Retirement Party Postponed…Indefinitely

So. When I was young I kept changing jobs and taking time off to do one thing or the other. I’d work on a novel. I’d do some traveling. I did a lot of worthwhile things and I pretended I agreed with Cary Grant’s character in HOLIDAY, who wants to have experiences while he is young then work later, after he discovers what he is working for.  (Pretended because I knew all along that what I wanted was simpler. I wanted to skip the day job thing entirely.)

I have friends and coworkers who chose less circuitous paths and a number of them have retired, or are considering it. So. I tried one of those on-line retirement calculators, and the results are in.  For the next decade, I only need to save 87% of my pay and then I will have enough saved to live at 22% of my current income level.  Of course if I could save 87% of my pay I probably wouldn’t need a retirement calculator.

Looking for a bright side – after living on 13% of my pay, my retirement income would really feel luxurious.

Overall, just one more indication that the kittens need to get jobs.

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R.I.P. Boink

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Is there a cat who is not partial to ridiculous nap sites?

Tomorrow morning I take our nearly 17 yo cat to the vet to be euthanized. Her kidney disease has advanced that far.

She has been part of our lives for most of my kids’ existence and every memory of her lights up some corner of their childhood for me. My son and daughter were 3 when they got to choose kittens. Actually, this cat chose us, and from the moment we entered the big common room shared by all cats at that shelter, she pestered my son until he selected her. He named her Cock Boink Doc but we convinced him to just use her middle name.

It took more than a decade for the scar on my daughter’s cheek to fade. Boink ran across her face one night while she slept. What a wild kitten that was.

She chose us then shunned us. It was years before anyone got to pet her for more than a swipe or two. The kids would get so frustrated with her lack of affection. Then out of the blue she would hook a claw into their clothes as they passed by, to get them to stop and attend to her.

Eventually she transformed into a relentless lap cat – and has remained patient with these clueless humans, too. Remove her from your lap 100 times, she climbs into your lap 101 times. No resentment. Clearly we simply do not understand.  She is in my lap as I write this, but tonight I had to place her there; she lacked the energy to move on her own.

In her day she was lightning fast. We’re grateful she had little interest in hunting, but we did once enjoy having a landlord thank my son profusely “for having such a smart cat”, because she had caught the gopher who was  destroying his lawn.

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Boink (back) and Luna (front).

She had a peaceable nature and no ego problems. She never fought although she would stand up to a bully when pressed. Mostly she was indifferent to other cats. She accepted the rabbits, she made friends with the large nervous dog. When she was 7, we got a kitten, Luna, that she has groomed ever since, even though Luna is now 10 and twice her size. The last couple weeks, she hasn’t groomed Luna.

Our vet warned me that it wouldn’t be simple – she isn’t going to die in her sleep from this disease. I have to decide when she is no longer enjoying life.  Certainly, she hasn’t eaten much of anything for ages. But she still has interest in her favorites: asparagus and feta cheese. Every day this week we’ve been staring at her. Sure she looks awful, but does she look worse? Until today, when one answered yes, another answered no. But this evening there is no denying it. She is worse. It is time.

Goodbye dear friend and family member. We will miss you and all the days we shared.

My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

Also, Rock On!

For my birthday, a friend gave me a book about the Replacements (my all-time favorite band). With the book came a card that read

Happy birthday.  Also, rock on!

Now, this has a certain poignancy, because she and I are both getting pretty frigging old by this point. But I mention it here simply because I so love the way she put it.  Also, rock on!

P.S. The book is The Replacements, All over But the shouting: an oral history by Jim Walsh.