If I had it to do over again, I would do it over again.


Does it seem like I post about death a lot here? Yeah. Me too. I do other things with my life than go through losing loved ones. But with the world death rate still holding at a whopping 100%, the odds are high that death… it’s going to keep coming up.

We had to put our little furry friend Ruaridh (“Rory”) to sleep yesterday. Which, in unminced words, means we had to decide it was time to ask someone to kill him. The euphemisms, putting him to sleep, letting him go, are fairly clear, but, having gone through it a couple of times now… they miss the weight of what “owners” have to bear. The bright harsh-edged skin and soul-burning reality of it.


In the time leading up, we stare at and cuddle our friend, our little fuzzball, and we have to try and figure out if his life is worth living. We can’t ask him how he feels — or we can, but he can’t tell us. Perhaps he can show us. Although with cats, they’ll hide it from you until they can’t. And by the time they can’t, “bad” is well behind them.

On the day it happens, we have to make the decision that today is the last day of their life. And we have to keep making that choice, over and over. We have to choose their last meals and experiences, pack them in their carrier, take them to the vet, sign papers, and choose the “whens” over and over again. Are you ready to move him onto the absorbent pad, are you ready to begin the sedation, are you ready to give him the final injection… are you ready to say goodbye. There is no going back. He will be gone forever, and you have to decide when.

And you want to scream over and over. No of course I’m not ready. No of course I don’t want to do this. Can I just decide not do this? I don’t want him to die. I want him to live. I want him to stay with us. I want him to stay.

Can’t he just stay?


The loss of a pet hits people severely not because they don’t realize their little friend was a little animal and not a person. It hits us so hard because we love so hard. The volume of love creates the volume of grief. If you felt an ocean of love, your grief can drown you.

tumblr_nll1reznai1uqt7e5o1_500Day one. Explore. Scout potential nap spots.

tumblr_nnzzbnAMJI1urdxmfo1_540Like this one.

We chose Ruaridh with great care. It had been so painful to lose our Chelsea so suddenly, so soon after my dad died. Skittish, we waited over three years before getting another cat. We looked for a young cat, with lots of miles in him, so that we’d have many good years before going through saying goodbye again.

basketrory“I’m fairly sure you have other places you could keep the napkins.”

The best laid plans.

It was not long before Ruaridh showed signs something was wrong. And we have spent the months since the spring and summer — nearly half of our time with him — trying to make that elusive awful something (cancer, most likely) as easy for him to bear as possible. To give him pain-free days and cuddles and brushing and deep fluffy naps and treats, and, thanks to Neil’s dedicated syringe-feeding, a comfortable belly full of food even once he couldn’t eat without help.

tumblr_ny2rbsEClq1urdxmfo1_1280“Your water tastes better.”

sleepycatEvery morning.

He was a little fighter, but some fights you cannot win.

tumblr_nxk76eBha61urdxmfo1_1280“This is for me, yes?”

majesticcat“I’m a majestic bastard.”

I wonder, maybe, if December is bizarrely the best month for awful things to happen. Christmas already has so many big emotions in it, that these giant feelings are somewhat less outsized. So much of the world agrees to try and be kinder to each other. There are softer edges than, say, some Thursday in June, when everyone just has their lives to get on with.


But whenever loss happens, even knowing it is coming, it is no less heartbreaking. We are no less shattered. For us, now, we’ve cried ourselves into dehydration and exhaustion, and we can’t put the pain down.

ruaridhbloggingBut Ruaridh also helped us to believe and understand that we had so much room still in our hearts and family. That after we lost our Chelsea, there were other wonderful cats in the world who could use a good home with a couple of softies like us. And that they could be completely different from her, and we could grow to love them just as much. And we learned that the absolute worst thing can happen, everything we fear can (and might) come true… and we will handle it. And that, if we knew then everything we know now, we would do it all again. Because we loved him and he loved us, and as much as he was lucky to have us, we were lucky to have him.

Because he was a charming little gentleman with a furry belly and a gentle heart.

Tomorrow, we will go and visit some other cats who could use a better shake at life. I won’t say “new” cats, because that makes it sound like we’re making a replacement. And when you have to say goodbye, that is the last thing you feel. You know, deeply, freshly, and correctly, that you will never replace what has been lost. That is was precious, and now it is gone.


