Love and Loss

Weegie Collage 1

Nine months ago Mr. Finger Candy and I quite unexpectedly lost our beloved cat, Weegie, to cancer.  Or old age.  Or some bullshit combination of the two.  It just blew in like a hurricane, laid our trailer park asunder.  Plastic lawn flamingos and tiny gnomes everywhere.

We are childless, or child-free, depending on how you’d like to look at it, and ludicrously devoted to our pets, to a fault (find me another couple who would willingly trade off sleep so one person could be awake with the cat at all times.  Yeah, I thought so.)

So on that horrible Monday morning nine months ago, when I woke with a terrible knot in my stomach two full hours beyond the time Weegie normally would have screamed me into consciousness, only to find her listless, confused and barely able to move from her bed, my life – our lives – changed.  And not for the better.

We took her to the vet, who confirmed that her everything had failed, and when we left an hour and a half later, she wasn’t with us.  We had no options – our girl had just run out of time, in truly spectacular fashion – but I still hold firm to my belief that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done.  And if I’m being truly honest with myself, I hate myself for having done it.  I probably always will.

In the aftermath, we just fell apart.  And I’m not entirely sure we ever put ourselves back together.  There’s something broken inside me, some vital part of who I was nine months ago that disappeared the moment I walked out those veterinary doors.  I wonder if it will ever return.

Despite the fact that she was the light of our lives, a delightfully LOUD, silly and obstructionist little monster (she was remarkably adept at blackmail for a cat) I’ve had a hard time talking about her many fine qualities, and the seemingly infinitesimal ways she managed to enrich and enrage our lives simultaneously.

But I was reminded earlier today that 13 years ago this morning, Mr. Finger Candy and I catnapped Weegie from an overpriced coffee shop whilst playing hooky from work.  It’s a funny story, one that started with me getting assaulted by a bossy kitty in a parking lot, and ended with me racing against a deadline in an enclosed room with a very curious, temporarily quarantined cat and her horror show of a litter box, so I’m going to tell it.

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Weegie’s origin story begins with Mr. Finger Candy and I blowing off work for the day.  Yay for being productive adults!  But it was a brutally hot August day, and a useless Wednesday Hump Day at that, and by the time we stopped for overpriced iced coffees on our way to work, neither one of us was in much of a mood to bring the bacon.

As I turned off the busy, four-lane road into the Second Cup parking lot, a small, striped brown cat emerged from a cluster of bushes by the drive-thru lane and trotted across the lot towards our car.  “Oh, no no no no no, kitty, stay back, it’s too dangerous!” I groaned, but by the time I opened my door, there she was, furiously sniffing everything, already setting sail on her curiosity voyage.

We somehow managed to cross the parking lot with her pasted to our sides, finally depositing her safely on the store’s patio, where she immediately ambled off to hit up – unsuccessfully – an older couple trying to enjoy their morning coffee.  While Mr. Finger Candy went inside to place our order, I stayed outside with her, fretfully glaring at the traffic streaming by mere feet away.

Ten minutes or so passed, and with no sign of Mr. Finger Candy or our drinks, I went inside to find him animatedly talking to the staff.  “Oh, hey,” he said casually, handing off a whipped cream-topped brew that I was ready to inject straight into my veins.  “They want to know if we’re going to take the cat.”

“Excuse me,” I blubbered.  “Take the cat?”  “Yeah, the cat outside!” piped up the barista, jerking her thumb towards the glass door, where at that very moment a man trying to enter was being accosted by the little striped cat.  “She’s been here for weeks and we’ve been feeding her, but she’s freaking out the customers and she won’t go away.  She seems to like you two.  D’you want her?”

“HELLS, YEAH!” was what I was really thinking.  She was clearly malnourished, totally starved for attention, and trying to survive at the side of a busy commercial thoroughfare with no front claws.  It was a no-brainer.  But then a little further down from that, I was thinking about the cat we already had, Porky, and how supremely pissed she would be if we brought home another animal, to say nothing of the safety or disease concerns associated with taking in a stray.  And so we left without the little cat, slowly, and with many dissatisfied looks back at the parking lot.

