She likes a cozy box

Little Girl, who was Mama Kitten‘s shadow and fellow Driveway Bitch (mother and look-alike daughter were always in the driveway, by the door, ready to shake Sekhnet and me down for treats whenever we came or went) had a brush with death not long ago. She’s fine again now, back to hunting, and nonchalantly dominating her sisters, and seems to prefer a cozy box to the larger ones, sometimes.

Two cool clips (15 seconds total) from Sekhnet the perfectionist

With thanks to my girl, holding the camera phone rock steady in one hand while flipping the cookies perfectly with her other hand to her partner, the talented three year-old feral Little Girl, check this out (that’s Little Girl’s sister, Whiteback, working on a pile of her own cat cookies, in the foreground):

And here’s another take, even better, by the intrepid Sekhnet:

Here is my version, from a few days back:

Little Girl, the cat who was closest to her mother Mama Kitten (the two of them hung out in the driveway, shaking us down for treats whenever we appeared there, hence “the driveway bitches”), appeared for a few weeks to be succumbing to the same thing that killed her mother a few months ago. She was increasingly withdrawn, weak, unsteady on her legs, didn’t have much of an appetite and very little energy. I wrote about the poor devil’s struggle to survive on March 10.

Since then, starting a couple of weeks ago, she seems to have had a complete recovery. Here she is in the back of the garden, up to one of her old tricks:

Our talented feral friend seems fully recovered

Little Girl, the cat who was closest to her mother Mama Kitten (the two of them hung out in the driveway, shaking us down for treats whenever we appeared there, hence “the driveway bitches”), appeared for a few weeks to be succumbing to the same thing that killed her mother a few months ago. She was increasingly withdrawn, weak, unsteady on her legs, didn’t have much of an appetite and very little energy. I wrote about the poor devil’s struggle to survive on March 10.

Since then, starting a couple of weeks ago, she seems to have had a complete recovery. Here she is in the back of the garden, up to one of her old tricks:

Little Girl Wants to Live

Sekhnet and I have been very sad to see Little Girl, one of the feral cats we care for, seemingly following the progression of her mother’s quick, sudden death a few months back. Little Girl, a skilled hunter, who with her great paw-eye coordination, loves to catch thrown cat treats midair, with both paws and, often pop the treat directly into her mouth, is closely bonded to Sekhet and has lately been much more interactive with me. Now, no longer hunting or seeking to have treats thrown to her, she seems to be dying. The other day Sekhnet put out a box with a rug in it, in the sun, and Little Girl emerged to sun herself there each of the last few days.

A few nights ago, I went out to check on her. I sat next to her insulated sleeping box and saw she was in there and breathing, I didn’t want to bother her. She generally doesn’t like to be petted in there and lets you know with a quick yowl and a flash of her long, sharp claws.

While I sat by her box, her sister Whiteback hopped the fence and wanted to be petted and get a few treats. I obliged and as Whiteback began crunching the treats I saw Little Girl’s paw emerge from the box, reaching toward me as if to tap me on the arm. Her mighty claws were, for once, not extended (see photo below of her mighty claws, when she was a kitten). I put some treats in the palm of my hand and reached inside. Little Girl ate them all, licking my palm when the treats were done. She ate a few more batches. I was glad to see her appetite seemed better. When she was done eating I petted her a few times, until, eventually, she gave me a brief taste of the claw, indicating she’d had enough affection.

Her mother was about six when she died, Little Girl is not yet three. She’s been hanging in there so far, sat on Sekhnet’s lap for a long time yesterday, eating delicacies that Sekhnet brought her. We’re hoping for the best, her recovery, thinking perhaps a younger, healthier cat might be able to fight off whatever killed her mother, unlikely though it seems. We’re encouraged that she’s still eating a bit.

Here are two photos of her with brothers Turtleback and Whitefoot, from June, 2018 (Little Girl center in each). Those two wonderful little souls were gone within a few months of their birth. Little Girl, though she has been folding up her tents for the last week or two, does not seem ready to call it a day yet. It is a hard struggle for survival out there for feral cats, the ones who survive are tough, tough, tough– and lucky.

