Feed on

June 2000.  I’m 26. Micah is 30. We amble through our Chicago neighborhood. My caffeine addiction leads us to Caribou Coffee.  I scan the classifieds left on the table and discover an ad for a Burmese cat breeder in Appleton, WI. Micah and I had been searching for a Burmese after meeting one at a B&B months before, but hadn’t been able to find one. With a sense of urgency, I place the call and the following day we drive to WI to meet our new family member.

I clutch a brand new carrier with a pattern of cats on the outside. A man veers down the driveway, clearly very drunk (or as Micah says, drunk as a Lord) that morning. He points to the front door in case we aren’t sure how to access the house. A woman opens the door. Her long black hair hangs in spikes to her shoulders. She is extremely pale. Elvira invites us into her living room cluttered with playpens holding kittens. We sit on the couch and peer into a pile of Burmese fluff.

I instantly see Corabelle, a champagne Burmese, and point to her. “That one.”  Micah nods. After agreeing not to breed her, let her outside and get her spayed, we pay and leave, Corabelle protesting all the way. It takes her two days before she decides that we are her people.  She’s careful to evenly divide her affection between the two of us. She loves heights and jumping from the top of the cabinets to the counter is easy for her. She loves drinking my coffee, stealing bites of oatmeal and chicken.

During the day Corabelle perches on Micah’s lap as he works from home. She meets us at the door and follows us from room to room, waiting in the bathroom at nighttime as we get ready for bed. One memorable night in winter, I wake feeling very hot.  She had climbed down my flannel pants and happily purred until I shake Micah, who sees a tail snaking out the top of my pants.

She is my nursemaid during my recovery from a collapsed lung and fibromyalgia. She travels with us ensconced on Micah’s lap or mine, depending on whose turn. She moves with us from Chicago to Saint Simons Island to Atlanta to Decatur. We move eight times and she acclimates each time.

She grudgingly shares my shrinking lap with Ellie in utero. She stays close to infant Ellie but keeps her distance during the early toddler lurching. Over the past two years, she attaches to Ellie and the two of them read together, play, snuggle and nap. She lets Ellie carry her around. She never bites her.

17 years with her wasn’t enough for us. But it was enough for dear Corabelle, whose small frame has always been tiny, but begins to lose weight. We take her to a cat specialist and have non invasive (but still stressful for her tests) to see what we can do. Our friend who is a vet tech gives her sub fluids twice a week for months. We try one transdermal med to slow her overactive thyroid down. During her last full day with us, she repeatedly gets sick and has renal problems.

We have her put to sleep in our home. It’s peaceful and lovely,  just right for our dear girl. I open the front door and light a candle. Ellie blows the candle out after Corabelle passes from this life.

The house is now too quiet, too still. I can still imagine her sitting on the table or jumping from one wall to the other or taking a nap in the sunshine or sitting in our dormer window watching cars and people. We have a plethora of videos and pictures of her, but of course that’s not enough. I’m now 43 and unsure how to be without her by my side.



The Tree

We have a good view from our dormer window onto our street. Over the past year I’ve become fascinated by neighbor Tom’s mysterious front yard. He has an amazing array of plants, trees and flowers. I’ve seen a variety of woodland creatures and once late at night, a coyote. E claimed one day that if a horse lived in the neighborhood, there’s no doubt it would be over there.

We had a violent storm last week. Lightning hit the largest tree and cleaved it in two. E worried the tree was hurt. The city department was out the next day trimming and hacking. We watched as huge branches were removed and placed into a chipper. Today that formerly majestic tree is being completely dismantled. I’ve never witnessed an entire tree being uprooted.

Tom has lived under the canopy that tree provided for 35 years. It feels as though I shouldn’t watch the crew finish the task  - that maybe Tom should be the only one there to pay respects.

I began to dislike – maybe even loathe this time of year when we lived in the midwest. Back then my day began in dark and ended in darkness with a lot of shoveling in between. Since living in the south, I’ve continued to skip over this month by looking forward to Feb with cheery Valentine’s Day (a respite of warmth, really), and then onto heralded spring.

Each morning I sit at breakfast with E and we talk about our day ahead. Every month on the kitchen calendar has an adorable picture. This month features her in an owl hat, turtle t-shirt and pink tutu. I’m constantly amazed by how quickly the months have melded together since she was born. And even this month is no exception. I’d be willing to continue with dark and dreary days if it meant time could slow down and we could stay here – at this fun and challenging age.

Lessons From E

My daughter teaches me all of the time.

She reminds me to be present in the moment. There is beauty watching her focus on a particular toy or book. Her absorption is lovely. I’ve learned that’s much more enjoyable than trying to wedge in another load of laundry or the myriad multitasking stuff my mind thinks I should tackle.

She shows me that we can find something hilarious in just about every situation. I love her laugh. It awes me.

Being in a hurry doesn’t faze her. We can take our time and arrive a few minutes late and enjoy ourselves more.

I’m not always certain what I should impart to her, but I know that’s also a collaborative process.


Part one

I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy being with my infant. That might sound silly or naive, but what I mean is this:  even when out with friends or on a date with Micah, I miss E and wonder what she’s doing. When I’m writing or occasionally working out, I feel the need to hurry up and get the words on the page or finish that pose to see what baby girl happens to be doing.

