Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Where My Soul Lived

Where My Soul Lived

Earth Day Sunday 2011, Seaside, Florida.
A smiling man with a clipboard makes his way along the sand, stopping to talk to each group, mostly condo renting tourists. As he nears I can hear him:
Have you been here before?
Is the beach clean?
Do you see oil?
Do you see changes?
Do you think we’re doing a good job?
So I sit in my chair waiting my turn.

He arrives in front of me all tan, clean golf shirt, khaki,
and a smile to make an orthodontist proud.
He asks Will you take part in a survey?
I smile back and tell him I will be happy to.

He wants to know where I'm from.
I point southwest out over the water. I was born on Galveston, Texas.
I point southeast out over the water. I live near Clearwater.
I look him in the eye. I point straight west.
Half my family is from about a hundred miles north northwest of Deep Water Horizon.

He pauses, the smile leaving his eyes, becoming stiff on his mouth. He takes a careful breath.
Have you been here before?

Why yes, yes I have. Three or four times a year since 1981, 30 years come May.
He exhales the held breath and marks a box on his page about me.
Is the beach clean?

Pristine, I tell him. The sand is white as sugar and twice as fine. But…
He raises his eyebrows.

But?

Where are the fiddler crabs? You know, those cute little crabs speckled to match the sand running out of the little holes they dug ceaselessly. Where they lived. They run out, grab a bit of rot and then run back in? Thousands used to live on this stretch alone.

He looks at me.

Where are the sand pipers? Little birds running the tideline in synchronized flocks eating bits and never getting their feet wet by the incoming wave? All day, every day.

He wrinkles his brow, pen hovering over the next set of check boxes on the page. He clears his throat.
Is the water clean?

Crystal clear, I tell him. But where are the blue crabs walking on the bottom? Where are the orange rimmed black starfish? Where are the swirling masses of minnows? They used to look like dark tornadoes. Where are the bigger fish that make the children and the northerners scream when they swim passed, brushing legs?

He wrinkles his brow again, now frowning at the sanctioned answer boxes. The margins are filling with my unsanctioned answers. He takes another breath and tries another smile.
Have you seen any oil?

No. I have not, but look. I rise and walk down to the wet, motioning for him to follow. I scoop up a double handful of sand and water. Where are the mussels? The little bivalves in all colors of the rainbow wriggling back under the sand as the waves recede. They eat microscopic pieces of tide borne food.
I look at him. Did you know they are food, that we can eat them?
He shakes his head slowly.
Gather enough, boil briefly in sea water. Like clams, only tiny, so it takes a while to gather enough for a meal.

I drop the sand at my feet and rinse my hands in the toe deep water. I ruffle the tideline with my big toe.
Shelling is good this year,
No need to leave them in the yard for the ants to clean.
Everything is already dead and empty.

His sunglass covered eyes struggle to hold a neutral expression.
But the beach and the water are clean?

Spotless. Thanks to the chemical dispersant y'all sprayed on the slick before it reached here. Never mind it’s more deadly than the oil. Oil floats. It lands. It’s a mess. Oh yes, I remember the Galveston spill, before you were born. Globs and chunks, so dirty and ugly it wrecked the beach that year and tar balls still stain your feet, even now. Dead birds, dead fish, dead turtles, whatever once lived along that stretch. Expensive clean up. A PR nightmare. But it was a small spill by today’s standards. It healed.

I look out at the water and back at him.
Game fishing is great this year, but weird. Big game fish are coming right up into the warm shallow bay like they never did before.You see, they're hungry. There is a famine in the Gulf. Last year’s dispersant killed this years food.

He stares at me, his clipboard at his side.

It left a cloud on the bottom instead of globs on top, hundreds of feet deep and hundreds of miles long, where the larvae live. Write that down. Write. That. Down.

He does.

Yes, you kept the beaches clean. Yes, you will pay out far less to the hotels and restaurants, the tshirt shops and tiki huts, the businesses that suffered “economic loss” and all the people who worked for them. You can show pretty pictures of white sand, sterile and barren, and clean water, turquoise and jade, instead of the mess.

I point again.
Write!

He does, and looks back up at me and my friend, two crazy old beach ladies drinking illegal beers out of 7-11 thermal mugs.

I smile at him.
This is not what you wanted to hear, is it?
No, no, he waves my words away.
We want to hear it all.

You live near here? What did you do Before?
Walking the beach is not what this obvious MBA did before The Crash. He has one of those BP promised jobs. Freeport, he says, and I don’t remember which economy tanked career he had Before.

I have held him here 10 minutes now. By the way he looks at his watch and then down the beach I know he is being paid by the page.

I’m sorry to keep you, but one more thing. Smell that?
He sniffs. Smell what?
Exactly. Where is the sea smell? That slightly fishy organic scent carried on the Gulf breeze? The scent of the creatures that live in and off of it. Gone. Gone. Write that down, too.