“Love is wonderful in that it can never be wasted or used up.  We can never replace the people or animals we have loved, but the love we feel for them can be expanded.  I like to think of love as being stretchy.  It is easy to feel guilty when you start to love a new pet – like somehow that means you love your old friend less.  But when you think of love as being stretchy and able to expand, you can see that there will always be room for everything.  You can love as much as you want.”

~Hyperbole and a Half.

We will go and we will find another little animal who could use our love. A furry someone who might like to come live with us. And we will grow our family again. Because the only way out is through. Because we loved Ruaridh very much. Because he taught us to keep going and keep living. Because he taught us that we have more love to give.

Because love is stretchy.


ETA: When we put Chelsea down, we did it at the vet’s office. With Ruaridh, in part because he was so sick, and in part because he hated being in a car so very much, we found Midtown Mobile Vets.

I cannot recommend them highly enough. Dr. Karen Stekel was outstanding and went well above and beyond to make a horrible experience as unhorrible as it could be. The care she took, the attention she paid and her thoroughness in going through Ruaridh’s medical condition and the decision we were facing were all exceptional.

We are very grateful to them.

Y’know what Universe? Fuck. You.

My dad died suddenly at the end of May. A month later, my husband’s granny died. A few months later, today, my cat is at the vet, with lungs full of fluid, and a very bad prognosis. If we hadn’t got her in, we would have lost her inside of 24 hours. We’ve been warned we may very well still lose her today, or within a few days. After 15 years of being our perfect pet.

So I reiterate:

Dear Universe – FUCK. YOU.

That is all.

Kitty is no one’s fool.

A few weeks ago, kitty had a minor health issue, which meant a trip to the vet, some pills and a diet of their wet food.

Pills were no problem.  Mummy and daddy (“her pushers”) got into a good pillin’ routine.  Every morning and night daddy would turn some snuggles into a wrestling hold, and mummy perfected her aim and long-throw down the gullet.

The problem was the wet food.  Kitteh is our little muffinpants and gets only the best organic pet food (yeah, we roll like that).  As in, it’s made of real ingredients, very little circus animal.

The vet (who are in all other respects amazing) gave us a special formulation of Purina.  I could barely stand the time I had to spend opening the can, portioning it out, and putting her dish on the floor.  It smelled like feet.  Angry, evil feet.

I tried to develop some fast PR skillz.  Talking it up to her as I put it down.  “Yummy yummy wet food!”  “Oh boy, here comes the foot stank macerated pig snouts!” (<-what?  She’s a cat.  It’s all about the tone.  I had good tone.)

No dice.

I’d put the dish down, and she would stop walking towards it.  One paw still in the air, mid-stride.  And she’d shoot me a look that very clearly said: “are you fucking kidding me?”

When daddy fed her he would actually try picking her up and putting her down in front of her dish.  Patting her, and nudging her towards the bowl.  He got more elaborate than me, and tried to shame her “you know, when I was a kid, and we were feeding MrMuffin, he loved his wet food so much that I would hold it up here, like this, and he would try and jump up to get it.”

“Well why don’t you feed this horsecrap to MrMuffin then, I’ll be in my room.”

We told the vet about her insolence, and they said the most important thing is that she eat, not that she eat the wet food.  So essentially, they told us that in their professional opinion, kitteh had thrown an effective temper tantrum, and that we should give in and buy her whatever candy she wanted as long as she’d stop making a scene.

Kitteh: 1, team of grown-ups: 0.  Why am I not surprised.

Get out of my head Patrick!

We have this “friend”.  Let’s call him “Patrick”.*

*because that’s his name

Anyways, “Patrick” likes animals.  Specifically dogs and cats.  Or, as “Patrick” calls them “puppehs and kittehs”.

Pat has a fairly distinctive way of saying “puppeh” and “kitteh”.  His voice goes all low, and he says it sort of like he can only move his mouth a little bit, and then he drags out the “eh” part at the end.

When he spots a cute instance of said”puppeh” or “kitteh”, he says “oh look at the puppeh[hhhh]”.

And damned if I don’t now do exactly the same thing.  Only I don’t even do it in my own voice anymore.  I do it in effing Patrick’s voice.

