What to write? [BUMPED UP: scroll down for newer posts] - The New Neo (2023)

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Posted on January 28, 2023 by neo

I’m easing back into writing about politics and the news of the day, but slowly. It’s a strange in-between time right now.

I also of course have extra things to do connected with Gerard’s death, including corresponding with some of his old friends and trying to organize an e-book (or perhaps hard copy book) of his essays that he wanted me to finish arranging. That will take some time and some doing.

But one important thing I want to do is to thank everyone here who has offered tributes to Gerard and kind and loving words to me. It means a lot.

It occurs to me that the photos most of you have seen of Gerard are on his blog, and he seems to have chosen ones that show a particular bold and outgoing side of him. Here’s one I took a couple of years ago of him in a gentler moment with his cat Olive, a creature he adopted about a week or two before the Paradise fire. When the fire came and he had to escape he took the cat and grabbed the cat carrier, a few pieces of clothing, and his computer. He didn’t think the entire town would burn down – who did? But of course that’s what happened.


What to write? [BUMPED UP: scroll down for newer posts] — 39 Comments

  1. Take your time Neo, we’ll all still be here.

  2. Will someone adopt Olive? She will miss him.

  3. We’re working on finding Olive’s new home, still to be determined.

  4. Just want to say thank you Neo for sharing with us. It means a great deal, at least to me.

  5. Dear Neo: sorry for your, and the world’s, loss. My heart hurts. Many of the comments brought tears to my eyes.
    I want share an inscription I saw recently on a grave:

    “Wherever a beautiful soul has been, there is a trail of beautiful memories.”

    Also this quote I came across:

    “Sit with God as you might with the ocean. You bring nothing to the ocean, yet it changes you.”

    May God bless you, and bring peace to you and all those in the community who lost Gerard.

  6. Olive won’t become The Neocat?

  7. I understand.

  8. I can’t believe how much I am affected by his passing. I have been reading him for at least 10 years but have never corresponded with him or even commented on his blog. I don’t know, I just enjoyed reading him. I felt like I knew him and I am going to miss him. Usually when people pass, it is only their close friends and family that feel the pain. I hope that you take comfort in knowing that he affected a lot of people that he had no idea existed, especially me. On a positive note, I would never had heard of your blog if it wasn’t for your post the other day.

  9. I just enjoyed reading him. I felt like I knew him and I am going to miss him.

    David Amundsen:

    That was one of the strongest features of Gerard’s writing — one felt oneself on personal terms with him almost immediately.

  10. My condolences, Neo.

    I don’t comment here often, but what I do do is come here every day to read your work and the ensuing comment section discussion. Thank you for that.


  11. Olive should live with someone who likes her, as Gerard did. I like cats, very much. Towards the end of my last cat’s life I discovered that I am moderately allergic to them. Kitty-cat passed away peacefully and is buried in the shade garden in back where she keeps company with our dog, who also lived a good long life. No cat in the house, suddenly no more cases of bronchitis. But I do miss the warm purring affection.

  12. Take the kitty, Neo. She’s the one last, living, space-taking connection you’ll have to him. Treat her like your own daughter.

    I’ve seen widows (or people who have lost spouses or significant others) in the past. The one thing they had left of their loved one is a beloved pet. They took care of such pet for many more years until it passed. It was their way to keep the presence of the departed loved one a little longer. It was a way to grieve and still keep a memory going.

    The mentor of my husband had a massive, fatal heart attack at 50. He and his widow were married about eight years. He brought a dog into the marriage, which she cared for until he passed on. It was her way of keeping her memory of her husband alive, for a little longer. It was therapeutic.

  13. Very nice picture.
    I love black cats because they are so often abused. I think people who embrace black cats have a particular level of empathy. Two of our many over the past sixty years were black. Not to say that I favor them as individuals over others. Everyone has been special. Well, perhaps the one dearest to our collective hearts was the first–a Seal Point Siamese (of the classic variety). A true Navy cat, she crossed the country multiple times by plane and car; and made the move to Hawaii (3 month quarantine), and back.

