Monthly Archives: December 2007

We are sad…

We learned just yesterday that Cecilia Nerison passed away on Christmas morning. Cecilia is the mother of my long time friend, Sue Leilani Swindel (Nerison).

Mrs. Nerison and I go back a lonnnnng way. In fact, we met in 1970 when I was taking a typing class at school and Sue was a typing classmate. Sue and I got to know one another in class (usually because we were carrying on & laughing instead of hammering away at our Underwoods) and one day I gave her a ride home on my motorcycle. I seem to remember Mrs. Nerison chewed a chunk out of my backside at first, but before you know it she was laughing at whatever Sue and I were saying and, well, we’ve been friends ever since.

I remember receiving “hello” letters from Sue while I was in Air Force basic training and they always included “mom says to tell you hi and make sure you stop by when you come home.” And so I did.

And when I went away to Southeast Asia, same letters and the same reminder, “mom says to tell you hi and make sure you stop by when you come home.” And so I did.

Same thing in ’77, when I was getting ready to move back to California. Stopped by to see Sue and “mom”, great hugs and laughs.

When Joanne and I were married in 1985, it was the most natural thing in the world to have Sue and “mom” there with us, filled with great hugs and laughs.

I don’t think I’d ever seen “mom” happier than when Jeff and Sue were married on Treasure Island. (“mom” adored Jeff… and with every reason!)

We’ve stayed in touch over the years with quick visits and Christmas cards, but the past few years have kept us busier than previously so we hadn’t seen one another in quite a while. Two weeks ago when Sue called me to say “mom” was sick, I was disappointed in myself when I realized we hadn’t spoken to or seen each other in quite some time. Sue and I made arrangements to visit her mom the next week and when we saw each other (mom and me 🙂 it was as if not a day had passed since we’d last seen one another.

We visited for the next couple of hours – laughing about when Sue and I were kids, and where life had taken us all in the last 40 years as well as over the course of our lives. You see, we shared a unique childhood history – she’d been raised in a Catholic orphanage while I lived in a Masonic Home for Children. Because of that, although we’re decades apart in age, we both knew what it was like to “come from nowhere” and make your way in life.

We had a great – if much too short – visit. As we were walking back to her room with her, her daughter Cecilia and son Nick showed up and we all walked her to her room. I’m very pleased to say that our final words to each other – I love you – were delivered in the middle of a warm hug that will stay with me forever.

To Sue, Nick, Debbie, Cecilia and Jeff, we offer our condolences.

Merry Christmas (!) to our neighbors and friends…

Arlene, Albert, Ellen, Theresa, Clare & Dave; Julia, Francesca & Bill; Audrey & Perry; Miele, Mimi & Mike; Julie & Vince; Sharon & Ken, The entire Woodfill clan; Laurel, Janet & Paul; Owen & Olivia (we miss you already! Rock on, Olivia – we’ll be ready for Memorial Day, no sweat!); Draago – wherever you are; Penny and Pepper-Do-You-Want-Her, Delilah and especially, Queen Pan… long may you reign 🙂

To Sis, we love and miss hearing your Christmas “ho ho ho” the first thing in the morning. It’s just not the same without you.


So, the last time you were here, I was telling you about Pandora, Delilah and The House on Walnut Drive, wasn’t I? Seems we left off when I was about to tell you about the trees around yard.

Well, the trees were planted by a previous owner of the house – a woman named Evelyn – who lived in the house about 30 years before Pandora and Delilah moved in. Being a woman of “some years” – her words, not mine – Evelyn was a gardener with an appreciation for the spirituality, beauty and fragrances that just the right combination of plants and trees can mean to a home – not to mention that she loved eating fresh fruit!

