When I first started this blog, near the end of 2012, I posted this blog post. Something Colleen Chesebro wrote reminded me of it, and I thought I would share it again. It’s about memory and how the line can be blurred between fact and fiction in memory.
I have a box of old photographs my grandfather gave me before he died. They are family portraits and snapshots dating from about 1890 to 1920. We sat in his living room and wrote names on the ones he could identify. Dozens of other photographs bear family resemblances, but they remain nameless and can’t assume their positions on the family tree.
My own mind houses memories in the same way. Many of my memories bear a resemblance to my life and my relationships, and while minute details might be clear, the facts are hazy or forgotten, perhaps unrecoverable. A memory illustrated by vivid details and accompanied by still-present emotion began on Trimble Street, in front of the next door neighbor’s house. I was two, almost three.
Mrs. Becker babysat me for my parents that day; she let her girls watch me outside. The day felt sun-warmed, with a slight cooling breeze rustling through my play clothes. The oldest girl, Donna, and a teenage boy were the ringleaders of the group. She wasn’t yet in high school and didn’t have her later characteristic beehive hairdo.
Her younger sisters, Susie and Denise were with us. All the children ringed a brown horse standing in the street looking very out-of-place. From my perspective down near the sidewalk, the horse looked like a city square equestrian statue—massive, gigantic, forbidding. Perhaps the boy had ridden the horse to our street. Donna turned to me, kneeled down to my level, and said, “How would you like to go for a ride?”
I shivered, though the sun shone down on my honey-colored hair. “No,” I said.
“Oh, come on,” said Susie.
“No!” I backed away.
“Honey, there’s no need to be afraid,” Donna said. She scooped me up and plunked me down on the saddle positioned across the back of the horse. From this height I looked down at the tall teenagers, feeling dizzyingly and irrevocably beyond their reach.
“Put me down,” I said.
The teens giggled and chattered. Suddenly I heard a loud SMACK, and the horse bolted forward. I swayed backwards for a moment and then righted myself by grabbing hold of the saddle horn sitting in front of me. The horse trotted up Trimble Street. We left the teens behind, just the determined horse and me. The breeze flew through my flimsy hair. I held onto the horn with every muscle I could harness to the aid of my hands. Both my hands and feet tingled and turned numb. My thoughts condensed into one little pinhole: stop stop stop! I couldn’t tell the horse to stop because the pinhole only allowed that one thought; I was beyond the power of speech.
The horse trotted up to busy Gull Road, a main artery without sidewalks, where he turned right. I expected to fall off his back into the path of an uncaring automobile. I clung on. He carried me swiftly to Henson Street where he took another right, and then onto Junction and back to Trimble Street. My powerful hands, drained of blood, were my only compensation for the utter loss of control I felt.
When he trotted to the front of the Becker house, the horse stopped short. I rocked again and almost tumbled. The teens laughed, and Donna’s friend tried to lift me off the horse, but my hands would not unclamp from the saddle horn. I realized then I had been crying; my cheeks, soaked with tears, seem to burn as if the saltwater seared the tender skin.
I couldn’t speak, not even that night when I saw my parents. All these years later, the details vibrate within me, but I’m missing one fact: I can’t be certain if the horse existed or came to me in a dream.
With my mother and the two younger sisters from next door
The names have been changed to protect people who may or may not have participated in this act of baby abuse.
Are you sure of your memories? Do you have any like this one, where you aren’t sure if it really happened or if you dreamed it? How do you handle a hitch like that in writing creative nonfiction?
First an apology: this is not an uplifting inspirational Brand New Year post.
While I was desperately hoping that the new year would bring a lessening of troubles into my life, a couple of days ago I got a call from the veterinarian that told me 2023 is going to be another difficult year.
In my last update about my dear darling Perry’s health, I explained that the results of his abdominal ultrasound showed that he had either IBD (irritable bowel disease) or lymphoma of the GI system. We were going to decide on treatment after he underwent an echocardiogram to make sure his heart was ok. The reason for this was that the vet had noticed that Perry had developed a heart murmur.
Now, going back to 2017-2019, the first three years Perry came into our lives, the gardener and I were concerned about heavy breathing episodes that Perry would have. We worried about his heart or possibly a lung condition. We didn’t get very far with the specialists at the time. In fact, the esteemed cardiologist talked us out of an echo at that time.
