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#TBT: Untitled #7 (1991)

May 8th, 2014 No comments
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For the past few weeks I’ve been sharing short stories I wrote in my youth for Throwback Thursday (#TBT). Crafting fictional tales was just one of many styles of writing I explored. Indeed, my teenage years were all about the poetry – and some of it was pretty terrible. You see, I didn’t write poems for the purpose of being a poet. No, I wrote poems to get the ‘ick’ out.

There was another purpose to my poetry – one much different than easing torrid teenage thoughts. I also wrote poetry to express my love and adoration to people I cared about. So, today I present the first love poem I ever wrote. Warning: the content you are about to read may be so sickly sweet that it could leave an ache in your heart.


Untitled #7

A kiss upon a rose petal
A whisper in the wind
The sound of the river flowing
The coming of day’s end

The warmth of your caress
The beauty of your soul
The gaze of your eyes
Never wanting to let go

A smile which has faded
A tear falling free
A thought of you today
Tomorrow and through eternity

M. xo

 

 

 

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#TBT: The Great Goo (1987)

May 1st, 2014 No comments
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I’m delighted to offer up another short story from my youth to mark this week’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT). I remember being particularly proud of this story because it was the first A+ I had ever received on a creative writing assignment. Yep, I was proud as a peacock – so much so that I even wrote a second story featuring the same characters in a new adventure.  I’ll save the second ‘chapter’ for next week’s #TBT. Happy reading!

 

The Great Goo

 

Bright Eyes was bathing in her pool.  Ever since she had been a young sea lion she had loved bathing in her pool. KLUNK! KLUNK! CRACK! Tubby had been walking on what used to be a diving board.  Tubby as the fattest tiger in all the land.  Wobbles came stomping out to see what was the matter.  Wobbles was a very sentimental elephant.

“Oh my poor Tubby!” said Wobbles.

“What do you mean, ‘my poor Tubby’? I’m the one he landed on,” complained Bright Eyes.

“Hmph! Bring the first aid kit, Cuddles,” Wobbles said in a panic.

Since Cuddles was a bear, she walked very slowly, but whenever Cuddles got mad she moved like an express train.

“Whoa!” Cuddles had slipped on some water.

Patches burst out onto the deck with the first aid kit.  Patches was the only gibbon who wanted to be a doctor.

“Make way!” yelled Patches.

As Patches was running he tripped over his tail. When Patches was a baby, he tripped, banged, and smashed into everything and everyone.  He always had to be bandaged up.  His parents thought that Bandages would be a more suitable nickname for a mummy, so they decided to call him Patches.  All his relatives and friends agreed.

As Cuddles lay in agony, Patches stood up and tied his tail to his ears. He walked cautiously towards Cuddles.  Patches collapsed beside Cuddles.  His tail was still tied to his ears.  Patches opened his kit.  He pulled out a pair of scissors. All Patches really wanted was a lock of Cuddles’ soft, cuddly fur.  Patches had always wanted a piece of her fur.  It was so soft and cuddly.  SNIP!  SNIP! He had it!

Patches stood up and observed the piece of fur.  The fur was pink and sticky.  Cuddles’ fur was gray, not pink.  Patches tried to throw away the pink goo.  He yanked and struggled.  Finally, he pulled it off, but just as Tubby was struggling out of the pool, the wad of goo stuck to the tip of Tubby’s tail.

Tubby ran around the deck chasing his plump tail.  Cuddles stood up, wobbling back and forth.  She noticed her fur was cut off. She started to get red, almost like a beet.

“Who did this!!!!” Cuddles yelled so hard she shook some of the apples off the trees in the orchard.  The commotion stopped.

Tubby stopped running around and instead he said calmly, “Will you take the piece of goo off me, Cuddles?”

Cuddles walked slowly over to Tubby.  She yanked off the goo and stuck it back on her fur.

“That was mine,” said Cuddles briefly.

“Well, what was it?” Bright Eyes asked curiously.

“Gum,” answered Cuddles.

“All that because of gum?! There’s a moral to this… but I’m not sure what it is?” said Patches.

“Don’t play with gum, Patches!” they all scolded.

To this day Patches has never touched gum in his life.

– THE END –

M. xo

Author’s note:  Once again, life seems to imitate art.  A few years before writing this story, one of my brothers and I decided it would be neat if we made headbands out of gum.  My Mom did not think it was so ‘neat’.  She did, however, learn the trick to removing gum from hair – peanut butter.  While she did manage to get most of the gum out of our hair without having to cut too much off, she did clip off some blond locks matted with pink goo to keep as a reminder.  Judging from the preceding story, I think the lesson ‘stuck’.

