Category Archives: Cats and Other Animals

Too Many Ideas

Last Monday I saw the Wizard (aka the infectious disease doctor). I learned more about Valley Fever, plus I was able to hear his insights about Covid. And he told me about a Margaret Atwood poem in The New Yorker. Does anybody have a copy of it? I’d love to see the poem if you could take a pic and send it over :).

For a VF case like mine, I can expect to have the exhaustion for four months. After six months if I don’t get worse I can be pretty sure I won’t be bothered by it again, except for the node or nodes left in my lung (which is just an annoyance).

As far as Covid goes, he told me no restaurants (not even outdoors) and nobody in my house to fix the sink without a mask on. I have to entertain my family outside. So basically, just what I’ve been doing since mid-March.

Two weeks ago I talked about my new archetype tarot cards and researching The Destroyer archetype. Because I’ve had other stuff I’ve had to do I didn’t get as into it as I would like as of yet. But you know what I did anyway? This is so crazy. Let me preface it by saying that lying on the couch too tired to actually do something gives me a lot of time to think. And you know what I think about? All I should be doing, all I want to be doing, and about new things to do. Insanely, I bought supplies to start an art journal. I am already missing writing, staring at the tarot boxes (Wild Unknown and Original), and not touching my SCRAP scrapbook project (fabric swatches and memories).  I need to face the fact that I am one of those people who always have to have projects going on. My dad was like that, too. I’m pretty sure there is a gene that causes it.

I have watched more TV in the past month and a half than in the last year, I think. I’m not a TV person usually, but the gardener and I recorded all the October horror movies and have been watching them. Plus we love Professor T , a Belgian mystery show, and Baptiste, sequel to The Missing. The latter is filmed in Amsterdam and is more “typical” than the former. Professor T is a bit surprising and very endearing. Then on Netflix, on my laptop, I watched (by myself) The Haunting of Bly Manor. I found it interesting (the blind casting was very thought-provoking and problematic), but a little slow-moving. I’m also left with so many questions. [SPOILER ALERT!!!!! skip to next paragraph] For instance, if the ghosts originated with Viola, why was Dani haunted by her fiance even before she went to Bly? Wait, what about Miles? How did he survive? How did grownup Flora not recognize the names Bly and Owen, especially since Owen was at her wedding? Was Jamie really at Flora’s wedding or not? She seemed ghostlike to me, but she was still alive.

My daughter says the The Haunting of Hill House is not as slow, so I should watch it.

I am so blessed. I am not in much pain, and I have a good prognosis. I have everything I need at home (except people), and I live with the gardener and six pretty kitties so am not lonely. And nobody is waiting for me to finish that art journal ;).

With Covid on the rise, PLEASE STAY SAFE. No unnecessary risks. It’s not fair to yourself, to your loved ones, or to others, including healthcare workers. But then you knew all that.

18 Comments

Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction

Off to See the Wizard

Cutest 11 seconds on video: my sweet Perry.

I’m off to be seen by the infectious disease doctor this morning. Fingers crossed.

Here are a few photos of our wacky garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, Nonfiction

Look for the Beauty


This is day 36. I am hanging in there, gaining a bit of endurance, and trying to pay attention when my body needs rest. I’m also trying to pay attention to the beauty that I encounter.

It’s the time of year when we put the winter flowers in. I didn’t participate this time, but watched a bit of the work. The gardener had daughter and her fiance, as well as our pet sitter and her boyfriend to help. It took them a few hours to plant all the flowers. The nursery ran out of white snapdragons, rust and variegated marigolds, and many other flowers. The gardener suspects it is because the summer was so darn hot.

An hour and a half after everyone finished and left, look who showed up in our backyard.

That’s right: a gorgeous Arizona bobcat. If you enlarge the photo, you can see his beautiful black and white ears. The area where he is trudging is actually a steep section above a pony wall. Below the ponywall is a sidewalk and then our house.  This long and narrow space is a bit dangerous as we could get trapped back there by the bobcat. They tend not to attack humans unless they have rabies, but who knows? And, yes, they eat house cats (and small dogs). This is one of several reasons my cats are kept indoors all the time.

