Friday, May 21, 2010

depressed, but with the comfort of art and a good parrot

Yesterday I went back to bed after the children were packed off to school. I felt supremely depressed over the untimely death of my poor cat, Ray Charles. A lot of friends have told me that they know how I feel because they had to put down their aged cat, and I appreciate their good intentions, but it makes me feel worse because their cats got to live out a normal lifespan, while my Ray Charles wasn't even two years old.

Ray was an unusually affectionate little cat, who was very close to me, the children, our other cat, Henry, and all foster kittens who passed through the home. He was a very small black cat with a crooked tail and a raucous voice which was evidence of some Siamese heritage (you would be surprised at how many feral kittens in San Francisco are clearly half Siamese. I think there are a lot of owners of Siamese cats who don't neuter). Until he became very ill, he was a huge presence in our home, a very small black cat with a big voice and a big personality.

I didn't want to get up and face the world. Eventually it got to be near one o'clock, when I had said I would help the lower school art teacher set up the annual art fair. I considered not going. After all, I'd helped out the day before, and also I might not even be missed. There would be other volunteers. But I do love the art teacher and the art festival, and I hate to be a flake, so I dragged myself into the shower just before 1:00. I was twenty minutes late and profoundly depressed when I showed up, but I made up for it by staying late, fetching Lola and Iris at dismissal time and getting them to help as well, until the art teacher assured me there was absolutely nothing left to be done.

The sun shone (although a strong, chilly wind blew, detaching the "Welcome to the Art Festival" banners twice). The children's art was magnificent. I particularly fell in love with the third grade's series of "Beckoning Cats": they'd taken a field trip to Japantown and then each made a smiling, waving cat sculpture. These cats had so much personality and verve and color.

Last night my parrot sneaked into bed with me and slept on my pillow. I didn't get up and put her back on her parrot tree. I miss sleeping with Ray Charles (there was a lot of rivalry, bragging rights attached, over who Ray chose to stay with for the night, whereas no one ever wants poor old drooling Al, the cat who is allergic to his own teeth, and the other cats aren't particularly snuggly). Parrots aren't snuggly at night either, and they don't purr or have fur, but it was somehow comforting to have Pigwidgeon dozing on the pillow.

14 comments:

Silliyak said...

Well you can't beak that!

hughman said...

i'm a little fascinated by how the parrot sleeps on your pillow. does this happen a lot with birds?

Dread Pirate Davi said...

I'd have loved to have seen a picture of that.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I only once heard a story about someone sleeping with a pet bird, and that was some weird article about a celebrity (I don't remember enough to know who it was) who slept with his cockatiel, and once he rolled over and smushed it and then later he committed suicide.

Pigwidegeon went through a phase of wanting to sleep on my shoulder. I sleep lying on my side, and at some time during the night (often she is on a parrot tree in our bedroom in the evenings), she would make her way over and perch on my shoulder and doze off. She hadn't done that in forever, but last night she slept on my pillow.

Birds don't lie down; they sleep standing but with their heads slumped down or tucked under a wing. It's funny to see our parrots when they are dozing off but trying to stay awake; their heads will droop and they'll jerk them up, like a sleepy person on the job.

hughman said...

so cute. tho it begs the question "why would a parrot try to stay awake?" are there parrot shows on late at night they want to watch?

the Drunken Housewife said...

Parrots hate to miss out on any fun, so if their people are up & doing stuff, the parrots can't stand to fall asleep and miss anything. Parrots need a lot of sleep, but they don't want to get left out. That isn't a problem for most pet parrots, who are pretty damn bored most of the time.

hughman said...

i told polly this story this morning about the parrot sleeping on your pillow and how cute that was. she was unimpressed and still refuses to "sleep cute", instead insisting on pushing me with her legs when she sleeps because god knows there isn't enough room for her to stretch out.

Anonymous said...

I am a longtime lurker on your blog and I just wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of Ray Charles. It was several years ago that my two beloved pet rats died and I still can't think of them without getting teary-eyed. And right now, I too have a small black cat (recently turned 1!) that I adopted from a shelter. Thank you for reminding people to adopt black cats and kittens.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thank you, Anonymous, and thanks for delurking. I'm glad you have a little black pound cat, too. Ironically I kept rats for years (even had some rescued actual lab rats) & was involved occasionally in rat rescue work, but I stopped because I felt rats' short life spans were too hard on Iris. So now we have cats with short life spans, sigh.

Anonymous said...

The other reason that birds don't sleep is a defense mechanism. The sick or sleeping bird is the first to get eaten. Pet birds maybe bored, but they can suffer from sleep deprivation due to TV or other household noises.

I am very sorry to hear about your loss.

Boyah

Anonymous said...

You should watch "the private life of an easter masterpiece" its about the caravaggio painting the taking of Christ - it's really quite uplifting :)

Anonymous said...

Ray Charles. Blind. Black.. That's a funny one.

Missy said...

didn't realize Ray Charles was so young...that does make it really hard. You didn't have him long enough. I would love to see a pic of the waving cats, though.

southernsugar said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Ray Charles (and to just now be offering my regrets). No matter how long or short a time you've had a pet, once they worm their ways into your heart, it hurts like hell to lose them. And losing them young... *shakes head*

Pigwidgeon sounds like a sweetie, though.