We had a close call this morning.

Longtime readers know about Chewy the Karma Dog, and The Hux, our two year-old shorthair who is a complete trip.

But I write less often about Elvie or Elf just becuase she's a little quiter, a little more serene and frankly doesn't like to be bothered much. But today is for her.

This morning early – I mean like way early – I rose to take Chewy for a walk and let Elvie out to nose around. Nocturnal animals cats love to go out at o'dark-thirty.

After returning home, Elf was waiting for me on the step, and I let her in, got her breakfast and my coffee and proceeded to start with the day. Meditation, tweets, emails and the soothing aroma of Sumatra make for a pleasant morning.

Elf decided she wanted to go back out: okay with me – as pets go she isn't very demanding. And, about an hour later when the early morn was wrapping up and I was ready to leave for work, I opened the door for her.

But no Elf.

For the next 20 minutes or so I did busy work around the house periodically checking to see if she'd come back: I hate to leave her outside all day. You see, we just moved and although she seems pretty happy cats aren't great with change. Like humans, they like the familiarity of routine and being stuck outside in a still-new neighborhood isn't high on their list of things to do.

I kept checking: no Elf.

Finally, I decided to drop off a letter at the post office (yes, I write real letters) which is just a few blocks from the house, and then swing back on the way to work to see if she was ready.

Mail in the box, I returned home and still no Elf. I took one last look in my neighbors yard – she likes going through the gap in the fences – and there she was, nosing around.

She must have been ready to come home because when I called her she came right away – a very un-catlike behavior – and was happy as I opened the door.

Safe at home – what a delicious feeling that is.

You see, Elf matters to me, and I love her and want her to be safe. I don't always think about that until there's some risk to her. But she gets the right food in the right quantity, always has fresh water and sees the vet regularly for routine care. A healthy cat is a happy cat.

I've been thinking a lot lately about loss and taking care of things that matter, and doing the heavy lifting every day to be steadfast and dependable. Sometimes we lose our way and rationalize not spending the time and energy on the people and pets we love. But loss is a serious teacher.

When a relationship we care about is threatened we wake up from our cosmic dream and put our game face on and our best foot forward. We take care to care about the relationship, to nurture it, invest in it and guard it.

At least we do if we really want it.

Elf reminds me that we have to take the time to care about what's important every day, and to let that be the priority in my life.

I hope you have a nice weekend – Elvie is sunning herself as I write.



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