Hanging on to anything newsworthy that is not depressing, here is my banner:  Progress Has Been Made.

I have had cats most of my life:  let’s just say from around 1960 until now.  Dolly, the first (often my answer to the “secret” question on line)  did not live too long.  Cars in suburban neighborhoods, you know.

After that, we had mostly  Siamese.

Back to now.  We thought last night that our beautiful Katy had an infection or perhaps a twisted colon.  We wondered if she could eliminate at all.  She was low balling all around the house, and vocalizing like a crazy person.  And there was a beautiful big black male outside.


Very sensitive now because we have had more cat deaths lately than anyone would want to entertain, it SOOO seemed that I had seen this behavior before, but the memory was caked with rust.  Being old, there are all these shadows that cover up former intelligence just like a cat’s third eyelid.  Access is softly denied. My next thought was that this memory was about Siamese (Katy is an American Calico).  Weren’t Siamese especially vocal during heat?  I did remember that.  There was something about her howl.

The old story is as follows.  Sarah and Polly were our two Siamese.  They both were in heat at the same time, and they yelled like banshee women.  Our little house had a detached garage, and it was there they slept when in season.  Dad had to get on the road very early to get all the way to St. Louis for work.  One seasonal morning, he flipped up the garage door and a depleted male cat with eyes detached from his head flew out of the dark space at Dad.  The stinker had been in there all night, wafted by the pheromones of sisters.  He needed out.

The sisters were very cooperative and held a common nursery.  They took turns with the babies.  It can take a village, you know.

That was then.  I never had another female cat who had not been fixed.  It has been so long that I forgot the signs of heat.  Aggressive work on the part of the animal care world has had great success, at least among my cronies.  It was not until after thinking about going to the 24 hour vet clinic, costing a handful you can be sure, that I slowly came into consciousness about what was happening.  Katy, who was spayed in December, was in heat!

Without a doubt.  She is eating, drinking, and emptying normally.  The black cat is installed permanently behind the house, and I now know how far he has come.  My friend on my running route knows to whom he belongs.  It seems that just a bit of an ovary, just a tiny piece, left after surgery is a call to all the local wild.  The black male lives at least a quarter of a mile away.


And now poor Katy has to have another surgery.


Of course little Ben is now dead;  it probably was my fault as I know so little about men when it comes right down to it.  Could have been the mackerel but he had other problems.  What a fine spirit for life the little man had, wiggling his too fat, compact, straw-orange body.  “I am Ben, Love Me!”, was his usual introduction, whether he was nosing into the bedroom in the morning, or meeting a new friend for the first time.  Zoe said he had such a spirit and called me immediately when she found out he had died.  A selfish person might say his job was finished.

ben 1

The fact that he was orange had a lot to do with his place in my life.  Are not most who come to me orange?  And left-handed?  I am sure Benjamin was left-handed, as sure as I was when his vet said he was indeed missing six teeth.  He chewed rather unsuccessfully, and she should have told me why.  I couldn’t figure it out myself, men being somewhat of a mystery.   She did not tell me the first time we went to see her, the time she docked his bloody spaghetti tail, the result of some homeless-related brawl.  Ben grew up on the street, which around here is a farm-to-market road.  Somebody dumped his family.

1-ben 3

The straw-orange boy who would become Benjamin (or Bobcat Ben, as Geoff would say) came around to the back door replacing a wild long-haired orange kitty who had been hanging around of late.  At first I thought Ben was the former.  Blinking my eyes, I realized that orange had replaced orange.  Where the long-haired orange kitty was silky, Ben’s coat looked like straw.  And it felt like straw to the touch.  As he began to experience a more normal diet, his coat improved, but not much.  He was a straw man.  Around his muzzle, he had a darker five o’clock shadow like Fred Flintstone.

The color of the two orange kitties was the same, but oh the personalities differed!  Long-haired orange kitty never said a thing to me.  Soon-to-be-Benjamin stood his little ground at the base of the back steps and declared “I want you to be my Mama!”.  It was obvious that he was looking for a family and there was only me here, and of course, Boston.  We could only imagine how happy she would be about this new addition.

boston 1


confederate housetramp art

My friend Sally commissioned me to make an urn for her late kitties.  They were dearly loved for their long lives.  Sally had them cremated, and the remains of her late cats are with her and the rest of her family.

Sally is a cancer survivor, as am I.  When she said that she meant it to be a final place for herself as well,  she wondered if the idea was too strange.  To me, it was incredibly healthy-thinking, and I pointed out (as if she did not know) that her personal use for the urn was a long way off.  I have found one way to keep the beast at bay is to engage in creative thinking and creative work.  Her therapist loved the idea too, so we started on this journey.

Tossing around the idea of a wonky house with a tin roof for the urn,   I saw in the South Carolina Relic Room at the State Museum in Columbia the structure on the left.

This is my cheap photo shot of the hand made thing.  First thinking it was “tramp art”, we got closer to see the unmistakable South Carolina raw materials:  shells from our beaches.  It memorializes many men.  Have no idea if it contains a useful inside, and what might be in there.  This gave me some ideas, and something to react to.  To the right above is a piece of tramp art, and you can see the similarities.


