Archive for the 'cat' Category


A twenty-minute meeting cancelled at the last moment. I snuck outside into the garden; a guilty pleasure of working from home. We’re having a heat wave and the air is flower-fragrant and full of bees, like it is in the south of France.

I took the cats with me. There are rules. Thimble has to wear a collar with a locator tag, because she loves to vault the fence into the neighbors’ gardens. Since last Memorial Day, when she terrified us by staying away a night and a day, her jaunts seldom last more than an hour. But I fret – there are coyotes on our street. The tag lets us play a cheery mechanical tune. Fugitive cat sonar.

Hazel has to wear a harness with a tag on it. She occasionally tries to jump the fence but isn’t as fast or determined as Thimble. It’s easier to pluck her down. The harness is to acclimate her, so that she can be a good college companion animal for kid the elder.

Alice is not required to wear any equipment. She has jumped the fence twice but is mostly an amiable plush bowling ball.

I did some more weeding. There is always weeding. Thimble rolled luxuriantly on the concrete. Hazel sphinxed narrow-eyed on the lawn. I overshot my mini-break by three minutes and had to race back inside. I scooped Hazel and herded Thimble, but Alice was hidden in the Melica imperfecta and I couldn’t locate her in a hurry. I sent Jeremy out for retrieval. He couldn’t find her easily either. When he brought her back in, her fur was brown and hot from the sun, and dusted with pollen.

five images/second fortnight

Marching in the cold rain, my END WHITE SUPREMACY sign sagging, my husband and children festooned with glowstick necklaces, my city jammed with peaceful protestors from Civic Center to the Ferry Building: Market Street one river of loving souls.

The next day, beyond exhausted, crashed out on the couch; shy Alice making her way up onto my chest, quietly as if I might not notice, then crashing out there with me for most of the afternoon. Her fur from which no light escapes. The soft floof that grows out between her toe beans.

Driving up Bernal Hill with Liz to enjoy the raggedy clouds and dramatic light and rainbows. Stopping in silence at Alex Nieto’s memorial, a landslide of flowers.

An emergency drill at NERT to teach us how to self-organize and keep records. Head down counting people in and out of Logistics as incident after incident came in to Planning and Operations; adrenaline and worry and focus and exhilaration. When we got through it, high-fives all round.

At the exquisitely restored Curran Theatre to see Fun Home with my wife and our kids (it’s great; you should go.) The audience filled with lesbians a generation older than us; the ones who cared for men dying of AIDS; my angels, the saints of our city. May I walk in their sacred footsteps.

grounding devices

Dark times etc. Here’s what’s working right now to keep the panic attacks at bay (note effectiveness may cease at any time without warning):

  1. Following beloved institutions on Booky McBookface: Cal Academy, Marine Mammal Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium, SF MOMA
  2. (Making plans out past election day like there’s going to be a future)
  3. I know you think your cats are cute but my cats are super cute okay, I’ve given the matter a lot of thought
  4. The new Mexican place around the corner is full of natural light and delicious food that everyone in our family will eat
  5. I’m still starry-eyed as fuck about this city, man it’s beautiful

alice has foots

Also, her belly is floof. Consider:

bebe by claire

goodbye, bebe

Bebe the Circus Queen

You are my beastie and I will love you for the rest of my life.

american splendor

For a day that began with Hedwig having to be towed to the garage for the third time in a month, today turned out very well. I succeeded in having Front Porch grits for breakfast, I consigned five bags of old clothes and, after I had disposed of the car, we wandered around Bernal in the sunshine and met up with Carol and Tim and Ruby and Zoe and Yoz and Dexter. There are Water Contraptions, made of plumbing parts and galvanized iron basins, outside a house at the top of Alabama Street, that we would never have seen however many times we drove past them.

Yesterday was also memorably splendid: a good ride on Jackson, with one circle where I felt myself weighting the outside stirrup in an effective way; lunch at Inka’s, and being asked my opinion on a saddle by a passer-by who had it in his truck, because he recognized that I was still in my breeches and riding boots;  dropping the kids at their piano classes while meeting Cecil the cross-eyed cat at the SPCA, and being struck by his temperamental likeness to Ross’s Oscar, the nicest cat in the world. Salome took Cecil home. He is now Cecil B. de Milstead.

mess with her at your peril

Tail thrash by yatima
Tail thrash, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

Pictures of cats is what the Internet is for.

one sad, one happy

The night before last I dreamed that I was minding a store and couldn’t make change because the cash register was neatly filled with empty tubes of toothpaste.