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#TBT: The Thing That Ate My Brothers (1988)

April 24th, 2014 1 comment
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This installment of #TBT showcases two of my biggest inspirations for my childhood writings – my brothers.  Whether it was a character named after one of them, or a story featuring an epic sibling adventure (like this one you’re about to read), my brothers somehow imprinted themselves into the stories in my imagination.  Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise because siblings are the first friends most of us make.  They are also likely to be our closest allies and our biggest rivals.  As the eldest, I’m sure I also felt a sense of duty to protect my younger brothers.  I think this story, if read between the lines, speaks quite eloquently to sibling bonds (oh, and my secret desire to be the ‘Pro’). This one’s for my ‘baby’ brothers…

The Thing That Ate My Brothers (1988)

One day, long ago, Peter, Ben and myself were walking through the forest next to our house. Suddenly, a big, black, hairy Thing jumped out of the bushes. With one great big gulp the Thing ate both of my brothers. The Thing charged after me, but I was too fast for it.  I ran as fast as my feet would carry me. I jumped over broken pieces of wood and old car parts. It was more like a dump than a forest.  I finally made it out into the open.  There were cars buzzing up and down the street. I figured I was north of my house. I had ran all the way to the other side of the forest.  Now it was hopeless! The only thing to do was see the Wise One.  The Wise One was an old hermit who lived at the Great Swamp.  I started my long journey.  I felt like turning back, but I was afraid the Thing would try and eat me too.  I thought about my brothers. Maybe there was still hope! Maybe I could rescue my brothers! I quickened my pace.  I reached the Wise One’s house just before sundown.  I knocked on the door three times before I entered.  The old hermit greeted me with a smile.

“Ah! Melissa. Welcome,” the hermit said.

“Hello, Wise One.  I have come to seek help.” I explained the whole horrible story to him. 

“Hmmmm. Very interesting. You say this Thing is big, black and hairy? Well that can only mean one thing!”

“What?!” I yelled horrified. 

“One of my dogs has gotten into my spider-growth potion,” the Wise One said.

“Well, what can I do to get my brothers back?” I asked hopefully.

“Take this needle and stick it in his arm.”

“Well that sounds easy enough. Bye and thanks!” I said.

“Wait!  There is one more important thing,” but it was too late.  I was off to rescue my brothers. 

I walked through bushes and thorn patches. I came upon a dark cave. I could hear the Thing snoring. This was my big chance! I tiptoed in quietly.

“Wait, wait!” a voice yelled.

I turned around. It was the hermit! The Thing awoke. It jumped up and chased after me. I ran into a hole. The hermit followed me. 

“Why did you do that?” I yelled.

“You must stick the needle in a certain spot. Otherwise you may end up killing your brothers. Stick the needle as close as possible to the shoulder,” said the Wise One. 

I thanked the Wise One and dodged past him and out into the open. The Thing glared at me with his big red eyes. Without even thinking I jumped on his arm and stabbed the Thing right under his left shoulder.  It let out one last terrifying roar! It then fell on the floor and changed into a black dog, Peter and Ben. The dog sat on its haunches.

When we arrived home Mom was hysterical. 

“Where have you been?” she asked sternly.

“Oh… we just had an amazing adventure where for once I was the Pro!” 

We all laughed, except for Mom who just stood there wondering. She would never know of the terror and fright our adventure had caused. 

M. xo

P.S. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know how completely unbelievable this story is because there’s no way I would have ever “figured I was north of my house” given how ‘navigationally-challenged’ I am. 😉

P.P.S. The ‘Pro’ was a family nickname given to the elder of my youngest brothers, Pete.

P.P.P.S. It’s interesting how impressionable the young mind is.  I see influences of some of my favourite books and movies in this story.  Stand by Me was one of the first movies I ever saw in a theatre and the idea of scary things lurking in the forest has always stuck with me.  I was a big horror fan and read a lot of Stephen King books as a kid – probably more than I should have for my age at the time.  I see a lot of influences from the horror genre in my childhood writing. Maybe all those sleepless nights I spent afraid of Gremlins under the bed were worth it after all. :)

‘Things’ that Go Bump in the Night

 

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#TBT: Jack Grey’s Adventures with Dog (1986)

April 17th, 2014 No comments
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Last week, I posted on this blog my first Throwback Thursday (#TBT), but instead of posting old photos of myself, I’ve decided to share some writing from my childhood.  This next piece I wrote when I was ten years old.  It was around the time that I started getting interested in counter-cultures – even though I’m quite sure I didn’t even know what that meant at the time.

The main characters are a group of bad boys (and one Superpunk), and a pretty girl who saves the day – just because she can.  Yeah, apparently I was already thinking about reverse gender roles too.

Original draft (1986)

Original draft (1986)

Jack Grey’s Adventures with Dog (1986)

One dark eerie night, Jack Grey, Superpunk, was walking through the dark alley on Johnson Ave. 

“Hey, Buzz, what do you think you’re doing,” said Jack.

“I’m looking for grub,” replied Buzz.

“This is my territory, Buzzhead,” Jack said.

“So what?” said Buzz. “Hey Jack, look what I found.”

“What did you find, Buzzo?”

“Chocolate cake.”

“Leave it,” said Jack, “and come on.”

Jack and Buzz walked back to their fort in an old abandoned zoo on Adam St.

“Hi, George,” said Buzz.

“Whats happening my man?” George said.

Suddenly, George collapsed to the ground.  He had been shot.

