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January 22, 2007
I never had a cat named Fluffy, thank God. The first cat in living memory was Puff, named for the cat in our first grade reader. Puff was a fine big grey tiger tabby; he celebrated Thanksgiving with us one year by bringing in a mouse and killing it under the dining table. I shudder to think what he might have brought in had his name been Fluffy.

Then there was Yogi, a yellow kitten named for Yogi Berra. And the grey cat called Thomas.

I don't recall the name of the stray mother cat who arrived at the back door pregnant and ended up having two litters in the root cellar, resulting in a tribe of eleven cats who would lounge around the back porch all day. That was really too much; my mother obtained a sleeping potion from the vet, and put it in their food. I opposed this, but it was a sight to see: they all staggered around a bit and, one by one, all eleven dropped. We were then able to pack them up and take them to a shelter.

There was yellow Job, named for the biblical sufferer, who actually had a very nice life until somebody poisoned him right at the end of it. And beautiful long-haired Patches, whose human hostess couldn't keep him any longer and bequeathed him to us; he is immortalized in a lovely portrait of my daughters, the elder of whom sits in a velvet chair with Patches on her lap. And KooDoo, Anna's beloved white cat, whom she married one day by taking his paw under that same velvet chair and making a few earnest promises; this makes her upcoming marriage to Chad Walker her second, then.

Then there was Kitty Canaanite who, along with his siblings Kitty Hittite and Kitty Nubian, had belonged to Dan and Bob and couldn't go where they were going when they finished seminary. And lovely little black Jenny, whose tail was paralysed and who fell in love with my husband. And one-eyed Chi Chi, plucked from a life without a future on the streets of Newark, New Jersey.

And then there was April, now famous as the resourceful What's-Her-Name. And Gypsy, plump and pretty but of limited intelligence. And then Noodle, whose continued absence is still so painful to me that I can barely speak of it.

And Ben. The Cat Formerly Known as Benito. Jumps on the girls, knocks over plants, wine glasses on the table, knocks pitchers from the shelves. Sleeps all day and meows all night. What's-Her-Name and Gypsy still can't stand Ben, and I can tell that Q still has his doubts.

But I insist that Ben shows promise,and I have come to love him. Because Ben is who's here now.

Love the One You're With
-- words and music by Stephen Stills
If you're down, and confused
And you don't remember, who you're talkin' to
Concentration slips away
'Cause your baby is so far away

And there's a rose, in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies, with the dove
And if you can't be, with the one you love, honey,
Love the one you're with

Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit cryin' over good times you had
There's a girl, right next to you
And she's just waitin', for something to do


Turn your heartache right into joy
She's a girl, and you're a boy
So get it together, make it nice
You ain't gonna need, any more advice

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