As I type I got this update on my phone from Sekhnet in the garden, under the caption “cozy dog…”, informing me that she ate a tiny bit more:

A Thousand Cuts

The dermatologist does a volume business, so the surgeon cuts deep, to cut only once and be done — he can see many more patients this way. Mohs surgery is designed to leave a minimal scar, particularly when removing a cancer on the face invisible to the naked eye, as this latest one (unseen by the dermatologist, diagnosed by me) was. But it takes time to remove the cells a few layers at a time, examine the cutting under a microscope, scrape a little more if needed. In a volume practice you simply cut down to the cartilage of the nose, examine the cutting under a microscope to verify you got the whole thing and you’re done.

As the patient, if you don’t want a deep scar, you can pay out of pocket to have your nose cut again, differently, stitches put in, etc. Or you can stop being a crybaby, this is the fourth or fifth scar on your nose anyway. Every other Mohs surgery you’ve had took hours, with this one you were in and out, after having the wound cauterized, in about thirty minutes.

You learn new words as you get older. Nocturia, waking at night to urinate. You hope to wake, anyway (so far, so good). Crepitate, the cracking sound your arthritic knee makes when you get up from a chair or the bed, the snap and pop accompanying the pain. Venous ablation — the process of inserting a wire into the veins of your leg to cauterize them from the inside to allow normal blood flow to return and reduce the odds of a stroke from pooled blood in the lower legs. Hematuria, blood in the urine, sometimes dribbling out in a dark brown stream, before the clot can finally be pushed through and get spit out.

Sometimes this shit just seems to come in a flood. You get up for nocturia, crepitate with a wince of sharp pain, feel a throb from where the next vein needs to be ablated, et voila, gross hematuria, a thin stream of prune juice and an impressive clot in the toilet bowl. Then you break a tooth.

These things can have an effect on your mood, like angry people claiming that because they love you they can do whatever they want to you and you just have to accept it — Ahimsa Boy. Especially hard to take as you watch the suffering of tens of millions, the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands and the embrace by tens of millions of a brazen, partisan denial of this suffering. Things being done to solve massive, societal problems, things supported by 3/4 of our citizens, are countered by lies and irrelevant talking points told to undermine every effort to ameliorate mass suffering. The proposed budget for pediatric psychiatric services in the American Rescue Plan, for aid to suffering children during an unprecedented (in a hundred years) pandemic is countered by a snarl of “cancel culture” when a private publisher decides to stop printing books with a few hilariously racist characters in them [1].

Then we throw this deep, cunning cut into the mix, just to complete the picture mood-wise:

This feral cat’s affectionate, fierce mother, Mama Kitten, died in October of an undiagnosed disease. It took a few months after her mother’s death for Little Girl, her mother’s shadow, a good hunter who had always been second in command to her dominant mother, to get comfortable in her new role as the alpha cat. In time she became almost as trusting and affectionate as her mother had been. Her coat is silky and she loves to be scratched and petted (when she feels like it, being a cat). She and her sister Whiteback are the only survivors of the litter with their brothers Whitefoot and Turtleback.

Lately she has shown the same signs of approaching death that her mother displayed before she died. A curious asymmetrical thickening of her abdomen (similar to her mother and older sibling Grey Guy right before they died) and a loss of energy, appetite and status. Her dopey little sister Whiteback recently stepped up to take her food the way Little Girl had done to her mother right before the end. Little Girl took to the same warm, insulated box her mother stayed in before she died and she didn’t come out for meals yesterday.

I offered her a treat, which she declined. I reached in to pet her and she reminded me she is a feral cat, giving me a nice long slash on the thumb with her sharp claws. Sekhnet was more persistent, and more persuasive, and she spent a long time petting and comforting the doomed cat, virtually immobile in her warm box. As fate would have it, it was frigid last night. We both expected to find a beautiful little corpse this morning.

Sekhnet sent me the picture above, from earlier today, reported that the cat who hadn’t eaten yesterday was very happy to eat a new kind of fish shaped cat cookie, as well as some sardines. “Her last supper,” Sekhnet said fighting back tears.

