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Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Aria!

When she was brought home as a foster kitten from the shelter, she was one in a litter of six and definitely the most outspoken of the group. Trying to get her out of the carrier provoked hissing and growling. Once the group got settled in, she was a bit more friendly. She morphed into the first kitten at the door and the one most eager for food and also affection. She spent many evenings curled up on my legs as I sat with my iPad or laptop on the couch.

Aria is the one on the left. The Tabby with the Jaguar-like markings. Her nickname became “Jag”

That was Aria’s favorite spot to hang out.

Working from home, I would close my door during the day so that I could have privacy and not be distracted by kittens. But she would find her way to my door and cry. She wanted to be with me. And so I fashioned a sling out of an old scarf, a spot that became her favorite, the one where she spent most of her day cuddled against me.

When she and another runt-sized kitten were found to have eye goop, the shelter’s kitty coordinator, Kim, told me that they both might be too congested to give back. I looked at little Jag – her original name – and her tabby swirl markings, her adorable little face, and said to Kim, “I don’t care what happens to the black one, but Jag has got to be OK.” That was the moment I knew that this little kitty had worked her way into my life in the most unexpected way.

Her constant need to be near me and with me, the way she’d look up at me and stare at me, it was as if she was saying, “You’re my buddy. I choose you.”

That’s Aria’s “Hi, Mom!” look.

 My first task was to find a name that suited the little songstress and finally decided on Aria (Phoebe will be reserved for a future dog).  Her name has grown (literally) to represent her character and so her full name is now Aria, Jagalicious, Smarty McTarty, Rolly Polly, Spastastic Bright. The Smarty McTarty was originally Farty McTarty, as it took months to find the right food for her and her sensitive stomach. I never understood how a small creature could make such big smells. I can’t tell you enough how glad I am that the Farty McTarty phase is behind us!

Aria is pretty unaware that she is a cat, I believe. She spends her day only a few feet away from me. She’s so attached, she even sleeps at my feet. She absolutely loves hair ties and has learned to fetch them. Aria initiates these games throughout the day by picking one of the colorful hair ties out of her toy box and dropping it at my feet with a hearty, “MEOW,” and the touch of her paw on my shin.   Sometimes I find hair ties dropped on my pillow on weekend mornings when I just want to sleep a bit longer.

Here’s Aria, with one of her hair ties, ready to play.

She’s got a bit of huntress qualities, as she amazingly spots the smallest of moving objects. Any spider or insect who comes in the house doesn’t stand a chance. When she is on the hunt, she chirps. When she wakes up and wants breakfast, she also chirps. She chirps to get my attention and chirps when she’s fetching hair ties. Chirps usually turn into meows if you don’t take notice. Her chirps are a quick trill and very melodic. They can sound inquisitive, uncertain, disturbed or satisfied. If you speak to her, she usually answers back.

When I’m brewing my second cup of coffee in the morning, I take her outside and just sit for a few moments. She relaxes in my arms and watches birds fly over, chirps at ants on the ground, tries to keep up with the zoom of a humming bird and gazes at the bumble bees. She doesn’t lunge or wiggle or get set to pounce. We just sit there together and enjoy the moment. It’s a favorite of the day.

Aria’s black scarf/sling is now her small throw at the foot of my bed. After she fills her belly, she likes to jump on the bed and uses the scarf to kneed. She takes one little piece into her mouth and by the look on her face, goes into the zone of complete comfort and pleasure. She purrs and kneeds and eventually lays on the scarf with her nose deep in the material, relaxed and sleepy. She often exposes her belly when she sleeps. What a great belly of spots! She greets me by rolling on her back and from side to side, paws up, belly exposed. Complete trust.

There’s Aria with her frog and her scarf. Such a cuddle bug.

Of all of the things that I envisioned for my return to the US, a pet, and certainly a cat, was never in my mind. But I’m glad the outspoken little furball insisted on being a part of my life. It’s been several years since the family dog passed and I forgot how much joy and love a pet can bring into your life. I’m reminded every day how full of love these creatures are. She’s my constant little companion, my dog-cat, my Aria. I adore her and love her so very much.

According to the Vet’s calculations, today is her birthday. Happy first birthday, Aria. Thank you for choosing me.

50 – Really?

If you haven’t heard the news, Michael Jackson turned fifty today.  Michael Jackson.  50.  Wow.

I’m sure we all have memories of the King of Pop.  Mine are from junior high.  The summer between 7th and 8th grade.  Randy and I were the ‘it’ couple of the summer.  The Thriller album had just come out.  We spent about two days doing nothing but listening to that cassette tape and memorizing the lyrics.  A few days later, Randy and I went to Magic Mountain with Tiffany, Ginger, Danielle and David.  All the way up to Ventura, Randy and I sang Ma Ma Se Ma Ma Sa Ma Ma Coo Sa, Ma Ma Se Ma Ma Sa Coo Sa of “Pretty Young Thing” without missing a beat.  We were so cool.

Madge recently turned 50, too.  High school was all about Madonna.  I remember wearing white shoe boots with a white skirt and a jean jacket with some scarf thing, thinking I was a wee little bit like her.  I loved her music, but when she rolled around on the stage singing “Like a Virgin” at the Grammys, I knew I wasn’t ever going to be that kind of girl.  A bit too rough around the edges.  I was a little (ok – a lot) more preppy and clean cut than that.  All of my friends were.

And Prince.  He turned 50 in June.  The itsy, bitsy dynamo who loves purple.  His songs defined many moments of my teenage years.  At every school dance we tried to party like it was 1999, even though we had no idea what 1999 would look like, and boy was that SO far off in the future.  That year has come and gone – Was it all we thought it would be?   If anyone saw him perform at this year’s Superbowl, you know he’s still got it.  Freaky little dude.  But he’s still got it.

With my 20 year high school reunion approaching next weekend, and the news that these icons of my youth are 50, I suppose I’m feeling a bit old today.  Just more a sense of disbelief, really.  Where DOES the time go? And what the hell happened to Michael Jackson? Really.

As I was browsing the net, I found a couple of good articles about Michael, Madonna and Prince.  Have a look.  And let me know how you feel about celebrating their 50th.



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