So this is Sally’s urn; photographed face on the structure is a little deceiving.

Found a little wooden box at the flea market for a quarter.  Perfect for a door opening, the cat portal, seen here above the steps at the entryway.  A little cat sentry protects.  In the cat portal are pictures of the two late kitties.  Tiny tea sets and salt shakers decorate the portal.  That’s one of Sally’s tattoos to the right of the golden salt shaker.


And there is a wonky rose window made of jewelry.


When the urn is turned, there is a better understanding of the structure.


Jewelry and personal items are included all over the surface of the house.  And pictures of the family.


I love the quiet side of the house.  It provides a nice relief to all the frenzy on the other sides.  Took four family pictures, cut them into equal fourths, and reconstructed them.  Isn’t that what family is about?


Below is the last side.  This house is a celebration of a family and of South Carolina, and it is going far away.


A rosary creeps its way along these last two sides, in contrast to a neon green weapon from Star Wars.  Had a tile that had the words “South Carolina” on it; smacked it with a hammer and used two remnants of the words.  No need for the whole thing.  The roof is made of chopsticks.


Under the roof is an amazing surprise.  Sally creates dioramas using dolls.  Bits of some of her best, which she made into postcards, line the inner surface.

This has been so much fun to work on, and is the first thing that Glenn and I have done together.  His expertise in the details with the creating of the house shape were invaluable.  Learned a lot.


Katy is the more quiet of our two new five month olds.  She sleeps at the foot of the bed as opposed to on my head, as Pastel does.  Her motor is more subtle.  She often stands just out of reach.  But she is a beauty and very smart.  So we have one academic and one little spook.


They were raised in a Humane Society cattery, so especially with Katy, we don’t expect her to come to us all the time.  And she doesn’t.  Pastel (aka: Little Spook, Inside Out Girl, Patches Kittens (yes, plural), Skeleton Girl) is much more actively loving.


Having been with us for about a month, everything is new.  Outside is new, wind, bugs, sunshine is new.  Laying in grass, potty only in certain places.  All brand new.  People food is an entirely overwhelming concept in which we do not engage too much.  But enough that they must be outside when we are cooking.

Last night they were, and also for dinner and clean-up.

Huge screaming started out in the dark as I finished up.  We bolted out the back and saw the form of a big dark cat and blazing eyes (it was after all Halloween).  Pastel was nowhere and Katy was bolting around like a pinball in a machine.   We chased off the bad guy, and tried to get Katy inside, and then look for Pastel.  Stumbling for shoes, flashlights, and cursing, here was something else our young ones had to learn about.  So frustrating.

Katy wouldn’t come in.  She acted they way they both did the first afternoon we introduced them to  the outside.  On that day we would get close, and they would jet away.  They both were so quick.  To end our first introduction to outside, we had to trap them to get them back into safety.  That was a month ago and Katy was acting the same way, like she had lost her understanding of our back yard.  Like she had lost her mind.

It felt like we would never get her in so we could start the search for Pastel.  Katy ran to the big tree by the barn, Glenn following with flashlight.  Then he heard Pastel, way up in the great tree, thirty or forty feet.  He got the longest extension ladder, put it out all the way and tipped his body to capture Pastel like her mama did, on her neck.  Need I say climbing a tree was also a brand new experience for Pastel?

Glenn brought Pastel in the back door, and Katy followed silently in.  Mission accomplished.


Not possible, you say.  This late summer has been a revolving door of cats.  Not that I wanted it to be.  Meet Miss Katy and Miss Pastel, our two new four month old babies.  We adopted them from a shelter this week, and they have never been outside.  We have ten acres and three buildings and a pool, and wherever we are working, they kind of stay in that area.  So much to learn about, so much to be spooked about.

1-katy and pastel

Both girls are calico, Katy the traditional and Pastel a diluted one.  Never had heard that term before.  Pastel’s face looks like an owl.  She has some interesting genetic thing going on too.  There is a line going down the middle of her nose dividing the grey from the almost pink color she paints.  Same thing below her mouth, on her neck.  But opposite.  And her eyes are different colors.

1-pastel and bucket

Pastel is uniquely beautiful, and Katy is the expected.  Katy is the foot of the bed comfortable, and Pastel sleeps at our heads.  And they both hold hands; that is important.

We arrived at these girls after my Mouse, my muse, walked into the woods to die after almost 17 years with me.   She inspired my life and my art for a long time.  She was stoic and wise.


She knew I could not bear to see her go, so she evaporated while we were doing other things, and left a great hole.  Then there were Frida and Carlos.

frida and carlos

They did not live so long with us.  Carlos less than a week, and Frida less than two.  There was a miscommunication between docs at our vet clinic, where we adopted them.  We were not given the meds they needed, and they confirmed this mistake, even when challenged by me.  They died.

1-beverly's bench w frida

Little Frida’s last picture.


