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From the Archives: A Quiet Visit

black cat on deck
Mr. Sunshine on the deck for a quiet visit with his siblings.

Today is one week.

After Giuseppe died in December Mr. Sunshine would often go to this spot and just settle down and be quiet for a while. Weather didn’t matter, he’d just go to the door and let me know he wanted to visit the deck, usually in the afternoon, and because he wasn’t looking for Mimi to join him and he didn’t look at me either, I sensed he wanted to be alone. I stayed inside and watched him, ready to run out and grab him if he began to move out of my sight or leave the deck, or I saw or heard any danger to him.

He might look around a bit, look out at the end of the yard, but for the most part he seemed to be sensing what was around him as I would see his ears and whiskers move. He never went out in the yard, he never moved elsewhere on the deck, and he never did anything else. Just a minute or two sometimes, never more than five minutes, and he’d turn around and come to the door, come back in, and resume whatever he was doing.

On his last day he went out on the deck the same way. I had been very concerned about him and knew something was wrong, and that I’d likely be taking him to urgent or emergency care if his lethargy continued. I was glad to see him even want to go outside, and walk out as normally as he ever had. But it wasn’t his normal crouch, his front paws were on either side of his chest and his elbows in the air, his head down. He had barely crouched there for a minute when he got up and turned around to come in, stumbled a little, unsteady in his hind legs. He didn’t fall but made it all the way in and headed slowly for the next room probably headed back up to the bathroom.

But that was it for me. He was going somewhere. Rivers had space, and I had to arrange to borrow a car because mine may not be safe to drive outside of my immediate area, especially with a cat who might need emergency care I wasn’t risking an axle or the car’s frame to fail on the way. My neighbor gave me his key and off we went.

I knew he was critically ill and I’d already contacted Dr. Elgersma to see if she had time to come later if he needed to be released.

I had always suspected that his visits to the deck had to do with communing with his siblings, as I felt their presence out there pretty regularly too. This last visit, when he was so near death and so incapacitated, convinced me that had always been the purpose. Purrhaps this time he was asking them to be with him now, as he had been there for them each time. I certainly sensed them all day long, my thoughts slipping to them at home and at the veterinarian.

I know he was in good paws, and he was ready to leave.

This photo is from January 5. I didn’t catch a photo that morning because I barely had a chance to grab my phone and get it ready before he was up and turning around. But I took photos of him out there as often as possible, to remember.

Below are a bunch of photos from 2007, of Lucy and the four senior cats who welcomed Mimi and this litter of tiny beans just a few months later, just coincidence that it was so close to the date of his departure 16 years later.

From the Archives from previous years

From the Archives: The Joy of a Sunny Morning, March 4, 2007

three cats at door
Lucy, Namir and Cookie at the door on a sunny morning.

Lucy, Namir and Cookie watch wildlife out the back door on a very sunny morning in early March. Lucy is most excited, right by the glass, which probably means there’s a squirrel out there in addition to the birds. Namir also has his eye on something out there. Cookie has her own way of doing this—by looking into the glass on the door rather than looking out the door! Looking at the rest of the photos in the folder for this day and surrounding days, there was still quite a bit of snow out there so the birds would be in a frenzy in the sun. Quite entertaining!

An anchor in time…making memories. More on that below.

I have so many photos from this sunny morning—65! All cats, nothing else. The whole next week of days is the same. I can think of a few reasons for this number. I would have been pretty excited along with all the cats and wildlife because it was a sunny morning too! I still do that when there’s a sunny morning, as if I don’t have the time to catch all the inspirations brought about by sunshine. It was also about six weeks from the day we’d lost Stanley at age 25; he’d been with me for 21 years. I was finally beginning to get used to the idea that he wasn’t there on a sunny morning too. Also a little over three months since we lost Sophie, and though I remembered the sun helped ease the pain of her unexpected loss. We’d lost Moses and Cream a year before in February and March. Everyone else was doing fine, though except for Lucy at about 11 months all the others were teenagers, Namir had congestive heart failure and Peaches had always shown some signs of early renal failure, but I was hoping that with Stanley the run of losses would stop for a while. It was also my birthday, though that was the least important thing to me. How old was I? 46. kind of a meh age to be.

