The nest just became emptier

blogCallie in carWhere she came from still remains a mystery.  She was smart, she was beautiful, and she was very loving.  And now she’s gone.

One bright summer day 14 years ago, she arrived.  She wasn’t here when I left to run errands but when I returned there she was, frolicking with my three kids in our country home yard. 

“She just showed up,” my 18-year-old daughter said.  And her younger sister and brother agreed in unison, “Yeah, she just walked into our yard.”

I looked her over – she was young but she was well-groomed and certainly did not appear to be homeless.  No, she had been well-loved by someone and she had just lost her way.

“Can we keep her?” my 12-year-old son pleaded.

“No, we can’t.  She belongs to someone,” was my reply.

We searched for her family and waited patiently thinking surely whoever lost her would come seeking  and reclaim her.  But as each day passed, she worked her magic – making us love her -and she readily became a part of our family.

And who wouldn’t love her?  She was a kitten, probably around four or five months old.  Clean as could be, no sign of fleas, no tangles in her thick soft, multi-colored fur, no signs of being outdoors for very long.  She was a gorgeous calico cat with splotches of brilliant white, ebony black, and dark orange and beautiful golden eyes.  And she loved to be held and petted, so much so that she would climb in your lap and curl herself up to your neck as closely as possible.  She couldn’t get enough cuddling.  This was no ordinary stray cat.

No one ever called or came to claim her so she became ours and the kids named her Callie the Calico Cat.   She was not a typical cat.   She didn’t want to be alone, she wanted to be with you, on you, purring in your ear, lying in your lap, pushing her head into your hand demanding to be stroked.  She was especially fond of our son, curling up on him while he was asleep to nap with him, and nuzzling against his neck so she could lick his ears when he was awake. 

She was well-behaved and rarely scratched either us or the furniture but did use the wooden deck posts outside as her favorite scratching place.  She fit right into our family and was so very sociable, not aloof and independent like some felines are.  She always wanted to be in our midst and when I was recuperating from cancer surgery, she was constantly at my side purring and gazing into my eyes.  Almost like she was asking me:  Are you going to be okay? 

She watched as one by one each of our children went off to college and she always warmly welcomed them back home.  She wanted to be a part of our celebrations, activities, and even games, a part of our very lives.  And she was. When this nest emptied out, she became Mama and Papa’s constant companion.

blogCallie playing games

Playing dominoes with the family

Not only was she the most loving cat I ever owned, she was the smartest. She learned to ring a bell on a string tied to the door that led from our family room to the garage where her litter box sat.  When she wanted back inside, she rang the bell.  She learned to perform some ‘tricks’ for treats like sitting, dancing (spinning in a circle), begging, and reaching into the treat jar to retrieve her own goodie.

If she desired to venture outside, she would find me and gently reach up with her paw, tap me to get my attention, and lead me to the door.  She rarely meowed and when she did, it was a quiet and gentile me-ahh.   She loved stretching out and napping in the warm sunshine on the deck in the afternoons.  She didn’t like rain or snow and refused to go outside in either kind of weather.  She loved sitting on our master bedroom window sill at night and peering out over the front yard.  She guarded our property like a watchdog yet was extremely frightened of the road and traffic. We often thought she might be pretending to be a jungle cat when she stalked her way through the garden. 

She loved her life here at our house and only strayed away from home once.  She came back and soon produced six precious kittens to our kids’ delight and my dismay.  She was a good mother, but that would be her first and last litter. She loved new toys and especially chasing her laser mouse and she was attracted by all things shiny even if they were on your person.  She was a real girly-girl, known to ‘borrow’ earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even my diamond engagement ring once because glittery things fascinated her and she just had to have them!

She enjoyed her toys especially the glittery ones and her favorite had to be the mouse laser; she was determined to catch that elusive red dot!  But I have to believe she loved us more than anything else. We were her people and she wasn’t happy unless she was with us.

All of that ended Monday evening.  She became very sick quickly, not eating or drinking, and her breathing became laborious.  Papa and I realized that we were losing her.  I checked on her often throughout the day and each time as I stroked her silky fur and crooned sweet words to her, she found the strength to purr as loudly as she could.  She waited until Papa got home from work so he could say his goodbye and then she slipped away.

Today, this empty nest seems so much emptier without our faithful Callie in it.  I’ve owned several cats in my lifetime but this cat was different.  I’m not an ardent animal lover yet I find myself grieving for her more than I ever imagined I would.  Tears slide down my cheeks like they have for no other animal.  She wasn’t just a pet, she was a member of our family,  and our kids are just as shocked and saddened by her death as Mama and Papa are.  From time to time, I think I hear the little bell on her glimmering pink collar and I find myself looking for her. 

She was special.  She was one of a kind.  There will never be another cat like her. And she was meant to be ours.  Callie was a gift to us and she’ll always be in our hearts.

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.” ~ John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright



The fabric of my life

blogIMG_3805I write in our home office at my husband’s dark cherry wooden desk where our desktop computer sits.  When writer’s block grips my mind and my fingers stop flying across the keyboard, I let my eyes wander around the room at familiar belongings or gaze out the two front windows of our house onto the green expanse of our yard and beyond.

