Aside

Au Revoir Clouseau

Five years ago, my neighbor came over, asking if I could help her.  She had a kitten that had literally been blown under her vehicle by a passing car.  She didn’t know what to feed him, had no litter, and no place to leave him when she went to work.  I explained I was unable to take him, and as you might guess that lasted all of about 2 minutes.  There he was — all one pound of him and that bewitching little face.

Compared to the other cats in the family he was small, but in his mind, he was also mighty.  His first toy was a turtle.  He amused himself swatting it a couple of times, then picked it up in his mouth and shook it emitting a deep growl.  He was surprised by my laughter, but the sight of him waving a toy turtle that was as big as his head while growling was hysterical.

His antics reminded me of the games played by Kato and Clouseau in the “Pink Panther,” hence his name.  In my house there were many Katos, none of whom wished to play the game.  In spite of their feelings, he would race across the room, jump on furniture, then fly through the air front paws outstretched landing on his prey.  He loved it.

The Vulture Pose

Monsieur Clouseau’s language preference was French.  He did not adhere to the Henry Higgins opinion, that “the French don’t care what you say, as long as you pronounce it correctly.”  Perhaps that is because his English pronunciation was so horrible (he literally murdered the word “room.”)

Clouseau would start his day with his sun salutation, then go up on the roof to “cat-scan” the neighborhood.  A devotee of yoga, he invented a new pose which he called the “vulture pose.”

As my boy grew in stature, he also became quite the man about town.  The stories of Clouseau are legend.  He actually enjoyed visiting the veterinary clinic when I was traveling.  Of course, he insisted on having full run of the place meowing loudly so he’d be freed from his cage. He made friends with neighborhood kitties, and when he met his girlfriend, Gabrielle, he begged his mom, “Puis-je la garder s’il vous plait maman?” (may I keep her please mama).

A few weeks ago Clouseau became ill, and we discovered he was acutely anemic.  My vet recommended that he go to an emergency veterinary hospital. Of course, Clouseau demonstrated his witchcraft at the new place.  He attempted to steal food from the dog in the next cage and demanded attention all the time.  After some treatment, it was determined he could come home, but the prognosis was devastating and by Saturday, February 10 any hope of more time was dashed.

Clouseau loved being outside, climbing on the roof, sleeping on the hood my car.  We spent his last hours in the backyard while we waited for the vet to arrive, and end his pain.  As he drifted off, I whispered in his ear, “Bonne nuit mon gentil garcon, mon petit bonhomme.  Je t’aime mon cher Clouseau.”

 

 

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A Rose By Any Other Name…

A Rose By Any Other Name…

As many of my readers know, I have six kitties. Three are about 18 years old, which in human years makes them much older than I. The remaining three are under five.

I take after my dad, who loved animals. He would have had several pets if possible.  My mother, on the other hand, felt one pet in the family was more than sufficient.

The latest addition to my lair is a fellow I call Teddy.  He’s named after my eldest brother.  Ted and I have a history of dubbing our pets with familial monikers.  It started with his naming his pug dog Bonnie after our mom. Mother was annoyed.

Over the years, I’ve had dogs and cats.  Mother liked them but became critical of the number of cats living at my address.  I recall several years ago, just before a visit from mom, a new cat appeared on the scene.  I knew she would have an opinion about the newcomer.

Mom arrived, walked into the kitchen and spied the foreigner lying on the floor.  As I recall, the ensuing dialogue went something like this:

Mom: “What’s this?”

Me: “A cat.”

Mom: “You know what I mean, what’s it doing here?”

Me: “He lives here.”

Mom: (deep sigh) “Sharon, why do you have another cat?”

Me: “It isn’t something I planned.  He appeared and took up residence.  I couldn’t arbitrarily dismiss a fellow who is named after your father, and looks quite a bit like your husband.”

Mother often said I gave human qualities to pets, but naming him Fred and noticing a resemblance between the cat and Wally was genius!

At the conclusion of her visit, mom said, “You know he does look a little like Wally.  She never questioned Fred’s presence again.

While everyone referred to my brother as Ted, his birth certificate specified his given name was Raymond.  Ted would appreciate this little fellow dubbed Teddy, although I guess he could argue that I didn’t name Teddy after him!

Teddy is a big, long-haired, grey, creature.  His favorite things are eating, racing through the house with wild abandon, playing with the other kitties, trying to operate my computer, and sleeping on my bed.

The other day I said to him, “You’re just a big Teddy Bear.” That’s when I noticed his resemblance to a Koala “Bear.”

