January 20, 2013
from today's Bookshop Journal
Glenwood, the cat, and I have been at the home of Lauren and Joshua Ling, on Walker Avenue. I caught the flu a week ago, and brutally cold, nasty weather was on its way, so Mo pleaded with me to find some place warmer and safer than my mancave in the belly of the bookshop. Lauren and Josh took Glenwood and me in. And fed us and looked after us for 6 days and 6 nights.
Then, when we were to return, came a big snowfall and the break-in at the shop, which also serves as our "home." But here we are at last, me at my familiar stance typing into Microsoft Publisher, albeit with many a sneeze, and Glenwood perched near my left shoulder on top of a woolen blanket draped for his comfort over our futon. Glenny would prefer I played "Retrieve!" with a rolled-up paper ball he brought in to show me. Or pour him some more Kibbles or, yum-yum, maybe a few of his favorite "Temptations" treat. Or why don't I make myself some dry cereal with yoghurt and cream, then he gets to lick the bowl? I can just hear him muttering, "These humans are so dumb!" We just don't get it, clueless creatures with big, stomping feet. Well, he's teaching me. I try, I try, Glenwood. He yawns, and he stretches, and he gives me a jaundiced eye. Oh, I know that look. Glenwood isn't the first cat whom I've served.
The first were George and Monkey, so named because Hans and Margaret Rey lived in the pretty little building on Washington Square that I did, 82 Washington Place. They were the creators of Curious George. So the cats were named George and Monkey. You can get a good idea of those two cats from the portrait Teo Savory drew of them in her fable, "The Alley Cat and the Laws of Status." For George was a regal cat, with a long pedigree. And Monkey was the son of Hazel who was, alas, an alley cat to be sure. Once we took Hazel to the Vet, and the Vet said, "This cat isn't pregnant. She's psychotic." So she was. But Monkey was a sweetheart, as George said, "one of nature's gentlecats."
Monkey was three-colored, just like his Mom. Once we mentioned to our neighbor in the country, Martha Fadding, that Monkey being three-colored and her cat, "Yellow," being who she was, maybe they could mate? Martha and Yellow were both offended at this city offspring of an urban gutter mating with her Yankee manor aristocrat. After all, Hazel, Monkey's Mom, was found under a car on Sixth Avenue. Martha looked Monkey up and down and said definitively, "I guess he doesn't have it in him."
There are countless Martha stories in my new journal I am beginning this month, Berkshire Journal. For Teo Savory and I were privileged characters. It wasn't enough we lived in Greenwich Village in the winter. For the summer, we had purchased a home in Western Massachusetts, in the Berkshire Hills, the first New Yorkers to buy a summer home in the working-class immigrant village of West Stockbridge (1956), now, 'most 60 years later, half full of New Yorkers and Bostonians who pay a few cents more for the privilege than the $5,000 we did. A'ya, as those Yankees say, we bought a 1850 house and two acres on The Williams River with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of 4%, $150/year it cost us, plus $500 taxes and insurance. That was before Martha made us drill a well, because she shut off the water supply we were entitled to share with her from her spring up-mountain. When we threatened to sue for our water rights she said, "Winter's the time for lawing. Anyway, you'll lose, 'cause they know who I am." When we went to the lawyer in Great Barrington, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "They know who she is." He gave us a business card for Holder Well Drilling in Hillsdale, New York . . .