He does.

Ok, I’m done. Be on your way. I extend my hand to shake his, thank him for his patience and wish him luck. He tucks the clipboard under his arm and takes my hand.

One more thing.
A pained look crosses his face.
Will you be back next year?
He looks down the beach and shrugs, I don’t know.
He waves and walks to the next group of condo renting tourists.

I turn to my friend. My face shatters into a thousand wrinkles. I lay my head in her neck,
dropping tears down her back while I breathe the salt perfume tobacco sunscreen scent of her.

*******

A year has passed. Eight months since my friend died and I have finally arrived at that place in mourning where I can leave the house without a chore. Sunscreen, cooler, 7-11 mug, chair. I drive to the big water where my soul used to live. Not the groomed tourist beach, the fishing spot on the causeway where the locals and the poor people go.

So here I sit wielding the word net her ghost gave me.

I watch for the fiddler crabs, but they don’t live here anymore.

I watch for the sandpipers, but they are gone, too.
One species of gull instead of five. No pelicans at all.
I watch a speckled bird walking, turning over rock after rock after rock
looking for what doesn’t live under them anymore.

The rocks are covered with silt instead of seagrass, which is washing up dead, broken and decaying on the tideline. No mussels. Not even any shells this year.

I watch 3 different men cast nets for bait, come up empty and leave. I watch people come here to fish one of the best spots in the county, only to give up and leave without their dinner.

In the distance, across the blue and green span of Hurricane Pass the Clearwater Beach hotels rise high with clean white sand and blue umbrellas. Spring break families brave the still cold but sparkling clean water. Sea breeze with no scent still deposits salt in their hair and on their lips. They dine on shrimp farmed in Thailand and never know the difference.

I sit at the no wake border and watch the wakes keep on washing up. The Guaranteed Dolphin Sightings With Free Beer and Wine Boat makes a u turn when a dorsal fin is spotted. I saw it, too, but that was a shark, not a dolphin. The dolphins are all having miscarriages because of the dispersant. The pilot cuts the engine and I can hear the muffled speaker telling the passengers the history of Hurricane Pass carried on the wind.


********************

Some line was crossed that changed me into one of those telling the stories instead of listening. An old one telling stories of the old days. No. Not that long ago. Just stories from Before, a grandmother passing memories, details to be forgotten by the new listeners, of how things used to be.


April 17, 2012
Earth Day, to honor the dead of the Gulf of Mexico during the ongoing disaster of Deep Water Horizon

Monday, August 21, 2017

YELLOW FLOWERS

Last night I dreamed
I saw you
and you looked in my eyes
and it felt the same
that flip in my chest
except you'd colored
your hair
and I told you it looked awful
and you kissed me
like the first time
and it felt the same
that flip in my chest
except this time
I did lay you down
in those weeds
yellow flowers
excellent dream
then I woke up
and it felt the same
that hole in my chest
except now I wish 
I could tell you
never dye your hair red.



Originally published by Oral Fixation in the anthology A Collection of New Voices From Tampa Bay (2015)






Suttee, Sitting Shiva and Wearing Black - Rituals of Mourning

On August 22, 2011 my beloved of 20 years died. Life support was turned off after an accident. I heard about it via voicemail a few hours before she expired. The relatives closed ranks and excluded her chosen family and friends, threatening us with arrest if we attempted to see her or gather nearby. There was no wake, no funeral, no memorial. She was cremated. Her house was emptied and rented, her beautiful things sold at a yardsale. Her dogs were killed. None of her wishes were followed except to execute her living will. None of us had the money to fight them.

Twice in my life I have experienced the unexpected death of a soulmate. One so dear to me they were as necessary as air. My initial reaction both times was a stopping of time. Not a denial or unwillingness to accept. More an inability to grasp, as if someone opened an advanced calculus book, read it aloud, and expected me to understand. 

"What?" Repeating the words did not make them any more clear. This is shock. I don't know how long it lasts. Time just stopped.  

Then panic started. I can pack my car, drive to see her, tell her I love her one more time even though I will be arrested in the attempt. I literally ran around the house grabbing wallet, keys, shoes. My roommate came home and I screamed the news. He tried to hug me which made the panic worse. So he fed me booze and cigarettes while I wailed until I passed out. In the morning there was another voicemail telling me she was dead and stay away.

In the days, weeks, months that followed, there were moments of startling clarity when calm thought prevailed and ideas occurred. I quickly learned saying these things aloud frightened people, making them say stupid shit that made me feel worse. So I kept notes and this piece is the result.

