Wednesday, May 31, 2006

St. Cloud

Left the Twin Cities yesterday afternoon to spend a couple of days in St. Cloud (about 90 miles away) for some training. The boyz knew something was up when I started packing and also when I left them two days worth of food. I'm sure the food is already gone.

I miss the boyz.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

At the Hot Corner

It was over ninety degrees Memorial Day Eve. Hotter than an empty can of Dr. Pepper thrown and discarded on a newly paved road with its tar melting away into a pungent vapor. So hot that I finally put my wallet away and turned on the AC for the feline population I'm living with, the ones with fur coats and panting from the hot air.

It was the day when my family had a little get together at the cemetery where Mom is and isn't. My brother-in- law, Dan who is a minister by trade and faith, conducted a nice service where he asked us to share some things we remember about Mom. I would have said something but it really isn't in my nature and I know Mom would have been the last person to hope that I would say something. If I had I think I would have said something about one of the last coherent conversations Mom and I had before the morphine she was taking for the pain her cancer was causing caused her mind to space out. Mom told me that she really wished she had saved some of my not to be broadcast radio shows I taped as a kid.

This memory came to me listening to Bob Dylan's XM Satellite Radio Show, Theme Time Radio Hour, particularly the second show played during the week of Mother's Day, a show dedicated to music about mothers. What I thought about saying at the cemetery was what Bob said to open this installment of his show. How moms are the only people in the world that can divide their love equally among ten children and yet each child has all her love. I liked that.

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly six years since Mom died. Things have gone by fast, things that don't mean much, things that mean everything. During the sad moments I wish Mom were still around because I know she'd make everything just a little bit more bearable. During the happy moments, those few and far between, I wish Mom were around because there was no one better to share happiness with, no one who rooted harder for me to be just a little bit happier but didn't push it in any way.

The moments are there. There was a moment on the way home from a friend's graduation party when I was stopped at the stop light at the corner of Lexington and Grand Avenues in St. Paul when a middle aged attractive couple exited the Lexington a fancy restaurant my Mom ate at once, a place far too rich for me and my friends. I happened to overhear this couple's conversation that began as a red Mini-Cooper drove on by. The woman told the man that she wished she could ride in one of those. The guy pointed to my scooter and told the woman that she would be happier on what I was riding on. I wanted to interrupt them and point out that I have both and that either choice would be a good one. But I didn't, I just smiled and waited for the light to turn green. (It usually does.)

Mom probably would have frowned at my scooter riding, having forbade all us kids from getting a motorcycle. One of her few steadfast rules. But the episode by the Lexington reminded me of the joke I learned from J.D. Salinger about what one wall said to the other. "Meet you at the corner!"

Mom would have laughed. She would have also would have chuckled at the latest installment of Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour that featured songs about baseball and included a wonderful opening where Bob sang a smile inducing acapella version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Speaking of happiness Mom loved the late Max the Cat almost as much as I did and not only because he was a great cat, but because she knew how much I loved him and that was good enough for her. Thus I think she'd also be quite fond of the three cats who keep me company, keep me entertained and keep me from slipping off into the darkness for too long a time. Mom would have loved how Thompson, the three-legged cat who has had issues of trust, undoubtedly since the accident where a trap cost him his leg and nearly cost him his life, will take a step forward in trusting life once again even if later he'll take a couple of steps backwards. The way he deals with each day is enough to forget at how unfair life can be. It's a struggle but one he manages.

Mom would have also loved how Theo, the youngster, loves to launch himself into my arms and how Diego-san is the best cuddler since Stephanie Jane (not that I remember or knew). I didn't say any of this at the cemetery but hopefully Mom heard anyway.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Get Fuzzy

We all know the story. They were just about to hit the big time. They had conquered their home town and beyond and with every appearance the legend began to grow. Four cheeky lads. But behind the scenes there was discontent. The rhythm guitarist and the bass player, who shared singing duties, were said to be jealous of the drummer's dark brooding handsome good looks. Or that's what the drummer's mom said when asked to explain why the rhythm guitarist and the bass player ended up firing the drummer and replacing him with a sickly (and somewhat homely) lad.

We'll never know if the Beatles would have been as big, or bigger had Pete Best remained the drummer and Ringo Starr had been left to bum around back in Liverpool. We'll never know if Pete was a better drummer than Ringo. We may never know the real reason for the personnel change.

Whatever. This past week may have been just as momentous as the one where the Beatles switched drummers. This was the week where the three boyz of a certain Hamline Avenue brick abode were joined by a ghostly fourth finally shedding the baggage of being part of an involuntary quartet where the parts of the trio added up to a much greater sum than being lumped in with the spare wheel who wasn't one of their own species.

The aquatic newbie may not have the graying good looks of who he's theoretically replacing in the group but he is much more likely to add charisma to the chemistry.

