Life

Stasis

Stasis

Sometimes the only way to start is just to start.

*

The cats and I are playing a game today. The game goes like this: they sit on the windowsill to my left, close enough to my ear that I can hear their ears twitch. I get out of my chair and they dash for their food dishes in anticipation of a meal that is at least an hour away by my clock. I sit back down. They spread themselves like speed bumps on the rug behind my chair. I get up; they scatter. I sit down; they start knocking things off of tables. I get up; they race for the bowls. I sit down.

I can do this for hours.

*

Darcy the goat is pregnant, so we believe. She’s round and her udder is full and by our calendar’s reckoning she was due to kid last Friday. She has not kidded. She remains round and calm, lying sedately in the stall we’ve prepared for her, chewing her cud like a bored receptionist chewing her gum. We check on her at all hours. Early morning, late at night, sometimes the middle of the night. We get up in the shivery wet, pull on our jeans, slip into our boots, flick on the flashlight. She rests, and chews, and chews.

She can do this for days.

*

Spring is notionally here. No, I’m exaggerating. Spring is definitely here, but so reluctant it’s nuts. The last few days have been cold, the last 24 hours full of (welcome) rain. If I weren’t so lazy I’d build a fire, but I’ve had it with splinters and now I’m not even sure where I put the matches on that innocent April day when I thought spring was a bird in the hand. Every few days, spring puts on a bit of a show, peek-a-booing a few new buds, pushing up something vibrantly green from the brown earth, sprinkling the evening air with peeper song. Then we swing back to sweaters. This morning I was shivering in a little cafe, waiting for my car to be repaired, winter coat around my shoulders, hot mug of tea in my hands. On my walk back to the garage, spring scattered daffodils along my path.

She can do this for weeks.

*

What we are doing here right now is waiting. This is a good place to be, even when it feels frustrating sometimes. We are waiting for things to begin without having used up any of the things we are waiting for. I’m greedy and want it all: the warmth, the rain, the flowers, the warm tea, the moment before everything begins, before the curtain lifts for the next act.

The cats just want their dang dinner.

Standard
Life

Will ye no come back again

The Devil in Disguise

Most of the time, things aren’t as complicated as you worry they’ll be, but it’s also true that things are rarely as simple as you hope they’ll be.

A kitten. A cat. A small furry being with big eyes and ears and an even bigger personality. A system of organs and arteries and veins. A way of being part of a family. You can never clearly see the end from the beginning.

Langourous

We brought Hudson home at four months old, a “brother” to the little grey kitten that Hyla wanted. Different breeds, they fought and loved each other like brothers. They yinged and yanged.

Hudson was tiny. Big ears, big wide eyes. Shy and scared (both kittens had been raised to that point in cages at the breeder’s home—our wide-open living room was a terror for them at first), he bloomed into magnificent purring if you cuddled him in a blanket cave.

At first I thought his purr would be the biggest part of his personality. How little I knew.

We didn’t see eye to eye, this cat and I. He grew up and he was demanding, pushy, acquisitive. He purred loudly. He meowed loudly. He claimed the dog’s bed in front of the fire as his own. He stole food from plates (and the dog’s bowl, while the dog was trying to eat). His kingdom included the kitchen counters and the sink, the beds, the pillows, Michael’s lap the minute he sat down after chores.

He loved bread, waffles, pancakes. He tasted (and ruined) more than one proofing dinner roll and draining goat cheese. He’d chew through a package of biscuits or cookies just to have a taste.

He loved water. Take a shower in the morning and you’d hear Hudson “ree-owing” outside the bathroom door, demanding to be let in so that he could lick the shower floor clean of droplets. If you wanted to call him out of hiding, all you needed to do was turn on the tub faucet and he’d magically appear, leap onto the edge of the tub, and start lapping at the stream of water.

He strutted around knowing full well this house, this life, was his.

He apologized to no one. I resented and admired him. I wanted to love him the way I’d loved all the other cats before him, but things are rarely as simple as we hope they’ll be.

This cat with changing names—Acorn, Thistle, Whirligig, Purmort, Hudson*—often brought out the worst in me (impatience, anger, frustration), but he was always just who he was. No compromising. He could be entirely willful and frustrating one minute, then on your lap the next, exposing his belly for scratches the way a dog would, luxuriating in being touched, purring like a perfectly tuned engine.

Hyla and the Aby

That cat. He drove me nuts. But of course I loved him. We all loved him. And he loved us. Particularly Michael, who is far more patient than I am.

That cat. He was just nine when he died on Saturday, but he packed a lot of everything into those nine years.

He’s out under the big maple tree now. We buried him with a pancake and some baguette and some fur from his brother.

When he was little, so very little, he used to chase me when I went upstairs to the bedrooms. I’d be on the stairs, just a few steps from the bottom landing, and he’d bolt up next to me, rise up on his tiny rear legs, and bap-bap-bap-bap-bap my ankles with his soft front paws, claws retracted. We called it “Hudsonizing.” Unexpected and uniquely him. He did it constantly during his kittenish years, then more rarely.

