January 18th 2014 7:37 am
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Whiskers awoke with Talley snuggled
tightly in his arms. Feeling despondent their honeymoon vacation was coming to end, Whiskers sighed with a feeling of contentment, knowing they would be returning home together this time, as husband and wife. He simply couldn’t imagine a life without Talley.
He closed his eyes, picturing Talley in Venice; her soft fur blowing in the gentle breeze by the mystical lagoon; her happy mews as she fed the throngs of pigeons in St. Mark’s Square with her sisters; her breathtaking beauty as they danced on the rooftop of their spectacular hotel; watching her eyes well up in tears as they viewed priceless paintings and timeless architecture. These memories were seared into the very fabric of his being. Whiskers wanted nothing more than to spend his life, and all of eternity, loving her. While Talley lay sleeping in his arms, Whiskers began to sing softly... ( "If Ever I Would Leave You ")
♬ If ever I should leave you, it wouldn't be in summer
Seeing you in summer, I never would go
Your fur streaked with sunlight, your lips red as flame
Your face with a luster that puts gold to shame
But if I'd ever leave you, it couldn't be in autumn
How I'd leave in autumn, I never will know
I've seen how you sparkle when fall nips the air
I know you in autumn and I must be there
And could I leave you running merrily through the snow
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire's glow
If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so
Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall
No never could I leave you at all. ♬
Talley had opened her beautiful green eyes, holding Whiskers while he serenaded her. As they kissed, there was a soft tap on their door. Whiskers pulled on his plush hotel robe as he got up to answer the door. Angel Lucy-Fur & Angel Sylvia Seville, up bright and early as always, had just left K. Pete’s room, letting him know they were on their way to the airport to assist the maintenance crew with preparations to their aircraft. The Angels had taken the liberty of gathering everyone’s fragile souvenirs and having them packed properly for the long flight back home. Angel Sylvie said, ”We’ll meet all of you by the water taxi landing to assist with the remaining luggage.” Whiskers hugged his sisters appreciatively. Talley sat up in bed, stretching her arms out for a hug from her sisters. Angel Lucy and Angel Sylvie flew over to hug their fursister, thanking her for inviting them along. Talley mewed, “Whiskers and I dreamed of having the perfect honeymoon and having our families with us made it so.” As the Angels left, Talley went to shower while Whiskers packed their few remaining items. Whiskers smiled as he heard Talley singing tunes from ‘Camelot’ in the shower.
Callie & Angel Maggie, with Whitey & Orangie right behind them, arrived next. Whiskers took their small day bags, placing them on the hotel cart. Callie asked, “Do we have time to run by the marvelous bakery K. Pete found for us on our first morning here? We want to get some Venetian breakfast cakes for the trip.” Angel Maggie chimed in, “I think they also have those delicious Venetian tea sandwiches called ‘Tramezzinis’. Those will keep nicely in the refrigerators on the jet.” Whiskers nodded, already feeling his tummy rumble at the mere thought of Venetian pastries. Whiskers remarked, “The food in Venice has been wonderful, but last night I dreamt about Talley’s homemade apple pie and felt a little home-sick.” The kitties laughed at Whisker’s passion for good food.
K. Pete knocked on the door next with a tray full of steaming cappuccinos for everyone. Whisker’s eyes lit up and he thanked his brother profusely. Raven, Charlie, Ms. Murphy and Smudge were last to arrive. It had been a late night and they too welcomed the smell of coffee in the room.
Whiskers placed everyone’s flight bags on the hotel cart. Talley asked everyone to sit down for a moment and enjoy their cappuccinos together. Talley picked up cup to toast her wonderful family and furiends. “Whiskers and I could say thank you a million times for accompanying us on our trip, but that would not suffice. You all made the second week of our married life more precious and unforgettable than we could have ever imagined.” Whiskers held up his cup and said, “Until the next time!”
Down in the hotel lobby, the hotel concierge and staff greeted the kitties with gracious, heartfelt goodbyes. Whiskers had paid the hotel bill and had prepared special envelopes for each of the staff members, expressing his gratitude for their exceptional service.
After stopping for pastries and snacks to stock the aircraft galley, K. Pete stored the food away in an empty tote bag he had brought just for that purpose. Angel Maggie, Callie, Whitey and Orangie walked onto St. Mark’s Square, pulling small bags from their coat pockets, to feed the sea of pigeons one last time.
Angels Lucy-Fur and Sylvia Seville had the Lear 85 jet ready for take-of by the time the kitties arrived. The Angels were there to meet the family, helping with the remaining luggage. Callie and Angel Lady Maggie climbed the boarding stairs to stock the galley with the Venetians treats they had bought. Talley helped Whitey & Orangie get settled into their seats, helping them to buckle up and showing them how to work the entertainment systems at their seats. Raven and Ms. Murphy were helping Charlie & Smudge to get comfortable and situated before takeoff.
