Option two

Option two

Rearrange “option,” and you have “potion.”

Rearrange “Sadie,” and you have “Ideas.”


When your life gets rearranged, you may feel as though you have fallen victim to a shell game.

There is a glimmer of hope: it may be a tortoiseshell game.

When you are a tortoiseshell cat, you are Mississippi mud and the Manhattan skyline all at once. You are as rich as good soil and cheesecake.

When you are a tortoiseshell cat, you see in the dark. You find beauty in the bleak. The world is midnight black marbled with heartbeat red. So is your coat. You are not afraid.

When you are a tortoiseshell cat, you do not need a barrette or a dictionary. You let your hair stand on end and expect people to stand up when you enter the room. You have a spell for everything, except disappearing.


Sadie and Henrietta have never gnawed Scrabble tiles, nor shaken the Boggle box. They do not aspire to turn all their Wordle squares green. Nevertheless, they are the foremost linguists at Tabby’s Place.

This is their second career, having taken an early retirement from real estate.

You may think I am mixing metaphors. You may think I am indulging in mixed drinks while blogging. But I am as serious as Scattergories.

Sadie and Henrietta came to us from a commercial realty office.

Being tortoiseshell cats, the sisters were the premier property on the premises. The staff described them as both “calming” and “spiritual,” while also being “divas.” The staff were clearly as brilliant as they were loving, for they understood: a single tortoiseshell cat is a mansion.

A tortoiseshell cat is a mansion that makes Downton Abbey look like an abandoned Pizza Hut. But a tortoiseshell cat of Henrietta’s caliber is a mansion that spontaneously adds rooms every time it meets a friend. A tortoiseshell cat of Sadie’s splendor is a mansion that makes everyone feel at home.

But mansions need acreage.

Tortoiseshell cats need families.

And cats at real estate agencies need options.

Sadie and Henrietta had neither. But they had ideas, potions, and the power to rearrange grim sentences.

Language was about to bow down to love.

When your name is Henrietta, and you are a tortoiseshell cat, you can be certain of three things:

1) Life is not “playing with you,” in the mean and mocking sense.
2) Life is “playing with you,” in the fun and frolicky sense.
3) Life is playing with its chemistry set, and there’s a love potion with your name on it.

Options ran out, but the potion bubbled. Love scooped Sadie and Henrietta into its burly arms. Two tortoiseshell cats came from Michigan to New Jersey, while blowing kisses at Manhattan, Mississippi, and all the miles between.

We are not sure if Sadie and Henrietta are sisters, mother and daughter, or co-champions of the Detroit-Area Spelling Bee. We are not sure if they sprang independently from the soil, simply because earth was feeling generous.

We are sure that Sadie spells “ideas” everywhere she walks, tracing them with her speckle-bean toes. She enjoys her independence. She enjoys being reminded that real realtors called her “boss lady.” She enjoys the exquisite privilege of being herself.

We are sure that Henrietta has dual doctorates in gentleness and patience. We can’t independently verify this, but some say both Gandhi and Mother Teresa kept photos of Henrietta in their lockers for inspiration.

Henrietta does not mind that “Sadie” can spell “ideas,” but “Henrietta” only spells “thrantier.” Henrietta knows more than she lets on. Henrietta hopes your day gets thrantier by the hour, even if you need to rearrange your plans.

In the tortoiseshell game, everybody wins.

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