Saturday, September 29, 2007

Politics and Privacy/Summer Reading

There were a couple of pieces worth sharing on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday this morning. Host Scott Simon makes some excellent points about the private lives of politicians, like Larry Craig, or anyone else, in his commentary, Simon Says.
And I loved this story about a high school principal in New Jersey who made his way through the summer reading list so he could discuss the books with his students.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Willy


On September 6, 2007, our beautiful, loving, and beloved cat Willy died. While we don't really know how old he was, best guess is about 19 years. We were lucky enough to have him living with us for about 14 of those years. And they were very very good, it wasn't until the last few months that he was sick, and the last few weeks that were truly bad.
It's been very hard for Mark and me. But now we have his ashes home, and some time to put things in perspective. So here are some things that made Willy such a special cat.
As you can see above, Willy loved vegetables. Not to eat, but to cuddle, lay on, burrow under. He was so happy on those Sundays when Mark would come back from the farm with lots of good fresh veggies. And we planted some things in earth boxes out by the pool just so that he could lay in them.
Willy loved chips. Potato especially, but really any kind. Open a bag of chips and he would come running from the other side of the house and beg and try to grab the bag and he was relentless about this.
Willy loved dogs. And hated cats. And tolerated birds.
When we adopted Marley a couple of years ago he was still almost a puppy and very playful. (He still is.) Neither Dylan nor Daisy had any interest in playing with Marley, but there was Willy, elderly but frisky. And they were each 14 pounds of black fuzz and they loved to wrestle and chase each other all around the house. Marley had a hard time understanding when Willy stopped playing a few months ago, but when Willy really got sick Marley understood, and he would clean his face and paws for him.
We first met Willy when we visited our friends RoseEllen and Alex Arnold at their apartment in South Tampa. Willy was playing ball with Alex, running and fetching, and Mark and I both fell in love with him immediately. I remember right then wishing he was mine. Alex had rescued Willy from the street after he'd had some sort of traumatic injury. A car accident, a human accident, it was never clear but he had major damage to his face. Missing most of his teeth and with broken facial bones, Willy was a gorgeous cat and never had a problem eating (until the last few months of his life). He had chronic sinus infections but tolerated vets and medicine calmly. Anyway, a year or so after we met Willy, RoseEllen and Alex decided to move to back to NYC, and they asked if we would keep Willy for them while they got settled in an apartment. It was rough for our cats, Zoe & Franny. Willy really did not like them and he tormented them endlessly. We devised separation strategies and waited for Willy's ticket to NY to arrive. Month after month went by, we felt more and more attached to Willy, the girls adjusted to their lives separate from Willy, and we finally issued an ultimatum. Send a ticket for Willy immediately or we are keeping him. "He's yours! What took you so long?"
We have never regreted a moment. Willy outlived Franny & Zoe, and the dogs, Patty & Arlo, and welcomed Daisy, Dylan, Marley, and the birds Halle & Jules to our family.
Willy wasn't that much of a cuddler, though he loved to play. But at night, he liked nothing better than snuggling right in on my pillow with his arm around my neck. Yes, I woke many a morning with scratches on my neck and face. Yes, sometimes it was awfully hot having a furry arm around my neck. But I miss you Willy, so very very much. I will always miss you, always remember you, always love you, my beautiful boy.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Turtle Tales

We didn't do much this past Labor Day weekend. For one thing I was on call for the library system and so pretty much tied to the BlackBerry. For another, I aggravated my sciatica moving some stuff around the library as we got ready to reopen the vastly improved College Hill Branch. So we hung out, enjoyed the yard with the dogs, spent time with our dramatically aging Willy cat, and read. I did read a truly wonderful book that comes out next month (I had an advance reader's copy thanks to Jen), Run, by Ann Patchett, those characters are still with me.
I also spent some time watching all the wildlife we have in the backyard, in spite of the dogs that are often running around there.
A few weeks ago Mark found a large turtle, some sort of slider, crossing a busy street in our development. This isn't uncommon, and someone usually helps them cross. Mark will often bring them home and release them in the creek behind our yard. But this time he decided to put him in our pond. It's a very small pond and even much smaller turtles have declined to live there.
That includes Horton and Sneetch, the two turtles Jesse bought when she was in college. She bought them from a guy on the street in Chinatown, saving them from a short life in a Chinese kitchen in NYC. They lived in a small tank in her apartment, but when the school year was over we had to drive up to NY since she heard that they couldn't stand the pressure of an airplane ride, even in the cabin. So we made the drive, bringing Jesse and the turtles back with us to Florida. By the end of the summer, Jesse declined to have them return to the city with her. We decided to dismantle the large saltwater aquarium that once had been Jesse's but long had been Mark's, and make a home for the two cute little guys. And they did thrive and they grew big over the years, too big for even our large tank. We enjoyed living with Horton and Sneetch, but finally, after much anguish, decided to release them to our pond in the backyard. We had let them spend time there under our watch, but once we put them out there for good, they left quickly. One almost immediately, one soon after, and we hope they made it to the creek and thrived.
Since then we have had some other turtles in the pond, found turtles and turtles who found their way there themselves. But none stayed long. There are some fish and frogs and plants to be eaten, but not much room.
So we were very surprised when this large turtle that Mark had rescued stayed and stayed. We watched him and he watched us.
And then, Labor Day weekend. I was relaxing on the swing in the yard with my book, keeping an eye on the visiting Sarah Nichter who tends to jump our fence where we have it low so we can gaze at the creek and the woods beyond. Daisy was roaming the yard too. Suddenly Sarah was excited and alert and letting me know someone was there. And sure enough, the big turtle had left the pond. He was walking across the yard and by the time Sarah had found him he was close to the fence, and close to Brushy Creek. I got Mark out there, we said goodbye to the turtle (it was the first time I'd actually seen him whole, mostly just his head, a leg, part of his back, in the pond), opened the gate and watched him take his freedom in the creek. Daisy and Sarah, and Mark and I, were very happy for him. Unless he meets a gator, this guy is big enough to survive and thrive in the creek.







Daisy meets the turtle.


Daisy and Sarah forget about the turtle, they are just happy being dogs in a yard.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Summer in the City

I love New York.

What could be better than the sight of filled booktrucks in the outdoor reading room in Bryant Park behind the 42nd St. library? Lunchtime reading and a pretty city park, not to mention some upscale fast food.