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Remembering Kayla on the 30th Anniversary of Her Birth

When we got Kayla in January 1992, she was 15 months old. She was a purebred–and she had "papers"…so her birth date was documented: October 4, 1990.

While she was never a showcat, or anything of the sort to me, to the family…it was always cool (to me) that we had an exact date of birth for her. An actual bonafide birtrhday, and so we knew her exact age all her life.

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We lost her in May 2010…on mothers’ day. She was just over 19 1/2…we’d had her over 18 of those years.

Today–October 4, 2020–is 30 years since this kitty joined the world. And having that exact birthdate makes it that much easier to celebrate that, than to "observe" the anniversary of her loss. And certainly NOT to at all trivialize what she means to me–what she was, how she was, the part of my life she played for nearly half my life–making it to 19 1/2, it wasn’t such a shock to me losing her. But I don’t really wanna get into that here, now, on a post celebrating her life.

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She was always such a curious cat. You couldn’t put a paper bag or a box anywhere without her checking it out. Even if she’d been asleep…it was like she had a homing beacon for boxes…she’d wake up and go right TO a new-to-her box to check it out. And even if it wasn’t new, she’d often be found on or in a box.

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I always remember going through my comic boxes the one time and I heard a certain noise and looked over to find her hunkered down, madly pawing at a bunch of comics…a box whose lid I’d left off. It was adorable, and I rushed to get my camera to get a photo of her going at ’em…never occurred to me her damaging them.

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This is one of my favorite photos of her…it was in the kitchen at the old house, a case of water bottles on top of another box. It was her pedestal/throne. I wish the camera had been higher quality…but such is the changes in technology over the years!

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Here she is curled up on an ottoman we used to have. I remember taking this photo because of the added cuteness of her being curled up as she is, on the round ottoman!

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Here’s an even rarer photo…where I’m actually IN the photo with Kayla, holding her. Unlike all the other cats we’ve had…she was always so mellow AND enjoyed being held. I could simply pick her up–even cradling her onto her back like a baby like this–and she’d just chill in my arms. Christy never tolerated that, and Ziggy never cared for it, and Sarah doesn’t. Chloe sorta puts up with it briefly, but never the way Kayla did!

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Another photo I remember the moment of taking (if not the date now)…It was hilarious to me at the time cuz I was trying to get a pic of her sitting there but she walked up and swiped at the camera–my face!

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Queen Kayla on her throne! I forgot that we’d had that chair this long…still have it, though it’s nearing the end of its time.

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Typical "weird-kitty" pose…

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Comfortable kitty sprawled on a sheet…

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This was a pic of Kayla with a frame of photos I’d put together after we lost Christy. This would be from sometime in 2009…we lost Christy in September 2008.

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Kayla chilling by her feeding station–in front of the pantry to the right of the fridge, against a chair-slash-stepladder thing we used to have.

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One of the few photos I have of Kayla "sitting pretty" and catching a lot of the blue to her eyes!

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Here’s Kayla with the ceramic bowl that her original owners gave us when we got her. I think there’d been two, but we’d wound up being down to the one, and eventually something happened to it or it got put away or such.

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Kayla on a toweled corner of the large rectangular ottoman we’d wound up with; that was more "coffee table" than ottoman.

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Another rare photo with me actually in it with Kayla. This is a cropped photo from Christmas Day 2007; that’s Dad with me; Mom and my sister are also in the original photo.

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After we lost Christy, I found this poem–Weep Not For Me–by Constance Jenkins, and it REALLY hit me…and along with Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, helped me process my grief after losing Christy. And it has been something I’ve tried to have with Kayla, and with Ziggy.


This past spring marked 10 years she’s been gone. She’s far from forgotten, though. Even my parents still sometimes slip and say "Kayla" when referring to Chloe or Daisey. And I still think of her, miss her, and so on.

And I’m ever so glad for the 18 years I got to spend with her a part of my life–from middle school into high school, through college, through grad school, and deep into my longest-held job. She was part of my life through some of my most formative years.