So I’ve chosen a half dozen or so photos from this day instead of the usual one or two, in order of appearance. Below, Namir and Lucy turn around to see what it is I want. Lucy adored Namir. Namir acted like it was no big deal, or like he didn’t notice, but he adored her too. It’s blurry, but cute.

two cats from the back
Namir and Lucy turn around to see what I want.

I saw a live musical performance at the library’s music hall this afternoon, a gift from the Executive Director who is also my friend. The company debuted a chamber and vocal piece they commissioned to celebrate their 10th anniversary titled “An Anchor in Time,” which is a way that we make memories even though we don’t realize it at the time we’re doing it. We do something with intention, maybe just a walk in the woods, or visiting a friend or going to a concert, and the memories we make in that experience drops an anchor in time, something we immediately remember and find ourselves going back to with emotional responses, sometimes the rest of our lives.

A morning like this one would be an anchor in time for me, reinforced by the bonds of friendship among the cats, noting their habits and preferences, and the photos I took.

Below, we spent some time in the kitchen, and later I headed upstairs. Cookie had already chosen her afternoon nap spot. She looked up at me as I entered the room, then after some pets and love was already dozing off.

I’m so grateful for digital cameras and the leisure of taking as many photos as I wanted. So many memories to capture! Lots of anchors.

Apparently Lucy followed me and was ready to race me up the steps. I loved her so much, my little girl, the next generation, the kitten so welcome after all the loss. After all the caretaking I could finally really enjoy her and play with her.

black cat on steps
Lucy is ready.

When we got upstairs Kelly was having a bath on the bed, getting ready for her morning nap. She was so petite and slender, she’s lost in the patterns, and sometimes when I startled her she would give me a totally suspicious look. Soon her bath was finished and she was fully into her nap.

I’m not sure where Peaches was sleeping that afternoon, and likely Lucy joined Kelly on the bed. The next set of photos is one of the galleries I took looking for the purrfect sunny morning pose of Namir’s to use for the painting I wanted to do, “Darling Clementine.” You may recognize this photo…

My reference photo for the painting.

After photographing Namir in this spot since January, I finally captured the pose I would use, but I didn’t know that yet. I took nine photos of Namir in this spot in various poses, this is number 8. Below is the painting. Another anchor in time. And in my post from previous years below, two other photos from other days that also became anchors in time.

watercolor of cat in kitchen
“Darling Clementine”, watercolor, 12″ x 9″ © B.E. Kazmarski

 

From the Archives from previous years

Girl Talk, Cookie and Mimi, 2011

"Girl Talk"
“Girl Talk”

Now what do you suppose they’re saying?

I hardly think they’re sharing typical “girl talk” about cute guys and new clothes, not these two “experienced” girl cats. Besides that, they’re fixed and I presume they’re happy with their natural attire.

Is Cookie imparting some sage advice to Mimi as the older kitty to the next generation? Are they sharing stories of life on the streets?

Are they plotting a takeover of the kitchen and all the food within it? Should I worry?

Do you suppose I ever reclaimed my cookbook? Yes, I did, and we even managed to make an apple crisp that day, with Cookie’s assistance, as you can see below.

This photo is sweeter to me now than it was when I took it, and it was darned sweet then; it’s one of the photos I took of Cookie mentoring Mimi during her last year. Mimi is clearly intent on taking in everything Cookie has to impart to her.

Mimi assumed the role with grace and confidence, but even until we lost Cookie in February 2012 I had no idea which kitty, if any, would step up and manage my life as Cookie had for nearly 20 years. And while Mimi is now familiar as my closest feline companion out of all in my household at this moment, in 2011 when I took this photo she was still reticent, staying in the background of her children and her elders, not wanting any special attention. Little did I know that she and Cookie had been meeting regularly and I need not have spent a moment wondering.

tortoiseshell cat and black cat
Cookie and Mimi enjoy an afternoon in the “garden”.