Since I haven’t been able to write, but would like to prep a bit for writing in the future, I decided to study a subject I have long been interested in: archetypes. I first encountered them years ago in a class taught by an English professor who was very into Jung and Jungian theory. Archetypes really resonate with me–being a poet I find myself exhuming them frequently. Later, I studied Freud for my work with literary theory, but I never felt in sync with Freud the way I did with Jung. In fact, to me, Freud’s thinking is kind of creepy, whereas Jung’s is more expansive and important.

An archetype can be described many ways, but a short definition might be something like this: a recurrent motif in psychology and art and the culture at large. Many say they can be found throughout all cultures. I worked quite a bit with The Mother archetype in grad school, but this time I wanted to get more in depth with more archetypes. So as a “sorry you’re sick” gift to myself 😉 I purchased this beautiful box containing a tarot deck of 78 archetypes.

After reading the book that comes with the deck and meditating a bit on the whole situation, I pulled one “random” card from the deck with the intention of working very thoroughly with it. And what did I select?

Why, the card that makes the most sense in this year of 2020, the year where so much of life as I have known it has been toppled and erased. I pulled out the card of THE DESTROYER. I kid you not. I don’t want to write now about what I am learning as I explore this archetype because I don’t want to short-circuit my work.

I hope that this exploration will lead to poetry writing when I am up to it.

By the way, this is Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Although I did not grow up with this tradition, I find in it much to admire. Taking a day to remember and pray for loved ones who have passed seems like a very good way to harness our feelings of grief. It prevents us from tamping down our feelings and thoughts about those we have lost, but gives us one day where we can really focus on loved ones. If we celebrate, we serve food that they loved. We create an altar and put their photos on it. Next year, I think I will prepare ahead for Dia De Los Muertos. Yesterday I cried remembering my maternal grandmother, so I think she is waiting to be recognized in this way.

Stay safe and remember you are loved.

77 Comments

Filed under #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Inspiration, Liminality, Poetry, Writing, Writing Talk, Writing Tips and Habits

Best Nurse Ever

Although I still haven’t heard from a doctor, I was seen by a nurse practitioner at an urgent care last Monday. She insisted I probably had Covid. I admit I can be a real PITA when I want to. This was our conversation:

NP: I think this is Covid.

Me: It’s not possible. I’ve been a hermit for six months.

NP: Everyone says that and is surprised when they are diagnosed.

Me: (this is where I am a PITA) They are lying to you. I am not.

NP (ignoring what I said) You can get it at the grocery store or the gas station.

Me: I haven’t been either place in six months.

After the chest xray results came in a half hour later, NP said that according to the radiologist it was either Covid or Valley Fever. At that point I could tell that for my sake she was hoping it was Covid–under the thinking that if it was Covid I was on the mend without real damage. A blood test for Valley Fever was taken. From there the gardener took me up to the Mayo tents for another Covid test.

In a day I knew the Covid test was negative. Of course, now I was worrying I got Covid from the urgent care! Although the gardener kept hoping that my illness really was viral pneumonia and that I would soon be well, I had a strong feeling it was Valley Fever.

And it is. If you don’t live in the Southwest U.S. it is possible you haven’t even heard of VF. It’s considered an “orphan disease” or quite rare. But it’s not rare here in Arizona. It’s more like the “silent epidemic.” Tell too many people about it and they won’t want to visit Arizona. It’s a lung disease that is caused by a fungus found in dust in the SW. There has been a big pile of dirt from a construction site right next to my house for months, so all it took was a little wind to blow it over to my house. Many people get VF and don’t even know they have it as they are asymptomatic. But if you have symptoms it can be annoying as it takes weeks or months or longer (average time is six months) to clear up or it can become very dangerous as it invades other parts of the body.