Doing so, I see and feel textures all around me.  That ancient emerald green second-hand chair – the one we paid a whopping $12 for at an estate auction – with its zigzag patterned fabric rests in the corner.  Not only does it present texture for the eyes but for the hand as well as I feel its nubby ridges of upholstery. Folded across the back of that chair, a woven blanket in various hues of blue, its texture also noticeable to my eye, reminds me of my daughter’s mission trip to Mexico.

At the windows, blinds with their slated ribs create another type of texture while the soft fabric draping those frames provides a different consistency.  Outside those windows, I spy the concrete sidewalk which I know has a slightly rough surface. Beyond that, spiky blades of unmown grass, leafy trees with uneven, rough-to-the-touch bark, and velvety smooth red petunia petals become visible.  Textures are everywhere I look.

And I can feel them as well.  If I close my eyes and run my hands in front of the computer keyboard, my fingers glide unobstructed over smooth glass that covers the desk top.  Underneath my feet I can feel the rigid, unyielding chair mat and when I step away from the desk, a plush, soft cushion in the form of carpet comforts my bare feet.

Our lives are full of textures – some visible, some we appreciate by touching – and I suspect that we take them for granted.  I can honestly admit that I haven’t given much thought to this concept before contemplating which photo to use for this week’s photo challenge (click here for that photo).    As I considered attempting to capture a picture or locating one which already existed in my cache, different ideas swirled in my mind about what constitutes texture.   

I kept coming back time and time again to the television commercial for cotton.   The touch.  The feel.  Of cotton.  The fabric of our lives.

Cotton has texture, and I like the feel of it.   It’s a natural fabric, soft and comfortable yet durable and strong.  If I were to pick a fabric to represent my life, I might choose cotton.  Yes, cotton would be a good choice for the fabric of my life.  The fabric of my life.   Think about that for a minute.  The fabric of your life.

A fabric does exist in each life.  It’s what we’re made of;  it’s our very own texture, if you will.  Some of us are sturdy and no nonsense with textures that are durable but perhaps a little rough.  Some of us are silky smooth and glide along through life, or so it seems.   Some of us are bristly and bumpy as we try to endure obstacles in our way, surmounting those hills and valleys of trouble.

I imagine if we had a choice, we might desire a texture that would allow us to skate through life on an even level effortlessly and easily.  But real life isn’t like that.  It’s not as smooth as a piece of glass, a perfectly laid layer of ice at the skating arena, or a swatch of glossy satin.  And it’s certainly not always as comfortable or reliable as cotton. 

Oh, we want it to be.  We want our life texture to be downy and comfy, cushioning us from troubles like carpet protects our feet from hard floor surfaces.  Then we could just sink into its security and envelop ourselves in its coziness. 

But no, life demands that we embrace our own texture that enables us to maneuver through whatever happens our way because troubles do come, the path is not easy or well-marked, and sometimes we just get lost.  And that’s when who we truly are comes to light – others can see the fabric of our lives.

Texture means more than just whatever meets the eye or touches the hand.  The texture of my life’s fabric is deep down, inside, the essence of my core.   It defines my beliefs, my choices in life, and my determination to give thanks in all circumstances.  For me, that texture began long ago on a roughhewn, rugged wooden cross when the Fabric of my life proved His ever-lasting love by giving His life so that I may live.   That is what defines me.  

What interested me was not news, but appraisal. What I sought was to grasp the flavor of a man, his texture, his impact, what he stood for, what he believed in, what made him what he was and what color he gave to the fabric of his time.”  ~ John Gunther, American writer/journalist 1901-1970


Short on composition but not thoughts



Texture:  n.  The appearance of a fabric resulting from the woven arrangement of its yarns or fibers. (definition from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

I didn’t have to search too far outside the world of our home office to capture this photo for this week’s photo challenge. I think this picture fits the definition, what say you?  

An old emerald green upholstered chair sits in the corner and it provided fodder for this challenge.  But it did more than that.  Yes, this old chair with the wooden arms and Queen Anne style legs, purchased at an estate auction 15 years ago for $12, prompts me to consider that word ‘texture’ as more than just a photo challenge, and I find I have something more to say about the idea.  But time is short today and many unfinished items still weigh down my to-do list.  And it’s rainy and frightfully dreary outside which just slows me down considerably.  I am in need of some sunshine for motivation!  

I hate to think I’m disappointing my readers – you know, those of you who visit Mama’s Empty Nest for more than just my photography (as amateur as it is) –  because I have been posting more photos and fewer words in the last few weeks.  But I hope to share my thoughts about texture on Thursday.   Of course tomorrow will be another photography day with my regular  Wordless Wednesday.   In the meantime, click on the photo above and check out that texture.

Linking up to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture today.


Finding summer love


Some days, summer lovin’ might be found cruising down the river.

Some days, summer lovin’ might be found in people and special events.

And some days, summer lovin’ can be found just chilling on the front porch with a cup of tea and the peacefulness of a lovely, quiet day in the country.

Linking up today with the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’