    Can I tell you about our current Japanese Stub tail calico, and her big Bozo grey tabby stepbrother? They had a hard go of it, and their level of bonding is almost startling. OTH, they have brought joy to the home. An extended term of patience is being rewarded by trust.

    Disclaimer: I love dogs too, but I am a “cat person”.

    BTW, speaking of dogs, my daughter has a 95 lb Anatolian Shepherd pup that was abandoned in a NorCal fire evacuation last year. Magnificent, and will be even more impressive when he reaches full maturity. Fierce. She lives alone in a remote area, and it is comforting to know that there will be NO uninvited guest into her home.

    Thanks for sharing the picture. It speaks volumes to me about Gerard.

  14. As others say, take your time we will be here. I want to thank you Neo, for the kindness that you have shown to the blog readers. Some have invested many years soaking up the thoughts of both yourself and Gerard, and many have felt a connection, admiration, and a sort of bond. It has been very kind of you to share these moments with the readers while going through such a difficult experience yourself.

    I look forward to whatever collection of Gerard’s work that comes to fruition, and I certainly hope that Olive finds herself a new warm & loving home, complete with staff and luxuries to the level she has become accustomed. I’m a critter person and can only say that both dogs and cats enrich our lives, but in very different ways. I take much comfort from both.

  15. Apropos of Olive, she may or may not show that she misses Gerard in a way that humans would understand as grief. Cats do grieve for humans they have been close to– according to a UK cat care website, cats who have lost a loving human may experience:

    Loss of appetite
    Change in sleep patterns
    Crying or searching
    A need for extra attention
    A generally sad demeanor

    However, Olive may not show any of these changes. Some cats may appear unaffected by the loss of a pet or person in the home. OTOH, cats can be affected by human signs of grief. “Humans’ behavior changes when they are visibly upset and your pet may pick up on this or experience confusion.”

    More at the link: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/cat/how-to-help-a-grieving-cat

    Your photo of Gerard holding Olive in his arms gave me an idea: If there are any sweaters, T-shirts, pillow cases, towels, or other items of clothing in Gerard’s apartment that might carry his scent, some of them might be a comfort to Olive as she waits for a new home. Cats are very sensitive to smell in general, and can pick up the scent of their human or their home from over a mile away. More here:


    Hope some of this might help as you look for a new home for Olive; Gerard’s Editor deserves to be an empress in her new realm, wherever that might be.

  16. Could Justine or a grandchild adopt Olive?

  17. Oh please, a hard copy book. So many people I want to share Gerard with but they would not read anything as an ebook. May Gerard’s memory be eternal and may light perpetual shine upon him.

  18. Thanks Neo for the humbling reminder that on the other side of the glass screen (and the bits & bytes in between) are real human beings. Hearts and hurts, lives and loves and all that makes us who we are.

    And as we see now and have before, at some point we’ll say “Good Bye.” So kindness and understanding, gentleness and compassion cannot be shared too generously.

    “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from God’s glorious power, so that you may have all endurance and patience with joy.”

  19. I have been thinking about you a great deal. Gerard went quickly, and you got to be with him at the end. That doesn’t remove the grief, but it eliminates fresh sources of grief. You are in my prayers and, I hope and believe, in Gerard’s as well.

  20. My sincere condolences Neo, I have been surprised by my feelings at Gerard’s passing and just wanted to take a moment and share that his writing truly impacted me. I am a Navy vet and our typical phrase for times like these rings true….”May he have fair winds and following seas on the journey”.
    Take your time with this as someone else said, we will be here……..

  21. Beautiful photo. It brings Gerard’s character to life in a way his writing can’t, because it’s writing and therefore deliberate. This was an unguarded moment observed and caught by someone who loved him. Thank you for sharing it.

