Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ziggy 3

The day came in June when my friend Stephanie came over to help me pick up Ziggy. She had a friend who did pet grooming, so, for a birthday present, she arranged to have Ziggy groomed before we took him home. You can imagine: a longhaired cat, out on his own for 16 months. Yes, he was filthy.

It was a hot day for June in the Pacific Northwest. Sweet Stephanie had taken the afternoon off work--and as a Microsoft contractor, she was making a sacrifice because she was paid by the hour. She also brought her pet carrier. We went to E&L's house. L invited us in. Her daughter was home from school, and they made ice cream sodas with club soda--a novel concept to me. I'd always made them with 7 up or coke or rootbeer--and in fact, you really don't need the extra sugar, believe it or not. I know, absolutely revolutionary.

We sat in their backyard and savored the ice cream sodas. (I was getting the feeling that Stephanie was eager to hit the road, but nobody had said anything, so there we were.) Ziggy was a friendly kitty, so he came over and flopped in the shade next to us. His ears perked up when we mentioned his name. L said, "He knows we're talking about him."

So, all stealthy like, we scooped him up and plopped him into the carrier and set it in the backseat of the car. Then Stephanie and I set out for parts unknown. Well, she knew where we were going. Way far away. Long way away. Past Fall City, if you can imagine. In fact, somewhere around Fall City, we both wrinkled our noses and asked, "What's that smell?" Of course you KNOW what it was. Poor Ziggy had pooped in the carrier. Uh oh.

After about an hour, we got to where we were going. Unfortunately, driving up the driveway, we met Stephanie's friend leaving in her pickup truck. Turned out she had a massage appointment.

So we got out. Hosed down the carrier with the garden hose. Tried to clean the poor guy up. He'd peed himself too by that point. We put him in the grooming room and waited. And waited. We waited about three hours, until after dark, as a matter of fact. I had to pee so bad, I'm squirming just thinking about it. The weather had been hot when the sun was out, but it sure turned cold after the sun went down. Finally, she came back. Filled up the sink with warm sudsy water. Put the poor cat in up to his neeck and gave him a bath.

We put him back in the carrier and cranked up the heat because he was soaking wet. Grabbed a burger in Fall City and finally got to pee. "Poor Ziggy," said Stephanie. "This is the worst day of your life, isn't it?" In reply, he peed himself again. So we got him home, Stephanie (God bless her!) took off, and I hauled him upstairs and gave him another bath in the tub. I wrapped him in a towel, showed him the food and the litterbox, and set him on the bed. He shook the towel off, jumped down to the floor, and hid under the bed. He didn't come out for two days. And believe me, I was checking the litterbox to be sure.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Graveyard Book

By the way, Neal Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is a good book. Great premise, well executed. You will love it, I am certain.

Ziggy 2

Then we went into the house. One of our friends, who is severely allergic to cats, instantly started sneezing and tearing up as soon as we came within ten feet of her. I didn't want to take the cat home because I had a pet parrot at the time, and I knew there would be trouble. But she asked me to think about it. The previous owners had asked her to leave food out for Ziggy, as I mentioned in the last post. She said she'd be back in three months for him. Fifteen months later, she still had not returned. She wanted to give him a home, and he'd wanted to come inside in the worst way, but she just couldn't let him in, since her own cat was so territorial.

Fast forward to Pentecost. They had a tradition where the ham bone from the Easter ham became the base of the split pea soup for Pentecost. Continuity, you know? I was there for dinner, and I'd made up my mind. Sixteen months was too long; Ziggy was coming home with me. Did I mention how filthy he was after all that time on his own? He jumped up in my arms and gave me another kitty hug and kisses. I was midly allergic too, but I didn't care. I realized we had fallen in love. There was no other word for it. He was mine, and I was his.

L called Ziggy's previous owner. There she was in Tacoma, in her parents's basement with her five kids. The last time myh friends had heard from her exhusband, he was calling from Boston, asking for advice on getting a job as a software developer. He never made it to Israel after all. L told her that a visitor (moi) had fallen in love with Ziggy and wanted to take him home. The exwife said, "Well, I hate to give him up. He was my husband's cat, and my husband was very attached to him."

L said, "I hate to tell you this, but after sixteen months, you have to realize he's not coming back."

The exwife said, "I know. Well, give me a few days. I have to think about it."

Saturday, April 11, 2009


My wonderful writing coach, Jill Kelly (, has suggested writing down the story of each of our cats. So I will start with the first, the greatest, the wonderful and sublime Ziggy.

