I hope you will all forgive me a little self-indulgence. I have been thinking about death a little more than usual of late. It is distracting me and keeping me from my usual writing routine. (And several other routines, if I’m being honest.)

I have had a few animals die in my life, and each time it breaks my heart anew. I’ve thought a lot about why it affects me so much. Our animals depend on us. For everything. And when things go wrong, it’s not a simple matter to explain it to them. They struggle to let us know that they’re suffering, and we struggle to reassure them and to make decisions in their best interests.

It’s all a crap-shoot. All we can do is try our best to give them the best lives possible and hope that they feel secure. And when the time comes to say goodbye, all we can do is hope that we’ve made the best decision for them. None of it’s easy. And yet, life would feel so empty without them.

Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) once said “I’m crying because out there he’s gone, but he’s not gone inside me.” Our animals give us so much. All we can do is hope to be worthy of their love and affection.

The Hunter

Something was moving in the house; he could hear it. His tail twitched slightly as he lay on the couch and kept his eyes closed. The sound was quiet. Perhaps it was a mouse, but he didn’t think so. The last mouse had been weeks ago; since then they had stayed away. His reputation had gotten around.

But if it wasn’t a mouse, what could it be? It was an unusual noise, yet it was also vaguely familiar. Rather than the chittering and scurrying of a small animal, it was slow, deliberate, and very soft. The fur on his back rose slightly as a chill filled the air near him. He remained motionless, allowing only one eye to crack open just a little bit.

At first, everything seemed normal, nothing out of place. Then he caught sight of a shadow nearby that couldn’t be coming from any object in the room. It did not belong. For several minutes, he watched it as it remained in one place.

When it finally began to float away, he pounced. The shadow thing moved faster than he expected, and he misjudged the jump. He managed to rake it with one paw before crashing into the lamp on the small table next to the couch. The cry of pain from the creature was high-pitched and loud. The wail didn’t frighten him, though; he simply wanted to silence it all the more.

Looking around the room from where he had landed, he couldn’t see the shadow any longer. However, he could still hear it. The wailing had stopped, but it was still moving. He dropped quietly to the floor and began silently stalking it. Up the stairs and into the unlit bedroom he went, all the while being careful not to make a sound.

He couldn’t separate it from the background darkness in the room, but he wasn’t looking for it anyway. He could feel the cold and follow it easily. His own black coat gave him the same advantage. The feeling led him to the corner.

He leapt, grabbing the shadow with this teeth this time. It tasted vile. Definitely not food, but also not welcome. It thrashed and cried out again, breaking free from his bite. It sped down the stairs, but he followed immediately, refusing to let it out of his range once more.

Back into the living room, he jumped onto the coffee table, knocking coasters and the television remote off. He sprang toward the shadow, which tried to evade his attack. It failed. Trapped in his bite, he dragged it down, ripping into his front claws. On the floor, he rolled, now using his front paws to hang on to it and his back claws to continue tearing.

The wailing was worse this time, but he ignored it. When it finally stopped struggling, he gave it a few more kicks and let it go. The thing didn’t move again, and after a few moments, it dissolved without leaving any trace. It was gone, he knew, though he still wasn’t sure what it had been. At least the intruder had been eliminated.

Tired from the hunt, he jumped back onto the couch, turned twice to make sure nothing else was present, and curled up to sleep. When the bigger ones returned, one of them – the louder of the two – seemed upset about the lamp and coasters, but he was too sleepy to get up and pretend to be bothered by its scolding.

The Spirit

The wind blew so hard that it was impossible not to hear the spirits that traveled along with it. It’s not that the spirit world is more active at the end of the October; people are just more receptive to interactions. Even without Halloween, everywhere there are examples of the world dying. When one’s mind is filled with thoughts of death, it is easier to hear spirits.

And when someone notices the spirits, it becomes easier for them to cross over and enter this world. They are not evil, but they are disruptive, for spirits do not see the world from our perspective. Good and evil are meaningless concepts to them. And their goals cannot make sense to us. So when there is interaction, misunderstandings abound.

So while it took on a human like form, and dressed in a long black coat and black hat, it could not ask for help in its search. As it walked, people instinctively moved out of its way, though they were only barely aware of it. Ignoring the conversation of its peers, it arrived at its destination and stepped through the wall.

The room was dark, with only the light from a television to provide any illumination. A cat noticed it and walked over to talk. She explained that this place was under her protection. The spirit would need to conduct its business quickly, and then leave, preferably without disturbing the other residents.

“Why are you crying?” asked a man who was sitting on the couch. The cat looked back in a failed attempt to placate him. The man jumped a bit when he caught sight of the spirit, but his brain must have immediately rejected the image, and he calmed down. “Please stop crying. For a second I almost thought I saw a ghost.”

The cat gave one last meow, “hurry,” before walking back to the couch. The spirit touched its hat in acknowledgment. As it walked past the man, he shivered but did not see the spirit again.

In the hallway, there was a table with a drawer. Whatever had drawn the spirit, it was inside. It tugged on the drawer. Unaccustomed to such things, it used too much force, and the drawer and all its contents crashed to the floor.

It bent down to pick up a piece of paper, but the cat was already there, yelling. “Begone! You are causing trouble. Out of my house!” The spirit quickly pocketed the paper and moved to exit the house.

