Lulu came out of hiding today.
I acquired a cat last week. She was a bit cranky at first and spent most of this week hiding. Which is understandable; she spent a day in the car to come here to a house where she had never been to live with someone she has never met.
She was my niece’s cat and now is mine.
We had a rocky start. I got bit. The bite hit bone and thus left a bruise (see picture below).
Nevertheless, today Lulu has come out of hiding. She played with me and sat on my lap. She ventured out of her safe room and started to explore her new home. Perhaps we’ll be friends after all.
However, I remain optimistically cautious.
The thing is that I seem to keep acquiring second-hand cats that never seem to stick around.
We had family cats growing up. The first one I remember is a smoke black cat named Smokie. There is a picture of her with her kittens in one of my mother’s old photo albums. I think I remember the picture better than I remember the cat.
The cat I remember best is Willie, a big white tomcat who always felt like mine more than anyone else’s in the family. He slept with me. He hid with me when I would read under the bed. When we got a puppy, Willie adopted it as his own and taught him how to behave. I have a picture somewhere of Willie and Joey sleeping tight together (if I find it I will post it later this week).
We moved the summer I was thirteen. Willie didn’t like the move. It probably didn’t help that Joey had died that summer as well. The move was just one change too many for my old cat. Willie kept running back to our old house. Eventually he didn’t come back. When we couldn’t find him we assumed he died that winter; he was a very old, cantankerous tomcat. I miss him. I miss his warmth.
After that, the family got another dog. Well actually, my absentee divorced dad, without asking, brought us a new dog that he had named Trudeau after the prime minister (another story for another time). We shorted the dog’s name to Truce and he lived with us for many, many years.
Towards the end of my time living under my mom’s roof we would catsit my eldest sister’s cat over the winter. When my eldest sister was in university she acquired a pregnant street cat that came home with her and moved out to the farm with her when my sister married. The cat’s name was Mom. So Mom would move into town to our house for the winter. When I was at work she stayed in my mother’s basement. I would come home from work , open the basement door and meow and Mom would come to talk with me and sleep on my bed till morning. If I wiggled my toes, she would attack them. Sometimes I wiggled my toes on purpose. Mom was a very smart cat. She knew where her food was and if she felt she was not being fed enough she would climb into the cupboard, knock the box over and help herself.
My sister’s cats have always known me. As have their dogs. I go away for years at a time and when I come back the animals still know me. The animals still love me.
The first cat that I had that was all mine was one of Mom’s kittens. He was called Tomcat or Kid or Son depending on what mood I was in. He was just mine and didn’t really fraternize with other members of my family. He ran away the weekend of my High School graduation (there were too many people around – I totally understood where he was coming from) and never came back.
After that, no more cats. No more pets for me. I got married (we had hamsters for awhile), got divorced, went back to university and moved and moved and moved again and then moved some more. I was a nomad. No time for cats. No room for cats.
I catsat for a month one summer at university when a friend went home. The cat’s name was Erasmus and he loved to have the tangles combed out of his fur. He was a street rescue and when my friend graduated university, Erasmus (potential scholar) moved out to her parent’s farm. I wonder what he and the farm cats conversed about on long winter nights. Someone needs to write a story about the homeless city cat who was rescued and his country farm cat cousins!
I always looked forward to the day I would settle down enough to have a cat of my own again.
When I first bought my house I almost got a cat. My sister’s friend’s cat had recently been relocated to my nephew’s farm and it was looking like that might not work out. But it did. The cat has adjusted; she is happy on the farm chasing mice and running free.
Than two of my step-dad’s cats had kittens (see second picture above) and I was going to take the black one once my Fall settled down. This was just about to happen when my niece needed to relocate her indoor only apartment Siamese cat. I’ve always wanted a permanent cat of my own. I’ve always wanted a Siamese even though they are very particular! It seemed fated.
Thus Lulu came to live at my house.
I’m that cat lady. I stop during my walks to chat with strange cats on the street. I wonder how much work a secondhand lion would be. For one, I’d need a bigger place before I acquire one of those. If I’m not careful I will end up with thirty cats or more.
We’ll see. Maybe Lulu will decide to relocate herself like all my other cats have.
Cats, after all, can be very peculiar.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
By Christina Rossetti
Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.
by Sara Teasdale (1914)
Travel theme: Autumn via Where’s my backpack?
“You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted”
Fezzik to Inigo
The Princess Bride
“And I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” (T.S. Eliot)
I was a Cemetery Girl. This was before goth was a thing. As a child, my best friend and I use to wander the local graveyards exploring and reading the gravestones. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was a pleasant way to spend a coolish Fall afternoon.
It was usually Fall when you would find us in the graveyard. Leaves would be falling and the world’s axis was spinning into winter and long, cold days of nothing to do. Fall is my favourite season. It is cool. School is starting. There is a quietness in the air. Halloween is just around the corner.
Most of the cemeteries we haunted were country cemeteries; the closet one was a block outside of town. The other one we visited regularly was a mile out. We hardly ever saw anyone else there. It seemed a shame. There was so much beauty and peacefulness there and everyone else was missing it.
We come upon an old woman in black, holding an umbrella against the sun, sitting in front of her husband’s grave on an overturned bucket. She speaks to us in her own language, pointing at the face on the black headstone, crying into a hankie. Lisa gives her a fresh bottle of water. (p. 244)
Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Toronto:Random House of Canada, 2010
I still haunt graveyards. I’ve taken pictures of cemeteries all over Saskatchewan, in Scotland and recently in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m always going to regret not being able to get to explore the historical cemetery at Skagway.
