“That’s the Biggest Cat I’ve Ever Seen!” — So Long, Shadrach

Yikes! I haven’t blogged for so long that WordPress was, like, “I’m sorry. Who are you again? Please identify.” You know, in the same way that your iPhone’s Siri (not to be confused with the unfortunate Suri, bless her heart, whom we all know will rebel against her mother at age 14 and run away to become queen of the Scientologists) gets annoyed  when you ask her stupid questions. But I have good excuses: We were vacationing in sunny Florida and then came home to a sick cat. Sadly, Shadrach — our lone male out of the four — turned out to have unfixable kidney disease and so we wished him “safe journeys” and sent him on. He was big and fat and the feline equivalent of a grumpy old man, but he’d stuck with us for almost 16 years and we miss him. My tough sports-editor husband, who yells at AP and makes photographers tremble, practically is inconsolable — he’s like that about pets. For me, Shadrach and his two sisters (we got the fourth one a couple of years after the first three) are a link to when my two 20-something daughters were younger and living at home and we had kids running in and out of the house all the time and all sorts of meetings and rehearsals and practices on our family calendar and I loved every minute of it. We got the cats sort of as a divorce present shortly after we became a single-parent family. I swear that one day in the privacy of our own kitchen, we said, “Oh, it’d be great to have a cat!” and within minutes we were deluged with offers. One of Older Daughter’s friends let us pick from a barn cat’s litter, and of course my firm commitment to ONE CAT ONLY turned into ONE CAT ONLY FOR EACH OF US and there we were. The girls rescued No. 4 from a pizza box at a local swimming pool but our hopes for one big happy cat family never materialized as the three incumbents immediately forged an alliance that’s still impenetrable, even after all these years. With Shadrach gone, we’re not sure how the new dynamic of two sisters versus one step-sister will play out. It’s clear that he enforced some sort of order — possibly by simple virtue of being twice as big as the girls — so who knows what will happen now. I’d schedule them all for a cat-therapy session but they hate car rides and strangers, so that’s not going to work. I’ll keep you posted. Tomorrow we’ll talk about all the cool places to go and things to do in Pensacola Beach, Fla., but right now I think I’m going to find those boxes of old photos and look for the ones of three little scrawny kittens, especially the orange tabby with the big green eyes.

 

“The Hunger Games” and the Shoals

As soon as I re-remember how to download photos from my new iPhone to my laptop (stupid technology!), I’ll share photos of Grandson Nolan’s fourth birthday — because that’s what we proud grandmas do and we don’t really care how many adorable children you see today because we know our grandbabies are the adorablest. So there. In the meantime, though, I want to brag on my adopted home of the Shoals, in northwest Alabama. This little corner of the state has produced probably more Very Important Folks than any other two-county area anywhere. From Glencoe, the 1840s stallion from whom practically all thoroughbreds are descended, to politicians, musicians, writers, engineers, athletes, designers, actors, humanitarians and real-life heroes through the years, the Shoals is known for its talented, determined and creative people. Take the “The Hunger Games,” for instance. We’ve got four — count ‘em, four — connections to this blockbuster hit movie. Muscle Shoals’ favorite duo Secret Sisters sings one of the most haunting songs on the soundtrack; Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars, half of which is Florence resident and University of North Alabama graduate John Paul White, has two tunes (one with Taylor Swift); UNA grad and middle Tennessean Jack White (no, not THAT Jack White) was the food stylist and UNA culinary student James Perini was the food-stylist assistant. Now, if only I’d been the one to figure out the next must-read young-adult fiction series, it would all be perfect. What about young wizards who are picked for a fight-to-the-death reality TV show? Or a mysterious castle that’s also a school for angsty teen vampires and a sullen but conflicted Alan Rickman? Or maybe …