. I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range. I used to care but things have changed.”

This particular Dylan ditty has stuck with me for years and I have turned to it in my own times of confusion and darkness. While the man in the middle of the crisis is “not so eager to make the mistake” of following his friends and “jumping into the lake,” he’s clearly on the verge of making a catastrophically bad decision.

It seems that the world of late, has been on the same type of path, destined to make one bad decision after another until, maybe, just maybe, planet Earth herself decides she no longer cares about her inhabitants.

The most dangerous place to remain in is in a state of not caring anymore. Growing numb, building a shield around one’s sanity is a way to cope temporarily, but over time, the threads of worry return, building into a mountain of self-doubt.

In college, I read a short story called “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” written by Ursula Le Guin. The professor asked us to summarize our position on what we would do, should we wake up in Omelas, a city that is perfect, a pristine and glorious town where all is dazzlingly right. But, it is far from that. You see, the city works on balance – all the good exists because of the single misery of one child. Good can only happen if this one child experiences pain, anguish and neglect. At the time, I took the position of walking away and wrote a lengthy prose about why that was the most noble thing one could do – simply not participate in the tragedy.

HC and I like to spend our free time together, turning down the noise, living in our own Utopia. But, we know Omelas is out there. And, we deal with it by bringing some light and humor to the world through Hippie Chick’s Right Foot Up Life.

It’s our way of not walking away, of deciding that we still care.

As long as there’s a place on the planet for a fat cat and the girl who loves her, we’ll be just fine. And, so will you.

There’s room for all of us and a million reasons to still care. A million reasons to not forget.

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The Roar of the Mighty Girls

HC’s been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be a female fat cat in America. She can’t hide the fact that she’s bigger than the average cat – male or female. By her sheer size alone, HC garners attention. From the cable guy who exclaims, “That’s the biggest cat I’ve ever seen!” To the neighbor who meets her for the first time and immediately assumes that HC is a he, not a she.

Yep, this fat female cat has heard it all. And, she still goes about her business, holding her head high and thanking the Great Feline in the Sky for giving her a soft landing in a friendly home with JB-who also knows what it’s like to be female and single, living in the middle of the American South.

Being who you are in this world isn’t easy for fat cats and single gals. The labels and stereotypes are always there. If one cares about those kinds of things, it can be too much, so much in fact, that one could stop being true to oneself. One could take a predictable path, the traveled road.

Life would foretell that HC was supposed to have kittens, retire to a farm somewhere and live out her life a proud Momma cat. But, instead, the fates intervened and put her on the right path to her current life of Cat Divadom. And, HC’s quite content, living peacefully, unbothered by life’s expectations.

It’s appropriate that JB and HC found each other. Decades ago, when JB was a mere kitten herself, she was asked what she wanted to do after school graduation. When she talked about college and becoming a writer, a man who was her principal said she would get a degree, of course, an Mrs. degree.

Nothing’s wrong with getting that type of title of course, but the assumption that that’s all a young female would ever progress to is why JB applauds those women who excel, in spite of the expectation.

JB’s been doing a lot of shouting and clapping at the television these past few weeks – for mighty girls like Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and Katie Ledecky, who are owning the Summer Olympics.

And, yes, there are claps for Michael Phelps too.

But, there’s just a little extra fire, a little extra fist pump, for the women who undoubtedly were told at some point in their lives that they couldn’t do something because they were simply born a girl.

Women cannot only win Olympic Gold, they can also be President.

And a fat orange female cat can have her own fans, from all around the world.

That’s something any female, human or feline, should give a right foot up to.

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When Legends Fall

HC is a big orange cat, living in the heart of big orange country – the Volunteer State of Tennessee. Her Mom, JB, graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a school that bleeds orange.

In the land of all that’s HC color, no figure is more powerful in athletics than former UT Lady Vols Basketball Coach Pat Head Summitt. Coach Summitt commanded respect, stood for perseverance, digging in and conquering in the face of adversity.

When she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type in 2011, fans wanted to believe that she would be one of the fiercest competitors against a terrifying disease. For awhile, it seemed that was possible. Coaching for another year after diagnosis, Summitt continued to lead the team with those piercing blue eyes – eyes that saw all, knew all, and simply refused to acknowledge the word loss.

