Posted tagged ‘Cats’

Unintended Consequences

September 13, 2017

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Probably I’m anthropomorphising but I’ve been obsessed all summer with getting a kitten for Minou. He seems lonely and bored, and Toby only comes in to eat, say rude things to him, and leaves for his secret destination, wherever it is that he spends 99% of his non-eating time.

All summer I’ve searched for the perfect kitten and the perfect time to get one. Not before I went to France, not before I went to Bainbridge, not when I’d have house guests or a noisy party. Not while the local Humane Society was infested with ringworm. Finally, last weekend, I decided the time had come, before kitten season was over. I went and picked out what seemed to be the best available kitten, although I wasn’t in love with any of them.

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She was a tiny thing, weighing only 2.2 pounds. She purred when I held her, and seemed sweet enough. And then I brought her home. She met Minou, who weighs in at a solid 13 pounds, and all hell broke loose. Minou behaved himself quite well, but the kitten screamed and shrieked at him. He went outside in self-defense, she settled down.

That night she slept by my pillow in the place that Minou usually occupies from around 5 a.m. until I get up. He jumped on the bed in the morning and I awoke to an unearthly scream. Partly that was me, because when I’m sound asleep and someone screams right in my ear, I’m inclined to join in the chorus. Minou jumped down and ran for the hills.

Later that morning I realized that he had a bleeding gash on his neck, my sweet Minou who never fights at all. I put the kitten back in her box and returned her to the Humane Society, not 24 hours after adopting her, without remorse. Minou acted traumatized for a couple of days, and I dabbed at his wound with antibiotic gel. Then this morning I saw that in scratching at it he had opened it up much more than the original gash, and it was actually pretty gory, Off to the vet he went.

He got stitches. He got a cone. I got a bill for $250, in addition to the $95 I had paid to adopt that kitten. But all of that is just an aside to how freaked out, like totally psycho-nutjob, he is now. The cone makes him crazy, makes him try to get it off by batting his head against the wall. They said to keep him inside, which means closing the cat door. Now he can’t get out, has to remember how to use a litter box, and Toby has no way to come in for food. The whole balance of life in our house is topsy-turvy.

And all as a result of the fact that I probably projected my own loneliness onto Minou. I’m desperately hoping that things will settle down. And that’s definitely the end of the add-a-kitten program for this year. Be careful what you wish for, someone wise said that.

 

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Spring Has Sprung

April 16, 2016

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I know that some of you are still suffering through the last dreary days of the year, so I thought I’d cheer you up with the things that really cheer me up – my garden, and Minou. Both are in fine fettle these days. Here’s a little peek at my garden.

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The entire foreground  used to be lawn, but I had it taken out last fall and replaced with drought-tolerant plantings. It’s just starting to come to life. The gorgeous dogwood tree was already there

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and I love its extravagant showiness. At first I thought it was a rare treasure, but now I see that the whole neighborhood is full of them, the exact same variety – there must have been a big sale on them about 20 years ago.

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Tulips have such a short life, but such a radiant one.

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I planted a cool little tree, a Forest Pansy, which is a kind of redbud. This is its first season to flower.

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Every day I inspect the garden for new flowers, and Minou almost always accompanies me on my rounds.

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At the end of the day this is a sweet spot to sit with a glass of wine, reading the paper, or grilling something for supper, maybe doing a little homework. You can think of me there in just a couple of hours, wine in hand and something on the grill, although definitely minus the homework today. The forecast for today and tomorrow is “sunny and delightful” and I’m taking full advantage of that gift.

Making Ourselves At Home

August 30, 2015

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It’s been two weeks since Toby and I landed in our new life, and one week since Minou became part of our family. We’ve all been getting used to each other, and to our little house, and small yard. It’s a big adjustment for Toby, whose home on the island was three times the size of our house here, and who roamed freely over a wide territory, within heart-stopping range of coyotes, eagles, owls, and cars. Here we have way more cars, but so far he hasn’t gone out of the tightly-fenced yard, and I’m hoping that he never does.