At that time, Mr. Finger Candy’s office was another 15 minutes down the road, and for the first 10 minutes of that drive, neither one of us said a word, lost in our own thoughts.  I think my husband was the first one to break the silence with a deep breath and a definitive, “I think we should go back and get that cat.”  And since I didn’t need to be asked twice, that’s precisely what we did (though first we stopped in at my husband’s office, where he literally went in and said he was taking a personal day so we could rescue a cat from the side of the road.  They were totally fine with it, and I think they appreciated his honesty.  We certainly appreciated their understanding.)

We drove back to the Second Cup, confident that when we pulled into the lot, she would be gone, taken by another couple to her forever home.  But there she was, thankfully still on the patio, now stationed directly beneath a large gentleman trying to enjoy his morning scone.  As we got out of the car, she came across the parking lot towards us like an old friend (albeit an old friend who gets up on their back legs to dance around for your whipped cream-topped beverages) and in that instant, it was decided – WE would be her forever home.

Weegie Collage 2

So we went inside and asked the staff if their offer (?) still stood.  “YES, PLEASE take her,” said the barista, glancing at the door, where at that very moment the little striped cat who would become Weegie was stretched out, fluffy tummy pressed against the glass panels.

In later years, I often wondered what Weegie thought about her catnapping.  It must have been an odd thing indeed to suddenly be snatched up and transplanted to an entirely new locale.  But the Weege really seemed to roll with it, crawling up into our car’s sunny back window to enjoy the ride to her new home.

As I mentioned, we already had a cat, a saucy, sometimes hauty girl named Porky that I had adopted in 2001.  When Weegie arrived on the scene, Porky was already 17 years old, totally set in her ways, and completely disinterested in taking on a young, spastic roommate (we came to discover that Weegie was about three years old when we liberated her from the Second Cup.)  I just remember walking through the front door, Weegie perched in Mr. Finger Candy’s arms, and having Porky pull up short at the sight of this interloper, fixing me with an icy green stare that said, unequivocally, “WHAT have you fuckers done now?”

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As Weegie’s health status was undetermined, the original plan was to sequester her in one of the bedrooms until we could have her examined by a vet.  But when we put her down to take off our shoes, she charged into the apartment, laying waste to everything delicious and even moderately tempting in her path while we ran after her shouting, “Oh, no no no no no no, kitty, that’s not yours!  Let us get you your own bowl!”  The three of us could do nothing but sit back and watch in total awe as she laid waste to half a large bowl of crunchies and about two cups of cold water, before savaging a catnip banana and then falling asleep with her face pressed into the carpet for the next four hours.  It was some very impressive and dedicated slothdom.

Weegie 9

That evening, we moved the new cat (then literally called New Cat or Noob; the Weegie moniker wouldn’t come for some weeks) to the second bedroom, along with her new litter box.  Porky sat outside the door, furious (a state that would continue for about a month; she was PISSED, justifiably, although we more than compensated her for her troubles.  Improbably, you might say, she was somehow more spoiled than Weegie.)

At the time, I worked from home as a transcriptionist, and unfortunately, the day’s cat-centric activities had put me way behind schedule.  It looked as though I was going to be up all night, typing my brains out in the second bedroom with our new cat in order to meet deadline.

Or that was the plan before Weegie, once-empty tummy now filled with delicious food and more than a couple of evening treats, began sprinting to her litter box, just behind me and off to my right, at a rate of about once every 85 seconds.  It didn’t take long for my sweet new kitty to totally smoke me out of the room, and Mr. Finger Candy still jokes to this day about the anguished wail of “It smells like poo down here!” I let loose as I fled, gasping, from the room.  We were glad to realize – and you’ll be glad to know as well, because that was kind of a gross tale – that this was the result of a Second Cup diet consisting almost entirely of 35% whipping cream, and thankfully quite temporary.

Going forward, we didn’t see too much trouble from the Weege.  She was actually a fairly easy cat to fur-parent (my mom is reading this and dying inside; hi Mom!)  One or two bummy teeth aside, her health was never an issue.  Until it was the only issue.  But she had no big health concerns, save her tendency to pack on the pudge.  She wasn’t a biter, a scratcher, a lunger or a slasher, although she did have an annoying tendency to dash out into the hall nearly every time we opened the front door.  She wasn’t a picky eater – if anything, we had to encourage her to look more closely at her food to determine if it was even food in the first place.  She was a real equal opportunity feline foodie.  Friendly and easygoing, she had her favourite people, and she treated them accordingly.  She just had a nice, chummy disposition.  It was easy to like, or maybe even love, the Weege.