Part two

I didn’t realize how quickly time would pass. Those initial months of blurred life that just revolved around feedings, diaper changes, watching her sleep and not sleeping myself – where did they disappear? Now she’s pulling up to stand and eating solids (although I’m so nervous about choking that she’s still eating purees). Playing and walks have replaced those long infant naps. Now E is one who doesn’t go down without complete exhaustion overtaking her.

A Return to Writing

I guess you could say I’ve been quiet over the past year. Life has been loud and crowded and there wasn’t much space to write. My daughter is quickly approaching her first birthday and I’m more in awe of her each day. She’s teaching me about patience and joy, among other lessons. I’m so proud of who she is already and will become.

Support For the Sisters

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new feud brewing in the Catholic Church. This is an attack against the nuns that’s being called an investigation. An investigation? Of nuns? This is a man willing to risk his entire life to support the nuns against the Church.

I could tell you about it, but think Father Doug does a much better job
at this link

I sent him this thank you e-mail:

Fr. Doug,

I wanted to thank you for your support of the nuns. I’m a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, IN where the majority of my favorite – and most challenging teachers were nuns. During my senior year, I lived in a dorm shared by some of the sisters. I recall reading their death notices in the elevator and thought how quietly and peacefully they lived and died among us.

Jennifer Taylor
Atlanta, GA

Big Sky Country

We just returned from a fantastic visit to Dubois, Wyoming. It’s the kind of place where you have to really make an effort to get there, but well worth it. Our first flight took us from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, where I was surprised by the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains that encircle the airport. On the short flight from SLC to Jackson Hole, we plastered our faces to the window to peer at the unfamiliar terrain. The Jackson Hole airport is a western work of art. There are height restrictions, so you need air stairs to maneuver to/from the plane. Inside, local artwork lines the walls. There’s a glass enclosed fireplace. Even the TSA staff was low-key.

We stayed at a magical place called Brooks Lake Lodge. Brian from the lodge picked us up from the airport. The drive is about an hour and a half. We passed maybe five cars during that time. Aside from staring at the majestic Tetons, I marveled at the complete lack of billboards. There was nothing to interrupt the wide open skies. We drove by a couple of dude ranches and two gas stations. Near the Exxon station is a kennel filled with dogs bred for dog sledding.

Next, Brian drove us in a snow coach (fancy term for an Econoline van with tricked out snow tires) up the mountain. I could feel the altitude rising in my lungs as we climbed over the snow covered service road. Brooks lake Lodge has an elevation of 9,200 feet. As we learned over our vacation, sleeping is difficult to adjust to because you wake up breathing harder in the thin air.

My grandfather (Pops) was a dear, kind man. Today I’m remembering when I took him on Honor Flight to see the WW II Memorial in person. He loved the mechanics of flying. I only wish he had allowed himself to see more of the world, but he loved his place on the planet. It’s in the rolling hills of horse country in Kentucky.

I don’t think I ever really got to know him. He was a private man who only talked about his time in the Army as he got older. He was quiet, but had a loud laugh.

I didn’t write the obituary listed below, but thought I would include it here. It’s difficult to sum up a person’s life in a couple of paragraphs. I discovered that when I wrote and rewrote Nana’s obit in 2007. I miss you, Pops.

William Maurice Taylor, 88, of Winchester, widower of the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betty” McLendon Taylor, passed away peacefully on Thursday at the Clark Regional Medical Center after a short illness.

A native of Clark County, he was born May 28, 1923, to the late Claude Thurman Taylor and Jessie Tucker Hampton Taylor. He attended Bean Elementary School, St. Agatha Academy, and graduated from Winchester High School in 1942. He then attended Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester so he could be close to his future wife.

He was a Clark County farmer, member of the First United Methodist Church, former member of the Pioneer Amateur Radio Club, Winchester Rotary Club, and Kentucky Colonel. His hobbies included amateur radio, repairing antique radios, and family history.

He was enlisted in the military where he served as sergeant during World War II as part of the 9th Army Air Force based in England. He repaired and maintained airborne radar equipment, principally target-sighting and aircraft identification mechanisms. He was injured by a land mine at the base in Cotswold, England, while unloading a jeep and was honorably discharged after recovery at a hospital in England. He received a letter of accommodation for his service from President Harry Truman. He was awarded an American Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with one bronze service star, World War II Victory Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.

Fundraising with Diablo

Yesterday I met a man while sitting in traffic. His curly blond hair was tucked underneath a yellow and red cap, but most of it had managed to escape. He walked through the line of cars trying to cajole people to donate to a cause. I’m not sure what the cause was because I seem to never have any cash. When he passed me and tried to hand me a sheet of paper, I just said “no, thanks.”
“It’s good I can handle rejection,” he told me.
“I understand that. I’m a writer,” I commented.
“Really?” he asked, planting his arms into my window. “I am too. I wrote a book back in the 90′s called Demon Diablo.” He grinned.
“That’s great,” I replied.
“Yeah, and now here I am, fundraising. You know, my book was based on the song Hotel California. Ever heard of it?”
“Sure,” I answered.
“Now I should try to get it out there, you know? What should I do? Create a petition or a billboard?”
“Maybe check out one of the self publishing websites like Lulu.com,” I said.
“Lulu.com. Ok, great. How much does it cost? I’m getting about 17K soon.”
“Not that much,” I said, waving before driving away.

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