Even when I don’t say it out loud.  Even when I’m just /thinking/ it, I /hear/ it in Patrick’s voice.  In. my. head.


Kitteh wears teh pants (and teh sheets).

Friday afternoon is clean-the-house time.  Kitteh knows this.  Friday afternoon is when I like to strip the bed and wash the sheets.  Kitteh knows this too.

And still, she plays dumb.  Because kitteh likes to hang out on the bed.

I walk into the bedroom, and say “sorry kitteh”, and she looks up at me with her big green eyes, like “what? what’re you sorry about?”

Then I gently pick her up and attempt to transplant her to another of her spots in the house (my sweater, my blanket, my office chair… feel free to notice a theme).  Sometimes she ‘sticks’, and looks like she’s going to just resume her nap/bath/lounge.

I strip the bed, and put the first batch of sheets in the wash.  When it’s time for the second batch, inevitably, /inevitably/, she will be back on the bed, perched on the top of batch two.  “Oh hai!”

Transplant cat again.

When it’s time for the third batch, guess where kitteh is?  Oh yeah, back on her perch.  “What’s up?”

Then we take a break from the cat re-location program.  That is, until it’s time to re-make the bed.  Man, oh, man.

Take sheets into bedroom.

Cat jumps on naked mattress.  “What?”

Move cat.

Put on mattress cover.  “Are you done yet?”

Move cat.

Put on fitted sheet.  “I can has nap now?”

Move cat.

Put on flat sheet.  “Moars?”

Move cat.

You see where I’m going with this.

My best guess is that she’s trying to make sure that the absolute minimum amount of time elapses between the (all white) sheets being clean and fresh, and her rubbing her black furry self all over them.  Must. Mark. Sheets.  She’s hardwired.

I get about 5 minutes a week when my white sheets are all pretty and crispy.  She’s lucky she’s cute.

Or kitty thinks I’m not eating enough.

You know your life is going well when you rarely use your peripheral vision.  That you are living relatively ant, cockroach, spider-free, when you think you might have seen something out of the corner of your eye and you ignore it.

You know you are dealing with intruders when shifts and scurries cause you to snap your neck around, stand up, and reach for the spray, the tissue, or, in our current situation, the empty Balzac’s coffee cup.

Take a minute to consider.  What goes in an empty Balzac’s coffee cup?

I’ll give you a hint.

It has four legs, a tail, and your cat doesn’t always bring it to you fully dispatched.

Oh yeah.  We gots mice.

Three to be exact.  Or rather, we have /had/ three.  Kitteh has really stepped up to the plate.  When she met her first mouse (a one-off in the other apartment) I had to point it out, and then walk her through it (“this is it champ, this is what you’re here for”).

This time she’s on it.  Quick, deadly, efficient.  No muss, no fuss, just carcass.

Well, maybe a little fuss.

Kitteh has a routine.  Every evening, when she thinks it’s bedtime, she brings us one of her toys.  It’s adorable.  Because she talks to us the whole way, but it’s all muffled because she has something in her mouth.  So it sounds something like: “Meowlf? Meowlf? Meowlf?”

Making it clear that the “toy” label is strictly a human thing, she recently walked down the hallway to my office making this adorable little noise (“Meowlf?”) … and carrying something that was less “toy” and more “still-struggling-for-freedom-small-animal”.

I pep-talked her through the final kill.  Then popped it into the aforementioned empty Balzac’s coffee cup and took it to the trash.

By sheer coincidence, I have happened to have empty paper coffee cups around the house when dead mice are presented to me.  This is unusual, since I pretty much always bring a mug.  But sometimes…

Husband and I dropped by Balzac’s on the weekend.  And I joked that it was bad mojo to keep the empty cups in the house, because empty cups are mice omens.

This morning I was walking out of my office when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a piece of string sticking out from under my chair.  By the time I got to the kitchen the other empty coffee cup had dropped, and I realized what it most likely actually was.

I got back, and confirmed that the bit of string sticking out from under the chair was, in fact, a bit of string that was actually a tail, attached to the rigid little body of a rigid little dead mouse that had been neatly tucked under the chair.  Kitteh had brought me a present.  Gift-wrapped in the chairskirt.

