Caturday Thoughts – Finding Time

The usual routine has been interrupted. We haven’t been posting. We even missed the farmer’s market a couple of weeks. But things are getting done. In spite of the obstacles, and there have been many, we are going forward. Time is what we need the most. It is very hard to find. You cannot make time with three D printers or factory equipment . Finding time is more like the  strange odyssey of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark than doing a Google search or shopping on Amazon. Please bear with us. We have a lot to share and we are doing exiting things.And finally this Caturday, the debilitating heat way of the week seems to have broken. There is a cool wind blowing this morning.

We are going to try and get back on schedule this coming week. Even the cats have had their routine disrupted and everyone knows cats hate that. It’s been too hot to chase the laser dot and Cloud especially gets frustrated without enough exercise. Mi Sun with her triple coat has been uncomfortable. While the fireworks were minimal, they didn’t seem to start until after ten, which meant several nights of getting to sleep late and waking up later the next day. But that’s over for another year. The forecast for the next few days looks promising and I have ordered equipment to cool the house, because we know summer is far from over. We don’t have air conditioning in the thrift store either, so I am glad today will be cooler.

Until later, have a cool Caturday.


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Cancer Jun 21 6:08 AM

Co;ored Cancer emblemshowing moon held by crabCancer (♋) is the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Cancer. It spans 90° and 120° celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately June 21 and July 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately July 16 and August 15. In astrology, Cancer is the cardinal sign of the Water trigon, which is made up of Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio. It is considered a negative sign, whose domicile, or ruling planet, is the Moon.


Illustration of grey lobster against blue disk as sign of Cancer in medieval book of hoursThough some depictions of Cancer feature a lobster, asin the illustration from the 1390 De Grey Book of Hours at right, the sign is most often represented by the crab, based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra. In ancient times, Cancer was known as the “dark sign” because of the obscured visibility of its constellation in the night sky.

In astrology, Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter, both astronomical bodies having influence over those born under Cancer. In Vedic astrology the sign is named Karka and its Lord is Moon. Note the similarity between the sign and the name of the crab. The story of Cancer the Crab is said to be connected to Heracles or Hercules as he was called by the Romans and more commonly referred to.  Some storytellers say that during Hercules’ fight with Lernaean Hydra, the multiple-headed monster, the goddess Hera sent a crab from a swamp to snap at Hercules’ feet to distract him. Hera had sworn to kill Hercules but that belongs to another story. Hercules was able to kill the crab by crushing its shell with his foot and also managed to defeat the Hydra. Hera, thwarted because Hercules had slain the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the constellation Hydra. In spite of the fact the crab failed to help defeat Heracles, it too was rewarded by Hera. She turned the crab into the constellation Cancer.

In Chinese star lore, Cancer is in the 23rd of the 28 mansions or xiu. This mansion is called Gui which roughly translates to “ghosts”.[19] The Chinese divided the sky into four quarters, each with its own direction, season, and mythical creature. Cancer exists in the Red (Vermillion) Bird of the south. It is associated with summer.

Cancer as Archetype

Cancer window in Chartres Cathedral

Cancer is the cardinal water sign, and it’s archetypes are ones of nurturing, domesticity and fertility. A main  archetype of Cancer is the Mother. This is the mother as our protector and guide, the ruler of the home. Cancer is also a symbol of the home itself, as represented by those creatures who carry their homes with them,the turtle, the lobster and the crab. Having a place to call home, where we are secure, is integral to a solid sense of well-being. Any success in the world is dependent on having a place for rest and rejuvenation, otherwise we would exhaust ourselves, always needing to be “on”.

The Moon card from the Rider Waite tarot deckIn astrological terms a zodiac sign follows the sign before it and grows out of it, and is its fulfillment and completion in a sense. So Leo, a very bold and extroverted sign which follows Cancer, is able to be so because Cancer has created a secure home and base from which to strike forth. Since the ruler of Cancer is the Moon, Cancer also represents the unconsciousness, the fluid and mysterious part of the mind that speaks to us in dreams and symbols. This is illustrated by the lobster coming out of the pool in the Moon card from the Rider Waite tarot deck at right. The complicated symbolism of the card is more easily understood when this piece of shorthand is translated. Usually the card is associated with Pisces, another water sign, but the Cancer aspect and archetype are in there as well.