Later I went out to the garden and saw Sekhnet, comically bent in half, Little Girl lounging on Sekhnet’s back, one of her favorite places. Little Girl was massaging Sekhnet’s back.

As a kitten she’d often perched like a parrot on Sekhnet’s shoulder as the human went about her work in the garden. As Sekhnet maintained her bent pose and tried to resist crying I petted and scratched Little Girl for a long time. She inclined her head to indicate the angle she wanted her face massaged from.

She seemed happy for the attention and showed no inclination to leave her comfortable spot on Sekhnet’s back. After a time I lifted her to a nearby perch where, after revealing how wobbly she was on her legs, she had a few more fish-shaped treats and drank some water.

It appears there will be another feral cat funeral very soon. I hope I’m able to carry her to her final resting place after my fourth goddamned venous ablation tomorrow.

[1] fucking politics:

What does one thing (helping people in deep jeopardy) have to do with the other (“cancel culture”)? FUCK YOU! The so-called facts of an organized, well-funded months’ long campaign to convince Americans of a lie, that Joe Biden was elected by massive fraud, with the collusion of countless Republican traitors in several states, are met by a cry that Biden is the fucking liar and a tool of vicious radical N-word terrorists! Irrationality is just as valid as so-called rational analysis! In other words: FUCK YOU!!

You have a brazen zealot like Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, who insists it wasn’t Trump’s people who ran amok in the Capitol after months of Trump fomenting a lie, after the “Stop the Steal” rally was shown an incendiary propaganda video blaming thieving, violent libtard cucks, inflammatory speeches delivered right before the riled up mob headed to the Capitol to “stop the steal”– the angry mob had every right to be angry, first of all, because they truly believed a fucking infuriating alternative fact– and second of all, it was leftists, posing as Trump supporters, who smeared feces and attacked cops on January 6th.

Prior to party-line passage of the American Rescue Act Johnson somehow was able to force hapless clerks to read the 628 page Democrat [sic] aloud to an empty chamber, until the wee hours of the night. A clever leftie (Sarah Lazarus at Crooked Media) will observe of this kind of stunt:

Senators finally began debating the coronavirus-relief bill on Friday, after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) forced a handful of innocent clerks to read the full text out loud to him all night as a stalling tactic. Democrats immediately made up for the lost time by shortening the debate from 20 hours to three hours when no Republicans were there to object, but hopefully Ron had a nice time at his tyrannical, coronavirus-themed slumber party!

source

And then we learn that the GOP managed to extend the “debate” to 24 hours of bipartisanship anyway. To demonstrate that you can win an election, by a signifiant margin, and still be regularly pantsed by the minority party, a unified, lockstep party with no compunction about justifying anything their mad leader says or does, no matter how wild, insane or demonstrably false. Many people I know tune out politics because, it only aggravates us and there’s nothing anyone in a democracy can actually do to hold anyone else accountable for anything.

Dream with a win-win happy ending

I woke from a dream a few weeks back with a sense of wonder about how everything worked out much better than expected throughout. I still clearly remember the dream, the kind impulse leading to oddness and incoherence, the escalating danger, the surprise happy ending. There was every reason to anticipate the worst, things looked worse at every turn — instead, it turned out well for everybody, man and beast alike.

It used to be, prior to our current bellicose, threatening, highly infectious epoch, that sometimes grim-looking situations turned out fine. The unlikely thing happened sometimes and everyone walked away relieved instead of skittering sidewise like agitated crabs on the ocean floor. In our present moment, most of our hope for this kind of mutually beneficial outcome is forgotten.

The encounter where everybody comes away better than they were before was commonly called a win-win scenario, something that is almost impossible to remember, the black and white, toxic way things are now. Surprise happy endings are really not that rare, they certainly weren’t in the past, but this dream hit me with some force, reminded me how unlikely any kind of humane resolution to anything seems in our troubled, troubling, increasingly violent times.

I generally don’t remember dreams in any detail after I’ve had them, this one stayed around for a few days afterwards, is with me now weeks later. I intended to write it out and eventually made a note in my drawing book days that I didn’t need to even look at before writing this[1]. The only detail I forgot was the owner’s threat to call the local police on me — the law and common sense being completely on his side.

