Monday, January 27, 2014


As the cold weather and snow persist, Attila and I have spent quite a lot of time together. He's more needy than before, missing Spot and not understanding why there is only me in the Jewel Box with him. I think he naps a lot while I'm at work, which is likely a good thing. Otherwise I bet the neighbors could hear him crying.

We play together more than before, and the apartment looks as much his as mine these days, with extra toys and cardboard boxes (a/k/a cat forts) strewn around. I bought him some puzzle feeders, so he gets to "hunt" his food.

All of these changes seem silly unless you're us, I imagine. We're experiencing a different chapter of life. I've been through many more adjustments than he has, many more losses, because I'm so much older. I know he doesn't understand, and likely feels unsettled. I can't reassure him except to be here and pay attention to him, and include him in what I'm doing (except for cooking. I draw a line at that).

And I can't really say that just because I'm human, that I understand, or feel any less unsettled when life kicks me.

Attila never had what I would call a sunny disposition, but since we lost Spot, he has been even more serious. This picture was taken when he was in the top of his cat tree, where he spends more time than he used to. He likely feels safer up there.

When I stretch out on the chaise with the laptop and a stadium blanket, Attila is generally there soon, to lay on my leg. We've been making progress on the new Legend story, and even though he doesn't know it, that is good for both of us.


Monday, January 20, 2014

R.I.P. Spot

Spot was with us for fifteen years. We adopted him as a puppy at the local shelter shortly before Christmas 1998, and he was the devoted pet of The Progeny. When The Progeny headed off to college ten years later, Spot adjusted to life with my husband and me, and occasional visits from his main buddy.

The next year my husband got sick, and Spot's life changed again. He was diligent in helping watch over the man whom he'd considered the "alpha male" of our family "pack." The Progeny took a year off college to help take care of his dad, so we were all together again. The same, but different.

When my husband had to move to an assisted living facility, our son went back to college, and I got a fulltime job, I knew Spot would be lonely. I adopted a kitten at the shelter, and Spot, at around 40 pounds, was as gentle as a mom with the 1.5 pound Attila. The three of us were in a big house, but due to circumstances we soon lived in only two rooms of it. Spot adjusted to that, and enjoyed being out in the yard when he could.

The house was sold, my husband died, and Spot, Attila and I moved to a small apartment up a flight of 20 steps. Spot couldn't run in his yard anymore, but he adjusted again. He and Attila played together in the apartment, which sounded fierce at times, but was fun and good exercise for them both. They took lots of naps, and were at the door to greet me when I came home for lunch or after work.

A fun change with the apartment was our walks together. Spot loved those, especially the long ones. He loved having the wind in his face, and a hill to go up or down. Many people learned his name when they stopped and talked to him or petted him. After a short while of "town" living, Spot learned to slow his pace or change direction if he saw a likely dog-lover in range. A few months ago he made a good canine friend nearby, and even though he was 15, when he saw Avery, it was as if he were a puppy again, bouncing and wagging his tail like crazy.

But Spot's age finally caught up with him. We said good-bye to our sweet friend on Saturday night, with many tears then and since. Someone said that now Spot has been reunited with my husband. I can imagine the two of them walking up a path in the woods, Spot bounding along beside his "alpha male," eager to see what's over the next hill, and barking just because it feels good.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Cold weather blessings

We were snowed, iced and wind-chilled in quite a bit last week. I think snow is beautiful, and now that I don't have steps or a garage or sidewalks to shovel, it's even easier to love. Ice is more difficult to enjoy, and I worry about falling. When you live in a second story apartment with 20 steps and have a dog and cat depending on you, falling and getting hurt are not an option. That, plus the below zero wind chill, kept Spot and me very close to home when it was time for him to go out.

In order to keep some of the cold from blowing into the Jewel Box, Styrofoam board insulation was installed in part of our beloved windows. I had to leave enough open window space so that Attila could look out...and, well, I had to leave even more open window space so that I could look out. I am a teensy bit claustrophobic.

So, due to the weather, the three of us had to adjust to our changed routines and alteration of our living space. One thing I did to soften the loss of view for me was to begin a collaging project on the Styrofoam. It was an enjoyable and soothing experience to sip tea and cut words and photos out of magazines while the bitter wind blew outside. So far, Attila hasn't ripped them off the board.

Examples: Simmer Down. Fresh Start. Create Memories. Comfort. Small Order. JULY. Among the photos I cut out was a full-page ad for Tennessee vacations, because the photo looked just like a street parade in our little fictional town of Legend.

When I try, even just a little bit, it is so easy to find blessings. I'm trying to teach that by example to Spot and Attila. I must admit that with the cat, results are mixed.