Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice and The Crossing

Today we have arrived at the shortest day of the year. From here onward, the road leads toward spring, as far off as that may seem. Last day of work. I am pensive - verging toward depressed. I didn't even go to the company holiday lunch, although there were pretty good reasons not to go, according to me - ha ha. I have had, instead, a nice private time in my office: Christmas music, a bit of wine, and the freedom to sing out loud, as vigorously as I pleased. It felt good. The way I feel now, as someone once said - it is best I am where people are not. Outside, not festive at all: sunny, mild, no snow - yuck. I am a whole week behind my home "trimming", not even my tree yet - hopefully tomorrow, with the plunging temperatures, we will have some snow, and finally I can cheer up the house, and maybe myself as well.

I keep looking for signs, a reason to believe. But sometimes I forget the ones I have seen, or simply scoff that it must be some weird coincidence. But I have one to share that defies such cynicism - even for me. It is the end-story to our dear departed Bandito. I have not had time or heart to write about it yet. After he left us, it was up to Cat Wrangler, as usual, to perform that most horrible of tasks: the digging, and the burial. We have a huge garden. And that allows for many spots to be chosen, while at the same time avoiding areas filled with tree roots, impeding the digging. CW chose one - then suddenly changed his mind and chose another, near the old lilac tree: a totally random spot.  But well chosen, it will become clear. And so he began to dig. His spade eventually hit something  large, metal and old. With some effort he unearthed a very rust-laden and very old car jack. On it, barely visible, were the words "Alliance, Ohio."  First of all, after a quick "google", I learned that Alliance was originally known as "The Crossing" (crossing to the Rainbow Bridge?). It gets better. This year, in 2012, Alliance, Ohio was the place where the first feline historical museum in the U.S. was opened by the Cat Fanciers Association. That's right. Also, their special exhibition this year was one featuring the famous maneki neko. Earlier this summer, as Bandito had began to fade, our own maneki neko was moved from upstairs to the summer porch - where he finally left us. 

"No fear, Bandito - I will lead you home...."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Longfellow's Long Journey Back

The flower baskets have given way to festive wreaths around town, and I realize that an update is way past overdue.  The main subject is of course, our Longfellow. Whatever trauma he suffered due to his accident, the nature of which we will never know, has happily passed by, and he is his usual “odd” self. After several trips to the vet, the last one, which featured the evil man making an appearance in the house no less, caused our poor boy to say, “enough” and promptly went into a self-imposed exile in the  spare room upstairs. Food and litter had to be relocated just for him, as any attempt to bring him back downstairs was fruitless, and resulted in a quick escape back to his safe place. After close to a month of having our patient sequestered, with door open by the way, one of his last such escapes was surprisingly quick and effortless, and that is when we realized his recovery was almost complete – he was simply having a psychological issue that had to be overcome, in his own good time. Whatever had happened to him, it resulted in a torn leg, a torn belly, and the need to relearn how to use a litterbox – he had suffered a huge shock, but he was coming out of the dark at last – we had even been “prepared” for the worst – that’s how bad the situation had seemed. Now, he is eating, drinking and all the rest, just like normal. One day, he simply left the “recovery” room and didn’t go back. Although he is quite thin – he is close to 15+ years after all - our Longfellow has been restored to us.

Monday, October 22, 2012

9 Years Ago

O call my bother back to me
Where is my dearest Tom
The leaves fall off from every tree
And winter soon will come.

My garden is forsaken now
I cannot work alone
I've laid aside my spade and hoe
Since Tom is far from home

As o'er the lawn I stray alone
As by the walnut tree
I think of you dear brother Tom
O do you think of me?

O call my brother back to me
I cannot play alone
The leaves fall off from every tree
And winter soon will come.

This simple but touching poem I found in some old correspondence I was archiving recently. Curious, I googled the first line, and it seems to be a derivative of a more well-known poem:

The Child's First Grief

Oh! call my brother back to me!
I cannot play alone;
The summer comes with flower and bee -
Where is my brother gone?

The butterfly is glancing bright
Across the sunbeam's track;
I care not now to chase its flight -
Oh! call my brother back!

The flowers run wild - the flowers we sow'd
Around our garden tree;
Our vine is drooping with its load -
Oh! call him back to me!