Last night I dreamed that Alfie and Sugar were alive, and that they and Bebe were my animal friends and we and the girls were out having adventures. We went to a beautiful island like Kirrin Island, except that it was in Sydney Harbour. I parked Hedwig on the tidal flats and she was flooded, but we floated her to shore and there was magically no damage.

The dreams of Alfie are often especially vivid and concrete. In this one, he was occupied with business of his own but came, obligingly, when I called. I had to adjust his saddle because it had slipped back, and I saw and remembered how the blonde and chestnut hairs grew all crazy and hedgehog at the top of his tail. His red mane was almost a foot long and tangled in the salt spray. I lifted Julia onto him and she wound her hands in its strands.

peak rach

I sat in Cafe XO this morning contemplating my pain au chocolat and my coffee and my unopened Lionel Shriver novel and my forthcoming riding lesson, and I experienced perfect happiness.

Now I am at home after a great lesson and my cat is draped across my collarbones like a mink stole, purring like fule, and Jeremy and the children are off seeing Kung Fu Panda 2 and I am contemplating the hot shower I am about to have.

Rest of my life’s going to be downhill after this, is what I’m saying.

there should be more of it

Really ace weekend. Dinner at Brenda’s Friday night – crawfish beignets zomg – and then Source Code, which was epically popcorn. And then drinks at Yoz’s, where he pulled out his phone and said, “About this blog post: is Juniper Arwen Anemone Sagan Donner Hermes really a real name?” and we said “Oh my God, haven’t we introduced you to the Ximms yet? You’ll love them, they are lovely!”

Saturday I mostly slept. I slept late, went to the farmer’s market with Salome, which these days is mostly sitting outside Sandbox eating beef piroshki and drinking De La Paz coffee and talking about our lives. Then I went home and napped for hours. Then we took the girls swimming and Jules went to Azucena’s party and Claire and Jeremy and I had yummy vegetarian Indian. When I got home Bebe lay on top of me purring and saying “You remember how you slept late and then had a long nap and I got to snuggle with you all day? That was aces.”

This morning I rode Omni with Toni and Colin and jumped VAST FENCES, possibly as high as 2 foot 9. I have undeniably improved. I visited Salome on the way home and played with the boys while she tidied up, then we went back to my place and collected J and the girls and walked up the hill and had lunch in the garden behind Progressive Grounds, and bought books at Red Hill where I took a picture of a job ad for Rose, and visited Good Prospect Community Garden and picked lemons, and met Kathy and Martha out for a walk, and went to Holly Park, and picked up dinner at Avedano’s and now we are home and dinner smells awesome and I am fond of my life.

merry christmas, says bebe

“I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

babbling like happy fule

Such a day I have had! Brunch with Seth and Meryl at Sun Rise, then present shopping for Ada (a sparkly unicorn, of course) then home to paint cat faces on children, and then I went off to ride Bella Bella Bella Bella! Three months of flat work on Scottie and my maniacal determination to fix my lower leg all paid off in a few moments, when I rode her over fences with my ankle against her side and still! I dropped her in a terrible spot in front of a fence and because she is the honestest mare in the world she jumped out of it and because I have a lower leg now it wasn’t even very sticky…

And the rest was balanced and forward and unbelievably freakin FUN! And Erin used me as a GOOD EXAMPLE of how to ride corners with a correct leg! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! Oh! I am still warm and happy at the thought of it!

Then home and up through my lovely neighborhood to Ada’s party where I met all our delightful friends and SLID VERY FAST. Note that I shall no longer attend parties that do not feature slippery slides the length of a city block. Then grocery shopping with a still-cheetah-faced Julia, who greeted her public with great naturalness and charm. Then baths and James May’s Toy Stories and roast chicken and bedtime and Bebe curled up in my arms.

You should try it! It is so great!

ETA: Um. And then something completely amazing happened.

it’s called entity contact, okay?

Jeremy: “So Jimmy Neutron’s parents are going to Burning Duck.”

Rachel: “Our generation? SO OVER.”

J: “Cat? Why are you snappy?”

R: “She needs to go to Burning Cat. And take catnip.”