Cookie and Mimi were probably just enjoying the sun on this day in 2009, but I also appreciated them keeping others’ prying paws from my precious tomato seedlings reaching for the sun on the table by this window.

I have no idea what the conversation was about that I interrupted, but I noticed them deep in some communication, facing each other and slowly blinking their eyes and shifting a bit now and then. I tried to photograph them in the act, but they turned to look at me and the spell was broken. They looked lovely nonetheless, two lady friends enjoying a pleasant afternoon.

Cookie always liked my little indoor “garden” on this table and regularly sat sunning herself, nibbling grass and just hanging out all the years she was here. Mimi began hanging with Cookie whenever she could as soon as she entered the house, but never wanted to interfere in any way with Cookie’s relationship with me. In the spring of 2009, Mimi’s job of raising the Four pretty well done, she apparently wanted some adult company. What a wonderful friendship these two had, and I think of it each time Mimi sits on my lap and looks up at me and know that this was the plan from the beginning.

. . . . . . .

Cookie’s Ready to Start Baking, 2011

 

tortoiseshell cat on cookbook
Cookie’s ready to start baking!

Well, look at those bright eyes! I remember this day, a wonderful winter Sunday afternoon with, of course, Cookie in the kitchen as well as everyone else.

Good, let her peel those apples and pears!

Cookie continues her kitchen exploits as I get things ready to make an apple and pear crisp this morning.

Cookie did what most cats do when they want to be a part of something you’re doing—she sat on the nearest piece of reading material, in this case the big old binder of copied and handwritten recipes I keep. I know she’s unaware she’s hanging off the counter, but I don’t think she really cares, she’s ready for action! I could just picture the fruit and enamel pan suddenly flying into the air as Cookie and the cookbook headed for the floor. Didn’t stop me from grabbing my camera first, though.

tortoiseshell cat sleeping on cookbook
Cookie naps on the cookbook.

She fell asleep long before the crisp was done, though, enjoying a nice nap in the warm sunny kitchen. I didn’t need the recipe, I know it by heart. Heaven forbid I move her when she’s settled.

She set a bad example for all the others, though, as they all gathered around the cabinet where I work; Kelly is on the refrigerator and Mewsette is on one of the cabinets. I also ended up working on a very small space next to my sink since every time I turned around there was a different arrangement of cats on the cabinet  and table and I felt black cat hairs wouldn’t take the place of the raisins I thought I had. Cookie, though blurry, looks a little annoyed at the others taking a part of her turf.

five cats in kitchen
Five cats just hanging around.

Actually, we all had a lovely morning in the kitchen as I made the crisp and finished putting things away into the new cabinet I’d moved in the night before. There’s something about a weekend morning kitchen that’s welcoming and comforting with a warm oven, fresh baked goods, watching the birds outside, just spending some relaxed time. I enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen as working with my hands is usually a prelude to creative work, and I’ve always noticed that whenever I spend time cooking or baking, listening to a recorded book or singing along with the radio all the cats have always joined me. It’s a wonderful memory.

Later I had a nice warm piece of the crisp and Kelly shared my vanilla ice cream.

Click here to pull together other posts featuring In the Kitchen with Cookie.


Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy~~~

Feline Artwork on Portraits of Animals

charcoal sketch of two cats sleeping
“Cuddle Boys”, charcoal pencil, 9″ x 5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Bean and Sunshine couldn’t have been any sweeter cuddling with their faces together and paws entangled on the bed. Sunshine likes to sleep on his back, and Bean is just like a ball with his toes curled. Read more and order.



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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

2 thoughts on “From the Archives: A Quiet Visit

  • Brian's Home ~ Forever

    Such a sweet post filled with many memories.

    Reply
  • 15andmeowing

    Beautiful kitties, all of them.

    Reply

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