For anybody who doesn’t know, by the way, Perry is the kitty who showed up in our yard in spring 2017 seeming completely feral. I worked so closely with him (reading, singing, reciting poetry, holding his food bowl while he ate) that he got over his extreme fear of humans and showed himself to be the most amazing cat EVER (and that is saying something since I was “mom” of the amazing cat Pear Blossom and have been mom to many cats). One of the many Perry highlights: Perry lies on his back nestled in my arm like a napping toddler.
Back to the echo we didn’t have at that time. Sure wish we had done it. Turns out now his heart is very bad. Three of the four heart chambers are enlarged, and he might have a hole in his atrial septum. He is so ill from his heart that the vet says it’s a moot point whether he has IBD or lymphoma. He also tests positive for the feline coronavirus (which causes FIP) so it’s possible it’s behind his illnesses. He will begin two new medications as soon as we receive them from the compounding pharmacy.
I can’t tell you how HEARTsick I am over this turn of events. Perry is seven years old. So far his worst visible symptom is severe diarrhea. Please send healing vibes and, if you pray, pray for my dear catboy.
The gardener and I got back from Yosemite the other day. We hadn’t gone on vacation since pre-COVID, and had already lost points in the time share thingie that my parents had given us years ago. So we used some points to stay near Bass Lake and go to Yosemite. We’d been to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, etc, but never Yosemite.
We also wanted to get away from some family troubles, if possible, although that didn’t happen as they followed us there heh. The best part of the vacation was spending some time with the gardener away from our jobs (we work together at home), housework, yardwork, and cat chores. We cooked easy gluten free meals in the kitchen of our condo. Bass Lake was ok, and we had a nice day in a rental boat on the lake, but it’s not a lake like Coeur d’Alene, George, or Tahoe, which are my preferred lakes (spoiled much).
Yosemite had some brilliant granite formations, but the Glacier road is closed all year, so we didn’t get to see everything. And we didn’t hike much (because of my bum foot) or camp (because of my good sense). Yosemite seems to be all about the hiking and camping. For return visits to national parks, Yosemite wouldn’t be near the top of my list, but some of these views were breathtaking.
For some reason I screwed up our flights, probably because of all the family stuff going on this summer. It’s been hard to concentrate. I didn’t realize American had nonstops between Phoenix and Fresno and, instead, booked us on flights with layovers. That turned out to be a big mistake for the trip home. Took us sixteen hours. Then SWA discovered that in Vegas, at the layover, employees neglected to load 2/3 of the baggage! That included ours. We had to stand in first one line, then a second one, until 2AM while daughter waited in the cell lot for 3 hours. She had work next morning at 8. I felt terrible about it. For some reason I felt a little better when the SWA employee womanning the second line declared the whole situation RIDICULOUS!
I hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for Rooted and Winged!
Note: if you have trouble posting a comment on this blog or any other, here is something I learned from blogger Marian Beaman: If you use the back arrow after the error message appears, fill in your email address and name again. Then your comment should go through, and WordPress will recognize you in the future.
I was recently diagnosed with something called vestibular migraine. Or hemiplegic migraine. Or maybe both. There is a difference because vestibular is awful, but hemiplegic can be dangerous. Apparently there is no way to tell for sure, but I am not going to accept that answer. Story unfinished. But let me back up.
For twenty-four years, I have been plagued by something that was called “complicated migraines” by the neurologists I had seen. After Loma Linda mistakenly diagnosed me with TIAs (mini-strokes), UCLA and, later, Barrows in Phoenix, diagnosed these episodes as complicated migraines.
They are a migraine disorder, but they are not migraine headaches. I used to get the headache version until they turned into this other sort of migraine. In fact, I had some horrific migraines when I was a kid–seven to ten years old. The version I’ve been getting for 24 years is generally without headache. The symptoms include sudden severe vertigo, heaviness, inability to stand or sit, weakness, burning through the sinuses, widely fluctuating body temperature, brain fog, squinched up face on one side only, numbness of limbs, nausea, vomiting, falling asleep at the tail end of the acute episode, etc. It’s very difficult to go anywhere by myself, and this is why I don’t travel alone any longer. I can’t attend concerts or sporting events with lots of lights. I had to leave daughter’s wedding reception early once the goofy lights came out. Although we had planned ahead, what the DJ thought was mild was not. That’s ok because her friends all had a wonderful time, and I was tired anyway.
When I moved to Arizona, the complicated migraines got worse in that I felt sick every day and had acute episodes every couple of days. I had to go on preventative medication in the form of a blood pressure med. The meds kept the acute episodes from happening so frequently.
