“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
- Garrison Keillor
It was my first day back to work after a year’s leave-of-absence, a year in which I wrote like a fury: three short stories, two pieces of flash fiction, a large chunk of novel manuscript, and a few publications including some short stories and a novella. It’s been a great year. But recently I’ve spent more and more of each day practising my viola and less and less of it writing, until, of necessity, the writing has taken a back seat while I prepare to play orchestral music full-time.
I awoke on the day feeling surprisingly calm about the whole business: calm about handing over my full-time status as a writer, and calm about resuming my status as a full-time musician. Not a quiver of nerves, not a trace of angst.
Until I looked at the towel.
At the top of the stairs by the door to the Garret, there lies a small towel upon which the Resident Feline curls himself and keeps an eye on things while I write. It’s a hard-won arrangement by which we keep each other company through the day. When I cast my eye on the towel, I was filled with remorse at the thought of the Resident Feline spending his day alone in an empty house while I’m off at rehearsals.
I took a deep breath and carried on with my preparations. Fed the cat. Did some warmups. Got the Resident Teenager off to school. Placed my shoes next to the towel in readiness for my departure.
It was while I was brushing my teeth that I heard a strange sound, kind of a grinding, gulping noise. I thought maybe there was car trouble in the street.
But no. It was the Resident Feline registering his dissatisfaction with the coming arrangement.
He’d released his breakfast in a frothy puddle next to the towel. My shoes were islands in the storm.
I mopped things up, gave the cat a scritch, and went to work with a clear persective.
- Sunday, September 27, Word on the Street, Halifax: I’ll be playing and reading (string quartets at 11:00 and reading from Harbour View at 3:30, both on the Flavour of the Maritimes stage).