Angel Lucy-Fur would be co-piloting, with K. Pete as acting pilot. K. Pete was already running the preflight checks as Angel Lucy slid into the co-pilot’s seat. K. Pete said, “Checklist complete through comm and nav systems.” Angel Lucy picked up the checklist and followed him through checking hydraulic, fuel transfer and finally as they started the big turbines they confirmed steady temperature and pressure. Talley retracted the stairs and closed and secured the hatch. She told K. Pete, “Cabin Secure for Flight.” Talley took a head count, making sure everyone was safely seated and taking one last final cabin check. Whiskers helped Talley with her seat belt as they readied for takeoff.
An early morning flight out of Marco Polo Venice Airport meant the foggy weather they were taking off in was less than ideal, but once they were over the Mediterranean ocean, the weather forecast was clear. "Okay, let's get this plane in the air," K. Pete said. K. Pete started the engine and keyed his mic requesting clearance to taxi to the active runway. In a few moments they were at the active runway and were cleared for take off. K. Pete pushed the throttles forward and sent the big Lear climbing into the sky, destination home sweet home!
* Talley and I dedicate our glorious honeymoon to our dear furiend Charlie. Very unexpectedly during the final days of our trip, Charlie became an angel. He remains in our hearts furever. God bless him and our dear sister Raven, his beloved fiancée, and the family he leaves behind.
“They say that time heals, but that is only partly true.
For if time truly healed, we would forget,
and that we will never do.”
- Rest in peace Angel Charlie.
January 16th 2014 6:43 am
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Whiskers tried to slip quietly out of bed without
waking Talley. He knew it was a long shot. Talley’s senses were much too keen. She opened her eyes dreamily asking Whiskers where he was going. Whiskers kissed her and whispered, “Ssssh my love. Go back to sleep. I promised Callie I would be there with her when she called our Mom to check in. Stay in bed sweetheart, so I can slip back into bed with you. I’ll be right back.” He kissed hear, closing her eyes gently with his paw.
Whiskers knocked softly on Callie and Angel Lady Maggie’s door. Callie answered quickly, letting him in. Callie said, “Angel Maggie and I found an interesting jeweler you’ll want to visit. They’re by appointment only, as are most jewelry stores here. We think you might want to take Talley with you. You’ll want to be sure to get her something she loves. Besides, I’ll bet the whole family would enjoy seeing the jewels of Venice. I know Angel Maggie and I would!” Whiskers agreed with his sisters’ wise advice. “Can you make the appointment for some time after lunch?” Callie nodded and said, “Already done dear brother. Whiskers said to Callie, “Let’s call Mom anyway. Mom said to call no matter what time it is. I told Talley we’re calling Mom and I don’t ever want to lie to Talley, even a little white lie.” Callie smiled at her brother while she dialed Mom via Skype on her iPad. “Relax Whiskers, it’ll still be a nice surprise for Talley.” After talking to their Mom, Whiskers kissed his sisters, hurrying back to snuggle with his beautiful bride.
Talley was just finishing her shower when there was a knock on their door. Whiskers answered it, letting the hotel waiter wheel in the coffee. Whiskers thanked him, tipping him generously. Whiskers smiled at his beautiful bride fresh out of the shower looking fetching with a towel wrapped around her pretty head like a turban. “I ordered coffee to be sent to everyone’s room. It’s a nice way to wake up,” Whiskers said. “I thought we’d all have breakfast again in St. Mark’s Square, while it’s still quiet.
Raven, Charlie, Ms. Murphy & Smudge were first to knock on their door, followed by K. Pete, Angel Lucy-Fur and Angel Sylvia Seville. Just as Talley started to ask where the sleepy-heads were, Angel Lady Maggie, Callie, Whitey and Orangie walked in. “We almost forgot our birdseed,” Callie mewed. Whiskers smiled and said, “You know, the hotel concierge told me feeding the pigeons is not allowed.” His sisters hung their heads dejectedly. “But,” he continued, “Since we are up early before the Square is crowded, the hotel staff didn’t see the harm. Besides, feeding the pigeons in the square is a tradition.” Callie and her sisters were smiling once again.
The kitties walked outside admiring the view, as they breathed in the morning air, listening to the soft rocking and splashing sounds of the boats in the lagoon. This iconic image of Venice would stay with them forever. The waiter remembered the family and promptly seated them. As they enjoyed a selection of scrumptious biscotti with their second cup of Italian espresso, Raven and Ms. Murphy went over the day’s itinerary with the family. Angel Lucy and Angel Sylvie made notes, quickly mapping out the destinations for the day. Afterwards, Callie and Angel Maggie excused themselves, following Angels’ Lucy and Sylvie to the fluttering mass of pigeons.
