The Star-Herald

Little cats find a new home

There are boxes hovering all around me; some overflowing with thick and heavy books and some sheltering greeting cards and important papers from long ago.  I am content and elated sitting here in such grand company. 

I smell cardboard and broken bindings and printed pages that speak both fiction, fact and all that is lost in between.  I am in my glory.

The room I occupy is a maze of sorts. Each twist and turn tells a story; depicts a fragment of my life. Photographs long forgotten remind me of just who I am and will forever be. Letters penned through a haze of love, confusion, and innocence reflect my inner struggles and failures. Suddenly, I am an open book and the exclusive reader is me. How do I choose just one savory memory? 

I stand slowly and begin my journey into the maze, reading the Sharpie scribblings on each twisted box or scuffed plastic tote.  I catch a glimpse of black and red on top of items in a semi opened clear container. I recognize the item immediately. Black cat salt and pepper shakers; four of them! Their bright red bow tie collars  are all cracked now – probably nothing but red dust scattered about in other containers. They belonged to my grandmother. How many times did I admire them all lined up perfectly and peeking out from behind a glass door in her fragile metal cabinet. I would sit on my knees at her table as she kneaded her biscuit dough, the four little cats behind her.

I asked her multiple times who gave her the cats and where they came from but she could not remember. I have always suspected they were a gift from one of her fourteen children; several whom served in World War II.  They were definitely a staple in her home. Now, they were buried in a tote that was buried in my basement. I picked them up gingerly and placed them on a shelf just above the container. The four of them looked forlorn and out of place; so much so that I brought them upstairs and into my kitchen, where they now reside.

I did not learn how to bake my grandmother’s luscious biscuits but I am quite confident that I inherited her sentimentality. Those bruised and chipped little black cats have a place in my heart and my kitchen. I have just begun my “maze exploration” but t I am confident there are other treasures to discover and more lessons to learn. I promise to share all of them with you, my friends. 

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney.  You may email her at

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