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tacet root vegetables. [k.s. friday]

ritenuto: an abrupt slowing down of tempo

tacet: silence of instrument

fermata: pause of unspecified time

and, suddenly, a prolonged tacet. no notes. no instrumentation. no expression markings. no crescendos or decrescendos. just silence. the baton is laid down. there is no beat pick-up. there is no rest. it is silence. issued. written in the music. a ritenuto – screeching to slow, a subito tacet. suddenly still.

the reassurances are generous, heartfelt. they are reflexes, like putting out your hand when you fall. they are meant to help in the silence, in the sudden slowdown, the sudden stop, the fermata holding the tacet. they make my heart quiver, these well wishes. but they don’t change the composer’s notes in the music: the ritenuto. the tacet. the fermata. those are printed in the music; those are decreed. they are unquestionable, immovable, indisputable, final.

i was voted off the island, in “survivor” talk. it was not an island, but, nevertheless, i am not a survivor. not there, anyway. i am forever tacet-ed there. the fermata above my tacet-ed head reminds me.

it, too, reminds me to be still. to step lightly. to be gentle with myself. i run the scores in my head – scores of scores in that place. i emoted each expression marking, each twist of the music, each gradual shaping, each change of tempo, of timbre, of voice.

and now.

i opened this book randomly, hoping to arrive on a page that might offer me wisdom. i read: “upheavals in life are often times when the soul has become too smothered; it needs to push through the layers of surface under which it is buried….it reminds us that we are children of the eternal and our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity.” (john o’donohue)

it doesn’t feel like a platitude. i’ve read it over and over and over again now since the morning i was fired. i wonder, each day, when the baton will be lifted, when the pick-up beat will come. i remember the all-engulfing power of change works both ways – to decimate and to breathe new life. i – try – to trust the dusty trail i am reluctantly set upon.

upheaval. sudden arrival at prolonged silence. not much more upheaval for an artist than silence. yet, as i sit in this silence, deemed as fitting by the composer, i feel the root-vegetable-of-my-soul gathering energy. with no idea and no preconception, i await as it will push through the earth one day, steeped in nutrients, rooted in rich soil.

my sweet momma said, “live life, my sweet potato.” oh wise woman, you must have known.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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unpredictable beauty. [two artists tuesday]

“sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we had never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of concealed beauty.” (john o’donohue)

a simple errand. we needed to pick up some furniture to transport in big red for a friend. destination: ikea.

there is something magical about ikea. we hadn’t been there in ages and were relieved to find few people there and everyone masked properly. vowing to hopefully come back soon and browse a bit, we pulled the boxes off the shelves on our pick list. pushing our cart to the front checkout lines, david, more than once, had to re-focus me away from the enormous displays of product. iphone in hand, we wove our way through the covid-floor-circles-disney-style line, waiting our turn at the cash register.

every where i looked, we were surrounded by interesting color, repeated pattern, textures that begged to be touched. david, more than once, softly called my name from the other side of the pushcart, gently spurring me out of the threshold-of-alive-mystery-of-concealed-beauty, snapping pictures with inordinate joy. “k-dot,” he would quietly prod.

the spatulas called my name too, repeating patterns of red-mama-dear-lips making me smile. spatulas are usually not mysterious creatures, but their color, design, stacking lures you out of ordinariness, opening that threshold, the place for glitter to be seen.

it wasn’t just the spatulas, though. i was victim to the lint rollers, the stainless steel utensil holders, the cork trivets. hidden beauty everywhere. i could feel my sweet momma and poppo cheering me on; they were likewise entranced by ikea.

if safety allows, we will return. there are a few small things on my own pick list i’d like to consider purchasing. but mostly, i just want to wander the aisles with my camera, noticing the unpredictable beauty.

yes, not a bad way to spend any day. noticing the unpredictable beauty.

