My Cat Toro and Samuel’s Hodge

Toro is a very fine cat indeed

Since I don’t like the word “pet,” I won’t say it when I refer to my two-year-old tabby, tom Toro, a family member. Toro pays a portion of his rental fee and is a controller of rodents in our dilapidated humble apartment we long to escape. But that’s another story, and this story I am going to unravel is for Toro.

Toro before entering the clinic

It was that time again to get Toro’s annual physical exam, also required for his Hills prescription Urinary care food. So we took a trip to the vet at Little Tokyo, and all’s well that ended well. His weight was steady at 11 pounds, the same as the last year (what an excellent dieter he is!). He got his FVRCP, FelV, and nails done and was proven generally healthy. What a relief because I had been concerned about his taking more naps than usual and tired expressions with half-cast eyes. The doctor told me that it was customary for cats to show such symptoms as they grew bigger. So albeit my mom thinks that I am overly concerned about Toro’s otherwise fine status quo, aren’t we all concerned about the general well-being of our flurry fur babies?

Samuel Johnson and Hodge

It all makes me think of the story of Samuel Johnson and his cat Hodge. Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest men of letters from 18th century England and the author of A Dictionary of the English Language, had his beloved sale-furred cat Hodge, who was immortalized in literary works and as a bronze statue outside his guardian’s once resident abode. We first come to know of Johnson’s cat Hodge thanks to his lawyer friend and biographer James Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Johnson used to go out to buy Hodge’s favorite food, oysters. He refused to let his loyal and faithful Jamaican-born master-servant Francis Barber because he felt that it would be degrading to Francis to do such errands for him. But I like to think that it was more affection toward Hodge, whom he called thus: “He is a very fine cat, very fine indeed.” When Hodge was nearing to cross the rainbow bridges due to his old age, Johnson would get valerian, an herbal painkiller extracted from the flower to lessen his fur baby’s pain. But the end of Hodge wasn’t lost in the inner circle of the ether, for his life was memorialized in ‘An Energy on the Death of Dr. Johnson’s Favorite Cat’ by Percival Stockdale, published in 1778:


The general conduct if we trace
Of our articulating race,
Hodge’s, example we shall find
A keen reproof of human kind.

Samuel Johnson is one of my most admirable literary persons because of his humanist rules of thought articulated in his mastership of the English language. Hence it gives me a feeling of kinship with his love of Hodge. His affection for Hodge felt genuinely caring and familial, which was never mawkish or superficial. So, likewise, my cat Toro is a muse of my writings: whimsical, independent, intelligent, and affectionate. Sometimes, I wonder if Toro is really a little boy bespelled a tom. Well, what more can I say? Toro is a very fine cat, very fine indeed.

Hodge’s bronze statue was inaugurated in 1997 by Sir Roger Cook, the then-Lord Mayer of London. Note the oyster at his paw as his eternal token of Johnson’s affection.

Musing on Earth Day

Glass globe photographed in a moth forest

With the power of the mind put into practice for conserving nature, we can make the whole world a better place because we are part of nature, made of fire, water, earth, and air.

In our annual celebration of this year’s Earth Day, we want to spread the spirit of Mother Nature. We want all to find the beauty of life in music from the trills of birds in the rhythm of running brooks, words of wisdom in the susurrus of trees, and books in the vivid scarlet twilight of the sunset lingering in the west. The wonders of nature tame belligerent brutes and soften the hardened hearts of cynics.

One-touch of nature makes the whole world kin. In the arms of Mother Nature, we are all her children, so keeping the earth clean and livable is our filial duty to her.

What Easter means to me

Urbi et Orbi

Of all liturgical feast days, only Easter Sunday rekindles my dying embers of hope at the dire moment of despair, beginning to grow bigger and glow lighter, filling the void of the heart’s chamber with excellent brilliancy. So when the priest during the homily this morning asked the congregation what Easter meant to us, I had my inner share of answer that it’s about Hope against Hope till the last breath, just as Jesus himself has risen from death. Whether a pious Christian myth or ecclesiastical dogma, the idea of Resurrection gives one the joy of reckoning that there is no night so long that it has no hope of a day. It is aptly applied to the present -day of the war in Ukraine and everyday life circumstances when hope seems a fleeting dream, foolhardy gambling without responsibility.

Pope St. Francis addressed the Ukrainians during the Easter Vigil Mass and the Way of the Cross on Good Friday: “We can only give you our company, our prayers, and say’ you’ courage, we accompany you.” Courage with humor being a handmaid to hope defeats the shadows of darkness. It motivates one to continue a journey in life, however perilous and disappointing it seems to appear, as attested by Viktor E. Frankl, the father of Logotherapy during his internment years in Nazi death concentration camps. Frankl forced his mind to be occupied with the hopeful thought of writing a book about Logotherapy. Suppose anyone challenges Frankl’sFrankl’s experience as no more sordid than what the present-day Ukrainians are experiencing now. In that case, the person is equally no less lofty than an unreconstructed nationalist with no regard for the human race.

Further to the importance of courage and hope, the pope also spoke of reconciliation and forgiveness when loss of values, vengeance, and rage dominated humanity’s better angels. However, the Major Archbishop of Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church disagreed with the pope, calling it untimely during the carnage of the war broken up by Russia. In the meantime, Zelensky is pressuring President Biden to declare Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, striking “HELP” to the West. Didn’t Jesus point out the importance of love of your enemy because the fury would consume your whole being, making you ever unhappy and miserable with no sight of mirth and laughter but anger clenched with fists? While I commiserate with the sufferings of the Ukrainians, I also understand the price of a continuous blaze of ire hell-bent on vengeance. It will only continue a vicious cycle of war in epicycle, just as Herodotetus realized in the narrative of the ancient battles in the Histories. One can use the free will to either forget the past regrets thing or move on because the footprints left behind can only take you back and in a backward mode, making you fall by the wayside of your yet unknown destinations in life.

Easter Sunday is beginning to be drawn into the past. I want to record and convey my train of thought visible before the sun with its pale scarlet hues lingering in the twilight of the West. But I still have hope and keep it with me. Thucydides called it a dangerous illusion more potent than the reason that transforms it into an awareness of odds in one’s favor. Whatever it may be, for what’s worth, I will have hope as long I breathe—Happy Easter to Urbi and Orbi.