The man had come to investigate – a bit slower than the cat – and yelled in fear when he saw the spirit walking. The spirit turned to go through another wall and out of his sight. In doing so, it knocked a photograph off of the wall. Now the cat was screaming at it to leave and adding threats. The spirit quickly passed through more walls, causing more disturbances, before finally reaching the safety of the outside once more.

The paper secure, and safely beyond the cat’s ire, the spirit continued its walk through the late autumn evening.

A Simple Spell

Palms together, perfectly aligned.  Rub back and forth to build up heat and draw forth the threads that link everything together.  Once the threads become visible and reactive, cup each hand to form a sphere.  Slowly the threads wind their way around the sphere, taking its shape.  This is crucial, for they must be coaxed into filling every space of the shell.  Any flaw, any weakness will undermine the whole.

Gently expand the sphere by opening the hands, touching the pinky side of each and then bringing together the thumbs.  Repeat, increasing the size of the sphere slightly with each movement until it reaches the appropriate dimensions.  The threads move and shift, stretching to accommodate the demands of the shaper.

Were this intended for a stationary item or place, it would then suffice to locate it where it was required.  This one must be able to move, however.  Carefully, then, move the sphere up and down, right and left, front and back.  The threads begin to separate from the others near them.  Eventually the sphere breaks free, riding the other threads, but remaining apart.  The broken ends quickly uniting and eliminating the tear.

Now it is ready.  Holding it in both hands, gently blow it towards the target.  The sphere envelopes the orange tabby and vanishes from sight.  The kitten blinks once, and then again.  As it walks around the small kennel, the threads crisscrossing the area deform ever so slightly to indicate the protective sphere that now surrounds it.

It isn’t much.  It isn’t a home.  But that extra layer of protection may help it find a safe and happy space with a proper owner.  I smile sadly as it paws at me and then slowly walk away.

Every Day in the Life of…

The couch was comfortable and the blanket warm.  She wished the house would stay quiet, but it never did.  Some sort of scratching came from the kitchen.  Quickly, she sprang from her makeshift bed and dashed into the other room.  There was nothing.  She sniffed by the rack, her tail twitched, but whatever had made the sound left no trace.  Before leaving, she checked the floor by the counter to see if any food could be found.

Another sound caught her ear, and she ran back to the living room and jumped onto one of the ledges on the tower.  It gave her a good view, but first she had to check out the ledge itself, to be sure that whatever had made the noise wasn’t up here.  She sniffed a few places, looking for clues, and discovered some of the small green leaves from last night.  She must have missed them.  But no, not now; she was on the hunt.  Just a taste or two couldn’t hurt though, could it?

She thought she saw something move below her on the floor, and she hung over the side to get a closer look.  Before she knew it, half of her body was hanging off the ledge.  Her balance slipped, but she grabbed the ledge with her claws and kept hold.  After struggling for a few seconds, she managed to climb back up safely.

A bird chirped outside the window, and she leapt from the ledge to the back of the couch.  They taunted her from outside.  She knew she couldn’t reach them, and they knew it too.  But she crouched anyway.  One wrong move and they would regret flying too close.  If any of them made the mistake of coming into her house, it wouldn’t live to regret it.  But they didn’t, and soon they tired of the game and flew off.

So far, things hadn’t gone well.  No bird.  She never did find what had been making those noises.  But finding some of the leaves had been good.  The others weren’t even trying to help.  They might lift their heads occasionally to watch her, but they didn’t seem to worry about these things the way she did.

Instead, she walked over to the closed door and began to yell.  Sometimes the big ones would at least listen to her concerns, even if they rarely did anything about them.  But they seemed to care and even talked back sometimes, though she never could understand them.  First, she had to get their attention.  They were very slow.

Finally, one of them opened the door and picked her up.  It wasn’t the way her mother had done it, but it was still nice.  And soon she climbed upon its shoulders.  It chatted at her, even while it ignored most of the troubling noises.  Still, it was comfortable and safe.  Before long, she curled up to go back to sleep for a bit.  She trusted the big one to stay vigilant while she rested.

New Lens

So I got an early Christmas present. Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens. I had been lusting after this lens for awhile. I will admit, however, that I wasn’t sure what difference the lens would really make. Of course, this is because I’m still an infant when it comes to photography. Of course the person behind the camera matters, but equipment matters too. And I should know that.

Anyway, I got the lens. And I’ve been wanting to try it out. But it’s very hot outside. And there’s not much to take pictures of in my house. Except, of course, for my cats. So…


Shamatha was on the back the chair in the living room. The setting sun blasting light through the blinds illuminated his pink nose. I was taken by the clarity of the shot. The f/1.4 let me take a pretty clear picture in low light without a tripod. I was happy.


There’s not much special about this photo, but I always feel guilty when I post pictures of my cats and leave someone out. So here’s Bishop, my old girl, sleeping on the chair.

Sidd in the basement

This is the shot that blew me away. I’m not saying it belongs in a museum. I’m just saying… “Holy cow! That came out looking great!” I can’t remember ever getting that sort of picture before. Maybe I’m doing stuff differently after all my practice, but I have to think the lens helped.

So I’m pretty happy with my new lens. Now I just have to wait for a cool down to go outside and try my hand at some nature shots.