“He was always faithful to us,” whined Buzz.

“Never mind him.  We got trouble.  Look who’s coming our way,” said Jack.

It was the Dog, alias Kevin George.  Jack had once said he only was afraid of the Dog.  Jack’s long black hair was flying through the air as he ran.  Jack was only 16 years old.  The Dog was 18 and strong. 

“I’ll cut that giant eagle tattoo off of you, punk,” yelled Dog. 

Buzz and Jack ran until they reached Donna Master’s house.  Donna was Jack’s girlfriend.  Donna didn’t know that Jack stole and lied.  Donna had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and rosy cheeks.  She was sweet, gentle and wasn’t a dropout like Jack and Buzz.  She also despised Dog. 

“Ding, Dong,” went the doorbell.

“Why Jack, what brings you here?”

“I’m here because Dog has a gun and shot George,” Jack said with shivers down his spine.

“Well hurry and get inside,” panicked Donna. 

“Ding, Dong,” went the doorbell again. 

“Open up.  It’s Dog.”

“No, I will not open up.  You know I hate you.  Now go away,” said Donna angrily.

“Ok!  But I’ll be back,” said Dog angrily.

“Well he shouldn’t bother you anymore,” said Donna. 

And he didn’t for a long time afterward.  

M. xo

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#TBT: The Pea and the Swiss Cheese (1986)

April 10th, 2014 No comments
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It’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT) and I wanted to try something a little different! Instead of posting an old photo of myself, I thought I’d share some writing from my youth.  I admit, I’m a bit of a pack-rat.  Given this confession, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find out that I have kept most of my writing over the years – even the horrible teen-angst poetry.  I’ve always believed that writing (and indeed any art form) is a journey.  So, I’m going to take this opportunity to share some of that journey with you here.  Are you ready to go w-a-a-a-a-y back? This first one is a short story I composed in grade school at the age of nine.

Original draft (1986), Age: 9 years

Original draft (1986), Age: 9 years

The Pea and the Swiss Cheese

One day a pea was sitting on the dining room floor. The pea’s name was Peter. He was bored. He had had a little excitement earlier in the day, when the human baby had tried to eat him. The baby had eaten Peter’s parents, and now he was an orphan.

Peter was ten days old. The longest any pea had lived was two weeks. Peter was going to make a vegetable record! Peter started bouncing merrily across the dining room floor.

He came across a piece of swiss cheese. The swiss cheese had been blinded from the bite of the human baby.

“Hi, my name is Peter. What’s yours?”

“My name is Swissella,” the swiss cheese replied.

At that moment, the dreaded vaccuum cleaner came charging into the dining room and sucked up the two new friends.

Peter and Swissella were never seen, or eaten, again.

M. xo

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New Year; New Nest

January 7th, 2014 No comments
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Happy New Year!  I had hoped to return to the nest sooner, but I spent the better part of the last two weeks cursing myself for not getting a flu shot. Yeah, it was unpleasant.  The only thing that made this holiday bearable was the fact that hubby and I were finally home.  It was a long and stressful six months to get here, but we did it and we couldn’t be happier.

Admittedly, I was (and am) a bit nervous about this transition.  I mean it’s been almost two decades since I called this small city home.  A lot has changed.  I have changed.  Despite any doubts, it just feels right.  Once we made the decision to move, it was as if the path was laid out for us.  Sure there were bumps along the way, but they were few and far between.  In fact, it seemed that when something emerged to cause chaos and stress, that it was immediately counter-balanced with good fortune and ‘that was easy’ moments.   I’m sure some of you will get it when I say that it just felt like the universe was working to move us forward.  Of course, the universe does seemingly work that way when you really want something badly.

We left our old home with very little fanfare.  There were no dramatic good-byes, or celebratory bon voyage gatherings.  Instead, we said hurried adieus over the phone and via social-networking channels.  My guess is that most of our friends didn’t really think that we’d be gone that quickly either.  We certainly hadn’t.  The universe had other plans for us though.

The first couple weeks here were spent in a strange state of limbo.  Both hubby and I experienced a sensation as if we were merely visiting my hometown.  It took us a bit to feel settled with the idea that we weren’t returning to our old home.  It wasn’t that either of us desired to go back, but the feeling that we had to return just couldn’t be stopped.  After all, we had spent the last twelve years travelling back and forth regularly.  It was only natural that our minds still lingered in this state.  It seemed as if our consciousness hadn’t quite caught up to our physical reality.

After our minds and bodies recalibrated to more symbiotic states, we found ourselves in full holiday mode – and saddled by an early onset of a particularly virulent flu virus.  Despite feeling terrible for most of the important events during the holidays, I was overjoyed that we didn’t have to travel any great distance to be with the family.  My Dad hosted his first Christmas dinner in his new place, and thus did most of the heavy prepping and cooking.  Overall, we had a lovely Christmas.

Since I was so sick, I had ample time to reflect on this move.  When I abandoned this sleepy city almost 20 years ago, it was because I thought there was nothing left here for me.  Returning now, I realize that it isn’t places that bring you bliss, but rather what people bring to those places that make them truly blissful.  I went out there in search of my bliss, only to find it back here.

