Adieu, my friend

A week has passed since the Beluga whale died in transit from the Seine to the sea. The question remains with the image still fresh on my mind refusing to fade away with my heartstrings pulled in all withers: did he break away from his kind to find a treasure island like Jim did? Or did malice of fortune take him away from the tribe on a lark to see if he could make it back to where it came from? What is the meaning of all of this anyway?

He had no name because he had so little time to live in this world, and I mean the Beluga whale stranded in the Seine River in Paris, France, and ultimately died in transit to a sea last week. No one knew why he swam all the way up to the freshwater, which was not a typical habitat for the whale species. IT wasn’t the first time to see a whale end up in the river following an orca in May that died of natural causes, but the Beluga whale still lingers in my mind a week after his death. Maybe it’s because of his ever-good-hearted-looking appearance that oozes out a sense of pathos from my feelings. Whatever it may be, he endeared me like my two-year-old tabby tom Toro, and I had been following his tale of the river, which seemed to me his journey to the resting place – among humans with whom he might have cherished good memories. Maybe he disliked his kind, so he ran away from there. Come to think of it, are we also not in favor of our superior humankind when we can’t take any more violence, disappointment, betrayal, and arrogance?

Although I admire the efforts made to revitalize the Beluga whale and to send him back to the sea, I cannot help thinking that there should have been more professionally effective operations to achieve the noble human intention to save nature. We live in an information-saturated, expert-ridden global world, but why is no such help readily unavailable in dire need? Are outstanding vets only for YouTube channels and other media outlets via which they can amplify their view to lucrative celebrities? But the argument is futile since he’s gone. By recording what my heart feels about him, I want to pay tribute to his incredible journey to the human world by himself with kisses and tears. Good-bye, my Beluga whale.

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.