Let me show you:

 

On the left, we have a Koala Bear and on the right is my Teddy.  For all of you who like to point out differences, I grant you the Koala has a big black nose, and Teddy’s smaller nose has a white spot; Mr. Koala has round eyes, and Teddy’s are oval; the Koala has rounded ears, Teddy’s are pointed; Teddy has exceptional whiskers and, the Koala doesn’t.  But look at the massive amount of fur coming out of their ears!  They each have a white bib and both are grey!  Perhaps in a former life, Teddy was a Koala, or maybe he’s a Koala in drag!
Then there is the fact that a Koala is, in fact, not a bear but a marsupial. There was a marsupial lion that existed in Australia in the Pleistocene age. It allegedly looked like a lion, had incisors like a lion, but is not part of the cat family.

So there you have it. Teddy is named after my brother — only he isn’t.  He looks something like a Koala Bear, but he isn’t one.  Some might say Teddy looks like a marsupial lion, but they haven’t been around for thousands of years so who knows?  I’ve yet to hear him say “G’day” as he enters a room — so much for an Australian accent.

To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, “Teddy by any other name would be as sweet.”

GONE WITH THE WIND

GONE WITH THE WIND

Eighteen years ago some children came running to my house announcing they had found some kittens.  There was a white kitty, an orange tabby, a tuxedo boy, a tortoise-shell girl and a beige female.  The kids quickly told me the mommy was dead.  Thinking back, I have no idea how true that was.  They were all about 4 – 5 weeks old.  After a couple of weeks of care and feeding, I found homes for 2 of them.  The remaining 3  (orange tabby female, male tuxedo cat, and tortoise-shell female) needed names.  I was in a literary frame of mind and the 2 girls were named Melanie and Katie Scarlett (GWTW).  I actually considered naming the tuxedo cat Rhett Butler, but it just didn’t fit his personality. The runt of the litter when he arrived, he appeared to have dreams of becoming larger than life.  As a result he became my Great Gatsby.

Melanie was the family “greeter.”  She figured anyone entering our abode was there to see her.  She would attempt to ingratiate herself to any new comer — never thinking they might be allergic to her.  “To me?  Never.”

Originally she was a rather quiet girl, but in more recent years found her voice.  This often came out in anger.  If I tried to arise and she was on my lap I heard, “MEOW….MEOW.”   She also informed me that what I considered my side of the bed, was actually hers. with a very loud, “MEOWWWWWWW!”

Mellie (her preferred nickname) started loosing weight about a week ago.  Her usual zest for eating was different,   and then all of a sudden her tummy was distended.  I was sure she wasn’t pregnant.  Aside from being neutered, she’s 18 years old (93 in human years).  We were off to the vet.  After an x-ray and exam, he said, “It doesn’t look good.”  He suggested I take her home and “just love her.”  It’s amazing how quickly she deteriorated and on April 22 she breathed her last.

There is a down side to having pets.  They give unconditional love, and are wonderful companions.  However their life span in human years is predictably shorter than ours.  For now, I find an emptiness I didn’t have only 72 hours ago.  And, my little girl, has quite literally gone with the wind.  Sleep tight Mel.

MELANIE

Buona Notte Bella Mia

Buona Notte Bella Mia

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Many years ago, during a visit, my mother looked at a furry object on the floor and said, “What’s this?” Mother had a problem with my pride of kitties — and she realized this was an addition.  I responded, “it’s a cat.”  She rolled her eyes, as she said, “I can see that, but why?”

I sighed as I replied, “His name is Fred and before you get upset about another cat, how could I get rid of a cat that’s named after your father and looks like your husband.”  She shook her head and walked away. Before the end of the visit, mom acknowledged, “You know, he does look like Wally.”

Many years later, my neighbor knocked at the door and asked me about 2 kittens in front of my house. One had Siamese markings the other was a little Calico.  I explained they were not mine and he said, “we were concerned because we don’t want our dog to get them,”  which explains 2 additions to my pride.  That was more than 16 years ago.

The Calico had 2 adorable features —  a little triangle marking on her nose, and she’s the first cat I’ve seen that had not just green, but green/hazel eyes.  They reminded me of mom’s eyes.   At her arrival, most of my kitties had taken on the names of characters in Gone With The Wind.  This little girl became Belle or sometimes because she was so pretty, (and I am Italian after all) Bella.  Hmmm and mom was a belle as well.  She was Bonnibell and my little girl was of course a “bonnie” little Belle.  I can imagine mom rolling her eyes at that one.