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And we loved her, so, so much.  We were better people for having had her in our lives.  Miss you, little Weege.

The Blanket

soft kitty 1

The universe works in odd ways sometimes.  So the last few days I’ve been tending to the deeply unpleasant task of disposing of my recently departed kitty’s few remaining earthly possessions.  After her passing last month, we boxed up and packed away many of her things – most of her toys, which still smell like a savage combination of cat breath and nip – while tossing many others (didn’t feel the need to hold on to the litter box; wasn’t too sorry to see that one go.)  But a number of items remained, mostly “our” things that she wantonly appropriated for herself, including a plush, pale turquoise blanket that she loved to nest in and knead.

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The blanket’s been not-so MIA in the second bedroom for about a month now while I work up the nerve to confront all of the things in our house that do nothing but remind me of her.  Turns out that’s a crap ton of stuff, because she ruled our home with a fuzzy paw, and we let her.  This entire grieving process has actually been made so much worse by the realization that just about every aspect of our lives revolved around her, including the actual setup of our house.

Anyhow, I haven’t thought about the pale turquoise squashy blanket in a while – or rather, I’ve been trying very hard not to think about it.  But the other day, wanting to do some simple nail art, but at a total loss for what to do, I just grabbed the first polish I saw and thought, “I’m doing a gradient with you.”  That polish turned out to be Polished For Day’s iridescent aquamarine Willow, and once I had it sponged onto my nails, well, wouldn’t you know it, but it really reminded me of that blanket.

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Which was the deciding factor in biting the bullet, doing the brave, unpleasant thing and pulling the blanket out of the second bedroom.  It – and we – can’t stay in hiding from this forever.  Healing starts with washing the blanket and re-incorporating it into our lives.  Heh, that sounds like the title of a self-published self-help book on Amazon – “Healing Begins with Washing the Blanket.”  Or the mantra of the cult I plan on founding.  We’ll wear pale turquoise blankets wrapped around our shoulders and no shoes, because Weegie couldn’t wear them and she thought they sucked.  We’ll also always sport fantastic manicures.

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See, sense of humour beginning to right itself; the Healing Blanket has worked its magic already. 🙂

Goodbye, My Girl

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It was the sight of the closed cupboard door that buckled my knees and sent me thudding to the ground.  I had thought it would be a glimpse of her empty bed, her untouched food dish, her abandoned catnip mouse, Miguel.  But it was that door.  Hours earlier I would have doubted its ability to even close in the first place – as the door to the little cupboard where we stored her litter box, it was always open at least the width of a paw-pull.  But no cat was ever going to crouch down and hook that door open again, and as that horrid realization sunk in, everything suddenly came over fuzzy and grey, and I swooned to the floor in an indelicate heap.  Lucky I didn’t break something.  Other than my heart, which feels like it has been damaged beyond all repair.

Our beloved kitty, Weegie, passed away Monday morning.  She was an old girl, very nearly 18, and after a terrible weekend in which we watched her formerly aging, but still sassy and spritely, condition inexplicably deteriorate by the hour, we took her to the vet, who confirmed our very worst fears – our sweet little girl had run out of steam, and we wouldn’t be bringing her home.  And we didn’t.

Now we are two heartbroken people aimlessly drifting through lives that, through great determination on Weegie’s part and a lot of indulgent acquiescence on ours, were all about her.  Think we’re coddling morons all you wish, she was the sweet, fuzzy, constantly meowing sun around which our planets orbited, and we didn’t want it any other way.

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Now it feels like the lights have gone out and everything has come over very, very cold.  Mostly it seems like some sort of switch has been flipped inside me, and absent the frequent sobbing fits, triggered by something as innocuous as the sight of one of her striped furs clinging to the edge of a blanket, I feel nothing.  This is probably my mind’s way of course correcting after a weekend spent in frantic, fretful, watchful mode, but it’s worrisome all the same.  Mr. Finger Candy is not faring much better.  We’re just…broken.  And incredibly lonely, even together in our grief.

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I want to talk about her.  I want to tell you the story of how we came to be her people (it involves a day playing hooky and $6 coffees.)  I want to share the photos I took of her strapped into 14 years’ worth of Halloween costumes (mylar shark for the win.)  And I want you to think me a coddling moron when I tell you we had a tumbler of ice cold water permanently stationed on our coffee table because she preferred to drink from human receptacles in the most inconvenient spots possible (“Oh man, I’ve eaten off that coffee table!” you might be thinking to yourself.  Yup, you sure did.  But I swear I Windex’d first.)