I called Husband, who laughed over how lucky I am to be the cat’s favourite.  He also pointed out that we had not in fact taken the recycling out on Sunday, and that if I looked, there was an empty Balzac’s coffee cup in there.

I hate it when I’m right.

What I’m most concerned about now, is that the barrista double-cupped Husband’s drink.  So what we actually had in our recycling bin was two empty coffee cups, though only one lid.

Having kicked back with “Live and Let Die” last night, I can’t help but feel that this is a gruesome gruesome foreshadowing of something else I’m going to find.  If a cup+lid signifies a whole mouse, a cup alone signifies… *shudder*

PJ Progression.

I am home-based these days (as opposed to cube-based). Which makes me so happy I don’t have the words.

Home-based means you don’t run out the door in the morning. It means you don’t have to shove yourself out of bed. It means homecooked food, flexible days, and the ability to say “it’s gorgeous today! I’m going to go outside.” (<-how broken is it if in a whole day you can’t /go outside/ for 2 minutes).

It also means a certain… laxness to the wardrobe. In my previous positions, the contracts have usually made at least a passing mention to ‘appropriate business attire’. In my last contract, that’s actually the exact phrase. In the midst of: “…shall conform to the Client’s business policies, standards and conventions, including personnel standards. These include… appropriate business attire.” And when I’m working in an office, I adhere to these rules.*

But my kitty enforces no such rules. Her only standard is “something that means I can loll about on your knees without you throwing me off”. Her bar is low (which makes sense, as she’s really short — har dee har).

And my EF also doesn’t seem to give a toss. He has this whole “but you’re always beautiful” attitude which never ceases to amaze me. (<-and also leads me to test him. I like to seek him out when I’m at my most unsexy and be all “what about now?”. The little bugger always says yes.**)

Which leaves me entirely to my own whims and inclinations. MWAHAHAHA…

But I observed the other day that outside of “comfy”, what I end up wearing is less ‘planned’, and more ‘evolved’.

I get up in the morning around when the EF does, make him coffee and something for breakfast (usually). And then he leaves. And what I /should/ do is have a morning routine. A whole shower, make-the-bed, wash the dishes, get dressed sort of thing (not in that order). But I don’t. Almost unfailingly blameable on the computer. Because I make myself breakfast, and instead of eating it and then getting on with my day in a focused way, I sit down to “just reply to that one email”. Then I reply to a few emails. And check my rss feed. And watch something on YouTube. Work on a project. Chat with someone(s) on GMail. And before you know it, it’s noon:30 and I’m still going through my day by cobbling it together.

And, by extension, my outfit.

I start of in some form of pj. And then in amongst the emailing, rssing and breakfasting, I gradually add and replace layers until I end up enough clothes of the right variety that I can call myself “dressed”.

Take yesterday. Where by mid-afternoon I was wearing the socks I threw on in the morning (when I got out of bed to make EF breakkie), a pair of his torn sweatpants (which I adore and have officially adopted), a tshirt, a pair of loafers (my feet were chilly), and a small cashmere cardigan I bought secondhand.

Not one of these items matched. Though a good many of them were clean (<-it’s all about the small victories). Pale pale mauve sweater, black shirt, heather grey sweatpants with a fluorescent yellow and pink Nike logo (and bleach stains), white socks, hemp loafers. Oh, and a clip to keep my hair out of sight and mind.

Cuh-luh-assy. 🙂 For some reason, I just don’t look like the lady in the Ikea catalogue in her home office. But I think I’m okay with that, as she looks like she’s lost all perspective on appropriate use of caffeine.

*Though at my last job, I did somehow got the reputation of having a little too much ‘personality’ in my Friday wardrobe (there is nothing wrong, and very much right, with a Kozyndan tshirt of a bunny wearing headphones). And a smidge too little Yorkville in my weekly wardrobe (I will not wear heels to work. I will wear appropriate, good-looking shoes. But you’ll find me wearing heels to appease a boss over my cold dead flats-wearing body.)

**That is not to say he’s a love-blind idiot. If I make a something-in-my-teeth face, and my hair is greasy and I’ve just spilled pasta sauce down my front, he will concede that I’m not looking my “best”. 🙂