Suttee: The voluntary self-immolation of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre. (Ok not always  voluntary, google it, this really is all about me.) Now days it is the voluntary practice of doing things you know will result in self harm, like driving while keening, to a house where my  beloved no longer is, to call her relatives names and be arrested. It's quite common. And truly voluntary, the logical part of you knows self harm will result, but it's worth it. The symbolism is following the lost one, please don't leave me behind! This is when the chief mourner is often drugged into submission. "Sedated." It’s a relatively short phase in the mourning process, but valid. Now is a good time to get me drunk, take my keys and phone. Do not drug me, I need this part, too. The Wake is important. It proves to the survivors the dead will not awaken, it's not a bad dream and they really are gone. I want to hold that Beloved Body one more time, wash and dress her, take care of her. Make sure she gets exactly what she wanted. The ritual is taken from us now, but we do need it.

Sitting Shiva: Shiva means seven in Hebrew, referring to the week long mourning for first degree relatives following the funeral. Shiva begins at burial. There are lots of rules surrounding  Shiva similar to Shabbat, no use of fire, no use of tools, no cooking. It's full of symbolism meant to demonstrate mourning. Health and safety laws turned into religious tradition. 

In those first few days I nearly killed my bird with smoke leaving an empty pan heating. Minced the tip of my finger into the onions. Drove like a maniac to get orange juice. I simply could not work, thankfully self-employed and didn't have a boss demanding my physical and mental presence. People do what they need to do, and need to be allowed the time and space to do it. Our culture does not. After a week or so you are too exhausted to keep wailing.

Wearing Black for Mourning. It's too bad black is fashionable, because it was such an effective warning. The tradition says wearing mourning, black, for a year is sign of respect for the dead. It really is another health and safety rule. For that year or more you can depend on people to grieve heavily. We are also batshit crazy.

We will not react as expected, because our loss is always forefront in our minds. No outward symbol helps with the excuses when we begin leaking tears in a restaurant because our dinner partner orders her favorite vodka. Inconvenient if her favorite song is on the Musak loop at the grocery store. But no one says, well, she is in mourning because they have no way of knowing. 

Temper tantrums are another unrecognized but important part - I am so fucking pissed my life is wrecked. With an outward symbol of mourning people are careful, respectful of our delicacy. By discarding that symbol you are now on you own to accept my meltdown without explanation, because I surely do not want to explain. Now I may have to. After I hurl this can of tomatoes through that plate glass window.

About the time wearing black became fashionable, grieving went out of style. Call a funeral a Celebration of Life, it's becomes a party because someone died. The message is don't grieve, don't mourn, do not display the hopeless flayed salt poured sadness because what a wonderful life the dead person had. Fuck that shit. One of the most cruel things said to me was, "Sandy wouldn't want you to feel that way." I freaked. I screamed, I wailed, I wept myself into dehydration. Shrieked how the hell would you know, you didn't know her and she is dead so how can that even fucking matter? Picked up my keys to drive to the tall bridge until my old dog asked to ride along. Dissolved into a snotty puddle on the floor with my dog licking my tears instead.

While I appreciate the caring now, that is the worst thing you can say to the grieving. The kind intent is not noticed, the words inflict further misery, and forces us to behave to make other people feel more comfortable. Which really is none of your business unless I am committing a serious crime. Progress is now saying this gently. Also, go blow those rainbows out your ass somewhere else.

Maybe I'll become an abuella who wears black forever. I'm well on my way to becoming an alcoholic pet hoarding hermit. I redefined 'family.' I redefined 'friend.' I stopped laying curses on her relatives, the ones I laid will do, even if I forgot to put in a time frame. So healing? No. Just getting used to the idea that my life will stretch on without her. There is no end to grief. The tears have not stopped. I still wake up to thoughts of the tall bridge, but now recognize that's not following her. Just ending my own misery.


Originally published by Oral Fixation in the anthology A Collection of New Voices From Tampa Bay (2015)


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Broken

Broken

After DeTyme Poet’s Question of the Day,
Could you love a Broken man
if he’s “fixed” himself?

Fixed ain’t the right word.
Maybe healed.
Maybe love him with
his scars, and ask him
all their names.
Maybe people stop
defining normal as
How Are You Today Fine,
and say today is hard, and
get a nod of acknowledgement
without trying to 
force a superglue fix 
on us to make 
them 
feel more comfortable.
Maybe we never find
all the scattered shards,
and the dings and cracks
will always show.
Maybe we stop trying to
glue ourselves back together, 
and just know everyone has 
some sharp edges, and
these are mine.

So yeah, I can. I have.
None of us grow up
without loving someone broken.
None of us grow up
without being broken by
someone we loved.
Maybe broken isn’t bad.
It's just broken.


DeTyme Poet is David Toliver of Tampa, FL, a poet and community leader who posted a question a day. Look him up on YouTube.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Luna

When the Moon in Virgo
turns Full in broad daylight,
the heart broken may 
not even notice.

Morning Luna casts back
the intentions sewn on 
her dark face. No hour 
was really lost, clocks being
irrelevant to Her magick.