I was in the large enclosed porch, or maybe an unfurnished room with floor to ceiling windows. It was in a stranger’s house, a place I wasn’t supposed to be, I was trespassing. When I passed I’d seen there was a dog in there, alone, seemingly trapped, and in some distress, the door to the room was unlocked, or at least easy enough to pop open. The dog seemed traumatized, did not approach me, but watched me, cowering. There was no food or water anywhere to be seen. I was trying to figure out a way to help the poor devil.

As I puzzled over what to do about this dog, in a place where I didn’t know anybody (it seemed to be a small seasonal community, perhaps Cape Cod, during the off-season), a guy walks in the door on the other side of the room. He’s got a dog on a leash, he’s glowering and at the same time seems slightly sheepish. He was a short, stocky black man who reminded me of Cleveland on Family Guy, only he was angry and defensive.

As I began telling him about the dog he admitted that the dog used to be his, that he’d abandoned the dog. He looked guilty when he told me that, but also determined not to take any shit from me about about it. He didn’t know why he did it and he didn’t want to talk about it, was trying to be a tough guy but was obviously hurt, somehow. I told him I wasn’t from around here and asked him if he knew anybody who might be interested in rescuing or fostering the dog, maybe a local vet.

Suddenly the owner of the house, an imposing looking white man in a plaid flannel shirt, entered through the other door.

The scene was set for something bad to happen. The white guy was not happy to find two strangers in his place, trespassers, sitting, engaged in a tense conversation, as if one of them owned the place. He stood at the other end of the open room, demanded to know what the hell we were doing in his house. He may have had a shotgun, if not pointed at us, at hand, it might have been a baseball bat. He was about to call the police, told us he’d let us explain to the cops (his good friends) what the hell we’re doing in his house. I was at a loss for words, start gesticulating toward the dog, began to say something.

The man looks at the dog, as if seeing it for the first time, and it is clearly love at first sight. The dog immediately goes over to the guy who starts petting the dog and ruffling its fur. The man is happy, the dog is happily wagging its tail and gladly accepting the affection. The sheepish, angry black guy leaves quietly through the opposite door with his dog as this is going on. I’m sitting there, relieved to no longer be a suspect or in any jeopardy, watching the man and the dog happily enjoying each other. Everything is suddenly clear, the right thing is happening, no need to explain anything to the man and his new best friend. If anything, the guy will express gratitude toward me when I get up to leave.

I remember a great feeling of peace, of being in a universe where everything is in its place, for the right reason. The feeling was with me when I woke up. It is with me, a little bit, as I write these words.

I woke up (this was maybe three weeks ago) thinking “damn!” and feeling amazed about this dream long after I woke up. It has stayed quite vividly in my memory ever since, very rare for even my best dreams.

I wonder how long it has been since I pictured anything besides troubling, dangerous things inevitably turning to shit, the worst playing out in an escalating death spiral, inevitable as the next bit of widely broadcast lying propaganda enflaming angry, stressed out people on both sides.

The possibility of love and connection and things working out wonderfully for everybody — it hasn’t really gone anywhere, odd to say. It’s just that we’re living in disorienting times, beaten down by a long relentless war to keep unfairness firmly in place and we can hardly remember a time when it wasn’t this relentlessly bitter and threatening, no longer even dreaming of the possibility of things not being exactly as angry as they are right now, or worse.

You’re in trouble, you explain (no words needed), you are understood, no longer in trouble. Instead you get to watch the first flush of new love playing in front of your eyes, everybody getting what they need. Not a bad win-win, I’d say.

[1]

NOTE (from my drawing book):

dog dream

happy ending

dog adopted by guy about to call cops

former owner had no excuse

A visit from el perro negro

At a particularly depressing and anxious time for the human race like the one we find ourselves in now, depression and anxiety are understandable. It is hard to stay optimistic in the face of prolonged social isolation, a still raging incurable disease that can kill you, lies and denial of reality in the service political brutality, cascading climate catastrophe and all the rest. The hanging out with friends, family and likeminded strangers that used to remind us of the other side of life is now dangerous, must be approached with caution, if at all.