So…30 years now since she was born…

Happy birthday, little cat…

Thank you for all your years of love. And someday I’ll see you over the bridge.

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It’s Been 25 Months

It’s been 25 months. December 7, 2017 was one of THE worst days of my life. It was the day I had to make "that" decision, and was the last day I had this wonderful, loving, gentle, beautiful cat here on Earth.

Ziggy came into my life on a September day in 2010, and over the next 7 years + 3 months became one of the best parts of my life.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 months without this little guy.

I couldn’t cite the day and date the photo below was taken, BUT I remember the moment itself–I was sitting at this very desk where I am now (albeit different chair and different computer) and he’d come over to me, got up against my leg, and meowed at me. He wanted a treat, and knew I kept some in the drawer, and would often "cave" to his begging. (Chloe often seemed to put him up to it, too–lounging off to the side UNTIL treats were out, then racing over to "cut" in line!).

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Just that earnest look on his face, and those big eyes. And that little bit of white fur at his nose. I always remember my aunt Karen loving that about him, and it was her calling attention to it that made me notice it, and it remained a distinctive feature about him (one of too many to properly list).

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Here’s Ziggy stretched out on a cat bed–just one of those cheap ones from Walmart–but I love this pic; he just looks so content there in it. Though it’s one of the FEW times I remember him using it specifically. Sarah-cat uses it most nights now…I hadn’t even remembered Ziggy using it,, so let Sarah have it when I found it buried in a corner with some boxes last year. Some of her similarities to Ziggy let me know it’s a good match.

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Here’s Ziggy just sprawled on a blanket on a bed.

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And here’s Ziggy, Prince of the House…ruling from on high, seated on his mighty throne.

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And here he is waiting for me to go downstairs with him whenever that was (sometime between Fall 2015 and Spring 2017–I know by the blank wall!)

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And here’s Ziggy on the stairs themselves. He never got to experience the "wall of art". Sometimes I think part of my embracing covering-the-walls was to differentiate them; to give a different "feel" to descending into the basement…

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And here’s a collage of Ziggy in a stack of short-box-shells. I’m pretty sure these were after I’d bought a couple of wire racks to replace the cardboard-ONLY setup; but then these became a semi-permanent part of my setup to this day for storage (not that one can tell anymore).


I continue to feel rather morbid, observing ‘anniversaries’ of the day I had to say goodbye.

It’s absolutely NOT any sort of "celebration" but I think it’s a way for me to mark the passage of time. I made it another month, I made it another year, I’ve SOMEHOW made it 25 months without my Ziggy.

Over 30 years into comics, and much of the ’90s especially saw comics make a huge deal out of the round numbers. Celebrate 12 issues, the series lasted a year! Celebrate 13, it’s the second year of the title! And then the 25s–25, 50, 75, 100…

I’d posted (personal Facebook account) weekly batches of photos as I made it week by week. After 52 weeks, I forced myself to pull back to monthly. And here, in this (comics) blog, I’ve posted some, but nothing with regularity.

But just as I’m more and more disgusted with modern comics practices…it feels like…I don’t know. I can’t even find the word I’m looking for (and this is all stream of conscious typing, so your mileage may vary on spelling/formatting/etc).

Ziggy was one of the best parts of my life. And while comics have long celebrated these round number milestones…it’s "observing" that that I allowed myself this post. Because where those are celebrating stuff…this uses that as a frame of reference. All those comics series celebrated making it that far.

While here, I regret the fact that I’ve HAD TO exist this far, without my beloved kitty.

25 months.

1 day, 1 week, 1 month at a time.

One breath at a time.

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It Was 29 Years Ago Today…

Thanks to some tech issues and timing, this post is hitting almost at the end of the day…but I couldn’t bring myself to consciously, knowingly let the day pass without posting as I’ve done at least most years since she’s been gone.

