aging, cats, friendship, Uncategorized

Zoe and Sweetie Beattie: Friendship

 

Zoe, Sweetie Beattie’s BFF. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweetie Beattie chilling in a flower pot. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

Last Summer, an adorable young black cat showed up in my backyard. From her ID we learned her name was Zoe, and we alerted her nearby family who quickly rescued her.

For six months, Zoe visited our yard daily, to drink fresh water and to play with my house-bound cat, Sweetie Beattie. Zoe’s visits became the highlight of Sweetie Beattie’s day. They’d paw at each other, one on each side of the sliding glass door, and were adorable to watch. Sometimes, Zoe even brought gifts for Beattie.

This half-mouse is one of many treasures Zoe brought Sweetie Beattie. Photo by Norine Dresser. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

I found their relationship endearing. And I loved that Beattie had a friend. Then one day Zoe disappeared. Sweetie Beattie anxiously waited for her and every day after that. She acted depressed. I feared Zoe was a goner because we have many cat predators around here: hawks, owls, coyotes, cars.

After an absence of months, Zoe returned the other day. Sweetie Beattie was all excited once again, but this time Zoe ignored her. She was on to more satisfying activities like looking for prey. Then she left again. Will she ever come back?

The friendship between Zoe and Sweetie Beattie resembles  human friendships. Sometimes we spend a lot of time with a certain person, and then the friendship cools and we go our separate ways.

In November, 2019, I visited Los Angeles where I reunited with a group of friends for lunch.  Some were colleagues from CSULA; others were women I knew from an arthritis swimming class called, “Twinges in the Hinges.” The others were individuals I encountered in a wide variety of circumstances: a co-author; a former folklore student; a former guitar student, and a writer with whom our friendship evolved over, of all things, an L.A. Times obituary.

 

My wonderful friends from over the decades at Shiraz Persian Restaurant in Glendale, California, November 2019. Photo by Ann Bradley. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2020.

Unfortunately, one of my oldest and closest friends, couldn’t make it because  she was in a hospital psychiatric lock-up. Recently, she had escaped from an Assisted Living facility where she was being treated for dementia. While wandering down a busy street, police officers tried to rescue her and she fought them off. Consequently, she was placed in a lock up. What a sad situation for this gifted woman who had such played a significant role in my life.

We met as neighbors when she was 14 and I was 12. She introduced me to horses and Asian art and music, and we had many fun-filled hours shared at school vacation times. As adults we remained lifelong friends and socialized with one another up until I left Los Angeles in 2012.

When I arrived in her small sterile-looking hospital room, she was asleep, so I awakened her.  Her voice was low-pitched and difficult to understand. Desperate to connect with her, I brought up old memories of good times we had shared. Then I remembered a song parody we had written together to serenade a friend who had been injured in an auto accident. About fifty years ago, she and I and our husbands, stood outside our wounded friend’s window singing as cars with curious drivers whizzed by.

I began singing this same song in her hospital room, and to my amazement, she joined in.

(To the tune of Simple Gifts)

Here’s to Jerry Hundal and here’s to his wife.

Here’s to Jerry Hundal and God who saved his life.

And if we find ourselves in a similar plight

Will you sing to us in the middle of the night?

When true mobility is gained.

To bow and to bend we will not be in pain.

To turn, to turn will be our delight.

Till by turning, turning we come out right.

Despite the dreariness of the setting, when her voice joined mine, I felt uplifted. We  re-lived a joyful moment and laughed together. Given our ages and that we are geographically apart, I may never see her again. And if I never do, I will carry this poignant memory of my cherished friend with me forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cats, customs/rituals, Festivals, pets

A Turtle-Filled Life

Chocolate, pecan and caramel turtles.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Chocolate, pecan and caramel turtles. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

Some turtles are for eating, like those scrumptious turtle-shaped chocolate candies with pecans and caramel made famous by De Met’s.   In 1950, right after I met my late husband, Harold, he took a trip back to Chicago to visit relatives. I wasn’t sure of his interest in me until I unexpectedly received a box of De Met’s Turtles from him while he was away. I interpreted that as a positive omen.

Traditional Native American turtle necklace.  Photo by Mariah Chase.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Traditional Native American turtle necklace. Photo by Mariah Chase. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

Some turtles are symbolic . For the bar mitzvah of my grandson, Zachary, I wore a necklace created by a Native American artist featuring a turtle. In creation myths of numerous tribes, they believe that the earth was created on the turtle’s back.  To me, it seemed appropriate for a folklorist Granny to wear a Native American traditional  symbol to a traditional Jewish coming of age ceremony.

Sign inside Tortugas Festival Pavillion.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Sign inside Tortugas Festival Pavillion. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

Some turtles are the centerpiece of celebrations. This past weekend in Las Cruces at the Tortugas (Turtles) Pueblo they held an annual Tortugas Festival. Key to this event is a turtle race, where turtles of all sizes compete – from the small souvenir types that children keep in small bowls of water to giant desert tortoises that can weigh up to 50 pounds.

Small turtle racer.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Small turtle racer. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Giant desert tortoise.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Giant desert tortoise. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But for me, the highlight of my turtle- filled life has been the adoption of an adorable new cat, Tortuga, named so because she is a variety of tortoise-shell feline.

“Tuga” is about two years old and had been neglected by her original owner who lay dead at home for four days before anyone realized it. When the body was taken away by authorities, Tuga was taken to an animal shelter but later rescued by a concerned neighbor who thought this cat would be a good fit for me. Not only is Tuga a good fit, she is PURRFECT.

Tuga and I together at last.  Mariah Chase photo. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014. photo
Tuga and I together at last. Mariah Chase photo. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014. photo

Tuga has faced tough times in her short life. Consequently she is so hungry for love and attention, she snuggles all night in my bed giving me kisses. During the day, she trots by my side like Mary’s Little Lamb.

Tuga at play.  Mariah Chase photo.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Tuga at play. Mariah Chase photo. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Beautiful sweet Tortuga, my new furry companion.  Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Beautiful sweet Tortuga, my new furry companion. Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

Tuga is not a replacement for my dear departed Tom, the rescue cat who rescued me from depression after I became a widow.  Tom remains in my heart and will continue to be my logo in his Dracula cape.  However, Tuga represents moving on and my being able to make a welcoming home for another helpless and abandoned creature.

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who is grateful to have a lovable new furry companion.