Friday, October 31, 2003


This is my favorite-est holiday of the year but other distractions have kept me from throwing myself into the celebration in my usual manner.

This morning, I finally hauled out the three boxes of seasonal decorations and accouterments. I put out two ceramic jack-o-lanterns and the lighted witch, whom I surrounded with small black cat and pumpkin candles. I strew the red leaf lights along the cat yard and plugged in the foam jack-o-lantern on the porch. I hung the black-cat-in-pumpkin-patch banner on the door.

I am doing this just for my own pleasure--we haven't had a trick-or-treater come by since the eighties...

Typically, I could not find the lovely cats-and-pumpkins T-shirt I vow to wear each year. I recall finding it last winter and putting it safely away for this year. If things are true to form, I will stumble across it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas and put it once again "safely away" until next year, when the process will be repeated.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


I hadn't realized how much pain there was associated in my mind with Fairbanks but even before the plane had touched down--looking out at the familiar, graceless sprawl--my mind was crowded with ghosts and memories.

Perhaps the pain is merely the result of 20/20 hindsight--or the meager wisdom that time and age have granted me. Whatever the case, by Friday the subliminal pain was such that I found myself depressed and waiting for the last few hours to pass so I could go home, fly south to this quiet coastline where I have found peace and happiness.

Saturday, October 18, 2003


After a couple of days, being there began to eat away at me.

There is still a small town underlying the pseudo-urban facade, a frontier town of stark buildings and insular people. It has been nearly two decades since I last lived there, but a lot of pain remains, just below the surface.

There are bittersweet memories of those who were a part of my life at that time...Kisa, Heather, Rick--and who are no more, or who have gone on to other lives. One morning, Mom told me I was welcomed to take the car and go visiting, and I told her that most of the time, it is good for the past to remain in the past. I would certainly have said "Hi," to Rick if I'd run into him, but why seek him out? I have nothing to do with his life now--and he has nothing to offer me. Why walk back into someone's life like a re-animated corpse?

Maybe moving away from Fairbanks was one of the saner accidents of my life.

There was, under the pedestrian grime and smog and homely sprawl something that could still beguile. Maybe it was just an after-image of the past. We walked out of a resturant Thursday night to a display of the aurora that could have dropped a person to their knees. Yet the beauty is frightening in a way, a reminder of the forces that drive the universe and how little the affairs of humans matter in the long run.

Sunday, October 05, 2003


I guess it is one of those wonders in life that after two decades of living with my best friend, he still has the capacity to surprise me. There are occasional moments of sudden awareness that make me step outside the mundane familiarity and see once again those qualities that drew me to him in the first place.

Several months ago, when I first brought Toby-John and Sunspot home from the Shelter, one of his off-hand remarks stunned me. Toby-John was meowing at the door in a futile attempt to persuade us to let him outside. Without any thought, Denny remarked how much TJ sounded like Sparky...

God. Sparky has been dead over four years. I have wrapped my grief up and held it close to my heart and carried on. There is one Christmas song that conjures his memory to eye-dampening keenness but this is a pain I thought I was carrying alone. That Denny could, and does, recall so clearly to this day what Sparky's voice sounded like floored me. And forcefully reminded me that I wasn't the only one who mourned our little lost kitty-boy. I was carrying my sadness alone. And he was carrying his sadness alone. Together, the sadness is not so heavy.

In the shop last week, while he was petting Demi, our white calico, he murmurred to her, "You little China doll..." What was weird was that I knew exactly what he meant. I have called her that myself, a secret name I was sure no one else would understand. Demi is a solidly-built American shorthair with nothing remotely oriental in her appearance. But her markings--specifically the black against the pure white of her fur--starts the mind thinking down pathways of white porcelain and black enamel, of geisha make-up... I know I have never used that description of Demi to Dennis--it seemed so fanciful. Do our minds really think so much alike that we seperately come up with the same nicknames for our cats?

That's a bit scary.

But it is nice to know that Denny still has the power to surprise and charm me.