O U R  S O N   T H E  C A T   by Dave Gratton  
Screaming through the cosmos there are three souls. One of a dog, one of a human child, and one of a cat. At 300,000 times the speed of light they all collide. After the space dust clears only one soul remains and it's headed toward the planet earth at warp speed. His name is Slippers.

My wife Adena and I met in June of 1986. I had been renting a room in a rather large house in a small town in Northern California. Adena moved into the house as a roommate and we hit it right off. After a few months we decided that we wanted to have our own place so we rented a Condo and moved in together. That was in October of 1986.

Adena had told me how much she loved cats and that she wanted to get a kitten. I reminded her that one of the terms of the lease specifically stated. "No Pets."

After a very short discussion on the matter I caved in. Adena started checking the classifieds for "Kittens To Adopt."

Well, the following Saturday with classifieds in hand we started our search for a kitten for Adena. We went to several houses that day and we looked at so many kittens they all seemed to look alike.

We arrived at the last house in the classifieds. They were a young family and they had four children. Their female cat died shortly after giving birth to seven kittens. The lady of the house told us that she only had one kitten left and asked if we would like to see it. I said. "Sure, lets take a look."

The young lady asked her daughter to go get the kitten from the back yard. We waited for a few minutes and the daughter emerged carrying "The Last Kitten"

The girl sat the kitten on the floor and I'm here to tell ya that kitten was the ugliest, most pathetic, uncoordinated, skinny; physically out of proportion animal you've ever seen.

He was black and white (They Call These Guys Tuxedo Cats), his ribs were showing, his head was too big for his body and the very tip of his tail was bent into what looked like an old record player needle. The disfigurement of his tail was attributed to a close encounter with a closing patio door and he wasn't quick enough.

Adena looked at me and whispered; "God that cat's ugly Dave." I replied; "Maybe so Hon, but you wanted a kitten and there's a kitten." I asked her; "Do you want him or not?" She himed and hawed for a minute and relented saying; "Well, he is sorta different." No truer words were ever spoken.

We told the lady of the house that we would take him. Adena gathered him up and we went out to the car. She bundled him up in a large piece of an old pink blanked that had been laying in the back seat and we headed for home.

When we got home we sat our newly acquired "Fur Person" on the floor and we began to ponder as to what we were going to name him. After going through the standard names such as fluffy, Mr. Kitty, boots etc. Adena came up with his name.

She said; "Well, the tips of his paws looks like he's wearing little boots, socks, shoes, spats, sneakers or slippers. We laughed together and decided that his name would indeed be "Slippers"

So that's how it all started...

For sixteen years Slippers shared his life with us. He gave us his love, he made us laugh, and he made us strong.

Through times of goodness, through times of uncertainty and through times of despair, Slippers was always there.

He is gone now, but his love is still with us and always will be.

Slippers Our Little Boy

August 1986 - February 2002

I am going to share with you what I call "Slippers Stories." Little essays about his adventures. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them.

   P U M P K I N  P A W S   by Dave Gratton  

It was Thanksgiving day, the start of the second year with Slippers. Like most families on this traditional holiday, the lady of the house rises early to plan this great feast.

First of course is the preparation of O'le Tom Turkey. Everybody of course has his or her own way of doing this as dictated by family tradition that goes back several generations. The stuffing for this magnificent bird is culinary artwork. Those secret spices, that special bread, fresh mushrooms and vegetables all combined to make the stuffing mouth watering and totally delicious.

Then there are the pies. During the whole year there is no mention of that very special piece of toothsome magic… Pumpkin Pie!

Just the thought of fresh pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream is enough to drive an ordinary person totally insane in anticipation. In the arsenal of spices used during this entire ceremonial act of preparing thanksgiving dinner, none are more awesome in titillating the taste buds that those used in the making of this very special faire. Duels have been fought in protecting these magical ingredients.

As in every year with our family, the holiday table is graced with two of these magnificent pies!!

The turkey is done to a turn; the stuffing is a world-class success. The mashed potatoes and giblets gravy is fantastic. The candied yams, fresh vegetables, and condiments are a smashing success.

While the family gorges themselves on this unbelievably scrumptious dinner, those two pumpkin pies are now in the oven slowly baking. The aroma of those delectable spices floods the nostrils of those so lucky as to be seated nearest the kitchen.

The family now finished with dinner, retreats to the living room to find a comfortable chair or sofa. They want to make sure that all the food they just devoured is well on it's way to digestion so that room is available for a piece of "Pumpkin Pie!"

The lady of the house gets up from her favorite resting place and goes out to the kitchen to check on the pies. We could all hear the hinges of the oven door squeaking as she opened it to check on the pies. We could hear the sound of the pies being removed and sat on the counter. The oven door is closed and the hostess returns to the living room.

"The Pumpkin Pies Are Now Cooling!!"

After about an hour, the lady of the house nods her head. Being the head of the household, I now take my place as first in line to go to the kitchen to bestow upon myself the very first piece of pumpkin pie.

I walked past all of the other family members; the look on their faces was filled with awe and a wee bit of jealously. I smiled at all of them as I made my way to the kitchen. As I entered the kitchen I caught a black and white blur going past me at mock ten. I was so startled I nearly lost my balance. Thinking no more of it, I approached the counter where the pies sat. I could see both of them and a neat stack of pie saucers and forks alongside of them.

As I approached the counter and looked down at the pies, I stopped and stared at them. Something wasn't right here. I have never known an instance where the lady of the house placed any type of decorations right smack dab in the middle of her famous pumpkin pies!!

