Friday, January 11, 2008


(Powder Lomax, feline companion of my esteemed collegue, Elisabeth Lomax, looks down on my activies with disgust...)

I had my new kitty declawed this week.

I also had her spayed, but that isn't what's bothering me. I was always adamantly on the "say no to declawing" side. Everything I ever read about it sounded so cruel. "What's a few mangled sofas?," I'd think to myself.

Then I met my S/O, who had always declawed her cats, and wondered why I allowed mine to rip upholstery with such reckless abandon. The "discussion" could've gone on forever, but a couple of weeks ago some problematic issues dawned on us that seemed to have only one logical solution.

Our cats are fairly young, and are more than a little playful---they are extremely rambunctious. They chase each other at high rates of "cat-speed" throughout the house several times a day. A few weeks ago, during one high speed chase, kitty #1 attempted to land on the arm of the sofa. Coincidentally, my arm was also there. Kitty #1 grounded her landing by digging her claws in arm. She ripped a 1x1 inch gash in my wrist, which is now turning into a lovely keloid scar. That one incidence was not so bad, but then we had a couple of close calls with baby Molly, and I'm afraid that sealed the cats' fate.

Kitty #3 (Sabrina) is back and seems okay, despite her inability to jump up on anything. I have been told that effect will be short lived. But I look at her little paws and think "What else could I do? Have happy cats, but a scarred up grandchild?"

Kitty #2 goes under the knife next week---must buy extra tuna to assuage the guilt....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Alice

She was born in Ecuador in 1926. Her father worked there briefly, for the U.S. government. He delivered her, as the doctor that showed up was too drunk to do so.

Some months later, the family returned to New York, where she contracted encephalitis, and was in a coma for 9 months. This caused a slight loss of use in her left arm and an even slighter speech affect that mellowed over time. When she recovered, she spent much of her time in private schools, or living with her grandparents while her parents travelled the world. In college, she and her sister lived with the mother's cousin's family, a fact that would not be very remarkable except that her mother's cousin was Eleanor Roosevelt, and they lived in the White House. She even dated Mickey Rooney.

At age 19, she rebelled and broke with them all, dropping out of school to marry a handsome sailor she met at a U.S.O. dance. The young couple moved in with his parents, and the next year she gave birth to a daughter, also named Alice. They moved to one of the first homes buit in Levittown, N.Y., where two little brothers and another sister were also born.

When she was 25, she dealt with the illnes and death of her oldest daughter , from a brain tumor. Once again, she became close to her parents and siblings, only to lose her youngest sister to a mental institution, and her mother to cancer. But she held her family together, through moves to California, to Missouri, to New York, and finally settling in Missouri for good. While in California, she had a "change of life " baby, another son.

Her husband died of a heart attack in 1978; her second son died in 2003 of the same thing, at almost the same age. She helped me to raise my children while I worked and went to college, trying to make a better life for them. She gave both my daughters a safe haven at different times while they were rebelling against their father and me. She's 81 years old, and still mows her own lawn, walks 4 miles a day, and avidly follows professional tennis and argues with me periodically about politics. She was once my mother-in-law, but is always my friend.

Happy Birthday, Alice.