Tonight we're going out to dinner with Mike and Staci and William. They invited us to meet them at Black Angus to celebrate with them William's tenth birthday. A few weeks ago, Mike told us that William was going to join the band and needed an instrument better than the one they gave him to use, a battered old trumpet. Mike wondered if we still had my old cornet, the one I'd played briefly and begrudgingly when I was a mere lad. I was always too lazy to become anything more than a second or third chair in our high school band. But I'd kept the horn through all these years, letting Laura play it briefly and begrudgingly when she was in high school, and ditto Mike. And it still resided beneath our guest bedroom bed. I promised Mike that we'd give it to William for his birthday. But first, I had to find a new case for it, take it to a music store to have the valves loosened, the whole thing brought up to speed. And now it sits in its brand new, red case, a 63-year-old Holton cornet that still looks pretty good for an old guy. I just hope William will play it better and more lovingly than I or Laura or Mike did. I'm sure he will.
I wrote a short essay about our two cats I thought I'd share with whoever is still out there maybe reading these blogs:
Anyone who has never been owned by a cat or dog won’t understand any of what follows, won’t have a clue. If you’re one of those owned, however, you’ll recognize all of what I say. I’m limiting the ownership to cats and dogs because, although maybe cute as buttons, goldfish or gerbils or rats just don’t make the same connection with humans that cats or dogs do. Most of us who are owned by pets would agree that cats and dogs are really just humans in fur coats. My wife and I are kept by two cats named Dusty and Squeakie. Dusty is the elder statesman and is generally more sedate and serious than Squeakie, but he has his moments of silliness. Every now and then, when he thinks no one is watching, he’ll crouch low with head near the floor and wiggle his butt in preparation for pouncing on an unsuspecting Squeakie. Once or twice we’ve caught him flipping one of Squeakie’s toy mice around. He stops as soon as he sees us and licks a paw or yawns as if to say we must be mistaken if we think he would be so kittenish as to play with mice. Both of them insist on ice cubes in their water dish and we obey that dictum without fail. In fact, if in the morning their litter box isn’t cleaned fast enough or their food dish isn’t filled to the brim we both feel their displeasure. In the evening when I’m in a chair watching television, Dusty will sit on haunches in front of me and give me the old cat staredown. He never says it but I know what he wants: he wants me to get up so he can take over in the human heat I leave behind. And I always give in. Squeakie will join him there and the two of them will cuddle for an hour or so. This usually concludes in some mutual grooming, obvious affection between them. But then one or the other will take offense at some cat code infraction and tiny cat slaps will ensue, culminating in a wrestling match that always tips them both onto the floor where they go running off in opposite directions. Our evenings end almost ritualistically. My wife and I turn off all the lights and encourage Dusty and Squeakie to come to bed with us. They never do. But nearly always just before we climb into bed, Squeakie will make her way into the shower stall and Dusty will sit just outside our bedroom door, playing hard to get. We ignore them both and go to bed. Most nights Squeakie will leave to do her Squeakie thing, a nighttime snack or a late evening visit to the litter box. And Dusty will either quietly climb onto the bed to wish us good night or he too will leave to see what Squeakie is up to. Fifteen minutes later (almost to the very minute) we will hear the patter of galloping feet as Dusty starts his run somewhere in the living room, down the short hall, and the final leap onto the bed. We’ve never witnessed this run and leap, only heard it and thereby imagined it, but we would give a month’s income to have it on tape. Almost exactly five minutes later we will hear the approaching mournful meows of Squeakie as she lugs her bundle of yarn, a loose relic from her youth, down the hall to our bedroom. The meows are doubly mournful because the yarn in her mouth muffles the cries and makes them even more pathetic. We encourage her to get on the bed with us and we all then can sleep through the night, two cats named Dusty and Squeakie and their two pets, my wife and I.