Ripley, 2000-2015

Our Ripley died with us around 1:30 this morning.

It’s still the middle of the night. We had an 8am appointment with the vet for an ultrasound exam to find out what was going on. Instead, I’ll be taking his body in for cremation.

I need to try to get at least a few more hours sleep. I needed to write something first.

We adopted him when he was almost 8 years old.

He had a good seven years with us – almost half his life. He had lots of love.
John & Ripley

He loved to get brushed. He had a porch to watch the birds, and more love.
Ripley and John, in mutual bliss

So much love.
John & Ripley mutually kissing each other

We adopted his baby sister, Annie, to help keep him company, because two grown men weren’t enough for him.
Greco-Roman Cat Wrestling

He’s been in decline for a few months. This is the last photograph I took of him. Three weeks ago, when the weather had warmed up, I took him outside into the front yard. He wanted to wander around and I had to keep herding him back. It was the most active he’d been in weeks. Eventually, he let me brush him – which used to be his favorite activity – and he settled down into the grass.
Ripley in the Grass.

I don’t want to dwell on the details of his passing. I might have more I want to say later. I’m just grateful we were both with him. With us there to give him what comfort we could, he passed quietly at the end.

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Meet Mr. Ripley, 2008-04-14

A Gardener’s Nightmare: Replacing the roof

I just got off the phone with our roofer. On Monday they start replacing our roof.

[Cue horror movie music …]

I took this photo in January of 2006. It features the front of our house, which faces West. You can see the front garden area and most of the front gable. The South side of the house has one of the side gabled dormers and a wide, sunny border between the house and the driveway.
Front and South Side Gardens, January 2006

In our case, because of the multiple layers of shingles accumulated over the years, “replacing the roof” means tearing off the entire roof, including the original cedar shingles, circa 1900, down to the rafters and furring strips. It also means a big mess on all sides of the house, especially the north and south sides sloping down from the gables.

Here’s an aerial view from the rear/East side of the house, courtesy of Microsoft Live Maps. This gives you a much better idea of the layout and size of the roof. The Flickr photo page has notes explaining the features visible in this photo.

We expect this project to last about a month, give or take. The roofer has promised to build sheds over the gardens to protect them. I hope so, yet I’m not counting on it to save everything and I can live with some damage. We knew when we had the house inspected 2-1/2 years ago before going into contract that we would have to do this. I’ve been holding off for two years on any big gardening plans which would be affected by this job.

The backyard won’t be affected much. I’ll setup a plant refugee camp there for anything which needs to move, including all the containers at the front of the house. I’ve already transplanted some plants from the ground into containers or to beds which are at lower risk of damage. They should be fine for a month.

We’ll see what happens! Watch for periodic updates.

Garden (and more) Diary, June 17, 2005: The Fourth Garden, Four Gardens

[Transcribed from note book. Written while on the R train to work]

My good deed for the day: Letting a fat man on the subway know his fly is open.

I can relate. I’ve done the same in the past week. It’s not easy for a fat man to be aware of his appearance below the chest. Easier, more comfortable, to stay in the head. There I can be as thin as I remember I was.

John and I bought a house. I’ve written nothing for so long. Major events like that can just slip by without notice. It’s a big house. So far, it’s too big for the two of us. And it needs lots of work. I’m trying to do a little each day, but it’s hard.

Got off the R at Rector Street. Now sitting on a bench in the graveyard of Trinity Church. “Here lies …” “Sacred to the memory of …” Even the bench is worn, low to the ground. To remind us, I guess.

I like to walk through here on the way to work. From our new home, my commute offers more opportunities to do so. Reminders of impermanence to help me keep work in perspective.

The gardens here – the cemetery is a garden – are simple and beautiful. Massive hostas, irises, past bloom. Daylilies, clouds of them, in fat green buds, just about to announce summer.

I’m starting my fourth garden in New York City. Some day it will be on the Victorian Flatbush House & Garden Tour, probably years before the house itself is. I can aim for 2008, the year of my 50th, three years away.

There are at least four gardens to be developed: two sides, the front, and back. All have something different to offer. Each can welcome visitors in its own way. All will relate to the house, and relate the house to the grounds. It’s already happening, as I come to understand the house and what it wants.

Well, off to work …