I’m looking forward to rediscovering this city that raised me.  I hope to share some of my more interesting excursions with you here.  Of course, I’ll also be bringing back to the coop my trademark hen-pecking and squawking.  Until then, keep chirp-chirp-chirpin’ away.

M. xo

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Returning to the Nest…

November 4th, 2013 No comments
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Whew!  It’s been a whirlwind couple months.  In July, hubby and I made a monumental decision.  We decided to relocate to my hometown (approximately 2.5 hours from our current city).  Needless to say, I’ve been preoccupied with the big move.  By the New Year, we should be settled into our new home.  That said, I’ll be taking a hiatus from the coop for a bit.  I’ll return in a couple months with my usual hen-pecking and feather-ruffling.   In the meantime, consider checking out some of my older posts.  Including the post that started it all in February of 2011.

M. xo

 

 

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About a Cat: Part 4

June 21st, 2013 No comments
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Admittedly, I struggled with writing this final chapter (hence the lengthy time between posts).  Saying good-bye is never easy, and saying good-bye to Si has been particularly difficult for me.  Compounding that pain, is the insecurity that accompanies outward displays of emotion toward a beloved pet.  This is why I initially hesitated to write this story.  Would anyone understand?  Or would people think I’m just some crazy cat lady?  I’m guessing it’s a bit of both.  To those of you who have followed this story, and encouraged me to keeping going – thank you.  Read part one, two, and three of this story.  

Si in here typical regal pose (Photo Credit: Jane Chartrand)

Regal Si (Photo Credit: Jane Chartrand)

Si’s final years were bittersweet, and proved to be some of the most difficult and rewarding years with my feline companion.  Old age slowly came for Si.  Unhealthy habits also began to take a toll on her body.  Si was relatively healthy for most of her life, but her love for treats and kibble meant that she gradually became quite the fat (okay, obese) cat.  Admittedly, she was lazy too.  She preferred napping and bathing to playing and climbing.  She was meticulous about grooming herself.  She’d often stop mid cat-spat to clean her paws, then continue with ‘fur’tastic defeat of any feline daring to challenge her.  I’m pretty sure she had a touch of feline OCD.  So, it became rather disconcerting when Si began to have trouble accessing those hard to reach places when bathing.  Trust me, there is nothing more undignified for a cat (except forcing her to wear doll clothes) than having to have their bum wiped because they missed a spot.  If Si wasn’t clean, she wasn’t happy.  And by now you all know what happened when Si wasn’t happy.

After consulting a vet, Si was put on an all wet food diet.  Now I don’t think there was a happier cat than Si when she started her new diet because she loved wet food.  Admittedly, we were concerned this new diet would be expensive on the pocket book.  By this time, we had three cats and feeding time was somewhat of a circus.  All the cats had to be put on the same diet. Our vet at the time was an amazing young woman who had recently graduated.  She was enthusiastic and quite sincere about any concerns we had, including financial ones.  She assured us it wouldn’t be that much of an increase in financial commitment, but that it would have enormous benefits for all our cats.  She was right. The cats actually started eating less because the wet food was much more filling and nutritious than kibble. With relative ease, Si gradually shed five of her eighteen pounds.  Hubby and I also gained a wealth of knowledge that would have a positive impact on all the cats we cared for in the future.  That was another sacrifice Si had to unintentionally make.  As the first pet, she would also be the one to teach us how to be great pet caregivers.  Si may have been a cat, but she was also a bit of guinea pig.

Sooty Si

Sooty Si

In 2007, hubby and I bought our very first home.  This would be Si’s last time moving with me.  The new house was incredibly spacious compared to the two bedroom apartment we’d been living in for several years.  There were three levels which meant that technically each of our cats could lay claim to a floor.  Of course, that never happened.  Si simply expanded her dominion.  Like any good conqueror, Si familiarized herself with the new landscape, including the wood-burning fireplace.  Being curious and daring, Si decided to climb inside to investigate.  Neither hubby nor I noticed until she emerged covered from head to tail in soot.  She was dirty, and not impressed.  If you recall, Si was not overly fond of anyone bathing her – including me.  She had been dunked into a bathtub a few times in her life, but it always unleashed ‘cat’-ankerous fury.  It took days for her fur to return to its glistening white, and Si never went into that fireplace again. Come to think of it – none of the other cats ventured into that fireplace either.  That was just like Si – leading by example.  Or more appropriately: Do as I say, not as I do.

Si lived the first few years in our very first house filled with contentment unlike any I’d seen her have before.  The sheer size of the house was a welcome respite for Si.  If either of the other cats became too bothersome, she simply retreated to the comfort of another room.  She had already claimed as her own the comfiest spots in practically every room of the house.  Yep, she was living the good life.  She had a kingdom far greater than any before, an undefeated reign over her subjects, the best food money could buy, and a backyard big enough to grow a lifetime supply of catnip.  Stability, order, and security had finally been obtained.  Life was perfectly blissful. That’s when Si began to let go.