Social media, texts and emails are no substitute for personal contact with people you like. People think you are insane (and they are probably justified) if you send them a hand-written letter in the mail. Sekhnet, a self-proclaimed happy hermit, is relatively fine with cheerful random encounters with strangers, by phone or socially distanced and masked. At times I find myself wistful about the ongoing lack of connection with others.

I’ve been aware of not falling into the trap of despair. The world is the world, always full of danger and challenges, and though fear may grab us hard sometimes, and doubt, and all the other dark things of this world, it is best to keep in mind all the rest, the sweetness of life that keeps us grateful for every lifegiving breath we take.

The world is also change, all life is constantly moving, evolving, changing. This shit too will pass, surely, and once the pandemic is over we’ll hang out together to talk about it and laugh in relief to have survived it.

There is hard work to be done fixing a lot of things that are badly broken, I’d like to help. I hope to figure out how to lend a hand, throw my back into it. I feel like I’ve been doing OK emotionally, the usual complaints (the arthritis in my left knee is getting to be a real pain) aside.

Last night I cheerfully dialed an old friend, to check in, to resume my long habit of checking in with distant friends. I’d decided not to talk for long, just hear how he was doing, hopefully have a laugh (he’s a funny bastard) as I exercised my ailing legs outside in what was suddenly a mild evening. I got his voice mailbox, which was full.

I suddenly remembered the weight he carries, responsible for the livelihoods of literally hundreds of people in his badly stressed organization, dozens of whom must call his cellphone daily. It was too late to ring his home phone, his wife goes to bed early and it was already almost 10:00. Figured I’d call the home line tonight, after the dinner hour, see how they’re doing.

Watched an episode of David Attenborough’s brilliantly presented (and beautifully shot) Planet Earth on Netflix, had a moment of despair about what human greed has made of the oceans and deep seas (which contain 95% of the earth’s life, I think I heard), but mostly, we marveled at the weird and wonderful beauty of nature and the gentle, wise presentation of it . Here’s a nice montage from the wonderful limited series.

Sekhnet and I went upstairs, played few rounds of Wordscapes on my phone and I tucked Sekhnet for the night (so she could spend the next hour learning Chinese in Duolingo).

Then sometime after I did a little watercoloring (a variation on the figure below):

washed the dishes, got myself a cold drink and sat down to prop my leg up and watch a dark crime show, I became aware that the Black Dog had crept into the room with me.

I’d truly forgotten all about el perro negro.

“Remember me, motherfucker?” asked the black dog.

I did, indeed. Everything was suddenly hopeless. Why bother calling my friend? I’d destroyed my life, utterly, the whole thing a series of stupid mistakes I’d keep making until the end. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about your precious, polished, meaningless, unmonetized hobbies. The world is only a depressing antechamber to certain, terrible death. Nothing is ever going to work out well, you’ll see. Everyone who ever said they loved you was lying, and they proved it, in spades; everyone you love, dead. Evil triumphs in this world and if you think it doesn’t — fuck you, I’ll slit your ugly face. Look around, asshole.

“Forgot how persuasive I am?” asked el perro negro, stinking faithfully at my feet.

Not for a second.

I took two Tylenol PMs (discovered by Sekhnet’s insomniac cousin recently) and waited for the stabbing in my left knee to subside. Within an hour I was drowsy, went up to bed. Today, no sign of the black dog, though I can still smell his wet, cloyingly pungent fur. I’d forgotten all about the motherfucker, actually.

Dog on a string

Sit back and enjoy the groove of Paul Greenstein’s original track. Composition, arrangement, engineering and all instruments by Paul. This is the great tune I jammed to here, back in April, 2006.

Paul explains the title, in a way:

The only thing I might suggest would be an explanation of the title ‘Dog on a string’.