I would say my migraines have been under control for a dozen years until this spring when I started feeling sick (sore eyes, nauseous, slight vertigo) all the time. So I went back to Barrows, to their headache clinic. That’s where I was diagnosed with vestibular and/or hemiplegic migraines. No such thing any longer as complicated migraines.
My worst trigger is light, especially flickering artifical light. Fluorescents always have a flicker, even if you can’t see it. But LED can be bad, too. And fluorescents that have a noticeable flicker are the devil. When I have to go under artificial lights, such as the doctor’s office or grocery store, I wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Other triggers are sleep disturbance, stress, too much paperwork where I have to look down instead of across (computer better than paper on the desk or table).
Another thing that happened in the last few years is that I occasionally get migraines with very traditional aura in the form of sickle-shaped kaleidoscope images. And, yes, it is as vivid as in the image below.
I am going to try to continue to search for answers. My symptoms are consistent with having both conditions at the same time, but I haven’t been able to find anyone yet with my regular set of symptoms. There are rare individuals who have both vestibular and hemiplegic, but the forms occur at different times. Some of my regular symptoms apply to vestibular, and some apply to hemiplegic (especially the one-sided face squinch). So onward. And in the meantime, please hand me the hat and sunglasses!
There’s been a lot of subtracting and adding going on at my house this past year. After my daughter lost her dear cat Izzie, the gardener and I lost Felix and then Pear. Those three sweet furry souls were all gone within two months. That left us with four cats and my daughter with zero (although she had her dog).
I started to think about the years ahead when we would have fewer cats, thus making it easier to travel. And I would have less daily kitty chores.
Then daughter and SIL adopted two kitten sisters. Daughter was keeping her fingers crossed that they would bond as well with Riley, the dog, as with each other. Sure enough, this happened.
I asked my daughter if when Tiger (who was 18) was gone, she and her husband would bring their animals over here and take care of everyone while the gardener and I go on a long trip (first time ever).
But early this summer we had to open our home to my son’s two cats, all while our little Tiger seemed to be ill. Sure enough, she died on June 28–4 weeks after the new cats arrived–and on the 7th anniversary of our furboy Macavity’s death.
So we were six cats, then five, then four, then six, and now five. Follow that? No long vacation for us for awhile!
Lily is the long-haired orange and white cat, and Meesker is the house panther. Lily, a very affectionate girl, is already fully integrated into the household, but Meesker is more shy and prefers the freedom of his own suite (i.e. bedroom). That’s because his Minion Manservant (the gardener) watches TV two times a day in there with him. They play mouse, too, and Meesker brings the mouse back so it can be thrown again. Sometimes he stops by his water bowl and washes the mouse before he brings it back.
Now I just need to figure out how to get Meesker out of the room without stressing him too much. I will also have to figure out how to tell, in a half-second, whether it’s Meesker I’m seeing or my other house panther, Kana.
Has anybody read the Ruth Galloway mystery series by Elly Griffiths? I just plowed through all fourteen books, and I’m upset that I have to wait until 2023 for final installment. As much as I love Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves, I liked these even more! The characters are wonderful, and Ruth’s love life is certainly interesting.
Dedicated to the memory of Kit Kat, the “Calico Queen”
This is my friend Holly Provance with her dear Kit Kat who just passed away at the age of 18.
Holly is a heroic cat rescuer in Temple, Texas. In fact, she volunteers a lot of her time in the cat and dog rescue field. I interviewed her to see exactly what she does to help the animals that most humans have forgotten.
Would you please tell us what you do for the animals?
I volunteer with several great organizations. Snip and Tip does primarily TNR (trap-neuter-return), but I recently worked with them to rescue 15 cats from a very unhealthy living situation. Normally these cats would have been returned after neutering, but the environment isn’t safe, so I took the kittens and cats in to foster so that hopefully they can have a better future and not have to go back to living at a drug house.
I also volunteer with Fixin’ Ferals TNR and Rescue. I foster community cats with mange, skin and eye issues, or other conditions that need some “extra” work, and then return them to Fixin’ Ferals for them to either be returned to the community or adopted out. I recently went and picked up a cat that was paralyzed, and was able to send her to an amazing foster home through Fixin’ Ferals. We found out someone shot her, so she will always be paralyzed, but she is doing great in her foster home. Such a different outcome for Dragon than when I found her dragging herself from under the porch of a mobile home begging for help.