But then, she stepped away from the coaching limelight and over the past few years, slipped further and further out of sight. The intimidating coach retreated, taking a back seat for the first time in her life.

Recent news confirmed that Summitt is losing the battle against a disease that, like the Coach herself on the basketball court, refuses to surrender.

Alzheimer’s disease has yet to experience defeat. And, it’s taken down a giant this time.

The world lost Muhammed Ali to Parkinson’s disease earlier this month. The man who floated like a butterfly can sting no more.

Now, a lady warrior seems poised to join Ali.

When legends fall, we all fall a little bit too. We lose a piece of ourselves, realizing that mighty men and women are not superhuman, super powerful. They get sick, and struggle and fade away.

HC and JB back Pat in prayers and paws up, hoping that when it’s time, she finally chooses to go gently into that great night.

And, HC will proudly wear her orange fur.

And when she looks in the mirror, she’ll see a lion.

Just like Pat.

 

 

No one feels strong when she examines her own weakness. But in facing weakness, you learn how much there is in you, and you find real strength.
-Pat Summitt

 

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And, strong people have soft hearts – for furs.

 

 

Summertime, Sweet Summertime..and HC probably won’t fit in her swimsuit again

There’s something HC needs to get off her chest. She told me that she’s tired of me making fun of her weight. I was shocked at her frankness but she really let me have it the other day with some fierce meows. I guess she’s peeked at the keyboard one too many times and read my funny comments about her girth. I apologized profusely, and fingers crossed behind my back, promised I would lay off the weight funnies.

And, then, I got my own payback as I dressed for 80 degree weather. I looked down after putting on what I thought was a nice late spring wardrobe and caught the side eye of HC. Let’s just say she was not doing her best to hide her disdain at my appearance.

I get it HC – I have no business talking about your weight when I’m hauling around extra pounds myself!

HC’s fans often comment on how pretty she is but then there are the fair share of fans who snip at her size. Not in a mean-spririted way, of course, but the comment is typically, what a big cat!

It made me think about the challenges women face about weight – whether human or feline. Can we be overweight and beautiful at the same time?

I look at HC and see a gorgeous, orange cat, with the personality of a fierce lion and a gentle lamb all rolled up into a pudgy fur ball. I can see that beauty in HC but cannot see the same in myself.

 

As the calendar turns toward summer, HC and I are going to roll right along, in our respective skins. We both may be outside the BMI chart, but one thing’s for certain, we both see the best in each other.

May all of our summertime mirrors be kind to us this season.

 

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The view from here looks pretty good.

 

 

Thanking My Lucky Paws Today

I woke up this morning and stretched out in my usual sunny spot in the bedroom and watched JB sleep. She’s not an early riser like me. At first, it really annoyed me how many times I’d have to meow before she’d turn over and acknowledge me. I know it may take awhile for her to get to my food bowl but she always makes it there and never fails to pat me on the head and tell me how much she loves me.

That’s what Moms do. They never let you down and they always know just when you need a head scratch. I know I’m a lucky cat. I have a human who worships me and I realize not all humans love their feline friends as much as JB loves me.

I don’t know what I did to end up in such luxury. I guess in the great cat lotto, I pulled the jackpot card. I try to show JB how much I appreciate her. This morning, I spent time in her lap and gave one of my best loud purrs while she drank her coffee and rubbed my ears. I do love a good ear rub, combined with a chin scratch. Sweet heavens, that’s the best!

I’m not one to keep up with special occasions but it seems that humans are busy honoring Moms this month. I never really knew my fur Mom. We were separated at the shelter when I was just a tiny patch of orange fur.

Those memories are just that though – distant and a part of what’s made me the Hippie Chick I am today. I don’t meow for the days of yesterday. I thank the Great Feline in the Sky for what I have now and that’s JB.

I wish all furs had what I have. A nice warm home, plenty of toys, good food, lots of scratches and rubs and always knowing that I am loved.

Happy Mother’s Month to all Moms of furs. You chose to love us unconditionally – even after we’ve coughed up hairballs, shed all over your nice pair of pants and scratched up your new table. There’s no greater love.

Purrs and purrs to infinity and beyond.

Signed,

The HC

 

 

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Right where I’m meant to be.