During the 70’s and early 80’s in the UK, there was a certain type of festival (for example Stonehenge and early Glastonbury), that attracted a certain type of festival-goer; a rebel, non-conformist, ‘free spirit’, counter-culture type of person. Dreads, grubby denim, beads etc. Sometimes referred to as a ‘Crusty’, due to a propensity to get covered in mud (think classic British Festival Weather), the mud would then dry, leaving a crust, gettit? Driving and often living in an old school bus, ex-post-office van, or similar (called a ‘bender’), this person would often have a canine companion, usually a skinny bitsa (bitsa this, bitsa that). Eschewing anything as conservative as a  ‘proper’ dog lead, a piece of string would be used. Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with the track itself, and probably even less to do with the vocal, for which I still don’t have a translation.

Actual history – in 1985, Margaret Thatcher sent in the police to disperse a band of ‘new age travelers’ heading towards Stonehenge festival. The resulting brutality is known as the Battle of the Beanfield.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Beanfield

For a bit more of more recent Paul, clickez-vous Plague Mice. a 10,000 mile collaboration from May 2020.

Another collaboration, from around 2009: Now Before I Gliss (Paul with some evocative playing on fretless glissentar).

A Little Reminder About Moods

Moods come and go, and are often subject to actual events in your life. It is good to keep this transience in mind when a painful mood is oppressing you, when it feels like a particularly hard emotion will keep you in its grip forever. Moods feel irrefutable, but the ones produced by raging stress often start succumbing to reason after a good night’s sleep. It’s hard to keep this in mind while the emotion is strong, when it’s hard to even get to sleep, but I think practice may help.

Sekhnet and I recently saved the lives of five tiny feral kittens. They’d been dropped in Sekhnet’s garden by a shrewd mother cat, a cat we didn’t know, who abandoned them to the care of the provider of the neighborhood’s best cat buffet. Once Sekhnet inadvertently allowed one of them to eat. The good looking little cat caught her eye before he left.

The next day the tiny alpha kitten was back, demanding food on behalf of himself and his four larger siblings. He simply would not take no for an answer.

After Alpha made his successful appeal, the others followed. Sekhnet got a good shot of three of his four bothers and sisters, coming out of their hiding place and marching toward the feeding area.

That day they all began eating two hearty meals a day in the garden, exploring and hanging out all over the place, much to the disgust of the five adult feral cats who already lived on, and had fought for control of, that turf. Here they are, led by tiny, indomitable Alpha Mouse, in the male pear tree. Naturally he was the first one up the tree. He’s looking down on them in this shot.

The disorienting pandemic lockdown was on and we took on the saving of these five tiny lives as a kind of mission. Over the years we’d watched dozens of feral cats and kittens we got to know live short, often brutal lives, many of our favorites living only a couple of months. We decided we’d try our best to save these five.

Sekhnet fed and played with them a bit in the garden every day. She took many great photos of the little beauties. I would go out and sit with them late at night, little Alpha didn’t mind being picked up, would sit calmly on my lap from the beginning. They all learned to chase the little cat cookies I’d toss them and eventually to eat them out of our hands. Once the first couple were fairly tame (Alpha’s brother Beta followed in the little leader’s footsteps) Sekhnet designed an ingenious trap, scooped them all up at once and brought them inside where they lived in a large comfortable cage she’d found online. We then set about getting the others used to being picked up and petted. They all took to it quickly.

They were surprisingly happy with the cage, which had several levels and a little workout area where they could take turns pounding a couple of light speed bags. We took them out and handled them one at a time, petted them, won them over, made them all pets. In the end we brought them to a great adoption center we finally found and every one of them was soon adopted as a pet. Naturally Alpha was the first to be adopted, after a very short stay at the shelter, his first day out of quarantine, I think. The rest were all quickly adopted in the days that followed.

We’d done a good deed, we knew we couldn’t keep them around, our plan from the start was to get them adopted to have good lives but we were emotionally devastated that first night, after our friend rented a van and helped us transport them to the shelter in Freeport. They had all come to trust us, and were affectionate and playful, and incredibly cute. We’d grown very attached to having them around. Then they were gone. The house seemed so empty. We cried looking at their many portraits and film clips that first night.

But here is the point I want to make. The pain, though intense, did not last long. By the next day it was much easier, within two days easier still. The good deed we’d done lingered, the painful goodbye to them didn’t. It is something worth remembering when you feel heartbroken sometimes. Painful feelings truly do pass, sometimes surprisingly quickly.