First on the agenda was the ‘Torre dell’Orologio’ (Clock Tower).
The clock (alternatively known as St Mark's Clocktower or the Moors' Clocktower) displays the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon - it's an extraordinarily elaborate timepiece. The clock fulfilled a resolutely practical role in what was a mighty maritime empire in centuries past. Seafarers setting out from the Grand Canal could rely on this faultless timepiece to decide the most favorable time for setting out to sea. So reliable is the clock, that in 1858 it was made the official timekeeper of Venice - to which every other clock should be set. The clock also served as a mark to the entrance of Venice’s main wholesale and retail streets, appropriately called the ‘Mercerie’ (from the old Venetian word for haberdashers).
Commissioned to create the symbolic tower, two father-and-son master engineers, Giampaolo and Giancarlo Rainieri, became its custodians upon completion. Thus began the start of a five-century tradition whereby the keepers lived with their families inside the tower. Legend has it the Senate had the creators blinded on completing the clock, jealous that they would go on to repeat the marvel elsewhere. The lurid tale sits improbably with the tradition of medieval Venice as a haven of learning, enlightenment and relative liberalism. The kitties were relieved to hear the story was simply a tale.
Every hour on the hour the two bronze statues on the top of the tower hit the large bell with their long handled hammers, thanks to a 15th-century mechanism that is still a source of wonder. For a moment, life in the Square comes to a halt as everyone watches the two Moors – so-called because of the dark color of the bronze they are cast in – majestically pivot to strike the hour. Restoration of the clock’s mechanism by Swiss clock-makers Piaget, has kept the 500-year-old timepiece going strong.
Angels’ Lady Maggie, Lucy-Fur and Sylvia flew up to get a closer look at the intricate detail. Carved into the façade of the tower, the three observant angels were able to get an angel’s eye view of the graphical representation of the three pillars of Venice’s Republic power - scientific progress, civic enlightenment and Christian faith.
Next on the agenda was ‘Campanile di San Marco’ (St. Mark’s Bell Tower). Angels’ Lucy & Sylvie were ready with the directions, but first the kitties decided to stop and relax for a delicious gelato. Callie and Angel Maggie loved the dense texture and intense flavor of the Italian-style ice cream. It was at the top of their to-do list, when they got back home. Whiskers pulled out his pocket watch, nervously noting the time. He didn’t want to be late with his surprise for Talley to the jewelry store. Angel Maggie & Callie nodded at him knowingly.
St. Mark’s Bell Tower is the highest monument in Venice (325 feet) and one of Venice’s most recognizable landmarks. The kitties stood down below looking up at immense tower. Smudge said, “I hope we’re not thinking of walking up to the top. I don’t have my hiking shoes on.” Ms. Murphy laughed and said, “We’ll take the elevator lift so we won’t miss the wonderful view of Venice from the top.”
Originally built in the 16th century, on July 14, 1902, the Campanile di San Marco collapsed completely. Miraculously no one was injured and none of the other buildings in the piazza were damaged. Local government was quick to decide to rebuild the tower and after ten years of construction, it was reopened April 25, 1912. Care was taken to create an exact copy of the tower as it existed before its collapse, with the exception of some structural reinforcements required to prevent another collapse in the future.
Most of the building is simply a plain-bricked structure, topped by an arched belfry that houses five bells. Atop the belfry is another brick section decorated with walking lions (in honor of St. Mark) and the Goddess of Justice, representing Venice. On top of the bell tower is a pyramidal spire with a golden weather vane of top, which is in the form of the Angel Gabriel.
The kitties agreed the view from the top was both inspiring and breathtaking. Back on the ground, K. Pete and Charlie took turns taking pictures of the family in front of the soaring Bell Tower.
Everyone was hungry by now, so they stopped to relax at an outdoor café by the lagoon, with romantic music playing for their enjoyment. After dining on the fresh fish specialty of cuttlefish cooked in white wine, Whiskers kissed Talley and mewed, “I have someplace special I’d like to take you and the family.” Talley clapped her paws together, following the Angels’ as they led the way.
Arriving at the alluring Venice jewelry shop, Talley excitedly hugged her husband. Whiskers tried to open the door for the girls, but it was locked. Looking confused, Angel Maggie rang the buzzer by the door saying, “Most high-end jewelers are by appointment only. They have to buzz us in.” The merchant looked out the window, seeing the royal family of felines and promptly opened the doors to welcome them.
The store specialized in antique jewelry and glassware of the highest quality and beautiful designs. The designers married their own art with the local glass-blowing traditions to create unique pins, necklaces, and other jewelry.
