“I think I’m bored,” I confessed to a friend last week. In all my adult years, that sentence has never come out of my mouth. But there it was: the monotony of the pandemic wearing me down.

It isn’t as if I can’t find plenty of ways to fill my hours. Even though there are no performance deadlines ahead, I still practice every day, working my way through my long-time goal of playing all of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book One. I’m learning Mozart sonatas, something fills my heart with joy. I work on music that my advanced students are playing.

Four or five hours every day are occupied with teaching and teaching-related tasks: picking out new music, sending emails, doing administrative jobs. I go for a walk every night; swim laps three days a week; do yoga every morning. I read; I listen to music while I needlepoint. I mop the kitchen floor, hang laundry on the clothesline, chop vegetables. I deadhead pansies, prune salvia, clear away dead iris leaves from the flower beds. I stay busy, and yet: I’m bored.

Given that state of mind, it was probably inevitable that this would happen:

 

Shh! We Have a Plan is a delightful children’s book by Chris Haughton in which four friends go into the forest with their nets to stalk and catch birds. The youngest and smallest sees a bird. “Hello, birdie!” he says loudly. “Shh! We have a plan,” the others try to silence him.

We had a plan, sort of. There was no question that Yun-Sun, our 16-year-old cat, was devoted beyond measure to Godiva, our tortoiseshell who died in November. We have always been afraid that if we lost Godiva, Yun-Sun might die of a broken heart. We’ve been watching her closely the last two months trying to read how our sweet tuxedo cat was doing, and most days, we have thought that she is hanging in there. She has been extra snuggly to us; a routine trip to the vet detected a heart murmur and some unexplained weight loss, but hey, it’s been a stressful few months for all of us.

“The plan” was to consider a kitten under two conditions: if we found the right one (I had very specific ideas about this) and if Yun-Sun would be OK with it (she probably also had very specific ideas about this).

And then into our boring lives and routines scampered Truffle, an eight-week-old tortoiseshell kitten. Truffle is spunky and snuggly and relentlessly playful, giving new meaning to the phrase “bouncing off the walls.” She has the biggest eyes; she looks like she is perpetually surprised. But we’re the ones that have to keep our eyes wide open, as she requires constant vigilance. In a mere 48 hours, she figured out how to crawl inside the sleeper sofa; she hid under the china cabinet and the dresser and behind the stove. She has chewed on cords, sharpened her claws on my needlepoint, and has taken to fighting the plants like they can hit back. Speaking of plants, she digs in their dirt, leaving pawprints across the sunroom floor. She plays games of tetherball with the hanging glass balls, stars, and dancing figurines decorating our home. She plays soccer with small pieces of debris she finds on the floor and has proved that she can run faster than any creature we have ever seen. Not only that, but she can stop mid-sprint and fall into a nap, usually on her face, which might explain why her face is rather flat. Yun-Sun has hissed at her exactly 67 times and is doing everything possible to intimidate her, but Truffle will not be cowed.

In addition to the brilliant Shh! We Have a Plan, Chris Haughton has written Oh No, George! about a mischievous puppy who just cannot help getting in trouble. George has good intentions, but when faced with a chocolate cake, or a pot of flowers, or a cat to chase, he just cannot help himself. “Oh no, George!” cries his owner when he comes home and finds his house in disarray. Thanks to Truffle we are no longer bored.  Overnight, our lives have gone from Shh! We Have a Plan to Oh No, George!

Time overlaps and folds, wrinkles with coincidence and layers of meaning. Godiva died two months ago; Truffle was born eight weeks ago. I’ve started rolling kids back into in-person lessons again on an alternating student/week schedule. These lessons are the first time the kids have been back in the house since we lost Godiva. “I miss Godiva,” one small child said to me. “Godiva was my BEST FRIEND at Miss Amy’s,” the younger brother of a student told his mother. “It’s quiet here without Godiva,” said another.

Of course, in every good book there is a lesson to be learned. In Shh! We Have a Plan, it is the most inquisitive, loudest little guy who, in the end, makes friends with all the birds. “Hello, birdie,” he says, “would you like some bread?” Soon he is surrounded by new feathered friends, proving once again that kindness is the answer to attracting what we want in our lives. Our little world is quiet no more. Truffle has both a pair of lungs and a purr to rival Godiva’s (what is it with torties anyway?). She is also totally enamored of the beautiful black and white cat that roams the house, albeit very slowly. “Yun-Sun! I’m bored! Wanna play” Truffle begs exactly 67 times a day, following Yun- Sun from room to room. Yun-Sun is still a bit doubtful, but just this afternoon, we caught Yun-Sun grooming her new best friend. We miss Godiva every day, but life with Truffle is pretty sweet.

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PS. A Shameless Promotion:

if you are looking for something fun to do this afternoon, I have the answer. Matt has been running a music festival all weekend called “Love, Virtually” for Quintessence, the community choral group for which Matt is the artistic and musical director. It’s been great and terrific fun, and tonight the last event is open to the public and FREE.

Here’s the scoop: Tonight is a cabaret concert of music videos by our fantastically talented friends from all over the world. Interspersed with these videos (and Matt’s witty commentary–show comes live to you from our living room!) will be what is being called the “Quintessence Love Poetry Smackdown.” Matt has asked 5 colorful  personalities to read love poetry. Then the audience (that’s you!) can vote for their favorite by making donations to Quintessence. It’s all for a good cause—helping keep an arts organization like Q alive during this tough tough time.

Here’s the link. This will only be LIVE and available at 5:00M.T. TODAY.

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