Out the kitchen window. The two stall and the barn.

The first time we saw Mot was in the early spring of 2011. We had just ended our first winter in the country and were looking forward to all the joys that spring has to share. Up until then, Maudie and Deezil, our two "city cats", delighted in all that the new, large and rambling farmhouse and yard had to offer. They spent hours checking out all the nooks and crannies and were thrilled to find actual living toys they could toss around. Our house on Rosemary street did not have mice and so the cats had to content themselves with looking out the windows at the squirrels and the birds. This house never had cats before, or at least in a very long time, so the mice were plentiful and a little arrogant at first. Even though we were out in the country, we were very protective of our kitties and only let them outside for very short and supervised periods of time. After being cooped up all winter, it was time to venture outside again. They were very anxious to feel the earth and chew the grass It was fun to watch them step  daintily, slowly, sniffing the air cautiously. Then they would relax a bit. I began to relax a bit. It was all good. That is until he showed up.

Deezil and Maudie out in the grass below the porch.

 Mot, being a ginger cat, stood out very clearly against the new green foliage. He first appeared by the two stall garage. He would position himself between the garage and the steps going up to the loft above the garage.There is a snarl of old prickly rose bushes and vines growing there. A perfect place to view the goings on over at the big house. A perfect place to plot out a plan to belong. He sat very still and peered at us. He was the intruder.  I rounded up Maudie and Deez and back on the porch we went. Thank goodness for the nice screened in porch. The kitties could still feel like they were outside to a degree, even though they protested a little bit. So the summer began.

Mot in front of the two stall. Bushes on left is where he would hang out at first.

From then on, the ginger would appear. Always in the same spot. He was not pushy or intrusive. He just sat there like a little golden buddha. Occasionally he would move forward a bit, but only just a little.

 This new addition to the farm caused much upset with the two city cats who only arrived a year ago themselves.

Two stall with live trap on the left.

 I can't remember exactly when I began feeding Mot. Or when he actually became Mot. I would only see him from a distance but he seemed really rough to me. When I finally got a good look at him, I could see that his ears were all tattered and black inside. I was sure he was a feral feline!

I was worried for my cats and began calling around to known animal shelters and it soon became evident that if I wanted to have anything done about this cat, I would have to do it myself.

I spoke with Carol at Carol's Ferals and soon found myself driving out to Knapp street NE to procure a trap to catch this ratty looking scoundrel in. I was then to return it to her and she would neuter or spay it, depending on it's sex. I was quite sure it was a male though. He had Tom written all over him.
You do get it that Mot is Tom backwards, yes?

Anyway, I came home with the trap and began putting food in it and setting it over by the two stall. I  was told to leave it open with food in it so the cat would get used to eating out of it. That was easy enough and I followed the directions to a tee. It actually worked. I would find the trap empty in the morning.

Now the hard part. Putting the food in and setting the spring catch. I failed miserably at this for some reason. I guess I was really terrified of actually catching this wild creature. I was worried about all kinds of things that could potentially go wrong.

The weeks went by. I was still fiddling with this exercise in futility. I would get phone calls from Carol and her crew wondering about their trap. After all, there are many cats out there waiting to be
caught and neutered! Finally the day came. No more messing around. The cat was in the trap! There was no big harangue. Not a sound. I put a blanket over the trap and away we went. When we got to Carols she made a point to give me a big pat on the back for my bravery and stick to it iveness, in a rather condescending manner. I don't blame her.

Upon bringing the ginger back to the farm, the plan was to have him just sort of go his own way. I thought after the rude trapping and surgical invasion, he would have gladly moved on. But no, that
didn't happen. He continued to hang out for the rest of the summer. I was feeding him now. I felt I owed him.

Maudie and Deezil were not happy as their outside time became very restricted to moments when the ginger was out on a hunt. No that did not sit well with him and there was plenty of racket when he would come around the porch. He would just sit there and stare at them. Always quiet, with no emotion whats so ever in his yellow eyes.

It was probably around this time that he became Mot. When I would go out and work in the little garden around the yard light pole, he would come and sit near me. His mouth would open with a meow shape, but no sound would come out. Up close, I could see all the tatters his ears had sustained
from past encounters with other toms. One of his eyes was different in a very subtle way. It was like that character actor of old, Jack something. Old wander eyes, as my dad would call him. It gave the boy a tired, yet knowing affect. Probably another result from hanging out with the toms. Mot, tom spelled backward was who he was, I realized. 

