Friday, January 30, 2009

A cat tale

Back in June of 1989, when I was 17, I found a skinny black cat with a huge belly wandering around in front of my Mom's house in Yonkers. We already had 2 adult cats - Bunny and Pussycat. This pic is circa 1982-

...but I convinced my Mom to take this cat in and find out what was wrong with it. I named our new cat Morticia. Here's Bunny and Morticia -

Morticia was not very nice at all. The least friendly cat I had ever known, but we adopted her anyway. We now had 3 adult cats.

Days later, on June 30th, 1989 (in fact 4 days after I graduated from high school), this very anti social cat climbed to a high out of the way place in our basement - where she proceeded to spit out 4 kittens! (So that's what was wrong with her, she was pregnant! Duh!).

There were 3 girls, and 1 boy. I named the girls Midnight (very thin and sleek, all black), Calico (the ugliest calico cat you've ever seen- white feet, mostly black with some orange) and a mostly black cat with a tiny white patch under her neck, white between her hind legs and 2 white fingers, named Batty-Boo (I always thought she looked like a bat), which later became Booba.

The girls, like their mother, were not at all cuddly and had a very hideous meow. The boy was my absolute favorite. He was a beautiful, sweet tuxedo cat. I named him Spooky. And he was the one I was going to keep. The girls and their mother were eventually going to go to a shelter. But at this moment, we had 7 cats in our house. (3 adults, 4 kittens) Here is Morticia with her very young kittens in my Mom's basement -

Booba, trying to make her escape -

And I remember taking this shot as Morticia was darting out to retrieve Booba, who was always the worst behaved of the bunch-

Morticia stuck around long enough to nurse and wean her brood, then took them outside to teach them to hunt and kill. But shortly after that, she just abandoned them and returned to life on the street. We were now down to 6 cats - 2 adults, 4 kittens.

Later that summer, my high school boyfriend told me that the stray cat that had been hanging out in his rehearsal space needed a home. The other guys had plans to put him IN THE DRUM while they played it. Are they effing kidding me?! What assholes! I had met this cat and knew he was very sweet. I couldn't let that happen. I convinced my Mom to let me keep him. He was all gray. I named him Smokey. (As some of you know, Smokey went on to be the cat love of my life. I lost him in January 2006, after just moving to Brooklyn and had him buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. I will never love another animal - or human - as much as I love Smokey. I still miss him terribly.) Now we were back up to 7 cats - 2 adults, 5 kittens.

That September, one of my original cats, Bunny, had died. I had that cat since I was 9. Also a stray, from the street, and I absolutely adored her. That cat followed me everywhere for nearly 9 years. She chased dice. She was blind in one eye. She wanted to be with me at all times. She was so sweet and kind - the first real cat that was 'mine'. We buried her in our backyard and were now down to 6 cats - 1 adult, 5 kittens.

That same month, when the kittens were only 3 months old, a friend of mine slept over on our pull out couch in the den. I told him the night before- 'Do NOT fold up that bed in the morning. The cats like to play behind it when it's open.' The next morning when I went downstairs, the bed was folded up. I immediately freaked out and ran around doing a kitty head count. All of the cats and kittens were accounted for except one... SPOOKY! My boy! Frantically, I pulled out the bed and stuck my arm behind/under it. I felt a ball of fur. I screamed, running barefoot, a block or more to find my mother who was out walking her dog. She came home and confirmed the worst- my sweet little man had been crushed. I never, ever forgave that person, and never will. We were now down to 5 cats - 1 adult, 4 kittens.

Months later, in January, my brother told me that he found Midnight (my favorite of the girl kittens) dead on the street. I assume she was run over by a car. I couldn't believe I had just lost 3 cats in 4 months! She was also buried in the backyard, bringing our total down to 4 cats - 1 adult, 3 kittens.

One day in 1994, I realized I hadn't seen Calico in a few days. She and Booba used to go out very often, so this wasn't too unusual. But after a while I was concerned enough to go out looking for her. As I called her name in the backyard, I heard her crying. I followed her cries to the back of our garage and found her. She was a mess. It looked like most of her legs were broken and she was covered in dried up blood. It was pretty horrific. I called my Mom, who came home and took her to the vet to put her to sleep. I assume she had also been hit by a car. Down to 3 cats - 1 adult, 2 kittens.

In the spring of 1995, our big, mean, kick ass, polydactl tabby named Pussycat came home and I noticed something was wrong with him - he couldn't close his mouth and he was drooling. Off he went to the vet, where we found out he had cancer. This was the toughest son of a bitch cat I've ever met. It was sad to see cancer take him. He was only 14 and otherwise healthy. And we were down to 2 cats: Smokey and Booba, who were both 6 years old.

In 1995, I moved out of my Mom's house with my brother. We got an apartment in Yonkers. Smokey and Booba came with us. Smokey and I became closer than ever. He was so loving and gentle and always wanted to be with me, on me or near me. Booba continued to go out to hunt and kill. I very frequently had presents (birds, mice, rats, squirrels- even 2 praying mantis'!) left for me. She also had the charming habit of biting or swiping my face while I slept if she wanted to be fed. This cat was cunning and evil. She was not friendly at all. She didn't want to be pet or held. Just feed her and let her outside.

In 2003, I bought a house with my husband. Smokey and Booba made the move there too. They loved the front and backyard and continued to be indoor/outdoor. Smokey was still my darling little man and preferred to be inside with me. Booba still preferred the outdoors. But that year, when she turned 14, she changed. Out of nowhere, she wanted to be a lap cat. She became affectionate nearly over night. I still don't understand it, but suddenly Smokey had to defend his place on my lap because she wanted to sit on me! It was absolutely baffling to see her transformation.

