Tag Archives: Minimalism

The Cat in the Garden – A Short Story

There once was a boy, who wasn’t really a boy. He was only 17 so he wasn’t a legal adult yet, but he was beyond boyhood. He never considered himself a teenager either. Being a teenager seemed to him to be a time of rebellious experimentation that he never got to experience. No, this boy, this man, had been living on his own since he was 15 years old.

His parents had died. Instead of going with the strangers from Social Services, he ran away. He didn’t run far, but they never found him. Maybe they never looked for him — there was no one around who would have checked in on the situation.

He’s been completely alone for over two years now. Two years may not seem like a long time to some people, but these years contained the growth of a new universe for this young man.

When he ran away, he didn’t go far. Just across town to the wooded area behind Public Works. He had grown up taking camping trips with his family and when he learned from Social Services that he wouldn’t be able to stay in his house, he figured the woods would be a good place to live.

He never stole anything, but he was still able to find everything he needed, even clothes. It was amazing what people just threw away. Especially people who lived in town homes. They had the most lucrative trash — he didn’t know why. Not only was he able to build a home for himself, he was able to provide his own food.

Picking old vegetables and fruits from the trash is dirty business, but he did what he needed to be done. The seeds stuck to the gooey flesh weren’t trash anyway. They had so much potential. He rinsed them off, gave them their own special plot in his wooded abode, and cared for them until he had a disorganized garden of tomatoes, berries, garlic, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and more, even corn.

He ate like a woodland king when the weather was warm enough. He ate like a city bum when the weather was cold, however. He frequented dumpsters much more often in the winter, especially those behind restaurants. He had no money and no way of earning any. But still he lived a life full of adventure.

One day in late spring, he came back to his home to see he had a visitor. As far as he knew, no person ever knew his plot existed, but this cat had come to find him.

“Hello there, furry little one,” the boy said, kneeling down.

The cat did not run away, but timidly approached and sniffed the boy’s outstretched hand. The cat then rubbed his head against the boy. It meowed and looked up, hopeful.

“If you’re hungry I’m sorry I don’t have much for you,” the boy said, opening the canvas bag of food he had just collected, mostly stale bread. “Definitely no cat food and no meat either.”

The cat stuck its head in the bag and pulled out a piece of bread that was soggy with some type of sauce. It then began chewing.

“Well, alright, if that suits you,” the boy said. He sat down and they ate their small meals together.

The cat stayed with him for almost a week. It stayed and napped for hours at a time. And sometimes it left for most of the day. The boy didn’t know where this domestic cat had come from, but he sure liked having it around. It had been such a long time since he had any sort of company, anyone to talk to. And the cat kept the squirrels and rabbits away from his crucial garden. On his “grocery runs” as he thought of them, he made sure to get something extra — fish or meat — for the cat, too.

On the sixth day, however, when the cat came back from one of its long outings, someone had followed it. The boy was napping in his hammock when he heard the rustle of footsteps approaching. They were too near before he could think of anything to do. He sat up, panicked and shocked, as a woman walked right into his secret garden.

“Oh!” The woman said, perhaps equally as shocked when she moved the branch from her vision and saw what, or rather who, was before her. “Oh! I didn’t expect to… Have you seen a big, grey cat? Oh, there you are!” She spotted the cat scratching its claws on a thick, rough tree.

“Come here, you.” She bent down and the cat immediately bounded over and leapt in her arms. “You’ve had us worried sick. Thank you so much for finding him,” she added, looking up at the boy. “He’s my daughter’s and she’s been so upset since he’s been missing. She’s on the spectrum and doesn’t have many friends…”

She trailed off as she took in the whole of her surroundings. The hammock, the old canvas tent stuffed with blankets, the fire pit, the handmade rain barrel propped up in a tree (so the boy could shower), the garden, the old pots and pans, everything that the boy had collected in the last two years. Her gaze lingered on an old blue speckled pot that looked very familiar.

“Do you… You don’t…” She kept looking between the things and the boy, searching his face for some kind of clue. “What is this place?”

The boy looked down and licked his lips. “It’s just a place I like to hang out. You know, to get away.”

“That’s a lot of food,” she said.

“Well your cat is good company, but can eat a whole lot,” the boy tried to joke.

