For Gus

It is with a very heavy heart that I hear a feline friend is now ill and perhaps nearing the end of his long life. Admire Gus, here.

Note the heart-shaped mark, with his paws placed just so.

Ever since I first set eyes on Gus, I felt a strong affinity for him. It didn’t matter that he lives in Southern California and that I’ve never actually met him. The draw was real. I felt it back in August 2011. I found a post I wrote back then. At that time I thought I could relate to Gus so strongly because — like me with my own species but not, in my case, due to my tail — Gus had problems communicating with other cats because his tail was messed up. Read about it here.

His guardian is very knowledgeable about cats. He explained about Gus, here:

“The straight up tail is a definite sign of peace among cats – it’s like a handshake. In effect, Gus is responding to a outstretched hand with his hand inside his coat on a suspicious bulge. No wonder the other cats react badly, and that Gus gets twitchy from everyone reacting badly to him.”

Who could know that one year later, in August 2012, I would meet my Barney?

I think Barney and Gus look a lot alike. I think there’s something a bit eerie about this.

I know I am extremely sad.

Here’s Barney, trying to cheer me up.

gus1 002-cropBe happy, Ma.  This is how you do it.

gus1 003-cropIs your belly this floofy?  I thought not.

gus1 011-cropAh.  The Wand.

gus1 014-cropNow I must sleep.

Barney and Gus. Our boys, whom we love.

Coda: Just before I published this, I checked Gus’s blog one more time. He is gone.

In this most touching tribute, his human writes this:

“He even fought through his issues in cat communication with the kittens these last few months. They understood him very well and always treated him with respect due his age but never any fear. I think that made him happy.”

I think that makes me happy, too. Happy — as much as possible.


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Self, Not-Self

I just read an article on mindfulness, in which the author points out that there’s nothing so inherently great about “being in the now.”  Instead, we’re asked to understand that the way out from confusion and delusion, to becoming free from worry and corrosive care, is to grasp that all material beings and things are inherently unsatisfactory, transitory, or non-self-like.

And once we really get this view of reality – so coolly indifferent to our personal fate – then we might see clearly what we can effectively do for ourselves and others.

We are evanescent beings, passing from this material plane unattached.  We are also material beings, fiercely attached.  Both are true; both need attentive care and constructive concern.

now 002Fiercely attached to Bugs

now 003-cropFiercely attached to Barnes.

I put my hand to haiku, being persuaded by April as Poetry Month.

What is loved the most
Moves most toward felicity
Scorches most, in time.


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The Lowdown . . .

. . . On Resting Up.

resting-up 002-cropcatrun

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Come With Me . . .

casbah 002-crop. . . to the Casbah!


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Snap Out of It Ma!

Enough with the hand-wringing!  You know what day it is.  March 4th! 

March forth!

Time to play rumble.

Scene:  Bugs reclines in East Bed, peacefully contemplating the Meaning of Bird Feeder On Snow in Morning Sunshine. 

Enter Barney.

Note to Stage Manager:  East Bed can only carry a twenty-pound load.  Barney alone is close to that.  Multiply by additional ground-forces when inevitable play rumble begins.  This is no time to stop with the hand-wringing.  Hand-wringing re-commences.

birthday-gifBugs to Barney:  I have had about enough of your nonsense.

birthday 010-cropBugs to The World, including Bird Feeder:  I am leaving now.  (Exits stage left.)

birthday 013-cropBarney to Adult Supervisor:  This was not my fault.

birthday 014-cropBarney to Adult Supervisor:  You know you love me.

birthday 019Barney to Adult Supervisor:  Bring me Shoelace.  (Brings Shoelace.)  Thank you.

birthday 026-cropBarney to Adult Supervisor:  This is what Shoelace is for.

birthday 030-cropBarney to Adult Supervisor:  Take it away.  You may leave now.  I must rest.

birthday 034-crop(Adult Supervisor exits stage right.  Enjoys rest of birthday without cats’ participation.)


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Love and Loss

I think about these a lot.

My dad – and Horace Walpole – used to say: “Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think.”

On one hand think-laugh, on the other feel-grieve.

dunno3 039

Bugsy right and left.

If only life, loss, were that simple.

I was running errands the other day when I came on the scene of an accident.  A young man on a motorcycle had rear-ended a car waiting to turn left, was thrown into the right-hand lane, was struck by another car, and died.

Police routed us drivers-by through a retirement complex.  Filing past old age on the one hand, and sudden early death on the other.

I spotted the young man’s naked arm, outstretched from under his shroud.  Pink and plump, palm up, fingers gently curved.  Suppliant to the heavens, on the cold dark pavement.

Might this not be enough to cause us pause in the running of errands?  To be silent for a moment of memento mori? To think, to feel, to do both?

Not us.

The on-line news-media carried a video showing the young man’s helmet and one shoe lying in the wreckage.

