If THIS doesn’t bring a smile, the Virus has already WON!!!
Fight it! Fight back!! Don’t give in!!
And if you need even more “uplift”, read (or re-read) this!
Warning: Cuteness Overload! (first published in January, 2016)
Well, it all started early last June…..
1) This guy starts visiting outside regularly and riling up Phineas and Zorro (our indoor Cat Bosses).
We think this is an “Evil Wild Tomcat”, just stirring up trouble.
2) Then James has a big surprise. He sees movement under the wood pile, just beyond where we sit on our porch swing to look out over the valley. He literally drags me dripping out of my shower to come and see!!
It’s a close call but, after a while, I convince him to put this baby back where he got it as it is WAY too little for humans to mess with. 3) Then later that day I see a different ,but regular visitor in our yard and she is glowing in her bulging state, so I have to take her picture.
(Can you see why she is “glowing”?) 4) James, uninterested in my Mama Deer, has stationed himself by the woodpile, you know, just in case….
5) And sure enough, look who he finds!!!!
We already have two “very bad cats” (aren’t they all?)
So I am screaming, “NO, no! For god’s sake, don’t FEED them!”
I had a hard time getting James to put them back. I’m afraid we may have three new residents if I don’t watch him (James) closely! 6) Speaking of watching closely, apparently “Evil Tom Cat” is actually “Protective MOM!” Here she is guarding the woodpile.
7) And as if this was not enough “cute” for one day…as we arrived home from a quick trip to town, look who we nearly ran into!!! Our Glowing MOM!
She is still licking them off.
We watched as she led them off into the woods for safety, and no doubt, so she could have a rest.
She’s not so Robust/rotund anymore, is she?
8) Had enough Cuteness for one day??? Not so fast! We get home and have to check on our 3 new little “guest” kittens, right? And guess what!!!
We discover this white one!
Now THERE ARE FOUR!!! So far, anyway……..
I’m exhausted from delight!
As Paul Harvey would always say “And now, the rest of the story.”
Any guesses as to which one we kept??
We eventually found homes for 3 of them, with folks who were committed to socializing these terrified feral kittens, but this little tough one, the smallest, would just not leave us alone. She would bound out of hiding to see us, even as her siblings would scatter and hide.
Meet Lucy, named by my grandsons who wanted her to have a strong (super hero) girl name. (The movie Lucy had just been released and though they were not allowed to see it, they got the idea from the previews.)
(parts of this story were published previously in Pacific Northwest Green Friends Newsletter)
I disappeared again. Not that you would necessarily notice, but I am house sitting for three weeks and it has turned out to be more time and energy consuming than I expected.
I thought I’d be writing beautiful posts and taking amazing photos to share, but I am exhausted!
It’s a lovely home in a beautiful (and surprising) setting…a bit of country right here in the city!
My primary charges, two wonderful dogs, are a huge handful of sweet, with more energy than hummingbirds!
Even though this property is unusually big for the area where we live, besides playing in the yard, the dogs require a lot of additional walking every day, especially the small Setter. Even though he only has three legs (a recent change for him), he could run for hours, like a full size Irish Setter!
I discovered on my first day here, because of my ailing hip, I have a hard time even making it up the hill (driveway) from the house to the road, so have had to take the dogs in the car to find some flat land to exercise on.
Then there are the fish…I have no idea how many there are but their huge tank needs cleaning…badly. The schedule says not until Wednesday, but I’m going to have to break down and do it today…which requires remembering all the faucets and hose nozzles and twists of valves and different positions and, and. and…
Day one vs Day six
Even as my temporary employers were demonstrating the process before they left, the tank overflowed all over the floor. (Hmm, I wonder where they put that huge, clever twist-able mop…you know, just in case…) And the big tube they used to suck the water out, they almost lost a tiny fish up that tube, right in front of me!
Maybe I’ll just fill the bathtub and let the fish have a leisurely soak while I’m cleaning their home.