For those of you in need of a program in order to keep track of the players here's a quick run down: Thompson and Diego-san are the skilled duo that were originally brought together through a quirk of fate. Diego-san is the cute charmer with multiple, if at times cloying talents. Thompson is the neurotic edgy one. Together their differing personalities blend into something magical.

Theo is younger than Thompson and Diego-san and sometimes follows the two around like a lost little brother. But Theo has his own abilities that can't be overlooked even if sometimes they're overshadowed. He's also probably the most likely to return to his eastern spiritual roots in search for answers.

The newcomer? He's Bucky the beta fish. The auburn hair lass was kind enough to buy Bucky to give him a new home. And granted he isn't an actual resident of the household that holds the other three boyz, rather he's an absentee member who lives a ways down the street in the Hennepin County Government Center. Bucky isn't a flashy beta fish- he's mostly silver with flashes of a spectacular shade of blue. He seems to perk up when the overhead lights are turned on and the dour and increasingly sour office holder finally appears in the morning.

Bucky's small goggle shaped tank with a plastic plant and purple rocks sits right next to a photo of the late great Mr. Max- the Elvis Presley of cats (without the self indulgence and self destruction). Bucky seems leery of the image of Max and yet often spends a lot of time on that side of the tank as if curious about that sweet face looking in on things.

It's quite possible that the group of four will never be in the same location at the same time but the bond is there in spirit nonetheless. Each provide a great reminder to one not always keen on life itself, that this moment, this shared time, maybe the best of all, no matter what has gone down before.

And like the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, the one responsible for bringing this group of four together has his manic moments but nothing is ever enough to overwhelm how proud he remains of all these special beings and how lucky he is to know them. Yes the group may not have the ability to surpass the Dixie Chicks (the 21st Century answer to the Beatles) as the most popular group of the day. And yes everyone involved has to tip their caps or beanies or hats to the country trio's great new song, "Not Ready to Make Nice" that channels anger and hurt in such a searing way, proving an artful testament to the knowledge that time doesn't really heal all wounds. But this is not to say that one day the four won't find the way to do something just as big, just as impressive. Just you watch.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Student

Last evening Theo was sitting on my lap as I was working on my computer in my office. He saw a small bug flying around so he hopped down and followed its flight for a bit.

Unfortunately he quickly lost it, so I decided to help him. I tried smashing the bug with my two hands. The clapping sure got Theo's attention. He looked at me wide eyed- probably the longest he has ever looked directly at me. It was if he was a blank slate and the thought of swatting at the bug was brand new but something he was trying to figure out how to add to his arsenal.

The bug got away but we'll see if Theo, ever the student, has a different approach next time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I was in bed by 7:30 last night because I've been positively exhausted from work over load and a chronic lack of sleep. I think I fell asleep a little after 9:30 after watching a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was probably the changes to the routine but through the night all three boyz woke me up wanting to snuggle. I woke up once to a cat licking my hand who I assumed was Theo (who's my licker) and I was just about ready to scold him when I saw it was actually Thompson. I ended up patting Thompson on the head and feeling bad that for some reason there are different rules for different cats.

I think I did end up sleeping more than usual despite the interruptions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Possible Spokescat for Microsoft

Diego-san hasn't been a window cat. When I open up the windows he'll check out the sights and smells for a bit, but unlike Thompson doesn't lose himself long in the world outside our walls.

I suspect this may be because he never has spent much time outdoors in his short life. I believe he was brought to the shelter and ultimately a foster home right after he was born. I took him for a couple of walks a couple of summers ago, which he loved, but other than that his exposure to the wild life has been watching Theo run crazily through the house.

The past few nights Diego has spent a lengthy amount of time staring out the closed bedroom window in the upper wing. I'm glad to see him take interest in the outdoors even though like Max before him, and Thompson, it will ultimately probably just frustrate him since he won't ever live the life of an explorer. He'll have to be content smelling the fresh air and watching squirrels and bunnies from behind wire and glass.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Me Too

Thompson likes it too.

Nature Boy

The Azalea I planted a month ago is blooming. I like. What a nice thing to see in my yard every morning.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Free Falling

Speaking of Theo and stairs... He finally found a way to get up on the ledge above the staircase up to the upper wing of the house. It's one of Diego's favorite spots to perch himself. One of the reasons it is, is because it's not a spot that either Thompson or Theo has an easy time getting up on. Diego can easily jump up on the ledge but Thompson and Theo have to first jump on a box or the cat tree nearby and then jump on the ledge. It's only about a three foot jump but the ledge itself is only about a half a foot wide so there isn't much room for error.

Unfortunately once up on the ledge Theo wanted to get to the other side- the other ledge up from the stairs. Before I could get over to him (all the while scolding him for what he was about to try) he jumped and didn't make it meaning he fell all the way down the stairs (about a 10 foot drop). He seems OK though- he was back up on the ledge later that same day.

