Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby ūüėČ ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy little stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and even her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday, which was strange, really. Cricket’s spent plenty of overnights at the doctor. Penny had no reason to wonder, unless she knew. And she did. She knew it was different this time. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to have her here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, baby!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting out alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious. It’s such a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.” Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. ūüôā

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. I never thought of Penny as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened. I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality.

I’m not ready.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

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Wingspan

A Terrible Blow

I was telling my roommate about the dream I woke up with. I only remember the feeling, the connected bliss that greets you when you spent the night conversing with Nature!

Last night, a golden eagle guided me from place to place in Yellowstone, my childhood playground, telling me what it all really means. Of course, I don’t remember what it means but I’m swimming in serenity, still. What a great dream!

Then my roommate asked me, “What is your wingspan?”

“Too long,” I answered, glaring.

“Let’s find out!” he pestered. I can’t resist a caper, even when my vanity’s at stake.

It’s 5’9″. Five, nine!!!!! (I’m… not.)

I’m not a graceful, enigmatic eagle. I’m an ape!

Oo oo!

Sinté

I’m buying my djembe today, and last night as I was going to bed I decided that my new goal in the next year is to learn to play and sing together. It’s hard! With Africa Heartwood Project, all I’ve done so far is to shake a rattle – and sometimes I can’t sing at the same time! (Or keep the beat… Something’s gotta give, haha!)

When I pictured myself singing and drumming freely and with skill, I thought, “Oh, isn’t that strange? That dream from my childhood…”

I used to sing/chant this verse to my dolls that a golden idol taught me in my sleep. She turned into a woman in African dress… and chased me, actually. It was terrifying. But I remembered the song she sang to draw me to her. She was in my dreams for years until Mom forbade me to sing what I’d learned, and then I forgot her. Maybe manifesting African drum and dance in this life wasn’t so random, after all.

I found out years later that my ancestor, Abigail, woke up knowing songs, too. She wrote about it herself in the 1800s. In a childhood dream, Abigail heard the song of “a people in white on a vast plain of grass” and “longed to be numbered among them.”¬†She taught the song to her friends. (I taught my chant to my sister. That’s when I got in trouble. Melanie always told.) Later, Abigail became one of the first Mormons, and she and the other fleeing members sang that song while crossing the plains to Utah.

This morning my friend invited me to a dream workshop on Friday. Should be fun.

_____

Sint√©¬†is played for weddings on a large krin, which Ô¨Āts 3 players.
(rhythm modified for Malinke drums, which we play here in Salt Lake)

Location: Boke, Guinea
Ethnic Group: Nalou

Sarah Was a Dreamer, Too!

I spent 5 days and thirty some-odd hours pouring over my genome. By Friday afternoon, I was done. There was nothing I hadn’t printed out and written copious notes on. Fascinating stuff. Endless.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

I had a couple of hours to kill before 5 o’clock, so I began to fill out my family tree. I hadn’t considered this important because, as a Mormon, that’s been done for me. To death.

It was amazing! I’ve never had the experience of finding – and meeting – the people myself! Learning their names, where they lived… Filling in those blanks with my own hands was… a mitzvah.

Where did I hear that, so long ago I can’t remember? When did that become the only way to describe, sometimes, the transcendent connection to God and each other, and the enormous blessing that is life? I’ve been saying, “It’s a mitzvah,” for years.

(That’s more of a colloquial use of the term than literal. Really, it’s not even the correct use of it colloquially [good deed], but what would I know?)

It came as no surprise that I’m 52.2% British/Irish (Scottish). It was a shock (delight!) to learn that I am .2% Ashkenazi Jew! 40% of living Ashkenazi* descendants can trace their ancestry to 1 of 4 women!!! Do you know how intertwined and small and big and tearful you feel when you know who you are? When learning who you are surprises you and says, “Hey, we’re all in this together”?