Lounging Si

Lounging Si

It started when she no longer came upstairs to bed with us.  Instead of an ordeal involving many stairs and a tall bed, Si opted for the comfort of her own bed on the more reasonably located main floor.  That was our first sign that she was succumbing to the symptoms of arthritis.  She also began to get sick more often, and had to periodically take medication for various ailments.  The vets suspected that she was in the first stages of kidney failure.  We often found ourselves having to clean up after accidents because stairs were becoming a difficult task, leading Si to periodically fail to make it down to the basement litter box in time.  Each accident would inflict incredible indignation on Si.  It is, after all, most undignified for royalty to be caught by her subjects in such an embarrassing happenstance.  Eventually, we accommodated her needs by ensuring she didn’t have to make the trek if she didn’t feel up to it.

It wasn’t easy and at times I found myself questioning why I was keeping her alive, but she seemed happy.  She still came for her treats every night and ate well.  Her eyes were bright and her fur glistening, so I figured if she was going to put up with the pain of arthritis and still be happy – then I’d put up with the occasional accident and cost of medication.  I did, after all, commit to her ‘for-life’.  I also figured I’d know when it was time and it didn’t feel right just giving up on her.  I’m not going to lie –  those last years were tough.  There were many burdens – emotionally and financially, but there were also many rewards.

We knew something was seriously wrong when Si began to walk away from treats offered to her.  I had never, in over seventeen years, seen that cat reject a treat.  From there, Si quickly deteriorated.  She’d often sit and wait to be carried up or down stairs.  Within a few short weeks, Si stopped leaving the basement.  Then one morning we noticed Si in a state of distress, panting and urinating blood.  Normally, this would result in an emergency trip to the vet, but we had been through this several times before.  Si’s kidneys were slowly shutting down.  One day they would just stop working, but with each ‘scare’ we couldn’t help but wonder if it was time.  We called our vet and requested a house call, and then prepared to say good-bye.  This time was different.  It felt ominous.

Si ended up being with us for almost two weeks after that house call. She hadn’t quite been ready to go.  So, Si came home and was lavished with adoration fitting of royalty. In that time, Si was made as comfortable as possible to live out her life (whether that be mere days, weeks, or months was anyone’s guess).  Si bounced back like a champ and was her normal treat-devouring self for several days.  Kali spent time simply lying at a comfortable distance next to Si.  Hubby and I also spent much time on the floor with Si peacefully purring on one of our laps.  Then one day, Si just stopped getting up.  When she tried, she would simply stumble and fall.

We took Si to the vet who remarked on her incredibly low blood pressure, particularly for a cat in an unfamiliar vet clinic.  She also noted the change in disposition to the cat that she had met two weeks earlier.  As the vet was performing her examination (including copious amounts of poking and prodding), Si curled up on the table and went to sleep.  I’d never seen my Devil Cat be so mellow – so at peace.  I reached over, gave Si’s head a scratch and asked, “Are you trying to tell us something?”  Si continued to sleep softly.  That was really the only sign I needed to know that Si would not be coming home.

Peaceful Si

Peaceful Si

I’m not going to lie, when it happened I bawled like a baby.  I tear up now just thinking about it.  The following day I woke up and numbed my pain by scrubbing the basement from top to bottom.  The day after that I broke down completely and stayed in bed all day, even missing work.  Our other cats also grieved in their own curious ways.  Kali began sleeping in Si’s spots and taking over duties formally performed by Si (such as the nightly harassment of hubby for treats).  Bijoux spent an entire day wandering the house, stopping to periodically vomit.

I had always known that it wasn’t going to be easy to say good-bye to Si, but I never realized just how much it was going to effect me.  Although, I’d had other cats come and go – Si was different.  She had been a faithful companion for almost eighteen years.  She had moved with me when I left my parents’ home to begin my life.  She had been with me as I experienced the awkward journey of becoming an adult.  She was there for the very best and very worst of my memories.  Si and I had been together longer than hubby and I. Although it sounds clichéd, it really did feel like losing a part of my self.

Many months later I still feel an emptiness and, on occasion, I see a streak of grey and white fur pass by my peripheral vision.  Some days I wake up and expect to hear tiny tippy-toes and puss-patties pacing impatiently for food, or the unexpectedly dainty mew trilling from a beast of a cat.  Then, there are days like today – days where the bitterness of loss is triumphed by the sweetness of memory.

A girl and her cat...

A girl and her cat…

M. xo

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About a Cat: Part 3

June 10th, 2013 No comments
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Read part one and two of this story.

Over the years, Si had to learn to adapt to living with several different cats.  Each time a new cat joined our family, Queen Si managed to keep her place on her throne.  There were periods of adjustment.  These usually entailed several weeks of sleep being hijacked by the blood-curdling screams of feline warfare.  Despite the odds, Si always emerged from the battlefield victorious.  Within weeks, Si would once again be leading the daily line-up for rations and coveted treats.