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it’s where i’m from. [k.s. friday]

i come from make-it-work stock. my sweet momma and poppo were children of the great depression and were not wasteful sorts. soap socks, squeezing every last vestige of shampoo from the bottle, re-using boxes, rube-goldberg fixes, not a lot of retail therapy. they made do with what they had and never complained. latest trends were mostly lost on them and competing for the best lawn/decor/car/wardrobe/jewels/stuff was not a thing. as the youngest child, with siblings much older than me who both married by the time i was eleven, i had much time to glean and learn to mimic their ways. making-it-work. it’s where i’m from.

and so now, empowered by these two forces of nature – my mom and my dad – with a new brace on my wrist, i am making do. after breaking both wrists the end of january in a snowboarding accident, i finally had healed fractures. the pandemic had interrupted all my occupational therapy and, thus, i’ve been frustrated by a lack of range of motion in my right wrist, so my old brace was often my companion. but i made it work. it’s where i’m from.

and then i fell.

the floor was wet and, unfortunately, unmarked as such. my feet flew out from underneath me and, in natural reflex action, i fell…on my right wrist. i felt right away something was wrong but waited to contact my dr for 48 hours, hoping for quick residing of the new pain. i’m pretty tough and it takes a lot for pain to get to me. d says i have a high tolerance for pain. i blame my mom and dad. they were tough and endured much in their lives. but this isn’t a post about my wrist – soon an MRI and a hand specialist will tell me what is now going on, post-fall. in the meanwhile, i keep on keeping on, just the same as after i simultaneously broke both wrists. making do. it’s where i’m from.

as we hiked along trails in aspen’s woods of color, we mused on how easily we were, well, amused. simply hiking, sitting alongside a creek, smelling the scent of autumn forest – these things were sheer entertainment for us. no restaurants, no bars, no shops, no shows required. (and, in the middle of a pandemic, not even considered.) i thought of all the times i had spent simply being outside, picking apples with my momma and poppo, taking drives, having picnics in parks at wooden tables carved with initials of people we would never know. as we sat around the table out on the balcony or socially-distanced in the condo, i thought of all the times i just spent simply coffee-sitting with my mom and dad, talking long over dinner, late-night conversations on the phone. as my daughter and i talked about my parents, her beaky and pa, i thought of their sacrifices, of their belief in all peoples regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, religion. i thought of their altruism, their open-mindedness, their embracing of new ideas and their love of learning new things and going new places, and i see their eyes reflected in both my daughter’s and son’s eyes. it’s where i’m from. and it’s where they’re from.

as we approach this very important time of voting, i worry about the narrative others are hearing, but not researching. i worry about the rhetoric coming from this white house, the absolute lies, the warping of truths, the sickening twist of stories, the re-defining of the definition of words, the lack of understanding, the self-serving agenda, the out and out falling prey to gross exaggerations of misinformation. i worry about those people listening to this, believing it, voting with this toxic barrage of falsehoods in their hearts.

and i think about my mom, who always, always, always said, “look it up.” yes. look further. research. find objective, factual resources and immerse in those. look. it. up.

yes. make do. look it up. it’s where i’m from.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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the little people. [flawed wednesday]

“you can’t take it with you,” my sweet poppo would say, referring to money and an eventual dying. he and my momma were generous people. even in the lower-middlest-of-middle-class living, they were giving and altruistic. they gave out of pockets-not-full-of-plenty, never hesitating, never clutching onto money. they worked hard, paid taxes, contributed to organizations they believed in, helped their children and their children’s children. they were amazing examples of character, especially as defined by the ironic presidential proclamation earlier this week. they never failed to lift others up and believed in those who needed assistance. they were not greedy.

but greed rears its exceptionally ugly head nevertheless. and the administration that currently rules this nation (i rue the use of such an unfortunately appropriate word) continually thrusts forward self-serving agenda for those-with and denies the importance of policy for those-without. in a country that calls itself a democracy and ensures domestic tranquility, it is a pitiful state of affairs to celebrate, undermine and invite more disparity in its populace.

it should be with a (large) modicum of shame that leona helmsley is quoted as saying, “only the little people pay taxes,” but instead it is apparent that is the whole point. keep the little people little; keep the rich people rich.

