My Writing Day: Extremism in Defense of Liberty


Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, stresses the importance of both writing and playing. At the WLT Summer Writing Retreat, Karleen Koen reminded students of Cameron’s Artist’s Date—a weekly solo “adventure” to feed the soul and allow for continued creativity.

Since leaving the retreat, I’ve been thinking about possibilities for my Artist’s Dates. A visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a candidate, though it’ll probably wait until spring. Central Texas affords plenty of potential for adventure.

But having just returned from a week-long Artist’s Date, I decided to concentrate first on writing.

I designated yesterday, my first day out of post-retreat depression, a day for writing.

Here’s how it went:

I rose at a reasonable hour and prepared to leave for my coffee-shop office.

William with books and printer. By kathywaller1
William with books and printer

Downstairs, doling out catfood, I realized that in the half-hour I’d been up, I’d seen no cats. This had never happened. William often sleeps late, but Ernest is up with the chickens and frequently makes sure I am, too.

I called, ran upstairs, searched, called. William, draped across his pagoda, opened his eyes and blinked but offered no opinion as to Ernest’s whereabouts.

I ran downstairs, called, searched, dropped to my knees and peered under furniture. I ran back upstairs, etc.

Finally dropping at the right place, I found Ernest under the bed. He was sitting in that compact way cats have, with all his feet neatly tucked in. His look wasn’t warm and welcoming. When I tried to drag him out, he wriggled loose and ran into the hall and thence into the guest room and under that bed.

At that point, I remembered a get-well card I sent my great-aunt Bettie: On the front was a drawing of an orange-striped cat, looking bored, and saying, “Feeling poorly? Do as I do.” Inside, it said, “Crawl under the porch.”

We had no porch, so Ernest crawled under the next best thing.

I put batteries in the flashlight and girded my loins. Negotiating the guest room is not a task for the faint of heart. There’s stuff in there.

Back on my hands and knees, aka standing on my head, I again located Ernest. He was lying, neatly tucked, in the corner near the wall. Stretching out on the carpet, I reached under and scratched his ears. He didn’t protest. His big green eyes, however, told me I’d better not make any sudden moves.

I didn’t.

Then I did.

Ernest is heavy and muscular. His twenty toes are tipped with talons. He has teeth.

Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator (AZ-R)
Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator (AZ-R) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Barry Goldwater, he believes extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

I believe in keeping as much of my blood as possible on the inside of my skin.

I also believe extremism in the pursuit of getting my children to the veterinarian is a necessary evil. This evil was necessary.

Ernest suffers from what might be termed a sluggish constitution, which is aggravated by his habit of putting foreign objects into his mouth. And swallowing them. Mainly bits of string and thread. They don’t have to be on the floor. He pokes around on tables and steals anything that strikes his fancy.

The first time he withdrew from society, two years ago, I had to authorize X-rays, ultrasound, and a simple procedure he really really didn’t like. It seemed best, this time, to seek medical attention before a minor problem became major.

Well, to summarize: Ernest hid under the bed from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I spent a goodly portion of that time supine on the floor trying to regain his trust. I spent the rest of the time downstairs, sneezing my head off because of all the dust bunnies under there with him.

In desperation, I took his jingly collar, the one he refuses to wear, and lay down by the bed and jingled at him. He purred and gnawed on the collar. Then he flopped over onto his back and I administered belly rubs. He had a lovely time. I went back downstairs and sneezed until my throat was raw. Then I coughed. I couldn’t stop coughing.

Having neither cough drops nor unexpired cough medicine, I poured a tiny bit of some extremely aged Jim Beam (my mother bought it to put on her Christmas applesauce cakes over twenty years ago) into a glass and added the dregs of David’s hummingbird sugar and drank it from a spoon. The first sip tasted pretty bad, and it didn’t do much for the cough, but by the time I was finished sipping, my concern for Ernest had eased considerably.