I recently took in a trio of kittens through Journey Home Rescue, which is primarily a dog rescue, so they networked to find a foster for some sick kittens, and found me. My own organization is Ferals and Friendlies, where I manage my own colony, and do neighborhood TNR here in the beautiful Garden District of Temple, Texas.
In my spare time (ha ha) I am a volunteer for Texas Transport, helping transport dogs to new homes/rescues, and I am a scanner with Central Texas Lost and Found Pets. When someone finds a pet, we go and scan for a microchip to try and get the animal home. Sometimes, that leads to rescuing a pet. I recently went to scan a very old Chihuahua who someone had found wandering down the highway. The poor guy was covered in fleas, had ear mites, and horrible skin issues. The finder couldn’t keep him, and I didn’t want him to end up at the shelter as they are already overwhelmed. So he came home with me as a foster. And now, I’m the proud owner of a very old, still kind of scraggly looking Chihuahua who is heartworm positive, and wobbles when he walks, but is an absolute little rock star who quickly became a much-loved member of the pack. Welcome to the rescue life.
How did you get involved in volunteering in rescue?
I started doing TNR (trap/neuter/return) when I moved to my current house 3 years ago. There were a number of cats that just started showing up, so I put out food, water, and shelter, but I wanted to do more. I contacted a local TNR organization called Snip and Tip, and they lent me traps and helped me do my first big TNR. Through them, I connected to other organizations, and realized I could help by doing medical fostering. I joined different Facebook groups, and just offered to help when I felt I had the skills and resources that were needed. I connected with Fixin’ Ferals TNR, and I got my first mange cat from them. I had no idea what I was dealing with I took in Waco (so named for the city he came from.) But I found a treatment plan that worked, and so used it to help other cats with mange or other skin and eye infections. At some point, I agreed to foster a litter of kittens through Fixin’ Ferals, and I continue to foster for them.
What is your professional background and does it help in any way(s) with rescue?
I have spent most of career working in the nonprofit world, for organizations big (American Cancer Society and NAMI Texas) and small (Austin Steam Train Association.) But I never wanted to work in the animal welfare field because I felt like I would connect too much. Three years ago I made the leap to the for-profit world, where I serve as the business development director for an inpatient mental health facility. I love it because I get to help educate the community about mental health, provide resources and support to patients and families, and work as an advocate for better treatment options and access to care for individuals living with a mental health condition. Having a lot of community connections really helps, because you never know who may be a resource for the volunteer work I do. For example, I currently have fourteen foster kittens/cats needing homes. So I am partnering with the Hewitt VFW to host an adoption event at their post. I have that connection because of my job!
Please tell us about the cats. Are there special ones that you want to tell us about? What are the most difficult cases? What are the biggest joys?
Cats! I love cats!! My current crew consists of Kit Kat (RIP dear friend), Lucky, Moxie, Pixie, Strut, Charlie, and Poppet. We just lost Kit Kat the other day. She was the calico queen at age 18. She was picked up off the highway as a very small kitten.
Lucky is 14, and her name comes from the fact that she was the lucky one of her litter who survived being thrown out of a car. Moxie and Pixie were also found on the road kittens, and they are now 4. Pixie is a tortie, and boy does she let you know it. Strut and Poppet came in as medical fosters. Strut suffered some type of blunt force trauma to his face and leg, and was having seizures when we got him as a foster. He lost an eye, and one of his legs is crooked, and he’s a klutz, but he is the sweetest boy. He was up for adoption, but the right family never came along, so now he’s one of the crew. Poppet came in with horribly infected eyes, and we had to have both of them removed. She was also up for adoption, but as with Strut, the right family ended up being ours. Finally we have Charlie. who came up with one of the neighborhood cats as a kitten. We were able to trap him, and he bonded with Strut, who was also a kitten at the time, so he became a permanent member of the family. They live with Baxter, Bandit, and Dobby, our three rescue dogs.
There are the “permanent” colony cats – Bear, Jr., Jester, Jon Snow, Pirate, Shimmer, Waco (the infamous mange cat,) Goldeneye, and Jax (another mange cat from Waco.) While normally Waco and Jax would have returned to their colony after they recovered, but the colony they came from has lots of medical issues, so the decision was made to allow them to stay with my colony. There are also the neighborhood cats who are regulars – Curly Tail, Floof Tail, Swirl, Hissy, Gigi, Grayson, Blue Eyes. They come and go, although Curly Tail is working his way up to permanent colony member. That just means that he has moved from eating at the feeding station in the side yard, to eating and spending most of his time in Wacoville, which is a designated outdoor living space for the colony cats.
