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Why Everyone Needs a Maneki Neko (a What?!)

maneki neko

When one of my Facebook pals asked if I ever made a Maneki Neko, my first response was “A what?!”

Since my fear of appearing stupid is nearly as great as my fear of being eaten by a shark, my second response was to hop on Google to find out what the heck he was talking about.

The mystery was solved quite rapidly. Even if we aren’t familiar with the official name of the Maneki Neko, many of us are familiar with the item itself. A Maneki Neko is the cute-as-all-get-out Fortune Cat, which some may refer to as the Smiling Wavy Cat Thing You See Next to Asian Restaurant Cash Registers.

Armed with the knowledge that these cutesy kitties are thought to bring good fortune and luck, I got my first one years ago from one of those dollar stores where everything costs at least $10. I don’t recall the exact price of the cat, but I knew I’d make it back in a jiffy when his good fortune vibes went into action.

While he graced my living room with his battery-operated waving paw for several days, the click-clack noise of the waving paw quickly drove me nuts. He’s been in the backyard ever since, now partially hidden by an overgrown sage bush but still streaming good fortune my way.

Whether it’s in their backyard, front yard or danging above their bed, everyone needs a Maneki Neko. Here’s why.

For Good Fortune

We could all use a dose of good fortune, and one of the most straightforward ways to secure it is to get yourself Maneki Neko. Other nicknames for this captivating critter are the Money Cat, the Welcoming Cat and the Lucky Cat, which means all that jazz can start coming your way.

You can also customize the type of good fortune you’d like to receive, based on the different colors, accessories and waving hand of your Maneki Neko.

Different colors are associated with different benefits:

  • White: Positive future and happiness
  • Red: Love and relationship success
  • Gold: Prosperity and wealth
  • Green: Good health
  • Black: Protection from evil spirits

Different accessories can likewise indicate different things.

A waving left arm is meant beckon customers, while a waving right arm beckons money and fortune. Get a Fortune Cat with both paws raised and you may get so much good luck your head is likely to explode.

My pal’s only request for his custom Maneki Neko is that its main color be white. I then customized the rest with:

  • A left waving hand, since that’s the way I’ve seen most Maneki Neko and I’m a big fan of left hands (as well as left-handed folks). The left to me symbolizes boundless creativity and potential.
  • Money-magnet accessories on the collar that include coins for wealth and flowers for growth and abundance.
  • A belly button, just because belly buttons are fun.

White was requested, while red, gold and black are the colors that called to me for the accents. My pal’s personal Maneki Neko is now equipped to bring on the prosperity and love while warding off the evil. Sounds good to me.

maneki neko

For Sharing a Good Story 

Legends rock, and the Maneki Neko has several that explain how the Fortune Cat came to be. One of the most interesting involves a geisha who absolutely adored her pet cat. Her cat followed her around, made sweet purring noises, and actually tugged at her kimono when it wanted attention.

While the kimono-tugging would be cute for some, the owner of the brothel took the tugging as a sign that the cat was possessed. So he grabbed a sword and sliced off the kitty’s head.

The cat’s head went flying off into the distance – landing on a snake that was about to strike and kill the geisha. The catapulting cat head, of course, killed the snake and the geisha was saved. Since she was still distressed about the loss of her beloved cat, one of her customers made her statue of the cat to cheer her up.

The Maneki Neko was born.

Pass along this legend and you get multiple layers of benefits. You get the benefit of sharpening your storytelling skills. The benefit of picking up a bedtime tale you can tell to your kids. And the benefit of keeping such fantastic folklore alive.

For Making a Quick Buck 

While the Maneki Neko is designed to bring good fortune and money, the windfall may not happen overnight. In the meantime, you can easily make a quick buck from all your family members and friends.

Simply point at your Fortune Cat and say:

“I’ll bet you $5 you can’t tell me the official name of this wavy cat thing.”

Boom. You’re now $5 richer.

Keep it up long enough and you’ll soon be able to afford anything and everything from those dollar stores that charge at least $10 or more per item.

Enjoy!

Read more cool stuff about the Maneki Neko on the Catster website.

Get a personalized Fortune Cat you can gleefully gaze at daily at the rynski etsy shop.