All her cleansing glamour
appears translucent, ghosted
on the blue, while her
brother Sol glares nearby,
commanding attention from
the clock-driven unaware.

But - no SPF 50, no shade tree, no roof 
can shield what was planted, sent back 
in full bloom. Her reflective glory 
a magnifying glass beam singeing that spot, 
smoke rising from the hole burned through 
wherever you hide. What you’ve sown, 
you shall reap, even if you’ve changed your mind.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fist

When you send back the shattered
pieces of my heart, send them all. 
Do not keep even 
the tiniest sliver as a memento.
It was mine.
They are mine.
All of them.

Put all the bits in a plastic bag
and press it all down in a corner,
and twist it off so it’s sort of shaped 
like it used to be, like a fist. 
Did you know your heart is about 
the size and shape of your fist?

That’s true.

Freeze it solid so it will keep
without rotting. I can take it
out every once in a while and
hold the cold against my chest 
where it used to beat,
to remind myself
No one breaks your heart
unless you hand it to them first.

***

I learned that lesson long ago
and why I chose to do it
again is a mystery.

That’s not true.

I was just so lonely.
I really do know better
after all this time, it’s best 
to not have hope
for a heart that’s beat will
sync up with mine and 
even if one does, it’s still 
best to just walk away

They can’t break your heart 
unless you hand it to them first.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Chronicle of Leon

Introduction

Time. We treat it as a linear thing, dividing it into pieces by calendar and clock. We treat it as if it moves at the same pace all the time, but we all know Now is much slower than when we look back to Before, and the Future barely moves at all.

Many humans know I prefer the company of non human animals full time, with humans as occasional visitors when I want them. The humans who know me first think I need to work on this issue, and get ‘better.’ They eventually come around to seeing that for me, it’s the best way.

I’ve written many pet stories over the years. Time zipped forward, and through the magic of social media, I had an audience for one particular cat. The Chronicle of Leon is a compilation of stories, social media posts, poems and journal entries. They are assembled in chronological order. The voice of Leon is mine, because he never could type worth a shit, even though he sent a few messages walking or laying on my keyboard. Other than that, the facts are true. What are facts? His weather sense. His ability to communicate with me and the other animals, and my ability to understand what he was communicating when I paid attention. His love and devotion to me in my ineptitude, and my love and devotion to him as a superior feline. Grammar fanatics, this is mostly written in present tense, because it was originally written in present tense, and because I have gone to the animals way and reject linear time.

This compilation was assembled over Samhain 2016 CE, starting with the calendar day and moving through Solar Samhain when the Sun is at 15 Scorpio, on 6 November, 2016. Many of my old ones stopped by for visit, but Leon has stayed around these last couple weeks. Maybe he’ll find a crack in the veil, like he did with the screens, or maybe he’ll make one for himself, like he did with the screens. Regardless, I’ve been grieving them all, and some humans, too. But since Leon came to assuage a horrible period of grief, his presence now is no surprise.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Chrissy, Pretty Boy, Snowball, Snoopy, Pepe, Missy, Rocco, Angel, Supi,  Abe, KC, Herkimer, Heather, Sam, Andy, Lucy, Alice B, Casey, Earl, Rosie, Whoopi, Big Boy, Fia, Dixie, Tyrone, Princess and Peaches, all who are no longer with me except in the bottomless pit of my heart. And of course, Leon Eugene, who chose me.

Cyn Hanrahan
7 November 2016

Prologue

Serial Pets

By Cynthia Hanrahan McCollum

Once I had a dog named Rose. She was my best friend and soulmate. I have never had a relationship like that ever, human or animal. I’ve always had a houseful of pets, always had human friends and mates, but no one like Rose, ever. We worked together every day in the dog training business, did volunteer work together, and most of the time she went with me everywhere. We understood each other completely and loved each other best.

On the morning of October 1, 1999 I woke and found her dead on the floor by my bed. She was 9 ½ years old. The shock was so great it took my breath away. I was stunned into silence. I couldn’t even cry. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. All I could do was stare into the gaping black hole of loss. I functioned. My other pets helped. My mate and human friends didn’t know what to do with me. Always in the front of my mind was Without Rose. Life went on Without Rose. I couldn’t consider another dog. My other dog Whoopi took over as demo dog for the business. She didn’t like pet therapy so we stopped volunteering. I started eating again. But everything I did was Without Rose.

Christmas morning that year I was having my coffee in the dark Without Rose, when a strange cat came in my cat door. He shot me a fearful glance and cut a wide path to avoid me. He went over to Whoopi and Big Boy, the dane cross, and rubbed them a full body greeting. Got a lick on top of the head from each of them. Then he went over and touched noses with my old cat Earl. The strange cat jumped up on the table and settled down at the bowl of cat food. I was in shock. My critters don’t take kindly to uninvited animals in the yard and tend to chase them back over the fence. They treated this cat like they were all old friends.