Today, Kayla would have been 29. It’s been 29 years since she was born.

Though it was 15 months later that she came into MY life.

She’s been gone nearly 9 1/2 years now.

And while these photos are almost certainly duplicates that I’ve posted in previous years…unfortunately, I just don’t have that many of her, or of good quality.

But these are some "key" photos I (as such) often think of with her, and cherish all of them…and the little over 18 1/4 years I had with her!

Miss Kayla Krystal…Kayla Kneeland.

My first kitty.

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I took this photo of her in October 2008 or 2009. I was digging through all my comic boxes at my parents’ house at the time for my various Deadpool and related comics. Kayla joined me, and had quite the adventure with me moving all these BOXES around!

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This photo is Kayla looking up from her bowl. The photo makes her eyes look brown (if not outright kitty-laser-eyes), but in the right light, her eyes were brilliantly blue!

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Kayla napping, curled up as cats do…

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While a bit blurry, I love this photo. Every time I see it, I remember that moment…I was TRYING to get a particular pic of her, and Kayla walked up and started swatting at the camera!

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Another pic of her sleeping. She loved that couch, and laying ON stuff–such as that sheet. More than any other cat I’ve had, she would seek out paper, plastic, cardboard, books, comics, magazines, sheets, anything loose on top of some other firm surface.

And her adventures getting into bags and boxes…all these years later and I still "expect" to be able to put a box down for my other kitties and find at least one in it. But Ziggy never did, and Chloe and Sarah have never matched Kayla’s love of boxes.

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Kayla looked so regal to me in this one. Just her in the middle of the recliner, surveying her kingdom…

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One of her nap-time stretches. A bit awkward in pose, but comfy in the chair!

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And finally, a photo from Christmas Day 2007, me holding this precious kitty even as she squirmed to get down.

Usually such a "ragdoll" in being picked up and held, but trying to pose with her rarely worked, for me.


Happy birthday, Kayla! Little poof, nightkitten, Pretty Kitty…

Until we’re reunited at the bridge…

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Today Would Have Been 9 Years

Today–September 7, 2019–would have been 9 years having Ziggy. As we never knew his actual birthday, I observed his "birthday" or "gotcha day" as the day Dad brought this kitty into my life.

September 7, 2010.

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And today has been 21 months since losing him, that horrible day back in December 2017.

I still haven’t brought myself to put back the comic box I pulled for him, to let him smell and paw at that day. He often climbed in amidst my longboxes in their rack. It was an ideal space for him…BOXES, outta the way, his own quasi-hidey-space.

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He also hung out with me in the basement. Here he’s in the chair I use now for work, though the basement space has changed quite a bit since the photo was taken. The comic racks in the background have remained, though.

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And here’s my Ziggy waiting for treats. Another factor to his hanging out with me a lot in the basement was that I kept a packet of treats, and would spoil him (and Chloe!) with a couple treats here and there.

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Here’s another pic of him, "caught" in the act of pawing at the longboxes’ lids.


I posted Ziggy’s "origin story" in my life back in 2017.

It’s been 21 months he’s been gone and I still miss him. I feel guilty as heck that the sharpest all-consuming mental anguish and pain of his passing has faded. But he’s frequently in my thoughts.

I remember him always.

I still think of him and remember the times spent. Sometimes I can still almost see him sniffing around my comic boxes, or hear the pat-pat-pat-pat-pat of him racing down the stairs. Sometimes, when Sarah stands up against my leg in the work-chair, I can see Ziggy, as he used to do that.

So many more memories than I could ever reasonably put into one post.

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Secret Origins: Ziggy

It was a late August day back in 2010, Dad left a voicemail on my cell. A bit cryptic–simply telling me to call him. As my aunt was in the hospital for something, I immediately feared the worst, and called in a panic…only to find out it wasn’t anything urgent.

Dad had been online and came across a Craigslist listing for a cat at a nearby shelter, and Mom had insisted that he needed my blessing before there’d be any consideration of getting this cat, as I was in visiting often, and it’d only been a few months since we’d lost Kayla after having her over 18 years.