    My parents inherited my sister’s cat when she died in her late 30s. He was with them–or they were with him–for nine years. He was a droll creature, built like the Pink Panther and with a deadpan Buster Keaton expression. Cats are supposed to be graceful. He was not. I met him when he was a skinny big-pawed juvenile, soon after my sister got him during one of her hopeful periods. She would throw a ball across the floor and he would galumph after it, usually getting tangled up in his own feet and careening into the baseboard. Then he would get up and walk away like he meant to do that. After my parents took him in at their house–it took several days for him to emerge from his hiding place in the cluttered apartment in which my sister died–he became an indoor-outdoor cat. He would slope across the street–forequarters pointing one way, hindquarters pointing another–to one of our neighbors, an old Polish farm lady. We later discovered she was giving him late-morning snacks of kielbasa.

    He and my sister were together for ten years. She raised him from a kitten and he was her faithful companion in her peregrinations around the county where we all grew up. He had spells of what I can only call sadness later in his life, when he would lie on the floor among the toys that my parents bought for him. Perhaps something–a scent, a sound, an inflection of voice, a pattern of objects–made him remember her. My parents were devastated when he died at age 19. They buried him under the forsythia bush in the back yard with a Tibetan prayer stone to mark the spot. It’s still there.

    After my father died, my mother found it difficult to return from dinner to the now empty apartment they had moved to in a retirement community on the edge of town. They had been married almost 67 years–they got married right after she graduated from college and she had never lived on her own–and suddenly he wasn’t there anymore. She missed having a cat for companionship–we had had three before my sister’s cat–but was afraid she wouldn’t be able to take care of it. I eventually lured her out to a local animal shelter by promising her that I would take care of the cat if she could not. We both understood that I was promising to take care of the cat when she died. (Which is indeed what happened.) We picked out a very nice mature tabby male–a dapper brindle-brown gentleman with a white vest and a raccoon-striped tail–the kind of cat who is usually overlooked in favor of fluffy kittens or more-active younger cats. They were together for the last ten months of her life, during which time he would perch neatly on the other side of the breakfast table in mom’s apartment while she drank her coffee and hold court to visiting delegations of admiring old ladies. He was on mom’s bed when she died on a hot July afternoon. When I brought him back to the family house after her death–a place he had never been–he made a beeline down the hallway to closed door of her old study and stood there meowing plaintively. I left him in. He sniffed the legs of her old writing desk and the old carpet in the middle of the floor, jumped onto the daybed where she used to read and nap, and settled on the folded-up throw that she used to use. He stayed there for two days, his paws folded neatly, his tail drawn up, his face lowered and his eyes half-closed, only emerging at night to eat and drink from his bowls in the kitchen and to use his pan. I’ve had him for almost five years at my place in Alabama. I tell people we’re two crotchety bachelors in late middle age, sharing the same house.

    I hope Olive finds a good home. She looks like a sweetie (attitude of the head and ears).

  22. Hubert:

    Thanks, very touching, but what is his name?

  23. Om: Hector. Started out as Walter (for Walter Pidgeon), but after a few days mom decided he was more of a Hector.

  24. It’s too bad you can’t take her, Hubert. You sound like a “cat whisperer” to me.

    Neo: thank you, thank you for keeping us connected to Gerard even after his passing (love the photo also). My deepest sympathy to you as your loss is so much greater than ours.

  25. Hubert:

    “Thanks” was inadequate; it was a fine remembrance of a part of your family, both two and four legged.

  26. I said it once already, but will say it again: Neo, my sympathy, and I know you’re not Catholic but trust you will take my saying a prayer for Gerard’s soul in the spirit in which it’s intended.

    As for Olive: it’s funny how some people are cat people and some are dog people and some love both. I’m in the latter group. I don’t ever want another dog, because of the constant need to take it for walks and generally high maintenance, but my wife and I now have two cats, thanks to people who found abandoned kittens and talked us into taking them. And I’m a little afraid I’m turning into a crazy cat guy. I am embarrassed by my attachment to them. In part I think it’s a compensation for the losses and disappointments which I feel in my 70s.

    Until five years or so ago we had a little dog and a cat, both white, about the same size, who had more or less grown up together and got along fine. Not fast friends, maybe, but I’d find them sleeping next to each other sometimes. The dog died, and his absence seemed to really affect the cat. She wandered around apparently looking for him. My wife says she (the cat) was never quite herself after that, and she only lived another couple of years. So I don’t have any trouble believing stories like Hubert’s.

