Josephine’s Ashes

I am not a spiritual person. I do not believe in an afterlife, and I do not have the patience needed to entertain the ideas of metaphysics. I only tell you this to open up one of my final posts about my friend and former pet Josephine. The vet ended her life at the end of November in 2016 and we had her cremated. The vet called us a few weeks later and gave us the urn full of her ashes.

Sam and I were not interested in keeping her ashes with us, but we both wanted to say good bye to her one last time. We decided to split her ashes between two sites. At our house, she loved sitting under the raspberry bush in our garden. It’s winter now, so the raspberry bush is pruned low to the ground. We dug a hole in the ground at the center of the bush and we both poured half of her ashes into the soil. She loved the space a lot, and we wanted her to be in a place she loved for a very long time.

The second half of her ashes were spread in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Yes, Josephine was a cat that was adopted from a shelter in Philadelphia. I know that she was not a lion, but Sam and I always said that she had a fierceness in her eyes. I sound delusional, but we used to laugh a lot about how domestication never bred the mightiness of a lion out of her.

We were on safari in Kruger for 3 nights this month. Every night we saw a pride of lions. There were 5 mothers and 12 cubs of varying ages. I was close enough to see their eyes and watch the cubs fall on their sides playing with their siblings. Sure, I was transferring my memories of Josephine to these noble cats, but when I saw them, I saw my cat.

On our last night, Sam and I walked onto the deck of our cabin and shared a few memories of Josephine. Our cabin sat on a dry river bed, that had not been full in 4 years. It had started to rain earlier that day, but the earth was so dry the river bed could not even puddle. We poured her ashes over our deck and the wind picked them up and spread them far and thin across the river bed. We smiled, hugged, reminisced about her and went to bed.

img_2034The next morning, we woke up to a real shock. The river bed was completely full. The rain had increased over the night. There were no signs of any ashes, as they had been swept deep into Kruger Park. The safari guide told us, we were very lucky to see the river as it is very rare, and he had never seen it in his time. I am not someone who needs to find meaning in coincidence, but I am someone who can enjoy and appreciate one.

When we die, I do not think much happens, but I find solace in knowing my friend’s ashes are where I think she would have wanted them to be. Some are under a bush in the last home of her life. The others are spread across the original home that she never knew, but the one she always allowed to show through the veil of modernity and domestication.

Thank you Josephine.

Our cat Josephine passed away. In October we noticed something was wrong with her mouth.  Weeks later we discovered a cancer had started to take her jaw bone and things worsened from that point. She could not keep herself clean from the amount of blood in her mouth.img_0960

In the past week she stopped eating and started to rapidly lose weight. In consultation with our veterinarian, we decided to end her pain.  I held her in my lap with Samer by my side and the veterinarian gave her the injections.  It was quick and I am told, quite painless for her.

She was a fabulous cat that was a real lover of life. We never needed an alarm clock, because she woke us up every morning. That first morning meow was sonorous and commanding. She loved food.  She was defiant and full of personality.   She would bully cats twice her size, make herself the center of any party, and she hated those birds outside of our third floor window.

She liked to hang in the garden and relax inside the raspberry bush. Josephine was Samer’s first pet, and though not my first, she was one that made a mighty impression. We will love and miss her immensely. My time with her is an important chapter in my life.  I owe so much to her and our time together.

img_1247Thank you old friend.

Here are some photos of her:

Canceled Puerto Rico

I am supposed to be waking up in Puerto Rico this morning. I was going to the wedding of some colleagues and then spending a few extra days relaxing and enjoying the island. However, I woke up in chilly overcast Philadelphia, to the death of Fidel Castro, and the dried blood of my cat on the floor.

How did I get here?

My cat Josephine is very sick. Cancer has made it into the bone of her jaw, and now she has a permanent open wound in her mouth. She bleeds as she drools and it is all over the house. When she cleans herself, she coats herself in her own blood, making her beautiful mane look like something from a horror film.77631-10475051_1447635288827892_560881605_n

We decided to cancel the trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday night. At that point she had not eaten in 48 hours and we were expecting the end to be close. Instead of leaving her with the cat sitter, we called Paola and explained that we were canceling. Honestly, we did not know if she would even make it to Friday night.

On Wednesday afternoon I thought that she might have eaten a little. There was food missing from the plate, but it was a small amount and I couldn’t be certain. I called the vet and made an appointment for the evening. I readied myself to discuss euthanasia. It seemed like were going in that direction. It was a chilly night, and I carried her in her carrier the four blocks to our vet.

Sam met me there and I started giving a history of the last few days. The vet suggested we offer her some food, which I thought was hopeless. I had bought 15 different types of soft food and offered them all. Additionally, I gave her dry food in every possible variation and everything had been refused.

She ate the entire plate. $160 so that she can eat normal cat food at the vet. Well played darling.

Now it is Saturday. Josephine is eating, though it seems pretty difficult.  She is still quite sick. The bleeding from her mouth has increased; she sleeps more, and continues to lose weight. We thought she may not make it through the weekend, but we are no longer that pessimistic.