I have an appointment with a specialist, but not for quite awhile. In the meantime, no nurse or doctor has talked to me about this potentially dangerous and definitely life-changing illness. I suspect there are just not enough doctors to cover all the regularly sick people and all the Covid people.

Today is day 15, and I am just as tired as I was a week ago. If I do a little chore or two in the kitchen, I have to nap for 30-45 minutes afterward.

This is fifteen years ago to the season that I was laid up for a year with a tumor and reconstructed foot. At that time, Pear Blossom lay with me and took care of me. Although she is 20.5 years old now, she is still doing so. Perry and Tiger lie with us, but make no doubt about it: it’s Pear’s couch and she is taking care of Mom and just letting them hang out. I hold her little paw or she holds my big hand with her paw.

I’m going to turn off comments again because I still haven’t responded to comments from two weeks ago or been reading blogs. I hope to be able to do that this week.

Hope you have a happy week and PLEASE stay safe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction

LET’S MAKE EVERY SINGLE DAY PUPPY MILL AWARENESS DAY

Before I get into the title subject of this blog post, I am sharing a link to a review I wrote of Ann Keniston’s newest poetry collection Somatic. It was published in the beautiful journal Under a Warm Green Linden: Review of SOMATIC by Ann KenistonThese poems are sometimes historical and public and sometimes about her private grief for her mother and father. The poet works with the forms ode and elegy in a way that questions how the forms function.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day (was September 19, 2020)

When my daughter was young she became aware of puppy mills and was horrified by the plight of especially the breeder dogs, the mamas. After that, every argument paper she wrote for school was an argument against puppy mills in one way or another. She came at it from a different direction each time. I wish I had thought to save the papers and put them together into a binder. The thing is: she was right. Puppy mills are horrid places, especially for those mother dogs because they never get to leave until they have been “used up” and thrown away.

While Puppy Mill Awareness Day was technically two days ago, I wanted to post this today to suggest that every single day should be puppy mill awareness day.

Tell your friends: if they are set on a certain breed dog, have them search for rescues that focus on those breeds.

The only dogs I’ve ever owned have been mutts literally found on the street–or in the case of my childhood dog, in the lake. Three of my granddogs are rescues. Two are mixed breed and both cute as a bug’s ear. One of them is a “purebred” Jack Russell whose original owner was going to march him off to the county kill shelter when he was sixteen years old. Both purebred dogs and mixed breeds need rescuing.

These are my “granddogs.”

Riley

Riley is the baby. She’ll be a year old at the beginning of next month. She lives with my daughter and her fiance and her sister, kitty Izzie.

Gary

Gary is the senior. He’s 18 1/2 now and acts like a puppy. He lives with my son and DIL and his brother, doggie Theo, and brother, kitty Meesker, as well as sister, kitty Lily.

Theo

Theo is an adorable and fur-challenged piece of work who lives with Gary, Meesker, Lily, and his mom and dad.

Here is some important and fascinating information copied from the Puppy Mill Awareness Day website HERE.

What is a Puppy Mill?

1. The term, Puppy Mill is a slang term. It defines a place where dogs are bred for profit. Little or no thought is given to the health, temperment, or quality of the breeding dogs or offspring. A commercial breeding facility would be such a place.

Commercial breeding facilities are USDA regulated and the dogs are defined as livestock. Being the fact that they are livestock, they do not have to be cared for as we care for our personal pets. They live in small cages, or hutches much like a rabbit hutch and never stand on solid ground. Many dogs live their entire lives like this with little human contact. When the dogs no longer “produce” they are usually destroyed.

2. When did this practice start?

Soon after WWII, when the midwest crops failed, the USDA presented the idea of breeding pure bred puppies as a cash crop. The number of puppy mills have been growing ever since.