As I looked closer, I finally realized that those weren't decorations in the middle of both pumpkin pies at all, but PAW PRINTS!!

I turned around and shouted at the top of my voice "Slippers, where are you?"

I walked across the kitchen and there just outside of the door was our cat Slippers. He was seated comfortably on his hind haunches. His left rear paw was splayed wide open and there he sat licking pumpkin pie from between his piggies. He had pumpkin all over his muzzle, his ears and all four paws.

At first I was angry, but as I stood there watching him clean himself I began to laugh. I laughed so hard I damn near peed my pants.

So when you have pumpkin pies on the counter cooling this next Thanksgiving, know where your cat is!! After that year, we did.

   A   M A T T E R  O F   L I G H T   by Dave Gratton  

Before mechanical refrigeration systems were introduced, people cooled their food with ice and snow, either found locally or brought down from the mountains. The first cellars were holes dug into the ground and lined with wood or straw and packed with snow and ice: this was the only means of refrigeration for most of history.

Refrigeration is the process of removing heat from an enclosed space, or from a substance, to lower its temperature. A refrigerator uses the evaporation of a liquid to absorb heat. The liquid, or refrigerant, used in a refrigerator evaporates at an extremely low temperature, creating freezing temperatures inside the refrigerator. It's all based on the following physics: - a liquid is rapidly vaporized (through compression) - the quickly expanding vapor requires kinetic energy and draws the energy needed from the immediate area - which loses energy and becomes cooler. Cooling caused by the rapid expansion of gases is the primary means of refrigeration today.

William Cullen at the University of Glasgow demonstrated the first known artificial refrigeration in 1748. However, he did not use his discovery for any practical purpose. In 1805, an American inventor, Oliver Evans, designed the first refrigeration machine.

Well, with the invention of the refrigerator and subsequent design changes over the years, mankind had finally conquered the problem of keeping food fresh. He could even find his food in the depths of the night with no need for the torch, flaming oil, or a flashlight.

"Why?" You say ... Because the recent genius of man had placed a light inside the refrigerator to guide him to his food source.

Now, you might think that this story is over but it's not. You've overlooked the obvious as so many people do, and that is man's curiosity. What does curiosity have to do with this particular subject? Actually, a lot!!

Ever since refrigerator manufacturers had installed the light inside, thousands of people all over the world have asked this very fundamental question… "Does the light actually go off inside the refrigerator when the door is shut?"

Ahh, come on; don't tell me that you've never asked this question silently to yourself? I mean, you don't want to appear as being totally stupid to your family or friends, so you've improvised in your search for the answer to this question.

Pressing your face against the door you slowly close it waiting for the truth to reveal itself. But The seals around the edge of the door block your view at the very last moment, depriving you of the answer you so vigorously seek.

So now you realize that you've joined the universal club of idiots!!

I must admit, I too have fallen victim to this insatiable curiosity. I've done the same dumb things as the rest of you. I finally realized that pursuing this any further would be a waste of time.

In the mid eighties I started working at a computer start up company. I had a knack for developing, implementing, and managing various material programs within the manufacturing, Quality Assurance, Materials, and the field service environments. I saved the company millions of dollars and as a result I was being moved up into Quality Engineering.

I was working some really awful hours. My workday started at 3:00 AM in the morning and usually ended around six or seven PM. Needless to say I was damn near burnt out.

Our cat "Slippers" was really great. He'd always be there if I was stressed out. He'd lie in my lap and let me pet him as long as I wanted to. His "favorite pet" was when I placed my hand over his muzzle and moved it slowly backward down his neck, across his back and up his crooked tail. This activity, which he loved, I called the muzzle to tail pets.

Well, on this particular morning I had slept in a couple of hours. I had several meetings to attend this day so I was rushing a bit.

Slippers was following me through the house as he always did each morning. I went out to the kitchen and got a cold drink out of the refrigerator. I closed the refrigerator door behind me and walked into the living room. I picked up my briefcase, took my keys out of my pocket and left, locking the front door behind me.

I was all the way down the stairs, just about to enter my garage when I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my lunch that was in the refrigerator. So I went back upstairs and once inside, I walked into the kitchen.

I grasped the refrigerator door handle and began to open it. As the door opened, I fixed my eyes on the top shelf and screamed out loud… "My God, how in the hell did you get in here?"

Sitting there on the top shelf next to my lunch was Slippers. He was sitting down, his front paws placed neatly aside each other, his tail wrapped around the lower part of his body draped over his front paws.

To this day, I wish I had taken pictures of this very special moment. Slippers sat there staring at me, cocking his head from side to side. The expression on his face was that of the "Cheshire Cat In Alice In Wonderland."

But the most important thing of this wonderful encounter with Slippers was the fact that he and he alone had seen what happens when you close the refrigerator door. He looked directly at me as if to say…

"Yup, that little light does go off when you close the refrigerator door!!"

I was actually envious of him. He had seen the light go off and he had front row seats to observe this phenomena. He had accepted the challenge of wanting to know if the light in the refrigerator does go off when you close the door. And…He won!

I just stood there and laughed. I laughed so hard my chest and sides hurt. Slippers sat there attentively as if waiting to be punished for his antics.

I picked him up and gave him several muzzle to tail pets. He was about to go to sleep in my arms so I sat him on the floor. I retrieved my lunch from the refrigerator and carefully closed the door. At the same time, double-checking to make sure that Slippers hadn't reclaimed his throne inside.

As I was going out the front door, Slippers padded over and looked at me as if to say,"That's ok Dad, our secret is safe."

  Copyright ©2002 Dave Gratton.   All rights reserved.