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can of tuna & a little shove
june 22, 2001

I got an old roll of film developed recently, and guess who I found on it.


Good timing, as today is Sugarlips Day.

Sugarlips showed up in our lives a year ago on June 22, a smudgy, well-dressed exotic little stray wandering the backyards of nearby Bassettville. She was a bit run-down at the dew claws, ousted from the house of mirth, wherever that had been. But still a lily.

Sugarlips understood we were there on a rescue mission, for she hurried across the grass, her voluminous fur floating around her like long skirts. "Help! help! oh! help!" she called in a high, scratchy mew.

Edsel lured her halfway into the cat carrier with a can of tunafish, gave a bit of a shove from behind, and shut the little cow gate.

The adventure began.

Funny how certain actions work like the hinges on elaborately carved doors such as the ones on those big Victorian houses all over Bassettville. You open one of those doors, and you never know what you'll find. A hall mirror from Elmira that once belonged to Ann Langdon. A century-old mural of scantily clad Sappho. A glass case of taxidermized owls.

The can of tuna and the little shove made things very different. Ours is a merry household, and Sugarlips made it even merrier. We got to watch a batch of kittens get born and grow up through the beetle-grub phase, wooly bat phase, and lanky noodle-leg phase. Eventually two of the kittens went out the door and never came back. Then it was Christmastime, and Sugarlips was gone too. All those goodbyes made our minds sort of come unhinged like old outhouse doors.

chessie, the water babyWhat an era! Here's what we have for remembering it: a square of sheepskin the kittens pushed themselves around on like frogs; a nappy blanket the family liked to stretch out on together, a collection of stories, more than one-thousand photographs, and two Water Babies.

Sugarlips floated into and out of our lives with the quiet presence of a luna moth slipping through an open door on a summer evening. When her time with us was done, she just seemed to float back out again. Yet she rearranged this place of ours in a big way.

Don't they always?

Photo: sugarlips

photo 2: one of the water babies

Note: We served as a PAWS foster home for Sugarlips and her kittens from June to december, 2000. This time is documented in the Chickenloaf Papers' Stories From the Kitten Room.

More about Sugarlips...

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