Throughout that summer and into the fall Mot would just hang around. Sometimes I would see him over by the pear tree, lying in the shade. Other times he would be gone for over a day and night and I would wonder if he was coming back. He always did. Sometimes with fresh cuts on those already shrinking ears.

Winter came and I got in the habit of taking his food to the barn. He would materialize out the the dark depths and wind around my legs. He was always quiet. Always appreciative. I tried to make him a little bed in an old dog carrier. I put cozy pillows and blankets inside. I would then pop him in. He would sit in there for a few seconds and then jump back out. I don't think he ever slept inside the little shelter, no matter how cold it got. He preferred the straw on the barn floor.

It got so that the snow was building up from the house to the barn. It was freezing cold and my heart broke every time I went out and saw Mots little face appear from the darkness. Finally I had enough and I scooped Mot up and trudged to Michele's Cabin.

I was a little worried how he would behave in an actual house with a litter box and furniture, etc.
He was the perfect little gentleman. He used his box and never ever missed. He wasn't a puker like my house cats seem to be from time to time. He sat regally on top of the pile of blankets I stacked for him on the love seat. He was quite at home immediately.

It became a lot easier to care for Mot in the little house. Because there was heat,  I took to spending more and more time out there with him. However, it was an obligation that I sometimes wished I did not have to deal with. All along I had my eyes and ears open for anyone who may want a funny ginger tom, but it never was to be.

When spring came and I could let Mot out again, I was delighted that he would walk around the path with me. He was like a loyal dog, walking behind me and then shooting past me and waiting for me to catch up. he began to talk to me. I would say his name and he would answer with a cute little meow and so forth and so forth. I began to love him.

Honestly, I began writing this right after Mot passed and now it is several months later, August 1st.
My heart hurts when I write this even more than it did when I first lost Mot. I miss him every single day. When I mow around the path, I think about my Cubby. I wonder if he could be with me? I know a lot of people would answer, yes, of course he is still with you. But really? I miss him so much. I miss the way he smelled. When I go into the cabin, I always take a deep breath. His lovely scent is still lingering but it has faded quite a bit. I pray it never really goes away. I haven't washed his blankets or pillows. Everything is really quite the same except for Mot. I always say his name out loud when I enter. I expect him to come out from under the hired man's bed at any second, but he doesn't. It is just quiet.

I sometimes wonder why he survived the whole long winter of 2014 just to get sick in the spring. I guess it is not for me to know. I only hope that wherever his little cat soul is, it is happy and at peace.


Spring Saturday, or Boy on the Log

Before there was a painting, there was an inspiration. "Spring Saturday", a late 1960's painting by my dad, Armand Merizon,was first realized when he was meandering out in the country one spring day. He came across a group of boys playing on a huge log out in a barn yard.

The boy with the cap and shovel was to become permanently immortalized in oil paint, sitting on top of the giant fallen tree trunk, the center of interest in my dad's "Spring Saturday" or as our family always referred to it as, "The Boy on the Log" painting.

Often my dad would begin a painting by making a preliminary drawing with charcoal on tracing paper to get his placement details figured out. Composition was always of the utmost importance.

Spring Saturday

"Spring Saturday" was chosen for a 750, limited edition lithograph reproduction by the Frost and Reed Company of Bristol, England. It was a major, prestigious highlight in my dad's life.  Those were such exciting times when I look back on them. My father's reputation was constantly growing. His work was selling. I think he was creating up to fifty or more finished paintings a year in those days.  I remember watching as he sat at the dining room table and signed every print in pencil, one after another.

Armand Merizon looking at Spring Saturday print on his easel in his studio in the living room.

 We had a print of the painting. It hung by kitchen table, behind my dad's chair, for the next 40 years. The rest of my dads life. The light from the west window shown in on it every day. It never faded.  Sometimes when we were all at the table having dinner, and my dad was speaking extra long about something; politics, religion or the general state of the world, I would look above his head and stare at the "Boy on the Log."

 I would look at the paleness of the trees in the background. They were just beginning to turn from gray to a very light green. That beautiful softness that comes over the landscape every spring. You can just see the beginnings of new life on the brush in the foreground.

I love the boy's high tops.They looked like they served him well! I look at the bill of the cap shading his eyes. The exquisite light on his cheek and ear. I just stare at that profile, and wonder what he contemplates as he sits there so intently.

Then my eyes wander down the jacket or sweatshirt. His somewhat worn jeans with the cuff neatly folded over, was the style in those days. The fabric textures are fine and wonderful. The light and shadow, the folds and contours, are all just perfect.