I don’t decide who becomes a permanent colony member – they just let me know at some point that they like living here. For the neighborhood cats, my rule is that if they come here to eat or to seek shelter, they get snipped and tipped. So I trap regularly. They are spayed/neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and mites, then released.
Click on the images below to open larger.
Finally, there are the current fosters – twelve kittens, two mom cats, a teenager, and an old man. Ten of the kittens (the motorcycle gang of Harley, Davidson, Throttle, Silly, Sprocket, Spark, Tank, Piper, Speed, and Racer,) and the two moms (Mom Cat and Not Mom Cat) came from the drug house rescue. Wynken and Nod came in with their brother Blynken, who didn’t make it. But the two remaining storybook boys are doing great, and will be going to Pet Connect Rescue to be adopted out through Petsmart. The teenager, Sam, came in very sick with all kinds of nasty parasites, and now is waiting to find the right furrever family. Then there is the old man – Carrot – who came from a hoarding situation. He was bad allergies, and he seems to have a flare up every time I think he is ready to be posted for adoption. It’s hard enough to find the right home for an older cat – but it’s pretty much impossible when their back end is bald! In the meantime, he has him own special spot in the crew here, and he is living a great, although noisy, life.
How do you handle the emotional toll of what you do? A lot of people say I would love to do that, but I can’t handle the sad stuff. If there are things that make you “keep coming back” and taking care of your own emotional health, what are they?
The emotional toll is sometimes overwhelming. I’m so fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive partner, who lets me cry when I need to, who digs very small graves for very small kittens who don’t make it, and who doesn’t bat an eye when I tell him that I am bringing home the body of a deceased puppy I went to scan (no microchip so no owner to notify) because I couldn’t just leave it on the side of the road. Our motto is no one crosses alone, even if that is only in spirit. Everyone gets a proper send off to the rainbow bridge. Believe it or not, that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. That the sickest who don’t make it got to live out their final time, whatever that was, being cared for. They are warm, fed, bathed, loved for as long as we have them. And then there is the total joy of delivering a kitten to his new home! Or matching an older cat with an older woman who recently lost her cat, and was in need of a special companion.
Please let us know how people can donate to your project of helping the cats who have been let down by other humans.
The best way to follow the many adventures, and sometimes misadventures, is on my Facebook page, Ferals and Friendlies. I keep an Amazon wish list posted, which is a great way to support the colony and the fosters. I also post when I have large vet bills, in case someone wants to support a specific foster cat. But what I need most is to find furrever homes for the fosters, so that I can continue to bring in new fosters! So please like our page and share our posts. And if you see a kitten – or two – you know would be the purrfect addition to your family, email me at email@example.com. You would be surprised at the number of places that the volunteer transports go!
Thanks to Holly for sharing about her life as an animal rescuer. It’s good to know that we don’t have to live in Temple to donate or even to adopt your animals. I love how you mention “or two” about kittens. I learned over the years that it’s by far best to adopt two at a time when adopting kittens. So much better for their upbringing—and easier on the humans, too. My daughter just did that this spring, adopting two little female tabbies—and their bonded cuteness is so adorable. When I babysat them I noticed how much easier it was to take care of two than if one little kitten had been here on her own.
Some of my biggest heroes are people who work in animal rescue. Those who provide sanctuaries or care of cat colonies might be my favorites. Ruth Rawls, who I met years ago when we were both blog posting regularly about genealogy, founded and operates a sanctuary for cats in Georgia. I think you might want to hear about it, so I interviewed Ruth to find out what it’s like taking care of the cats. Listen to how Ruth did what a lot of people say they would like to do if “only” . . . .
Ruth, can you describe the environment and lives of the cats on your property?
The environment is lovely. It’s an acre and a half of mature trees. There are climbing platforms and shelters and feeding stations. The cats spend their days lounging and waiting on the next meal.
What do you know about the backgrounds of the cats?
Originally, I released two cats there in 2007 to start the colony. Those two cats came from a McDonald’s restaurant about 13 miles away, and they and other cats were depending on food from the dumpster. A friend of mine who is also an animal rescuer/rehabilitator delivered newspapers, so she was always out in the wee hours of the night and would stop for coffee. She noticed the cats, called me, she set traps, I transported to the spay/neuter clinic, and then released at the new colony. I named them Catkin and Catnip. They were truly wild, and I rarely saw them again. At the time I also had another cat that I had trapped and named Sylvia because she was going to be sylvan, even though I trapped her at a convenience store. Sylvia was semi-feral, in that you could pet her, but when she was finished with pats, she would grab your arm with all claws extended and hold on, never breaking the skin. Sylvia was heavily pregnant when I trapped her, and after her kittens were old enough, I vetted them and found homes.
