Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Poor Old George

He’s been gone for days at a time, many times before now; but this time it’s been longer and it feels different somehow. I am afraid that my last remaining outside feral cat, old Georgie, is gone for good.

He was not of the Old House or part of that history. Of the two remaining outdoorsy, feral cats that I somehow managed to successfully transplant here in town, only Tiger Whitestockings really took to it and settled in here at her new home. She even attracted a new boyfriend who hung around her most times: and that was George.

At first, George and I did not get on all that well. At least part of the reason that he hung around was for the good food I was giving to Tiger Whitestockings. I didn’t mind him eating it, but still and all I had to chase him away at mealtimes because I wanted Tiger Whitestockings to get her fill, and I knew that wouldn’t happen if he came up to the plate. George was a champion eater. He wouldn’t have left Tiger Whitestockings anything, which says something about males in their feral state.

So when Tiger Whitestockings disappeared after three years’ time, George and I were not exactly on chummy terms. I stopped putting out any kind of fresh food; still and all I had a lot of leftovers from my inside guys and I continued to put that stuff out. I knew George would Hoover it up, and he did. 

And I harbored no ill will towards him: the only reason I chased him had been for Tiger Whitestockings’ sake. With her gone, there was no reason why George and I could not be friends. 

It too some doing, some coaxing, and some patience, but in the end my superhero Mutant Power, which is the same thing as my Native American name, which is “Makes Friends With Animals,” won out. George and I became fast friends. It seemed to me that he started coming as much for the petting and the attention as for the food. Within reasonable limitations, he even let me pick him up and scratch his tummy. 

I really got to like George. He’d come in the morning for breakfast, then hang out and sun himself on my deck for the day, and then after dinner he’s wander off to whatever sheltering place he called home. I never learned where that was, except that it wasn’t anywhere on my property.

He was an Old Warrior who had seen better days. But he was too stupid to give up fighting, and over time the fights took bigger tolls on his condition. No more would he get healed up from one bad fight but then he’d show up on my doorstep dazed and blinking and covered in fresh, deep scratches. 

He stayed with me for two summers and at least two winters. During the summers he would lose a lot of weight, and then during the winter he’d bulk up to twice the size. Last year, before the snow began to fly, I tried to bring him inside. I used my entry hall / laundry room as a test stage. He would have had every comfort, but he couldn’t stand it — being indoors drove him buggy right away, and the truth is that he was such a grumbly, fighty guy that I worried how he would interact with my inside quats. 

It often happens that feral cats disappear in the Spring. My theory is they have had to struggle to survive through winter, then Spring comes and they start to feel strong again, they start to feel their oats again, and they want to look around and do some things that they haven’t been able to do all winter… and so they wander off and they never come back. 

The last I saw George was days and days ago. He was marching off in a direction that I had never seen him head before, down through the neighbor’s property towards the river. I thought this rather a bad idea for him at the time, as I am sure there are wild animals down there. But he was already too far away, and anyhow he was never the sort of quat to take advice from humans, he was his own Quat and there would be no stopping him from having his own way.

And I fear now that he picked one fight too many, and with the wrong sort of animal. It’s been more than a week, and that’s never happened before. George would definitely have wanted a good meal by now, and would have been back by now, if he could. 

This marks the first time in something like thirty years that I have not had any outside quats that relied on me to think about them. At one point, out at the Old House, we had in excess of thirty of them. Now all done. Another milestone going by. There’ve been too many milestones lately.

I’m still putting the food out every day. Sometimes the neighbor quats come and clean it up, sometimes not. When they don’t, I just chuck the remains out into the middle of my driveway. It’s always gone by morning. 

— Frede.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Don't Leave Home Without Them!

Do you ever get stuck in a conversation,
and not know what to say?

Fear not!

Just pull out your...
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Thirty-four cards to make you think and make you smile.

Matching bag available!

Sample Cards

We won't show you all the designs here ... we want there to be some surprises!

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

WISE SAYINGS: A Deck Wisdom & Wit © and ™ Duck Soup Productions 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Something In The Air

The first day of Spring, the REAL first day of Spring — not the one that the calendars specify — is the one where you can finally open all the windows in your place and LEAVE them open for a few hours… the day when all the stale air of winter is flushed out of the system, the day when you can sit in your comfortable place, and close your eyes, and feel Spring herself wash over you.

That day was yesterday. As you get past fifty and the milestones become more and more painful to mark — for at a certain point they begin to mark off far more losses than beginnings — each “first day of Spring” seems more precious than the one before it, and the sense of overwhelming relief at having made it, once again, through the Dark Time, comes with an edge of unavoidable sadness.

So I was in a wistful mood already this morning when a distressing email came through from my Dad. “Things are not  going too well here. I am declining despite everyone's efforts.”

At least a part of why this is so frustrating is that I don’t know whether or not I can believe him, or how far I can believe him. My Dad has been “crying wolf” for some time now on the subject of his own Old Age, even to the point of an email sent more than a year ago in which he declared, flat-out, and I quote, “I am dying!”

Four months later, he visited me and was in great health. My house is full of stairs, and he not only handled them beautifully, but seemed to thrive on it. The actual traveling part was considerably easier for him than for his wife who is at least fifteen years his junior. He was fine; he was great. Old, yes. Not the man that he once was, but doing terrifically well for someone in his late eighties, and in no way on Death’s Doorstep.

So what am I to believe in what he tells me? When I talk to him on the phone, he sounds as strong as ever; but that could be as unreliable as his sense of Personal Melodrama (something I inherited from him).

All of this weighed me down this morning. Whether he exaggerates or not, the fact remains that every single one of us on this earth, no matter our age or health, is five minutes away from Death. Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, if you leave the house at the wrong time or even just start down the back stairs with your weight on the wrong foot, it could be all over for you in nothing flat.

Thinking about my Dad’s old age invariably leads to thinking about the dismal prospect of my own. With Dad gone, I will have only my two surviving pussyquats and a small handful of old friends who see each other on fewer and sadder occasions every year. As an aging Gomez, finding my Morticia at this time of my life seems increasingly unlikely. So I only have to outlive my beloved little Honey pussyquat. When she’s gone… well, first I will have to decide whether I am going to somehow survive that blow and move on, or simply drink myself to death in my current home, surrounded by memories.

I have thought: I could sell everything and move to Europe… live out my declining years in a little town in Scotland or Wales. I have also thought: I could sell the house and some of what’s in it, and move out to the Southwest, where I would never be troubled by Winter again. 

But then I start wandering the house, looking at the past laid out before me. I start to ask, what would I sell, what could I sell, to make a move like that practical. And I know what I have known all my life, that things are not just things as some people would have it. Things contain memories. Things contain your life. Things have power. To divest myself of my surroundings would be like hacking off aspects of myself, parts of my life, and tossing them in the dustbin.

Then I realized, or remembered, or something, this: my Dad and his wife have moved several times since they were my age. My grandparents on my mother’s side moved at least once in their sixties. Here’s the thing that I think made it possible: they all knew where they were going before they had to close out and make the final decisions on what they were leaving behind. 

This seems a very valuable bit of advice: know what’s ahead before you cut off what’s behind. 

Right now, all I’ve got is questions; and even the information I have about the present seems unreliable. What I know is this: Spring is here. The windows are open. The air in the house is fresh and clean and cool. Enjoy it: because it won’t last.

— Frede.
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