Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Smiling Faces

The past few days have been spent sorting through the last remaining treasures of my mother- and father-in-law's comfortable Ohio home. Though this has been a work in progress for the past decade and a half, and we are winding down to the last few boxes and bins, we are still turning up the occasional hidden gem. My husband's younger sister struck gold three times in a row:

^ First she stumbled upon a handful of missing links in her big bro's proverbial school photo collection. Yep, that's my husband in third grade, sixth grade, tenth grade and senior year (from left to right). Though I'm looking forward to folding these into the incomplete K-12 series we have at home, I must say they make a fun little chronology all on their own. 

^ If there is anything that can beat these shots of my husband climbing into his '71 Vega, it could only be that sassy red sweater vest he's sporting over his light blue button down. 

^  These are slides. Have you  seen them before? Tucked inside the cardboard frames are tiny clear images that can be both projected onto a screen or reprinted as hard copy photos. My father-in-law generated hundreds of thousands of these pups in his lifetime, and while there are many that I have never seen before, these contain a special surprise. They are shots of me, taken in 1985 at a family picnic along the shores of Lake Erie. Unbeknownst to me, he loaded up his zoom lens and captured me wandering here and there around the water's edge. I can't to get them home to check them out in a bigger format, and see me through my father-in-law's eyes.

* * * * *

Certainly, there is still plenty of grief and loss to be experienced as  we sort through our lost parents' possessions. But their endless love for us feels very real as we find these little traces of our smiling faces

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cute Cat Photos

While I'm busy in Ohio, Seattle is enjoying a patch of unseasonably warm summer days. My cats particularly enjoy the glorious weather, and Verizon has been nearly crippled by the volume of cute cat photos flooding into my phone. 

Exhibit A: Sirius simultaneously rubs his back and  begs for belly rubs in the back yard. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Journey Through The Sky In Three Stages

^ At 2 a.m. Seattle time and 34,000 feet, the Eastern skyline explodes into new day. 

^ There was a day when she was called "the Mistake on the Lake," but dropping down through the clouds over sparkling Lake Erie, Cleveland looks nearly perfect. 

Touchdown on Buckeye soil. It's a perfect Midwestern summer's day - 75 degrees with a cooling breeze and a hint of fresh green in the air. 

A good day to be in Ohio. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Off Again

Feels like I've barely got my feet on the ground from my trip to Mexico yet I'm already back at the airport. My heart's desire is to stay home with my blooming roses and freshly painted lawn furniture and cats sleeping in the sunshine. But adventure (and duty) calls so I'm off into the golden skies of a perfect Pacific Northwest sunset. 

Where am I going? Just wait and see. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Birthday, Janey

When your third-born wild child is far away in South Korea and you have no choice but to celebrate her birthday without her:

You firm up the menu with a quick iMessage but you knew all along that she would ask for enchiladas.  

And you bake her favorite cake - Katie's Kentucky Chocolate Cake - on the page that is falling out of the cookbook because you've baked it for pretty much every birthday of her life.  

Then you light the candles and with the whole family, sing to her, because the windows are open and maybe the breezes will blow just so and carry our voices far across the sea to her waiting ears.

And when the time comes, you get to blow out the candles because that's a mother's privilege.

Happy Birthday, Janey!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Luna Comes Home

Our beloved Luna is safe and sound and living, as usual, in the lap of luxury.

I was sitting at the kitchen counter, working on a to-do list, when I caught a glimpse of a dark smudge of movement at my back door.

The sleek little body
The orca's fin of a tail.
The reddish brown glint of the black sun-swept fur

I knew in an instant this was my Luna, and my heart nearly leaped out of my chest.

Calming myself so as not to frighten him, I cautiously opened the slider as I crooned to him.

Hi Tooney. I'm so happy to see you.

Soundlessly, fluidly, he flowed across the top step and wound his way around the house to the side yard. I followed, fighting back the urge to shout my joy from the rooftops.

Near the side door to the garage, Luna paused, still and alert, and posed under a pink rose bush.

I'm just going to pick you up, Toonus. Don't worry. Everything's okay.

My blood pulsed in my ears as I bent down and scooped him up. Surprisingly passive, he leaned into my shoulder and let me hold him tight. Then the tears which had been bottled up for the past four days finally flowed

* * * * *

Luna had been missing. For forty-eight miserable hours, we saw not a hint of him.

* * * * *

Our three cats, Luna, Sirius, and Cedric, are indoor/outdoor cats. 

While we let them roam free outdoors whenever they so choose, the brothers are rarely far from home. Most of their outdoor adventures take place in our back yard, often with other cats from the neighborhood who come over to play or nap with them

They occasionally stray to our closest neighbors' yards to play with the neighbors' children and taunt the neighbors' dogs, but my three cats make a point to keep close to their food dishes. And barring the half-dozen summer nights that are so warm that they prefer to curl up in their garden nests and sleep in the starlight, my cats always come in at night when we call them, to sleep upon pillows, sheepskins, and the fluffiest of down comforters.

* * * * *

Sirius sleeps blissfully unaware in the bark while Cedric the chair hog hops down to investigate the photographer, and Luna is mesmerized by a bug crawling on the rocks. 

I understand that some people find us to be irresponsible cat owners. The world is a dangerous place, they say, and cats are safer indoors. When left to run free, cats can get hit by cars, or lost, or worst of all, carried off by the wild things that roam suburban streets at night. Shame on you, they say, for not taking better care of your cats.

I can only shrug my shoulders and say, maybe some cats are happy to always live indoors.

But if you saw my cats

leaping at elusive butterflies,
sleeping in the shadows under the day lilies,
surveying their world from atop the fence posts,
curled up in the vines on top of the trellis,
dozing on their favorite wicker chair,
waiting on the front porch for me to come home,

then you would understand that my cats' souls come alive when they are out of doors, and to deny them this freedom would be to break their spirits and consign them to lives of misery.

We realize the risks we take every time we open the door to let our cats run free.
We accept that they would probably live longer if we kept them inside at all times.

But a miserable life is no life at all.

So we let our cats go out.

* * * * *

Despite our worst fears, Luna showed no sign of injury or attack. 

But he was definitely skinny and uncharacteristically passive. 

Relieved and certainly protective, we whisked our prodigal son back into the house when we hoped he would stay safe for hours if not days, while we all recovered from this trauma. But as soon as we set him down in the family room, he circled round and round by the back door, pacing and yowling, clearly terrified to be indoors. 

Luna must have been trapped, we surmised. Somehow, he must have gotten himself shut up in a garage or a shed, and that's why he didn't come home. And that is why he is so upset about being kept inside at home. 

And we knew that as much as we wanted to keep him safe indoors, we could see that his little soul was in a panic. 

Luna needed to go out. 

And we needed to be brave enough to let him go.

So we all hugged him and kissed him and made him promise to come back very soon. Then we opened up the back door and let Luna go out into the night.

* * * * *

Epilogue: It's been three full days now since Luna came back. He is still a little jumpy and sensitive. He's eating often, though his meals are smaller than usual, and he's asking to go in and out of the house countless times a day. 

We also notice that he is staying very close to the house. 
And when we call, he always comes running back home. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

True Prince

Came upstairs after dinner tonight to find this happening in my room. 

It's not often that one of the cats choose to snooze in what until recently was known to all pets as Ranger's territory. 

But Cedric not only elected to nap on my bed; he somehow managed to tuck himself under the comforter, serene and perfect in the warm evening sunshine.

Cedric is a true prince.