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Meet Harvey the Hell Cat: Art Therapy Project

art therapy emotional turmoil

He’s flattened. He’s wincing. His wide eyes are filled with fear. Heck, he even has a fear portal located keenly above his solar plexus where fear can be pumped in or sucked out, depending on the mood of the day.

He’s Harvey the Hell Cat, and he’s one creepy creature indeed (who happens to look smashing on my living room wall).

While Harvey the Hell Cat may seem like a peppy enough project to be done for fun, he was actually the result of yet another intriguing art therapy topic from Tucson’s Dr. B.

  • Topic: Emotional Turmoil
  • Result: Harvey the Hell Cat, a kooky critter crafted out of papier-mache-like clay then painted with dark colors. Additional details include eyes made from a metal washer and nut, sheet-metal teeth, and the aforementioned fear portal framed by gold and blue hues.
art therapy emotional turmoil

Why a flattened cat?

Flattened cats have a strong link to my past emotional turmoil, one of which was the star of an incident back in Brooklyn. When my then-boyfriend’s cat was dying, the cat waited until I came home one day to perform his final dying ceremony. It came complete with a swan song.

He crawled into the center of the room, laid on his side, and let out the loudest, most distressing extended cat yeowl I’ve ever heard in my life. I tried comforting him as he continued, until taking his very last breath.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it, especially what I called in a poem “his glazed eye filled with fear.”

Fear of death has kicked up plenty of emotional turmoil in me over the years, although I’m learning to deal with it by reaffirming my belief that yes, our souls live onward and no, I won’t come back as a picnic table.

Is Harvey the Hell Cat for sale?

You bet!

While I cannot part with the original Harvey the Hell Cat, I’d be delighted to make you one of your very own, using any colors you wish. Order now at the rynski etsy shop.

Enjoy!

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3 Thrilling Facts about Air Conditioners

new daikin air conditioner

It’s official. This summer marks the year of air conditioning deaths. A pal posted on Facebook that hers had died. A neighbor had an old one hauled away on a flatbed. Mine was close to death, not expected to last through to fall, so I avoided a sudden and violent death by having it replaced this week.

Summers can be brutal in Tucson if you’re stuck without an air conditioner. But that’s not one the thrilling facts I’m about to expose. That one is just common sense.

The thrilling facts are a bit more intriguing, coming from the experienced pros at D&H Air Conditioning Company.  I was graced with several visits where the D&H AC guys first checked in on my old unit and then turned me on to and installed a new one. All were knowledgeable, personable and served up exceptional explanations, along with these three fascinating AC facts.

Dogs Use AC Units as Personal Grooming Systems

Globs and globs of dog hair. That’s the main thing that came out of our old outdoor AC unit. The globs and globs came from years and years of long-haired dogs, coupled with the fact that no one ever actually opened and cleaned out the unit for the past decade.

Now, we all already know that dogs are smart. The AC man made them even smarter still by noting he sees globs of dog hair all the time.

“Dogs learn to rub on the unit,” he said, noting that the force sucking in the outside air pulls wayward hair and debris off their coats. It’s like their own personal grooming system.

Since my current two dogs flee in terror from the room if you even sneeze, I cannot imagine them actually going near a loud, vibrating box – much less rubbing on it – but I liked the idea of putting a little fence or barrier around the unit. Not because it would ensure the dogs don’t get close enough for a massage, but for aesthetic reasons. A metal dragon cut-out privacy screen thing is nicer to look at than an AC unit, no?

Stolen Freon is a Hot Market

Yep, air conditioning Freon has a thriving black market, with thousands of dollars’ worth swiped from unsuspecting homeowners every year. On older AC units, all a Freon thief has to do is open a valve on the Freon AC hose, empty the stuff into whatever vessel works for Freon stealing, and then sell it to other people who don’t feel like paying full price for non-stolen Freon.

The AC man said they’ve seen entire neighborhoods hit, with sneaky thieves simply shimmying from house to house in the middle of the night. Homeowners wake up to a non-working AC unit – and a big bill for Freon replacement.

New units come with a special key that locks the Freon valve, and only authorized AC companies are allowed to have the key.

Many AC Units Still Use Technology from 1908

In its early days, air conditioning cooled the interior by coming on full blast, 100-percent power, filling the room with cold air, and then shutting off. It would then wait until the room heated up and repeat the process again and again. That type of system is known as the single-stage system. It’s also what made my old AC unit end up with charred black panel where the starter thing had to start it up full force every time it went on.

