Sunday, July 10, 2011


Very sad, unexpected end to an otherwise delightful weekend. I'm just back from a late afternoon walk at the conservation area, unusual for me to go at this hour but I'd been very busy with cooking & blogging the rest of the day. As I slowed to make the right turn off the highway onto the secondary road off of which we live, I spied motionless on the asphalt of the opposite lane of the highway a form with familiar coloring - a marmalade cat, paws folded. I finished the turn and thought, poor cat, poor poor cat - but please don't let that be Rafe. In less than a minute I was home and asked D to go and check. Which he did, he took the car...  and now I hear the steady clanking of the shovel as he digs a hole to bury Rafe "beneath the willow so he can see the setting sun" as D put it. Poor Rafe. I feel really bad for him (and feeling punched in the stomach myself, after such a nice weekend too). And D is going to be - or is already - devastated, he was particularly close to that cat. I'm just glad that I discovered him, and apparently very quickly. D told me he picked Rafe up off the road with his hands, and rigor mortis hadn't yet set in.

We adopted Rafe, along with Gwynnie and Claire, from a cat shelter in town a few months after we moved upstate (once we were somewhat settled in) in December 2005, five-and-a-half years ago. We named the cats after movie stars, and Rafe's namesake is Ralph Fiennes - only we spelled our cat's name "Rafe" so as to avoid confusion with pronunciation. (Rafe is no "ralf".) Rafe was a cool cat, very self-sufficient, elegant - neurotic but elegant. He was neurotic, a bit, would sometimes act paranoid about the food on his plate, because he had a very painful chronic gum condition that would periodically inflame, causing him to wince and yelp when he would try to eat - and that's when we knew it was time to take him to the vet for another steroids shot, and within 24 hours of its administering Rafe would be his jolly self again. The vet warned that steroid shots while easing symptoms would shorten Rafe's life. I mordantly observe that it wasn't the steroids that got him. I knew that Rafe was a wanderer (the owner of the B&B at the end of our road once told us that Rafe had shown up at his door seemingly to greet new guest arrivals) but I didn't realize that he ventured as far as the highway, perhaps a quarter-mile away "as a cat walks." Rafe was a mayor of our block - all the neighbors knew him, and he was the cat with the Magic Jacket (that's a Buffyverse reference) - Claire had a thing for him.

Ah, well. R.I.P. Rafe. We'll miss you, and hope we'll see you later. Love, Belle, D, Gwynnie, Claire, and Penelope

republishing 'Magic Jacket' post of 1 December 2009 in tribute

Claire and Rafe.

"It's true. Something about the big letter on the chest makes girls get all swoony and crushy. I saw it all the time in school. And you couldn't just pin any old felt letter to your coat and get play- not that I tried."


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