Archive for July, 2009

Break From Grieving For The Cat…

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Animals, animals everywhere at the world’s most exciting petting zoo!
Watch out!

And then the troublemaker came on the scene, eyeing my son’s tender fingers. Oh yeah, I’m talking about you, Mr. Goose.
Uh oh.

And I was all NOOOOOOOOO and moving in slow motion, ploughing through a sea of goat hooves and plump goat bodies.
Begin Jaws Music

Don’t. Touch. That. Toddler!
Get away from him, you b****!

As I went under a gazzilion little goat hooves, my husband swooped in to save the toddler—not before the offending goose took a swipe at my son’s outstretched hand with his beak, causing the little guy such shock, he cried.
Dadda to the rescue!

Fortunately grandad’s presence and powerful goat/donkey-attraction had us laughing in no time.
Ha ha!


Monday, July 20th, 2009

And the cat dead and the new novel unread and the sleek floor gone over for the 25th time in 48 hours and the jade bug saved and ants investigating the kitchen sink flooded and toys rescued from the melting glare and the gravestone in shadow and the chimes pulled from the fruit tree by wind sent from a roughed up witch and her pot of heat and hide and time with the gravestone but time with the boy and his blue pail and our garden hose loosing water splashing his smile and the boy sleeping in the room where I creep to recline and breathe and watch the swallowtail circus-act with orange blossoms outside the streaked window and more people arriving with seashells and wine and people arriving with a riled dusk and candles in a shadow-sparse yard with the gravestone and a lawn we have come to coax and a house with a name now and cats pleased by those floors and beds to choose and the kitchen with filled cupboards refusing to close and his books on the coffee table and all available chairs and the room with music if anyone cares to and the house breaks and the house is fixed and we move through it in our bare summered feet and use its funny rooms with the quirks and the jade bugs and we wake up here with the cat dead and the novel to finish and we broach a new enthusiasm: owned, owning, owning this summer’s scald and slow scurry, owning up to this owning of the broken and the unfinished and what remains beneath the potato vine and precious water and mown grass and roses to plant and the feel of this armored summer on our faces clueing us in so that we quickly agree to agree to owning this piece of a little bit more than any years prior and to owning the gravestone and to owning all bugs and we sit in our chairs with our floe-drinks and toast the waterbaby in the garden who owns the whole world.


Real Life…

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009


Two days in a row I carted us to a place on my beach: unpeopled, sand a sheet of fresh powder, pleasantly cliff-backed—meaning fragrant chaparral and birdsong. The ocean both days: sun-smitten, dive-bombed by pelicans, a mother of all blues, an island standing in as immediate horizon—arcing ocher land softly filtered through a morning’s lazy, leftover fog.

Two days in a row I had the beach experience with my son I’d been waiting for him to grow into: respecting and playing with the tide vs. helter skelter lemming behavior, exploring beach vs. fixating on the umbrella or eating sand, using rocks and driftwood as tools for creating. At the close of our romps and exploring, I changed him into dry clothes, loaded him and everything else back into the jogging stroller and headed not for the parking lot, but farther up the beach, into vaguely sky-slipping sun, just for a bit, as he worked on a ricecake and kept his head turned left, left, his eyes on the sea (thrilling me).

The morning of our departure for Los Angeles, we returned to the beach and walked aimlessly in semi-fog. I sipped a venti-half-caf and he munched pumpkin bread, halting to gesticulate wildly at the low tide, or gulls. For once, in July, we wore sweaters, jeans instead of shorts with our sandals. That air, flushed by salt breezes, never fails to ease his night-wakings. Breathe, baby, breathe, I thought.

Two hours later we were back in dry, molten heat, the main water line from our house to the city hookup on the sidewalk creating a fine, cascading rain in summer’s scald. My husband was speaking to plumbers tramping the front yard scratching their heads over the useless pipe and reformulating original estimates, and my husband was speaking to plumbers coming in through the Bluetooth curling Star Trek style around his ear. I hurried inside, but our bathroom, also a victim of plumbing disorders, was dismantled. I had to pee desperately and was told to use the garden and just then I discovered that my cat of 17 years was, apparently, dying: A troubled meow, then more, like a cavern’s echo’s despair.

The water stayed off for the next 24 hours. The vet: called and seen. Various estimates came, altered, went. My son refused to nap, hyped on heat and domestic chaos, all sea breezes memories, only, if that. When everything happens at once, where does the cool come from? Through it all, my husband and I exchanged glances, shrugged—his turn to argue, my turn to weep worry, aware, of course, always, of our boy, his 20 month old sensors ON, working overtime. I found out how it is to slip into a room’s closet, escaping radar, running away out of a sense of protection. Still, he found me. Mama, he said, tugging open the double doors, excited and curious. Mama.