Queen Si atop her throne

Queen Si atop her throne

In 2005, our two-cat household instantly became a seven-cat household when we decided to adopt a fluffy and precocious stray that had been found in an abandoned refrigerator in the front foyer of our apartment building.  I suppose a start like that deserves a bit of an explanation.  Our landlord had been storing an old fridge and stove in the foyer of the building.  On his usual Monday morning visit, he noticed that the door of the refrigerator was shut tightly instead of propped open as he had left it. Upon opening the door, a shell-shocked – but, very thankful – cat leapt out from inside.  Now, the landlord had a bit of a soft spot for animals, especially cats.  He’d been known to let strays live in some dilapidated sheds in the backyard, and he proudly claimed to have rescued well-over sixty cats by whisking them away to a nearby shelter in his beat-up Cadillac chariot.

There was something about this stray, however, that made the landlord wait before taking her to the shelter.  She certainly was a beautiful cat, and her demeanour was perfectly Zen.  He figured she must have belonged to someone and wanted to try and find the cat’s owners.  There was an empty apartment in the building, so he set up the cat with its very own pad and enlisted the help of hubby and me to care for it.  Within a couple days, we had named her Bijoux and had decided that we’d like to adopt her if no one stepped forward to claim her.  So, that’s how Si gained a new sister – but, it wasn’t until a couple weeks later that we discovered that Bijoux was carrying four little ones who would soon shake up the homestead.

Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (2005)

Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (2005)

Si, and her brother, Buddy (a stray who had moved with us from another city) soon found their quiet home invaded by the mischievous antics of Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  Peanut, KatStevens, Screech, and Tink arrived in early February of 2005.  Now, Si had never spent any time around kittens – and she wasn’t too fond of chaos.  True to any great leader, Si valued order and stability.  As if sensing the potential danger from Si, Bijoux gave birth in our bedroom.  So, it was easy to keep Si away from the kittens when they were too small to even have a chance of defending themselves.  Once the kittens started getting more agile (and subsequently using us as unwitting jungle gyms in the middle of the night), we relocated them into the living room.  This was Si’s first paw-to-paw introduction with a miniature feline.  The kittens learned relatively quickly to avoid the big, grouchy one.  It only took one kitten’s curious advances toward Si, followed by a swift thud of the kitten’s head bouncing off the floor, for all the kittens to get message.  It was a knock-out, and Si continued her reign as the heavy-weight (literally) champion.  Eventually, stability and order was restored when the kittens found new homes.

Si had never really bonded with another animal, despite having lived with well over a dozen different cats.  Most cats learned very quickly to steer clear of Si.  Si was untouchable.  There would be no feline-to-feline cuddle sessions and if any cat dared to try and clean her, they were met with a deep growl and swift smack upside the head.  Yep, Si was a loner for all intents – that was until a spunky little stray named Kali joined our family.  Kali showed up in our backyard one day while we were barbecuing.  This oh-so-tiny stray cautiously approached, clearly looking for something to eat.  It was easy to tell that she was starving.  Try as we might, we couldn’t get close to her.  So, we tossed her morsels of food which she graciously devoured while keeping a suspicious eye targeted on both of us.

View from an office window

View from an office window

The next day while I was working in my home office, Kali came strolling along a fence outside my window, sat down and watched me.  I guessed she was wondering when we were coming outside for dinner time again.  So, I put out some kibble and water, and later that evening hubby and I constructed a make-shift house in the backyard for her. For several weeks we dutifully refilled Kali’s food and water dishes and tried to socialize her so that we could take her to a shelter.  Of course, it was during this time that we grew a fondness for her.  We also began to suspect that she had been horribly abused by her previous ‘caregivers.’  That’s when we decided that we couldn’t take a chance by letting her be adopted by a stranger who might not give her the same quality of care that we knew we could.  And besides, she was warming up to us – particularly hubby who you’ll recall is somewhat of a Cat Whisperer.

It was during an evening when we were taking our cats for a check-up at the vets that hubby looked out back and saw Kali laying down in her make-shift house while the rain poured down around her.  Hubby looked at me and said, “Can we keep her?”  Admittedly, I was reluctant because we had just lost a cat and also just said good-bye to the last member of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  I swear Kali heard hubby’s plea because when I looked outside at her, she was looking directly at me with such haunted eyes that there was no way I could reject hubby’s pleas. “If you can get her into a cage and to the vets for a check-up, we can keep her.”  I’m pretty sure hubby was out the door with cage in hand before I even finished my sentence.  Astonishingly, Kali climbed right into the cage.  To this day, I’m sure she planned the whole thing.  So after a visit to the vets, Kali came home.

Kamikaze Kali

Kamikaze Kali

Now Kali isn’t the smartest kitten of the litter – or at least that’s what she wants you to think.  So, when she met Si she didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t a sign of affection when Si swatted her across the head.  Kali was relentless with Si.  She clearly understood that Si was the alpha cat, and she seemingly wanted to be her right-hand feline.  Wherever Si would go, Kali was in tow.  When Si would fall asleep, Kali would quietly nuzzle up next to her.  On more than one occasion Si would wake up from a slumber to see this unrelenting cat peacefully curled up beside her – TOUCHING HER NO LESS.  And each time Si would have this “WTF?!?” expression on her face.  She would hiss and quickly retreat from Kali, yet when next she fell asleep, Kali would be right back at it trying to win over the Devil Cat. I’m pretty sure that Kali crossed the line when she decided to start bathing Si.  Si would have none of that and she’d lunge at Kali pinning her down so she knew that was NOT OKAY.  Kali was also always trying to play with Si.  Kali was a kitten after all, but Si was well into old age and play time was a rare and short occurrence.