I want to honour her, but to do that, I need to start feeling anything other than cold, empty and alone.  Because all I’m feeling right now is the raw, immediate hurt, and even the sweet memories of her are too painful to bear.  But hopefully soon.  Miss you, little Weege.

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There Can Be Only One

There Can Be 1

Jack-o-Lantern face, that is!  Growing up, my pumpkin dictator mother decreed that there could only be one expression carved into the side of a ripe Halloween pumpkin – triangle eyes, half-moon mouth, the end!  It’s a classic for a reason, to be sure.  All the same, she was (jokingly) aghast the year I came along and added two pointy fangs to the half-moon mouth; what the hey was this kid doing messing with tradition anyways?!  I attempt to be a glass-half-full kind of person, so I’m going to say I was just respecting tradition.  In fact, I respect it so much – well, just take a peek at last year’s tiny Jack-o-Lantern.

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Weegie is a non-conformist, and she thinks my later work has grown repetitive.  How rude!  Also, says the cat in the lobster costume!  And yes, that is a 16-year-old torbi dressed as a crustacean, sitting beside a lit Jack-o-Lantern on my diningroom table; what of it? 😉

These happy Jack-o-Lantern nails are for my mom, both the classic, proscribed expression and avec fangs, just to mix things up and drive my mom a teeny bit bonkers.  Happy Halloween!

There Can Be 2

Fall Fun Series II: Pinspiration

Fall Inspiration Board

Good morning, friends!  This Saturday’s prompt in the Fall Fun Series is to compose an inspiration board, a pictogram, a collage or even a simple list of the things that make our hearts sing every autumn.  For me, that means a heck of a lot of gazing at leaves, assembling my Halloween Town, wrestling my cat into goofy costumes and celebrating my wedding anniversary, among many other lovely autumnal things.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the Fall delights that always inspire my soul at this time of year.

Cats in Costumes Collage

Cats in costumes!  Here we have the Weeger as Eeyore, a bee, a centipede and a mylar shark, and our dear, late kitty Porky as Pooh Bear and a deadly little Mewback.  Porky was always deeply intolerant of the five to 10 minutes we would spend every year wrestling her into her costume and then chasing her around the apartment with a camera, but Weegie takes it with some degree of good measure (so long as we lavish her with soft food the second she’s wriggled out of whatever tummy-constricting costume we’ve managed to wrap around her pudge in the first place.)  We don’t have kids; please don’t judge!

Leaf Collage Again

Leaves!  Right outside my door, lining the Ottawa River, or out in the country, edging the highway, or up the Gatineau, where I go with my parents every year to tend my grandparents’ graves.  I’m so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such a bounty of leafy beauty every year, it almost makes up for the following six months of snow and ice.  Almost.

stranger-manis-collage

Stranger Things!  The second season starts on October 27th, and I shall be indisposed until such time as I have finished watching it.  I really don’t like binge-watching things – loved parsing out the first season episodes bit by wonderful bit, actually – but I don’t believe any of us will be afforded the luxury of remaining spoiler-free this time around. It’s the best show I’ve ever seen (sorry, Buff) and I am so. unbelievably. excited!  A very dope anniversary present from our Netflix overlords.

Wedding Photo 1

Yes, a fine anniversary present indeed for these two (young, so young!) goobers, who are celebrating their lucky 13th.  My gosh, we are just babies in this photo (but dang if my boobs don’t look SLAMMIN’; bless you, corset gods.)

Halloween Town

My Halloween Town!  A rather large operation that sprawls across my moss-covered diningroom table every Fall.  I had briefly toyed with the idea of letting the town go fallow for the year – setting it up and lugging it out of storage is a major, major pain – but I know I’ll cave in the end.  Gotta let the residents of my spooky little town vent their haunts for the year, yes?

Scary Movie Collage

Scary movies and TV shows.  Although I must note that I haven’t possessed the stomach or temperament for major (or even minor) gore in a long, long time.  Nostalgic picks like the deeply silly Friday the 13th series or my favourite terrible horror movie, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, are about as wild as I get now, and I’m perfectly content with that. Bring on the G and PG-rated spooks!

