Monthly Archives: March 2012

Maggie in our Midst…

Yes, indeed, we do have a new feline with us, a new kitty after the unfortunate demise of our beloved Fenway.

Fenway, even with all his neuroses, was a lovely and loving cat. He thoroughly enjoyed having his belly rubbed, no matter the location of  his fellow human occupants.

You could be sitting on the john, rubbing your eyes, waiting for the first morning pee (and just dying for that first cup o’ joe!), and there he would be, appearing out of nowhere, laying supine, awaiting a scritch. Obligingly, you bend over and give him some rubs, to which a few rare purrs were to be heard.

But now, a new cat is amongst us. Maggie. And boy, is she a handful…and a delight! At first, she was a ghost cat, for no one had any idea where she was. With good reason, I suppose, given the immense presence of Boo, our resident behemoth of a black cat. And then there is Miles, a mere whisper of a feline compared to Boo, but no less a compelling countenance.

But now, after a mere week, all three kitties get along quite handsomely. To some degree. At least Maggie is tolerated. That’s her, to the left. A lovely Calico, with a demeanor that matches her markings. Well, not truly a Calico, as not a hint of white is visible. We like to say that she has ‘tortitude’, the particular attitude given to tortoise-shell colored kitties.

Sinewy and wary at 9 months, she has proved to be a love, and we have welcomed her with open arms and hearts into our home.

Boo, though, still questions her motives…

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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Uncommon Courtesy…

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When engaged in a brisk walk along a trail, one is witness to a variety of flora and fauna alike. At times though, it’s too bad that plants and trees and bushes do not possess vocal chords, for I’m quite certain that if they did, they would greet us with a hearty hello.

Which brings me to the main point of this post; is it so hard for another human being to utter a monosyllabic word in your direction?

Whatever happened to a simple “Hi!”?

Julie and I frequent this lovely stretch of land, known as the Westville Dam, a beautiful area that contains a meandering 2 1/2 mile trail wrapped around a winding river, culminating in the dam itself.

Of late, we have had exceptionally warm weather here, and so a welter of folk have deigned to partake in this brief excursion. Upon passing these people, we always elicit a hello. But for the most part we get nothing in return. It makes us believe that we have somehow procured Harry Potter’s ‘cloak of invisibility’, for no salutations are proffered from these folk.

How difficult can it be?

“Hi!” “Hello!” “Great day, isn’t it?” “Couldn’t be better!”, or something along those lines one would expect.

But to receive nary a nod of notice is, to say the least, quite rude. Julie and I chortle at such nonsense, and continue along our jaunt.

It really isn’t that hard to do, you know. One just has to make brief eye contact, open their mouth, and utter the single word, “Hi.” That’s it.

So the next time you are out for a stroll, and a fellow human being ambles by, just say hello. It’s not an invitation for a full-blown conversation; it’s not a hint that they are looking for anything else; it’s not that they want to marry you.

It’s just, simply, common courtesy.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

In Memory of Fenway…

Our lovely, gentle, beautiful cat, Fenway, has died. He suddenly came down with an obstructed urethra, and even if we elected to correct it, there was a very good chance that he would develop the symptoms again.

The first photo shows him three hours before I had to take him to the Vet. He is lying on the kitchen floor in much pain, and you can see the sadness in his magnificent eyes.

The second photo shows him one hour before I made my very sorrowful drive to the Vet’s office, to have him put to sleep. I went alone, and it was a tremendously wrenching affair. I held him as he received two shots, and watched the life slowly ebb from his beautiful gray body.

The third picture is a close-up, as we wish to remember him, a beautiful, sad, wonderful creature, who gave us all immense joy. He especially was quite fond of our 10 year old, and he always waited for our son to return from school. Fenway’s last hours were spent in our son’s room, nestled amongst the toys, and when I retrieved him from the room for the very last time, he was curled up on the covers of the bed, one last comfort to his sickly and melancholy soul.

After the Vet, I took him home, so the boys could say one last goodbye. Our 10 year old placed him in a box, along with a photo of him, and a few cat toys that Fenway loved to play with. We even placed a little baggie of cat food in there, for his journeys in Kitty Heaven.

I then traveled alone with Fenway and, parking near the entrance of the State Park, walked with him and a shovel to where my Dad’s ashes were strewn, a calming place where herons nest and soft winds caress the surrounding cat tails.

There, beneath a pine tree, did I bury him, covering him with the soft Spring earth. I scattered leaves and pine needles over the grave, and then sat in silence, listening to the redwing black birds and watching the herons in the high dead trees. I sat there, and drank a beer, in honor of my dear Dad and now his fellow companion.

We miss you so much, Fenway, and we all loved you very much. May your gentle soul find much peace and comfort, wherever your beautiful gray countenance may be.

Goodbye, dear friend. Farewell, sweet Fenway…

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Sound Effects From the Road…

“E-I-E-I-O!”…

Isn’t it fascinating to ponder the many sounds one hears in the course of a single day?

Why, just this past weekend, when my wife and I were returning from a most pleasing respite in Narragansett, we heard a cornucopia of strange sounds emanating from the rear of our Ford Escape.

Julie works with Early Intervention, from infants up to three years old, and so she has an abundance of age-appropriate toys in the vehicle. Over the course of our journey home, an astounding array of bleats and squawks and squeaky voices greeted our ears. It proved rather humorous, as we had no idea what noise would come next.

And then, sure enough, with the next bump in the road we heard the dulcet tones of Cookie Monster, exclaiming us to “PLAY IT AGAIN!”, his loud gruff voice booming from a saxophone, a toy that contains many different sound effects.

