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A fine and peculiar lady

I mentioned in a comment thread this week that my old girl Charlotte had died. I said I wasn’t going to post about it — who needs more downers in their lives, am I right? — but there is a curious fact about Charlotte’s death that cat observers will find interesting.

She chose the spot where she wanted to die weeks before she died there.

She was seventeen years old, and some of those years weren’t easy. She’d been failing for a long time: eating constantly but getting skinnier and skinnier, as if her food had no virtue. When you picked her up, she weighed nothing at all. I didn’t take her to the vet; she was old and cranky and hated being interfered with. Any kind of major medical intervention was out of the question. I was going to have to make an awful decision soon, but I figured as long as she snoozed in the sun and purred when you patted her, she had sufficient quality of life.

She hadn’t wandered outside the boundary of our yard for years, but a few weeks ago the next door neighbor called to say Charlotte was in the middle of her gravel driveway. And she was, lying curled up perfectly composed. In a drizzling rain.

That was so odd, I figured right then she had decided her time was up, but I carried her home and she ate and fell asleep in her usual spot. She kept going back, though. And I kept carrying her home. Eventually, she came home on her own to eat and then right back to her spot. Not the exact spot; it was several spots within a small radius. The neighbor was awfully nice about it.

Last week, the neighbor had a friend over. He parked near Her Spot, and Charlotte took the opportunity to crawl under his car and die. Poor man. He was so sure he had run her over. He didn’t, though. There wasn’t a mark on her.

In fact — I know this is an awful old cliché — she looked better than she had in a long time. She was warm when I picked her up and looked groomed and well. She looked so alive we held a sort of wake for her, afraid she wasn’t dead but in some kind of weird coma. But no.

And that’s my ‘aren’t cats strange’ story. Please don’t be sad for Charlotte — she had a long and interesting life, including a trans-Atlantic move. She was one of the great ones.

Have a good weekend!

August 30, 2019 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 17

And that’s the end of that…

The circus. It’s the last thing on our social calendar every Summer, and every year we’re not sure if they’ll come.

It’s a little circus and barely squeaks by year to year. They don’t publicize their appearance near us until just before it happens, maybe because they’re not sure they’ll make it this far. And then one day the big top blooms out of the mown field like a gaudy mushroom.

It’s pretty good. They source their acts from Eastern Europe, for the most part, where circus is still a thing. They have a Mongolian acrobat I’m particularly fond of who always does several acts for them. And all the performers have to put on a jacket and sell popcorn and programs during intermission.

There may be a few little events after this, but the circus is always the end for us. I am so not ready for Winter.

August 29, 2019 — 8:20 pm
Comments: 5

Mindin’ my own damn business

Near miss with a mad old bird over the weekend. I’m walking in the field next door, and I hear this hissing. I reckon I was a feather away from a swan attack. Those emeffers can peck. And also fly.

I wonder if it has babies.

Took a walk in the field on the other side today. Way down at the end, there’s an abandoned orchard. I nicked a bucket of apples and a bucket of damsons. I had the owner’s permission, though, so that kind of took the fun out of it.

And that’s all I got. Been an irritating sort of day, really. Other than the apples.

August 28, 2019 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 7

Speaking, as we were, of favorite tombstones

Well, this one’s a whole tomb, but it is a favorite. It’s “Mad Jack” Fuller’s pyramid. He’s supposedly in there in fancy dress, including tophat and bottle of wine.

I read an article today that his pyramid is in need of restoration. It’s frustrating, but none of the articles I’ve read say exactly what’s wrong with it. (Pff! It’s not even 200 years old. The ones in Egypt are a bzillion years older).

And worryingly, all the articles I’ve read mention that he was opposed to the abolition of slavery. I hope he doesn’t get caught in the “judging people in the past by 2019 standards” trap, because he was a great English eccentric and philanthropist.

We visited his tomb when this was a brand new baby blog, way back in 2007. That’s when I took that picture. And here’s the post with more on Mad Jack.

The pyramid looked fine to me. A little lichen-y. I’m guessing they just want to open it up and steal his bottle of wine.

August 27, 2019 — 8:02 pm
Comments: 17

It comes to an end…

Last day of the long weekend, last of the Summer fêtes. Still, I bought a neat leather satchel at the junk stall and got to revisit one of my favorite tombstones.

It’s totally normal to have a favorite tombstone, right?

August 26, 2019 — 9:05 pm
Comments: 9


Baby squid. Twelve hours old. Lookitem go!

It’s from SciAm‘s best gifs of the week. Mesmerizing.

It’s a three-day weekend here. Is it there? I get so confused. We’ve got lots of things planned, so I’m off. Have a good one!

August 23, 2019 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 9

Happy birthday, smartass

It’s Dorothy Parker (née Rothschild)’s birthday today. I confess, I have never read a word she wrote. I know her strictly from her pithy witticisms.

She hated that.

Also, it’s super fun to say “pithy witticisms”. Please try it for yourself. Enjoy this list of Dorothy Parker quotations, ranked in order of popularity. You will definitely recognize some of them.

p.s. that’s a terrific description of writer’s block in the telegram.

August 22, 2019 — 8:39 pm
Comments: 7

I understand these are popular

As my old granny used to say, sometimes you’ve just got to show a little ass.

Brits love their donkeys. Brits love other people’s donkeys. There are all sorts of charities for taking care of donkeys overseas. Our European neighbors have a bad habit of using donkeys hard and then…throwing them off of rooftops and such.

Seriously, it’s true. There’s some festival in Spain where they throw a donkey off the roof. Mostly they just work them to death, though. The lucky ones end up here.

Though this young ass is 100% British born, I think.

August 21, 2019 — 8:51 pm
Comments: 9

My, what a big boy

There’s always a falconry exhibit at these country shows, but I think this is the first time I saw someone exercise a bald eagle. Impressive.

The falconer explained that they do lose them from time to time (including while doing shows), but they have fancy gps collars now, hooked to fancy phone apps. He says if one flies off and doesn’t reappear for a while, he texts the bird: you are lost and collar texts back his location, including altitude. Neat.

This photo (and several other good ones) courtesy of Uncle B.

Oh! Speaking of neat apps, one of my elderly buds was telling me about the app that controls her hearing aids. She can do things you expect, like adjust bass and treble and volume and so on, but the app will also broadcast to her hearing aids. So she can listen to music or podcasts. Even better, during a lecture, she can ask to leave her phone at the podium and it will broadcast the speech back to her.

Technology: making geriatrics cool.

August 20, 2019 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 7


We came home Saturday afternoon to the strangest smell. I thought it smelled like a solvent. I was kind of right. It was beer.

A mini-keg of beer blew out at the bottom seam and leaked five liters of brewski into the library carpet, every drop of it by the time we got home. (Naturally, we keep the booze in the library. Don’t you?).

It was cool, it was dark. It was in date. Nothing was stacked on top of it. It was from a large commercial brewer. It was, appropriately enough, Old Speckled Hen. Honestly, I’m stymied.

Uncle B sent a huffy “what gives?” to the brewery (he’s very good at those) but we haven’t had a reply yet.

I bought it for my birthday. I had this vision that I would get up on my birthday morning, sit in my favorite chair and be pleasantly sozzled all day long. But I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in the fridge, and I’m not really a daytime drinker anyway. It sounded good in my head, but it never happened.

And now it never shall. Happy Monday!

August 19, 2019 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 7