“Swim, Sandy, swim!”

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‘Equal time for dogs’

My Porn Star Name is ‘Sandy Peterson’. In honor of Sandy the Dog, the beloved Pet of My Youth, pictured above in a moment of not-unusual adorableness.

But before we get to Sandy, a quick word about that word game. Maybe you played it too. It’s the one where you take the name of your beloved pet, add your mother’s maiden name, and, voila!, you’ve got your Porn Star Name. (The Child’s is ‘Tuna Henry’.)

I must admit ours are pretty tame. Over wine at my dining room table I’ve heard some easy-to-imagine-clad-in-fishnets doozies: ‘Pinky Parker’, ‘Missy Goodbody’. Though the Dude’s is ‘Duffy Miltner Flockmaster Cromartie’, which is pretty darned racy.

But back to pets, which is the point of this piece. A couple of weeks ago I waxed nostalgic about felines of yore in ‘The Cat Who Ran Away from Home and Broke My Heart’.

I finally found a picture of me with Aunt Marilyn’s Herkimer, the first cat I adored. And tortured with two-year-old abandon

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The cat who ran away from home and broke my heart

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‘And other feline friends from days gone by’

Somewhere among the snapshots that used to live in the attic in a big cardboard box — the photos we were allowed to rummage through on rainy days (see ‘In An Alternate Universe, I Would Have Been a Redhead’) — is one of me with my Aunt Marilyn’s cat Herkimer.

I’m, oh, two in the picture, and poor Herkimer looks about as pleased at being clutched by a toddler as you can imagine. Aunt Marilyn said I used to thread the poor thing through the gaps in a wicker chair.

Now the cat in the picture at the top of this post looks marginally happier. And I look pleased as punch. This kitty never had a name that stuck (I kept coming up with names that didn’t ‘take’; for some strange reason, Christopher Columbus Kitty was one) so everybody just called him Kitty.

(I am notoriously bad at naming. As an adult, I had another cat named Kitty. In fact, when I was pregnant and trying to think of baby names, my Oldest Younger Brother Scott said “Why not just go with ‘Baby’? Since that’s what you’ll end up calling it.”)

The Dude poses with The Other Kitty Named Kitty. Before we had the Baby Who Is Now Called The Child

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A Tale of Two Kitties

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‘A feral feline love story’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Nope, Dickensonian riff be damned, it was never “the worst of times” with the two lovebird kitties pictured up there at the top of this post. (Speaking of Dickensonian, I almost titled this piece ‘A Tail of Two Kitties’, but, thank goodness, restrained myself.)

The kitties whereof I speak were a big ole orange striped guy we called Mango. And a skinny sort-of-shy black one the neighbors called Midnight. These were two very friendly kitties, and not just to each other. Both of them had at least two families — one even a celebrity family — a phenomenon I wrote about in ‘Lost Cat: Answers to the name “Mango”‘.

Mango was the one we found first. Or, to be honest, found us. The Child, six or seven at the time, was entertaining a little friend one weekend when I overheard high, squeaky ‘animal-luring’-type voices. When I went to investigate, I saw two small girls trying to entice a huge furry animal covered in bugs into the house. Naturally, I shooed him away. I had another mom’s kid in my charge, you know. (Cue the angry phone call when the kid goes home with ticks.) Continue reading

It’s a wrap

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‘Yet another Christmas has come — and gone.’

When you were a kid, did you have an Advent Calendar? If you did, you got it around the first of December, hung it somewhere handy, like on the fridge, then every day you opened this little numbered door to reveal a gift or an animal or an ornament. Whatever was behind that little door didn’t really matter. It was just fun to do, and added a sort of ‘countdown drama’ to your already-overexcited anticipation of Christmas. (BTW, I just googled ‘Advent Calendar’ and guess what? It was invented by Lutherans.)

[I remember that The Child had a particularly clever Advent Calendar (a gift, natch) made of felt with little toys and ornaments that stuck to it with velcro. It’s buried somewhere in a bag full of (now underutilized) ornaments, ready to be unearthed and pressed back into action at some future (extremely hypothetical at this point) grandchild-populated date.]

But even if you weren’t a Little Lutheran armed with an Advent Calendar, waiting for Christmas was a pretty exciting time. We Henrys got so jazzed that we called December 23rd ‘Christmas Eve Eve’ and sometimes even December 22nd was dubbed ‘Christmas Eve Eve Eve’. But that’s nothing compared to one of my Facebook friends who posted on June 25 that it was ‘just six months until Christmas’. Now that’s a person who’s really got her Christmas Countdown down. Continue reading

Tuna finds the Baby Jesus Sweet Spot

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‘Memorial Day Memories of a Feline Nature’

My Brother Scott swears our cat Wombat does not exist. He and his boys once spent 10 whole days here and did not glimpse her once. I finally took this picture as proof that she does indeed live and breathe, even if, like the snipe, she is hunted, but never ever seen:

Even when Wombat isn't hiding, she is. Hiding

Even when Wombat isn’t hiding, she is. Hiding

But this story is not really about Wombat. After all, Wombat, though you will have to trust me since you will never actually see her, is still with us. This story is in memory of The Cat of The Child’s Childhood, named (by The Child herself) Tuna.

Tuna was, as were all the cats in my life—those gathered randomly while growing up Lutheran in semi-rural Southern Illinois, and those adopted, serial-monogamy-style, during my Single Womanhood, Seriously Dating, and Moving-in-Together-But-Negotiating-Marriage Years—a stray. A ‘rescue’, a ‘shelter’, a ‘Heinz 57 Varieties’, a ‘mutt’. Tuna came to us from The Dude’s Cousin Charlie’s Friend, the one Who Had Too Many Kids Who Liked To Pick The Cat Up By The Tail. Continue reading

The Cat Is The Hat

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‘Hey! I don’t do this for fun, you know!’

I am often amazed at the resourcefulness of New Yorkers. Just look around and you can’t help but be impressed by how they can turn almost any activity — playing bongos in the subway, playing Sponge Bob Squarepants in Times Square — into a money-making proposition.

Now that Autumn has arrived, and theatre season is back in full swing, I was reminded of a terrific example of New Yorker make-a-buck-out-of-anything ingenuity. And, since it’s Monday, it’s a perfect time to tell you the story — and also to tell you about the Metropolitan Diary.

It’s special feature that appears in the Times every Monday, where readers send in anecdotes about something that happened to them — or that they observed happening to someone else — here in New York. The anecdotes can be sweet, or sad, or funny. Personally, I’m partial to the funny ones.

If your anecdote is selected, it gets printed. In the Olden Days, you used to get a New York Times mug if your story got printed. These days, everyone’s feeling the pinch, even the New York Times. So you just get the honor of having your story printed. Which is still pretty cool.

Here’s an example (one of mine, natch), printed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2007:

Dear Diary: Continue reading