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Caturday Thoughts – Midsummer Solstice xià zhì 夏至 21st

White sun with white reflection on sea with dark land and tree in foregroundIn the Chinese traditional calendar of solar terms Xiàzhì, known as Geshi in Japanese, Haji in Korean, and  Hạ chí in Vietnamese begins on the day of the summer solstice. The solstices, as well as the equinoxes, mark the middle of the seasons in this traditional calendar. Here, the Chinese character zhì  means “extreme”, in this case used to imply the farthest limits in the solar orbit, the solstices, so the term for the summer solstice directly signifies the summit of summer. In the Gregorian calendar Xiàzhì 夏至, the 10th solar term of the year, begins on June 21 this year and ends July 7. At this time, much of the northern hemisphere receives the longest daylight, but it does not bring the hottest temperatures, which will come only 20 to 30 days later.

In China, the solar terms were originally created to guide agricultural production. But the solar term culture is still useful today to help people to stay healthy and live in harmony with the changes of the seasons.

The solstice is the longest day of the year. According experts, the entire day in Mohe in Helongjiang province, located in the most northern tip of China, lasts up to 20 hours when you include morning twilight and its afterglow. Summer Solstice is the best season for viewing the aurora in Mohe, a famous destination known as “the sleepless town of China”. One particular village in Mohe County, in the northernmost reaches of China, hosts an Aurora Festival.

Red and white round hand fanSummer Solstice was an important festival throughout Chinese history. Before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people even had a one-day holiday on Summer Solstice. According to Song Dynasty (960-1279) records, officials could have three days off during the Summer Solstice. To celebrate Summer Solstice, women gave colored fans and sachets to each other. Fans could help them feel not so hot and the sachets could drive away mosquitoes and make them smell sweet. As early as the Han Dynasty (260 BCE-220 CE), when the Mid-autumn Festival and the Double Ninth Festival were not as important as they are today, the Summer Solstice was already celebrated.

Hani autonomous county of Mojiang, in southwest China’s Yunnan province is located on the northern tropic. Every year for the Summer Solstice, the sun sits directly over the Tropic of Cancer and returns from north to south. Then, the amazing phenomenon known as “upright pole with no shadows” occurs. The Hani tribal people revere the sun and have always had a close bond with it. They welcome the turn-around of the sun and offer sacrifices to it.

Bowl of noodles with shrimpIn  another part of China, Shandong province, there is a saying which says, “Eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice day and noodles on the Summer Solstice day.” People in different areas of Shandong province eat chilled noodles on this day. Other places around China such as Beijing also have a tradition of eating noodles.

According to the records of the Fengsutong, a book about Chinese customs written by Ying Shao from the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220), a man named Du Xuan attended a banquet on Summer Solstice, where he mistook the shadow of a bow in his cup as a snake. Still he had to drink it out of fear of offending at the banquet. Afterward, he felt chest pains and a bellyache and couldn’t get well even after seeing many doctors. Finally, he learned he had mistaken the shadow of a red crossbow on the wall as a snake in the cup and then recovered. This became the source of the saying used  to refer to people who are suspicious and frighten themselves. The idiom “杯弓蛇影 Bēi gōng shé yǐng”  is literally “cup bow snake shadow” but everyone uses it to mean extremely suspicious and fearful.