3. How are these puppies sold?

Many commercial breeding facilities sell their puppies through a “Broker” or Class B dealer. Breeders will sell litters to brokers, such as the Hunte Corporation.
The broker will then ship orders to pet stores. It is their job to make sure the puppies are in that adorable 6-8 week old stage so the pet store can make the most money selling them. Other methods are internet sales, classified sales, farm markets or simply a sign out front.

4. If my puppy has AKC papers, it means its healthy right?

NO. It means that the breeder registered the litter with the AKC. AKC is a registry body. A registration certificate identifies the dog as the offspring of a known sire and dam, born on a known date. It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog. Just because your puppy has AKC papers does not mean that your puppies parents are healthy or kept in a humane manner.

5. When it is time to look for a family dog, where should we look?

PMAD always promotes adoption. Our country shelters kill 6-8 MILLION dogs and cats each year, not because they are sick, or aggressive, simply because there are not enough homes. Many are housebroken, trained and excellent with children. They end up in the shelter because of family problems, such as divorce, loss of job, relocation, death in family, allergies, etc.

We suggest adopting from your local animal shelter, your local animal rescue, Or petfinder.org when adding a furry companion to your home. By adopting, your teaching your children that life is important. You are teaching compassion.

New subjects:

Daughter and her fiance have rescheduled their wedding, hoping to get it far enough out from the pandemic. Now it is scheduled for 2022!!! That’s a long time to wait, but the upside is that I have plenty of time to find a dress and shoe combo that will work for all my ailments, complaints, and preferences LOL!

Have you read the latest Louise Penny Armand Gamache mystery, All the Devils Are Here? Wow, I loved it. I’ve read each book, all in order (thank you,  WJ), and the one before this, A Better Man, was a stinker IMO.  But now she is back on track! I hope her next book will be a quarantine Gamache.

28 Comments

Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Writing

The Heat is On in Arizona

The heat is up again in Arizona, but that just brings the birds out more as they scramble for water. The gardener has a fountain obsession, so we have plenty of water for these guys.

Here’s the little fountain with the little birds.

And here’s the big fountain with the big bird–in this case a roadrunner.

It’s labor day, and I am going to take a nap today. After all, I wrote a poem and babysat my daughter’s cat this week. Love and hugs and all!

 

53 Comments

Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape

Cats and Texas and Actors and Such

Nothing much has changed here except that I am working a lot too much, it’s too hot outside (and we never did get our monsoon), and I think Kana throws up hairballs every other day because with her IBD she has difficulty passing the fur as she ought to.

Here she is in her new Cat Person chalet. I didn’t make a chalet last time because I thought Kana, my box queen, was too big. But SHE doesn’t think so.

For fun I thought I’d share an old poem with you. It was published in the journal Front Range, Issue 6, Spring 2011. It’s more narrative than usual for me, but I remember having fun writing it. After my daughter graduated from the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!), the gardener and I drove back to Arizona through Texas. So did daughter and son in daughter’s car. It was a fun family trip, and it was kind of relaxing that it was in two vehicles. Two years before her graduation, my daughter had performed in summer stock in Texas (Granbury and Galveston). So the last time I had been in Texas before daughter’s graduation was twice the summer she was there–once to Granbury and once to Galveston. The old theatre in Granbury has been the scene of John Wilkes Booth sightings. The idea is that he didn’t die when the history books tell us he did, but instead he went to Texas and got back into acting.

***

Booth Made Footprints in Texas after Escaping the Burning Barn

 

John Wilkes Booth didn’t die an assassin’s death

but like a schoolteacher in love with Shakespeare,

in his bed confessing with precise diction

 

though at that point not a soul believed him

because he acted the role of nobody

so authentically that his own frustrated soul

 

banned from acclaim for what was left for him,

returns to the scene of his last applause

and blesses the opera house actors

 

who can hear his boots slipping down the aisle.

My daughter and her castmates searched

in every shop, in the fly system

 

weights and pulleys, the rotting velvets and silks

wishing not to find him knowing if they found him

they would silence something important

 

something bigger than he was back in Washington,

or on national tour, in the middle

of the country, an opera house in Granbury

 

which is to be expected in a state

like Texas which magnifies everything

under its glass where you drive and drive

 

for days and are still in the same damn state,

a state of industrial stupor.

