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My cat died tonight

Many of you have lost loved ones. Well, tonight, I lost my dear friend, the family pet cat. She used to sleep on my bed and keep me warm and now she's up in kitty heaven probably chasing tuna. So this is kind of a cat obituary for her...

Name: Rolley
Gender: Female
Age: Unknown, estimated to be at least 14 years old, could be as old as 17. That's between 73 and 85 human years. (Convert cat years to human years here.)
Death: Died on December 31st at 11:59pm.
Owners: Includes unknown first several years, my brother's ex girlfriend for middle several years, my brother's cat for 2 years, my cat for 2 and a half years, family cat last half year of life.
Colors: White/Black cow splotches.
Personality: Hated kids, cuddled for hours on end with anyone older than 16. Wasn't afraid of anything, the type of cat that only moved its ears to a sudden noise, didn't jump or move. Definitely a feet warmer cat who liked to lie on the bed as long as you were there too. She was a mouser who left seemingly three dead rodents a week on one of three door mats; we called those presents.

Final moments:
She hadn't meowed in many days, but all of a sudden while my family and I were playing games and inticipating the new year we hear a meow and all rush to her lying there on top of a towel in the kitchen by the heater. It was the most pathetic thing I've ever heard. "Me-Owwwwwww....ww....www." Within moments she was gone. It was like she was trying to say one last goodbye and I love you.

Awkward afterwards:
My dad started crying. My little brother started laughing. I started thinking about when my grandpa died on May 1st a couple years ago (Senior Ball). I couldn't hug his corpse goodbye. I swear to you it was like my family wanted to hug her corpse goodbye the way they stroked her after she died.

Cats find their way into our home:
I text my brother, "Rolley just died, dad is crying. We'll probably find a new cat by tomorrow, lol." It's not like we would get a new cat just like that, it's just that cats find a way to become our home pet randomly and anything could happen. I mean how does one acquire a cat? For us it was my brother's ex girl friend who gave us her beloved cat when her family got a dog... Sabrina, our outdoor (other) cat, was found by me in the rock wall in the front yard at less than a week's age appearing abandoned. My mother never wanted cats, but her father was also a "cat collector" as you might say. He rescued cats all the time and raised them, had up to four or five at a time. Maybe he passed that trait onto us.

It's that time of year again, so it's out with all my ticket stubs for the year to do my semi-annual cinema round-up for the year.

Although it was, again, a pretty bad year for cinema attendence on my part - only 26 films over the course of the year. There were some great films in there though. However, I did exhibit over 150 short films over the course of the year, so I think that lets me off the hook a little.

The highlight of all the films I saw this year was without a doubt the heartwarming & hilarious "Little Miss Sunshine" (directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris). It’s one of those films that I think needs to be seen in a cinema to fully appreciate the offbeat feelgood factor the film evokes. The film is wonderfully acted throughout, and hugely entertaining. I highly recommend it.

Iranian film "Offside" by Jafar Panahi comes in a very close second, for my film of the year. The film exposes the plight of Iranian women’s suppression very cleverly, by looking at how something that is quite normal and unquestioned in Western culture (female soccer fans attending a soccer match) is a serious political and social struggle for women in Iran. But the film is also clever in showing that teenage girls are the same all over the world, in spite of their religious, political or social beliefs/situations, they share the same passions, disappointments, mischieviousness and dreams universally. The rebellious spirit in which the film is shot and the wonderful interaction particularly between the young soccer fans & the guards is a joy to watch.

Also well worthy of note this year were:
The compelling new film by French veteran Francois Ozon, “A Time to Leave . ". Another slightly offbeat, but also excellent film about family disintegration was Noah Baumbach’sThe Squid and the Whale”.

My most unexpected cinematic pleasure this year was a festival film, an extraordinary documentary about cinematographer, political activist & & director of "Medium Cool " Haskell Wexler, made by his son, fellow cinematographer Mark Wexler entitled "Tell Them Who You Are". Being a cinematographer myself, I am always interested in seeing how the great cinematographers work, what has influenced them, and the unique way in which they view the world. “Tell Them Who You Are” is as much a documentary about the relationship between a father and a son, as it is a documentary about an ageing Hollywood filmmaker. It is very amusing to watch as the man behind the camera finally has the camera turned upon himself. Highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in film.

Of the cinema of 2006, I also really enjoyed "Children of Men" (Alfonso Cuarón) , "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (Tommy Lee Jones), and was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed "Casino Royale", (Martin Campbell) (being quite anti-Bond in the past).

Oh, and I have to also mention An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim, which actually made me cry, which is damn impressive! As a former student of climatology I was impressed with Gore's clear & concise explanation of climate change and of how our carbon footprints are effecting climate change and the future of our planet. Well worth swallowing your skepticism, and taking a harsh look at our short-sightedness & irresponsibility.

Turkey of the year was the interminable offering from Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan "The Break-Up". With "Dumplings" (Gaau ji) by Fruit Chan winning my award for being the sickest film of 2006, in spite of Chris Doyle's sumptuous cinematography! I was never so glad to be a vegetarian in all my life!

Last night I was sitting here waiting for it to be midnight, listening to firecrackers hissing and booming in the neighborhood. Ghosts of the past tapped me on the shoulder.

In early days, just out of high school, I celebrated New Year's Eve on the Michigan-Wisconsin border. There was one hour's difference between the two states. Our motto was: “Quick, quick, drink up at midnight”, followed by a dash down U.S. 2 to a bar just across the state line for a second beery blast. It is a wonder we didn't kill ourselves on those icy roads, driving with one eye shut to avoid seeing double.

One year I celebrated in Saskatchewan, visiting a childhood friend who had married a Canadian. We went to a railroad club dance somewhere out in the boondocks. A bring-your-own-booze kind of place. I was in a party of eight. A hip flask was passed around, then a bottle of soda for a wash. The woman who passed the flask to me didn't drink; she kept the soda for herself. I was left with a burning mouthful of whiskey.

The first time I drank champagne was in Cleveland. Pink champagne. I was sicker than a dog the next day. It was years before I touched the stuff again.

I remembered sailing in Sydney Harbour on New Year's Day, with Aussie friends telling me I would end up looking like a lobster. Little did they know I have Italian blood under this fair northern complexion. Nothing really looks worse than a sunburnt English rose. One up on you, mate.

Several years later. halfway around the world from Neutral Bay, New Year's Eve was celebrated in Africa. We put soap suds on the window panes to simulate snow and the air con was cranked up on super cool. Just so we could wear sweaters and pretend it was Holidays at Home.

The year after that I was married to Jean-Albert. We had a special dinner at Julia's, probably the best French restaurant on the Mosquito Coast. He insisted I at least try a tiny spoonful of caviar from his hors-d'œuvre. Followed by a sip of his Champagne, a dry white. OhMyGod, that is unbelivably good! The best thing in the world! And this Champagne is the second best thing in the world. Why didn't I ever drink this before?

New Year's in Nigeria, in Sierra Leone, in Gabon. Fête de la Saint-Sylvestre in Provence. All fun, all in the past.

The AA crowd I hang with these days refers to December 31 as "amateur night".

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