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The motivational effect of cat manure

Although The Mister is the chef at Chez Beaudoin, our diets are not identical. I’m a wee bit more plant-based, (though I love my chicken and fish!), where The Mister occasionally leans towards animal protein. As long as he doesn’t overdo it and the meat is lean, I try not to say too much. So I didn’t bat an eyelash when he brought home some pork hocks the other day. I just politely inquired as to what exactly a pork hock was, and when he answered “pig shins” I swallowed hard and asked, unable to keep the quaver from my voice, “Are the hooves attached?”


“Awesome!” I responded, feeling much brighter. “Well, I’m off to the showers. Shouldn’t be more than a couple days. Will you miss me?”

“I can’t tell you how much,” he replied, rattling pots and pans and pork hocks.

About an hour later when the hocks were bubbling away merrily on the stove, I emerged from my shower to a house that smelled awful! Like ‘how-have-I-offended-the-gods-that-they’re-punishing-me-by-making-me-smell-this’ awful.

“What a stink!” I said, coming into the kitchen. “Is that the pork hocks?”

“Not the pork hocks,” The Mister replied, stirring the pot. “It’s cat manure.”

I grabbed the back of the nearest chair for support, hand to my chest, and gasped, “Oh my dear Lord! Why are you cooking cat manure?!”

He stopped stirring.

Then he turned around, a tight smile on his face, and said in a voice one might use on a particularly dim-witted child, “No no. I’m not cooking cat manure. Cat manure has been tracked into the house.”

“Impossible!” I replied. “I haven’t left the house today, and you always change your shoes before you go outside.”

I watched his eyes slip to one side, then his lips. He turned back around and proceeded to vigorously stir the hocks.

“Yes, well, theoretically.”

“Theoretically, Gracie?”

Stir, stir, stir.

“Well, I might have forgotten to change my shoes when I changed the oil in the car a little while ago.”

“You wore your inside shoes outside?”


“And tracked in a crap load of cat manure on the soles?”

“Mm. Looks like.”

“Uh huh. Those wouldn’t be the shoes you currently have on your feet, would they?”

He glanced down, then back at the pot. Stir, stir, stir.

“Yup. Those are the ones.”

I took a deep breath, tried to count to ten. Got as far as two.

“And where have those shoes taken you since you’ve come in, my dear?”

He rested the spoon on the rim of the pot and looked up, considering.

“Well, kitchen, obviously. Hallway. TV room. Bathroom.”

“Office, living room or bedroom?”


“OK then. Here’s an idea. Why don’t you take off those shoes, take ’em somewhere and clean them good, and I’ll wash the floors…scrub the floors…rip up the floors…”

“Aw no, Missus! I’ll do all that.”

“No no, I have to do it.”

“But why?”

I rolled my eyes.


“Oh,” he said, returning to the pot. “Her again.”

I have been making my way through the complete works of Florence Scovel Shinn, and it is not an overstatement to say they are changing my life. Somewhere along the way I got this nutty idea that God was happy only when I was suffering; that Christ’s promise of “life in abundance” included endless worry, hardship, poverty, and sacrifice; and that anyone who believed they deserved better was guilty of the sin of pride and should get themselves off to confession post haste. Over the years, that idea loosened its hold on my imagination, a little, but then Tosha Silver’s book “Outrageous Openness” and Florence’s “The Magic Path of Intuition” found their way into my hands, and lo and behold, here was a God who wasn’t happy unless I was happy, who offered ways of easing my worries, and whose gift of ‘abundant life’ was as easy (and as challenging) as changing my mind. I haven’t got all this down yet, I’m still just learning, and I need practice, lots and lots of practice to make this life real.

Hence the cat manure.

Florence is very big on the power of words. To quote, “If you say you are going to do a thing and then do not attend to it, it will be done for you violently when you least expect it.” I think she overstates it just a tad using the word “violently” especially as she illustrates her point with a story of how a tassel on her belt that she had promised herself to shorten but never did, was suddenly shortened for her (to the exact length, mind!) when she caught it on the seat of the bus. I’d been saying for longer than I care to admit that I needed to get to those floors, but it took the intervention of the town’s feral cat population to help me keep my word.

I learned my lesson. Today was such a gorgeous day, I said I really should get outside and put my container garden to bed. But there were so many other things I wanted to do that I was inclined to let the garden go. Then I remembered the cat manure. And I’m proud to say I got on my gloves, yanked out all the dead plants, had The Mister throw them into the composter, and took in all the little ornaments. As Florence said, “Despise not the day of small things.”

Done, Florence!

Today, I kept my word.

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  1. kim barry
    Posted November 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Lol, I just love you Penny-Ann ! you make me smile ! :)

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted November 14, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Kim. You bless my heart. :-)

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