Saying Goodbye to Devil Cat

In early April 2021, David and The One had to say goodbye to Rory, AKA Devil Cat, the stray that made an enormous impact on their lives. It was a 14-year relationship that taught them all a little something about love, acceptance, and patience.

The day we had dreaded from almost the moment a stunning tuxedo cat first swaggered up our front walk on my forty-seventh birthday had finally come. Devil Cat–whose real name is Rory, short for Rorschach–was put down on April 12 at 4:45 PM.

And it’s taken this long to begin writing about it.

The story is all too familiar to us. Rory had late-stage kidney disease–a kinder, gentler way of saying his kidneys were shutting down. Our two previous cats, Chloe and Raja, both fell victim to it. And like them, Rory had to suffer the indignity of Melanie, our devoted vet tech, injecting him with fluids under his skin every day. I say “suffer” because he was ferociously angry at having to be swaddled in a towel, and he let anyone who was within earshot know it. And I say “indignity” because never was there a cat with higher self-regard than Rory.

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Remembering Windows on the World

When the horrific memories of the World Trade Center attack sometimes threaten to crowd out everything else, especially on the anniversary of 9/11, I call up a different, comforting memory shared by perhaps only several hundred people in the world:  sunrise from Windows on the World, on north tower’s 107th floor.

In the mid-’80s, I was a waiter at the Hors d’Oeuvrerie, the lounge and international café of Windows on the World, where women and men from around the globe came for perhaps a bit of then-unheard-of sashimi, after-dinner dessert, and dancing, or the glittering, quarter-of-a-mile-high views of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Everyone from heads of state to rock stars to Broadway royalty visited the Hors d’Oeuvrerie on their way to or from Windows on the World’s main dining room, which faced uptown. Elegance and pedigree abounded, even among the staff: Waitresses wore satin sarongs and waiters bowed almost imperceptibly when greeting guests. The tall, silent piano player was rumored to be a protégé of Leonard Bernstein. Read more “Remembering Windows on the World” »

The Garden That Almost Ate Roxbury

Never underestimate the power of Mother Nature. One summer, David and The One fought a nearly-losing battle against the overwhelming growth of their newly expanded garden that, for whatever reason, went berserk and threatened to bury them in mountains of veggies.

An illustration of killer tomatoes and a title that says 'The Garden that Almost ate Roxbury'.

An odd and unusual thing happened to us this summer in our garden. Something almost out of science fiction. [Cue otherworldly music.]

Let me back up. Before this year, The One’s and my vegetable garden took up all of a 10-foot circle around an old tree stump. We would dutifully divide it into quarters and fill it with herbs, tomatoes, kale, and a few nasturtiums. That was it. Nothing to write home about. And, since Papa Leite is a consummate gardener, I literally never did write home. The last thing I wanted was for him to raise a grayed eyebrow and wonder, did my boy learn nothing during those long summers at Silvia’s Farm where he worked as a teenager? But this year, overcome by some deep yearning to be real men of the earth, The One and I broke ground on a garden that was more than five times the size of our old garden. In total, four raised beds, all filled with our yard guy’s organic soil.

A garden with tomato plants in the garden that almost ate Roxbury.

Here’s where it gets a little weird. In no time, the plants were off and running, even though we got them into the ground more than a month late. I mean, they were ALIVE! The cilantro, which never, ever survived our hands, was huge. The five parsley plants—we planted five because at least half always die—burst into bushes more than two feet tall. Same with the potatoes, squash, cantaloupes, watermelon, cucumbers, broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, carrots, beets, and the rest of the herbs. I finally did write home to my father and send him photos. He kept saying, “I have no idea what you’re doing, son, but keep doing it.” The thing is: We did nothing!

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