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It’s been so hot, right up until today, that Minou had no compunction about putting his little tongue right into my ever-present  glass of ice water. There’s often a glass of rosé near that water, but neither cat shows any inclination to follow me in my wine-loving ways. It’s been over 90° most every day, so that we were all languid and ruffled, and inclined to lounge about. Me, though, I’ve been so busy with school that the kitties have been alone together for a good part of every day, while I kept my fingers crossed on their behalf.

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But today it finally cooled off, and we even had a little rain, just enough to knock the smoke out of the sky, at least for now, and let us see some blue for the first time in two weeks. Toby, who has never lived with trees, being a beach cat, has begun to think about climbing.

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And although strange cats have had the habit of running through our yard, and Toby is a gentle cat who never fights, he’s beginning to take ownership of the place. Since it was even cool enough today to have some doors and windows open, I decided to let Minou go outside for the first time, which he did without fear. I’m not teaching him about the cat door yet, but he’s quite smart, and will soon see how Toby uses it. But for now, I want to be sure I’m here when he goes out. So he did go out and come in several times between lunch and dinner, and later, when I heard a suspicious post-prandial  silence, I wondered whether I’d accidentally left the door open for him.

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But no, the two of them had decided to snuggle up on the sofa together for an after-dinner nap. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, to think that they’ve become friends already. The sort of friends who curl up together after dinner, in their new home, content to not even be in the same room with me, just to be together. Because I’m heading into a fantastically busy week, in which I either will or will not pass my forklift operator test (not at all a sure thing) and there are tons of grapes coming in so I’ll be on the crush pad whenever I’m not on the forklift, and maybe on the bottling line as well, and then in the tasting room. At home in my new life, but away from home many hours a day. I’m so glad that Toby and Minou have found a home in each other, and I plan to share their coziness whenever I can.

But in the meantime, I have got to master that damned forklift!

A Gentle Soul

August 23, 2015

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Last night, for the first time in 16 months, I dreamed of Shel’s death. It wasn’t his actual death, in that inscrutable way of dreams, but another death. What I dreamed was that moment of leaving, that stark knowing that I’d never see him again. Perhaps I whimpered in my sleep, I don’t know.

What I do know is that this sweet three pounds of feathery fluff, who’s only lived with us for two days and hasn’t yet revealed his name, came to me at that moment, climbed onto my chest, just over my heart, and settled in to purr. And when I opened my eyes to look at him, tears that I hadn’t know were there slid slowly down my cheeks, and he patted my face very gently.

It’s a week now since I left my old life, my Shel life. I’ve worked on the crush pad, driven two forklifts, worked in the tasting room. Today I’m going to meet some new people and play boules. I’m well and truly gone from the world Shel and I shared, which in a way is like having him die all over again. I hadn’t expected this grief, because this is the new life I spun for myself out of the merest wisps of hope, the life I chose, the life that seems to be the very best life I can live at this moment. But still, in starting over I left him behind, in a profound way that still fills my eyes to overflowing.

And now I have a kitten who might read my heart. I love Toby, but he’s not an empathetic cat, doesn’t notice how I’m feeling. It’s one of the hardest things, to lose the one who always knows how you feel. Of course, a kitten and a husband are not the same thing, but maybe, just maybe, now I have someone to pat my cheek if I whimper in the night.

Shifting Patterns

May 4, 2015

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You’re looking at the colors, and patterns, of my new life. Bold, different, not shrinking from stepping forward and proclaiming “here I am!” Not what Shel would have picked. Not a life that includes Shel. My own separate life. Such a concept, at the nexus of joy and pain.

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It’s time to let the cat out. Of the bag, that is. I’m moving, for a couple of years. Maybe not “moving on,” as one is said to do after a terrible loss, but moving, fair and square.

