Sunday Confessional: lost and found

Today I took advantage of the last day of warm weather before the coming week of frigid temperatures and spent time outside cleaning flower beds. The last several years I’ve kinda been on a gardening strike and let things run wild. That laziness plus the neighbors’ enormous, beautiful pine trees that loom over our yard, distributing tons of boughs, needles, and pine cones, resulted in quite the mess.

In fact, as I excavated the debris I came across something I’d temporarily forgotten was there: our cat Lebowski‘s grave marker. I’d tried in vain to locate it in January when Zebu was here. Even though I knew where it was, I couldn’t find it beneath the layers of needles and cones. That saddened and made me feel a bit disloyal to my feline friend. So when my hand brushed against the slab of flagstone this afternoon, I experienced a moment of confusion followed by a flood of memories.

Lebowski was a wonderful cat.

The Dude in June of 2009

This photo is a bit misleading because he was an indoor cat although I let him outside with me now and again for supervised outings (and he spent his final months outside with me as much as possible). What isn’t misleading about this photo is that The Dude was a very large fellow.

I’m grateful to have located his grave again. Unfortunately, the words and dates we’d inscribed on the flagstone have worn away, but the marker is now in full sight and I intend to keep it that way. In honor of our magnificent Lebowski, temporarily lost and now found again.

Family Additions

Our hearts broke when we had to say goodbye to Lebowski and his awesome dudeness, and I can still close my eyes and feel the purring weight of him on my outstretched hand. Lebowski and his energy were unique, yet that energy was a subset of Feline Energy, and after he was gone I didn’t just miss him, but also the energy that only comes from cats.

Please welcome Loki:

The consummate trickster.

The consummate trickster.

and his brother Marcel:

"Give me a thick rubber band and I'm a happy guy."

“Give me a thick rubber band and I’m a happy guy.”

They are wonderful cats and I look forward to sharing their escapades, but for now here’s a major insight: A benefit to having one all-black and one all-white cat is that the high contrast makes it easy to see who’s doing what during wrestling matches:

Marcel bunny-punching Loki's head.

Marcel bunny-punching Loki’s head.


Friday Five: The Farewell-to-Lebowski Edition

On Wednesday, July 10, we said goodbye to Lebowski. We adopted The Dude (known as “Harry” on his adoption papers) from the Dumb Friends League in November of 2004. I went to the shelter with the intent of adopting another female cat (I’d had two females before, Diva and Isis), and instead ended up with the friendliest (male) cat I’d ever met.

Lebowski would run ahead of us and flop down on the floor, inviting us to rub his tummy. At which time, he’d purr in the loudest tones. Writhing in ecstasy.Lebowski 027Making that constant contactWhen people came to the house, he’d hang back a minute or two but then stroll out to make introductions. Lebowski viewed everyone as potential friends and ear-scratchers.Batman and Lebowski 002He had a good relationship with Coco (pictured below) and Zoey, the two shelter dogs we adopted in the year after he joined us. He tolerated their sniffing and nuzzling, and he repaid them with friendly swats on their heads from where he perched atop their crates.Dogs and Cat 026This summer was The Gift of Lebowski. Expectations were that he’d die in May but he stayed with us for almost another ten weeks. I spent most of the summer with him. Lots of time on the bed or couch, but increasingly either on the deck, the patio, or wandering the backyard. He had quality of life as he watched (and sometimes chased) the butterflies and stalked beetles. In the final days, he was happy to curl up beneath the yarrow and valerian where he could observe everything around him. Lebowski 004I like to say that Lebowski won the lottery when we brought him home because for the rest of his life he had four devoted friends who loved on him and satisfied his hedonism. But that lottery feeling went both ways. I’m forever grateful the female cat I’d picked out to meet/adopt didn’t want anything to do with me and that the shelter volunteer then said, “You know who’s a really nice cat you should meet . . .”

Words can’t do him justice.

The Dude and Books and Me

I’ve been offline for the past month, mostly because I’ve been spending time with my cat Lebowski. Five weeks ago we found out he is terminally ill, and my heart shattered when I thought it was only a matter of days before I had to say goodbye. Instead, we’ve been gifted all this extra time so I’m soaking up the love while I still have the chance. Trying hard to ignore the heartbreak in my future.

Lebowski is one of the most loving felines I’ve ever known and he wants to be close to me all the time. He’s either on my lap or curled against my leg (he even sits next to my head while I do my planks, enduring the extra-loud Green Day I blast for motivation). He likes being outside so we sit on the deck beneath an old shower curtain I’ve rigged to give us shade, his tail gently flicking as he watches birds in the yard and squirrels running along the fence. I caress my kitty and listen to his purr, trying hard not to think too far into the future. Trying hard to stay in the moment, memorizing the arch of his neck when he’s angling for the best scratch. Memorizing the silky feel of his tail sliding through my fingers and the sight of the long-long whiskers that grew on a once-wide cat.

Because Lebowski likes me stationary, I’ve been doing LOTS of reading. The writing hasn’t been happening, in part because when I work at my standing desk, the kitty comes in and meows up at me until I get down on the floor and rub his tummy. Instead, I’ve read stacks of books (lots of them good and others not-so-good) these past weeks. It feels right to read other writers’ words while I fill my heart with Lebowski.

Mostly I’m trying hard to remember that while this isn’t the long happily-ever-after I’d hoped for when Lebowski came into my life, every day with him is a gift.

The Dude in June of 2009

The Dude in June of 2009

Cat Scratch Fever


mullets, goldfinches, etc 018

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.
Joseph Wood Krutch


Batman and Lebowski


This morning as Zebu and I drove to his friend's house to pick him up for school,
we passed a house with trash cans set out at the curb. 

And next to those trash cans, was Something Unexpected.

We picked up Zebu's friend and then drove back past the trash cans.
I stopped and after a hurried consultation, Zebu jumped out and grabbed The Caped Crusader.

                                                                                                         © Tracy Abell 2011
I offered Zebu and his friend dibs, but neither was willing to carry him through the school halls.
Not to mention their uncertainty about him fitting in their lockers.

So Batman came home with me and Lebowski hissed when he got his first look,
but The Dude's over it now.

I'm thinking today is going to be a very special day.


Garden Critters


Spotted this guy sunning himself on the patio this morning:

And here’s Lebowski lounging in the sedum:

He didn’t even notice the snake,
and neither did the dogs.

It’s scary when I’m the most observant on a Monday morning.

Monday, Monday


Just got back from my PT appointment
at which I received strict instructions to not run for a week.
It’s now official: I will not be running the BolderBoulder on Memorial Day.

                                                                                                                     © 2010 Zippy

(Lebowski wasn’t planning on running this year so I have no idea why he looks so grumpy).

Yes, Virginia, there is a sun


Despite the evidence out the window right now
and despite the past couple weeks,
Colorado does get sun.

I’d love some more sunshine.
My mental health would appreciate it, too.
We had some yesterday and we can have it again.

Come on, Sun,
do your thing!