Other cats have come and gone in the almost 15 years of the colony, which I named Catcatcher Corner.
There are 8 cats living there now, and the group dynamics have changed from a feral colony to a more domesticated group.
Currently, the oldest cat and oldest resident is Georgia, who came from upstate New York when her owners moved to South Carolina in 2008. They were cat lovers whose income didn’t match their desire to help cats. They moved south with approximately 12 cats, and most of them weren’t spayed or neutered. I took 4 of her female cats, had them vetted, and found homes for the two kittens and kept Georgia and her sister Cali. I estimate Georgia is about 15 years old.
Next we have Jersey and Joey, littermates who came from a litter of six that were left in a cardboard box on a local walking trail in 2012. They were so newly born that their umbilical cords were still attached.
Sue’s mother brought her litter here about 8 years ago. There were 6 in that group. I had to trap them all with the exception of Richard Parker, who seemed to be the runt of the group and could be scooped up. Richard Parker and several of the kittens were rehomed. Sue is the remaining member of that group.
Pop-Up was a stray at a friend’s house. He’s probably about 4 years old.He was friendly but was having trouble integrating with that group, so we brought him here. He is super-friendly, but has issues with social cues, and he offends the other cats by ignoring the social greetings and being over-friendly. He currently lives in an outdoor condo with Tortie, a long-haired tortoiseshell, probably about 3 years old, who came from my place of work. She showed up there about two years ago, very semi-feral, but the vet discovered that she was already spayed. She and Pop get along really well. She’s still semi-feral, so the outdoor condo is the best for her with that long coat. She needs regular brushing, and there’s no way I could keep the mats at bay unless she’s confined.
The last two are The Butter and Basil Cowper. The Butter, maybe 6 years old, showed up at the same friend’s house about 2 years before Pop-Up. Butter also has issues with social greetings. He has a head-tilt and a concentrated state, and, although he’s friendly, he doesn’t send that message to other cats. Basil came to live here in the woods about the same time as Pop-Up. I set the trap for two years before he finally went in. I can’t know how old he is, but he seems to be geriatric. My friend named Butterscotch but called him The Butter. I named Basil Cowper for a historical figure during the revolution who actually owned property about 20 minutes away, but it was confiscated after the revolution because he was a British subject. He was from Scotland, so let’s guess he was a redhead, and Basil the Cat is also a ginger.
How did you come to provide this space for the cats?
In 2002, I started working part-time for a luxury boarding kennel. I worked all the positions, including the front desk. I met so many people who would moan that they loved animals so much, and they wanted to have a farm or a bit of land in the country where the animals could run and play. So I would reply, “Then you should do that.” They would respond with something like, “Oh I can’t”, or “My husband is allergic”, or “I’d have to sell my house”. So I’d pop off back to them something like “Why not?” or “Your husband can take allergy shots” or “So sell the house if that’s your dream to help animals.” You can imagine that this didn’t sit well with some people.
In 2006, my father died, and I got a little inheritance. I thought I should put my money where my mouth was, and buy a bit of property with that money. I didn’t want to spend that money on bills or a vacation because that money was the result of a lifetime of my dad’s work. I wanted to honor him and that money. I looked for a bit of property for months, not a house lot in a subdivision, with specific wants, like trees, few neighbors, in the country, with room to start small and develop if possible. I found 1.52 acres facing south, all wooded, in a rectangular shape with road frontage on east, south, and west. The south and west frontage is a dead-end road about a mile long with maybe 7 little houses. The east frontage is also a two-lane with a little more traffic but not much.
Another concern in this area is hurricane evacuation. The money went towards the down-payment on the property, five-foot-high chain-link fencing for the eastern ½ acre, septic tank, well, electric connection, and a 25-year-old RV to use for evacuations if needed. I also had a large, house-like 12’x18’ shed built for storage.
What is their routine like?
They live their best life. They are fed twice a day. Early on, I fed them dry like Friskies or Nine-Lives, and wet like canned Friskies pate. As they got older, I was able to upgrade their food to ProPlan, both canned and dry, but occasionally I use Merrick or another mid-range food.