In December 2005, I moved to Brooklyn. Smokey and Booba moved with me again. Now they were forced to be indoor cats. Surprisingly, this transition was very easy for them. Maybe because they were both 16.

Weeks later, in January 2006, I lost my beloved Smokey. And I was left with the one cat I never wanted in the first place, the one I acquired by default because all the others had died: Booba. I had always feared she would outlive Smokey. And surely just to spite me, she did just that... Cut to today, 3 years after Smokey's death...

I noticed in the last few weeks that she had noticeably slowed down, and her stomach was getting gigantic even though she wasn't eating more than usual. She was having a hard time getting up or down from her sleeping position, having trouble walking, and started missing the litter box and even peed in my bed. I brought her to the vet today and they were unsure of the fluid in her stomach. They would have to drain it, do x rays, and run a battery of lab tests just to find out what was wrong with her and determine if there was any treatment possible. The doctor also told me she had a heart murmur and most likely congestive heart failure. After considering the options and outcomes, I decided to put her to sleep today- On her 19 years and 7 month birthday. It was not as easy as I thought it might be and I've been crying about it all day since. I keep telling myself I did the right thing and even if I could find out what was wrong and give her treatment, she could not have had much time left anyway.

I had that cat since I was 17. I'm now 37. She's lived 4 places with me. She's been with me since I was a teenager, single, married, separated and divorced. She knew me before I had any tattoos. She's been with me through the biggest and most difficult events of my life. And even though she was never my favorite cat, it was not easy to let her go today. But I thought it was the right thing to do.

Good bye, Booba. I hope you understand what I needed to do.

Me & Booba, in 1989

Booba, sleeping on my couch in Brooklyn

Booba stuck her head in my yogurt

I will forever remember this expression, because this is the only expression she ever had. My ex husband used to describe it as "I'd eat your face if I could":

How evil looking is she? Ugh

RIP, old gal. I hope you forgive me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reasons I love Greenpoint- Part 4: Fred Flare (A Cavalcade of Cute!)

When I moved to Brooklyn just over 3 years ago, there was a beautiful store front that was empty.

It stayed empty until last summer, when I finally saw signs of life (i.e. construction). I was excited about the possibilities; but had no idea what it was to become of the space.

When I saw these hearts pop up in the windows...

Fred Flare- corner of Meserole Ave and Leonard St

...I knew it was going to be something good!

Since I pass the store every day, I met one of the young women that work there. Her name is Jen, (and apparently she's employee of the month)! She told me that it was going to be a store called Fred Flare. I had never heard of them, but welcomed them to the neighborhood.

While the store was still under construction, they had a very informal pre-opening sale in September. That's when I realized the cuteness potential and picked up a couple of things - I scored this amazing subway sign:

Atlantic Avenue Subway Sign

and I could not pass up this t-shirt. It's now one of my favorite workout t-shirts (yay! chihuahua!):

Te Quiero Mucho- one of my favorite workout shirts

The construction continued and the paper remained on the windows, which only added to my excitement. When the store was finally opened in October, and I saw it in its entirety, my inner 12 year old girl squealed with delight! It is so beautifully arranged, super neat and everything *EVERYTHING* is adorable!

I've popped in there several times, buying gifts for friends or fun things for myself. I've met most of the staff since then, and have a school girl crush on Keith. He's so sweet! Anyway, here are some of my favorite purchases:

A gorgeous New York journal with the deco inspired cover. I carry it everyday and use it to jot down notes for my blogs. I love this notebook! It's available in their store or online for 12 dollars. I also had to buy those numbered clips. I really could not resist them!

Blog journal and numbered paper clips

And when I noticed this pocket book one evening, I didn't hesitate for a second, I knew it was perfect - it has since become my favorite bag. It's not only a great shape but it's surprisingly roomy inside. I use this bag on weekends when I go out and fit all my stuff *plus* a pair of flats (wrapped inside a plastic bag of course). It's also still available at the store or online for only $42.

My favorite pocket book

Here's another item I fell in love with immediately- this perfectly cut pink sweater. It's cropped with 3/4 length sleeves and a cowl neck. How cute is this? (And according to Jen, Keith actually mentioned to her how perfect this sweater would be for me. He was right!)

Pink adorable sweater

So those are some of my previous purchases. And after not visiting Team Cute for a while, I finally couldn't take it anymore! I wandered in there today with every intention of buying something. It turned out they have a bunch of really adorable Valentine's related items-

Valentine's Day Central!

Valentine's Day items @ Fred Flare

How sweet is this sign? Doesn't it just make you smile?

I did not walk out empty handed- I bought these items:

1- A heart by Chris Uphues (These hearts appear around various places in Brooklyn. I photograph them whenever I see them. I had no idea who was behind them until he brought his famous hearts to Fred Flare.)
2- A box of Junior Mints that are heart shaped (They are for Michael. Hopefully he is not reading this.)
3- A set of 10 retro Valentine's that I will share with my nearest and dearest.

And on this particular Sunday, the lovely Bilgim and Holly were working in the store. They were gracious enough to pose for a photograph for this blog. Hello ladies! Thanks for your help today!

Bilgin & Holly @ Fred Flare

If you're in the Greenpoint area, please give the wonderful staff of Fred Flare a visit. They, and their store, will put a smile on your face. I guarantee it!

Fred Flare- The "Cavalcade of Cute" can be found here:

131 Meserole Ave at Leonard Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn 11222, 718-349-1257
(a couple blocks north from the Nassau Ave stop on the G train)