I couldn’t kick him out, it was Christmas morning, 1999. When he was done eating he hopped up on the loveseat to lay down next to me. I reached out my hand and he flinched away. Ok, I won’t touch you. The house woke up and he left. But he came back later and after that started showing up several times a day to eat and visit. It took a week for him to let me scratch his ears. I named him Leon.

Leon remained very spooky around people. I had to approach him from a very calm, centered place. If I was stressed or hurried he scooted back out the cat door with fear in his eyes. In about a month he climbed into my lap for a massage and scratching. That became a daily habit. He learned when feeding time was and got very consistent about showing up, even started coming when called. It was summer before I could get him to come inside the house, a violent thunderstorm helped him choose the lesser of the two scary things. Leon started working for me as the dog training cat, helping me socialize dogs. Years passed. Old dogs and cats died. I got new ones. My marriage broke up. Leon came in the house more and would even sleep on the bed.

Most people still don’t know I have a cat. He leaves when people come over, still spooky, preferring dogs. I got a new lover and Leon gave his approval, soliciting petting and occasional lap time. I was amazed. Big points for the new lover. Until he acted like an ass. Then Leon decided not so much.

Everything happens for a purpose. Leon came to help me get over Rose. I needed to get the center of myself back and I had to be centered to get to know Leon. My lesson was a lost love never comes back. But new loves come when you need them and help you to be whole again.


****************************************



Leon The Weather Cat

Joined Facebook 9/17/2010

Retired King of the Neighborhood, dog training cat and provider of fresh rodent meat with a mysterious past I do not care to discuss. I now work part time letting my humans know when it's time roll up the car windows or hang the hurricane shutters.

*****************************************
About Me

I chose the human squatting on this section of my kingdom in 1999, after many months of observation. She seemed the most sensible and respectful of this pest species that has been so prolific. The other predators that lived here at the time were reasonable sorts. So on a cold dark morning near longest night that year, I announced my intention to occupy this domain and provide protection in return for her subservience. The subservience part was difficult for her to learn, but she did apply herself in practicing zen exercises and I rewarded her by deigning to notice her progress, and with fresh rodent snacks. Odd, food training did not have the success I had expected, though she did learn to show gratitude.

Even prime rodent hunting territory can get a bit boring after a while, so I decided to train the dogs that came and went here. She was something called a "dog trainer". Pfft, I am the one who taught those ill mannered mutts some proper respect. Or had the sense to leave if one was truly beyond rehabilitation.

The first summer after I moved here I decided to reveal my ability to communicate with Her, though she was a tad dense in the beginning. Inside means rain in 15 minutes. On the bed means it will last a while. Under the table means thunderstorm. In the closet means Whopper of a Storm. She says I am more accurate than the weather man. Well, duh. Of course I am. I am Feline, Hear Me Rawr! 

After these many years I have retired as ruler of the kingdom and prefer to hang out on this little domain property. There are ample lizards for snacking, but now in my old age I was injured in a terrible hunting accident by a Gigantic Mutant Monster Squirrel and so passed the torch to the youngster up the road. 

This has already proven dull.  So to prove age is no deterrent, I have decided to reveal Myself and grace the pitiful pest species with my wisdom.

***********************************************************

9/17/10
I understand there is a duck in the Left Coast who professes to have My Powers. Huh, go figure. See Bernadette, The Weather Duck on Facebook.

Her mate went to the prey place today and came home with NO CHICKEN NECKS!! Substandard care. I protest, refusing the pathetic canned swill until I am about to faint, and They are not looking. Then I blame the empty bowl on the canines. She really needs to train Him better.

9/25/10
THUNDER!!! Under the table or eat. The rumbles vibrate me and there is no rain. She told me to eat under Her desk in the office so I did.

9/28/10
I told Her so, but did She listen? No. So She deserves to have a bad hair day and come home soaking wet.

10/7/10
The cool & dry has arrived as scheduled. The canines are acting like idiots. Ok, "acting like" may be superfluous here. Seriously, 10 year old Fat Girl doing zoomies? The Devious One breaking into My Personal Garden?

10/18/10
She has opened the gate to MY garden and let the canines have free access!! And there aren't even any strange cats to chase out. She says maybe all the dog pee will keep the rabbits away at night. *grumblegrumblegrumble*

10/31/10
Something ate all 8 of her arugala, and is now eating the pea vines, all overnight. She had the nerve to scold me. Helloooooooo, Retired!

11/3/10
Dry season here, so Her training is slacking. I came in yesterday around noon to tell her the rain would be starting any minute. She completely misunderstood and gave me lunch. That was nice and who cares if Her laundry got rained on?

11/6/10
HAH! It's that canine Devious Dixie who is eating her pea vines and lettuces. And she blamed me for not chasing rabbits. A friggin' dog is doing a rabbit's job, and not chasing them off, which is the dog's job. Hmmm, She needs to get me a trainee.

