Tree Time

I needed a little Christmas festivity today.


The All-Too-Important Conversation about Pet Nick-names

Back in the Mythical Golden Days of 2019, when the Earth was green and there were unicorns, there was a marvelous meme on Twitter about what people called their pets – not their “official” names, but their nicknames-how they actually referred to them commonly.

I think it started with @metroadlib who posted this about her pup:

I found this hysterically funny and realized it hit pretty close-to-home. My kitties have proper names, of course, and since I haven’t produced human offspring, I felt it my duty to carry on family names with the children that I do have – albeit vertically challenged, hairy, and four-pawed.

Keegan is Keegan James Ferguson. His fosterer named him Keegan, because it was Gaelic for “Ball of Fire.” He’s a large, flamboyantly orange, stripey guy and a ballbuster, so it was perfect for him, as well as the fact that I’m of Scottish descent and it was actually beyond perfect that my kid be given a Scottish name.

The “James” is for my dad; it’s his first name. As I couldn’t give my father a human grandchild, I gave him a namesake that I still loved as much as if I’d birthed him. I’m not positive my father fully gets the honor.

When Brodie came along, it actually took me a bit to find his name. He was so tiny when I got him, only 5-weeks old and barely the size of my hand. I struggled looking for other Scottish monikers that would suit until I ran across the ideal name for this delightful, spunky little soul who darted about on wobbly kitten paws like a drunken sailor, furiously and devotedly (and somewhat unwelcomely) attached his new “big brother,” Keegan.

The name Brodie is from the Scots Gaelic too, and it means “little brother.”

How perfect for him and his inquisitive, intrusive zeal for all of life (and particular fascination with Keegan). He is, in fact, Brodie Green Ferguson. “Green” is a middle name passed down among the men of my father’s family for over 200 years. Again, not entirely sure my father grasps my efforts to maintain the historic significance of the name.

Nicknames for my cats developed over the years, as they will, but it took me running across the Twitter meme to realize all the truly crazy things I call them. And I should add that unlike @metroadlib, I call them by their “proper names” probably much less than 7% of the time.

Dear Lord. Some of the things that come out of my mouth tossed in their directions, I have no idea of the origin, but they fit them perfectly and hey, they sometimes answer.

Keegan: Keegs, Mister, Sir Keegs-a-lot, Orange Guy, Keegles, Keeg-o-matic, Bruiser, Buster, BigandTallSizes, Dude, Dude-eronomy, Kittyface, Tawny Kit-taen, Oldest Child, My Heart, KittenySpears, KiddleKat, Couch Tiger, KeeganJamesIveToldYouTwiceDammit.

Brodie: Brodester, Brode-a-licious, Brode-a-luff-a-gus, Detective Inspector, D.I. Ferguson, Brodie-butt, Sweet Pea, Fluffernutter, The World’s Tiniest and Fluffiest Mountain Lion, Scooter, Scoot, Love Bug, Schmoop, Brodiestopthatrightnowyouheardmemister, Precious Heart.

Of course, this list continues to grow. And please, don’t let me forget, there are names for the two together, as well, like “Frick and Frack” and “Skittles and Bits.”

So tell me! What do you call your babies?

Home of the free…

because of the brave.

Thank you to those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

To all of you out there owned by a cat(s)

Please share with me, if you would, if you know why a finicky cat, who turns his nose up at his dinner, and walks away from the dish with a disgusted “meow”…

…gobbles it up, as long as you stand over him. Seriously. I’m standing here, on top of him, reaching to send an email from my laptop on the counter while returning a text on my phone. He inhales his food. The second I walk away, he stops eating and starts complaining. As long as I remain here, looming over him, he eats. It seems like it’s more about mommy labor involved in the dinner (my dedication to my “mommy craft,” as it were) vs. the actual tastiness of the dinner.

I think someone said, once (?!), that cats are low maintenance. They clearly weren’t owned by one.

Or two.


I lost a friend

She passed away on Thursday, but I found out this afternoon through a Facebook post. I still can’t quite believe it – we had just emailed each other a week or so ago.

It breaks my heart that I never felt her leave.

She was wry and clever and pragmatic and sarcastic. She was brave and tough and resourceful. She cared fiercely about so many things and for so many people. She was a warrior who’d battled and bettered stomach cancer for years through Chinese herbs and acupuncture. Pancreatic cancer stole her: a recent diagnosis so quickly, heart-breakingly fast, it ripped her from here before she could best it too.

It must have caught her in some chance moment when she was weary of fighting.

She loved music and art and books and reading. She could brew beer. She made gorgeous jewelry – incredibly detailed, exquisite pieces of precious metal wire and gemstones. I’m so fortunate to have so many of them; gifts over years of our friendship. She inspired me to make jewelry myself, giving me one of my few and most-valued creative outlets.

She lived largely and intensely and vibrantly and sometimes quietly and softly and sadly. She told amazing tales of her days in the music industry. She was a buddy of U2’s Bono and for a while, I think, worked for Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda. Her sister knew the Doors and she recounted meeting Jim Morrison with her as a little girl. There was a story with Dennis Hopper and that one time with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the pasta. Her celebrities tales were always funny and appropriate and natural, without the slightest hint of pretension. To her, they were just minor characters in her richly-lived narrative.

She was a wonderful cat momma. She loved her fur babies, Hadrian, Skorri and Skúfr, with all of her heart. Skúfr, the youngest of her cats, was frequently ill as a kitten and she often struggled to pay his vet bills, sacrificing necessities to bring him home from yet another emergency visit. I never heard her once complain; she was always deeply grateful to have pulled him through, to have him with her a little longer.

She had a sorrow that you could sometimes see shadowing her, a loneliness she carried loosely on her shoulders, like an unwanted but needed shawl.

Wherever she wandered – San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin, Arizona – she grew a family of friends about her, like a garden of flowers, Artists, writers, musicians, animal lovers; ordinary people, extraordinary humans like her.

She was one of my family of friends.

She and I first met on an author’s listserv back in the late nineties, and somehow fell into a deep and lasting camaraderie with each other and three others from the group – all brilliant, sharp, and hysterically funny women, scattered across the US.

I cherish those memories, that time and them to this day.

I cherish you and I miss you, Synde Korman, today and always. I will remember you and our friendship and your stories and laughter and kindness for all of my life. I would send you energy biscuits, as I always did when you were feeling low, but you won’t need them anymore.

Speed you on your Path, my friend. Be filled with love and light and free of pain.

Bydd i ti ddychwelyd.