Kali and Si (2010)

Kali and Si (2010)

For the most part, Si grew to tolerate and even like Kali. I would wager to say that Kali was Si’s only feline friend.   If you’ve ever seen the Looney Tunes episodes featuring the big tough bull dog, Spike and the scrappy annoying little dog, Chester – that was Si and Kali.   Yes, Kali annoyed Si, but she also gave Si purpose again.  Si changed Kali, too.  Slowly, Kali began to learn how to toughen up and not be so fearful of every noise or person.  It was after Si passed away that these qualities began to emerge more vibrantly from Kali.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of Si’s story in About a Cat…

M. xo

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About a Cat: Part 2

June 7th, 2013 No comments
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If you missed Part 1 of this story, read it here.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin' in a hoodie.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin’ in a hoodie.

After almost three years of living within the turbulent waters of alcoholism, I abandoned ship.  Before I could prepare for my new journey, boyfriend and I had a custody dispute over the various pets in our care.  In addition to Si, we had raised several pet rats.  Anyone who’s ever had a pet rat will know the kind of joy they can bring – if you can get over the idea that your pet is much maligned rodent.  I knew there was no way boyfriend was going to let me leave with all the pets, so my main focus was to remove Si from that environment.  After much ‘negotiation,’ boyfriend agreed to let me take Si and in exchange he could keep the rats and various mutual gifts bestowed to us as a couple.  Frankly, he could have kept everything I owned so long as I could walk out of there with Si in my arms.

It was with the prospect of a brighter horizon, that Si and I embarked on new adventures.  For a few years, we lived a nomadic existence, cohabitating with various different people and furry friends (or foes, if you asked Si).  During this time, Si was faithfully by my side.  At times, her loyalty was a tad overbearing.  Visitors were generally considered an imposition on her time with me.  If I was engaged in conversation with a friend, Si would jump into my lap, bite my arm and then lay down with laser eyes trained on said friend.  I couldn’t really blame her, could I?  She was highly suspicious of everyone – but, mostly men.   Admittedly, I was also covered in the residue of my previous relationship.  A dark cloud had formed around me as I engaged in the self-blame game of a failed relationship and flunking out of college.  For a gal who had always excelled academically (and incidentally won an award the same year she flunked out ), seeing those glaring Fs had greatly contributed to my deflating self-esteem.  Si was reacting by becoming more protective of me.

Laser-eyed Si

Laser-eyed Si

On two occasions I had to leave Si in the care of others. I was again bewildered by this feline’s unwavering loyalty.  I left her in early 1998 with my housemates while I travelled to another city to find a job and a new place to live.  During this time an ice-storm blanketed the region and knocked power out for days.  People were freezing in their homes.  My housemates had desperately tried to get Si to leave my freezing bedroom and warm up in an area being heated by a gas stove.  Si refused to budge.  She waited in my bedroom for weeks for me to return.  Cold or no cold, she wasn’t leaving.

About a year later, I had to once again leave Si with my housemates.  I was gone for a month, but I knew Si was in the care of someone who understood her.  Si was being watched by my best friend and they had a good (as good as it could be with Si) relationship.  In fact, I always said that no one, but me, could ever take care of Si – except my best friend.  She knew what we had both been through and Si seemed to sense that she was on our side.  I was racked with guilt for leaving her for so long once again.  Upon my return,  my best friend went into the living room and said, “Wusser-Si, your Mommy’s here.” Si jumped down from the couch and ran over to me while meowing jubilantly.  It was one of the most moving displays of affection Si had ever shown me. It was as if she had been waiting for me to come get her – as if she knew I would return.

Several months went by as Si and I lived in a tiny bachelor apartment completely on our own.  During this time, Si would frequently accompany me on trips back to my home town.  She would happily sit in the back window of the car for the long journey.  Her eyes would dilate the size of saucers as she watched the lights of other vehicles pass by.

On one such visit, I took Si to my Grandpa’s house.  Grandpa wasn’t very fond of cats.  Apparently, many years earlier, he had had a terrible encounter with a feline that scarred him for life.  So when I walked in with Si cradled in my arms, he – in his often colourful language – asked, “What the hell is that and why the fuck are you bringing it into my house?”  Now my Grandpa was tough on the outside, but when it came to his granddaughter, he was a big softy.  I simply told Grandpa that where I went, Si went.  I freed Si from my arms and she merrily went about her business investigating the house, all the while my Grandpa kept a close eye on the beast.

