wordless wednesday (not always wordless)

My first cat was named Peter. I was maybe eight. One day I went looking for Peter. I wanted to pet him and chit chat a while. I found him in the basement laundry hamper. I couldn’t be bothered turning on the light so I just stood there in the dark petting him and telling him this and that in the way of chit chat and I gave each of his feet a tiny squeeze until it seemed I’d squeezed more than four feet. I counted again. Definitely seven. I ran upstairs, announced to my mother that Peter had grown three new feet and she said no, actually, he must have had his kittens overnight. It was the first I’d heard that Peter was a girl. We considered changing his name but nothing else fit. So Peter he remained. Cannot think of him as a girl even now, even with seven feet. And I’m pretty sure he was grateful we let him be who he was.


**Note: the pic is not Peter, but who’s to say it’s not a distant relative of one of his faux paws?


Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman


life, in three parts

PART 1— The last day.

The vet’s been called. And now I’m painting.

Hard decisions have been made. Our little tortoiseshell girl who was on the edge six weeks ago, then rallied like no one could believe — returning to almost her perfect nineteen year old self — has come to another edge. But this time she’s leaning over it so far there’s no coming back.

The vet is due at 5 p.m. and all day I flip-flop between wanting it to be 5 p.m. and 1994. I move between tending to her on the couch and milling about the kitchen where I can see her, where I’m preparing to paint cupboards that don’t especially need painting.

And I wonder why about the cupboards until I receive an email from a friend with a link to a quilting blog and I think how odd… I don’t quilt. I used to sew but the friend doesn’t know that. It’s a puzzle, this gift of a quilting link, and yet it reminds me of one of the last times I actually enjoyed sewing — years ago, when we had three cats. When the first of those three died, in the days right after, I sewed like crazy. Hideous things no one needed. Carrier bags and pillow cases in cabbage rose and bright pink patchwork.

And then it occurs to me that when the second of those cats died I dug over a new garden bed where a new garden bed was not required.

I simply needed to dig.

The majority of the painting will happen later. For now I just need to set the stage, to make a mess that must be dealt with, ensuring I’ll have an activity when I can’t think of what I’m supposed to do in the absence of a face I love.

The tins of paint, the taped cupboards, will be a blessing then.


It was summer, 1994. We were having dinner. A loud mewling, a wail through an open window. I went out to see what it was and found a young tortoiseshell cat crouched at the base of the cedar hedge. Our two indoor cats were watching. I wanted to assure them no strangers would be tolerated. I chased the tortoiseshell away. I returned to the dinner table. The wailing resumed. Back outside, I chased the cat again and again but each time it turned and followed me. Finally, with conviction and some seriously stern language, I picked the little bugger up and carried it out of the yard.

It purred in my arms.

I called the Humane Society.

Luckily, there were no lost cats fitting her description.

We named her Cuddles.


Cats 026 - Copy

sunday things

Lazy morning, Jake The Cat curled up in bed beside me, washing his face and both of us listening through sunny open window to birdsong and neighbours chatting.

Peter delivering a pot of tea.

A new book to read, begins like this:

“Saturday night, midwinter. The farmhouse has been dark for hours and the crew has all gone home. We light a fire and open two bottles of our friend Brian’s homemade beer, and as I wash up the milking things Mark begins to cook for me, a farmer’s expression of intimacy…. Humming, he rummages through the fridge and comes out with a pint of rich, gelatinous chicken stock and a pomegranate, the latter a gift from my friend Amelia, who brought it up from New York City.

“…. The steak he has broiled medium rare and sliced thin across the grain and drizzled with a red wine reduction. There is a mix of leek, carrot, and kale, sautéed in butter and seasoned with juniper berries, and next to this, vibrating with colour, a tiny pile of this year’s ruby sauerkraut, made from purple cabbages. We are out of bread, but he found a little ball of pastry dough in the fridge, left over from making a pie, and he rolled it out and cut it in triangles and cooked it in a hot skillet, and voila, biscuits. But the unlikely star of the plate is the radish….The variety is called Masato Rose. Creamy white with shades of green on the outside, and bright pink on the inside, they are about the size of an apple, and, when you cut them, they look like miniature watermelons. These are a favourite appetizer served raw with a little sprinkling of salt. They look so fruitlike the biting taste is always a surprise, a disagreement between the eye and the palate. Tonight, Mark braised them in stock, which hardly dimmed their brilliant colour but mellowed out their flavour. He added a dash of maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, and at the end tossed in a handful of the tangy pomegranate seeds, the heat bursting some and leaving others whole to amuse the tongue. This is why I love my husband: given these opposites to work with, th earthiest of roots and the most exotic of fruits, he sees harmony, not discord.”

—from The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, by Kristin Kimball (Simon & Schuster, 2010)