Evelyn lived in the house for a few years to get a sense of the home’s “feel” and then set about creating her idea of the spiritually, emotionally and “horticulturally” balanced yard: Along the back fence, she planted a Walnut tree for prosperity and wisdom, then added two Plums for protection and healing. Along the side fences, she planted Apricot, Cherry, Fig and Pear trees for love. In the exact center of the yard she planted a Peach tree for wishes and longevity. About 20 feet from that she planted an Apple for healing and immortality and along the side of the garage, she planted a Pomegranate for luck and fertility. Finally, leaning over the backyard fence and onto the property is a neighbor’s massive Walnut tree that Evelyn “encouraged” the owners to plant for health. With all of the attention and care they’ve received through the years, the fruit trees have grown strong and over time have become tremendously productive – their total annual fruit output now exceeds 2,000 pounds per year!

In addition to all of the fruit trees, the backyard is absolutely teeming with life. Both ponds are full of fresh water; each has a fountain and is home to many types of life, including plants, fish, crayfish and freshwater snails. In addition to the ponds, the backyard has 5 bird feeders filled with thistle for the birds, while on some of the smaller trees hang suet blocks to provide dietary fat for the birds and squirrels during the cold winter season. Between the fruit, seeds and fresh water on the property, hundreds of birds (doves, gold finches, phoebes and hummingbirds) as well as many other wild animals (opossums, raccoons, squirrels, skunk and various reptiles) are attracted to The House on Walnut Drive – even passing Canada Geese and Giant Egrets visit! With the combination of an underground river and the property’s heritage, The House on Walnut has evolved to become a somewhat mystical place, amplifying the good characteristics of all the creatures and elements who live there – humans, animals and plants… it’s become a sanctuary that is a very nurturing environment for all the creatures who visit.

As I mentioned earlier, the house is situated over an underground river, which contributes a great deal to the land above it becoming extremely fertile. When Pan and Dee moved into the House – due to a series of very unique events that I’ll tell you about in a moment, some of the special qualities of the property and the House were “awakened”. I’ll explain.

Pan and Dee are your normal, curious Maine Coons who enjoy looking out windows to observe the comings and goings in the neighborhood. But when they moved in and began to settle down a bit, what they really noticed was how busy people seemed and how rarely they seemed to speak when they saw one another. This surprised Pan & Dee because when they moved in to the house because they felt there was something “really special” about the neighborhood and that people would be more outgoing and friendly than they appeared now that they were moved in the house.

(I’m a bit tired right now so I’ll need to take a nap for a while. Don’t worry, I’ll remember where we are when I come back.)

For The Love of a Child

(For my friend Janie and her daughter, Sara, here are some words I wrote a few years back. As I told Janie, this happened one afternoon when I was shopping in a local Nob Hill grocery; I came home and wrote the words – as unsophisticated / amateurish as they are – in about 5 mins. Perhaps some day I’ll finalize the words.)

“For the Love of a Child”

I was walking in a grocery store yesterday
When a young mom with kids passed by my way
Seeing her face, yogurt on her shirt and hair
I knew what she was feeling, cause I’d been there

She was tired and frazzled, looking half-dead
Visions of Calgon baths must have been in her head
As she passed me by, the wheel stuck on her cart
So I took just a moment to speak from the heart:

“The love of a child is such a precious thing
No sweeter sound can angels sing
The love of a child is such a wonderful thing
No greater joy did my life bring
Than the love of a child…

You know, I’ve traveled the world
Seen jewels and watched queens
Been in grand homes and museums
And bought elegant things
But I’d trade it all in a moment
For the love of a child once again”

She smiled, her eyes brightened
And she said, “Thanks a lot
Sometimes life’s just so hectic
I forget what I’ve got

You know, I was going to college
I wanted a career, I knew when I “made it”
The reason for living would be clear
But then I got pregnant, and I lived in pure fear
That the success that I’d worked for
Was farther away than was near”

I knew that she “got it”
She understood my point
Her kids were now whining
something something something here 🙂

The love of a child is such a precious thing
No sweeter sound can angels sing
The love of a child is such a wondrous thing
No greater joy did my life bring
Than the love of a child

I’m 50 now and my kids are all grown
Away at school and living life, with lives of their own
But not a day goes by, with my hair turning gray
I wouldn’t trade it all to have one more day
Of the love of a child once again.…

Listen to recorded “Legend”?