Death intrigues me. No, how we process death intrigues me. No, the history sitting around in graveyards entrances me. I am an explorer of the past. I like to explore what use to be.
I also wonder about what is beyond – beyond the shadows, beyond death. What is the next step? Knowing the plan calms me. I like to know the steps, what to do, what ie expected of me at each turn. Don’t surprise me. I hate surprises!
I delight in exploring cemeteries and graveyards. Did you know the two terms are not interchangeable? A cemetery is an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard. A graveyard is a burial ground, associated with or beside a church.
The latest funeral industry book I bought is Caitlin Doughty’s book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caitlin oversees the blog The Order of the Good Death that I regularly read and has a series of videos about death and the way we (as a society) deal with it. Scroll down this page for the book video.
I am a cemetery girl. I haunt graveyards. Death is my familiar. I fear not.
because my scans didn’t work,
because my house is in disarray,
because i haven’t had a moment to myself for over a week,
because i am tired and cranky…
boom crash boom!
The stores overflow with Halloween candy and decorations. Houses on the street look dark, gory and gloomy. Halloween is nigh!
When I was a child (oh so many decades ago) only one or two households would decorate the outside of their home for Halloween and we didn’t expect to see anything in the stores until after Canadian Thanksgiving (which is next weekend).
Now, it seems everything is buy, buy, buy. Halloween stuff appears in the store beside Back to School sales and Christmas stuff goes out even before Halloween is here.
We don’t just consume anymore now we must be seen to be consuming, to be consumers, to have it all, everyone must see it. Who are we keeping up to? Who is it all for?
Am I turning in to a curmudgeon?
Or was I always one? ;-)
I decorate for me. I celebrate for me. And increasingly that means buying less and enjoying the moments more.
What is this a sign of?
I thought you could have everything if you wanted it hard enough. (p. 221)
The China Garden
By Liz Berry
N.Y.: Avon Tempest, 1996
I vowed early that I would never be a farmer’s wife!
I knew what that life would be like. It would be a life of hard work and too much sacrifice to others. I saw that life every day. All my grandparents were farmers. My eldest sister married a farmer. Her mother-in-law was hard working and self-sacrificing.
I spent many a September digging potatoes and harvesting large farm gardens. It was too hot. It was too cold. It was so much work. I hated it. I hated the planting. I hated the dirt. I hated the digging. I hated putting it all up for later because it seems we got to taste so little of the harvest when it was fresh. It was always about later. It was always about getting and being prepared for winter. Fall, my favourite season, was hurried by with work and work and more work.
One worked on the farm from sun-up to long past sun down and this is not what I wanted. I wanted time to read and dream and just be.
Farming has never been easy and it has not got easier. There is more loss than profit. Machinery can cost upwards of 100,000 dollars. Almost everyone who farms today, in the traditional way, also works off the farm! If one farms in this way one does so because they love the farm.
My nephew farms. He loves the lifestyle. He loves the farm. He is a farmer but he also works off the farm. His three year old niece (my great-niece) who is a city child is drawn to the farm. We wonder if she will be a farmer one day. His younger brother lives on a farm but does not farm. His wife and children love the farm. I wonder who, in the next generation, will carry on this life style. My eldest sister would go back and live on the farm if it were feasible.
I can’t tell a combine from a thresher though I can point out an auger and most tractors. I’ve never been drawn to the farm. That is not the life style I want.
It is however what I am doing right now. I am spending weeks on the farm this Autumn taking care of my four year old great-nephew. I find the quietness strange even though there are many things there that my grandparents never had. I have access to a cell phone, the internet, too many tv channels and e-books. Still, I look out the window and see no one.
I am at the farm while my nephew brings in the harvest and, on the side, guides hunters. I cook and take care of one child. It is not the life style my grandparents had. Without modern appliances their days were filled with cooking and cleaning and child-care. They never rested. I rest. I have time to be still and contemplate the silence.
The silence of the farm overwhelms me; me who likes silence and revels in the quiet. I feel utterly alone on the farm. I feel like it could be the end of the world and I would never know. I feel like I could scream forever and no one would hear. I don’t feel this way in the city even though I am equally alone there.
The quiet is different in the country. Though I enjoy the glimpses of wildlife and turbulent nature I cannot live there.
I am not a farmer.
I ask nothing. I promise nothing.
I come from nowhere. A land-locked nowhere. I am surrounded by fields of flax and wheat that undulates in the wind. There is nothing here. The people are not dreamers, they are practical. Is it any wonder that I ran away.
I ran away to the sea because it was the furthest I could go. Once you reach the sea there is nothing else there. I thought it would be less work. I thought it would be more pleasure than pain.
But, like the family farm, the sea is also a harsh task-master.
The winds blow harsh and fierce in both places whipping up the tempest of dust or water – it does not much matter which.
I cannot hide. There is always work to be done. I beware of strong winds. I watch my step. I mind my head. The captain, like my father, is harsh and unforgiving.
Both sea and farm are harsh mistresses.
The sea has too much water. The farm has too little.
The farm has too much dust. The sea has none.
I long for warm beaches and petty pleasure.
I ask nothing. I promise nothing.
I want. Nothing.
The above is a poem written for September 19th which is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Click here for a modern pirate tale.