I found the listing Dad had seen, and immediately approved.

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The shelter had him tagged as "Sigmund." I’d planned to add "Dewey" to that, both for the library-cat and figuring it would sound quite distinguished. Sigmund Dewey.

The shelter had posted the listing too early, so Dad had to wait a few days–they had to allow time for notification any potential owners to come in and reclaim him. During that time, I recall posting in a blog at cxPulp that whether he knew it or not, this was a lucky little cat–because though he was in a shelter for the then-moment, he either had a family that would reclaim him…or he already had a family that wanted him.

And as things went, on September 7th, 2010, Dad went in. As he’s told me, he walked into the place, and even with the other cats meowing and reaching out and clamoring for attention–Dad only had eyes for Sigmund.

…Sigmund, who huddled in the back of the cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone, let alone being pulled out of the cage. But Dad got him out, and that day, he brought this cat into my life.

My conscious plan was to "tolerate" this cat, to "put up with" its presence…I wouldn’t be mean or anything, but I’d be indifferent–he was gonna be Dad’s cat.

That evening after work, I drove the hour in to meet this cat. Such a significant thing, adopting anyone new into your life–and I had to see this cat for myself.

One look at him and I got down on the floor to get his attention. He wasn’t sure of me at first, but then came over to check me out, and allowed me to touch him. (And for the rest of his life, "our thing" was that I was the one that would get down on the floor with him, so he almost never would hop up onto me).

While we were talking, the matter of his name came up, and Mom had a slip of the tongue, clearly saying Ziggy where Dad was calling him Siggy (for Sigmund).

The cat looked RIGHT at her, and we realized in that moment that THAT was his name.

He was Ziggy.

And he got several "pet names" or nicknames. In my own recollection, I most think of "Little Buddy" from Dad, as he’d call Ziggy or get his attention. (And that he was, he was Dad’s little buddy!). To me, he was "Handsome Cat" (cuz I thought Handsome more fitting than Pretty or Beautiful, though those absolutely fit as well). And to everyone, he was also just Zig, or Zig-Zig, or such. But Ziggy was what his "full name" has always been, at least to me. Just like I’m Walter, but go by Walt. He was Ziggy, though he’d go by others as well.

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The first photo above is the photo from the original listing, the very first photo I ever saw of him, the very first, period, that I ever saw OF him.

And just above, him resting on Mom, is the final photo I have of him.

The very earliest photo I have of him. And the very last.

Dad brought him into my life on September 7, 2010. And I had to say goodbye to this sweetest, gentlest cat I have ever known, on December 7, 2017.

And in between these photos?

I have THOUSANDS more. It takes all I have right now to hold it together just handling these two photos right now. I’ve shared hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of him before–on Facebook, in messages to friends, occasionally in this very blog.

And I know I will share even more yet, as I somehow learn to live in a world without this precious little cat. I can’t begin to find the proper words, in the proper order and quantity, to feel I’m doing the little guy justice. And as I break down now typing this, I can only say that this is far from the last I’ll have to share of him. But though he’s at peace now…

It is us, those left behind–Me, Dad, Mom, our other cat Chloe, friends and family who knew him–that suffer. Hurt. Have to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.

And me?

Absolutely nothing in my life before this has ever hurt so much, or affected me as this has.

Ziggy Kneeland.

Sigmund Dewey.

Little Buddy.

Handsome Cat.

Zig.

Zig-Zig.

This quiet, gentlest of spirits…

So very, VERY loved, and missed more terribly than words alone can ever begin to describe.

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Remembering Kayla on the 27th Anniversary of Her Birth

kayla_cornerSometimes it seems like Kayla’s still just around some corner somewhere.

But as in years past, I’m taking a moment to publically remember my little cat.

Today–October 4th–is the anniversary of her birth, back in 1990.