Due to climate factors, in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, Dragon boat races have been held on the Summer Solstice day rather than on Dragon Boat Festival since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. This tradition is still holds true today. So if you cannot make it to Stonehenge, you have interesting options in China for a summer solstice celebration. Or you can stay home, and relax with a bowl of noodles.

stonhenge in summer

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Caturday Thoughts – Catching Up

This weekend there will be multiple posts while I catch up. This week was even busier than the one before. I had another appointment with Dr. Kim for another problem tooth. I had to go to Baltimore overnight and took the opportunity to bring Simba to the “family” crematorium where Mini, Mosby and Tony all went. It wasn’t all funerary business though. I visited my friends at my favorite herb garden and brought back some plants for the new landscaping and ate at my all time favorite Mexican restaurant. Pachanga. But the Washington metro area traffic has just gotten impossible. I must have looked into hundreds if not thousands of cars and 99% were occupied by one person.  Next time I think I’ll just keep going north to West Virginia and then turn east.

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Caturday Thoughts – We Had a Very Full Day

Closeup of three eggs in wire basketIt turned out to be an even fuller day than I imagined when I posted Caturday Thoughts would be a bit delayed. I had a truck full of things from the storage that I unloaded early before I left for the farmer’s market. I brought it all in and put it in the appropriate room. Then off to stop at the bank for cash and shop at the farmer’s market. Since I bought meat and eggs as well as veggies I then had to go back to the house to put it away. It certainly couldn’t sit in the back of the truck while I worked at the thrift shop.

We were very busy there too. A few weeks back Nita got some proper store shelving at an auction and we finally finished getting it all up in an arrangement that fit the shop. In the afternoon a really nice couple pulled up with a flat trailer filled with donations. They’d had a yard sale and saw our sign. Loving our rescue goal they decided to give us what didn’t sell. It was all really good quality and there were nice kids toys, Christmas decorations, several dozen DVDs of really good movies and a stack of tubs of things we didn’t even get to look at that day.

Straightaway after the shop closed I went home to drop off some cat pictures I had put on layaway and some of the DVDs I bought from the donation. As it had gotten hot and sticky I skipped the hardware stores and only went to get my free-with-coupon first aid kit bag, which turned out to be a cheerful bright green bag which would indeed fit nicely behind the seat of the truck.

Woodstock copper water bell bowl fountainFrom there I went to the anniversary celebration at my friend’s store and hung out with her until she closed. I bought myself a fountain as a housewarming gift and as it happened ten percent of any sales were being donated to the local food bank as part of the celebration, so multiple parties benefited. It’s a lovely fountain with little copper cups that float around and bump stationary copper cups making a chiming sound. You can put tea lights into the cups as well so it will be a nice accessory to quiet, relaxing evenings. I’ll have to put it somewhere where feline curiousity will not cause water damage. I wish the late, great Shinki were still around so I could watch him with it. Bengals actually like to play with water. I don’t expect more from my furry crew than attempts to drink from it and perhaps bat at the floating bells.

By the time I left Sally’s store it had cooled and the humidity had dissipated so I decided to stop at the storage again to get a few more things. While I was doing this the live-on manager came by on her end of day rounds and invited me for a drink on her deck to celebrate getting the house. Then I drove home, stopping by the takeaway sushi. I had been so busy I had forgotten to eat all day!! I had been going so long I was the last order they filled before closing at 10:00PM.

Thank heaven when I dropped off the things from the thrift store I had done a quick fill-up of cat bowls with some crunchies to tide them over. When I got home finally, they got their wet food before I got to eat my sushi. In case you are thinking they are deprived, they all have been offered sushi without soy sauce or wasabi and don’t want it. I’m talking about the kind that sits on top of the rice, not the rolled variety, so I was just offering the fish. No takers. They’d rather have the canned stuff.

Close up of sushi segment, rice on outside

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Shuffle, Shuffle, Shuffle

We have gotten very busy thanks to the delightful upturn in our fortunes. There is a ten by twenty storage unit to be emptied, since now we know we are not moving. Of course summer is here we want to take advantage of the farmers market, which means a busy Saturday morning. Summer also means the yard is growing madly and needs lots of work. This Saturday my friend Sally is have an anniversary party to celebrate 22 years in business at her storeand five here in the local area. So I am having to shuffle my schedule a bit to fit things in smoothly. I go from unloading the last load from the storage to the farmer’s market and then home to put the food away. Saturday is rescue thrift day and from the thrift I will stop at ACE hardware to use my reward dollars on a pair of work gloves, to CVS to use my coupon for a free first aid kit bag, to Harbour Freight to look at serious eye protection for working on the house. These places are all in a line to Sally’s store, where I want to go show my support and buy the chiming fountain I have always wanted as a housewarming gift to myself.