"He would not hear thy voice, fair child!
He may not come to thee;
The face that once like spring-time smiled,
On earth no more thou 'lt see.

"A rose's brief, bright life of joy,
Such unto him was given:
Go - thou must play alone, my boy!
Thy brother is in heaven."

And has he left his birds and flowers;
And must I call in vain?
And through the long, long summer hours,
Will he not come again?

And by the brook and in the glade
Are all our wandering's o'er?
Oh! while my brother with me play'd,
Would I had loved him more!

Felicia Hemans . 1793-1835

Gone but never forgotten, my brother, Alex:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Angels and Archives

 Working in archives can often be melancholy business. Across one’s desk pass photographs of young people in their prime, wedding snaps, candids. All the long stretch of their lives ahead of them – what surprises would come to them – what tragedies – what joys - what life? And now gone, long gone. With no one to remember their living lives anymore – as their descendants are too – long gone. Of course I am talking about very old photos – Victorian era and beyond. Those photos are truly the best, as so often we see faces that seem to be restrained – proper – not allowing any hint of emotion to shine through for the camera – or for anyone else. But as depressing as this can be (and I rarely need extra help in that department), there is a comfort in times of sorrow and grief and misery: the knowledge, indeed the certainty, that it will not last – it too shall pass. As often as grief visits us, I always wonder how can we continue to live – how can we remain, when they have gone? We do because we must, and because there is only that one other alternative. And so – we do not die from grief – the pain becomes blunt, a dull throb, then eases over time into a warm memory of the one who passed. The jagged edges gone. This is the survival mechanism – urging us, beckoning us, to keep going. And so we go….

I am addicted to Google street view. I do not travel for a variety of reasons, and so on any given lunch-break, off I go to Portofino, or to the edge of Scotland – a  view of a lonely lighthouse – with just the seemingly endless sea for a view. I imagine living there. On the edge of the world.  As I work with old correspondence, I am often prompted to look up a location the person had visited, and am able to see – instantly – the moors, the cliffs, the sea, the limitless sky – all different now, yet the same. It all changes, yet it all stays the same – such a puzzle and paradox this life is. In one letter, the author writes of visiting the famous cemetery in Genoa – renowned for its stunning memorial sculptures. So I checked to see some images, and the one above struck me most intensely. So extraordinarily beautiful and moving: an angel – fallen from heaven – smashed to our earthly ground – agonized by a burning grief - wings broken and torn.

Maybe dying from grief is a privilege reserved for the angels alone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Happened to Our Longfellow?

He showed up one afternoon with a limp, and a badly torn belly – near the “lion’s pouch” area. He was in obvious and extreme distress. He was rushed to the vet. We are presuming it was a dog attack, but our vet is noncommittal. Since then, he has been back twice to the vet – he is not doing well, although he is eating and grooming himself. X-rays showed a fracture in the leg, which is making his mobility a problem – but there may be other issues “inside”, but the vet is gambling that he will be ok, since going into major surgery at his age could be very risky. Our Longfellow is just sleeping – a lot – and it seems he is incontinent, although perhaps due to his leg, he cannot move fast enough when he gets the urge. I feel summer ended on August 10th with Bandito’s passing, and now, so soon after and with almost no time to grieve, all I feel is stress and worry. I am anxious about these dogs in the neighborhood – many are off-leash, and run after any cat they see. Although our immediate neighbor swears his dog, a Doberman, does not “eat cats” – how can we know for sure?  The peace in my garden sanctuary has been has been shattered, and it seems I now am continually in a state of alert and trepidation. I now long for winter, with its blanket of snow wrapped around the house, keeping my babies safe and warm inside. That is the only time I have real peace.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buckets of Tears....

....puffy eyes...

His last photograph.

