Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our Donkeys Get Their 15 Minutes of Fame

Our miniature donkeys, Riley, Peso, and Cisco, are enjoying a rush of publicity this month. They were the subject of my Slow Lane essay in the Spring 2013 issue of Country Gardens magazine. Then the New York Post did a story about gardening magazines and the donkeys were mentioned there too. Here's what the article said:

"City slickers looking to populate their new rural spreads may want to know: What exactly are donkeys for? “They pay attention,” Country Gardens explains. These big-eared sentinels are eternally suspicious of everything from stray coyotes to cars rolling into the driveway. Nor do they enjoy the company of cats and dogs. “They stand in the barnyard with their ears facing forward and their eyes sharpened into little judgmental slits,” the mag says, somehow managing to make donkeys sound like a must-have accessory in the process."

Well, donkeys are a must-have accessory! At least on our farm.

Riley, Peso, and Cisco are probably contacting a agent right now. And they will, no doubt, insist on playing themselves in the movie.

Here's the whole article in the New York Post. My column is in Country Gardens, on the newsstand now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our Secret Pet

Today we put our 15-year-old cat Boots to sleep.

If you ever spent time at our house, you’d be surprised to know that we had Boots. Because Boots was not a mingler. She didn’t like strangers. In fact, she didn’t even like us.

But she loved our son Graham. We got Boots when Graham was in grade school. She was slotted to be a farm cat, but Graham saw her, picked her up, and carried her into the house. And that was that.

Our other cats Carter and Millie didn’t give her a sniff. And because we have a large house, Boots took a floor (the basement) and lived there in her own company.

That’s where she and Graham bonded. The TV and video games were in the basement. And Graham spent long hours playing war and world-domination games with this little tortoise-shell kitten in his lap. We used to call him Dr. Evil.

Boots loved Graham. He could call her name and she’d come running like a dog and jump up onto his knee. If we called Boots she never came. Graham could hold Boots cradled like a baby. No one else could even pick her up.

Boots slept on Graham’s bed sitting on a pillow next to his head, staring at him all night. It was creepy.

After Graham left for college, Boots moved into our room, slept on our bed, but she never let us pick her up. She was a one-man cat and her man was gone. We were just pale placeholders until Graham came home. And when he did, he’d call her name and she’d come bounding out from under some bed, joyously meowing.

Boots was like a ghost. Sometimes guests would see her scuttle by. It’s weird sharing a house with an animal that is wholly uninterested in you. She just wandered where she wanted, away from public or private view, for 15 years. And now she’s gone. And it’s hard to say how she’ll be missed. But she will. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Slow Lane column: The Cave Tree

I got to spent a couple weeks with Tristan and Graham, ages 6 and 4 respectively, recently.

I did this by writing a column about them at those ages. I love to write for lots of reasons (for one, it pays the mortgage). But the larger, more enduring reason, is to capture and crystalize in words a small event or moment of my life, and the lives of my family and pets, that has resonance.

Finding my two young boys standing up inside a rotted tree was one such moment. It was funny. And scary. And funny again, once they crawled out. Thus is the topic of my Slow Lane column. The Early Spring issue of Country Gardens magazine is on the newsstand now. Check it out.