Hellebores in Bloom

I relish the early spring bloom of Hellebores, a.k.a the Lenten rose. This year I nearly missed it and was pleased to spot it in bloom in the garden next to the local library:


Every spring I’m wary of missing Hellebores in bloom, and I’m not sure why I haven’t planted it my own yard. Buying one and adding it to my garden could solve this longing as reliably as powdered sugar and butter can be whipped into frosting.

Another early spring bloom I adore and is not yet a part of my garden is Virginia bluebell:


Next week my convalescence will progress to physical therapy that is more structured than the simple walking program I’ve been following since my surgery. I hope that this upcoming therapy helps to resolve a disappointing development from last week. For whatever reason, some of my sciatic pains have returned. While these sensations are not as widespread as those from before my surgery, I had hoped that they would not return at all, especially since they’d been absent from the moment I woke up from my surgery.

My surgeon offered me a revelation that stunned me and reminded me of how deeply the human mind can engage in denial of reality. When he visited my hospital room the day after my surgery, I asked him to estimate how long my back problem had existed prior to the surgery, based on what he’d literally seen with his own eyes. He told me that my rupture and other signs of degeneration had begun 10-15 years ago!

Who knows why I assigned so many symptoms to anything but my back during those years. I get legs cramps at night because I don’t drink enough water. My legs will stop hurting if I lose weight. Now that I’ve lost weight, I just need to find the right piece of exercise equipment that doesn’t make my knee or butt feel numb. It hurts to stand in place because the human body was meant to stay in motion. I am not the only woman who gets sciatica during PMS.

Oh well. At least my incision has healed enough that I can return to the animal shelter and take comfort in the company of cats. Before my surgery, I was fond of visiting Morgan, who was wont to ride on my shoulders while anchoring her claws firmly into my coat. At that time, she looked scrawny, with fur that seemed a bit oily. I even had a dream that she was wanted by the authorities in New York City because she had ridden on the bare shoulders of a musclebound tourist and left him with scars down his arms that reminded me of the slash work in Elizabethan clothing.

When I visited Morgan this week, I was so pleased to see that she’d gained so much vigor that she looked transformed, at the peak of health with a fluffy coat:

The Return of Big Boy


My daughter and I continue to visit with the puffy cat known as Big Boy. We look forward to these walks like two teenage girls debating whether they should walk around the block just one more time to catch a glimpse of some handsome neighborhood boy. During Trick or Treat last month, we talked to his owners and discovered that his name is actually Baxter and that he was named after the street where he was found wandering 12 years ago. At that time, he was just two hands big.

I think of how it would have felt to hold that purring puff ball when he was so small, and all feels calm.

Another Photo of Big Boy the Cat

Big Boy and Mr. Cole

Notice how large Big Boy looks compared to my husband’s feet. I wish I was brave enough to try photographing Big Boy with my Nikon. Then my neighbors who own him might think I’m stalking their cat. Is wanting to behold such feline glory one more time a form of stalking? If so, it’s a benign form of it.

Big Boy, a Glorious Cat

BB, aka Big Boy

A Maine Coon lives inside my phone. At least I dream that he does when I look at the wallpaper on my phone. When my husband noticed the picture, I told him that the cat will be my second husband.

While I was mostly teasing him with this claim, there is some truth to it. I had two cats pass away in their old age not long before I was married for the first time in my forties. I am not yet ready to open my heart to another cat, at least not on a full time basis.

In the meantime, I collect pictures of cats, the bigger and puffier the better. There’s something irresistible about a cat who is larger than a dozen small dog breeds. No perfectly tuned car engine can rival the purr of an overgrown house cat.

My daughter and I have lately visited a mammoth cat during our neighborhood walks. We call him BB, for Big Boy or Bowling Ball. He slinks from his porch to weave around our legs and roll before us.

I revel in these moments with BB, but I know is it not time yet to bring a cat home, to have a mountain of cat doze on me as I read myself to sleep.

Puff, A Mystic


I don’t know who owned the mystic I’d borrow and call Puff. His seasonal groomings told me he belonged to someone else. I once spotted him strolling through a neighborhood alley and thought that a man working on a truck called him Larry. Maybe that man was talking to another man offstage from the alley. Then again, Puff was a man’s man. He could have owned the name Larry easily.

Puff had enormous paws that could cover most of the palm of my hand. His gaze could hypnotize me into giving him Fancy Feast and a nap on my pillow or couch. My daughter and I loved nothing more than having him stay the night, and we’d fall asleep to the sound of his steady purr.

By the time my daughter started school, Puff’s visits began to dwindle. We’d take walks through the neighborhood to see if he’d become the back door man for another family. I took the photo above during one of his last visits, and in it he seems to be telling me that he’s found another woman but knows he’s made his mark on me.

My daughter and I still reminiscence about Puff. I hope he disappeared because he and his mysterious owner moved away.

He’d be an old man by now, but I’m sure he’s still full of love, charisma and machismo.

Puff in his rusty summer glory
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