My wool-covered lap is a mountain the cat is determined to climb. She makes repeated attempts to nest, despite it being occupied by book, laptop, and notebook. Eventually she settles next to me, a round black loaf of resigned feline disappointment.
On the cat's head is a dusting of litter powder, wheat-colored against the black. A temporary tortoiseshell, she curls in her bed, one ear cocked, listening to the computer backing itself up. Rising and falling, her rounding torso flares her fur apart and together as she breathes. Outside, the snow drifts down.
Living on cat time seems, so far, to be working. I did have to ask her to "snooze" a bit longer this morning when she started meowing at me at dawn (since she sleeps on and off all day, she doesn't need the full stretch of nighttime sleep that I do). She left and came back an hour later, and up I got, feeling set for the day.
It was a beautiful day, too - warm and dry, to the point that I wore sandals during my walk to the co-op and back. The light was golden and slanting, shimmering on walls and leaves, and it felt wonderfully warm and drowsy. It was not, however, something I'd have expected for the middle of November.
I should be taking advantage of this weather and spend more time outside. Some of this is simply because it is beautiful, and before too long it will be cold again. Some of it is because I am finding my eyes are easily tired this week. I don't know why; I suspect a combination of hormones, allergies, the dryness, and staring at the computer screen. A long walk with lots of looking into the distance would be just the thing, I think.
Now that I'm not teaching, and living on cat time, I am amazed at what I can get done in a day. I have several projects that had been languishing last month that are back on track again (such as my indexing studies and my Spanish practice) and there are a few others that I ought to return to before the month is out. If I play my cards right, I'll have the major projects out of my way in time for me to begin class prep for the spring semester. My incentive will be that the more I get planned ahead of time, the less I will have to do during the semester itself.
For now, though, I will continue to join the cat in basking in the morning light, watching the chickadees and listening to the crackle of people walking past through the leaves.
They say there are morning people, and there are night people. Sometimes they call them larks, or owls, or even hummingbirds (a new variant meant to describe those whose clocks aren't set at all). I believe that I am a light person, but not reliably so. Darkness makes me sleepy, but it is a weak force, and easily offset by electric lights. Sunlight makes me waken, but again, it is easily countered with blanket or shade or pillow.
The result of this is that I have very irregular sleeping and waking habits, when I'm not forced to rise by a certain hour by the exigencies of paid work. I stay up later than I'd like, growing groggy and stupid yet not yielding, and sleep in late to compensate. (Alas, I am one of those folks who need a full eight to nine hours to feel human the next day.) Clearly, my ability to hear my body's signals about sleep is as flawed as my ability to hear its signals about hunger. (Oddly, I have no problem recognizing thirst.)
So I am going to try something new. I'm going on cat time. The cat, for some reason, has very decided opinions about when humans should be waking and sleeping. She is also fairly consistent in the hours she enters this mood. Starting tonight, I will let the cat tell me when to go to bed, and tomorrow, when to get up. We will see how this goes.
Our cat is a creature with a very clear sense of how the household should be ordered. If you do not wake up when she thinks it is time, she will meow and walk around the bed, and push things around on the night-tables (tempting eviction, because knocking things off is Not Allowed.*)
This behavior I can understand, as she's both bored and hungry, and wants to get on with her own day. What I find mysterious, though, is how angry she can become at night if the humans do not go to bed at a time she feels is appropriate. Often there is still food in her bowl when we go to check, and more times than not she returns to the downstairs after we've gone to bed. (She also is perfectly willing to go upstairs on her own during the day.)
But when the Cat Hour rolls around at night, the whining and dilated-eye stares begin, with much stalking and lashing of the tail. There is no soothing her, and if you go upstairs and come back down, she persists. Sometimes she even becomes frustrated enough to pounce on my leg with enough force to bruise (she has learned that actual claws and teeth are forbidden, but as with the night-tables, she will go just to the line of unacceptable). Is it a latent kitten-herding instinct, a desire to see her family settled for the night so she can stop worrying? Or is she annoyed at being ignored?
I should, perhaps, just give in. I myself think that I should go to bed earlier. But in my own perversity, I refuse, until Just-One-More chapter is finished, until my eyelids are sagging, until sleep itself yowls its insistent demand that I go to bed.
Then the cat is satisfied, and calm again... at least until the morning.
*Try groping blindly for a pair of glasses that have been knocked to the ground in the night, and you'll see the logic.