Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

His name was Paws. But before long, it was clear that this cat needed a new name. At 6 months old, he weighed nearly 10 pounds and his paws were huge. Fully grown, he reached an awesome 25 pounds. He was over 2 feet long from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail and he frequently lay stretched out to his full length. His tail was a lethal weapon! So he became PWAS. Pwasimodo the Hunch Cat of Notre Dame. Pwas.

We adopted Pwas and his brother Ba (that's another story) when my daughter was 8. Our tiny house was soon overrun by these two playful tuxedos. Ba was the smaller of the two. Small only in our house. Pwas was the alpha cat. He chose where he slept, where he ate, what windows were his and who would pay attention to him. There was no ignoring this cat. If he wanted you to get up and feed him, his hulking mass sitting on your chest made breathing difficult, let alone opening your eyes to see him staring at you. His demanding "meow" let you know he meant business. "Feed me or I'll eat your nose," he seemed to be saying.

Even though he was a mighty beast, he was always very gentle with my daughter Bridgete. She could bathe him - the only one who could. (He once tore through a leather jacket and scratched my husband who was holding him so I could give the cat his medicine) She could trim his nails. And she could make him seem half his size.

Pwas was always present at bed time and soon became part of the routine. He would listen patiently to the story, curled up next to Bridgete, his deep purr often distracting us from the book. Then it would be time to sing a song or two. Now, I am a singer. I have a lovely voice, even if it is a bit deep for a woman. I'm a tenor - but I have a lovely voice. Yet something about it made Pwas uneasy. I would start to sing and he would get up, walk into my lap and put his paw on my mouth. We would laugh about it and set him down on the floor where he would pace until the song was done. I don't know when it happened, but soon Pwas became part of the music. I would sing the old song, " I love little pussy, his coat is so warm. " And every time I reached the end of a phrase, Pwas would meow at the very moment I sang the last word. Over time, I stopped singing the last word at all and he would add his throaty response. We were a trio, Bridgete, Pwas and me. I don't know who was more sad when Bridgete grew out of needing tucking in, Pwas or me. Of course, he still went along when she went to bed. One night I accused my teenage daughter of playing music late at night. It was actually Pwas lying on the floor of her bedroom, which was the ceiling of my bedroom, and purring. When we realized what the noise was, we fell into paroxysms of laughter.

Pwas was a huge part of our family. Even in a 4 bedroom 2500 square foot house, he dominated the scene. His chair by the kitchen window had to be placed just so. His "perch" on the foot of my lounger remained up all the time. I had to figure out how to get in and out of the chair. His food was first to be served in the morning and evening. And if he thought he was alone in the house, he would wander from room to room, his 'boppy", a stuffed sock-like cat toy, gripped in his mighty jaws, moaning. It was a most mournful sound. I can't even describe it to you. I've never heard thing like it from any other cat.

There I would be in the basement family room, watching TV, and the moaning would begin. I would call to him, trying to make myself heard over his cries, and finally I would hear his thumping footsteps on the stairs. He would make way over to me, drop the boppy, and jump up onto the perch. A few pats and comforting words and he would settle right down, purring and happy, and sleep.

Now Pwas has cancer. My ex-husband has custody of Pwas and he's making him as comfortable as possible. But the end is near for this lovely cat. He was a good cat. A great pet. A companion. A source of humor and a bond between the three of us. It is the end of something that shaped our family. And I'm not sure how to deal with the loss. So if you can imagine it...hear me singing this nursery rhyme and hear the deep intonation of Pwas at the end of every phrase.

Oh I love little pussy, his coat is so (warm)
And if I don't hurt him, he'll do me no (harm)
I'll sit by the fire and give him some (food)
And pussy will love me because I am (good)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Poetry Corner - Cowboys

My friend Brett has had a loss. His father died this morning after a long illness. Another friend, Pete, lost his father on Sunday. And my dear friend Chris is currently sitting beside with his father.

I wrote this for Brett on his last birthday. I post it here for him. And for Pete and Chris and all my friends who are watching our parents age, watching ourselves age and wondering when we all got so grown up.

Just a man and a horse.

And a tumbleweed or two.

During the day,

The horizon had no end.

At night,

The sky held too many stars to count.

Cowboys don’t have mothers or fathers.

Cowboys don’t have brothers or sisters.

Nobody tells them the way to go.

Cowboys know the way.

During the day,

He’s just a man.

But sometimes.

At night.

He dreams.

He’s a cowboy.

April 30, 2007

KC McAuley

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Poet's Corner - ROAD WORK AHEAD

Road Work Ahead

KC McAuley

Dec. 2007


When she labored to give birth

The road to the hospital

Twisted and Turned

The sign announced

ROAD WORK AHEAD.


When she sent her to school

Lunch box and loose tooth

The bus pulled away

The sign said

ROAD WORK AHEAD


Every road had work.

School and books and math.

God and boys and drugs.

Sex and love and marriage.

College was long road from home

Even longer when she returned.


Together they traveled the longest road of all.

Three thousand miles from coast to coast.

They traveled broken roads,

Mended roads,

Detour roads,

No roads,

New roads

And old.


When she left her daughter

The cab ride to the airport

Twisted and Turned

The sign announced

ROAD WORK AHEAD.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Movies in Review

I watch a lot of movies - many, many more than once. And every year, I keep track of the new (to me) movies that I see. This past year I watched 114 new movies. That's an average of 2 per week. So when I went to compile my list of the best movies of 2007, I was a little surprised to find that I couldn't come up with 10 "best" movies. I have 5 that I think will stand the test of time. And another 5 that I thought worth noting. I must preface this by saying that I have not seen what many consider to be the best film of the year - No Country for Old Men. Nor have I seen Juno - which is getting praise from many different circles of friends. So without further ado, here is my list of the Best movies of 2007

5. Zodiac (David Fincher) Based on Robert Graysmiths books about the Zodiac killer, this is a fine thriller. Fine performances all around especially from Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo. The film is well paced, taut, tense and everything a thriller should be.

4. Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton) I loved this film version of the finest Stephen Sondheim musical. There were elements from the stage that I missed, but overall, a good job from beginning to end.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik) I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a beautiful movie from start to finish. Loved the look, the sound, the feel, the maturity of this movie. Don't miss it.

2. Rattatoille (Brad Bird) Pixar just gets better and better. And this is IMHO one of the best. The story is great, the rats are wonderful and the Proustian moment when Anton Ego tastes the simple Rattatoille meal - classic.

1. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) Technically, this film is from 2006, but I saw it in Feb '07, just before the Oscars. It was the best film I saw all year and the only one I think will truly stand the test of time. Ulrich Muhe's performance is among the great film performances of all time. So sad that we in the West discovered him only to lose him too soon.

Honorable mentions - for first time efforts, swan songs, and a return to the things you do best.


Once - the musical that took the movie world by storm. It's still playing around Portland in small houses. When it opened, it was only on one screen in the whole city.

Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck's directorial debut shows his strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to more from him.

Into the Wild - Sean Penn obviously loved his subject and his scenery, but I just couldn't get behind the young man at the center of the story.

Waitress - Adrienne Shelly's sweet love story was everything you want a good pie to be. Sweet but not too sweet. Light and fluffy - not too filling. With a perfect crust to hold it all together.

Black Book - Paul Verhoeven returns to his homeland and the people he knows best. I found much to like in this film. But overall, it left me feeling empty and longing for a hero.