Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coming Out of the Dark

I read something recently, I don't even remember where, pointing out that DaVinci, Michelangelo and Edison all had the same 24 hours in a day that each of us has. It was supposed to be encouraging. At least I think it was. It was actually kind of depressing.

On to what matters. Our new babies have decided it's no longer necessary to steal about cautiously and then run back under the chair. They now run around like double-parked bank-robbers on amphetamines, occasionally redecorating whatever's in their path, and then run back under the bed. Still, they're coming out for longer periods now and even letting us pet them, though picking up is still on the forbidden list. They're even starting to venture into areas lit well enough for that strange man they see living with them to take pictures. Not great pictures yet, more like the surveillance photos Jim Phelps used to pull out of the envelope before the tape self-destructed, but it's a start. They're easy to tell apart. The white triangle between Lillie's eyes points to her left/our right. On Willy it points to his right/our left.
It's fascinating to see their personalities start to emerge. So far, Willy seems to have a lot of the life-in-the-slow-lane approach to life that Skids had, though it may just be shyness he'll get over. Lillie is already showing great spitfire potential. She's transporter-cat, going from point A to point B apparently without ever being at any point in between. For a fraction of a moment I thought about renaming her Lamont Cranston because of her ability to cloud men's minds so they can't see her, but I'm not sure how many people would get it. Besides, we like the names their rescuers gave them, even if they are spelled funny. The other day she came running up the stairs and under the bed with a glove in her mouth that was nearly as big as she is. It's good to know if our home is ever overrun by gloves she'll track them down and kill them. As it is, I nearly fell over laughing, in spite of hating myself right then for not having a camera poised and ready to shoot at any moment.
Willy, still preferring the shadows

Monday, October 15, 2007

Proud Daddy

Quite a weekend here.

Did some baking - always a good sign - and after two attempts successfully made some really good strawberry jam. (The first attempt resulted in a brick-like substance that smelled like burnt strawberries.) And we went to the Cat Championship Show at Madison Square Garden. (Most readers probably already know where this is going.)

The show itself was great. Thousands of people paying $15 each to look at other people's cats and worth every bit of it. There were hundreds of the most exquisitely colored and patterned pedigreed cats. Short-tailed breeds considered exotic here but that are common street cats in Japan. (To be fair, the Japanese consider our typical short-hair long-tails to be exotic. Go figure.) Abyssinians, Maus, Russian Blues, Himalayans. (That last one's a particularly interesting breed, their unique faces naturally forming a kind of scowl, making them the only cat breed with a facial expression to match the attitude.) In one area, a woman was leading, if it can be called that, a cat through a series of obstacles. (The "tricks" consisted of her dangling a toy while the cat climbed the steps, went through the tube, or did whatever else to get to it. Seems to me any cat will do that, but what do I know?) Finally she held the toy on the other side of a hoop, expecting the cat to go through to get to it. The cat, no doubt aware of the symbolism of going through a hoop at a human's bidding, look at the toy, the hoop, and the woman, and turned around and went back into the tube, refusing to come out. As the folks in the American Express commercials would day, priceless. And exactly the reason why all those people who came love cats so much. You don't have to spend much time around cats to understand why they weren't made with middle fingers.

And I'm sure you still know where this is going.

Another area was an adoption fair for rescued strays. So many cats of so many ages and enthusiasm levels. Though it's far too late to make this long story short, our interest in meeting a short-hair kitten of moderate energy level (and, I admit, that didn't look just like Skids, the better to view a new family member as an individual) led us to Willy and Lillie. They're four-month old white and grey brother and sister short-hairs who cuddled together, cleaned each other, and generally displayed a mutual devotion that would be somewhat disturbing between human siblings but that is adorable in cats. We were only looking for one cat, but it seemed unimaginable to separate them. Two adoption fees and one train ride later, I am the proud poppa of two beautiful furry new family members. At long last, my sons, who are twins, will get to be the ones saying, "Which one are you?"

I'd hoped to have pictures to include here but after only a day Willy and Lillie are still in the "we'd better stay under this chair or that strange man will eat us" phase.

Leaving the supermarket last night with a cart loaded with cat things, a lady I passed watched my cart intently. I saw her and beamed like a proud new poppa.

As I knew where this was going.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ach Du Lieber Augustine

Good thoughts can show up in the damnedest places. I found this one in an ad for a church on the downtown #2 subway to Brooklyn. It's from St. Augustine:
"People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering."
I've seen a few entries in other journals criticizing them harshly, and even was told (by a close friend, no less) that my own is "a desperate cry for help." These bothered me a bit - ok, more than a bit - and then St. Augustine came along and the whole thing got put into perspective. I don't know about you, but I don't care much about the height of mountains and have never been a beach person. You can't see the stars here a lot of the time, and if the river you've lived with your whole life were the Hudson you wouldn't be any more enamored of its size (or chemical content) than I am. What we do in these journals - really, what anyone who writes from their insides does - is refuse to pass by ourselves without wondering.
So here's to us, the people who give ourselves over to that creative urge just because it's ours, with or without permission. To sculpting thoughts and feelings into words, infusing them with rhythm and making them breath, and approaching it no differently whether we're being read by 12 or by 12,000 because we know no other way. To understanding the minor miracle of getting pixels on a glass screen, or bits of ink on a piece of paper, to induce a reaction in another person's mind, or heart.
This applies to more than writing, of course, but if I'm going to be self-serving why not go all the way?
In an unrelated news item, I see that Newt Gingrich has said he will not be running for president in 2008. What I really want to know is this: who's the twit who asked him that in the first place?
In another unrelated item, to the collection of "frequent buyer" cards I carry (for the supermarket, pharmacy, and office supply store) recently got added one for Lindt Chocolate shops. What have I become?
Third unrelated item (I promise to stop after this): yesterday the Yankees lost a playoff game due in part to an enormous swarm of gnats that descended onto their pitcher late in the game while they were holding onto a slim lead. I love my team, but when that happens it's hard not to think that mighty Umpire in the sky clearly does not want you to win. Our best chance in tomorrow's must-win game will be to get good starting pitching, mark the locker-room door the night before with lamb's blood, and hope there are no first-borns in the starting line-up.