I’ve bought a little house in Walla Walla, WA, and I’m going to live in it during two school years. Why school years? Because I love to go to school. And in this case, I’m thrilled to say that I’m going to be studying at the Center for Enology  and Viticulture. Learning to grow grapes, and make wine. And writing about it, of course. What could be a better way to spend the next two years?

And after that, it’s anyone’s guess. Mistress of Reinvention, I christen myself. Skipping in to the Vast Unknown, Shel no longer by my side, but always in my heart, forging ahead, not quite fearless, but determined. And thrilled to be learning something so cool, to have this chance, and to have seized it.

Spring Has Sprung

March 20, 2015

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I haven’t been sharing much lately, as I’ve been busy cooking up a new life for myself. I’ll reveal all in a bit, when everything’s settled, but for now, here’s my garden on the first day of spring. It’s way too early for all this, but I have to admit that I’m really enjoying it. And Toby loves to be in the garden with me, hiding in the feathery grasses and pouncing out joyously at every opportunity. If there’s still snow where you are, here, have a few spring flowers.

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Garden Therapy

May 24, 2014

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Do you remember reading as a child, or reading to a child, this little ditty from Winnie The Pooh “this warm and sunny spot belongs to Pooh, and here he sits and wonders what to do?” Well, this is my spot, and I’ve been sitting there a lot, wondering how to create the rest of my life.

DSC_8406Toby, not much of a therapy cat, nonetheless loves to hang out in the garden and seems pleased to have my company out there.

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I also have dozens, if not scores, of winged companions. Would you say that this is a giant bee, or really tiny flowers? Would you say that trying to compose the next 20 years of my life is a giant challenge, or just a tiny mote in the eye of the universe?

DSC_8373Zazou, who is also interested in bees, shows up to put the flowers into perspective. Me too, I’m in need of perspective. Perhaps if I go back to France and get a little distance from all that’s happened, my troubles too will shrink down to a manageable size.

DSC_8376Sometimes it all seems so dark, with just the tiniest bits of bright spots to remind me to keep my eyes open.

DSC_8390Other times I feel so wide open and exposed that the slightest psychic breeze can carry me away, scattered silly.

DSC_8398But even the bees like a change, like to spread themselves all around the small world of my garden, and so too, perhaps, should I. I’m a bit terrified to go back to France without Shel, lest every single thing remind me of him. But then, how would that be different than here? Thus I also contemplate a trip to some place he and I never went together, to remind myself that I do have a separate existence, now that I’m an off-leash puppy.

DSC_8423Solitary travels, even though I once went to Finland and Russia by myself, aren’t my favorite thing. I need to be able to share the bees, and their stings, the flowers and their thorns, with someone who cares.

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I guess it’s all a question of what’s in focus: the beauty or the emptiness, the light or the dark, the loss or the presence. I carry it all within me, as well as those grief bursts, now less frequent, but more powerful. The paradox of the day is that often, right after having had a fine, even fun time, where I think to myself that I’m really doing a whole lot better, it all falls apart once I’m alone, and I dissolve into pain. I need to find a way to let it out bit by bit, like drip irrigation. Who said that tears make things grow? That’s such a gentle image, whereas mine scour me out like steel wool, leaving raw, dull spots where all the shininess has been rubbed off.

DSC_8412But somewhere in there, in the deep, hidden center, there is healing going on. Grief picks at the scab until it bleeds anew, but I put my nose into the heart of this iris and inhale its delicate apricot scent, and I remember that life is beautiful, even though death is part of it. Or maybe life is beautiful because death is part of it.

DSC_8461-002The fact that I am craving beauty, and light, is undoubtedly a good sign. They’ve got those in abundance in the south of France, and I have so many dear friends there. Shel wanted me to go back, even to move there, because he said he’d never seen me happier than when we lived there. French Letters too probably would be happy to be repatriated. J’y pense. I’m thinking about it.