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Three and Three Cats

What kind of cat was Saucy?

A kind, loving, hyper-intelligent cat who stood his ground despite his diminutive size. He was known as a pillow thief, constantly taking over your pillow as the night wore on. He was a keen hunter when given the chance and often ruined playtime by stealing toys out from your hands and scurrying off with them. He was tolerant, loved belly rubs and frequently made sure that both hands, if free, were petting him. As he got older, his demeanor changed in terms of petting to “just the head, please”. His purr was frequent, his meows silent, and he could direct noises right at your face if he so desired. He was as loyal as a dog and nearly as friendly. Even into his final years he celebrated “kitten hour” where his eyes would go wide, his ears would perk up and he would go crazy, chasing this or that and behaving a fraction of his age.

He was, and always will be, my cat.

What kind of cat was Val?

Val was dumb, or at least looked it. Very siamese, very cross-eyed, surprisingly dexterous. He was lean, sometimes mean, but when it came to people, he was a lover. He was loud, channeling his partial Siamese heritage into a plethora of sounds and vocalizations. He would answer to his name and sometimes, one might think, actually say his own name. The ultimate lap cat, if you had a lap, or even if you didn’t, he was there. It took Val a long time to adapt to other cats, but he became Louie’s surrogate litter-mate. “Val Val,” as he was affectionately know, were the first words out of Zoe’s mouth. Val would play fetch for 15 minute stretches, especially if the victim was wadded up piece of paper.

Val was everyone’s kitty. If you were sitting down, you had a Val.

What kind of cat was Louie?

As much as Saucy was my cat and Val was everyone’s cat, Louie was Heather’s cat. He was jealous of me, initially. I came between them and took Heather’s attention. It took him a while to warm up to me and really only became my lap cat in the last two years or so. He never lost his inner-kitten and would frequently claim any loose string as his own. Bags were a favorite and the more noise they made, the better. He had a weak spot for butter and we had to toss many a stick when we realized he figured out how to get at it even when it was covered. He, too, would take care of you if ill and you could rough house with him and he would scamper away only to come back for more mere seconds later. In his later years he spent any time he could sharing body heat with Val and they played endlessly. At nights, when he could, he snuggled up next to Heather’s legs. All night.

Louie was Heather’s cat and no animal has ever meant more to her.

All three cats never hesitated to come when called by name. (Also, none would miss a meal.)

We lost Saucy to cancer in 2005 during Heather’s first pregnancy. Val lost his kidney function earlier this year as well as a growth on his gall bladder. Louie lost his 5-year battle with a thyroid tumor just a few days ago.

You don’t live with an animal for over 10 years and not grow attached to them in many, many respects. They were, by all means, essential members to our family. The love was mutual and plentiful.

Sadly, we now close the chapter of the three cats we had when we married and move forward with two kittens in Neumann and Me-o and an aging behemoth in Squeaky.

They know not what is ahead of them, for they, as family as they are, have giant, loving paws to fill.

Zoe, Songwriter

Zoe was playing with one of my electric guitars and strumming it, out of tune, strings open, and making up a song as she was going along. It was mostly spoken word, but had some semblance of rhythm, in a very Lou-Reed-Esque “Walk on the Wild Side” vibe:

And she gave me a quarter
*DOIIIING*
And I bought a pickle
*TWANG*
Because pickles are wicked
*BOOOONG*
And I gave her a flower

I gave her a new… rose
*TWANG* A rose… *TWANG* a rose… *TWANG* a rose
I was down town *TWIIIING*
We went down town to visit Mr Brown
*DOOONG*
And then I became a girl again
*STRUM*

Solving the mystery

I came home the other day to a happy child and a slightly perturbed wife. After the traditional greetings and “Daddy’s home!” hugs, I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that Heather had found crayon drawings on the display screen of her camera. And I could clearly see that the little one was in the dog house over this.

None too pleased, I reiterated in my stern-and-grumpy fatherly voice that crayons were only to be used on paper, in coloring books and the ilk.

“I didn’t draw on Mommy’s camera!” she emphatically denied.

The lectures and life-lesson learning about the concept of lying have been a hot topic lately and both Heather and I seized upon the opportunity to make sure she understood that although drawing on Mommy’s camera is bad, lying is far, far worse and carries with it more severe consequences.

“But I didn’t draw on Mommy’s camera! I didn’t! I didn’t!” she cried.

As a parent, sometimes you know when your child is lying. The expression will tell you, the tone of voice, a series of ‘ums’ and conflicting stories, or better yet, each hand gripping a ball of cat fur will tell you that, yes, they were indeed picking up the cat, even while claiming otherwise. But it works in the opposite sometimes as well and as I looked at Heather, we exchanged that glance that acknowledged the “if we believe her AND she’s lying, we’re going to lose this battle in the war” vibe that hung over the conversation.

