Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Squid Mixes: Cossack
I first learned about the Cossacks of Ukraine and southern Russia in my Russian history class in high school. I wrote briefly about the class in this post from (gulp!) nearly five years ago. The teacher was known to all of us as the Tsar. He was, without a doubt, the best teacher I've ever had - old school, lecture style and thoroughly captivating. Within the context of the classroom, we were all assigned roles. We all began as peasants but those who kissed up to him became nobles. The nobles claimed serfs - I was a serf. A particularly artful class clown might attain the much coveted title of Village Idiot. One friend of mine managed to become Village Priest, highly amusing as the student himself was the son of a rabbi. The Cossack was the class military cop, the very role performed by many Cossacks in Tsarist Russia.
Late last year, the Tsar passed away. The outpouring of grief on social media from devoted students spanning decades was impressive, though hardly surprising. Long live the Tsar!
We had a loss in our own home this past month. The Little Squirt in the photo above is now our only cat. The Big Lug has passed on - diabetes took a brutal toll in the end. He entered our family as an impulse purchase. We walked into a pet store to buy fish food. Instead, we fell in love with a little grey kitten, buried under a couple of his sleeping crate-mates. He was not the easiest roommate at first. He was obnoxious to our two older females and was the toughest sell when our human child entered the mix. But he was unfailingly loving with us and was the softest cat I've ever known. He and my wife had a particularly nice bond. As she said, she always knew exactly what he wanted and to his credit, he was never an especially demanding cat - a man of simple pleasures.
Eventually, the two older cats died and he was clearly unhappy on his own. After a couple lonely years, we adopted the Little Squirt and the Lug fared much better as an older brother. The Squirt adored him and he was surprisingly tolerant of her. All the manifestations of his anxiety disappeared.
Fifteen years is a long time to share a home with someone. Indeed, I lived with the Lug for nearly as long as I lived with my older sister. The house isn't the same without him. There is talk of adding another cat sometime though we may try to get the current resident's weight under control first. Unfortunately, the Squirt is no longer so little.