My friend is dead.
That's my favorite picture of Bud, mostly because he was lying on my belly (and thighs, and knees—not a small dude, and he liked to stretch out more than curl up). But also because, being a close shot, it captures fairly well what living with Bud was like. Trusting and affectionate, he demanded to be right up in—on, more like—your face as far as he could manage. Our experience of his crazy-plush fur was abundant and exhaustive.
Bud was my kitchen buddy since long before MSV ever got fired up. He was an enthusiastic and relatively adventurous eater. He'd lick anything once. Plus, until just this fall, I had a pub table with two chairs set up in the kitchen. Because face-to-face interaction was so important to him, he adored the pub chair's ability to situate him near human eye-level and spent countless hours in that chair. Eventually arthritis kept him from leaping up and down from that height, but he continued to laze about the kitchen, where his comforting food bowl was, and where lots of light shines in not only from large uncovered windows, but also from a nearby skylight. And where he could ask for bits of whatever I was cooking.
As proof, he showed up on MSV a couple of times. You can see his butt here:
And a tiny bit of his big paws way back here:
But this is a good snap of him at rest (he had an expressive face, so it's tough to reflect him in just one picture):
That's Big'n on the right. (Little'n on the left, in reality a medium-size cat, is his roommate Herman—they mostly ignored each other but occasionally hit each other.)
Big'n is only one of many names he was called. (He was big and solid, like a linebacker, without much of a visible neck.) Bud suited him thoroughly. In fact, it was initially a generic nickname our friend gives to all animals who wander onto her property looking for help, as Bud did. But the name wouldn't let go. My boyfriend later declared it a diminutive of Budford Manassas. Nicknames followed: Budfordino, Buffordino, Buffer, Geometry Face (his eyes could get so incredibly round), Gigantor, and Muppet. Mostly, due to some quirks of personality and physique, he was called Dogbear. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Eventually, we had to admit Bud was every animal, beyond human classification (some resemblances were stronger than others, including not only the dog and bear combination, but also wolverine, owl, turtle, and John Wayne).
Bud walked straight through the center of a crowded room at parties. He was an enormously chill dude, a fantastically effective physical communicator, and the only thing in this world I've encountered that had even a little power to soothe what Kingsley Amis called the Metaphysical Hangover, to which I'm particularly susceptible. It was impossible not to imagine he was a bodhisattva. And imagine it we did. (Also, a stoner. Another reason his name seemed so apposite.)
There's no shortage of stories about people coming to veganism through companion animals, but that isn't my story. I never really had companion animals growing up, so moving in the with two guys my partner already lived with—he took Bud in only a few months before we began dating—was a new experience for me. It wasn't until after becoming vegan that I started to pay real attention to my daily interaction with them (which is substantial, since we live downtown where our companion cats are necessarily strictly indoor guys). In return, I got seriously rewarded by getting to know them better. All our lives got richer. And Bud, never as vocally demanding as Herman, especially went a long way to making me more sensitive and attentive. He dramatically reinforced the decision I had made to refuse the notion that individual animals should be treated like widgets. He was such a good dude. We miss him. A kind of shocking amount.
I've never skipped a week on MSV, and I don't want to start now, but the kitchen has been a heartbreak to walk into with Bud's absence looming so large. I have a couple recipes in the queue, so hopefully you all won't experience any further hiccups. Thanks for bearing with me. These last months have been fucking heavy, and self-inflicted obligations feel pretty overwhelming right now. I expect the rawness will soon pass, and food can again be invigorating instead of the annoyance it is right now.
So, to take care of this week, there are plenty of MSV dishes to make in my pal's honor. Bud was interested in all the food I prepared, and in hanging out directly behind me while I prepared it, but he loved beans. Demanded beans. All kinds, but chickpeas in particular. So this week, a chickpea roundup for Buffordino. And apparently that guy was no dummy, because this is a strong list:
Dead Simple Winter Tomato Soup (use the chickpea variation**)
(*Since chickpea flour is a main ingredient, I'm including it. Plus, it's easy to make and comforting, things that are rating high on MSV right now.)
(**When I developed this recipe, I blogged the potato version because of its silkier texture, but when I make it for weeknight dinners, which I frequently do, I almost always use a can of white beans or chickpeas in place of the potatoes. If you make the potato version, serve it with a grilled hummus sandwich to get your chickpeas in.)
(***Kind of a cheat. But uses chickpea flour and other beans, and Bud totally ate that filling. Goofball.)
Enjoy. Hug any companion animals you take care of and who take care of you. And anyone else you love. —Amanda