For I Will Consider My Cat Duncan

Duncan reclining

In late August I said goodbye to a very fine cat. Duncan lived with me for seventeen years, in three different apartments. baby duncanHe enjoyed drinking water from the bathroom sink tap and sitting on the edge of the tub when I was taking a bath. On a handful of occasions he actually jumped in, and, instead of splashing immediately back out, walked high-legged and stiff through water up to his undercarriage, investigating the situation. He formed a grudging bond with my pit bull mix, Levi (RIP) and an even more grudging bond with Mingus, a bedraggled black kitten who joined our household three years ago. MyPictureming and dunc

Duncan was fluffy and sweet, even in his dotage when he purred less often and developed the habit of staring into space and vocalizing loudly. He had a very elegant set of whiskers and a distinguished countenance.

handsome dunc

The poet Mary Oliver is known, among other things, for her beautiful writing on dogs. The poem “Her Grave” is one I often send to friends grieving the loss of a pooch. I thought perhaps she’d have something helpful to say about cats. And I found this: Continue reading For I Will Consider My Cat Duncan

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early Valentine

Winter chicago snowy streetI can’t help it, sometimes I’m susceptible to a little bit of magical thinking. Supposedly, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not unusual, at any rate. Human beings are wired to see patterns, connections, to create narrative and ritual out of the raw material of our lives. We can’t help but seek meaning. In fact, a neuropsychologist in Zurich has actually linked a lack of magical ideation to a reduced capacity to experience pleasure. People who don’t exhibit any signs of magical thinking are more likely to be depressed. So, a little magic in the heart of a Chicago winter may not be a terrible thing. It’s cold, it’s dark, the holiday hullabaloo is a distant memory, and all that remains are slushy, grey streets and long, long nights. The twinkly lights have been put away and those of us in the northern hemisphere are in for thirty-one of the coldest days and longest nights of the year. The world is crying loss, loss, loss. At least, that seems to be my January lot: loss. Jobs, relationships, pets – for two years running, January has appeared determined to kick my ass. (I know it’s February now. Believe me, I’ve been counting the days.)

This past weekend I was having one of those moments when you simply cannot take any more. I was scoured out by worry and sorrow, bone-weary and trying to get out the door to meet a friend – and I couldn’t find my cell phone. As a consequence, I was walking around my apartment yelling, “It’s not fair!” (My poor neighbors – I hate to think what they overhear. I sing to the dog to get him psyched for dinnertime or walktime – never mind the fact that, being a dog, he’s already pretty psyched about those things; I howl like a banshee because the world is not going according to my plan.) Anyway, there I was, desperately seeking my cell phone, when I heard music mysteriously coming from the bedroom. Continue reading early Valentine