11/11/10
Did you know that FB policy bans pet accounts? http://bit.ly/2eLUuiY

Human note: FB has since covered the pet issue under the use your real name issue, their very own stalker helper app.

Personally, I enjoy these pet pages, as do so many others judging by how many of my friends these pets' pages collect. Maybe FB should check out this news story - http://bit.ly/2fD2K6p  and re-examine their stupid policy. After all FB is supposed to be a SOCIAL NETWORK. Send a message to FB and tell them this policy must be changed. I PEE IN THEIR SHOES!!!!!

11/25/10
Turkey liver for lunch and white meat for dinner. The food is good here.

12/2/10
The midday sun is warm, but the breeze is cold enough to fluff my fur. She put the blanket back on my chair on the porch and I have made a nest. It's almost time for lap sitting again. Maybe in a few weeks.

12/15/10
Lap time again. The humans took me seriously and hauled in the container garden. She was glad they did when I decided to sleep inside the house on the bed.

12/25/10
It's a good day. I chose wisely coming here and staying. The human is sentimental, She is leaking again.

1/23/11
She doesn't know how to prepare sushi and her mate screams just like a squirrel when you catch them.

3/28/11
Build an Ark! I'm standing on the hall table!

5/3/11
She said the dreaded B word. I'm old, I forgot to groom myself for a bit. There is no need for water torture. Old humans look pretty scruffy, too. Just sayin'.




5/6/11
What. Have. You. Done?!?!?!


You can't see me, I'z hidin' in ma fort. 

5/10/11
I met the interloper today. Rude child, I expect the human in charge to deal with it.

7/8/11
The season of my misery has begun. You will find me on the bed, since I cannot convince the humans that we need an ark.

8/27/11
Today I was walking up the sidewalk taking some air when one of Her friend's stopped to say hello. It was nice. Then insisted on giving me a ride home. It would have been ill mannered of me to refuse.

10/3/11
Well I must say, I am feeling much more energetic in the cooler weather. Also the young squirrels and rats produced this year are not the brightest bulbs in the nest. I've brought home 4 squirrels and 3 rats in the last two weeks. Tyrone is kind enough to guard them from the other dogs for me.



I brought home breakfast, a nice but stupid young squirrel for Her. She said Thanks, but insisted I enjoy it myself. So I did.


I had to growl at Tyrone, so he chose to leave. Dixie kept her distance, trapped behind me.



And then I had to growl at Dixie, too, because she simply could not wait till I was finished to go inside and hide behind Her.



Even Fat Girl Princess managed to restrain herself. I am Leon, hear me RAWR!


Finally left in peace to enjoy my breakfast of squirrel tartar.

10/31/11
The squirrels produced a lovely crop of slow and stupid this summer and I am doing my part to cull the population. Last night I was able to show The Interloper the finer points of squirrel sushi, though I did not choose to share. Yummy.

2/16/12
Here I Come To Save The Day!
as told by She, who is my human

I let the dogs out late and left the door open for them to come back in while locking up the rest of the house. Leon the Cat proudly walks in with a rat. Sets it down in front of me and it runs, quite lively, under the entertainment center. The Man Toy starts screaming like a little girl. Tyrone The Nose (my 80 lb. retriever) barges in and points the crack at the bottom. Man toy keeps screaming.

I get the flashlight and Tyrone has his mark, it's right there where he keeps poking his Famous Nose. Man Toy runs in circles. Tyrone starts clawing at the crack, poking it with his nose and looking at me over and over. Leon leaves in disgust. Dixie and Princess (60 and 50 lbs.) begin tryouts for World Wide Wrestling. Tyrone shoves a speaker out of his way and Man Toy, screaming and running in circles, now has an outbreak of possessive aggression. Princess wins round one of WWW. Dixie insists on a rematch.

I slide the entertainment center out to get a look under. Tyrone The Nose sees his opening and dives into the tangle of wires to get a better point. Man Toy has apoplexy. I tell Tyrone thank you and send all the dogs back outside, remembering to close the door this time.

I get the broom and shove the handle under the entertainment center and swish it back and forth. This somehow triggers the auto shut down of the power to the entire Superior Man Cave Electronics Collection. Man Toy is reduced to a tantruming 3 year old who's block house fell down. I let the dogs back in and quit for the night.

I am awakened at dark thirty by Man Screams and go running in just in time to see Man Toy swiftly exiting the bathroom holding up his pants with one hand and slamming the door shut behind him. I am treated to a loud expletive laden play by play of what happens when you are peacefully having a poop and a rat runs out from behind the toilet. Man Toy grabs Leon, tosses him into the bathroom and says "do your job." Crashing and banging is heard from within. So I go into the bathroom and poor little ratty is frantically trying to get out of this House of Horrors. I let Leon out of the bathroom and give ratty a moment to collect himself. My animal communication skills don't work on hysterics.