As you can see below, I’ve begun posting my initial work on The Legend Of The Two Big Cats in The House on Walnut Drive. I have more “in the can” (as they say in Hollywood 🙂 and will continue to post over the next few weeks, likely a couple of sections per week so I can continue to mutter around on my own schedule.

Recently I’ve been wondering about the interest in my providing an audio version of The Legend for you to listen to while you’re on your computer / download to your iPod / player, etc… perhaps you’ve got children who would like to listen to it as they’re going to sleep, before nap time, in the car, etc – heck, perhaps even people who are interested in listening to English language content (I know a young man in Norway who fits this description – hello, Hans!).

Anyway, to get the process going is non-trivial on my end of the wire, so I’d like an initial show of hands (via email, of course) to let me know who & how many are interested. If I head down this path and do begin recording them, I hope to provide them in a manner that doesn’t require registration / additional effort on my part for to you listen / download to your device. (I love people, I’m not so keen on work 😉

If you would like to hear The Legend in audio format, just send an email to gpc at twobigcats dot com and give me a sign; if you don’t care, do nothing and keep moving, there’s nothing to see here 🙂

I’ll check tbc email from time to time and will give a heads-up post on the subject at the beginning of January.

As always, thanks for visiting and don’t forget to write when you get work!
btw, Pan is behind me, in her chair – asleep and snoring loudly… howza a cat get that job?!

An angel in the post office

from “best of craigslist” – craig, i’ll take it down if you wish.

Date: 2007-11-23, 10:55PM MST

This is one of the kindest things I’ve ever experienced. I have no way to know who sent it, but there is a kind soul working in the dead letter office of the US postal service. Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith.

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

We’re warming up our batteries…

As some of you know, we’ve really enjoyed our Prius these past couple of years. Quiet, quick and easy to drive with an iPod-friendly sound system, we’ve enjoyed using it mainly for commuting purposes… our typical trip distance is less than 30 miles, often in slow / bumper to bumper driving, which often allows us to drive in full electric mode. Woo Hoo, full electric is great: very quick and very quiet! Over time, we began to think more about getting a completely electric car and began keeping our eyes and ears to the ground on the latest & greatest, most likely to make it to production.

(In case you’re wondering, we haven’t discounted the idea of converting our Prius to full electric, but at $10k, voiding of the Toyota warranty combined with a long waiting list, we’re still a few years away on that.)

In the meantime, we found the Aptera – – and when we read the technical aspects of the thing, we decided to put a deposit down and get in line. We’ll let you know how waiting in line works out for us, but until we get an actual car in our driveway, here are a few photo’s to hold you over:

Thanks for stopping by, write when you get work 🙂

How to reach us

Today I bumped into someone who said they’d visited these pages and wanted to contact us but couldn’t find the link / address anywhere. Since I’m coming out of the closet a bit with more of the Legend and we’re delivering so many goodies these days, here’s the email address to use:

gpc at twobigcats dot com

You’re welcome to write whatever your little heart desires, requests for goodies, autographed photos of Pan and Dee, etc.

Due to the limited mail I receive at this address (I’ve kept it, errr, secret until now), I usually only check email here a couple of times a week. I’ll check more frequently as more people write.

If you like the “flavor” and style of what I’ve written in the Legend thus far, you may want to pass the link to this site to your friends… I’ve got more material written that I believe they’ll enjoy… I’ve been told by the few I’ve asked to read it that the Legend gets really good very quickly. Sometime in the New Year, I’ll likely begin recording these segments for audio downloads to be listened to via iPod, computer, etc.

Ok, that’s it for now. Thanks for visiting and write when you get work.