Lastly, but actually first each day, are the 7 chickens and 3 ducks! I panicked the first day as I could have sworn they told me there were 13 chickens. I knew they had had a recent Great Horned Owl incident and were down one duck so that first day when I only counted 7 chickens, I lost it! My people were still en-route to their destination so I could not confirm poultry numbers for 36 hours!! Stressful to say the least.
Then, on my second day, I had to quickly learn the difference between a chicken that is almost dead, (unmovable, head lolling to one side, stuck inside the laying house) and what’s called “broody”.
I finally found this article which helped immensely with my panic and guilt! Interesting read, whether or not you ever care for chickens. I moved her yesterday so we’ll see if she stayed moved this morning. (Nope, she was back!)
The whole thing was strangely poignant, until I remembered all those years in my late thirties and early forties when I would have done obscene things to be able to have another child!! And, I have “adopted” countless adult children over the years.
I understand “broody”.
The next issue with these chickens is a plethora of eggs! I’ve carried 2 and 1/2 dozen eggs over to my nearby home to share with my neighbors.
All in all, this has been a wonderful, enlightening experience.
Ola, the Wonder Dog, left us this week. She hadn’t been herself , activity-wise for a while, but her essence never changed.
“Ola” (the African definition, not “hello” in Spanish), was rescued as a precious puppy, by my sister and her husband more than 10 years ago. Soon after they brought her home, they left on an amazing trip abroad for several weeks. So James and I got to be Ola’s Foster Parents while they were gone.
We seriously bonded with her during that time. I mean, look at this face! Who wouldn’t??
John and Lenore had wanted a young dog while their elderly one, Lily, the Three Legged Miracle, was still able to teach a new dog the lay of the land.
This family lives on a glorious piece of land on San Juan Island. The property includes lots of acreage, a large pond with a variety of water fowl, a Bamboo Farm, and arguably some of the most beautiful and prolific vegetable and flower gardens in the Northwest.
And they live in what James and I lovingly call the Hobbit House. Built by John, using lots of found and custom designed materials, it is so fairy tale-like, you are transported to another world.
I write about this place, our second home, often. Here’s one example:
When they chose Ola as a puppy, they wanted another smallish dog that would not overwhelm Lily, and they predicted Ola was another small, lab mix’ just like Lily.
Being very familiar with Rottweilers and Pit bulls, I took one look at Ola’s sweet face, and said “Uh oh.”
Not many months later, Ola had grown into a HUGE, beautiful, regal dog, over 100 pounds. But she still seemed guided by that angel on her chest.
Lily immediate adopted young Ola, and trained her to be a “stick right close to your Humans” dog.
No fences in the Hippie Valley part of San Juan Island. Dogs (and deer) are free to roam and except for the occasional “play date” with a neighbor Dog, both Lily and Ola were right there, watching over the homestead, 24/7.
Lily left us not long after Ola joined the family but the two of them had some really good times together before she died. She taught Ola how to play Tug O War with ropes and sticks when Ola was still very young.
And she trained Ola to leave the cats alone (probably for her own safety!)
Ola became such a big part of our house-sitting experience all these years. For several weeks at a time, she became “our” dog again. No matter how much time passed between our babysitting jobs, she would greet us with 100 pounds of enthusiasm!
She hung out with us where ever we went,
and stayed close to us at home.
Yep, she was our dog…..But only until her real parents came home!
Ola was always within feet (or calling distance) of John and Lenore during their daily routines.
Ola was one of the sweetest, most gentle dogs I’ve ever met. I will miss her so much. I can only imagine how long it will take her family to get used to the huge empty space she leaves behind.
Here’s my story…long, but it makes me so happy every time I tell it.
Hope you enjoy.
It’s Never Too Late….
(Branding VS Bonding)
“Maternity is a matter of fact; paternity always a matter of opinion.” Unknown Author
When I was two, my Mom and me found me a Dad. They got married and had my sister Eileen when I was three. They had my sister Barbara when I was six. When I was nine, I found out that Dad was not my first Dad. I don’t remember that fact being particularly bothersome. But when I was twelve and my folks divorced, well, that was definitely bothersome. When I was fifteen, being fairly exhausted by the role of Junior Mother to my sisters while my own Mom drank herself into oblivion, I left home in search of the rest of my childhood. When I was nineteen, my mother made her first (at least discernible) suicide attempt. (She took pills.) She survived, but only after being in a coma for as many days as I had had years on the planet. She woke up saying, “I don’t want to sleep anymore.” I thought she meant it and was really relieved and hopeful. Her narrow escape from death seemed to inspire her. She turned her life around dramatically…but only for a couple of years. When I was 21, my mother was more determined…no reprieve this time. It is much harder to survive suicide by gun.