Then I saw the light bulb go off. Plink! Right above Heather’s head and a slight, but only slight, smirk (of sudden realization) permeated her expression.

“I have crayons in my purse,” Heather sighed. And that day, she’d taken the camera to take pictures of Zoe at gymnastics class.

Exchanging another look, at once and jointly we knew that this was going to invoke the dreaded “I’m right, you’re wrong” taunts of our four-year old. And as fun as that is, we like to avoid those situations at all cost.

We were pleasantly surprised when the panic-stricken child (the looming fear of punishment for a crime she didn’t commit is quite stressful, you know) grew a smile from ear to ear. She threw up her arms in an exaggerated shrug and while looking directly at mommy, said, “We solved the mystery!”

Is that what they are called?

Zoe ran in, quite excited and wound up, holding her arm.

“Look, Daddy! Look!” She yelled pointing to a tiny brown dot on her arm.

“What, little Z?” I asked.

“I HAVE A SPRECKLE!”

So they can find you?

Zoe: “Where does the hospital put people that die?”

Heather: “In the morgue.”

Zoe: “What’s a morgue?”

Me: “It’s a place where the hospital puts people that die.”

Zoe: “And then where do they go?”

Me: “Then they go to a funeral home, into a casket, then they are buried in the ground.”

Zoe: “So paleontologists can dig them up later?”

Exercise

As I tucked Zoe into bed and reached across to kiss her on the forehead, she stretched out her hand and patted my belly.

“Daddy,” she said, “This is your body telling you you need to exercises.”

I kissed her forehead and chuckled at her insight then went into the living room and took away all of her toys.

The Claw Game

In describing the “claw game” to Heather:

“The claw game is where you put your money in, you pick an animal, and then you lose.”

I do not know if I do…

Said innocently and as a matter of fact, “Daddy, do you know the power of the dark side?”

Lost in translation

Zoe: “Happy Balance Time Day!”

Not a back-seat driver

“Where are we going, Daddy?”

“We’re going to Lowe’s.”

“This isn’t the way to Lowe’s, this is the way home.”

“No, Zoe, we will pass by our house, but this is the way to Lowe’s. It’s right up the road.”

“I don’t think so, Daddy. I think you’re going the wrong way.”

“What are you?” I ask, jokingly, “Some kind of back-seat driver?”

She misses no beat, “No, I’m your crew chief.”

Literally

I came out of the computer room to see Zoe vigorously rubbing the love seat cushions with her hands.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I’m warming the couch up like mommy asked.”

Healthy when you die

After eating a bowl of sweet potatoes and corn (about 50/50), Zoe sat back in her chair and sighed.

“More corn? More potatoes?” I offered.

“Nooooo,” she says, “I’m dead.”

“You can’t die in the kitchen, can you wait until you get in the living room?” I countered.

“SURE!” she replied emphatically.

“Are you sure you don’t want any more corn?”

“Just a little, I need to be healthy when I’m dead.”

Zoe, Scientist

I was cleaning out a cupboard in the kitchen when I came across 4 disks that I didn’t recognize. They were white and had across the top elementary shapes arranged in a circle.

I held one up as an example and asked, “What are these? Lids? Plates?”

Zoe ran over and took the one out of my hand and began to examine it.

“They have two circles,” She said, looking at the shapes, “and two squares, and two triangles.”

She paused for a moment pondering her revelation.

“I HAVE A HYPOTHESIS!” She exclaimed proudly.

The writing on the wall

Zoe: “Mommies and Daddies write on the wall to see how tall their sweethearts have grown.”

Ask a stupid question…

Zoe, making a very odd stance and crinkling her face, “AAAAAAAAAAAGHK, AAAAAAAAAAAGHK, AAAAAAAAAAAGHK!”

“What are you doing?” I ask.

Zoe replies, “Dad, I’m going ‘AAAAAAAAAAAGHK, AAAAAAAAAAAGHK, AAAAAAAAAAAGHK’”

My little Bobby McFerrin

Zoe, after an evening frustrating me at every opportunity: “Daddy, stop getting angry at me and just be happy.”

Boys

It’s such a nice day out that I thought Zoe and I could share a bit of a little photo-walk:

Me: “How about I take my camera, and you take your camera, and we go out and take pictures today?”

Zoe: “Can we take pictures of boys? I like boys.”

I hunt for food at night

Zoe: “I hunt for food at night. I’m a nocturtle.”

It was so clear outside tonight

Zoe declared as she stared up at the stars, “This is just like outer space!”

On Babysitters

On Babysitters:
“Mommy, babysitters aren’t for sitting on babies, they’re for watching kids while the parents do things kids aren’t supposed to.”