Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 63)

When we lived in Washington, DC. I took pottery classes at a studio in Adam’s Morgan. I studied with Jill Hinckley and threw pottery like this, this and this. I wasn’t great at it, but I loved doing it and while there I met some of the greatest people.

One of the people I met was an organic farmer named Mike. He was a sweetheart. I adored this man. He and I became close friends. He had a great big heart. I loved spending time with him.

Right before we moved to San Francisco, Mike gave us the most spectacular going away gift. It was a small vase he threw at Hinckely. It was fired out back during one of our Raku sessions. If I remember correctly, he used horse hair (taken from a local farmer) to create the most intriguing affect on its smooth sides. The piece was amazing—all of his pieces were amazing—but this one was particularly special, I think.

It was probably one of the nicest items we owned. I was so proud of that vase, whenever we moved cross-country, I wrapped it up and took it with us in the car instead of packing it away with everything else. I showed it off at home. It was always on display, albeit, at higher heights for all reasons feline.

(Trying to guess where this story ends is probably a no brainer.)

On Sunday, Murray simply had to get to the very top of the bookshelf like Tucker had. In doing so, his fat ass knocked the vase to the floor, shattering it into a million pieces. I was in the shower and heard the smash occur.

“WHAT WAS THAT!?” I yelled.

Tobyjoe came in to tell me what had happened. We were a little heartbroken.

I don’t like to get attached to non-living things because of this very reason. With cats around, you’re kind of a fool to. And now that we have a toddler, that notion became twofold. It’s better to just assume everything intangible will eventually die. It’s just a matter of when and how that end should occur.

But saying goodbye to this item stung. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

I did not raise a hand at Murray (I don’t do that to any of my cats), nor did I yell at him (I do yell at them sometimes). He knows nothing of his mistake. And I think the noise it made was punishment enough for a creature with such intense hearing.

But I’m sharing this with you today (on Murray’s day of all days) because as I watched Tobyjoe sweep the remaining pieces into the trash can, something became very clear to me: I must really love this cat because I was unbelievably attached to that vase.

I didn’t even yell at him.

(And Mike, should you ever read this, I am so very sorry. Both Toby and I have actually mourned the loss of your gift. I thought about glueing it back together, I even thought about trying to make a mosaic out of it, but to no avail. We miss it, Mike. And would love to buy a replacement.)


  1. I suspect Murray is part Japanese and part Greek.


  2. Broken potsherds (ostraka-the origin of ostracize) were used in ancient Greece to cast ballots in a sort of negative election. Murray was simply emphasizing the need to exercise your civic duty.
    Plus, he obviously has a highly developed sense of wabi sabi, the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

    Sweet post, Michele. Thanks! Pots come and go, but a cat like Murray is one in a million!


  3. Great looking pottery (both your’s and Mike’s)!


  4. Oh, Mike! Is that you? Can we chat? You should call me so I can buy another pot from you. I mean it. (Or do you have a link to your store yet?)


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