The "Chairman of the Board"

Our flagship boy, featured in the banner above - 
our Sweeto Bandito - left us last Friday, August 10th. 
He was very sick, very old, and very tired. 
A bird sings "Dito - Dito", as we used to call him. 
And I too am feeling old, and tired, and so very sad. 
He is gone.
Rest now, my Sweet Baboo, my Dito Sweeto. Bandito's Story

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Hot Weather Perils

Rascal feels the heat
We have been having terribly high heat and humidity recently, which has abated somewhat a day ago, thank goodness. Summer is nice to have, but I swear I prefer snow to the stifling, suffocating weather we were having – could barely move or even think. I am sure it was a factor in our current outbreak of rhinovirus (a common upper respiratory illness), which began with Mr. Poole, and spread quickly to everyone else. I am most worried about our fragile diabetic Bandito, who started sneezing and wheezing yesterday. When Mr. Poole came to us several years ago, he had it bad – so congested he could hardly eat. But with meds and loving care it went away, but we knew that this thing never leaves, it just goes dormant. It has hit Manitou the worst – he became totally lethargic – would not eat or drink – and hid in the basement. At one point I was afraid to touch him, as he looked like he had passed away. His ears were blazing hot (high fever), and was rushed to vet immediately, where we got antibiotics, and lysine powder which is supposed to help in keeping the virus at bay from the others. But now they are all sneezing to varying degrees, and Manitou is still poorly, but happy to say he is eating again, which is always a good sign. Such a worry, all this.

Meanwhile, the garden suffers too. Whatever is left blooming is fading fast, and drying out from the lack of rain. Daylilies are ending – we had a beautiful show this year, and they are so drought-resistant:

This one was grown from seed purchased online.

Happy Returns - always a splendid show with many scapes.

Tropical Hibiscus - gorgeous!

A most luscious orange - sadly the name escapes me.

Also grown from seed.

Summer Wine - a silky pink/rose.

Amaryllis in summer! Huge "Matterhorn" on the left.
A very hot Bandito in the "cat-bird" seat

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Garden Views

From 2012-07-15
Bandito is getting frailer every day - he is making the most of this summer.

Our Sweeto Bandito
From 2012-07-15

From 2012-07-15
Fabulous daylilies - so carefree, heat/drought tolerant, and bug-free too - a perfect plant, and so many colours are available these days.

From 2012-07-15
This guy loves daylilies too - on a hot summer afternoon, I found this lovely creature soaking up the sun.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Someone has a Bucket List

As I was getting ready for work one morning recently, elderly and diabetic Bandito came into the bedroom as usual, and I noticed a bit of odd behaviour. He seemed to be intent on something in the corner by the bed -  a little too intent. I saw something greyish and figured it was just a mousie toy that had surfaced. But no! Mousie toy wriggled and quickly scuttled under the sewing box to get away for Dito's eager batting paw. Now I am not particularly afraid of mice etc, but I did not relish the idea of having this creature in the bedroom at night. I grabbed Dito, who seemed to look rather proud of himself - and thrust him into the bathroom with Tristan, who was approaching to see what was up. The look on his face was, "hey - not fair - I didn't do nothin' - watcha got in the bedroom anyway??"  Screaming over the morning music radio down to Cat Wrangler, I announced my predicament, and knew full well that I would be late to work this morning.

Fast forward to noonish. I am at work, and I get a call from Cat Wrangler - it took him 3 full hours to capture the critter that turned out to be a chipmunk! Remember that Dito's claws were still stubby from the recent vet visit, and he also has no teeth left! The fact he was able to catch and carry a little rodent, come though the front door, up the stairs, and deposit him onto the bed is - well frankly - astounding!

To capture the little guy, the bedroom was literally turned upside down: drawers turned inside out, etc. - and here we have the proof:

Notice Tristan and Mr. Poole are very happy with this mess and settled in for an afternoon's nap.

As for the chipmunk, due to Dito's lack of "weapons of destruction", he was released into the far corner of the garden, where he scampered away unharmed - and I daresay a little stressed.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Goodbye to Noomi

Here are the last pictures of little Noomi - he was a wee little guy and light as a feather:

This little guy wasn't even ours. But he was a regular visitor, and often we would find him snoozing in the basement on a pile of old comforters, or we'd come across him in one of the many baskets available. He was a master at sneaking in without us seeing him. His owners had asked us not to encourage him to come into our place, and he seemed to know they would not be pleased - but he came - just the same. He is ok, just gone: his owners have moved.