A mere quarter-mile later, Minnie Mouse chimed in with “Peek-a-boo! I see you!”, and then she proceeded to giggle. After her laughter, the toy ended with a ‘BOING!’, a sound much like a Jack-In-the-Box opening to startled eyes.

We could not help but smile at such a bizarre collection of hilarious sounds. No sooner did Minnie end her squeaky giggle did Mickey chime in with “Whew! That was close!” accompanied by a muted trumpet that played the same scale for the next few minutes. What jolly fun as we continued on.

But wait, there’s more! After these unseen outbursts from the back, a distinct mooing issued forth from yet another jostled and ungulate toy. We were then  treated to a lovely instrumental of ‘Old MacDonald had a Farm’, followed by a fabulous rendition of ‘Farmer in the Dell’. It was, to say the least, quite joyous.

And then once again it was “PLAY IT AGAIN!”, and “Peek-a-boo!”, and “Moo!” and “BOING!”, these sounds colliding in a chaotic cacophony with every ripple in the road. (At this juncture we were quite elated to realize that our arrival time home was a mere 90 minutes away.)

Have kids? Well, then you know first hand how funny our homeward  journey must have been, a trip filled with a symphony of sounds from tiny toys.

We highly recommend it. Oh, by the way. Would…would you like a few toys?…

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Shadow Play…

At 5:30 am during the brumal months, when only a hint of dawn is breaking, faint ruddy ribbons of sun creep past the horizon.

And when a second cup of much needed coffee is consumed, our kitchen becomes a haven for brilliant light. (Mind you, even without the joe, the room is still bathed in golden hues.) As the sun crests the treetops, unexpected shadows are produced, such as this exquisite silhouette of a dried yellow rose, it’s shadow echoing the countenance of a praying mantis.

I am rather fond of dried bouquets, and this other image is a still life I painted, of a red rose bouquet suspended from an old door. I found the portal in a trash heap, cut in two, and so with one of the panels I covered the surface in an impasto style, rendering the bouquet’s shadow in washes of acrylic. I kept the hardware intact, and thought the metal and peeled paint added texture as well as memories of bygone days.

Dried bouquets possess a certain mystique and elegance, a twinge of melancholy, and a wistfulness of something long gone but still cherished. I think they are just as beautiful as fresh bouquets, sometimes even more so.

And this last image? Well, that is good ol’ Boo, one of our three cats, a black behemoth who loves to bathe in sunbeams. He is quite a character, and the shadow and light create an intriguing pattern.

When a winter sun remains low in the sky, lovely long shadows are cast, presenting to those who seek such visuals a chance to glimpse the intricacy and majesty of shadow play.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, All Rights Reserved.

 

Three little birds…and more!

Recently I put up a rather lame bird feeder in the backyard, a feeder intended to be placed on a tree. Originally, it was hung in the front yard, near the road, but since no birds at all deigned to perch there, I relegated it to the back lawn. It swings upon a short iron rod, the bottom mere inches from the ground. Since putting it there, though, many different birds have flocked to our varied offerings. Perhaps they were not fond of the hurtling vehicles that passed by our house.

It is amazing how many species descend to feed. Here, in the accompanying photo, stout little wrens nestle in a bush, feathers plumped to ward off the winter chill as they await their turn. Bluejays, starlings, sparrows, chickadees, and occasionally, a small cadre of mourning doves, all graze on the seed-laden patch of snow. Even tinier birds cling to the cage, poking their beaks into the openings for a morsel or two before flitting away in the wind.

Our cats get a thrill watching these creatures. They sit, hunched in the sun room, eyes dilated and tails twitching, and once in a while they emit a small, trembling murmur, a plaintiff cry as they yearn to pounce upon these winged foragers.

But the cellar window has the best vantage point. After a simple bound onto the washing machine the cats can find a comfortable blanket tucked on the sill. From there, they can stare at the hopping, chirping, swirling mass of tiny bodies, all jostling for more sustenance. Sometimes a huge flock of starlings or redwing blackbirds swoop down and cover the snow in a blanket of black, their chorus of calls a cacophony of shrills and whistles that set the cats’ tails into overdrive.

When listening to these swarming birds, it reminds me of lunch duty I had at a school. As I walked around the cafeteria tables, all filled with excitable 2nd graders, their own voluminous chatter drowned out any thought of conversation with other teachers. The childrens’ babble mimicked the deafening birdsong that filled the winter air in our yard, and the similarity was quite remarkable. If I had closed my eyes then, I would have been transported to my kitchen and have heard the myriad of birds that feasted on our feed.

No matter how lame a feeder you purchase, get one. It will provide you and your pets hours of joy. Well, maybe hours for the cats. For people though, moments of wonder will surely be found.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

My Beloved…

She walks in beauty, like the night,

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes…

…And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

   But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

   A heart whose love is innocent! ~ Lord Byron.

How utterly true do these words ring! My beloved, My Love, my wife. Julie!

How entranced was I when I first gazed into her hypnotic eyes, many Moons ago, and here we are, many years later, still entwined, still in love, and still am I enthralled with her essence.

Those eyes.

All who witness her splendor are so bewitched, as my Love exudes a sensuality that transfixes all who chance a glimpse at her exquisite beauty.

Lord Byron himself must have been so enamored by such a woman, such a love, to compose such wondrous words about a lovely and beguiling woman.

My Julie, my love, my wife, possesses such enchantments, and at times I simply stare–spellbound–wholly mesmerized by her infinite and ethereal beauty.

My love, my Julie!

How totally in love am I with her. She is indeed innocent, and angelic.

She does ‘walk in beauty’

…and I love her, completely.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.