When I was 24, and had a toddler of my own, the difference between a biological parent and a step-parent right in my face, I wrote my Dad a note. It said, “Now that Mom is not alive, you and I are not REALLY connected by anything, do you want to stop being my Dad?”
As of this writing, I don’t remember how he answered that question. I think it was something sweet and positive.
I do know that after he died in 2001, when we were going through his belongings, I found that 30 year old note from me, crusty with age, in a small box full of obvious treasures; like a very beautiful picture of my mother (his one and only love), correspondence from his father, and a very impressive letter of endorsement from his commanding officer in the U.S. Cavalry recommending him to West Point. My barely camouflaged plea for parental reassurance was in very admirable company indeed.
When I was 40, I received the following letter from my Dad:
When your mother and I got married, we didn’t have much money and you were very young so we didn’t think you would mind if we skipped the legal proceedings for me to officially adopt you. Then, as it does, time passed and we just never got around to it.
Would you think it silly now, at this late date, for me to make it all legal? Would you let me adopt you?
I think you know that you have never been any different in my eyes from your two sisters, except that you were my oldest. Your biological father left before you were ever born, marrying your mother in name only, at the “insistence” of your grandfather, so I knew I would be your only Daddy.
Have I ever told you when I knew you were mine?
When your mother and I were dating, we always brought you along. I knew from the start it was a package deal with her and that was just fine by me. One afternoon when we were out, I picked you up to carry you on my shoulders, as had become our routine. Well, while you were up there, you had a little accident and leaked all over my neck. That wasn’t too bad really. But when I went to change my shirt and tie later, I found that you had marked me. My white shirt and neck were stained a bright crimson, the color of my tie. I didn’t think of myself as a “red neck” but I proudly wore that red mark around my neck for several days until it finally wore off. I told the guys at work that my new little girl had branded me. That’s when I knew I was your Daddy.
Now, I would like to make it official if that’s OK with you. Let me know what you think.
My response to him was a no-brainer.
So, the Christmas after my 40th birthday, my Dad flew to Seattle from San Diego. My sister Barbara was there. My sister Eileen, who had rarely seen any of us since our mother died all those years before, flew over from Hawaii, and my 2 long time best friends, Lee and Linda, attended as witnesses. It was definitely official, taking place in a courtroom in front of a judge who asked both my father and I a peculiar series of questions. “Do you have any ulterior motives for taking this step?” “Does doing this help you to avoid legal action in any way?” “Are either of you doing this for financial gain?” etc.
Then the judge pronounced us legally “father and daughter” and leaned over his bench to shake my Dad’s hand. He said, “Congratulations on your new baby girl.” And to my sisters he said “She is your real sister now.” Then he thanked us all profusely saying, “Usually during this week between Christmas and New Years, we have nothing in Family Court except Child Protective Service cases or maybe the termination of parental rights. How refreshing it is for me to have participated in this long awaited and obviously joyous occasion.”
Judging from the things my Dad did during the time immediately before he died, my legal adoption was not the first time he had considered my sisters and I being re-united.
Although he had never uttered a single word of criticism or advice concerning our long-time estranged sibling ties, clearly he had thought about it. He simply carried on three separate father/daughter relationships. He developed his own connection with his 3 grandchildren and before his death he fixed it so that at least once more, we had no choice but to all three be together. I mean really together. We had to join up and cooperate in the dispersal of his estate. All papers had to be signed by all three of us at the same time. There was even plenty of money designated specifically for travel expenses from our respective far corners, etc. Clever, clever man. Either that or he was a real brat.