I think of our horror (mine and Sekhnet’s, millions of others were delighted) on election night, at how close the vote was, at the real chance that America’s long experiment in democracy was finally and definitively at an end. At least five million MORE of our countrymen had come out to vote a second time for the most deliberately divisive, untruthful, vindictive, angry, litigious president this nation has ever had. Women, it emerged, had voted for Trump in larger numbers in 2020 than 2016! Women! Hispanic (desculpe me, Latinx) votes seem to have put him over the top in Texas and Florida. The real possibility that this raging winner could win the election and triumphantly rule as lawlessly as he sees fit set Sekhnet to sobbing into her ginger beer. I felt sick too, could not get to sleep.

In the days before the election, as the pandemic continued to rage out of control in most of the country, and new records for infections and deaths were broken day after day, the president confidently (and lyingly) declared victory over the disease that was killing record numbers in the states he won. Mission Accomplished! His maskless crowds roared their approval. On election night the agitated depression we felt was impossible to refute. It was based on the unwanted truth that we are living in a nightmare where the stubbornly reinforced, aggressive stupidity of millions of our fellow citizens, proud “values voters,” impervious to evidence even if it comes up and chokes their family members to death, is unfathomable.

The day after Election Day, as the incoming vote totals were being disputed by a president who had already strongly suggested he was declaring victory, even as he announced his intention to dispute his loss in the 6-3 Supreme Court he’d created, the media (the lying media, die Lügenpresse) was quietly publishing items like these. No longer really headlines, as much as wistful reminders:

I think bitterly that if Trump’s pandemic plan had really worked, letting the pandemic kill millions of “Democrat” voters of color in “Democrat” cities, cutting off needed financial aid to the increasingly large numbers of poor to create mass desperation and massive crime sprees, riots, looting and the need for Bill Barr’s Bureau of Prisons and ICE forces to violently clamp down on “Democrat” cities, (perhaps deploying even the military itself under the Insurrection Act,) he could have proved his wildest “law and order” theory about antifa and anarchy and black rights groups, killed and locked up enough of his enemies to actually win the Electoral College, even if he again lost the “popular vote” by millions. His open conspiracy with political supporter and mega-donor Louis DeJoy, who openly sabotaged the delivery of predominantly Democratic votes, alone, could have won him the election. It could still, unlikely as it now appears.

As the vote counting continues, Trump insisting that counting in areas he leads but is in danger of losing must be halted immediately while demanding recounts in states he has already lost (fair is fair), it looks less and less likely that the president has a path to 270. As my cousin wrote me from the great state of Georgia today:

It’s too close, but I think the only way Trump gets to 270 is if he loses 50 lbs. 

My point in all this — as Biden gets closer and closer to the 270 needed to win, as horrific as it is that almost 70,000,000 Americans seem to have voted for Donald Trump — and a majority of white women! (maybe the misogynists have a point…) as Trump’s path to the 6-3 Supreme Court seems more and more far-fetched — today feels much different than Tuesday evening.

Biden is far from my idea of an inspirational president, the Democratic party is not anyone’s idea of a meaningful political opposition party. One side radically employs any means necessary to maintain power and force its minority views on the majority of country — and that side is not the corporate Democrats. The Democratic party, as a party, is about as committed to the economic status quo as the Republican party always was. Still, Joe Biden is not Donald Trump — the main reason maybe 75,000,000 of us will have ended up voting for him.

Once he is sworn in, hopefully with a 50-50 Senate where Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaker (though even that modest goal of flipping four Senate seats likely won’t be achieved) we will have to set up committees of correspondence, organize, mobilize, stay in the streets, be smart in messaging, push, push, push. We will still be pushing a reluctant centrist against the dogged resistance of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham — and every single elected and appointed member of their unified, radical party– as sickening as that thought is.

We need to stay positive and proactive, of course. If we push hard enough, you never know. The midterm primaries in 2022 may even feature meaningful Democratic party debates about how to avoid rapidly approaching fatal Climate Catastrophe. The escalating danger of global warming is even further down the page today than the new record COVID numbers, though the threats are equally dangerous. We don’t have much time to fix any of this, and four years have just been worse than just wasted — we need to ride President Biden like the affable, probably well-intentioned donkey he is.