We aren’t lulled by the long grasses, the stretches

 

between.  Count the oil derricks

vying with the windmills, the refineries,

and the ghost of boot prints in the dust

 

so enormous I worry that our kids

driving ahead of us on the Interstate

on the way home from college graduation

 

will disappear into one, swallowed

into the mirage as if they were never

part of us, leaving us searching for prints.

***

Do you like cats? Do you like veterans? Do you think a 95-year-old man should have a good birthday even during Covid? Then you might want to pull out your box of birthday cards and fill one out for the human grandfather of Bob Graves, the Writing Cat. Bob looks so much like my Mackie Man (RIP, 1998-2015).

This is what Bob sent in his Bobington Post yesterday:

Operation Birthday Card!

by Bob Graves, The Writing Cat

We thought it would be best if everyone sent cards/notes to us and then the woman will package them all up together to send to her dad. The address is below.

 

If at all possible, please try to send to us by Friday, September 11th.  This will allow the woman time to package them all together and send to the birthday boy.  Since he lives so far away from us, she will not be able to deliver them in person.

 

A little about Mr Graves…

  • His name is Robert (Bob) Graves
  • I was named after him because I remind the woman of him
  • He’ll be turning 95 years old on September 17th
  • He’s sharp as a tack and loves receiving mail
  • He’s a WWII Veteran
  • He loves both cats and dogs
  • He attended Georgia Tech

Please know in advance that we are so grateful for each of you, whether you send a card/note or not.  Let me know if you have any questions about this very special project. We will keep you posted on how many cards we receive!

 

Very truly yours,

Bob

 

55 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, History, Inspiration, Poetry, Publishing

Science and Me Redux

Over seven years ago, I posted “How and Why I Don’t Know Science,” which was “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. I’m going to paste it here so you can read it if you like and if you didn’t at that time. Why am I posting it all over again?

I am reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is how the book is described on Goodreads:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Werner, the German boy, is a genius at science, math, engineering, mechanics. I am not quite 1/3 of the way into the book and the two main characters have separate threads. Werner’s thread makes science, especially applied sciences, sound so fascinating that it makes me regret that I never learned much science in school. Thinking about this reminded me of my post all those years ago. The post explains how it came about that I didn’t learn science.

Once in awhile I like to go back and look at something I wrote a long time ago. I’ve had seven years of writing experience after composing that blog post. I’ve also changed as my life has evolved over time. Since I wrote it I have become more involved with my writing and more involved with cat rescue. And I’ve gotten farther away from my childhood.

The main reason for feeling that I am further from my life (and me) as a child is that because I have written so much about my childhood since then I have been able to let some of it go. Once I write about an event, I unpin it from deep inside me and it begins to float away. Very useful way to get rid of bad memories.

Until one goes back and reads a memory, of course ;).

###

Here is HOW AND WHY I DON’T KNOW SCIENCE.

After I heard we had to dissect the body of a cat in tenth grade biology class, I requested to take a replacement course instead. Today many school districts are sensitive to this issue and students can opt out without creating a stir. But back in 1971, school administrators at my Michigan school had never heard of a college-track student requesting to skip the foundation of high school science classes—and all over a dead cat. (How and Why the cat would die wasn’t divulged). Although they were surprised by my request, they allowed me to switch over to a course called Earth Science, but the only connection it had with its name was interminable dullness like dirt.

At fifteen I saw the world through a lens like a microscope and never from the top of a cliff. My father often said, “You can’t see beyond your own nose. It’s the bigger picture that counts.” My father, though, only saw the world as if it were a coloring book—large geometric blanks to be colored in by him, sloppily, with loops passing wildly beyond the black lines.