Newer AC unit feature a two-step system, which works to maintain an even temperature more like a refrigerator. The system’s first stage hits 60 percent power, filling a room with cold air. It then reduces the load to about 15 to 20 percent power to maintain a steady coolness throughout the interior. Instead of going on and off at 100 percent like a madman, it keeps a slower and more steady pace.

Our AC “comfort advisor” (love the title!) gave us a spot-on analogy. He said the single-stage system was like being a red light and then flooring the gas pedal to speed up and stop at the next red light. A two-stage system was like smoothly accelerating and gently reaching the desired speed, providing far less wear and tear on the car.

Even though I drive like a single-stage system, I went for the two-stage for the new AC unit.

While getting a new AC unit may not be as exciting as getting a new car or killer suede boots, the experience can still be fun. Not only do you get a quieter, more efficient way to cool your home, but your dogs get a brand-new personal grooming system.

Make your cool home even cooler with art from the rynski shop on etsy.

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Dogs vs. Cats: A Fresh Take on an Age-Old Debate

dogs as needy girlfriends

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Yes, you can be both. And yes, you can switch sides.

I was a cat person growing up, until I discovered dogs in adulthood.

A woman I met at the recent Valley Dogs Rescue fundraiser, Petsfly Founder Jeni Redmond, was just the opposite. She also gave quite a thought-provoking reason for her switch from dogs to cats.

“Dogs are like needy girlfriends,” she said, noting their constant pleas for attention are akin to the flurry of texts you get from gals who feel they’re being ignored.

When dogs get too insistent, she just wants to scream “Stop texting me!’” She explained it all with a laugh.

I laughed, too. Then I immediately thought of my Belgian Tervuren Reggie who actually sits on my head when I’m lying down watching Netflix instead of him. Yep, that fits.

So if dogs are prone to falling into the needy girlfriend category, what does that make cats?

With their aloof nature and penchant for completely disregarding you, many could definitely double as the emotionally unavailable boyfriend. To make sure the idea was on the right track, I tested the theory below.

Dogs as Needy Girlfriends

dogs as needy girlfriends
Dogs Needy Girlfriends
Demands to know where you are at all times Yes Yes
Checks in on you multiple times a day  Yes Yes
Gets upset if you go somewhere without her Yes Yes
Gets mad if you forget her birthday Not really Yes
Gets jealous if you give attention to someone else Yes, sometimes jealous enough to draw blood Yes, sometimes jealous enough to draw blood

This one appears to check out, aside from the tidbit about the birthday.

Cats as Emotionally Unavailable Boyfriends

cats as emotionally unavailable boyfriends
Cats Emotionally Unavailable Boyfriends
Doesn’t bother to tell you where he’s going or when he’ll be back Yes Yes
Ducks your calls multiple times a day Yes Yes
Gets annoyed when you ask to accompany him wherever he’s going Sometimes Yes
Totally forgets your birthday Yes Yes
Doesn’t even notice if you give attention to someone else Yes, unless it involves food or catnip Yes

This one aligns, too, proving the theory is correct.

The Good News

The good news is you don’t have to date your dog or cat. And not all dogs and cats will neatly fit into the needy girlfriend or emotionally unavailable boyfriend category. Not even all girlfriends and boyfriends will fall into those categories (thank goodness).

Please note this theory is all in fun, providing altogether politically incorrect stereotypes that hopefully made you at least chuckle.

Dogs and cats each have their unique quirks, which is part of the reason they’re so much fun. It’s even more fun when you learn how to work with those quirks to make a truly personal connection.

I know I’m overjoyed when Reggie rewards my constant attention with his happy little clicking noise in the back of his throat – or by moving far enough off my head so I can actually see the TV screen and breathe.

I was likewise over the moon when the cat pictured above, my pal Stephanie’s cat Witchbird, actually let me take her picture without running to hide in the closet.

Bonding with animals is a treat, whether its dogs, cats, goats or rats. This especially holds true when you fill the needs of a needy-girlfriend dog or get an emotionally-unavailable-boyfriend cat to open up or remember your birthday.

For more insights on dogs, get The Rynski Doggie Dictionary. For more insights on cats, check back later after Witchbird comes out of the closet.  

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