They used to live an apartment just behind our fence, just a "hop, skip and jump" away for the little Noom - we'd find him on our porch most mornings. His owners recently told us not to worry if we see Noomi no more, as they have bought a house. Hurray for them, but not so much for little Noomi: you see the house is on a busy street, so he will be indoors mostly, perhaps out on a leash now and then. No more running free, no more sleeping under a hedge on a summer afternoon. My last glimpse of him: he was playing with the long grass in  my yard, near the tree he would love to climb and scratch. I somehow felt that that was the last time I would see him, and so it was. One morning, he did not appear. Gone. I miss the little guy, and my big tabby Chaiyka seems to miss him as well - he would often get treats at Noomi's house. "Come over to my place - it's great!" Chaiyka must have said to Noomi, a couple of years ago, when we first spotted shy little Noomi in our yard.  Lately, Chaiyka goes to the old apartment, but no one is there. I feel sad.

Here is how I like to remember him: Noomi last spring

This is my favourite photo of him, taken last year at the height of the unfolding spring. He loved our garden. Goodbye little Noom. Be well.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring Arrives

It comes every year, doesn't it? 
And yet, it is always so anticipated - even more so than summer, 
at least for me it is. 
The wonder and the worry:
What survived the winter?
 What new has appeared?
What needs to be fixed, moved or removed?
I have trouble with that last one - ha!
A perfect white Tristan is happy the weather is fine...

And a perfect Narcissus stands out against the green backdrop...

A new obsession? My first Orchid :)
And inside - Amaryllis continue their festive and colorful is Apricot Parfait.

Gervase - always different - no two blooms the same.

Bogota - graceful and exotic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bandito and the Daffodils



'Dito is doing very well, so happy to say. His mouth is healing - he is eating extremely well - and I even think he is gaining weight.  Like all our kitties, he loves the sunny window garden.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nothing Much

Following the unseasonal heatwave, the frosty weather returned somewhat, and even with a fair bit of snow-cover. All that has mostly gone now, and within a day or two we will have nice spring sunshine. Four days of holiday at Easter were cold, grey and grim, to which was added me being sick and Bandito needing to go to the vet again. Original vet suggested we may need to consider letting Dito "go". So off to another vet for a second opinion which didn't reveal much else except some dirty ears. But - he is home again, and seems to be improving. Background: He had begun to exhibit a strange continual mouth-clawing (self-harming) behaviour. The sides of his mouth and inside in the gums were terribly bloody and torn up, hence our distress and subsequent vet visit. We assumed it had simply been a reaction to the bad tooth, which has now been gone for well over 2 weeks. Both vets were mystified with the problem - we are thinking maybe a growth under the tongue or in the throat? So he came home with an Elizabethan collar, a Buster, as it's now called for some reason. This is to prevent scratching and while it did the trick, he could neither eat, nor sleep with it on. So, since his claws have been trimmed to an unprecedented shortness, the collar came off gradually and - he seems to be better. The scratching has diminished. Not to mention the fact that he was given special diabetic food, which he categorically refused to eat ("hey guys - this food is making me gag!"). So, I figured, no eating = no cat. He is bone thin as it is. So, I said, well let's just give him his old favourite food back and see what happens, and voila! He is now gobbling it down like crazy. Sigh.

And now for something totally different:  while at work, I glance over at the Decorah Eagles UStream site once in a while. So fascinating and I actually saw the first eaglet hatch live - but they sure are growing fast. Observing all the care Mum and Dad eagle give their little ones in truly amazing - one could really watch for hours :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Summer - in Spring

This week has been amazing - so very warm, even hot. 
A veritable heatwave.
Trees are budding, and our neighbour's forsythia is actually in bloom! The residents of Maple Grove Gardens wonder if they slept through the end of winter and even spring.
But I heard no complaints as the solarium was opened up, windows taken down, a few plants placed for some green - and the favourite spots were chosen. 
Eating al fresco in March!? 
Unheard of - but most delightful.
 Manitou finds the perfect combination of sun and shade.

Mr. Poole got so hot in the sun I was almost worried.
But cats know what feels good!

 Tristan bypassed stopping to smell the roses...

And decided to investigate what was in my coffee mug!

Photos have a somewhat dreamy, fuzzy effect as they were taken with the camera on my tablet - not great, but quite acceptable.

We are enjoying all this while it lasts,
as the sky is darkening as I write, and soon it will rain, 
and the temperature will drop.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back where he belongs

Although looking a little "rough around the edges" - 
notice the shaved paw -
Bandito snoozes in one of his favourite spots, 
behind me on the armchair while I watch television.