Friday, May 19, 2006


My softball season started last week. I'm getting to the age when I'm wondering how much longer I can play. My game revolves around my speed so once my legs go, I won't be much use as a player.

I really love running the bases. Now every time I do I think of Theo racing up and down the stairs. He seems proud of himself that he always beats the other two boyz in his self proclaimed race to the top (or bottom).

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My dad has been out of town this week so instead of having dinner with him a couple of nights like I usually do I've gotten instead to spend all this week with the boyz.

I think they appreciate my company. Essentially I've just worked my way through inertia that hasn't gotten done the past few months while having the TV on and following baseball games on the Internet. Even with the downstairs windows open, the three boyz usually spend most of the time in the upper wing with me, lying around only to get up if I get up. Theo of course, can't help but pester Thompson or Diego at some point. It's nice watching the interaction more than usual.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

She Saved the World A Lot

It's become a ritual for me over the past few months to watch one of my favorite TV programs (on DVD) right before I go to bed. I've watched entire seasons of 'Six Feet Under,' 'Hill Street Blues,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Nip Tuck,' 'Murder One,' 'Angel,' 'Firefly,' and 'Sports Night.'

Last night I finished season five of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' That's the season that Buffy's mom died unexpectantly, and the season ends with Buffy's death. When the shows from that season originally aired on the WB all those years ago, it was a couple of years after my own Mom died. The emotional undercurrent of the storyline was deadly accurate. The episode that Buffy's mom died in particular is one of the most powerful works of art I've ever seen. It captured so perfectly the overwhelming unemotional aspect to losing someone so close.

Part of the storyline leading up to Buffy's own death is how she suffers a withdrawal and breakdown as things just get to be too much to take. Her parting words to her sister Dawn convey this: "The hardest thing to do in this world is live in it."

Every time I see these episodes I cry. It was totally random and without thought that I watched the mom dying story arch right around Mother's Day. I think about how my life has changed since my own Mom died (different job, different friends, different car, different cats) and wonder how things would be different if she was still around. After the finale I lay there for a moment with first Diego-san who has such a mysterious and charismatic personality, and later Thompson who is so inspiring and a rush of emotions poured in.

The world is overwhelming. It's all about loss and finding a way to endure even if it means shutting down. And maybe that's the only way to get by.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fido's Got Nothing on This Boy

Cats are supposed to be aloof. It isn't in their nature to be overly social. But I don't think Theo got that memo. He spends little time by himself. If he's not pestering Diego-san or Thompson than he usually is checking out what I am up to even though what I am up to rarely is too exciting.

He greets each and every visitor to our house. He's still extremely playful so I have been making more of attempt to play with him at some point. He just loves to play fetch. I truly hope this isn't a phase he grows out of. I'm very fond of his friendliness. One of us in the house has to be.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rain Rain Go Away

It's been cold and rainy/drizzly for about a week now. It doesn't affect the boyz much except the windows have remained closed mostly, and there isn't a lot of sunlight to lie around in.

It only affects me in that the weather isn't conducive to scooter riding. And my life besides cats, is all about scooter riding.

Oh and I face a challenging lawn mowing because my grass is as high as an elephant's eye (or drunken G.I.).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Joe Bob

I went to the Twins 10 to 1 win over the White Sox the other night. Bob, the guy who sold me my scooter has seats about ten rows in front of me. He left with his son around the third inning.

Joe, the guy I have tickets with, didn't arrive until about the third inning. So when Bob left, Joe showed up. Up until now it hadn't occurred to me that they might be the same guy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Six Feet Under

The hole in front of my house just keeps getting deeper and deeper. It's now deep enough for men to stand in up to their necks.

Coming home to all the construction reminds me of one of my favorite David Letterman quips. He was interviewing a construction worker asking him what he was doing and the guy replied, "Looking for IJ Cupman." Dave then asked, "How long has he been missing?" Now every time I see guys holding shovels and working on a street project I say a prayer for IJ Cupman.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Windows 3.1

I have skylights in my bedroom in the upper wing of the house. During the summer I love to lie in bed and look at the moon and stars above and listen to the birds and crickets sing.

Unfortunately I think these sky facing windows confuse and/or frustrate the boyz. When the skylights are open and we are all sitting upstairs randomly doing our own thing, the boyz will hear noises from outside- voices, cars, the clanking of the mailbox flap closing shut from across the street. Not being able to see what is causing these sounds often causes looks of concern from the boyz. Diego actually has tried climbing the walls, and hopping on furniture that gets him closer to the skylight- all in attempt I suppose, of thinking he can sit and see outside.