My point though: it feels better today to be an American (for a bare majority of us), and much more hopeful, than it did two days ago.

A Lesson in Death

A friend who knew a lot about cats told us it was a shame the wild little beauty who was sitting at our feet, just out of reach, had been untouched by humans for the first months of her life. Once they are feral you can’t really get too close to them, she told us. This kitten came to trust us and eventually love being petted by us (when she felt like it, of course). She became our outdoor pet.

One day, in the first spring of her life, before she was even six months old, she marched her first litter of tiny lookalikes out of the bushes, to show Sekhnet to them. She will feed you when I’m done, she told them, and it came to pass.

Sekhnet was horrified when Mama Kitten chased her first kittens out of the garden. They’d been weaned, and learned to get food from humans (and to hunt a bit as well) and suddenly Mama was driving them away, quite savagely. What a bitch! said Sekhnet. We started to learn about cats in nature, nature which is as cruel as it is kind.

Mama Kitten was tough. She had to be to survive out there. She gave birth to her next litter shortly after banishing her first.

Over the next three years she gave birth to many more, producing more than twenty beautiful little kittens in her first four years of life. Few survived very long — five that we know of.

We hesitated to give them names, because it would create more attachment and make their deaths more personal, somehow. Sekhnet began giving descriptive names only, so we had a way of referring to them as they had their adventures in the garden.

Of Mama’s second to last litter of four, two daughters, Little Girl and White Back, survived. They occupy the garden to this day. The girls stood together, refusing to be intimidated by their mother, the first to do that, and both survive.

Here is the dominant one, Little Girl (left), with her two brothers, Turtleback and Whitefoot, fine little cats who had very short lives.

In the end, with the help of an almost insanely dedicated cat rescuer, we were able to trap Mama Kitten and the others and have them spayed, and the father (we assume) neutered as well. For a year and a half we’ve had a stable little colony in the garden. It was disrupted briefly a couple of months ago by five adorable little ferals whose mother abandoned them by the best cat buffet in the neighborhood. We managed to catch, domesticate and find homes for all five.

One day, not long ago, Little Girl, who always stayed close to her mother (they were known as the Driveway Bitches for their ruthless shakedowns for treats) and had always deferred to her mother in all things, snatched some food from her. I instantly intervened, and Mama finished what she was eating, but the writing was on the wall.

A day or two later a friend noticed one of Mama’s eyes looked a little funny. A few days later she lost interest in food, even the favorites Sekhnet brought to her. She took to one of the houses we made, staying warm. Then, one rainy, miserable night a couple of days ago she disappeared. Little Girl was now sleeping in her house.

We figured Mama Kitten had crawled off to die somewhere, probably in the nearby strip of wooded area across the service road. She was not yet six years old, but feral cats live much shorter lives than pampered indoor cats.

I had intended to write about her death yesterday, but somehow I didn’t get to it. Last night, after we moved the car for the firs time in a few days, to do some shopping, we found out what happened to Mama Kitten. She’d made it as far as the narrow space behind the car, before breathing her last. I put her in a box, closed the flaps carefully, and carried her a short distance to a wooded area where Sekhnet covered her coffin with branches full of dry leaves.

We spent the next few hours looking for photos of this beautiful cat. Here is the hero shot:

I thought at first that the lesson of Mama Kitten’s death was the simple reminder that we all must die, that it is part of nature and that a creature who showed no signs of being sick (she could jump up on to her petting table until the end) knew when to accept the approach of Death and when to go gracefully with it.

During these fearful days when the possibility of our own deaths is closer than usual, I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Mama Kitten’s death was a reminder of the pain for those left behind. I feel it clutching at my chest as I try to conclude this post with some thoughtful words. The pain is great for this stray cat we cared for, who crawled off to die, and didn’t make it to the woods.

How much more immense is our pain for a human we have known, who has touched our lives, made us laugh, held us when we were afraid?

This long-dead poet says it best, as I recalled with tears when I found it among my emails last night, searching for pictures of Mama Kitten, in her prime.