I think I mentioned that Pan and Dee are Maine Coon’s, didn’t I? Well, let me tell you a bit about the Maine Coon’s and then I’ll tell you more about Pan and Dee and their House on Walnut Drive.

Originally from the East Coast of the United States, Maine’s have chosen to live closely with humans for over a hundred years now. Years ago the “old wives tale” was that Maine’s were a mixed-breed of Raccoon and Wild Cat, but since Nature won’t let that happen, the truth is they’re just big ol’ warm-hearted cats who have stripes (rings) on their tails. Sometimes Maine’s get to be more than 20 pounds (Pan and Dee’s father was 28 pounds and over 4 feet long!), they’ve got HUGE feet (for walking on snow when they lived in the wild) and with their luxuriously soft and long fur, they’re quite beautiful.

Not only are they gorgeous animals, but Maine’s are also known for their gentle nature and friendliness to all creatures, human, bird or animal. Often called the “Dogs of the Cat World” for their affection and loyalty towards their humans – they play “fetch” and usually know their toys by name – and are able to train their humans to do amazing “tricks”, such as “bring me tuna instead of dry food” or “surprise” gifts, such as toys. Maine’s are very intelligent creatures, often spending their sleep hours each day dreaming of “cat missions” and their awake hours carrying out the things they thought of while they were sleep.

And while they are fully capable of the usual “meow” that most domesticated cats are known for, Maine’s have highly developed communication skills and prefer to “chirp” a greeting to their human friends when approached – in tone and length, a Maine “chirp” is the equivalent of “Hi, how are you?” that humans often use to greet one another. Now that you know a bit more about Maine’s, let me tell you about Pan and Dee.

Pandora is the older sister – she’s in her 7th life – and as such, is The Queen of the House. She’s 39 inches long and weighs 21 pounds, with a beautiful, longhaired “tabby” coat that is softer than the finest cashmere. Pandora has very large and expressive dark brown eyes that give her face such a warm, intelligent and inviting appearance that you know you’re in the presence of a very special creature when she turns to gaze at you. Pan also has a brilliant white patch on her chest that stretches down each of her legs giving her “white socks” on each leg and paw. Pan’s ears remain very much as her ancestors had when they lived in the wild – they’re large (for hearing the tiniest sounds) and have very long, dark brown tufts on the very top that stick up about 1/4”.

By nature, Maine’s are “people cats”, but because Pandora is a late-stage Maine, she’s especially gentle and caring to every living thing she encounters. Unlike most cats, when Pan meets a human for the first time, she’s quite comfortable with them and prefers to be at face level with them so she can look in their eyes to “make contact” with them… unnoticed by most, when she’s really interested in getting to know them, as she’s looking into their eyes, her nose will crinkle a bit as she inhales their breath to determine if they’re a good human.. Once satisfied the new person is a good human, she’ll begin purring as a way of showing her acceptance of them. And what a purr it is: very deep – almost rumbling – and, given her appearance and affectionate personality, it’s very soothing to be around her when she’s in a deep purr mode.

As you probably know, all cats are capable of living nine full and complete lives. Pan is in her 7th and in reaching this point in life, she’s learned to quickly judge the good from bad and the wise from the foolish. In the process, Pan has become very wise & patient creature, able to deal with many different and difficult situations. Given her late stage life, Pandora has developed the unique ability to communicate some of her knowledge to most animals and, from time to time, even humans and, in doing so, has become a good mentor to many creatures. Pan’s favorite toy is “Maroon Mouse” and she often brings it to Grandpa Cat to share with him and to entice him to play with her.