Anyway, as I sat in the living room taking my medicine, Ernest appeared downstairs. He sashayed into the kitchen. I heard him crunch two or three bites of food. Then he doubled back. Sneak that I am, I lured into my lap. Then I grabbed him and stuffed him into the waiting crate and headed for the vet’s.

Ernest protested, of course, at first. But as soon as the two big dogs in the vet’s waiting room charged up to his crate to pant hello, he decided confinement had its advantages and shut up.

Getting his weight was the first order of business. I was not surprised to learn he weighs 17 pounds. My spine had already intimated I would be making a trip to the chiropractor in short order.

After some poking and prodding and determining this was indeed the result of ingesting thread, and addressing that problem, the doctor said cats like linear objects. I said I’d noticed.

He gave me three choices: take him home and give him meds and watch him for 24 hours; leave him there for meds and the procedure he really really doesn’t like and pick him up at 5:00 p.m.; or be referred to another vet for X-rays because he’s moving his office up the street and his machine was all to pieces.

He said choice #1 would have been fine for his cat, but I told him I liked choice #2. Leaving Ernest would ensure he was unclogged. If I took him home and he crawled under the bed again, I might never get him out.

I hated sentencing him to a procedure. But if he hadn’t eaten something unacceptable, he wouldn’t have been in this fix.

As agreed, David and I picked Ernest up at 5:00 p.m., bought a tube of Laxatone, and hauled him home. He’s fine now, thank you, and appears to have forgiven me. I assume the scratch I got trying to remove him from my person in the middle of last night was unintentional.

That is the story of my day set aside for writing.

I’m trying to decide whether it qualifies as an Artist’s Date.


20 thoughts on “My Writing Day: Extremism in Defense of Liberty

    1. They do. (I’m beginning to think we ought to let them run the country.)
      Ernest is most certainly important. I’m back to being the servant. I suspect on the day of the episode, he saw me as an un-funny version of Lady Bracknell.


    1. Strange–all my dogs were polite, reasonable creatures. When they had to go to the vet, they just bit the bullet and jumped into the back seat. And then climbed into the front. But cats–trouble. I had time to write after the adventure, but not the energy. Sometimes I envy your life on the road with Maggie.


  1. I’m flax Ernest is okay. I loved the way you told the story, Kathy. You kept me interested all the way through, made me smile in some places, and had a bit of mystery also. Well done! I hope you get to your coffee shop office soon.


  2. Heck yes, it qualifies. and it gave you a nice blog post, too.

    BTW, expired codeine cough syrup is fine. It lasts for years. This is according to a doctor I know who keeps it in her cupboard until it’s gone–years and years. I have a few doses left that I’m hoarding from the 1990s. Your remedy sounds like it worked, though. Just don’t take the sugar out of the hummingbird feeder, OK? You used stuff that hadn’t gone into the feeder, right?


    1. Oh, thank you. I was hoping I could count it.

      Unfortunately, all I had was over-the-counter cough syrup. I’m glad to know the codeine lasts, though, so if anyone ever prescribes it for me again, I won’t toss it after a year. It’s the only thing that really stops a cough. The sugar came from a package. David bought it to go with the hummingbird feeder I gave him for Christmas. The feeder doesn’t have enough red on it so it doesn’t attract birds. And thus leaves the sugar free for my use.


    1. I love Lady Bird, too. She was an exceptional person. When I get to the center, I’ll post on my blog, so you’ll know when to let the jealousy begin.


  3. You know, I’m a member at the Ladybird Center. Do you want to go together when it gets cooler? I want to see the new trees they planted. If they’re still alive after this summer.


    1. They certainly do. And we work long hours.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope the spider has found a new and more suitable home.


    1. Yes, the cat is very helpful in suggesting topics. I never know when he’s going to provide a day of inspiration.

      I’m glad you liked the story. Thanks for visiting and for commenting.


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  5. I just absolutely loved the story Kathy! Wonderfully written. I connect to the post because being the owners of two cats, I do all the all those things just to take the cats to the vet. Yours forgave too quickly but mine take atleast a day! :D. In fact. I end up doing another round of belly rubbing and cuddling to make them forgive me. 😀


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