we drove through tiny towns from canon city, colorado to limon, colorado. the never-ending rangeland boasted tiny mobile homes and collapsing houses, people living in squalor. the trump 2020 signs were prevalent. i wondered aloud why anyone living in such circumstance would fly a giant flag for a man and a complicit administration that could care less about them. i wondered why they would choose to campaign for a person who cannonballs along the unfair advantages for the wealthy, the keeping-those-with-less down policies, the brutal inequity under every umbrella. i wondered why they would support someone who has clearly paid less taxes than they had. i wondered if they knew that this very president, a self-expressed billionaire, had paid merely $750 in taxes. i wondered if they knew that he and his cronies consider them the “little people” of this leona quote. i wondered how they, as humans who are citizens of this country and deserve respect and equality and opportunity, would feel about being called “little people”.

it was my dad’s 100th birthday on saturday. he always wanted to live to be 100 and, as we talk about him and tell stories and i talk to him aloud, we celebrate him as 100 even if he is on another plane of existence.

as we drove the rest of the way home through green fields turning to gold, viewing signs of a clear misinformation election campaign, i thought about my dad. we entered quick stores after pumping gas to use the restroom, stores with large signs on the door that clearly stated “masks required”, to find misinformed, defiant and cavalier people wandering about with nary a mask, and i thought about my dad. we stopped for a picnic by the side of a lake, stretching our legs, and i thought about my dad.

in the warped definition of the current pompous leadership of this nation, i suppose he, like we, would be considered “little people”.

but i thought about his integrity, his love, his tolerance, his hardworking nature, his just-make-it-work-ness, his generosity, and i have no doubt about how he would feel about the united states’ current administration and attitudes.

the topic of money is an easy one. “you can’t take it with you,” my dad would say. virtue, on the other hand? “no,” he’d say, “you can’t take it with you either.” and, after a pause, he’d add, “especially if you never had it.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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happy-lights. [two artists tuesday]

over eight months of happy-light

happy-lights. we surround ourselves with these. on the deck, on the headboard, strung on ficus trees, draping the shelf in the kitchen. there are still happy-lights at the littlehouse on island, touches that made it feel like home, tiny torches of happy.

it is astounding to us that through the dead of winter, their glimmer shining through the snows of the season, a rainy spring and a hot, hot summer these little minilights, plugged in and on 24/7, lasted over eight months on our front rail since we put them up in early december for the holiday season.

in true beaky-behavior, i am going to write this happy-light company a letter. because what person, what company, doesn’t need to hear something positive during a time of so much uncertainty.

$2.99 is marked on the box. because i know me, i know that we wouldn’t have purchased them until they were on 50% off sale. even at full price, i have to say, the twinkle of these lights outside as we pulled up in the dark, the twinkle of these lights in our dark sunroom or over the littlehouse sink, is a we-are-home reminder. it gently says to us that we are in a safe place, a place of love, a place we care about, a place of light.

perhaps this country needs to string up some happy lights. 2800 miles across the united states is 14,728,000 feet. our happy lights are 20′ of lighted joy, which means 736,400 strands of this very set. that would end up costing a tad bit over $2.2 million. but….on a 50% off sale we’re only talking $1.1 million. and wouldn’t that be an inexpensive (federal-government-spending-wise) message to all: you are home. you are safe. you are cared for. you are in a place of light. you are loved.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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better humans. [two artists tuesday]

one of my sweet momma’s favorite stories to tell me, about me, was when i used to stand in place and bellylaugh. she said i would put my tiny hands up in the air and then deeply bend at the waist and bring my hands down, up, down, repeating over and again, all while laughing heartily. it made everyone nearby laugh, hearts-open. it made her giggle to tell me this old story. and each time she told it i felt deeply loved.

i remember my first baby’s – The Girl’s – bellylaugh. it was extraordinary hearing this wee child, knowing little about the world, laugh. it felt like the same miracle when it was my second baby’s – The Boy’s – turn to chortle with all his little body. their giggles made everything in the moment alright. they are deeply loved and their giggles still to this day make everything in the moment alright.

so perhaps that’s a good place to start in the quest to be better humans. perhaps bellylaughing first about the sheer unlikeliness, the improbability, that you get to live this very instant, in this very place, at this very time. nevermind the division, the hostility, the challenges, the histrionics of forces-human-designed. you are here. i am here. no matter how same we are, no matter how different we are. we are in this together. that’s a start. now commence betterment.