It’s hard to believe that now, in 2017, it’s been nearly 7 1/2 years since losing her, back in May of 2010.

She’s the only cat I’ve had or ever known where there was a definite date of birth…Kayla was a "purebred," that Dad found in a classified ad when we started looking to get a cat, back in 1992. He’d been a fan of the Himalayan breed, and though I wanted a kitten, he followed up on an ad, and we wound up bringing Miss Kayla Krystal home one January Thursday. As a purebred, she came with "papers" detailing the date of birth, and so on.

Said "papers" got stowed in a compartment on the plastic "pet taxi" vet-carrier and somewhere along the years disappeared. Because we didn’t care about ’em.

Kayla was instantly a part of the family, and other than as a clinical "fact," her being a "purebred" never mattered.

Even now, all these years later…I’ve yet to be able to string together a lengthy post about her. So many memories, across nearly 18 1/2 years…and for all the writing I do, have done, will do…there’s no doing justice to what this little cat meant to me.

To date, she remains one of THE primary "constants" in my life, a presence far longer than anyone other than immediate family.

She’ll always be here, until no one remembers. Always here, always part of my heart such a precious part of my life.

Below: several times Kayla was the focus of a "cover" in my The Life of Walt series of photo pieces.

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Happy Birthday, Little Cat…

25 years ago today, Miss Kayla Crystal was born…a purebred Himalayan. At 15 months, she joined our family–I was 11 at the time. She was just Kayla to us–our cat, a part of our family. Being a Himalayan was incidental to the fact of her place with us.

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Though she left this world in May 2010–nearly 5 1/2 years ago (preceded in September 2008 by our younger cat Christy), her memory is still there, is still here, is still part of me, she is still in my heart and memory and mind and…there just aren’t words for this feeling.

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One of my favorite memories of her, from 2009…I was searching comic boxes, and curious as ever, she joined me, and seemed to really enjoy climbing on the boxes, pawing at them, and even at one point found one I left a lid off and I caught her pawing madly at the tops of some comics. Where some might’ve been horrified…I just wanted the photo of her doing that.

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I miss you, Kayla…

#NotAtComicCon (So I Visited Winston)

not_at_comic_con_logoComic Con is going on right now, but I’m not there. I’m cool with that, as there is plenty of comic stuff for me locally, and I truly prefer it to the sort of travel/etc that would presently be required for me to ever be at SDCC.

But because I’m not there, I was free tonight to pay a visit to Carol & John’s in Cleveland and see Winston (something that’s been on my mind since the other day).

With hours actually conducive to making the trip and such after work Friday, I drove up to Cleveland to visit the shop briefly.

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Once there, I browsed momentarily and then discovered the extent of their #NotAtComicCon sale. Rather than a handful of Dollar Bins…they had a Dollar ROOM set up.

Once I’d browsed many of the boxes and found some neat stuff and even some specifics I was looking for, I returned to the main area, and asked about Winston.

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There he was, just  curled up comfortably, napping on a chair by the counter. He woke up a bit and stretched, then watched me ring out, remaining on his seat, one paw stuck out, seeming to enjoy being the king.

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I usually avoid dollar books in any kinda bulk…they’re sure cheaper than $4/issue, but man do those $1s add up in a danged hurry! Along with a handful of Ultraverse issues, some Valiants, and several X-books…I also found the complete Dead Again arc from the Superman titles from 1994 (though it took a bunch of digging through the titles’ sections in the bins). I also bought the Robin magnet, as I’ve been snagging a bunch of magnets lately, and the Tim Drake Robin (up to about Flashpoint) is one of my all-time favorite comic characters.

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Quite unplanned by me, Ziggy made himself at home on a comic box, and I managed to get this photo of him. My own comic book kitty!

#SaveWinston Ends On a Happy Note

winston_on_comics_carol_and_johns_comic_book_shopI was quite dismayed early on Monday to learn that Winston, a Cleveland-area comic shop’s shop-cat, was missing.