Once the crashing and banging cease, I get the broom and return to the bathroom. Ratty has once again taken refuge behind the toilet I have yet to have my turn on. I open the window, set the broom next to the toilet and angle the handle out the window and grab the toilet brush. Ratty, I say, time to make your escape, dude. I poke him with the toilet brush. Ratty decides to make a last stand. He puffs up like a cat and hisses and growls. Leaps at me hissing and growling. I did not know they did that. I say "Dude, look, I gave you an escape route, run up that broom" and push him toward it with the toilet brush. Ratty finally gets the idea and does a great impression of a trained mouse at high speed up the broom handle to the sill and makes a suicide leap out the window.

I spray the bathroom down with about half a can of Lysol and go make coffee.

3/20/12
"On March 30, 2012, all Facebook Pages will get a new design. Preview your page now to see what it looks like and try out the new features." I don't want a new look. I am too old. I like my page just the way it is. Point me to his pillow so I can pee on it.

4/1/12
Need a ride to the house of the person that had this Timeline idea, the people who implemented it, the people who paid for it and of course Mark Z. I'll need a water supply. I have a lot of keyboards to pee in.

7/7/12
Big storm was coming so I came inside and got on the table. Once again I was right. It rained and rained and rained. It rained so long I told Her to make it stop, I needed to go out. But She didn't. So I peed in her briefcase. I blame Bernadette the Weather Duck.

12/26/12
Thirteen winters here with Her now. She gets all leaky this time of year. Me, I'm doing fine.

1/18/13
This silly place has given me the option of having Her pay $10 per day to get more people to like me. It is undignified. I am a Cat, you silly Zuckerhuman. I should charge admission.

2/5/13
Yesterday evening was so lovely I decided we needed another cat door so I could come and go as I pleased. So I made one. Cute, The Interloper has discovered it and made Her chase the tiny evil one back inside. We are amused.

2/17/13
She had a pizza setting on the counter. Convenient, since I love cheese, pepperoni and even those charred veggies. At the very last second, I was so enraptured the pan moved, and She heard it. I chuckle, because she thought it was a dog and I was already full.    

4/5/13 as observed and recorded by She, who is my human.
Elderly Leon has been bringing in rodents and squirrels recently. It seems to be a sudden burst of predation, he had not done it in a while. All winter a good 2 a week. He's at least 17/18, missing a canine, 3 lbs. under his king of the neighborhood weight. So I could not figure out how he was killing things. 

Got to see today and it's not pretty. There was a big scuffle in the leaves out front that set the dogs off, so I went out to see Leon carrying off a screaming squirrel. Not unusual for him to grab them and then take them into the bushes to finish off. Few minutes later he shows up on the back porch with broken but live squirrel. MT freaks out. Like I'm going to go save a broken squirrel. And ok, maybe I'm a bit sicko, but I wanted to see how he did it.

He attempted a neck bite and was nearly bitten by the squirrel. He crushed the ribcage. It really didn't take long. And no blood. MT wanted me to go take it from him and kill it. I could not have done it more efficiently and it would have been a lot more messy. And traumatic for us all.

So he sits down to eat his fresh raw. A while later MT lets the dogs out. And I found out two things. My treiver won't bite me even when I'm prying half a squirrel out of her mouth. And Leon does not like dog spit on his feast.
5/20/13
Rather embarrassing, seems my rear end gave out. It feels, it tries, but for the life of me it won't stand me up. She says I am around 20 and that happens, no need to worry among friends

This whole thing is very confusing. What?

5/20/13 
as told by She, who is my human, to her human friends.

My old cat is dying.
He wants in the bathtub why?
Peed on me and the floor trying to drag himself outside.
Trying to go off and die alone, but I won't let him
He's 20

5/20/13
Once upon a time, I was the King here. Now I'm just a dying old man lying in the lap of My Love. She offered to share her heat for the night, how could I refuse. She gives the most delightful scritches and feeds me tuna and bacon. She says tomorrow, I will be King again. That makes me happy.


5/21/13
How To Bury A Cat
as told by She, who is my human.