What are our plans in lieu of a tropical beach vacation? Things are undetermined, but I just administered her pain medication and steroids. Now we are enjoying a coffee while listening to the Buena Vista Social Club and I am going to enjoy every minute we have together.

Plane Life

Many of you know that I travel more than your average worker.   I fly all over the United States working with local unions.   It’s a great job with plenty of stress, but I enjoy it.   One of the benefits and problems of flying is that airplanes are full of people who are at their worst.

I do believe that one cannot be mad at people stressing out.  En route traveling is a terrible scene.  Normally, I just laugh at people.   This week was great for laughing.

I was flying Southwest Airlines (I fly US Airways, as I have status, but I am budget minded for work these days, so I ended up on Southwest.)   I was transferring from at Chicago Midway to get on a flight to Minneapolis when I saw the following scene.

It was a full flight and there were no extra seats to be had, so some people were stuck to the dreaded Southwest middle seat.    I found myself in the second aisle from the back next to a mother and infant daughter.   It was desperate times.  The flight attendants had put the trays down on 6 successive seats.   Whenever anyone tried to sit down they would fake smile and say “These are for a family of 6,” with eyes that said keeping walking fuck bag.

A hippy woman in her forties or fifties with big jewelry and a mola skirt moved in to take a seat.  

“I’m sorry ma’am, but these are reserved for a party of six,” said Big Smile. Eyes looking for a challenge.

“I thought there were no reservations?” asks the hippy.    Her breath has started to accelerate.   Completely exasperated she throws her hands in the air and sits on an aisle seat near me. “I can’t believe this,” she mumbles.  Big Smile’s eyes exposed her joy from this victory.

To be honest, I never believed there was a family of 6.   I figured it was a full flight and it’s a tactic they use to create a moving buffer.   Known seats for last minutes stragglers, a place where people can be swapped out of in case of a problem.  The families had already boarded so the lie didn’t make much sense, but who cares.   They told us it was a completely full flight.

Southwest proved me correct.  Two last minute travelers came in and Big Smile escorted them to the empty seats.  Hippy sprung to action and bolted 3 rows back to take the other empty row of 3 seats.   She was behind me at this point. 

“They need to understand that I am really stressed out right now,” announced the hippy.

“Where do they get off?” responded the guy across the aisle.  (Where in the hell did he come from?  Go back to your stupid 786 habits of boring people book.)   “Nothing you did was wrong,” he concluded.

This woman got what she thought she rightly deserved.   She didn’t need to sit next to anyone.  She was alone.  Her breathing was labored, but she was free of people.   Then to my utter joy 3 people boarded the plane, and that malicious Big Smile swooped. 

“Two of you can sit right here,”  she beckoned down the aisle.   Hippy let out an almost silent moan of dread.   Every seat was full and we took off.

I liked Big Smile, she made me laugh with astonishment.   Hippy was having a bad day, but I hate people who reek of entitlement. If you are not in a good place, do not ever look for sympathy on an airplane.

Dealings with tumblefurs

For those of you who do not know, I have a cat. Her name is Josephine. I got her in August of 2011. This is a picture of her.


She is surly and not a particularly nice cat. She meows a lot and occasionally bites. She has been shedding a lot this summer. I brush her, I vacuum, and I brush her some more, and then start vacuuming again. I cannot keep up with the fur tumbleweeds in my house. I decided to call the local pet groomer for and he told me that he could get me in on Sunday at 11 am.

She is not the most loving pet on a good day. Your imagination shouldn’t need to shift gears to grasp how pissed off she was when I put her in the cat carrier. Well we jumped in the car and headed to the 5 star yelp groomer near my house.

Of course, there are other cats and even dogs in the shop. She instantly starts hissing at the other cats. Once the groomer takes her out of the cat carrie, he looks at me incredulously and says “Wow, she seems grumpy,” in the most stereotypical prissy gay voice you can conjure up.

Of course she is grumpy there is a big dog standing next to the table. A dog so big it can look her in the eye while she is standing on a table and he is on all fours on the floor.

“She is not really used to other animals, sorry,” I respond.

“Well, this IS a pet store. Of course there are other animals around,” the groomer says in the peevish voice he could muster.

We talk for 5 minutes and he says he will not shave her. He admits she does need to be groomed, but she is just too surly to be shaved that morning. He told me to come back when the place shuts down one night (is he hitting on me?) and he’ll shave her then when everyone, animals and staff, are gone. I was angry at Josephine for being a grouch, I was angry at him for being a wuss, and then I turn around and see Samer carrying Josephine near other cats so that he could hear her hiss.


Cat, why can’t you be normal? Groomer, I am paying you (way more than I want) to do this, I can’t imagine any cat is cool with being shaved, can you just do your job? BF, can you just stop harassing the pet that I am now hating on?

I never took the groomer up on the offer about coming back, Right now Josephine is sitting next me while I write this post and I am staring at a single hair glomming on to the screen of my laptop.