They do cat stuff, like lounge around and wait for meals. The cat condo with Pop and Tortie have lots of climbing shelves so they have vertical space, plus outdoor furniture.
Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey eat at the picnic table inside the fence. There’s a mid-size dog crate there with the food bowl inside to protect the food from the elements. The picnic table is near the well and water connection, so I wash their dishes there and store them in a dish drainer.
The Butter and Basil basically live at The Treehouse, which is a platform with a roof over it between two mature pine trees outside the fence. Their platform has water and food bowls, and a smallish dog house with hay. They can climb up to the roof, which is nothing more than a sheet of metal roofing, and lounge up there.
Who else lives on the property and how did that happen?
Right now, only the cats and any wild animals like raccoons, opossums, and birds live there. There was a flock of chickens that moved through here almost every day, eating all the food in The Treehouse. They couldn’t be touched, and I don’t know where they came from, but we started buying chicken scratch and chicken feed to put out. They are voracious feeders, and the cats stay out of their way.
Also, randomly, a lone black hen moved in inside the fence last year. I named her Robirda. She started laying eggs, and we learned a lot about hens and egg production.
Last year, I was diagnosed with DCIS, a form of breast cancer, and I moved in with a friend to help take care of me. After a lot of treatment, I’ve just had my first annual post-op checkup, and things look fine. The cats have managed really well, doing what cats do best, and I’m planning on staying with my friend.
What is the funniest thing the animals have done?
The Butter and Basil are the funniest without even trying. Their platform is like a little stage where they have “conversations”. Admittedly, the conversations are created in my head based on photos that I take of them. Sometimes, The Butter lies on the platform and hangs his head over the side like he’s recovering from too much catnip. One time The Butter and Basil were on the roof of The Treehouse looking over the edge, like they were getting ready to water-balloon the chicken gang.
What is the most surprising?
The most surprising and interesting thing is how they separate themselves into groups. The Butter and Basil took over The Treehouse, which was started as just a safe place for cats to go if they ventured outside the fence. Pop-Up and Tortie live in the condo because that’s where they need to be for their own safety. The last four, Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey, live in the general area of the picnic table. There are multiple places for them to sleep, inside and outside the fence. We made what I call the Dormitory outside the fence in the woods about 15 years ago. Sometimes the wild animals sleep there, but the kids here now don’t use it any more.
I take those large Rubbermaid totes, cut a hole in the end, and stuff them with hay or straw for sleeping quarters, so of course they like to lounge on the tops of those. There’s also nesting boxes in the shed, and they have access to the old RV.
Sometimes Jersey, Joey, Sue, and Georgia come outside the fence to visit The Treehouse, but that’s usually just at feeding time because I tend to feed The Treehouse first, and they try to snag a bite and encourage me to hurry to the picnic table to feed them. I have a car trunk full of dry and canned food, and other supplies.
What about your background prepared you for all this?
I’ve always been interested in animals. When I was in 4th grade, I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was not to be in my future, but I have had vet tech training and worked for several vet practices.
Working at the luxury boarding kennel showed me that some animals get better treatment than others. I’m interested in group health and shelter environments and creating a place where animals can exist.
I have a degree in business management, and I hope to create a non-profit status in order to help more cats/dogs/people.
Ruth will stop by here in case you have any comments or questions for her. I’ll be here, too. Right now I have eight cats in the house, but it’s just temporary because I’m babysitting the feline grandkids.
Let’s see if I can write this post without any talk about the horrors going on in the real world.
When I got Valley Fever at the very end of September 2020, I whined a couple of times on this blog about my shoulder getting very bad at the same time. In fact, I might always wonder if my flu shot caused the damage. Before you laugh, that’s a real thing. Vaccines can cause bursitis, calcifications, and all manner of painful shoulder issues. In my case, when I finally got an xray, I was diagnosed with both rotator cuff calcification and frozen shoulder. The reason it took months to get the diagnosis was that with Valley Fever I was terrified of getting Covid. They both tend to look the same on a lung xray, and at my age, I really didn’t want that double whammy.
After the diagnosis I began physical therapy and attended dutifully for almost three months. Then I kept doing the exercises for several months afterward. Surgery wasn’t the best situation for me because of another health issue. But then the shoulder pain began to increase again instead of decrease.
Bottom line about physical therapy: it completely unfroze my shoulder, so that’s a good thing. But it did nothing for the calcification, which was in a particularly painful spot. This pain went on for 1 1/2 years.