The woman nodded, but didn’t look convinced. “This is Spaghetti,” she said, nodding to the cat. I’m glad he was able to keep you company.”

The boy only nodded.

“Look…” she started, looking nervous. “Thank you for looking out for him. Do you… Would you like to have dinner with us tonight? As a thank you. I’m sure Juliet, my daughter, would like to thank you, too. She’s 14. Maybe you two would get along. After all, Spaghetti seems to quite like you both.”

“I…” The boy started, but then the words got lost in his throat with a croak.

“No pressure,” the woman said. And she finally smiled.

The boy looked up and saw another entire universe in that one smile, one filled with love.

“Okay,” he managed. “I’ll come.”

“Do you have to ask your parents? I can talk to them if you want,” she said.

The boy looked down again. “No.”

The woman nodded to herself and left it at that. “You can follow me. It’s not a far walk,” she turned and gestured kindly, still holding Spaghetti firmly in her arms. “What’s your name?”

“My name’s Romeo,” the boy answered.

The woman almost stopped and asked “Really?”, but checked herself just in time. Instead she said, “I’m Emily. It’s nice to meet you Romeo.”

Romeo nodded again and tried out his own smile.

 

The End

Capsule Makeup Update

I wrote about my simple makeup collection before, but I wanted to do an update.

First, a picture! Here is a photo of my current makeup collection (minus the lipstick on the left):

Pictured:

  • Lipstick (from left to right)
    • Smashbox, Pout – I was unsure about this color after I bought it. I was stupid enough not to use the tester at the store (because I didn’t know how and was too stupid to ask) and so tried it out a few times at my house. It turns out I really don’t like it. I decided to let it go shortly after taking this photo.
    • Kate by Rimmel, 28 – A light, warm pink.
    • 100% Pure, Cactus Bloom – I love this color. I get so many compliments on it. Possibly because of its orange tone complimenting the orange-y-ness of my hair or something.
    • Kate by Rimmel, 104 – This is a good everyday color for me; it’s not too bold. It’s running low, though, which is why I got…
    • Lipstick Queen, Jean Queen – I wear a lot of denim and this color was formulated specifically to compliment jeans. So it seemed like a good choice for me. It is very similar to Kate’s 104, but perhaps a bit darker.
    • 100% Pure, Poppy – This is the bold “red” lipstick of my collection. It is fruit-dyed so it isn’t so synthetically fire-engine-y. Oh, this poppy pops, but it’s a natural kind of brightness. (And it has blue undertones which make my teeth look really white, as opposed to other reds I’ve tried that seemed to make my teeth look more yellow.)
  • Mascara
    • 100% Pure, Maracuja Dark Chocolate – Love it. Defo have to abide by the expiration dates for this eye makeup since it’s made with all natural ingredients; the shelf-life just isn’t as long as other mainstream formulas.
  • Eyebrow Powder Gel
    • 100% Pure, Taupe – I love this product. It fills in my brows in a very natural way. A very nice fit even for my red hair which doesn’t fall on the blond-to-brown-to-black spectrum.
  • Tools
    • atomizer – I use this for my current scent, which is now unavailable. I hope to make my own essential oil perfume in this one day.
    • 100% Pure, angled brush #8 – I use this to apply the eyebrow powder gel to my eyebrows. Fits the shape of my brows nicely.
    • compact mirror – with standard and magnified mirrors. I only use the standard mirror because magnified mirrors are bizarre.

You’ll notice there are a few more lipsticks in my collection since the last time I wrote. I am both happy and unhappy about this.

I’m happy about it because I like lipsticks. I find them to be beautiful and fun and a nice way to jazz up my simple wardrobe.

I am unhappy about it because even though I now have 5 shades (well, kinda 4 because the Jean Queen will be replacing the 104), I want more. Because I’ve given myself more options and I like it, I want even more options. It could be a slippery slope and I’m trying to stay on top of it. To help with that, I have “favorited” 4 more shades on the 100% Pure website, but I won’t buy them until I need to replace some.

One of the shades I have favorited is in anticipation of replacing Jean Queen (when it runs out of course) — I really like having that everyday shade and I also love the makeup brand 100% Pure — It is the only brand I want to buy.  (I really like how their products are transparently all natural, literally 100% pure.) Another shade I picked close to Kate’s 28, for future replacement. The other 2 I just think are pretty.

