Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chuck Almost Meets Vincent Van Gogh

As my rascal cat and I travel around the world, there are times when I am forced to say, “Chuck, we are going here. For culture. For enlightenment. We can’t always go to places just for fun.”

While we were in France, sailing down the Seine River, we stopped in a lovely riverside town--Auvers-sur-Oise--which just happened to be the last place that Vincent Van Gogh, the famed artist, lived and painted. I knew this and Chuck didn’t. But I had noticed that recently Chuck had shown a modicum of interest in art. He had stared at, if briefly, one of Van Gogh’s paintings--his most famous one, in fact, “The Starry Night.”

The opportunity, therefore, had presented itself.

If the kid liked the painting, if he seemed interested in it, why not shove a bit of culture down his throat and acquaint him with Van Gogh’s life and struggles. After all, I figured, Chuck, my very privileged and now pampered cat, had come a long way from his once homeless situation, and I didn’t want him to forget that life can be hard.

Vincent Van Gogh led a tortured life.

My plan was this---do the typical tour and share Vincent’s struggles along the way.

We began with the house where Van Gogh rented a room and painted. We passed the local church. As we walked, I talked. Chuck listened, or seemed to be listening, but you never know with him. Then we headed out to the cemetery, where Van Gogh is buried with his brother by his side, which is a bit outside of the main area of town, up a hill and through a field. Because we were alone, I let Chuckie out of the backpack, and he scampered beside me, enjoying his romp. The cemetery is to the right. But when it came time to make that right, Chuck kept on going.

“Chuck, the graves are over here.”

He pretended not to hear me.


Laughter bubbled up behind me. I had company.

Now, in all honesty, I try not to advertise the fact that I have a cat with me. I stopped walking and pretended to be fiddling with my backpack. The couple passed by enroute to the cemetery.

“Chuck,” I called into the tall grass, but he had disappeared.

That darn cat.

It was clear to me now that the Chuckster had no interest, whatsoever, in seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s gravesite. So I popped over, admired the gravestones myself, took a photo, and returned for my recalcitrant cat.

“All right. We don’t have to go see them. I get your point.”

Like magic, the bellyboy re-appeared as if nothing had happened. Cool as a--you guessed it--cat. Grooming himself the way cats do when they’re pretending nothing is amiss.

We headed back to town and even poked our heads into a local restaurant that pays tribute to Van Gogh in their own way by sporting a mural on their wall of Kirk Douglas, who played Vincent Van Gogh in the Hollywood movie. I thought the mural was great. Chuck, of course, was not impressed. Oh, yeah, he glanced at it but seemed more interested in sniffing the peanuts on the counter.

And when the shopkeeper told us that there is a festival every May in honor of Van Gogh, Chuck snorted.

But to keep the record straight, Chuckie still likes “The Starry Night.” He just doesn’t give a fig about Van Gogh, the artist.

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