NBC Fall

Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, a charmingly creepy little stop motion movie that has a place in my heart and home year-round.  I spoke at some length last year about our snow globe, a wonderful wedding gift from friends.  This year we were fortunate enough to find another gorgeous collectible, an anniversary gift to ourselves that I will be positively gagging to share with you just as soon as it’s mounted to the wall!

Wax Header

And, of course, we can’t forget all the delicious smelly things that will be sweetly scenting my home this autumn.  This is a photo of last year’s bounty (with the exception of the scoopable, a pancakes-and-campfire scent, I melted through all of this and then some.) Looking forward to more cozy scents this year.  To the Fall!

Measured Meows

Kitten Measurement Collage

Bahahahahahaha!  There’s no such thing!  Fellow cat lovers, I don’t know about your fickle felines, but when my cat starts going off, it’s about the furthest thing from measured as you can get.  We’re talking meows (also mews, rrawows and merows) that break the sound barrier.  It’s kind of insanity-making!

These cats at least seem to be taking a more measured response to life.  I purchased this adorable little set of ceramic measuring cups from ModCloth years ago, but I see these best-seller kitties are still available on their website.  I’ve actually never used them for their intended purpose, as I figure the first time I do I’ll snap somebody’s tail off on the edge of the sugar canister, but they’ve been a cute decorative item, lined up (or stacked and leaning) on my kitchen window.

And so in keeping with the decorative spirit of these measuring cups, I decorated my nails with some matching kitties.  Cute!

Kitten Measurement Awkward

Do You Suppose This is His Way of Telling Me I Smell?

Demeter Birthday Pic

Simply curious, as my husband gifted me with a metric butt ton (actual measurement, “butt ton”) of delicious Demeter fragrances for my birthday, and you just don’t do that unless a) someone really stinks (“This smells so great!  Wear all of it at once, immediately”) or b) you know your spouse really well, as mine did when he correctly surmised that I’d love to receive such a bounty of beautiful birthday blends (also an affection for alliteration.) 😉

So what terrifically odd combination of fragrances did my husband put together for his beloved on her 40th? Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Starting with the header photo, this apparently represents my birthday breakfast, a thing I actually didn’t have because I was fasting in anticipation of a blow-out Italian dinner later that evening.  But the thinking here is that I’d wake up and snarf down a plate of birthday cake-flavoured cinnamon toast topped with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. With a tomato on the side (which I wholly approve of; all that sugar needs a bit of tart and fresh to balance it out.)

Speaking from a dietary perspective, that’s kind of horrifying!  But these fragrances are not – lovely single scents, all.  I particularly like Cinnamon Toast, which smells like cinnamon hearts, and, super surprisingly, Tomato, which on initial application smells exactly like a ripe, sun-warmed tomato.  It’s a unique smell that conjures up nice memories of my grandfather futzing over his heavily laden tomato plants out in the garden.

Demeter Zombie Collage

Next up we have the zombie fragrances, which, upon spritzing and sniffing, we decided I will never, ever wear because they smell like dirt and rot and probably skunk pheromones.  I love the theming behind these Zombie for Him, Her and Dog fragrances (what, the cats just fend for themselves?) but wowza, do they stink.  I suspect that Demeter’s Dirt fragrance, an otherwise pretty acceptable fresh earth kind of scent, is the base for all three of these colognes, with hits of dead flowers (for Her), decaying leaves (for Him) and something that’s erring awfully close to urine (for the Dog.)  I adore them, they are so weird, but these will probably remain collectibles only.  Also, you will pry my Snowmint Mallow from my cold, dead, zombiefied hands before I trade it in for something more apocalypse-appropriate.

Demeter Kitten Fur Pic

Leaving the best for last, we have my cat Weegie looking disillusioned (so basically a day ending in Y) beside a bottle of Kitten Fur!  Which smells a bit like very mild laundry detergent.  I don’t think Weegie’s tummy fur smells like soap (you get the best, most accurate results – also probably hissed and swatted at – by sniffing a cat’s tummy) but I suppose if any creature in this house is going to smell like laundry, it’s going to be the one that spends 22 hours a day lounging around on freshly washed linens.

All in all, a lovely, thoughtful gift full of fun surprises and some very unique finds.  Well done, sweetie. 🙂