It happened at Easter. Easter 1998. I was at my friends' E and L's for Easter dinner. They are a wonderful couple, head of a wonderful family, and they understand holy days and sacraments with a rare depth of spirituality and passion. Anyway, I was there, looking out the window, when this big old orange cat wandered into the yard. L happened to be near me. The cat met my eyes, and he was so unafraid, so knowing, I just blurted out, "Hey, he looks like trouble."

L said, "Actually, no, he's one of the sweetest cats ever. He was left behind by one of the neighbors when they moved away. We love him, and we'd keep him ourselves, except that our cat, Phoebe goes ballistic whenever he comes in the yard."

I said, "Oh." And I had another glass of wine.

After dinner, I went outside for a cigarette. (I was still smoking then.) I sat on the bench outside the front door, and who should appear but the big orange cat. He was a longhair, by the way. Orange tabby with a white underside. Probably a Maine Coon. Well, I took one puff of my cigarette and looked him in the eye while he looked at me. Then he jumped in my lap. He put one paw on the left side of my neck and one paw on the right side and squeezed--a kitty hug. Then he started rubbing his cheeks against mine, first the left, then the right.

L happened to oversee this and came out and sat beside me. She said, "You know, this neighborhood used to be orthodox. And the woman across the street never fit in because she was a convert to Judaism, and she was never completely accepted by the neighbors. Well, she and I became friends. She and her husband had five kids, and then he told her he was going back to Israel to fight in the Israeli army. The last we heard, though, he was in Boston and he wanted advice on getting a job as a computer programmer. Anyway, eventually, they got a divorce, and she moved back into her parents' basement with her five kids. They left Ziggy behind. She gave me a bag of food and asked me to feed him for three month. But they've been gone for fifteen months now, and he's still here, and we don't know what to do with him. If you want to take him, I think it would be fine."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Whoo hoo! Got Neal Gaiman's The Graveyard Book from the library, and I cain't hardly wait to read it.

Ok, that last bit, that was Sussex County coming out. For some reason, I find my Sussex County roots coming out in what I say these days. For so many years, I tried to eradicate it.

Interesting thing about that part of the Eastern Shore--they have a lot of ghost stories. I need to look them up.

One tends to think of the Devil appearing in New England but not so much in other parts of the country. I suppose it's prejudiced to say this, but one would think he'd be most comfortable in the South, wouldn't one? Not me, personally, of course. Of course! But people in general. Could think that. Within reason.

Just occurred to me that Seattle and the Pacific Northwest would be a reasonable place for a demon to show up. The sort of nonpowerful, bureaucratic, behind-the-scenes demon. Have to give this some thought.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I just don't understand why it's so hard to get writing time. I'm trying to evaluate proejcts from my class and do my taxes and my mom's taxes, and then chores, and trying to get some reading in, and before I know it, two weeks have gone by with no meaningful writing happening. I did get my 500-word quota done on my new project, but I cannot seem to find the time to spread out and slow down and focus on the third draft of the wolf novel. And I'm so frustrated I feel like screaming. Why is it so effing hard to get two hours of uninterrupted time?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What does it all mean?

So one time in Minneapolis, I was walking home from school late at night. This wasn't the same night of the demon/angel/whatever incident, it was in the summer. Late, late at night. I was studying in the reading room in the basement of Walker Library. Then I walked home. Got to my apartment building just a few minutes before sundown, which was almost ten-o'clock at night in Minnesota in August. It kind of freaked me out: right in front of my apartment building was my father's car. And yet, he was living in Delaware at the time; what was he doing in Minneapolis? I kind of freaked out. I went into my apartment on the ground floor and shut the door. And I didn't turn the lights on because I was afraid it might be him.

Then there was a knock on the door. I totally flipped out. Quiet, quiet, I tiptoed to the door and looked through the peephole. And... yes, it was my dad. In the flesh and all that. So then I was practically hysterical. But I kept my mouth shut and made no noise. We had been on not-speaking terms for quite a few years, and the last few years, we'd been conducting negotiations towards some sort of rapprochement. But I was definitely not able to deal with him in the flesh.

So I kept quiet and waited until the knocking stopped. Then I went and crouched in the corner, peeking out the window around my cat Missy. I saw the orange VW bug start up and drive off. It was almost eleven pm at that point. I was going to call my parents to do a reality check on my mental state, but then I remembered the East Coast was two hours ahead. So I made a sandwich by the light of the refrigerator lightbulb (I still didn't dare turn a light on), and I ate it, and I went to bed.

The next day, I called my parents. and who should answer but my father. So who was at the door? I've never figured it out.