sir neil diamond

This is one of the rare photos of Neil sleeping. He does sleep. But with one eye open. Sometimes both. A year ago November 6th, we brought this little guy home after signing the papers from the Toronto Cat Rescue.

We thought it would be a good idea for Eighteen (the three year old stray we brought in) to have a pal.


After much hissing and growling and running and paw batting and a temporary hunger strike from Eighteen, the two have come to an understanding. Just like the vet and the woman from Toronto Cat Rescue said they would.

They understand they do not care much for each other.

However there are brief moments of affection. Followed by longer moments of aggravation, frustration, anticipation, trepidation, fascination, obsession, justification, fixation, suspicion, and some good old fashioned loathing.

Cats do things on their terms, their way, in their time. As a Leo, these are traits I admire, envy and aspire to.

In the year he has been with us, Neil's behaviour has altered - dramatically. He greets us at the door. He chases shadows. His favourite toys are rolled up bits of paper. He knows which drawer they're in. He sits in the tub. He likes pickle juice and yogurt. He let's us rub his belly. He won't let us trim his claws. He is obsessed with the toilet flushing. He meows faintly and only when necessary. And he smacks Eighteen in the bum every chance he gets.

Eighteen could have happily gone on without this hyper alert, odd, goofy cartoon-like roommate, but she has no choice. And behind closed doors, who knows what they get up to? Perhaps he massages her temples, fluffs her litter, steeps her tea, sprinkles catnip on the rug for her and fetches her string?

I have witnessed their 'game on' chase that has recently come into play. Make no mistake, the lady is in charge. The chase route takes it course from couch to chair. Behind the plants and up to the windowsills. Truce point is when we get to clean up the dirt that's been spilled from potted plants. We gather up the newspapers torn apart that litter the living room in disarray. I've even had to pick up cushions from the floor that were used as a launch pad.

He is still skittish and the feral may never go away but the clumsy cuddler has started to sneak up on our laps in the evening. He follows my husband around like a little black shadow. He goes back to bed to snuggle with us. Until he flips out and transforms into a battle cat on red alert.

Why the name? He came with it. Originally they thought he was a female so it was Nella. Turns out she was a he. So, Neil. We added the Diamond. And the Sir. I mean, look at him. There is a small white square on his chest and a white patch on his belly. Someone told me once the white bits are features in black cats "to let the evil out".

It's a tiny gesture in the grand scheme of things.
It's a purring calm from a creature who trusts you.
It's a good day when you can give a home to something that needs cat at a time.

boo yeah

I love going places I've never been.

This Halloween my husband and I dressed up in last year's costumes and walked to our local video store to return a movie - Sleepy Hollow. The bustle was just beginning. After dark, after we lit our own jack 'o lanterns, changed costumes and took another walk.

Here is what we found.

A new place. The same street we see everyday was now alive with spirit, wonder, and imagination. The neighbourhood had exploded into a fantasy world. Gangs of superheroes, ghosts and goblins, princesses and pirates and a guy that was half eaten walking around in the mouth of a shark. Hundreds of kids, parents and dogs were wandering around interacting with each other.

Interacting. With. Each. Other.

In Toronto.

It was an inspiring sight to see so many people so involved . One house (pictured) had a giant eyeball stuck in the tree and a blow up cat whose head followed you as you walked by. Two live cats were also skulking around the lawn. Another house had battery operated dummies lying on the ground scratching at the pavement and moaning. A headless farmer was perched on a hay bale, and plastic hands stuck out of the ground beside overgrown headstones. They had the most elaborate pumpkins on display - one was even carved into the face of Chucky, another was the Corpse Bride. Further up the street, a ring of ghosts hung from a tree branch and circled around a spinning wheel while Thriller played through the outdoor speakers.

Then we came home, enlightened, lit all the candles, pigged out on the candy we'd kept for ourselves, watched The Shining and put the costume bag away for another year.

Shouldn't we do this more often?