Monday, June 28, 2010

A Kiss of Darkness

~~When you have had a pet since you were eight years old, you really feel the lack of having a warm, little, furry animal to love. When we married, we didn't have a choice to take our beloved elderly pets with us to our apartment. It was clearly a NO PETS ALLOWED sort of place. So my kitty, Etcetera, and John's dog, Trouble, had to stay with our parents. How the two would have gotten along is a question that will never be answered. Neither lasted very long, though, and we were soon truly petless. Until...
~~...1980 when we began to extensive renovation of John's grandparents' house in Temple. It's the lovely lady home you've seen all spring in my posts. We moved on September 1 and on September 5, I had us a new kitten. She was small and all black. In fact, she was too young--only five weeks old, but she was ours. I named her Darkness. No usual name like Blackie nor Midnight for my kitty. ; ) Her yellow eyes glowed in contrast to the glossy fur. The vet did ask me what I paid for her. I told him nothing. He grinned and said, "Good. Because you now owe for flea treatment, testing, and worming." I guess $70 wasn't so bad...
~~The first night we took Darkness home, we put her to bed in a large appliance carton. It had all the comforts--litter box, food, water, and bedding. But in the morning, Darkness wasn't in it. Her tiny claws had nicked the side where she climbed out. Now where would you go in a 2000 square foot house when you are only the size of a person's palm? We began the hunt among the boxes and the furniture and finally found her. She had scaled the sofa and was sitting, paws tucked in regal splendor on the folded afghan in the living room. And so the Queen had arrived. ; )
~~From that day forward, she took over our hearts and settled in. And never stopped amazing us. We knew cats greeted each other by touching noses, so we would touch her nose and make a kissing noise. Imagine our surprise when she began to "kiss" us back, smacking her lips. We then would make the sound when we came in the room and would then come over a repeat the nose touch routine. Darkness began to kiss back from a distance. But the day that she kissed us first from the other side of the room was a red-letter day! Who has ever had a cat who blew kisses before? ; )
~~I'll continue Darkness' story in later posts. You've not seen anything yet!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Day After

~~It's the day after the 46th Georgia Author of the Year Awards and I didn't win. And that's okay. I have learned so much and I still get warm fuzzies from seeing my book on the table with the other nominees. Check out the photos. My book is the third from the left on the top row. It's a funny thing how something so simple as seeing the cover you designed standing out and shining can be. Simple and moving. An Easter Walk was nominated in the Creative Nonficiton Inspirational category.
~~I'm thankful to John for taking me to the ceremony. We met Joann Dunn, and Frank and Mary Rogers for supper then went to the KSU Center. Joann was nominated in poetry for The Implied Now and Frank's book, Upon a Crazy Horse, netted him a nomination in First Novel. That's a fine sampling of the creative output of the Carrollton Creative Writing Club. Here's to all of you for the lovely words you spin. ; )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puff, Malek, and Etcetera

~~The title says it all--at least to someone who knows about my first three cats. I received permission to get a cat when I was eight. I never looked back and thought about what that really meant until much later. What I received was permission to love a being outside of myself on the level I could understand at the time. It was my duty and privilege to care for my cats. No one else would except my mother. My daddy and siblings were dog people. I think all children need this responsibility to learn how to give love, but they also have to have been taught that little animals deserve our best love. They are not toys nor are they ways to express rage. Unfortunately, many never learn this basic truth.
~~My first cat was Puff, a large tuxedo tom in the classic markings. His white, dipped-in-cream feet and white chest were perfect. But why would a tom cat be named such a frilly name? I didn't remember for years until someone reminded me that our first Dick and Jane readers had more than one pet. The cat's name was Puff. That tells me more about myself than the cat. ; ) I loved to read and my cat bore the name with dignity. We lost him to a mouse or rat that had been poisoned with strychnine. I didn't immediately add another cat. Daddy didn't let me. But another cat thought differently about the situation.
~~When a full-grown, plush-coated tom took up with us, I fed him. His smoky gray fur was soft and thick. Pale green eyes watched everything carefully. He had survived without help and he didn't relinquish control of his life. He came and went as he wished and lived with me for several years. I named him Malek after a wolf-human hybrid character in an Andre Norton book. As you can see, I was still reading. Malek was a comfort and a hunter. His skill at catching squirrels from what looked like a deep sleep never ceased to amaze me. He wandered off one day and didn't return, always the independent operator who allowed me to share his life for a while.
~~When I reached ninth grade, my piano teacher raised Siamese cats. She had several and offered to give me a tom from a litter of chocolate points. Daddy agreed and that is why my last cat before graduating from high school and college was named Etcetera. My sister Thea suggested it because the king of Siam always loved saying "et cetera, et cetera" in the "The King and I". And it fit. The long, sleek, sophisticated cat clearly knew he was special. Daddy even allowed him to live inside for a few years. In that time, I became very accomplished at meowing in Siamese. It has a distinctive sound all its own. Etcetera was my confidant when teen-aged angst hit and even took revenge for me when my siblings teased me too much. Have you ever had a large cat pounce into the back of your knees and make you nearly fall? That might be why Daddy decided that in the house was just too close for comfort. Etcetera had a room in the garage with the freezer to keep him warm in the winter. He continued to be my listener as I grew up.
~~All these cats hold special places in my life. That might be why, when John and I moved to a place that would allow us to have pets after three years of marriage, our next cat was home within a week of our move. I'll tell you about Darkness next time. ; )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hidden Treasure Found

~~I know what you are saying to yourself right about now--Wait a minute, doesn't Zan Marie have poodles? The answer to that is, yes. But before Casey and Max, I proudly belonged to seven cats. The two in the photos above are the last two, Meow and Sunshine. When I had a problem finding my photo of the boys in their new harnesses, I realized that the memory card wasn't seated fully and the photos saved to the camera's memory instead. Once I downloaded it, I found wonderful photos of the cats. I didn't have a digital photo of Meow at all. At least I didn't think I did. ; )
~~This treasure trove has allowed me to show you the kitties. These two were throw aways that someone left on our doorstep. They were Maine Coon cats and weighed between 13 and 22 pounds during their adult life. Sadly, we lost Meow at eight and Sunshine at 13, both to cancer. It was during Sunshine's last days that John said he wanted puppies and the rest of that story is history.
~~As you can see, Brother Sunshine (Shiney, Shine-Shine) was a gorgeous yellow tabby and huge. The shoe he posed by is one of John's size elevens. The shoe is exactly a foot long. Sister Meow (Yowy, Yow-Yow) was a beautiful calico tabby. She had stripes of both gray tabby and yellow tabby that met up and changed color down her legs--one side gray and other yellow. I truly think she is the most beautiful cat I've ever known.
~~I'll have to tell you about all my cats as the next few posts continue. Unfortunately, my scanner doesn't "communicate with this computer" and I'll not be able to include photos. That is unless you want to come and fix this glitch for me. ; )