Is there a reason in my blood that I read every Holocaust survival story I could get my hands on? Is there a reason I’ve chased Jewish men? (Totally accidental, but when you’ve been dating for 25 years and yet another suitor is Jewish, in the western United States, you recognize the trend. “Of course you are!”)

(One of my boyfriends said, “Are you sure you’re not Jewish?” when I sang “Hashivenu.”)

I’m an Anglo-American Ashkenazi Jew!

So!… I’m filling in the names and dates. I get to Louis Miller, whom I knew to be the one to bring this wonderful blood to my veins. My beautiful grandmother, whose life story I wrote, is LaWana Miller because her great-grandfather changed the family name from Mueller when they came to this country. Only by Googling the people myself was I to learn that Mueller is simply an Ashkenazi name for the village miller. My family had the blanks filled in already, but I never knew ’til now who they were.

The Muellers, of course, had been Christian for generations, but I found a forbear named Spangenberg. Hm. ??? (I also found the surname Pabst, and anyone who knows me well knows just how perfect that is. “They don’t give blue ribbons to everything.”)

I digress!

By now I was home and couldn’t stop. When I got stuck finding ancestors online, I pulled out my boring stacks of black-and-white paper with names and years and blanks and grids… Like I said, I have it all. Always have. I decided to closely read an account included in the pile. It was a life sketch of Sarah Ann Haigh, whom I’ve introduced you to (https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/meet-sarah-my-beloved-ancestral-mother/), and Louis Frederick Miller [nee Ludwig Friedrich Mueller]. I’d never read it thoroughly before because I know the story. It’s our lore and we’re very proud of her.
Little did I know…

Sarah was a dreamer, too!

Despondent after her husband died, she met him in a dream across a fence. Expressing a desire to join him, he said her work wasn’t done. He told her it was better than she thought it would be [in Zion], and it would get better still. A man approaching on her side of the fence took her by the arm, and they walked away together. Some months later Sarah met Louis, whom she called “Miller” for the fifty-plus years of their life together, and recognized him as the man in her dream.

Knowing I have another dreamer, on my mother’s side now, makes me feel less psychic myself, and more human and exactly like anyone. We all have access. We all have dreams. We all know. We’re from the same place. We’re in this together. We’re the same.

23andme.com is the best gift I ever gave myself. $108 and some change for thrilling scientific information, and reconnection to my true self, my goodness, my spirit, my people, my fellow man, you.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

*The Ashkenazi are an ethno-religious group indigenous to Israel that migrated to Europe.

Animals and Angels

Wow. I had a dream several weeks ago that¬†my friend¬†told me his dog, Remschi, had died. I ran into him in town today and asked how he was doing. “Not good,” he answered. “My neighbors poisoned my dog.”

I stopped by his place and understood immediately that the dog wouldn’t make it. My friend was not well. Emotional and spent from caring for a dog who could not recover, he paced and panicked and paced. Every time he left the room, I thanked Rem for his life and service. “You had a special calling and you served well. You should be very proud. Thank you for bringing him comfort,¬†purpose,¬†and joy. You can go now. You can leave your pain. You don’t have to stay. Beautiful boy. Love him from over there.”

My friend told me that Remshi died hours after I left. I shared my conversation with the dog, apologizing that I’d given him permission to go.

“Well, it’s good you did,” my friend conceded. “I was begging him to stay.”

“I knew you were. Humans stay for their loved ones, too. Of course, you know he’s still with you.”

“I know!” My friend became very excited and shared several dreams he’s had in which he and his dog can now speak. Just then, I remembered another dream I had, days after my visit. I dreamed I was sitting on my friend’s couch. He walked in the door. Remschi followed, thin but smiling and well. “Rem,” I cried, “You’re not dead!”

(I said the exact same thing to Jeffrey two weeks after he died!) http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com/2011/07/element-11-2011.html

I woke up confused because I knew that dog was going to pass. “Hm,” I thought then. “Maybe he’s recovering.” I recognize now that Rem came to me himself to let me know that, sure enough, he’s right there in step with the companion who needs him.

