Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

The last few weeks have brought a number of changes: new job, new place to live, and some welcome new routines. But they have not all been good.

One of the most abrupt changes came a few days ago when I learned that, Fiji, one of the calico cats belonging to a recent roommate had become ill. And a once-playful, funny spirit was now suffering anemia, largely confined to lying down in the same area, too weak to eat or drink on her own.

I remember when I first got acquainted with Fiji a little more than a year ago. I teased her much at first with her unabashed attention seeking manner whenever she would come to descend upon my morning breakfast or whatever activity I happened to be involved in at the time. But this did not seem to dissuade her. And it was not long before I relented to her friendly self-promotion and we became buddies. Fiji would rarely miss an opportunity to be shown affection, as she would jump up onto a stool or counter top when you were nearby, fully expecting you to come over and pet her, her purr box already in action.

And I never minded it. I just loved loving on her, with her blissful response as such opportunities came. She just gave back so much more in return; I experienced more simple joy in her presence than from anyplace else in a very long time.

Yet, no matter how much she may ham it up for you, Fiji was very coy too. We had this ritual where in the mornings I’d pass her in the hallway, or in the evenings she’d slink back toward my room—and reaching over to pet her—she’d dart past me with the sound of a scaredy cat, as though she’d never known me. Once warmed up, though, she’d come back around to bask in my attention. And we always laughed when she took off in a run, this otherwise skinny kitty’s belly paunch swinging from side to side.

In fact, spending much of her time with me, the joke had become that Fiji was my cat. She would take over the comfy spots in my room: making my desk chair her perch until I would move her to sit down; then later the old family chair my folks gave me last Christmas; or sometimes launching on top of my bed—calculatingly within eyeshot—jonesing for my attention while I was focused on some project. Then there was the new box springs last month, as she discovered a rip in the fabric underneath where she would climb up inside and hang out for hours before reemerging.

On this last count, she went inside her new hideaway Friday afternoon a week ago, the weekend that I was moving, and did not come out for almost 24 hours, until I crawled underneath and flushed her out. Noticeably more distant, we all kidded that she was having withdrawal symptoms, giving me the cold shoulder as she could sense my imminent move. I would try to console her, but she remained distant.

Yet noticing her continued sullenness, Yannick, my roommate, took her to the vet on the following Monday, and got the diagnosis. A round of intensive antibiotics immediately followed. But it yielded no fruit. Must be some sort of cancer, or leukemia, said the vet. A transfusion might help, but only for a short while. Even at 12 years old, though, as a housecat in good health till now, we had expected her to be around for some time to come.

But it turns out I wasn’t the one leaving her world; she was leaving ours. And two days ago on a return trip to the vet, Fiji was put down. Afterwards, Yannick buried her in a spot in the back yard.

They say that grief is good. And grown men do cry. I have known this truth from time to time, when in the middle of raw pain, I’m cracked open to receive a strange comfort in the midst of surrendered defenses. I don’t much seek it out, but here and there the times that I have experienced it, I somehow feel more alive, more present, than most other waking moments. It doesn’t fill the ache, but it does heal.

In the Sink

Under Cover


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Last night I happened upon a Travel Channel special, “Donut Paradise,” that took me on a welcomed trip down Nostalgia Lane as the spotlight was shone on one of my old haunts—Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle, Washington.

Variously described as the “Donut Lounge”—and with its hip Modernist architecture, likened to a cross between a library and wine bar—patrons of Top Pot get more than great doughnuts. They get an experience.

I know full well. I first stumbled onto Top Pot in late 2004 when Seattle area Starbucks started offering some of their items. I was impressed, but did not yet know of the true wonder of a fresh doughnut from the source. (NOTE: Some Starbucks outside of Washington have started offering Top Pot, but in my experience so far, these both look and taste pretty poor.)

Then I took a job a couple blocks away from Top Pot’s downtown store on 5th Avenue. Walking by it daily to and from the bus stop, eventually I dropped in one morning.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Sometimes, there are little pleasures in life that deliver ridiculously far more than we should expect. But for only $1.63, a Top Pot Old Fashioned Glazed Doughnut sent me to a very happy place.

Less than a year after my initial Donut Lounge experience, I moved into an apartment nearby in Lower Queen Anne. Once in awhile, I would plan an afternoon walk some eight blocks away for no other reason than the pleasure of just sitting for awhile at Top Pot and enjoying an Old Fashioned Glazed off a plate.

I may as well have been dining with royalty; doing Manhattan’s Russian Tea Room; or fed pureed truffles intravenously. In those moments, it was my little slice of heaven.

Inside and outside, the Donut Lounge was a fully integrated experience. The good vibes of store and staff, the clean architecture, the lighting, the music, and “hand-forged doughnuts” never more than a couple of hours old guaranteed a blissful experience repeatable every time. And while I sometimes met friends there, Top Pot was one of those places I did not mind going to alone; it only allowed me more space to distill the experience to its true essence.

When weather was good, sitting at a table outside added another dimension to my delight. What could possibly be better following several days of Seattle rain than soaking up the sun and fresh air while sitting under Top Pot’s signature neon sign? This, along with an Old Fashioned Glaze Doughnut on a plate, of course, parceled out to as many bites as I could extend it. The whir of the monorail overhead every few minutes. The honking of cars and buses that seemed to recede into the distance once doughnut victuals began…

I really miss you, Top Pot.

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