Although Pandora came to live with the family as Scott’s pet, because Grandpa Cat was always an early morning person, Pan would get up with him in the pre-dawn hours to enjoy a few moments of peace, quiet and ear scritching (hers, not his). It was during this time that Pan and Grandpa Cat began “bonding” a bit more than usual because each morning – rain or shine – when Grandpa Cat went outdoors precisely at 5:30AM to get the morning paper he would carry Pan in his arms and, once outside, point to the star-filled sky and say to her “if you ever get lost, this is where you live”. Grandpa Cat did this throughout the year to make sure Pan was able to see how the sky and positions of the planets, stars and constellations would change based on the time of year and seasons. When they moved to the House on Walnut, Grandpa Cat continued the training so, should Pan ever be outside and feel lost, at night she could look up and know where she was and where home should be. (I’m glad to say this knowledge came in handy later in Pan’s life, but I’ll write more details later in the Legend.)

Over the years, Pandora developed a great deal of affection towards Grandpa Cat and now accompanies him pretty much wherever he goes. Pan constantly communicates with him by jumping up on counters and furniture to be at his height to rub noses and foreheads with him, always closing her eyes and purring loudly. Pandora loves to go outside with Grandpa Cat whenever he works in the yard, often spending the entire afternoon sitting under the apple tree in her favorite outside chair, keeping her eye on her domain and, from time to time, taking what appear to be cat naps.

Pandora love cheeses – she craves Bleu, Stilton, Cheddar and Smoked Gouda! – and Honey Ham. Although her vet, Dr Bueno, says it’s bad for her, raw beef is also a special treat she cherishes. Pan’s favorite musical group is Queen (naturally!) and her favorite songs are “Magic” and “The Days of Our Lives”. Pan loves to meet new people and to greet the neighbors whenever she has a chance. When visitors come to the house, Pan’s the first one to greet them, usually by lifting her face toward them so they can pet her on the forehead. Pan loves to be in the kitchen, watching people cook, smelling the ingredients for the meal… “asking” for a close up smell when she’s interested and a taste when it seems especially inviting. Pan loves to watch the “outside animals” such as birds and squirrels, but due to her maturity at this point in live, is uninterested in harming them and, in fact, is really curious about their lives and what it’s like to live outside.

Now Delilah, Pandora’s younger sister, is quite another story. Dee is in her 4th life (a “Tween”, if you will) and has an entirely differently outlook on life than Pandora does.

Weighing just about 19 pounds and 36” long, Dee has a beautiful coat that is a variety of shades of brown with a few streaks of black blended in. Dee is as beautiful as Pan, but in a completely different way: what’s most striking about Dee is that she has many “bobcat” markings, a white nose and muzzle and 1” ear tufts that change color with each season. And while Dee is a Maine Coon (and so “likes” people), because she’s a tween cat, she’s not quite figured out exactly what kind of people she likes and so is a little skittish. Sometimes, she likes being around quiet people and other times, she likes being with people who don’t quite seem to fit in with everybody else – kind of like she feels about herself at times – so one day she’ll be friendly and another she’ll be distant.

Like Pandora, Delilah is a very expressive cat so that, if you’re aware of such things, you can tell how she’s feeling just by looking at her. Probably the easiest way to read her is to watch how she’s walking. Most of the time, Delilah carries her tail in the straight out or straight up position, indicating a great interest in life and a general sense of excitement. Like all cats, though, from time to time her tail will be in the “down”, or, as cats say among themselves, the “my tail’s dragging today” position, with not very much energy or perhaps a little “down” about something.

Always curious and very eager to explore, try new things and play tricks on others, Dee often gets in trouble because she is interested in everything and sometimes doesn’t think things completely through before acting. Dee likes to have her shoulders and feet rubbed. Delilah’s favorite toy is a fuzzy pink fuzzy ball known as “Binky”. Delilah typically carries Binky between her front teeth and makes a shrill chirping sound. Dee makes a “brrrrrp” sound as her chirp, but can make a typical (and loud) MEOW when she wants. Like Pandora, Dee loves the rock group, Queen, her very favorite are The Kinks… for her, their song, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” is great rock and roll and says a lot about how she feels – She’s Not Like Everybody Else! (and she wants you to know that 🙂

Now that you know more about Pan and Dee, I’ll tell you a bit more about their lives and adventures in the next installment.