First, drive your oldest friend to the vet,
his most hated place on the planet,
to send him on his way.
Be sure to wait until his veins
are so fragile
the first stick blows and he does not die.
Torture him further with a second stick.
Whisper in his ear
You are the King,
Cats, Rats, Squirrels, 
Dogs fear you and 
tremble at your feet.
This is your land. Take it back, my friend.
I love you. Feel the last heartbeat
and then no more.
Tell the vet the pulse is gone
even as he sets the stethoscope
on the tabby camouflage fur of the ribs.
See the look of horror on their faces
as you ritually tie the beloved
body in his sheet,
buckle his collar around your ankle.
Drive home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have your marine wannabe grandson
chicken out on digging the grave.
Discover killing brown people and burying pets
require different sorts of courage.
Be sure your child, his mother,
supports this idea.
Order the sky to open up
with lightning, thunder and torrential rain
after your old self gets the ground broken,
grave dug down six inches of the required two feet.
Watch it rain while your old cat 
cools in the garage
tied in the sheet that was his 
porch bed for ten years.
Smoke a cig. Drink a beer.
Let the the other cat out of the house
to see if the rain is really stopped.
Chase boy dog off the 
growing dirt mound on the blue tarp.
Pick up the flat faced spade.
Cut. Toss. Cut. Toss. Cut. Toss.
Seems the rain actually helped
turning sandy powder into chunks.
Chase the boy dog away from
the dirt mound again.
Hit hardpan clay like concrete
after the long dry winter.
Measure 18 inches of
the required two feet.
Chop some clay a bit.
Decide no county worker is
going to dig up your dead cat
to measure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Call the East
Call the South
Call the West
Call the North
Spirits of this place
Your King is Dead
Long Live the King!
What is remembered, lives.
Clip rosemary branches from 
the bush next to the grave,
make a nice soft bed.
What is remembered, lives.
Go get the cat.
Retie the shroud.
What is remembered, lives.
Carry his pissy smelling shrouded 
self out to his grave.
Lay him in.
What is remembered, lives.
Turn back to the rosemary bush,
clip more to cover him.
What is remembered, lives.
Pick up the shovel, carefully
fill in around him. Lay the first
shovel full on top.
What is remembered, lives.
Fill the grave halfway.
Step in and pack the dirt.
What is remembered, lives.
Fill the hole.
Step in, pack the dirt.
What is remembered, lives.
Drag the blue tarp over
and dump the really large amount of
leftovers for his small body on top.
Step on, pack dirt into a mound.
What is remembered, lives.
Roll the Carolina Marble
boulder he used to like to piss on
over to his grave.
Shove it on top.
What is remembered, lives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Go inside, get a new beer.
Open a can of tuna.
Pour the tuna water on the kitchen floor.
Let the dogs and the New Queen
clean it up. Take a drink of beer.
What is remembered, lives.

~

5/22/13

Her voice calls out into my garden.

"Spirits of this land! Your King is Dead! Long Live the King!"

And then I wake up from that dream. My old friends are there, the furred ones who went on long ago. Earl, Alice, Casey, Big Boy and Whoopi. It's been so long.

I stand and stretch long, flexing my strong muscles and elastic joints. Then I give my fur a quick swipe and a shake out. My friends and I touch noses and share bonkings and rubbings. It's good to be back.

Over there, She is standing by a mound of dirt with my pissing rock on top, weeping. I go rub her legs.

"You were King," she says.

Yes I am, I say.

"I miss you," She says. "What is remembered lives."

A voice behind me speaks. "Leon." I turn

There is a huge black bitch towering over me. I crouch and hiss. She cuts her eyes and huffs.

"You know me, I am Rose, I brought you to Her, remember? Told the others to let you in."

Then I do. It was just after cold longest night, I was hungry and they let me eat. She didn't bother me, She let me sleep on the cushions and eat on time. It was warm.

"Thank you," I say, gazing back at My Love. "It's been good here, but She's not happy. "

"No," Rose says, "But this is not a bad one for Her. You had a good run, Leon. More than any of us." Rose looks back over her shoulder at the others.

“This is true.” I chuckle, "More than you and Whoopi put together."

Rose smiles, play bows and darts at me. I let her chase me around the yard at full speed, leaping 6 feet up to the top of a fence post at the very last second. I give myself a quick face wipe and relax, sunning on my perch. Flick my tail at her. We both laugh. This feels GOOD!

She turns and walks inside. I watch Her go and look at Rose. 

Rose is watching Her, too. 

"She'll be fine," she says with love and longing. " We are still here and we'll get Her another."

****************************************************


She, who is my human, adds this epilogue.

Thus ends the Chronicle of Leon, except one small bit.

In October of 2015, after many years of struggle and illness, I gave the house back to the back to the bank in lieu of foreclosure. Legally and credit wise, it was the right thing to do. It was sold the same day to flippers, who fixed it up for sale. In the process, they dug up my old gardens. They planted new shrubs in the front gardens, and laid sod in the back. Leon’s grave was part of the digging up. I know it’s crazy, but I wish now I’d dug him up and reinterred him elsewhere before I left. It was so hard and I was so ill, I had no choice but to leave him there to be tossed into the giant bin the flippers parked in the old driveway, with old kitchen cabinets and bathroom tiles. I am sorry, Old Man, I am so sorry.

May 22, 2016


It's been 3 years ago, today. I asked his spirit, and all the ones before, to follow me when I moved, and forever.