My view worked well for the science projects I had performed at home for years. When I was nine, my mother had bought me a How and Why book with scientific experiments kids could do at home. I grew mold on potatoes, made a weather station, something different every week.

But Earth Science class turned out to be a playpen for students who would not much longer be called students, kids who had troubles at home and troubles at school. Because I didn’t have the capacity to look at the longer range consequences, I didn’t realize that by not taking biology I’d left science behind. I wasn’t able to study physics or chemistry as all the science classes were lined up like the begetters in the Bible—biology begat chemistry which begat physics.

The SAT didn’t require any scientific knowledge, and somehow, with my intuitive test taking abilities, I managed an eighty-something percentage on the science portion of the ACT. The next year I attended a college chosen for its proximity to my boyfriend and satisfied the lone science requirement by taking a course called “The History of Science,” which taught no science.

Today I don’t know much about science, but my conscience is clear where my four cats are concerned. Too bad I couldn’t have a clear conscience and science both.

###

Obviously seven years ago I had four cats. But now I have six!

Kana says, “Have the best week possible!”

Kana is next to my cardboard standing work desk

and the painting on the wall behind her was by my MIL;

the table is one we call “kitchen” but actually functions as cat feeding station

49 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Reading, Vintage American culture

Let’s Hope This is the Last Pet Post for Some Time

This is a weird post to write after I’ve been telling you about the pets that have been part of my life.

By the way, I’m going to interrupt myself. In my twenties and into my thirties, we had two dogs. The first one my mother-in-law found downtown Kalamazoo. That first night, the pup had to sleep in her car in the garage because of the old dog my in-laws owned. It was early December, but my MIL made the car quite comfortable and warm enough for the pup out there. By day two, my MIL had given her to us. The gardener named her Muffin. Actually that was sort of a compromise. He wanted to name her Muffy or Scruffy or something undistinguished like that. I wanted a more complex and respectable name, but had to settle on the over-used name Muffin.

A couple of years later, I was waiting on a customer in our luggage store downtown when I saw another scruffy mutt run down the sidewalk. I grabbed a dog biscuit that I happened to keep in the drawer under the cash register and followed the dog down the street. When he hid under a car in a parking lot, I had to crawl under there in my newish khaki skirt (grrrr). I pulled him out and took him back to the store. The rest is history. I named him Oliver because he gulped down the only thing we had in the fridge, which I think was milk (not good for a dog’s tummy, I know).  “Please, sir, I want some MORE!” (Oliver Twist from the musical Oliver)

These dogs were groomed together, so they began to look a little bit alike.  They were both very well-loved. I found over 25 stray dogs over that period of my life, but located other homes for the rest of them.

When our kids were babies, these dogs were the most efficient vacuum cleaners, especially under the high chair and the kitchen table.

OK, I’m going back to what I wanted to tell you to begin with. I quit my volunteer job at the animal shelter! I’ve been there five or six years and love what I do there. There was a political situation, and I left to show solidarity with the most amazing HUMAN HERO FOR CATS. So that is that. It’s too Covidy out and about for me now, so I will have to wait to find a new shelter. That doesn’t mean I can’t help out as I see little ways to do so. It’s pretty devastating for me personally, but even more so for the cats at the shelter. I worry about them although they will certainly be better off than on the street or in abusive situations. I’m sad.

 

46 Comments

Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction

Animals, a List

This past week the lit mag North of Oxford posted a list of the 10 most read poems from their magazine from January-July 2020. It was exciting to see my poem “Medusa’s #Metoo” make the list!

10 Most Read Poems

After writing about my kitty Toby in No Goodbye: A Cat Story I decided to write about my other childhood pets, as well as other animals I encountered in life. Sort of clearing my head about my upbringing with animals. So this isn’t a story, per se, like the one about Toby. It’s more of a list of animals.

The first memory that comes to mind that involves animals I actually already wrote about on this blog almost eight years ago. You can find it here: A Ride with Memory. It’s about my earliest scary memory, and I wasn’t even three-years-old yet. This story involves a horse.