I’ve been to this shop (Carol & John’s) a handful of times, and even if I’ve only caught a glimpse of the kitty, that’s made me smile, and justified the visit. (And I once drove out there specifically hoping to see Winston…something I’m contemplating doing this weekend again).

For me, there’s just something to there being a “shop cat” around…particularly given the way I’m such a “cat person.” I’d encountered a shop cat at a comic store in Pennsylvania about 6 years ago that I’ll always remember–he followed me around, stuck his paws down between issues while I flipped through a longbox, and even decided my head was a plaything while I knelt to flip through a box on the floor and he was stretching down as far as he could reach over the edge to swipe at me, trying to get me to play with him. I had also once “discovered” a book/comic/something shop when I moved for grad school back in 2004…the cat curled up in the window caught my attention, or I wouldn’t have even noticed the store.

There’s also the story of Dewey, chronicled in the book Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World that gets to me.

I ‘discovered’ Dewey barely a week after I lost my first cat, Christy…and reading the book had a huge impact on me, was truly cathartic and really helped me, in its own way, to deal with that loss.

And aside from that, it’s just fascinated me ever since, to consider there being a library or a shop or such with a resident cat that I might see every time I went there.

Even as I type this, a memory’s just surfaced that when I first “discovered” Carol & John’s, I researched the place online, their web page, before I went out, and it was the notion of Winston, their shop cat, that “sold” me on driving out immediately, and the inward thrill of actually seeing him briefly (it was late and he’d probably had enough for the day–I recall him going behind the counter away from the main part of the shop).

So when I saw the top edge of a “Missing Cat” poster in my Facebook newsfeed early Monday afternoon, I had that immediate thought I always have–feeling bad for whoever has lost a cat, but was shocked and then dismayed to realize it wasn’t “just” Carol & John’s page sharing a local missing kitty, but it was their own kitty–a kitty I’ve met, that I “know,” and it was a gut-punch I don’t usually get from such postings.

I’d shared a couple of the posts on social media myself, doing what I could to get the word out so anyone local-ish would know and could keep an eye out, all the while dreading what seems to be the “usual” horrible news.

winston_found_screenshotSo when a friend shared a post to my newsfeed last night, I was first curious about the post…but my heart truly leapt with a beat of joy when I saw what the post actually was:

Great news!

He’d been found, he was safe, the story had a happy ending.

And I’ve thrilled tonight looking at the Carol & John’s facebook page, reading all the comments, seeing several recently-posted photos, and generally seeing just how well-loved this cat is, by so many in the community.

I’d commented to a couple friends last night that I’m sure Winston’s gonna have extra visitors this week, and as mentioned above, I myself am really thinking I want to take a trip out there to see him (regardless of a Not-At-Comic-Con sale the store is holding this week).

And obviously the situation touched me in such a way that it’s what I chose to write about tonight, superseding any other posts I might’ve written.

If you’re in the Cleveland area, it’s well worth paying Carol & John’s a visit. Great service, amazing stock, plenty of bargain-bin ($1) comics, lots of new stuff, a kids’ play area…and of course, Winston the cat.


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Photo (above): Winston laying on some comics, back home again after going missing for a couple days. This particular photo was posted as the profile picture of the Carol & John’s Facebook page Tuesday evening 7/7/2015. Please visit their page, check them out (enjoy photos of Winston at least!), and all that.


You can find them at 17462 Lorain Ave / Cleveland, Ohio in Kamms Plaza.

Taking a personal moment

If my life was a comic series…

The latest issue would be #97 from September. And the 2012 Annual would be an expansion of stuff from April 2012, visiting the Pittsburgh Comic Con with friends, where I got to meet Stan Lee (if only for a few seconds).

The Life of Walt #97

The Life of Walt Annual 2012

I’ve been doing these comic-cover images since 2006. With few exceptions, each “cover” uses photos from a given month of my life. The current numbering began with August 2004 when I started grad school.

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