Tomorrow is just as busy, so the time my posts come out will be adjusted a little. So many Caturday thoughts are rushing through my head and this week has been so busy I’ve had little time to write. But I certainly want to share the joys of life after sharing post on post of life’s conundrums. In the meantime I leave you with this little update and hope your Caturday was a good one.

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The Big Day

Stone castle tower surrounded by treesFor a long time now I have been writing here about having a forever home for the cats. There have been so many problems and setbacks over the years. Now, thanks to my late aunt, who I miss talking to every week, the goal is achieved. Tomorrow we are going to the attorney’s office. This old house will become our old house.  This is one of the things that has kept me so busy I’ve found myself changing publishing times on posts. The house needs an awful lot of work and some of it should have been done months, if not years ago. But it will be ours and we can remedy the faults.

The delays on my poor aunt’s estate were inexcusable and almost everyone involved contributed. Like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, I have had the rug pulled out from under me so many times over the years, not just with my aunt’s estate but in other situations, I have been afraid to talk much about it for fear of jinxing it. But the money is in the attorney’s escrow account and all is set. Fortunately, my experience upgrading my former employer’s house when I was an estate manager makes the rehab process on this little house much easier for me. And of course the house is liveable, we’ve been living in it all along.

I’ve written about happily being able to do Feng Shui on the house and pick room colors other than white, which I’ve lived with for years in rentals. There is a lot more than that to do, though. When I went to the bank to wire the money to the attorney’s escrow I asked the assistant manager at the bank if they wrote contruction loans. Her reply was “We write home equity loans. How much equity will you have?” There was about a thirty second delay as she realized she was writing a wire for a cash purchase. “Oh that’s right. You’re paying cash!”

So not only will we have our little house but we won’t owe any bank or loan or mortgage company. What a relief! And no more rent! So I probably won’t be taking the bank up on the home equity loan offer. Why jeopardize that freedom? My focus once the ink is dry will be on fixing upthe house one step at a time in increments I can afford. Yesterday I took all the doors off the kitchen cabinets after Mi Sun got her tail stepped on and went and hid way at the back corner of the botton cabinet. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t really hurt but couldn’t reach her. I no more want to get down on my hands and knees to drag out food or pots and pans than Mi Sun. Those cabinets are coming out!! That corner is next to the sink and the perfect place for a dishwasher instead

Japanese garden with large red maple and stepping stone walkwayNot only in the house but in the yard I can finally do as I want. The first thing to go will be all that useless lawn. I want gardens. I want a small herb and vegetable garden. The rest of the back yard I plan to turn into a Japanese stroll garden. At some point I will replace the concrete back steps with the gaping hole in the top with a proper porch. Ideally it would be partially enclosed and double as a catio with big windows that would have screens in the summer. I could buy a couple more of Furrwood Forest’s big cat trees to put in it.  Maybe Steve would do a custom one for me.

Today’s post is a short one as I will be off to my storage unit to bring home some of the things that have been in there since my landlord first announced the house was for sale. Not knowing what would happen and not wanting to get stuck moving in a hurry with no help as happened when I first came here, I gradually moved as much as possible into storage last spring. Now it can come out and come home. I had the attic tested for asbestos and now know it is safe, although very dusty and dirty. The floor insulation is only cellulose, not even fiberglass, so I can use it for storage until I eventually finish it. I just bought plastic sheeting to keep the dust off everything. I need to do these trips in the morning before the humidity and heat bring on thunderstorms. And of course I have to do it on sunny days. The last two have been rainy and lots more rainy days are in the forecast. So I am leaving after I finish these last words. It’s goig to be a good day.


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