If Dad was nearby, and we believe he was, we know he got a real kick out of it as his lawyer innocently said, “Yes, I thought this was an unusual request that there be 3 executors and that all must be present in the same place for all procedures. This is not how it is commonly done. Your Father must have known that you three get along really well to put you in this position as equal trustees.”
I wonder what that attorney thought of the look of shock, dismay and wonderment that passed among my sisters and me in that moment.
Dad, I’m sure, was chuckling. I guess he really believed that it is never too late.
Oh boy, I accidentally did a whopper piece of personal therapy this morning, searching for a song about Search.
I immediately thought of all my life long searches!
First, my youth, I searched for my biological father who left before I was born. I know, in this day and age, it should be easy right? Well, his name was Michael John Kelly. (Might as well have been John Smith!) I started at 13 years old, looking up that name in local libraries. They used to carry phone books from all over the United States, so, using my babysitting money, I would write post cards to as many addresses as I could afford postage for.
Then, in my twenties, I started searching for my daughter, who I had to give up for someone else to raise.
I’ve written about her several times. One example:
In thinking about a song for today’s theme, I realized even though I had the best (step) Dad in the world, and have found, and dearly love, my relationship with my daughter, I am still searching. Sometimes quietly, in the back ground, but sometimes, frantically, like my life depends on finding…what?? I don’t really know. (Well, I do, but that’s another post…)
At 70 years old, there are so many other things I still and always searched for that are unlikely now. That’s not me giving up. That’s the healthiest part of me, gently and lovingly, coercing me back into the present moment.
I guess that pushy voice, my “Guardian”, has always been there, Sometimes it’s audible and sometimes it is blocked by unfinished grief…but it’s constant and reliable when I am willing and able to listen, to hear.
And most importantly, to accept that it is there for ME, not just my clients, my friends, my family, not all the other lost souls I share that voice with when I forget to listen for myself.
You go Alanis! Thanks for always sharing your “therapy” with us in your music!!
Many of us have pets who are or have been Beloved…but my experience is there is usually this one who works his or her way deep into our soul, our memory, and our “inner child”.
I love animals…most all of ’em. I had a favorite dog and a wonderful snake and as a kid, even a pair of rats, one black and one white. I used to smuggle those rats to elementary school inside my shirt! I have even had BUGS…Giant Australian Leaf Bugs that I care deeply about. My very first pet was a DUCK, that at 7 years old, I house-broke, because I didn’t know you couldn’t. (read about Fluffy here)
and those bugs, just go to my blog (and search for Bugs. I post about them more than most anything…https://chosenperspectives.com/
Though I am fairly allergic to them, I’ve almost always had cats…maybe 15 of them over the years.
But there is this one rascal, Zorro, that is my Beloved heart animal, above all the others, my inseparable companion of 17 years now. Named for the “Z” he slashed in the back of my hand the day I got him (at 5 or 6 weeks old). I’d show you a photo of my hand now but the original “Z” has been embellished with countless slashes over these years together…some from anger but mostly from play. It’s more like an abstract pencil drawing these days.
I know everyone has a favorite pet even if we don’t want to admit playing favorites. I have three cats right now and I wouldn’t want Phineas the Terrorist or Lucy, the Wonder Cat to be jealous of my Zorro, the Grey Blade.
His story is unfortunately, not unheard of. He was left in a box with 5 littermates at the back door of a county animal “pound” at the beginning of a three day weekend. By the time the box was discovered, all had died but my Zorro. Tiny “Z” was put in the cages in the lobby of this Animal Shelter where all the “last chance” animals were displayed…last chance before death!!
Apparently, he did not stop yowling for the three days they had him and the folks at the front desk were driven to distraction by his inconceivable volume.
We arrived literally in the nick of time. They were so relieved, they all cheered.
The short version of the back story here is that about 2 years before, I had lost all three of my long-time pets (an 11 year old cat, a wonderful 16 year old purebred German Shepherd, and an amazing, impossible 23 year old cat) all within two months of each other.
Boom, boom, boom…all gone!