It never failed to make me smile. I’m smiling right now. And also crying.

~~~~~~
* We eventually settled on “Hudson,” short for Mr. Hudson, the Scottish butler on the original Upstairs, Downstairs television series. The title of this post comes from the title of one of the show’s episodes, which featured Mr. Hudson in a visit to his native land, and is also the title of a poem/song, long used as a Scottish farewell.

Standard
Stuff

Who we met at the cat show

Reach

Last weekend we went up to Burlington to visit the annual cat show they put on there, something we’ve been meaning to do for years for H’s sake. It’s silly how long it can take us to get around to something we all agree we want to do. Imagine how long it takes us to do the things we must (but don’t want) to do.

The cat show took place in a large meeting room in a hotel. There were rows of benches (tables) with various sizes of cat carriers and cages. On one end of the room were the “rings,” which were u-shaped areas bordered by cages with a judge’s table in front.

Cat owners ferried their charges from the bench cages to the ring cages as their numbers were called for each judging class. Then judges took each cat in turn out of its cage, put it on the table, handled it, watched it move, put it back in its cage, and wrote the cat’s score in a notebook. After the judge had handled each cat in the class, ribbons were bestowed and owners returned their cats to the benches.

So, no agility stunts or running the cats around the rings with leashes like at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, but if you got a seat up front you could get a good look at some beautiful cats, and you could wander the benches and talk to the owners, who were all exceedingly enthusiastic about their breeds of choice.

Some highlights of our day:

Seeing with our own eyes that our Abyssinian is not the only one who likes to act up.

Typical

Getting a chance to see just how large and gorgeous Norwegian Forest Cats are.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat

Seeing cats of all spots, stripes, colors, fur lengths, and body shapes.

Sphynx

Watching

Burmilla

Abyssinian

Meditating

Spots

And meeting Zelda, a beautiful young cousin of our very own Singapura, Oyster.

Zelda

Standard
52 weeks, Goats, Photography, Stuff

52 Photos ~ Conversation

Wells talking

Like many people who write for a living, I sit here alone at my computer much of the day and mutter.

Not to myself, mind you.

The cats, with their interrogative tails and their insistent meows, are always making demands disguised as questions.

When are you going to feed us? What’s that on the counter? Can we have it? Now? Are you going to try to stop us if we get on the counter? Why did you have to buy that stupid dog? Can’t you get rid of him? Are you going to feed us now? Are you eating something? Can we have it? Will you give it to us if we walk on your face?

They don’t wait for answers. They just keep asking. I answer. No. Later. You can’t have that. Leave the dog alone. Leave each other alone. Get out of the sink. We keep up this exchange until they fall asleep in little cat piles on the sofa cushions, or until I boot them into the basement and shut the door behind them.

Our conversation is not very satisfying, but at least it’s reliable.

With the dog, it’s more a series of polite requests and assurances.

Dog: If it’s not too much trouble, I’d sure like to go for a walk. Might you have time soon to go for a walk?

Me: Don’t worry, we’ll go soon. I just have to write this thing.

Okay, I can wait. Oh, there’s a scary cat. Can you please make the cat go away? Also, I love you. So much.

I love you, too. Go away cat.

Can we go for a walk now? I mean, if it sounds good to you, it sure sounds good to me!

Soon, soon.

Now? I love you.

It’s a sweet-but-tiring sort of conversation. The walk would be good for both of us. The cats are scary. But I don’t want to talk about it all the time. Can’t we talk about something new? Like, I’d really love to know more about what he can smell when we go for a hike, or his opinion about which route we take on the walk, or why the toaster used to scare him.

The goats and I have a different patter. Every morning, I greet them with a bright, “Good morning” and they stare at me from the pen. Then one or two bleat in greeting. I know it’s a question. Have you got any banana peels, or artichoke leaves, or grain?

Once I’ve answered that question, the conversation changes. Albus talks to me by sniffing my hand and my hair, then exhaling next to my face, then inhaling my breath. Lars stands close, shyly, bends his neck, silently presents his forehead for scratches. Willow nickers, asking if maybe I have an extra treat, then sloppily licks my nose, regardless of my answer. Westie stand away from the crowd, stares, and asks me with those gentle gold eyes to come to her, to rub her forehead.

And Wellesley. A week from her kidding date, Wellesley and I talk a lot. Her bleat sounds like she’s softly clearing her throat over and over. Ahem. Ahem. She has expectations. They include being served grain, then being served cuddles. She rubs my legs with her head the way a cat might. She makes satisfied little grunting sounds. Sounds of contentment. I reply in kind, with little bleats and grunts and sighs. I don’t know what either of us are saying, but I get the gist. I remember, long ago, that feeling of waiting, and expecting, and wanting a snack and some affection.

So we talk about that. And then we’re silent. And we wait.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

Standard

Do the math

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday ~ Do the math

Image