Awhile ago I wrote about trouble coming in groups of three.  And how we might project which three of a lot of bad experiences were the “correct”  three.   So now we have lost three cats in about a month.  This morning it was Frida.

frida and vases

We found her having seizures this morning.  The only time she could make a noise was when one grabbed her.  She had an appointment with the vet at eight this morning to check on her loose stool;  she died on the way, in my arms.  Again.  I watched her eyes go from blue to black.

frida and carlos

I guess we never even got a picture of Carlos alone.  He died a week ago; the vet neglected to give us the meds he (they) needed when we adopted them.  So went the two little miracles we had in our lives for about ten days.  Frida was so much alone this last week without Carlos.

It makes the loss of my Mouse all the worse.

1-pics from garrett's camera, glenn and lee 331

Can I ever establish companionship again with the wisest element of nature that I know?


It is difficult to gauge when to start counting for three awful things.  In this last month of August, we have had several events to choose from, unhappily.   Perhaps in thinking this way, we start to “group”, hoping that the three have past and we can now breathe again.

An acquaintance recently died of colon cancer.  It hit me hard.  One of our art community,  I did business with her once a year.  She was 45.  The guilt crept in; at that age I was fighting the same damn thing, and came out the other side.  She never had a chance; by the time her cancer was diagnosed, it had moved to the liver.  She must have not had a history of this in her family like we did.  Colon cancer moves so slow initially;  this problem had been with her for some time.

Days later, Glenn’s mom died.  While we were in St. Louis taking care, my Mouse disappeared, and was never seen again.  Going on seventeen years with her, my son wailed.  She was my sister!  We spoke today about his luck in not losing many family members in his lifetime.  But many had been lost, he just never knew them.  Into my forties, I had three living grandparents.  He only ever had one.  Never knew the others.

So I thought the loss of my Mouse was it, ending the chapter of three.

1-pics from garrett's camera, glenn and lee 331

She had been around so long, it was unbelievable that she was not here.  Expressive with her white mittens, subtle with a voice more like a scratch in sound than anything else, her presence was everywhere here.  All her places.  All our routines.  At four PM we met at the pool every day to wind down.  She slept with her head on my pillow and we breathed in and out each others exhale.  We held hands.  We were bound at the hip.

The hole in my heart was so huge.  Mouse wanted to be “only kitty” and expressed this idea many times.  We had two other males for short times, they died, one from urology problems and one was bit by a snake.  They were barely tolerated by her.  After Dice died, we promised her that she could live out her life as the only.

Almost three weeks after Mouse’s disappearance, I called our vet to find out the costs of the series of shots and neutering for kittens.  Wanted to compare the price with that of the adoption fee at the shelter.  Had no idea to get kitties this soon.

Someone had found three kittens and a nine month old mother in a zipped up bag at the solid waste site.  He brought them to our vet, and they took them to adopt out.  The receptionist said they had been checked, had a feline leukemia test, were well socialized, weaned and potty trained.  And six weeks old!  We went to see them with our broken hearts.  They had such amazing blue eyes.

frida and carlos                                                  Carlos                                                                          Frida

There was a lack of communication between the two vets in the office.  We were sent off with adorable kitties, Frida and Carlos, Carlos with a little leaky bowel trouble.  They said there was nothing to do until their twelve day booster shots appointment.  Not true.  Carlos died in my arms after being with us six days.

We arrived at the animal hospital with Frida and dead Carlos last Thursday.  They kept her, streamed liquids into her.   They apologized for mistakes.


Above is Frida about five days ago.  She is not near this fat now.  We are rotating holding her and pushing all kinds of foods and water.  If she survives we will be bound at the hip as well.


Don’t wander into a place about which you know nothing, I said to me.  And if this place about which you know nothing is a source of satisfaction, don’t think about money.  Money taints most things.  And is not pure.

(I am having trouble realizing that the money I earn from being old is enough.  The impulse to make art and sell art seems to be meaningless now, after extended examination by moi.   A piece or two once in a while is just fine.  No sense to structure my life around selling.   Keep stashing your money in the Caymans, Mitt, make more.  You are paying for me, I know.)

1-pics from garrett's camera, glenn and lee 332

Having readers of my posts is exciting.  And more is more, right?  Therein lies the flaw in my thinking.  My daughter ( upgraded me to  Found a coupon to have the designation for a year for free.  You get what you pay for!  I used to own that name, then let it go, and no one else picked it up.  There is another Lee Malerich, married into the family.  Synthetic.

(We did this on the prospect of getting ads on my blog, like she does.  She makes money over there at brannyboilsover, and I stupidly thought it was a good idea for me.  Another example on the ledger side of my being particularly unable to translate anything into money.  My blog couldn’t have been rejected any quicker than it was.)

1-pics from garrett's camera, glenn and lee 306

Blogging for those defined as being in their prime, not passe, is something quite different than my understanding about what writing is.   Wordy, and wanting to create a composition of an essay sort, this blog is not targeted enough.  Not tight.  For sure.  Understand why the blog was rejected.

(So what was my response to these facts?  I could not write.  If the passion doesn’t bubble up, the words don’t come.  And another thing.  My muse, my seventeen year old Mouse walked away into the woods to die more than ten days ago.  Could not write about it until fairly sure this is what she did.  Although I still look to see her walking down the long drive.)


Dragging your damn self into your creative act never gets you ads.  What was I thinking?