  27. If one wishes to read about a rather unusual cat, there’s always “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx.
    (There’s a whole lotta other reasons to read it… The cat is a fairly minor character but is unforgettable, at least to this reader…)

  28. I am embarrassed by my attachment to them. In part I think it’s a compensation for the losses and disappointments which I feel in my 70s.


  29. How about a recurring theme, comparing book-length critiques of SJW/CRT/Wokism?

    There are over a dozen published now, and some I’ve overlooks, or even specialised, eg Helen Joyce on trans wackiness.

    A sort of consumers guide reviews? Later, to be synthesised into a longer opus, or otherwise more comprehensive form — for sharing and help to educate the naive or unwary or just plane curious.

    In any case, because of rich funding for propagandists, as well as government funding thru our corrupt ane evil K-12 plus system, this issue ain’t going away soon.

  30. Hubert:

    Wonderful story of the cats and their people.

  31. (DAMIT! All musty-eyed, my PS to the above rolled off my fingers too late to post.)
    PS. The one thing missing and yet too important to to mention is Women’s importance in burning the New Weaker Sex.

    I think recognising this heroism to memorialising men’s lives is ancient — yet the mass unrecognised duty by performed women is something different and ongoing for our time, in this young century. It’s a growing phenomenon and social rite, as well as humbling responsibility.

    There is both need and opportunity to write more about this Truth. It’s inescapable. It’s real. For you, it’s NOW. For the unprepared, your wisdom may be Golden to others.

  32. I’ve shared at MOTUS that Olive is looking for a new human.
    I’m in northern Maine, have two Maine Coons and an obnoxious adolescent GSD and I’d offer her a home but between the weather and the current furry residents, I doubt Olive would be happy here.
    I hope you don’t mind.
    MOTUS shared that Gerard was an early mentor when she started blogging and he encouraged her on a regular basis.
    There are many regular readers of AD there who love felines and quite a few on the west coast,

  33. I remembered reading a poem in Polish about a cat whose owner has died, written from the cat’s point of view. Thanks to the magic of Web search, I found it.

    Wislawa Szymborska, “Cat in an Empty Apartment” (translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

    Die — you can’t do that to a cat.
    Since what can a cat do
    in an empty apartment?
    Climb the walls?
    Rub up against the furniture?
    Nothing seems different here
    but nothing is the same.
    Nothing’s been moved
    but there’s more space.
    And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

    Footsteps on the staircase,
    but they’re new ones.
    The hand that puts fish on the saucer
    has changed, too.

    Something doesn’t start
    at its usual time.
    Something doesn’t happen
    as it should.
    Someone was always, always here,
    then suddenly disappeared
    and stubbornly stays disappeared.

    Every closet’s been examined.
    Every shelf has been explored.
    Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
    A commandment was even broken:
    papers scattered everywhere.
    What remains to be done.

    Just sleep and wait.
    Just wait till he turns up,
    just let him show his face.
    Will he ever get a lesson
    on what not to do to a cat.
    Sidle toward him
    as if unwilling
    and ever so slow
    on visibly offended paws,
    and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

    (http://www.wordslikethis.com.au/cat-in-an-empty-apartment/; also in Polish and English at https://readingearth.blog/56-2/)

  34. The penalty for being out of touch is the wave of shocks you must endure to catch up.. some more than others… Gerards is a big one on top of a bunch of recent big ones… more than 5 in the past YTD

  35. Thanks also for fine photo, Neo.
    “Preserve your memories,
    They’re all that’s left you.”

  36. Condolences on your loss.

    Both of you have enormous talent and generosity to write so in depth so regularly.

    It is a dazzling bit of news to discover your and his relationship. Uplifting, charming, romantic news in a time of sorrow and dismay.

    DisGuested at 5:33 on 1/28/23 said it wonderfully.

    You both have given great things to the world.

  37. @ artldgr > ** waves hello ** – you have been missed!

  38. artldgr:

    You’ve been missed, but I’m gladdened to hear from you again, even if a bit shorter (loss of “f”). artful dodger.

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