How everything can happen at once. The arrival of water, a grandmother for my son’s delight, and, within minutes, my cat’s demise. Give her sugar water from an eyedropper, the vet suggested, and I did and that was the end of my cat. 17 years done. Over. When I see the world and do not see my girl…Sorry, Lady Gregory, for the drastic substitution.

I took a shower—not because I was afraid of her death on my skin, but because I am always afraid for my son. The shower thundered out water, the sound appropriate, song-like, also torture. Later, my husband and I buried her under the potato vine. I despaired: Why must a move UP, why must a good change, why must one huge positive mean a sacrifice? Don’t overthink it, my husband suggested. I turned away from the grave, saw the hummingbird feeder needed refilling, the roses begging for a drink, patchy grass suffering. I saw my mother in the house with my son, reading, or read to. A plane muttered overhead. Heat persisted like a warning ache, persistently melting perimeters. Always that heat. So late in the day for so many metaphors. I placed a garden chair near the grave. I stayed close to her for a while. I probably prayed.

In Memorian: Charlotte 2/1992 – 7/2009

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Darn it.






17 years is a long time to love a cat. RIP under the potato vine, Charlotte. I miss you terribly, Puffle. I keep expecting you to haul yourself up on the bed. Or come running because you’ve heard me open the refrigerator door. Or to cause a ruckus with Al and Rudy. Oh dear. I wish you could come back, Goose. I wish you were here.

Withnail and I and Me

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Faced with the enormity of fixing up a fixer-upper whilst keeping a toddler from, say, sticking forks/fingers/tips of shoelaces, etc., into plateless electrical outlets waiting to be converted from two prongs to three, my mind flashes on the movie “Withnail and I”.

Firetruck inspection!

Specifically: When The Boys are having it rough, cowering in Uncle Monty’s dark, freezing, English country cottage, believing themselves stalked by a poacher.

But then, suddenly, Uncle Monty arrives with food, light and alcohol. He civilizes the musty cottage in seconds, astounding The Boys.

I like Uncle Monty’s apron and how he takes charge and forces that cottage to obey him and become warm and cozy.

Investigating with a pen’s cap.

When scrubbing our fixer-upper bathroom, the annoyingly tiny bathroom with the ridiculous window fitted with louvers, when tackling bathtub grout grimy as street urchins from Oliver Twist, when attempting to clean, then batten down shower doors that swing, I do my best to channel Uncle Monty.

Don’t be cowardly! (I scold the Withnail and I in me as I cower before the sink’s cabinet into which I’m sure I saw a tiny darkdarkdark shadow glide) Tug on those rubber gloves, get on your bleedin’ knees and show that bloody thing who’s bloody boss! Bloody hell! Are you a mother, or a bloody mouse! Or, rather, a bloody English newt!

Who are you talking to? My husband asks, passing the open bathroom door.


This is my house. And I will teach this bathroom a lesson in civility, in decorum. It will listen! Because I am Uncle Monty. Without all the weight. And—homosexuality. And I don’t like sherry. Although I had a lot of sherry in Andover, once. It was a Christmastime. I was helping make authentic British sausage rolls and trifle. The kitchen was cozy, smelled delicious and run by a tiny British mum who could have kicked Uncle Monty’s enormous ass in the Capability Department. She wouldn’t have allowed moldy grout in her loo, or things slinking into dark places there.

I should have finished out my Christmas holiday at that mum’s house, with my good friend, P. P and Mum encouraged me to stay. Instead, I slunk off with a lying, cheating mime to Cornwall and ate bitter Christmas fish in a drafty B&B. We fought about nothing on a moonlit cliff with a view of Tintagel’s sad ruins, surf bashing Cornish rocks far below us, too many unknowns going bump in the ghastly Cornish night…

Ah, little mum. Uncle Monty! I’ve come a loooooooong way. But I’m still learning.

Hence this: And now, please excuse me while I fetch my chipper husband, who is better than I am when it comes to exposing things that lurk in the dark—poachers, garden spiders, evil newts and one’s occasionally grouty past.

But make no mistake! I shall bloody return and finish the bloody bathroom job. Because I’ve bloody grown. Bloody hell.

Sweet dreams! And have a bloody good tomorrow.