Oh and in this same 2 years, my then husband had blown up our marriage as well as my therapy practice, AND there had been 11 deaths in and close to my family…all culminating in the 9/11 tragedy our country suffered. I was a hot, depressed mess!!!
My two very best friends did a Love Intervention with me for which I will be eternally grateful.
They sat me down and said “OK, that’s long enough. We like you better when you have pets.” And then they drove me to the pound for a cat and said “Pick one…NOW.”
I knew immediately it was that screaming gray and white kitten hanging by all fours on the screened in kennel.
I have already confessed many times in previous animal posts that I am the Queen of Anthropomorphism, but that kitten knew me instantly. In our 17 years together, he has never screamed like that again. Oh, we have our regular conversations. He’s very talkative. But only with me. I’m the only one he has ever trusted. If you are not me, you must tread very lightly in his presence. No reaching out your friendly hand for a sniff or a pet. Nope. You’ll be branded, just like me.
Though he will tolerate almost any handling from me, he has never been a lap cat, no snuggling except on my feet at night…oh, and if I say “Zorro, wanna take a nap with me?”, he will come running and assume his position in out napping spoon, his back pushed into my curled-up tummy. And a wonderful, weird addition to our relationship is I have NEVER been even slightly allergic to him. No itching, no asthma, nothing. I tell people he is my first intimate relationship with a cat.
He will look straight into my eyes for long moments and we will “talk”.
He is protective of the other cats we have, both joining our family as tiny kittens. If Zorro thinks you are hurting them, he will lunge at you like a tiger, growling, teeth bared, and claws out. He’ll draw your blood without batting an eye.
And if Phineas, who is our escape artist, finds a way out of our house, Zorro will run to me just like Lassie, (Timmy has fallen down the well!!) proclaiming danger, and will lead me right to the open door or window. (Our cats are always indoor cats as we have packs of coyotes running through our streets!)
Zorro has a much longer story than this, but I want to get this post done. Just think of him as the Sean Connery of cats…a real warrior in his day and still gorgeous to the end.
Zorro has advanced kidney disease and will most likely be moving on soon. We spend a lot of time together these days. I know we are getting close to the end because he wants to be on my lap whenever I sit down. He is awkward at it, having never practiced this kind of connection before now, but I love it.
I love him. My beloved best pal for so many years….
I just can’t write about my mother(s) today. I will sometime. I know I need to.
And since I didn’t get a single card or call or flower and I even had to make my own coffee, I’m feeling pretty forlorn.
So I will write about myself.
I have been a mother since I was 5 years old. I knew how to change diapers and handle baby food and bottle basics before I started school. I mothered my little sisters (and I must have done a lousy job because they resent the hell out of me.)
Don’t get me wrong. I love mothering. I live for it. My favorite movie as a child was not some Disney Princess thing. Nope, for me it was “Cheaper by the Dozen”.
All I ever wanted was a huge family, a bunch of kids to mother!
I even mothered my mother, trying so hard to convince her life was worth living…but I failed…well, that’s how it felt to my broken teenage heart when she finally chose the permanent “check-out”.
I mothered, in the following order, myself, my sisters, my mother, my babysitting kids, my pets, my friends, my foster sisters, my boyfriends, my fellow students, my co-workers, my husbands, my neighbors, my BUGS, broken birds, and my hundreds of my clients…this last is a whole separate story of amazing “motherhood”.
I mothered myself when my own mother escaped her pain by shooting herself. How oxymoronic is that?
And I had to make the excruciating decision to NOT mother the child I was carrying at the time my mother died, leaving my sisters in my real charge this time.
Blissfully, I finally got to mother my son Michael, the light of my life, and eventually, a pile of step-children. And now, though I am their grandmother, I even get to mother my grandsons a little bit.
It’s still my favorite thing to do.
So here is my choice for Song Lyric Sunday, today, Mother’s Day, 2017. It’s the song I used to play for my most injured and damaged clients, in the hope that somehow, a little mother’s love really can heal. I know it has healed me.
And I know my “daughter” Pamela has received exactly this from her Mother.
And just so I don’t end on a pitiful note,
I’m off to Mother my CATS!!! They won’t know what hit them!