During that same visit, Si met my childhood pet, Dravecky.  Dravecky was an iguana that had been with our family for years.  He had free reign of the house and was full of the equivalent of ‘cat-itude’ – we’ll call it ‘iguan-itude’.  My mother had to frequently scold him for sneaking up onto the kitchen table and eating her breakfast when she had her back turned.  Dravecky was also known to stand off with anyone who happened to encounter him in the upstairs hall.  Much like Si, Dravecky was the boss of his house.  Now, when I say iguana you might be tempted to picture those cute little reptiles found in terrariums of pet stores.  No, you see, Dravecky was over ten years old and he hadn’t been caged for his entire time with us.  He was a large domesticated lizard.  It often took the power of two grown men to subdue him, when the need called.  Assuredly one whip from his tail would have seriously injured Si.  So, naturally I was nervous about how the two would get along.  Of course, those nerves were unwarranted because, well, Si was the boss not only in her own home, but in any home she entered.  So for three days and nights, poor Dravecky stayed perfectly still on his perch high enough up that Si couldn’t reach him.  The only thing that moved on that lizard was his eye which was trained on Si like a sniper’s rifle.  I’m not sure that Si even noticed that there was another animal in the house.  It’s more likely that she just didn’t care.  So long as the other beast knew its proper place.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

That’s how Si was with any animal she encountered.  Several years later when my Dad would bring his large dog, Valentine to visit, Si would be the only cat in the household to venture into the same area as Valentine.  She’d walk right up to Valentine and hiss, and then promptly walk away.  You know, just to make sure the dog knew its place too.  That was Wusser-Si – absolutely no fear.  While other cats were cowering during thunderstorms, she’d be calmly bathing herself and (I imagine) laughing on the inside at their foolishness over a little storm.

While Si and I were living in that tiny bachelor apartment,  I met my future husband.  That’s when life started to change for both of us.  It began when I had to make a decision I wish I never had too.  It was with much hesitation that I had to have Si de-clawed when she was approaching the age of five years old.  Now anyone who knows a thing about cats knows this is a very painful experience for felines – particularly the older they get.  It’s tantamount to a human having their finger removed at the knuckle.  I made this decision after consulting a vet about her behaviour.  Si had been getting more aggressive, much of it I imagined had to do with my highly neurotic state.  The vet simply stated that I had two choices, put her down or de-claw her.  For the record, I am against de-clawing of cats and none of the other cats I’ve had over the years have ever been de-clawed.  With Si though, I felt like I had no choice.  Her early (and formative) years had been spent in the company of a violent alcoholic, and this had clearly left her on the defensive – particularly toward men.  She never took to any of the subsequent boyfriends I had, and became quite aggressive when I started dating my husband-to-be.  I think she sensed I was falling love, which meant sharing my affection with another.  Si was never very good at sharing.

Even the dreaded vacuum was no match for the Wusser-Si.  It was just another day at the spa.

Even the vacuum was no match for Si. It was just another day at the spa.

Ironically, hubby was perhaps the kindest and gentlest man I had ever been acquainted with, so it was quite disconcerting when he would sleep over and be attacked in the middle of the night by a very jealous and protective cat.  As hubby recounts, Si would sit at the end of the bed and wait for his feet to dangle over.  Then she would raise her paw, unsheathe each claw one after the other, and let the moonlight glisten on them before swiping full throttle at his feet.  True to his nature though, hubby didn’t lash out at Si.  Instead he began to gain her trust (through copious amounts of soft food, treats, and ear rubs).  So, when I decided to once again live with a man, I made the heart-wrenching decision to have Si de-clawed.  It was not only so my hubby (who is also allergic to cats) could live without fear of being maimed, but because we were talking about having children.  There were just far too many what-ifs where Si was concerned.  I wasn’t about to end her life just because she was overprotective.  That wasn’t her fault.  So, I opted for the lesser of two evils.  If  kids ever blessed our life, we would reassess the situation to see how Si would adjust.  In the meantime, hubby’s feet needed a break from the nightly bombardment of Wusser-Si lashings.

Surprisingly, Si took to the de-clawing rather well.  She simply learned how to defend herself in other ways.  So, when we adopted another cat, Si was still boss of the house – even without claws.  She stayed boss of the house right up until the day she died.  We’ve had several cats throughout the years, and none of them could topple Queen Si from her throne.  It was impressive, indeed to watch her puff up and growl at the newest additions – and then see them roll over and expose their bellies.  It was like some weird feline Jedi mind trick.

Nap-time Si

Nap-time Si

Si also took to hubby.  A friend who hadn’t seen Si in years (and who had once lived with Si) was amazed at Si’s demeanor when she came to visit us.  That’s when hubby got the moniker, ‘Cat Whisperer’.  Whether it was the treats or constant ear rubs, Si loved hubby.  She had him trained in no time too.  Every night at 6 pm promptly, she would paw at hubby incessantly until he relented and gave her treats.  We once decided to see how long she would paw at him for her treats.  After an hour and half, hubby caved.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Stayed tuned to find out what happens when Si lives with four pesky kittens, (reluctantly) bonds with another cat and finds peace in the final years of her life…

M. xo

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