In designing the upper wing I thought the boyz (and I might) enjoy the fresh air allowed by open skylights and the extra sun afforded. I hadn't considered curiousity might win out over nature appreciation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shake These Walls

They're making it awful hard to get out of my house. With street construction tearing up the streets all around me, getting out to the main streets is increasingly becoming a challenge.

Last night when I found my way home the workers were working on the area right in front of my house. I think the boyz may have had an exciting day because the heavy machinery would clunk out sections of the road and cause the whole house to shake like there was a major earthquake happening (only right in front of our eyes).

The boyz didn't seem too wound up however. I hope this isn't something we have to get used to or even worse, will get used to because it goes on too long.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mr. In Between

When I was looking to adopt a cat, Diego-san's description on the shelter's web site called him, "extremely friendly." Indeed when I went to meet him he all but hopped up in my arms. He still exhibits this wonderful greeting style with visitors to our house.

Now days with our own relationship settling into something much more about give and take, Diego still a couple times a day will want to get right in my face, rubbing his face against mine. When he's like this he'll be purring away very deeply and it's like he can't sit still- he has to get as close to me as he can.

Then there's other times during the day when he displays the familiar feline trait of being aloof. He's very good at that as well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What'cha Doing?

I had to get some work done yesterday on my computer and it's hard to do so if I let Theo roam my home office since he either wants to jump up into my arms or he wants to get into stuff I don't want him getting into. So I closed the door. This wasn't acceptable to him as he sat outside the door and mewed away. If only I could teach him that there are probably other things more exciting to do in life than watching me type.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Weekend in Wisconsin

Had a good time in Madison. Ate some terrific food (Afghani, Ethiopian, and Japanese). Spent all of Saturday walking- around the Farmer's Market and the campus. The drive wasn't too stressful and my Mini Cooper (Jazmin) handled things just fine (despite a delay to the trip caused by a flat tire and replacement of my brakes).

Back home. The boyz seemed more upset by the break in routine rather than my absence. Thanks to Grandpa they got an extra meal (or two) but not going by the schedule seemed to rile them up extra special. Thompson all but wouldn't come near to me. Diego didn't know what he should do and Theo was more focused than ever on avoiding contact with me.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mad Town

I'm headed off to Madison, Wisconsin tomorrow for the weekend. I'm going with my friend A-, and I'm quite looking forward to getting away. I haven't told the boyz yet. And the fact that A- is Diego-san's favorite person in the world will probably only make him madder that I'm leaving him alone. Again. The boyz will only be alone for a couple of days, and I'm sure they'll be fine. I hope the house is still in one piece when I get home though.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Who Me, Worry?

Thompson is our worrier. And in a world where he has plenty to worry about, an empty dinner dish ranks at the top of his list. When Thompson senses it's time to be fed he'll make sure that I understand that the dinner dishes lack food and he'll do whatever he can to remind me of that as often as it takes.

He knows the routine. He knows that once I'm up and about, and after my morning shower that it's breakfast time. He'll wait pretty patiently as I get dressed letting out timed gutteral meows to rush me as much as he can. He'll run to the top of the stairs and look down and from around the corner of the stairs I won't be able to see him but I certainly can hear him.

When I finally stroll over to be at the top of the stairs, Thompson will quickly run down a few but stop until he's sure that I'm following him. Once he's confident I'm climbing down the stairs he'll run down as fast as he can. (It's a little difficult for him to walk down stairs slowly as he has to make sure he maintains the right balance with each and every step and stop.) By this time Theo has flown down the stairs and is strutting around downstairs but Thompson always manages to be the first in front of the dishes.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


My relationship with Diego-san has grown over the years. When he first moved in, it seemed as if he spent sixty percent of his time challenging me. He immediately got into things that Mr. Max never even dared during his many years in this house (on top of the refrigerator, behind piles of boxes in the basement, behind stacks of old windows in the basement).

Ever since Theo has arrived Diego has seemed a bit more needy of my attention. Thompson used to devote on him but with Theo around Thompson's attention is split. Thus there are times Diego's ultra friendly personality latches on to me more than ever before. Our time before bedtime when I comb him is the most common bonding time but there are other times during the day as well. When I go down to clean out the litter box, Diego races down the stairs and rolls around the cement floor by the boxes where all the loose litter has spilt out. I rub his ample belly and all things right in the world for the both of us.

He's got the ultimate feline personality- mysterious at times, goofy other times, constantly curious, with a canine like friendliness he shows to our visitors.

Monday, May 01, 2006


It could have been three poodles or three bunny rabbits but I'm glad I ended up with three kitties (11 legs between them). Watching the boyz sit around quietly is as inspiring as watching them tear around the house or playing with a catnip mouse. I love how they can sit around observing nothing forever or how a tiny noise can cause the greatest amount of excitement. In my life three really is almost as good as one.