Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ode(ish) to Burgess and Asta…

The other night I was watching Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  Yes, I am a nerd, okay??  The episode was “Schisms,” Star Date 46154.2.  It’s the one where Mr. Data (the android, for those non-nerds out there) was giving a reading of his original poetry.  One of the poems he prefaces with the explanation that throughout the ages, poets have written poems to those who have had a profound effect upon their lives and the poem he is about to recite is an ode in honor of one who has had a profound effect upon his life…his cat Spot.

Watching this sent me time traveling, remembering my cats.  I’ve had five cats in my adult life and, without exception, they have all had profound effects on me.  But I’m not a poet so I won’t be reciting any odes here.

The cats I miss the most at this point were the last two to leave us.  They were littermates that we got from a friend of ours who taught at the local elementary school.  Therefore, we named the male Burgess Elementary School Hale.  Burgess was a cat who had a personality as large and important as his name.  He was a handsome, Maine Coon(ish) cat with big paws that almost covered the palms of my hands.


But in spite of his size, he was very quiet when he wanted to be and quite graceful.  He was an agile and efficient mouser and the very best lap warmer in the wintertime.  I rarely sat at my computer without him sitting here on me, so every email I sent had a Burgess hair in it.

Burgess shows off the Lion Cut that he got every summer.
He was doglike in being a shameless beggar for food and had a real lazy streak in him.  He didn’t mind us laughing at him as some cats do.  He was gregarious and comical.

He rolled out of bed, but didn't bother to go back and waited patiently while I took his picture.  Silly guy!
His sister was Asta Charles Hale, named for the dog in The Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett.  She was the rare cat who loved water and was a sink-sitter.


The last few years of her life, she took a shower every morning with my son Evan when he was home.  She would come out wet and with spiked hair, but looking very self-satisfied.


She liked to tag team with Burgess on mouse patrol and was also responsible for helping me trap two snakes that got into our house so that I could set them free.  Burgess would have killed them.  Asta was a Buddhist in practice and by nature.


She was our greyhound Tigger’s best friend.


Asta outlived both Burgess and Tigger and once Burgess left us, she took up residence on my lap.  She learned to accept Olive, the pug, as part of her family.  She was an adaptable, affectionate little soul.


I miss them both so much and consider them to be my true and valued friends.


Ode to Spot by Data

Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature;
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued by your sub-vocal oscillations,
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

O Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.


I probably won't post again until after Christmas day but I hope I have time to visit your blogs.
  In any case, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all around!

19 comments:

Leave It To Davis said...

Your cats were lucky, indeed, to have a human who treated them as equals....or superiors even. I can tell by your post that you adored them....and I am sure they adored you. What a better place this world would be if everyone was as kind as you. Have a very warm and merry Christmas.

TexWisGirl said...

laughing at the data poem. :) and loved 'meeting' your past cats. sweet characters.

merry christmas, barbara!

kat from ky. said...

You have me in tears thinking of our darling companion, Gray Slick! Merry Christmas!

genie said...

The stories of your cats were wonderful...almost brought a tear to the old eye. My hubby looked at every one of them. You and your animals definitely had and have a mutual admiration society. Merry Christmas. genie

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Burgess was handsome indeed, and Asta did have a Buddhist spirit. I enjoyed learning about your friends. It's wonderful to have such good memories--and to have loved such special cats. Our cats that have gone on before us have a special place in our hearts, too.

Merry Christmas, Barbara! I hope Santa is good to Olive. :-)

Nicki said...

Barb - reading this has me holding back the tears...a most sincere, heart-felt, poem post. I love animals but have mostly had cats my adult life and I can relate to every sentiment behind every word of your memories and longing for their company. Every cat I have had has been like a member of the family - with personalities and attributes peculiar to him/her. I've owned some, and one or two have owned me.
Thank you for sharing Burgess and Asta with us.

Have a very happy Christmas.

Debbie said...

This is very sweet barb, you've had some beauties!!

Merry Christmas barb, have a wonderful holiday!!

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Sandra said...

they are both so beautiful and i did laugh at the fall out of bed and wait for the photo shoot... i have no heard of a cat that liked showers. to funny. i know you miss them so much. our Max died Feb 02 and we still miss him and talk about his antics, like swimming and racing with bob in the pool. we have had 3 dogs since him, Cooper has gone to play with Max, but the ones that are missing linger on. they both have gorgeous eyes

Maren said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so easy to love these fur balls, and they really do become special to us.

Have a merry christmas!

Brian King said...

They were great looking cats and obviously happy! We've been through the same thing several times ourselves.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Lydia Martin said...

I remember that episode of Star Trek...NG. Great photos of two of your felines and sounds like they were very special!

Lynn said...

sweet post-this time of year is a perfect time to remember our pets that are no longer here..lovely photos-our oldest girl falls out of bed and just stays there until one of us calls to her..she is a bit over weight and 10 years old..wakes one of us once a night with chest kneading and a lovely middle of the night love song. Pets!!!!

Mary said...

I love them! Both beautiful hearts and souls. I love Burgess' lion cut. Very dashing. :). Sweethearts with loving personalities. I can tell by your wonderful photos of them.

Deanna said...

Loved your stories of your cats...they both had quite the personalities. I know you must miss them both, pets are just so darn important in our lives. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Betty Manousos said...

merry christmas!
xoxo

Sylvia said...

Beautiful stories of your cats, Barbara, they both look very special !
It's always hard losing sweet furry friends ...
Happy Holidays !
Sylvia

Tanya Breese said...

awwww now i miss them too! what a great tribute to them both...love the photo of asta at the sink and laughing at the thought of her taking showers...silly kitties! have a happy new year!!

Rose said...

I so loved reading this...would have loved to meet your cats!