J: “And there would be laser pointer art. Hey I could do that… Maker project… and choreograph the cats…”

R: “Bebe might have epiphanies on the catnip. She might come to realize there are better ways to express her anger than biting.”

J: “She might start insisting that the catnip comes from outer space.”

R: “I? Am going to kick your ass. Albeit v e r y s l o w l y.”

J (fleeing in slow motion): “It’s okay. Bebe doesn’t even know what redwoods are.”


Stupid cat ate the wet food! And has been quite charming ever since we got her home, setting aside her understandable objections to the meds.

She may need a new epithet. But I won’t rush it. She’s bound to do something awful soon.

friday catblogging

The stupid cat won’t eat wet food. She never has eaten wet food, of course, but I wish she would tonight.

She had her teeth cleaned under a general anaesthetic this morning, and the vet extracted three teeth that had deep lesions and must have been causing her a fair bit of pain. She’s had her teeth cleaned before but she’s an old lady now, and it was hard to drop her off this morning. The gloomy part of me was convinced she would die under the anaesthetic, or at least savage a vet nurse. Or the sky would fall. Rock on, gloomy self! You’re the life of the damn party.

One time when I went to pick her up after she had her teeth done, the stupid cat made me feel like a big shiny hero. She was all cranky and hissing and backed into a corner of her cage, but as soon as she saw me she crept into my arms and purred. The people were wowed by my cat-fu! Today, not so much. She was as pissed off at me as she was at the entire rest of the world, and she wanted us all dead. I had to trick her into her carrying cage by hiding it under a towel.

She’s an expensive waste of space, that cat, and a standing joke among all our friends. (Your cat sends you to the emergency room one time…) I call her my id, and it’s not quite a joke. I like it that she’s beautiful, coal black with yellow-green eyes and the world’s softest fur. But that’s not why I love her. It annoys me that she’s a bitey little bitch, but that makes no difference to how I love her.

I just love her. She doesn’t need to have a point. And if I can feel that way about something small and cranky, I suppose other people can feel that way about me.

some reviews – #7, blink

The scariest, funniest, most heartbreaking, most romantic Doctor Who episode ever.

R: I swear sometimes I think that cat moves when I close my eyes.

J: Don’t be silly.

R: No, look, bite marks!

in sydney

Last week I took Bebe to her annual checkup and saw a new vet. I tried to explain about, you know, that cute little RENDING LIMB FROM LIMB thing that she does.

“So when does she bite?” asked the vet.

“When she’s not getting enough attention,” I said. “Or when she’s getting too much attention.”

I have a similar relationship with this blog. If I haven’t been updating it’s because I have been too happy, or not happy enough. Unfortunately lately it’s been the latter. Fascinating, if disturbing, to see myself fall into a bunch of familiar patterns from the days when I was a crazy miserable loon. There’s an important difference this time, though. Part of my mind is detached from the process: “Oh look, that was an irrational piece of depressive thinking. Hey, check it out, I’m evaluating everything in absolutes again!”

The timing was kinda lucky, if anything about having a broken brain can be lucky, in that it neatly aligned with one of my favourite strategies for coping with stress: fleeing the country. We had a startlingly pleasant sixteen hour flight with the short people – all hail Qantas, world’s most chillin’ airline – and now we’re all in Sydney, gorging on the in-season stone fruit and revelling in the warmth. Of course, it’s pouring, but that just makes the garden smell more Edenic.

Jack said something very melancholy the other day: that leaving your hometown, becoming an expatriate, is the ultimate admission of core loneliness. But the converse is also true. Coming home reminds me that I have many resources, many communities and many friends.

does this seem fair to you?

Bebe Personal Space Invasion Services

Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens

small, good things

I would like to have an editor like Gordon Lish; only, instead of ruthlessly editing my stories, he would write them, then let me collect the accolades, royalties and hot poet wife. Takers?

Me to Julia, idly: Do you like cats?
Julia, intensely: I. Love. Cats.

What I hate most about running is that I end up warm and energized, able to breathe more easily and calmer about whatever is worrying me. It’s so unfair. The odds are totally stacked in its favour. Exercise cheats.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Ballet, storefronts around Union Square have the original, embroidered and jewelled tutus on display. The effect is to make the expensive clothes that are for sale seem drab and dowdy.

Claire: This is my unicorn. These are its legs. And this is its metal claw, for killing.