The girls were all drawn to the colorful Murano glass creations based on traditional Venetian designs, each picking out stunning bracelets in a staggering array of bright colors. Whitey & Orangie found the Venetian masks they had been searching for, artistically decorated with glass jewels and exotic feathers. Talley loved her sea-green Murano glass bracelet, slipping it gently onto her small wrist. Whiskers pointed to a beautiful gold leaf, hand-braided ring in the showcase. The merchant nodded approvingly and placed it on the mirrored case. Whiskers picked it up delicately, placing it onto Talley’s paw. The merchant said, “Wonderful selection! It’s called a ‘Venetian Happiness Ring’, handmade in Italian 22 kt gold leaf.” Whiskers knew by the delighted look on Talley’s face, it was now hers to keep.
Whiskers pulled out his platinum Feline Express Card, honored to pay for the gifts. K. Pete, Charlie and Smudge started to object, but at Whiskers insistence they graciously obliged. The storekeeper placed each gift in beautiful keepsake boxes, including the Venetian masks. The girls thanked the kindly merchant, as he kissed their paws, telling them to come back soon. Back outside, Whiskers expressed his gratitude to his family and furiends for coming to Venice with him and Talley, making this the best honeymoon anyone could ever wish for. Whiskers said, “Let’s wander back slowly through the Square and enjoy our time together. Perhaps tonight after dinner, we can all take a relaxing evening gondola ride under the moon.”
Whiskers put his arm lovingly around Talley as they walked, relishing his new life with Talley and this perfect moment.
“And in her smile I see something more beautiful than the stars.” ––Across the Universe by Beth Revis
January 15th 2014 9:20 pm
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Talley and Whiskers held paws as they walked out into the misty morning. It was chilly, forty two degrees and there was a low lying fog that swirled revealing and hiding the magnificent scenes of a quiet morning in Venice. They had breakfast at a café where they could see the almost mystical scenery. The coffee was as good as they had come to expect, and the rolls, a flaky confection filled with apricot preserves and dusted with sugar, melted in the mouth. Fresh pineapple, sliced oranges and grapefruit completed the morning meal.
Talley and Whiskers ate and listened attentively as Lucy and Sylvie detailed the sights that they had planned to visit for the day. The time difference between Venice and the hockey rink would allow them a full day of sightseeing, a wonderful dinner at the hotel and then an instantaneous trip to MHL hockey.
After breakfast Duchess Callie and Angel Maggie delighted in watching everyone feeding the clouds of pigeons on the Piazza. Charlie and Smudge laughed happily as the birds swirled around them, wven landing on their heads.
Their first stop was the magnificent St Marks Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) The building’s exterior was so intricately decorated that it was a representation of the best of European Art. The interior boggled the mind. The complicated and beautiful mosaic floors, The gilded mosaics covered the walls and ceilings. They told the stories of both the new and old testaments. One could feel the weight of the centuries of history. Pete went to the altar rail, knelt and said a prayer for Timmy’s mom Karen. The rest of the family joined him.
Next they made their way to the Palazzo Ducale (Doges’ Palace). It had been the residence of the Doge, but also the seat of power for Venice. It also housed the much feared secret police. Behind those beautiful walls, political intrigue and dark deeds were done.
Inside there was great beauty as well. They viewed a full-wall fresco painted by Tintoretto called ‘Paradise”- the largest painting in the world. Walking through the ‘Great Assembly Hall’ where the patriarchs met to run the Republic, 35 paintings by Veronese and Tintoretto encased in gilt frames, adorned the ceiling. The view was spectacular.
Ms. Murphy noted the time and informed the family that the guided tour of the secret chambers that she had arranged was due to start in ten minutes and that they should meet their guide.
The tour began at the office of the “three inquisitors”. These three men were selected from the ten council members, and they were the most feared men in all of Venice. They brought charges, and held trials all in secret. There was no appeal! From the office of the three inquisitors, a staircase led to the torture chambers and a secret corridor led to the Bridge of Sighs and the Prison which lay beyond.
The tour was an experience that left the kitties in a somber mood.
When they regained the light and air of the Piazza, they took advantage of the souvenir vendors and bought small gifts for friends back at home. Pete bought small boxes of excellent chocolate for the kittens he hoped to see at hockey tonight.
Whitey and Orangie found a vender selling the papier-mâché masks that were worn at the masquerade balls to hide identity while engaged in risqué behavior. The masks would make wonderful decorations for their walls at home.
After a lunch at a nice little Café the kitties walked the streets and along the canals until their paws were tired. Then they returned to the hotel for naps before they would have to leave for the hockey game. Talley and Whiskers drew the drapes to their balcony and snuggled together on their soft bed.
It seemed that they had just fallen asleep when the phone awakened Whiskers and Angel Lucy said they were almost ready to leave. It was dark out and the city was quiet. Whiskers awakened Talley, and they dressed for cool weather. The girls had left their hockey gear at the Arena so they all met in Whiskers suite and holding paws found themselves in the arena.