When I was in kindergarten my grandmother babysat me every day before school and all afternoon until almost dinner time. My aunt and her springer spaniel Sandy lived with my grandparents. I was repeatedly warned not to touch Sandy. I needed to stay away from Sandy because Sandy was a biter. Actually, the only person Sandy had ever bitten was me, when I was a baby. She bit my eyelid off, and at the hospital, a doctor sewed it back on. I didn’t remember that trauma, and I still insisted on making a meat pie to celebrate Sandy’s birthday.

When I was five or six, the neighbor’s Dalmatian bit me in the leg, but it wasn’t too serious.

Before we got Toby the cat, we had a bowl with goldfish a couple of times, but they always died. I think I overfed them, and it polluted the water. I had small turtles, but they invariably walked away out of our yard and never came back. Once my father brought home baby ducks at Easter time. Not chicks, ducks. I don’t know what happened to them, but I was terrified of how fragile they were and that I could hurt them. We had chicks one year, too.

I am starting to see the thread here. My father bringing pets home for the family. I’m sure it irritated my mother. Then he brought home a big cage with two guinea pigs.  My mother made us keep them in the basement. I’ve written a little story about this for my never-finished memoir, but to sum up: the guinea pigs were unfixed male and female. My dad helped me through the crisis that ensued.

A few months later, he brought home a puppy. A man he worked with had found the puppy at a lake where someone had tried to drown the entire litter. I suspect Perky was the only one left alive, and my father brought her home to us. My mother named her Perky after the man who found her: Mr. Perkins.

Here’s a scrapbook page my mom made for me of some childhood pets. The photo in the upper right is an example of how I always loved feeding the animals. But I still remember being bitten by a llama at Deer Forest Park.  Perky is the dog with the collie-type coloring.

Yup, that’s me and the gardener in the center, bathing Perky. She was already getting old there. In the lower left she was playing on the beach at our lake cottage with a “local” puppy. My brother is almost eight years younger than me. At some point, Perky really became his dog because Perky could hang around him while he was playing outside. The gardener and I were out of town when Perky had to be “put to sleep,” and my father and brother went together to the vet and stayed with Perky. That was as it should be.

In 7th grade, the girls and I cut through a vacant lot and someone’s backyard to get home from school. We didn’t notice the white German Shepherd in the dog house. He lunged at us, incensed at our audacity. We ran like crazy, but he was on a chain (poor thing, no wonder he was crabby) and so we were safe. Or so I thought. I slowed down just a moment too soon. He could still reach me, s0 he took a chunk out of my ankle. After that, I was scared of German Shepherds until I became an adult.

When I was fifteen I bought myself a cage with two finches: a brilliant scarlet one and a beautiful green. Of course, the green one managed to get herself egg-bound and although I held her over the steam like the book said to do, she still couldn’t pass the egg and eventually died from the exertion. I kept finches for years, but they were all gone before my kids entered my life. Good thing, or my babies would have been eating birdseed off the floor. Finches are lovely to look at, but very messy because when they eat they hurl the hulls of the seeds across the room.

As an adult I’ve had dogs, cats, the finches, hermit crabs, and a rat. (She was the best pet). I’d like to have donkeys, but it’s looking doubtful that that is going to happen.

Lots of sad times with the animals. And some painful ones when I was bit (three dogs and one llama). But none of it deterred me from being an animal lover–from fish to horses, I love all the species I encountered.

###

In this pandemic I am so grateful to have my six cats. But last night Felix had to go to the ER. He had diarrhea, wouldn’t eat, and hadn’t peed in 38 hours. The vet said his bladder was small, so that was a mystery, but I was glad he wasn’t blocked. I hope he gets better fast and that it’s not something bad. Poor baby.

Here’s Kana to say HI and BYE!

Perry hasn’t said HI in awhile, so he wanted to hop in here, too. Cutie pie.

56 Comments

Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture, Writing