“so, i wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. we may never pass this way again. that’s why i want it with you.” (seals & crofts)

he spoke about humans today. how it all really boils down to a measure of how we live in community that is the important stuff. the never-pass-this-way-again moment-after-moment-ness of how we help each other, hold each other, support each other, raise each other up, love each other, regardless of the each or the other.

momma loved the verse “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”

maybe the beginning of being better humans is that simple. let’s share this moment. let’s be amazed we are in it together. let’s be amazed we are in it at all. let’s learn how to be in community together. even in the hardest stuff. it’s a worthy exercise to see two people or two disparate groups defuse a hot and angry moment communicating with humor, to temper down with a lightness of spirit, to divert what could divide them forever, instead focusing on how to move forward with generous hearts.

maybe “let me drown in your laughter” (john denver) is a good start. maybe love will take shape in the pause of anger overtaken by a wave of kindness and gentle temperament, an intentional defusing of heat. maybe then grace will flow in like the tide of change. maybe then we can recognize what we have been, what we are, where we want to go, who we want to become – together. mindfully knowing “we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone) maybe then we can – together – have the real conversations, sob the gut-wrenching and worthwhile cries, see our human failings. and we can take a tiny baby step toward being better humans.

yesterday a small peaceful protest drove and walked by our house. we live on a street perpendicular to the more important streets, the more likely avenues for protest. yet, right in front of us, right in front of our house, was this marvelous group of people marching and driving, chanting and beeping. we stood and clapped, joining their enthusiasm, echoing their pleas, and couldn’t have been more proud to see them go by. and we laughed in those moments of living, joining, hearts-open. not bellylaughs, but audible smiles, exulting in the baby steps, right here, right now.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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apples and numbers. [k.s. friday]

it’s approaching. you can feel it in the morning air. fall. its scent lingers in the fields of wildflowers, succumbing to cooler nights, a lower sun on the horizon. the bees are desperately, frantically, trying to hang on for dear life. the mosquitoes, thankfully, are writing their wills and the cicadas are singing as if the judges of ‘american idol’ or ‘the voice’ were gathered beneath the trees, an audience of appreciators.

it’s different though.

this fall is all about numbers. covid-19 pandemic numbers. lethal-force racial fatality numbers. protest numbers. healthcare numbers. unemployment numbers. eviction numbers. payroll tax numbers. rally numbers. poll numbers. we are surrounded by a plethora of numbers with an increasingly urgent need to be aware of all of them.

there will be no relaxing inside starbucks sipping pumpkin spice lattes. there will be no apple festivals or street fairs celebrating fall. there will be no hayrides, bale-bouncing with friends on a rickety wagon. there will be no chili cook-offs or slow dance parties on the patio. this was the stuff of pre-pandemic. the stuff of the olden days. the stuff of 2019. the stuff of 1996. the stuff of 1973.

there will be thoughtfully attended protests. there will be emotional vigils. there will be testing sites. there will be virtual funerals. there will be video-conferenced schools and meetings and religious gatherings. there will be jobs sought, financial devastation for too many, unreachable healthcare. there will be speeches to listen to, about which to have hope. there will be speeches to fact-check, about which to have righteous anger.

the numbers have risen to the surface and rightfully demand our attention.

but there’s this – written one year ago: every fall, my sweet momma and my poppo would load us up in the dodge with the old wicker picnic basket and a small cooler.  we would drive out east on long island or head north into upstate new york.  the baby of the family with siblings already out of the house, i always had a friend along.  susan went everywhere with us.  we would take mad libs and gum, snacks and cans of soda and we would talk and giggle our way to the apple farm. it wasn’t like we couldn’t find apples near us; the jaunt away to apple-picking was the point.  the walk in the orchard, the drive through leaves of indescribably stunning color.  we’d stop at roadside picnic tables and take back country roads.