I felt honored. I felt humble. I felt like the angels invited me to help a servant home.

My friend is at peace, happy that his beloved service dog is no longer in pain.

I Buy My Tarot Deck Today

I used one of the instructor’s decks yesterday. There’s a theory that no one should touch your cards, but I think I’m going to be a little lenient on that one, too. I’m no purist.

Last night, we learned the Major Arcana. I laughed out loud when I found out that the High Priestess “doesn’t say much.” I have a lot to learn from her.¬†

The High Priestess is the Higher Knower. “She’s like a dark, mysterious woman,” Margaret taught. I remembered the African idol of my childhood dreams, who came to life but never spoke. She only sang that song. It called to me! I was afraid of her, but intrigued and immensely attracted. Interestingly, in that dream we ran to Grandpa’s house in Pocatello, Idaho. Every time. He could easily represent¬†the¬†Emperor, the keeper of orthodoxy. Viewed this way, I see so clearly that I was frightened of what I didn’t understand: A spiritual path that had no familiar rule book. Even in my sleep, I tried to fit into the Mormon Church! But with my Barbies, I chanted that High Priestess’ song until it was discovered, discouraged, and forgotten.

(My paternal ancestral grandmother, my dear angelic friend, Abigail Smith Abbott, dreamed music, too. As a young woman, she learned the hymn of a people dressed in white walking through a flat, grassy plain. When she woke, she sang to it to her friends. Later, she joined the Mormon Church and made that journey across this country to the beautiful valley I call home. I’m willing to bet that on the way they sang a song she already knew. https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/abigails-own-words-and-the-sordid-story-of-my-book/)

The Sordid Story of My Book

I’m so glad I have a photocopy of Abigail’s story. Mom sent it to me a couple of years ago, when my co-worker Teresa became excited about Abigail after I shared her story.

Over the last 20 years I created¬†the false memory in which her husband was killed by an anti-Mormon mob, ha!¬†Now, I research my facts and tell the unexaggerated truth. And Mom still flatly refuses to give me¬†the family history in which I found Abigail’s story. I “met” her face first, in a photo-lineage of my people on that side. It was amazing!

Azalia,¬†my paternal grandmother,¬†did the work, compiling the stories, photos, and genealogies, creating a fat book of my family through hers. I’m in it! On my beautiful mother’s lap. My dad’s in his uniform. My sister and brother¬†are the cutest toddler and Kindergartner!

My mom¬†divorced that clan, but she paid $20 for that book, by damn. It’s hers, not the property of Abigail’s rightful heir – ME – her “latest generation,” which holds her “in honorable remembrance,” just as she wished.

She’s mine. I want my book! It’s a button. I pushed it in my last battle of the War with Mother,¬†in¬†November 2011. I hadn’t pushed¬†THE button¬†for¬†15 years. It went that far. It was the punch in¬†her face from 19-year-old me, and, just like then, I’m out. They’re not speaking to me, for the umpteenth time.

I’m secretly terrifed she’s destroyed¬†the book¬†since then, but I just can’t see Mom doing that. She’s such a good¬†person. That’s something I¬†might do. Instead, I¬†proceed with gratitude that she has my book in her safe keeping. It¬†exists because she holds it for me. It would not have survived my suicidal years, which claimed¬†my scrapbooks and journals. I have that blessed xerox of Abigail’s story, and my book will come,¬†eventually.

I am grateful. My aunt says she might be able to find an extra in the family clutter.¬†It won’t be necessary. Mom’s still¬†caring for¬†mine. She’s a¬†worthy woman, too. She’s¬†holding it ’til I’m ready. It has blessed her life, helping her tell stories of faith and endurance in church, where she feels connected to her personal truth, which I love and celebrate. So I’m glad she continues to enjoy my book. I’ll read it cover to cover, someday.