This winter I found a sports doctor who believes in non-surgical alternatives. I was specifically looking for someone who could prescribe shockwave therapy. I’d read online about it, and it sounded very promising. When I saw the doctor I found out that he had had the treatment himself and swore by it. I also discovered that he only recommended one place in the entire state of Arizona. It was luckily in the greater Phoenix area.
I went 4 times. Two times I had treatments by one therapist, then the 3rd and 4th were by a second therapist. I could tell immediately that she was more powerful in her administration of the therapy. After the 4th treatment I started feeling a lot better, but was still uncertain about the outcome. However, daughter’s wedding was coming up and I wanted to hibernate for a couple of weeks ahead of time so that I didn’t get Covid and miss the wedding.
Guess what happened? Those treatments had broken up the calcification. Over that two week period they were absorbed into my body. My shoulder is now completely better.
This is my testimonial for shockwave therapy. Why won’t insurance companies cover it? Is it because somebody is making money off all those shoulder surgeries?
I’m not a doctor of medicine (just literature which has a different sort of healing power haha), so this is just my story. From my story, my cautions would be to only get shockwave therapy under the supervision of a medical doctor and licensed physical therapist with shockwave training, not at an alternative medicine office of any kind. Read a lot online about it. Be sure never to get shockwave therapy in areas of the body where there is danger (again, research and doctor’s script).
Next Monday I’ll be at the workshop in Tucson, so I won’t be posting. I’m excited because the other nonfiction entries have been good reading, so I think the interaction at the workshop should be a good one.
I’ve been #amwriting, #amreading, and #amrevising lately, although not too much of any of them. Just enough to keep me going. My focus has been off because of “world events,” and I am trying to be kind to myself.
That means arty junk journaling :). Here’s a video of a journal I just finished. It’s not one of my favorites, but some of the pages are decent. And I painted it in pale pink after the war started because somehow that color was calling to me.
Here is a reminder that spring is here, and the birds don’t know about all the horrors around the world. They are in “tryst” mode.
The wedding was a huge success. A little back story, first.
After twelve years as best friends, my daughter and her husband began dating. A little over a year later, they became engaged. Two months after the proposal, we signed for a venue for their wedding that was to be March 2021. About two weeks after the contract was signed, covid struck.
Eventually, it became clear that the wedding needed to be postponed. While this all sounds simple, it was very chaotic and stressful.
The couple chose 12 February 2022 as the new date. At that point, they both assumed that with the vaccine ahead of us that covid would be over by then. Last early spring we all got vaccinated. This fall, we all got boostered and crossed our fingers. Every time covid was on the news, I got so nervous. What was going to be a big wedding became a “decent size” event of just over 100 people.
Two weeks before the wedding, I stopped going in public because I was terrified I would get omicron and not be able to attend the wedding. By that point, the gardener and I assumed we were going to get omicron and were hoping for the best outcome. Most of the guests were coming from out of town, many on planes across the country (and one from Austria).
The couple had waited long enough and, really, needed to get on with their lives instead of everything “being about” the wedding. I planned to be as careful as possible. Well, the morning of the day before, I got to the venue for the rehearsal and the parking lot was filled with my daughter’s friends, many who had also been a part of my life for years. The hugging commenced! I decided to just enjoy myself.
We’re now over a week out from the wedding, omicron’s incubation period averages three days, and I have not heard of any person getting covid at the wedding. Are we really getting over the covid nightmare? Trust me, I know how very lucky we are.
My favorite parts of the wedding and related events:
spending time with friends of the couple, as well as those of the gardener and me
the speeches at the reception
the vows daughter and my SIL wrote for each other
chair dance (yup, I went up in the chair!)
Also, my daughter and her friend (an interior designer who gave lots of help!) made beautiful signs for everything with a cricut machine. I’m going to have my daughter teach me how to use it because it’s so cool. Here are a smattering of signs. You might need to click on the images to see the captions.
They had a table displaying photos of the grandparents who have passed on
This beauty was on a gift of a soft robe daughter gave to me
Gluten free signs so “Dad” would know what he could eat
Leaving you with an image of daughter and me (sorry you can’t see my boots).
Yes, my daughter’s dress was truly one of the most gorgeous wedding gowns ever. Just stunning. While I hate dressing up, generally choosing to wear ratty yoga pants, I did fall in love with my own dress this time around. The metallic pattern was light blue outside, as if it reflected the blue Arizona sky. And the sky was so blue and the air so perfect, reaching a temperature of 81.