In the comment section, a person – I’ll assume she’s a woman – wrote about how she had held the young man’s hand as he died.  How she had clung to his helmet, as if that would help him hold onto life too.

Then she slid sideways into a rant about how the video had shown the helmet and one of the young man’s shoes lying in a different place from where she recalled them.  She wrote: “Was it necessary to embellish an already heart aching incident? How can the media justify doing this? I realize it’s a small thing, but to me there was no need to photograph this, when it is completely unreal and untrue.”

Whereupon internet trolls commenced to argue amongst themselves.  None of whom paused to consider that the first-responders, in trying to save a life, might have had to rearrange the scene a little.

A news-photographer commented that he “felt it his duty” to inform us that “ALL news photos are staged or posed.”  Another writer recalled losing a loved one to a car accident, grieved that the media never contacted the family, and concluded that the media are simply callous.  Another writer, oppositely, complained about the saturation coverage of another accident.  Another writer took issue with peoples’ “reading comprehension” of the first writer’s post.

A few sensitive souls begged to differ.  “Obviously the first commenter is experiencing trauma and people need to be gentle. We should be focused on the loss of life and those left behind to suffer.  Not debating whose reading comprehension needs work.”  “Arguing over shoe placement is stupid.”  “Why do you cruel people like to argue! The young man is dead, OK! This is not an argument about who’s right and wrong!”

Finally, weeks later, a letter was published from another witness.  This writer mourned the death of a stepdaughter who had been killed by a drunk driver.  But when the writer observed the care the first-responders lavished on the young man here, that person felt a healing.  “When I saw how he was protected not only physically but spiritually by our public servants, I am humbled.  I visualized these same people standing guard over my dear Margaret, when she could not stand for herself.”

So.  We are a complex species.

We feel when we can bear it and, when we can’t, we slide sideways into strife and irrelevancy.  Or into a pain that’s relevant to other matters, but not to the one at hand.

* * *

Yesterday we got buried in another huge ice-storm.  This morning, gazing out over a frigid spangled beauty, I grinned at Bongo, an ill-tempered little Schnauzer, as he scooted briskly along high on several inches of snow, never once breaking through the icy crust.  With my hand on Bugsy’s sun-warmed back, I thought about all this.

I remembered standing guard over my last cat Fang, as life left him.  I thought about how, for me, this enormous love I feel for my cats also marinates me in fear of loss, of grief.

icicle 006-cropBugsy apprehensive in the storm.

feathers2-001-crop Barney cool no matter what.

How uncomfortable this acute vulnerability makes me.  Please don’t tell me that the joy makes it all worthwhile.  I am also terrified.

* * *

I would like to be, with all this, like my dear friend in Michigan.  My friend has been a companion for many years to now-elder Ivy, a chocolate Lab.  Ivy is grappling with several illnesses.  My friend has exerted herself to the utmost in researching treatment options and possible prognoses.  She and Ivy are facing a great deal of uncertainty.

kim-ivy-kit-brushed2Ivy and her bud Stewie.  Art by heretherebespiders.

My friend says, purely and simply, that she wants to cherish every minute they have left together.  She tells me of trips to the lake, so Ivy can dip in even though walking on the rocks is hard for her now.  Special treats (need we say more, about Labs’s gastronomic gusto!).

I find my friend’s devotion to be simple and beautiful, a peaceful acceptance of what’s true.

I wish, for all of us, that we may enjoy that simplicity, that beauty.  I think, I feel, that simplicity and beauty are essential antidotes to that which is also absolutely true: That none of us is here together forever.

Sometimes I fight this harsh reality so mightily, I wear myself out.    I know that fighting it is exhausting and futile and is not really the optimum way to approach this pain.  I envy my friend’s passionate presence, in simplicity and beauty.

May such simplicity and beauty be visited on you, on me, on all of us.


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Feathers In The Snow

I should be boning up on bankruptcy and adequate protection and equity cushions.  Not something for sale on Etsy, in case you were wondering about the equity cushions.

I just can’t make myself do any more of it, when there’s so much going on outside.

It’s been snowing since early this morning.  Mid-afternoon it’s finally stopped.  Looks like we got around six inches.  Schools are closed tomorrow for the nth time – and since I moved here in ‘95, that’s happened about once or twice per season.  This season this might be the fourth or fifth snow day and February has barely begun.  It’s going down to 15 F. tonight.

Crazy, unsettled, unsettling weather.  I hate to keep harping on it, but we are in the South here.

feathers 007-crop

Food in Flight

feathers 019-cropFluffed Up

feathers 026-cropFabulous Red

feathers 023-cropGracious Gray


feathers2-001-cropOut of Reach

May I hear a hallelujah for the furnace.  Barney is glad too.


Nonfeathered lunchtime over, he neatens up.

feathers2-009-cropHe demonstrates how nicely his incision is healing.  Fur returns.

feathers 001-cropIt’s good to be in here and not out there.

Back to bankruptcy.


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