in transit | august 2021

DAY 529

I guess I only write here now when someone—or something—dies.

Which is to say I buried my son’s guinea pig tonight. Well, my son’s guinea pig, but really the family’s guinea pig. Tofu, a name given to the feisty skinny boar by Mathias. The name was a misnomer, as he looked like a piece of slightly-fuzzy ham had crossbred with a miniature hippo. I bestowed many nicknames upon him—Squeezbox, for his folds when he crunched—Captain Longboar, for when he extended to harrass his cagemate—Toaf, Tofus, Toafer, Tofus Aurelius, Tofus Aquinas, our little terrorist, and so on.

I can't really understate the outsize presence this little bundle of energy had in our household. It's not just quieter here now. An element of chaos has been extinguished, chaos we'd grown accustomed to as we sequestered during the pandemic.

Lisa's had quite a few pigs over the years. They've always been fun animals, but, to be frank, generally haven't been that bright. But then there was Toaf, who seemed not only to display an inner monologue, but an ability to think tactically.

Toaf's cagemate, Soy, loved a long crinkle tube that would occaisionlly be placed in their cage. For whatever reason Tofu hated this tube, as well as Soy's propensity to bullet through it. So, Tofu would keep an eye on it. If it got moved, he'd become alert. And if it looked like it was coming to the cage, he'd premptively rubmle-strut at Soy to keep him in his place.

And then there was his left front paw, which he basically used as a hand. I've seen pigs be creative with their paws before, but he'd grip, grab, drag and sort things with it in a way I've never seen a pig do. One time I walked into the room and found him intently staring into space, not in that spacey way pigs often do, but with attention. And then I noticed he was moving and flexing is left paw, and then his right one. Turn, grip, turn some more, seeing what it was capable of doing. Slowly, mindfully. He was thinking about his paws. Nuts.

I was resting what do you want.

A few months ago Toaf became extrordinarily picky about his food, stopped eating grass, and really would only eat one type of pellets, which we started to refer to as his crack. Lisa took him in multiple times, including a teeth trim that resulted in his heart stopping and him being rescuciated. (The vet seemed kind of proud of that, apparently.) Lisa hand fed him a lot, and it seemed like he was coming back.

But he wasn't, and passed while we were on a short vacation, our first real attempt at a vacation since the pandemic started. Lisa got a call from the pig sitter while Mathias and I were on a roller coaster overlooking Lake Erie.

Our neighbor kindly buried him before we got back, but unfortunately put him in part of the yard that seems peaceful, but actually gets a fair amount of traffic. So, after we unpacked from our trip, I unearthed and relocated him, which turned out to be an unexpectedly emotional experience. Uncovering him and feeling his soft body curled in the ground was one thing, but lifting him and feeling his weight in my hands was quite another. I lost it and cried in a way I hadn’t since I lost my mom. For a damn guinea pig. I must have looked like a crazy person, digging and crying out in the dark.

He's at rest in a quieter part of the yard now, slightly deeper, and bundled in a bit of bedding.


I'll write about our trip later. Or maybe I won't. It was both a compromise and an overextension. I'm looking forward to real travel again someday.

/ august 24th, 2021 / minneapolis, mn  [ permalink ]