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.