Tag Archives: cat

May 14, 2015

I first met Richard under rather tragic circumstances. While our house in Silver Lake was being rebuilt after our fire, we had rented a house about a mile away in the Atwater Village neighborhood. It took us a while to settle in there, but once our smoky belongings had been cleaned and delivered to our new temporary home, we felt pretty comfortable again. One night while I was reading with our son Theo in bed, we heard a horrible cry coming from outside. It sounded like a cat but there was something distressing about it. After I left Theo, I opened the front door and looked out to see a huge, wolf-like coyote on the front lawn. He fixed me with an icy stare. I quickly closed the door. The next morning, when I was loading Theo in the car to take him to school, I saw white fur on the front lawn. My heart sank. A white cat had often come visiting our yard from next door. The cry I had heard must have been him. I shook my head and wondered how I was going to break it to the neighbor. I had never met them.

Later that day, a man I didn’t recognize was walking around in front of our driveway apparently looking for something. I went out and asked him if he was by any chance our neighbor and had lost a white cat. When he said “yes,” I related to him what I had witnessed as kindly as I could, then blurted out, “I’m so sorry!” and gave him a hug. I felt so heartbroken for him. He seemed sad but not devastated and explained that it was really his partner’s cat actually and his pets were dogs. We chatted a little and I told him our background and that we were only going to be living there a short time while our house was being built. Over the next year or so (the house took much longer than we expected!), I became friendly with Richard – even though he admitted that he and his partner mostly kept to themselves. Richard brought us lemons from their tree, and we shared the delicious oranges from ours. He also gave me a couple of potted loquat trees for us to plant in our garden when we returned home.

When he learned that Theo was really into weaving bracelets out of rubber bands (the Rainbow Loom craze of Winter 2013-14), he revealed that he loved to weave and had a couple of looms and a spinning wheel. He invited us to see them, explained the warp and weft of the loom and showed Theo how wool was spun. When it came time to move back into our house, we were of course happy to be returning to our home, but it was sad to say goodbye to such nice neighbors. We have kept in touch via email mostly and we’ve stopped by to say hello. We were secretly happy to hear from him that the people who moved in after us weren’t as nice as we were.

Today, Richard was on my mind. I was coming out of the super market when I bumped into an acquaintance from our neighborhood, Paul. He, his wife Daisy and their two young children had been renting the house owned by our friends Julie and Marty (see Feb 20), but had moved to another rental in Silver Lake, which had turned our to be prohibitively expensive. So, he explained, they had decided to move to a great place in Atwater Village. I told him we’d lived there and asked him where they’d be living. He described the street and the house, and it turned out to be the same house we’d lived in for one year, four months and three days. We were both flabbergasted. But I was delighted to be able to tell him honestly that, other than the evening when the coyote devoured the neighbor’s cat on our front lawn, we’d really enjoyed living in that house. Sure, the backyard was a little odd, with roses, tomatoes and bowling balls all sharing a single flower bed, but the orange tree was spectacular, and the house itself was very comfortable and within walking distance from cafés, restaurants and convenience stores.


I wished Paul well for their move to our former house this coming weekend and told him we’d drop by sometime. And when I returned home, I emailed Richard to let him know he’d be getting some really lovely neighbors soon. I managed to fill up the afternoon with my work and parenting and then a school event in the early evening. I’d been planning to go on a walk and leave another gift on my path, but a storm hit Los Angeles – a very rare happening in May – and rain began to pour, trapping me in the house just before Theo’s bedtime. Fortunately, my husband David had been planning to go to a bar in Atwater Village to catch the second half of tonight’s Clippers game, and was still brave enough to venture out in the rainstorm. I didn’t want to send him out of his way, but the bar was just around the corner from our old rental house and Richard, so I asked him to drop off a little gift for Richard. He gallantly agreed to deliver it (thank you, David!). I wrote him a note and slipped a hand woven bracelet I’d bought in Machu Picchu, Peru into the envelope as a wish for good luck with the new neighbors, in the hope that they’ll be as nice as (but not nicer than!) us.


February 19, 2015

In October 2012, a couple of weeks after our house burned, our beloved cat Tutti died. I’d had him for 13 years, longer than both my husband David and my son Theo, so it was particularly hard for me to lose him after all those years. But he’d had a long life for a cat – 18 years, and I like to think it was a good one. Even though he was rather skittish, he was a sweet, loving and very beautiful kitty and was always close by, especially at night when he would cuddle up next to me in bed. In his last months, unbeknownst to us, he had a tumor on his bladder so was peeing everywhere. We knew something was wrong with him but assumed it was just old age and kidney failure. Mercifully the firefighters rescued him from a nasty death, but in the days after the fire, when we were living in a hotel room and then an almost empty rental house, he was clearly distressed. After one particularly rough night with him, I knew it was time to end his suffering. The next morning was the lowest point for all of us that month. It was one thing to lose our house, but we were somewhat consoled that we’d all made it through the horror. But now we were losing a member of our small family, and it was heart-breaking.

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Tutti’s death was as peaceful as it could have possibly been, lying on my chest with me holding him. For days afterwards, we were all really shaken, bursting into tears at different times of the day as we each missed something new about him. One day, Theo expressed his grief by asking me for a brother. If not a brother, then at least a hamster. Or another cat. Please, Mummy. I told him he needed to wait because we had to honor Tutti’s memory and grieve a little longer, but after ten days, I couldn’t stand it anymore and dragged Theo with me to the Pasadena Humane Society to look at kittens. After a couple of visits, we had selected not one, but two adorable little kittens who we brought home with us and named Sonic and Mystic. They immediately injected fun and lightness into our darkened lives, and it has been a joy to watch them grow into lovable, entertaining young adult cats. They both have qualities that remind me of Tutti but, like us, cats are all very unique. Today, I took some old bedding to the Pasadena Humane Society and remembered our visits there over two years ago. I was once again thankful to this outstanding organization for the second chances they give not only to abandoned animals but also to the sometimes heart-broken people who adopt them.