So the update on my capsule makeup collection is, in a nutshell, that it is still pretty small, even though I’m expanding on my lipsticks a bit. (I do generally tend to favor warmer lipstick shades in summer and cooler in winter, so my decision fatigue is still low day to day.) I still only do brows, lashes, and lips — or less — so my makeup routine is quick, yet still effective.

Beauty, I think, is best done simply.

I Cut My Own Hair!

I don’t spend a lot of money on hair products. It can be tough to find a nice complimentary shampoo, and possibly conditioner, but I always used up the bottles of whatever I bought to try so I didn’t feel like I was throwing money away. I got my value, even if I didn’t find my true shampoo match yet.

I don’t spend any money to color my hair either. I love the color of my hair so I’ve never wanted to dye it. I never plan to dye it, even when it starts to go grey. Grey hair just doesn’t bother me. Shrug.

My hair is naturally pretty manageable. It’s thick and straight, except for when I have thin fly-aways or where it waves. Maybe I’ve just gotten good at working with my hair, instead of trying to torture it into submission. Or maybe it’s just plain accomodating — there’s never been a problem getting it to do anything fancy that anyone’s tried to do with it (cheer leading and dance competitions, proms, weddings, etc).

I also own few hair accessories. Just simple, standard hair ties, hair pins, a cloth head-band, and my trademark flower barrettes.

So, generally, I never spent a lot of money on my hair. Yet I’d still feel duped when I would go to a salon to get it cut and it would cost $50 (+ tip). I’ve heard and read of women dropping a hundo or more on their hair every two or three months, and I felt robbed if I had to pay $50 every year. It made me wonder: am I so cheap?

But, no, I’m not cheap. Or at least I don’t think I’m that cheap. I will pay more for diapers, for example, because they are more environmentally friendly, even though they literally get shat on and thrown away. But hair. I never left a hair salon and felt now that was money well spent, whether I spent $10 or $60. The money I had to shell out just didn’t match up with the value for me.

It was just hair getting cut with scissors. I cut my own fingernails — no big deal. My husband cuts his own hair and our sons’, albeit with electric clippers instead of scissors. They have and will be able to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars by cutting their own hair. I wanted in. So I tried it.

Just so we’re clear, I didn’t do very much research into this. Back in high school my friend and I figured that cutting hair from a pony-tail would create layers (we were right). A couple of years ago, I watched a couple of YouTube videos about it and didn’t find them very helpful. Also, to clarify, my long hair gave me a comfortable margin for error and I was prepared to go to a salon for a fix-up if any disasters occurred (they did not).

So. The Process:

I used a hair tie to put my hair into a pony-tail at the crown of my head. I put another hair tie around the tail and pulled it up away from my head to just below where I planned to cut. Then I took very sharp scissors and hacked away, straight across. (First I tried a butcher knife on my cutting block, but it didn’t make a dent. Either Mulan had a very sharp sword or I have hair like a steel cable.)

When I took my hair down from the pony-tail, it had the big, chunky layers I wanted and expected. I did a bit more trimming off the longest layer while my hair was down because I wanted it a bit shorter. I split my hair roughly down the middle and pulled it to the front, (like how you pretend to have a beard — you know what I’m talking about, other long-haired ladies), and just snipped away the ends until it was my desired length.

Now, full disclosure, this hair cut is not highly refined. It is not feathery; in fact, it is rather blunt. But it’s a simple hair style, which is all I ever wanted. I am very happy with how this procedure worked for my hair. Nobody has said anything about my hair since I cut it, like What? D’you get in a fight with your lawnmower and lose? or Did your kids cut your hair while you were asleep or something? or even Thank goodness, you finally did something about those split ends. It is a good 4-5 inches shorter, but still long, so I guess it’s hard for other people to notice when my hair just isn’t that important to them.

Perhaps I should’ve done before and after photos, but I wasn’t thinking of this blog so much when I did it. I was just hot and tired of carrying around a hair-blanket on my head. I wanted to save money and not have to get a babysitter so I could go out to a salon. I wanted to see if I could cut my own hair… and I could! I did! And I like it!

So this’ll be my hair M.O. from now on. Once every year or two should do it. Boom. Money in the bank.