Belle is going on 17 years of age.  According to a calculator I googled, the completion of 2 years in a cat’s life is  equivalent to 25 years for us, then the difference drops significantly. But no matter how you figure it my little girl is older than I!

It’s become apparent in the last few weeks that my Belle was not feeling well.  She’s been a great little girl, a wonderful companion, and I love her more than words can describe.   After discussions with my veterinarian I had to acknowledge, it was time to let her go in peace.

Today I was with her at the doctors office.  Saying goodbye is difficult, so as she drifted off, I whispered quietly ….

 Buona notte Bella mia

Ciao bella mi amore

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Have you ever felt you were “walking on air?”  I had the experience early this year.

January came with new health insurance and a new doctor.  As expected a number of diagnostic tests were prescribed.  Baptist Hospital was offering a nominally priced CAT scan for a special study they were conducting on people who were smokers or former smokers.  Since I fell into the latter category, my doctor recommended it.  “What the heck, why not?” was my response.

At my next doctor’s appointment, she noted there was a ‘lesion’ that looked suspicious.  She had discussed the results with the radiologist and they recommended I see a breast surgeon.  “But,” I said, “my mammogram didn’t show up anything.”  The CAT scan won.

The surgeon performed an ultrasound and as I watched the screen, a big black spot appeared.  It was not in my breast but a lymph gland.

“OMG!”  I was officially experiencing “high anxiety.”  A needle biopsy was scheduled for the following week.  After spending the longest weekend on earth, I had the procedure.  As he probed the area, I heard the doctor say, “Boy is someone going to be happy.”  It had aspirated!  I looked at the screen and the large black spot was gone.

As I left his office I experienced that sensation of “walking on air.”  I didn’t walk — I floated to my car — my feet never touched the ground!

THE CAT FAMILY

Everything changes but somehow remains the same. Last year at this time I had 8 kitties.   However my dear boy Ashley passed away in February.

A few months later, Clouseau, came home with a little girl.  He said in French (of course), “Maman, je l’ai trouve un petit chat.  Son nome est Gabrielle.  Puis-je le garder?  (rough translation: I found a little cat.  Her name is Gabrielle.  Can I keep her?)

CLOUSEAU PLEADS FOR GABY
CLOUSEAU PLEADS FOR GABY

I looked into those pleading eyes and said, “Non!”  My resolve lasted about 5 minutes.

Initially, it was perfect.  He played with Gaby and stopped tormenting the other cats.  The vet noted she was a bit older than I originally thought.  Time for neutering.  Poor Clouseau, looked everywhere for his lost love?  Soon it was time for her return.  As he waited at her carrier door she exited.  She had a cone protector around her neck.

THE CONEHEAD ARRIVES
THE CONEHEAD ARRIVES

Clouseau took one look at her.  As he ran away.  I heard him exclaim, “Argh … quel est ce.  Elle est un conehead etranger.” (Argh … what is this.  She is an alien conehead).  He’s now talking divorce.

THE GOLDEN YEARS

Yes, “the golden years” are upon me.  You know, those years full of lovely trips, spending time with friends, taking up new hobbies and not having to get up at the crack of dawn.  I’ve found however, whether by habit or just having to get up in the middle of the night for a potty run, I’m still up by 5 am.  As for the gold, that’s to pay for fixing or replacing body parts that apparently were not designed to last for more than 70 years.

As I write this, I have just had cataract surgery.  Pre-op is not just those few minutes before surgery.  It is the culmination of heightened apprehension which begins the day you find out you are going to have surgery and concludes when you enter a very sterile room where a smiling nurse asks, “how are you?”

I wanted to say, “I’m scared as hell and let me out of here.”  What came out (in a childlike voice) was, “Fine.”

A Valium brought my blood pressure down to something less than frightening.  All went fine.  I was so good they gave me a cookie!  So far no one has mentioned “co-pay.”   But I know they will.

JUST CALL ME PREZ

As most of you know I’ve been active with my Toastmasters Club and this year is no exception.  In July I became president and now I’m busier than ever.

INSTALLATION AS PRESIDENT MIRACLE MILE TOASTMASTERS
INSTALLATION AS PRESIDENT
MIRACLE MILE TOASTMASTERS

Might this be a new beginning for me?  Should I consider taking on “The Donald?”

As I close, my little 32 feet send their love

Gatsby, Scarlett, Melanie, Belle, Daisy, Magic, Clouseau, Gabrielle

and of course so do I!