Thank you from the bottom of our heart to all who have commented and written heartbroken and touching tributes to our boy. This one just came in from blogfriend Barry Campbell: "I hope you can take comfort in knowing that being a cat in your household has to be one of the very best situations in the world, for anyone, and Baby got to enjoy it for quite some time. Be extra kind to yourself, and Tuck, in the coming days."
"Born a cat, died a gentleman," wrote our sis in the comments to "The saddest day" yesterday, citing for our precious Baby Cakes the William Penn quotation Tuck had suggested nearly fifteen years ago for the "Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Mary L. Jameson" when our mother died:
And this is the comfort of the good, that the grave cannot hold them, and that they live as soon as they die. Death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.
"He is risen" Easter 2008 portrait of His Magnificence.
I have had people say to me in the past, “He was ‘only’ a cat!” to which I replied then and would reply now that our domesticated animals have been and continue to be a gift of God …
I think that, in many ways, our interaction with our domesticated friends brings out the very best in our souls. And so, when a beautiful creature like Baby departs our midst, we are diminished in a very painful and very real fashion.
"It's the closest I've ever seen to a cat's looking like Winston Churchill," Tuck said last year of the Babe, foreground in the Bachrach-like sibling portrait above, with Tiny's Madame Thatcher behind.
"He sure was more than just a pussycat," an inconsolable Tuck is telling us as we revisit images and words celebrating the life and times of our irreplaceable Baby Cakes through five years of catblogging, starting in December of 2003.
"He has the most gravitas of any cat I've ever known," Tuck famously said. In this image from March of 2007, dignity fully intact even as he dangles in Tuck's grandfatherly embrace, the magnificent Chelsea Gray had ventured untethered onto the front porch just after a major snowstorm, "whereupon Tuck went out and fetched him back inside, his giant paws fully snowbound."
In homage to that incandescent light, a republication of our June 7, 2008 post "It is no longer a fact but an opinion" below, but first this latest insight from Tuck:
Baby had no toys.
I can't think of another cat who has so much ceremony. Everything is prancing and robes and sceptres. He's very friendly and very nice, but it has to be within the rules of the court.
Found objects — in this case, local TV sports graphics and Tuck's model of "America" — become "attributes" illuminating the character of the portrait sitter. Being a cat, Baby doesn't pose, of course. Instead, among the series of quick shutter clicks in the course of a given photo shoot — if we're lucky — we capture Cartier-Bresson's "Decisive Moment." Above, a portrait of Cakes embodying the Olympic ideal, as described at The Olympic Museum website:
Identification of the athlete by his nakedness, a sign of balance and harmony — Gymnasium and palaestra: the education of the body and mind — Hygiene and body care.
The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.
Pallywood enablers, take notice.
More found objects — this time of the "beauty in unexpected places" variety — a DayGlo® orange football appearing to rise, moonlike, atop Tuck's wall outside the kitchen window, the window's white molding suggesting the fluting of an ancient column, the daybreak glow of a light underneath the cabinet creating a halo effect behind Baby's head — become the surrealistic attributes of a cat of mystery [Is there any other kind?]. As regular readers know, Baby Cakes always plays his cards close to the chest.
Attributes? Who needs attributes? The silky peaches-and-cream Sweet Tiny Pea is mistress of her universe, always in control, mysterious and loving it. Here atop the compost box behind the house, she keeps an eye out for intruders. Neighborhood cats, skunks and raccoons have been known to pass this way, with varying results, not always to Tiny's advantage. Never one to cut and run, she, like her brother, is stalwart in her efforts to defend the home turf.
What was that? Body language itself becomes an attribute as Tiny shifts from "Guarded" to "Elevated" alert.
Then, at something cats see or hear that we don't, on to "High" alert.
When the people's dinners arrive — usually about an hour after the animals have had their fill of catfood — "High" alert turns to "Severe Risk." Above, Tiny (left) and Baby focus all of their resources on the threat — the danger of not getting Tuck to surrender some of the food on his plate.
The Think System never fails to deliver. Baby's tastes are cosmopolitan. The Pork Suzette would have to be first among equals, but he is not one to say no to Corny Cornbread Minis, Potato Meltdown, Sweet Potatoes Puree or even frozen peas!