Hello from Humphrey and other silly stories

This is Humphrey - at least, that's what I've named him. My husband painted him on a whim because, well, I love rabbits, and I think they are absolutely  cuddly and adorable. But first, a bit of  back story.

When I was still living at my parents' house I had  a series of dwarf rabbits. I say series because, unfortunately, they do not live for very long and some of them had some rather unfortunate accidents that shortened their life-span even more - but I won't talk about that. I still remember their names: Pippino, Rosie, Pixie, Spinner and a few others. The last one I had was called Billy and I remember seeing his chubby face looking at us from the garden the morning I left the house to get married.

Spinner, when he was a baby bunny
Fast forward a few years and when my son turned 6, my dad got him a rabbit and he decided to call him Billy, in memory of my last pet. I would have preferred to name him Humphrey. Humphrey seems like a perfect name for a cheeky rabbit. Or an eccentric Englishman with a perfect upper-class accent (think Prince Charles) and buck teeth. Yes, these long weeks of social isolation have made me a bit silly. Sadly, the second Billy passed over the rainbow bridge a few years ago and my husband painted this wacky portrait to cheer my son and I up. And that's how Humphrey came to be (Billy had a posthumous name change).

Incidentally, if anyone would like a wacky portrait of their pet, please let me know. My husband will be happy to do a 9x12 inch painting for $75-100, depending on the subject.

Which brings me to ...

The cat who could talk

Shadi was my husband's cat. She was a British Shorthair, a tortoiseshell, an ex-show cat with exquisite markings and a  priceless attitude. After we were married, I moved with my husband to Chesterfield, about 30 minutes away from St Louis and, some time in the months after that, Shadi developed a voice. Or rather, I gave her a voice. I was lonely and homesick and a little afraid. So, in a moment of diversion, I developed a voice for Shadi; a very sassy  voice in keeping with her personality. She would 'say' things and make observations that I probably never would have and, very often, her remarks were pretty hilarious. 

To this day, even though she hasn't gone for over ten years, every now and then, her very particular voice pipes up and gives her very honest (and not always welcome) opinion. Shadi can get away with things that a person never could - just because she's a cat. My son keeps telling me that I should write a children's story or a series of stories about things she did or could have done. I keep thinking about it but don't know if I will ever have the courage or belief in myself to actually do it. But, thinking about it, makes me remember her and the real escapades she got up to.

Shadi was a sweet cat, docile and loving but with some quirky traits. For example, she loved to dip her paw into my husband's cafe au lait and then lick it. She never played that trick on me because there never was any milk in mine. Another thing she loved to do was to stick her nose in our ice-cream bowls. Rocky Road was her favourite.

On one occasion she took a neat bite out of a pile of Pringles my father-in-law was holding in his hand. She was as quick as lightning and we all laughed so hard to see the shape of her little mouth on one of the edges of the Pringle stack. And she just stared at us with a very innocent look on her face.

Before our son was born, Shadi became my baby for a while. While still living in Chesterfield, I  once took her out on a freezing January day so she could experience the mixture of icy rain and snow that was falling, which was a first for me. She was none too happy about that. Another time, after we had moved to  Malta, I wrapped her up in a huge towel and took her on a drive to Dingli Cliffs. When we parked, passersby were looking in through the window to take a look at what they probably thought was a cute baby and found the scowling face of a cat instead. Can cats scowl? Shadi could, on certain occasions. Shadi's classic comment on this occasion was "People were expecting to see a cute baby and saw something even cuter instead. It was worth their while driving to Dingli Cliffs just for that."

And finally, there was her famous golden paw. All her paws were black except for one which was a golden/ tan colour. When she sat down, she would usually tuck all her paws beneath her - except for her golden paw which she held extended, almost like a queen holds out her hand to be kissed by her subjects. And Shadi would give us her special haughty look when she stuck her paw out. I was always ready to swear she wanted us to kiss it. Of course, I now know that cats do have a bit of the god-syndrome but this particular British Shorthair was something else.

So you see, I could go on and on recounting all sorts of silly tales but could I really write them into a short story that children would enjoy reading? I am not so sure because the stories are funny to us, because we knew her and the meaning of her looks, assorted snorts and grunts, and occasional meows (she mostly did silent meows, opening her mouth but without emitting a sound), but will I even be able to come close to really bringing to life her larger than life personality? Maybe all I can do is try.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

I vote write! I am sure your stories will be fun to read. Your husband could illustrate them.

La Contessa said...

TRY..............I just cleaned my book case and found your little book on MALTA photos!!!
I LOVE THAT TOO.............
BY the way I mentioned you on TODAYS BLOG............I noticed your getting a few clicks!
Hope I can send a few people your way!!!

Kayni said...

I really think you should write. Just reading this post makes me want to know more.

Speaking of rabbits, do you know that I call them kin or family. My desktop is adorned with rabbit photos. Main reason is, when I was being treated for Aplastic Anemia, I was given ATG from rabbit serum (it's rabbit derived antibodies). Rabbits are fascinating creatures.

Pipistrello said...

Loree, I imagine the hardest part of writing a book would be to find the subject and voice, so you're already there! All kids love stories about animals, and if your husband could illustrate it, you've nothing to stop you getting started. Putting it out there, as you have, means you have to commit to it now!!

Anonymous said...

Of course, write the book! You have the talent. Go for it!

Debbie Nolan said...

Loree I just know you can write a children's book. You are such a wonderful writer and there is no doubt you can do this. Shadi would be the perfect subject too. Hope life on Malta is doing better. Take care. Hugs!

Loree said...

Thank you all for the encouragement. It's the first step that's the most difficult.


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