and now, a long while later, i think of those places, those times.  the memories are sweet, macintosh-apple-sweet.  but the yearning is real.  every autumn makes me just as wistful.  i think of my children jumping in leaves and pumpkins carved with silly faces.  my parents and the old dodge.  pies with homemade crust, hot soup and cocoa, the smell of cinnamon and caramel candles.  fires in the fireplace or outside around the firepit.  jeans, sweaters, boots.  and apples.

and so now that the time for jeans and sweaters and boots is in the offing, i need remember. there are still quiet fires in the firepit to have. there are pies we can make and cocoa we can brew up. there are big stock pots of soup to steep. there are trails with crunchy leaves. there are pumpkins to carve, sunflowers to vase, and backroads to drive.

there are things that must be done. the numbers insist. it’s a profound time filled with information and a call to speak up, to question, to research, to, yes, wear a mask and yes-yes, to vote.

but my wistful-near-autumn heart also needs apples.

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MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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the indefensible. [d.r. thursday]

my sweet momma would say, “teasing is a form of affection.”

in fourth grade it was a thing for boys to run after the girls on the playground, catch their arm and hold it with one hand while twisting their wrists in a move that had a terrible politically incorrect name.  it was painful and undeniably punishable.  no matter the circumstance, it was not defensible.  tommy a. always chose me and i would go back into the classroom after recess with a reddened wrist, tears in my eyes and an infuriated heart.  my teacher would tell me that tommy really likes me; my classmates would sing the “kerri and tommy sitting in the tree….first comes love…..” song.  but tommy’s aggression was never a question.  no, in this case, teasing was not a form of affection.

the metaphoric wrists of our country’s populace are being twisted day in and day out these days.  have you not yet wearied of the rhetoric that, with no effort to quell it, is permeating the soundtrack of our lives?  the sad thing is the gross advancement of this kind of muck, excrement of lies, wildly distorted narratives, convoluted lawlessness. 

this is not the stuff of a fourth grade boy.  indeed, this is the stuff of the president of the united states.  the most powerful man in the free world. 

weary doesn’t capture it.

how is this behavior acceptable, this distortion of truth, these made-up stories, this bold vitriol of violence, of division, this self-riddled agenda, this absolute hatred of the premise of equality in the entirety of this country based on one-and-all-regardless-of-gender-race-religion-socioeconomic-status? 

the wrists are twisting in his party and they are doggedly, obediently following along, quietly rubbing their red wrists, checking their bank accounts and stock market holdings, gripping their offices with nary a glance to the physical, emotional, financial well-being and safety of their constituents.  is this the reason to defend the indefensible? 

tommy a. would invariably get in trouble.  even in fourth grade, he was held accountable for his misdeeds.  he was directed to apologize to me and to any other girl (or boy) who he had hurt out on the playground or the asphalt.  his repeat offense yielded further punishment until he no longer equated his aggression with a “form of affection”.

when is it that these repeated offenses by the president of the united states and his pandering minions will yield punishment?  when is it that this aggression will cease? 

our country sits in the middle of a global pandemic that has killed over 185,000 americans.  are you ready to die for the furthering of this president’s agenda?  defend the indefensible.

our country sits in the middle of social, racial, gender injustice, a system broken and drowning in evil inequality, furthering the chasm between peoples of this nation.  are you ready to be divided from family, from friends, from people you love, from neighbors for the furthering of this president’s agenda?  defend the indefensible.

our country sits in the middle of the playground, its shores are disappearing, its forests are burning, its air is unclean, its water is toxic.  are you ready to sit back in a lawn chair and watch as the world self-destructs for the furthering of this president’s agenda? defend the indefensible.

is this his form of affection?  is this the way he shows love for this country?

do not defend the indefensible.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

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