Back from Vacation: Off topic blog

Marley and I are back from a week away near the Pocono Mountains in PA. We haven’t had a week off in three years, so it was really good to get away, sleep past 6 am, do some hiking, visit a winery, have lunch with friends…did I mention, sleeping past 6 am? We love our animals and our clients’ animals, but it was lovely to sleep late, and have a hot breakfast waiting in the hotel lobby each morning. I even got to meet one of my blogging buddies (and two of her cats) who I only knew from her blog, and that was a treat. Apparently, one of the cats was scared of the toy I brought them and the other loved it…you can’t please everyone.¬† It is back to reality now, but before that takes over too much, here are some images from our hikes. The fall colors were still hanging on when we got there, lasting a little later than usual, so we were lucky.

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WPC: Careful: Cats on the Hunt

The minute I saw this week’s photo challenge, being careful, I thought of cats stalking their prey. When a cat’s got his front paws flat on the ground, his hind legs firmly planted and ready to spring, a laser focus from the eyes, and especially his butt in the air, you had better be careful, especially if you’re the object he’s hunting!






Homeward Bound

Mary has a home, and she’s headed there today!

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For those of you who might not know who she is, Mary is a kitten that we rescued from a very difficult situation, and she was one sick little girl. She was four months, and weighed only two pounds, and her eye was sealed shut by all sorts of crud. We didn’t even know if the eye was under all the swelling. A month later, and look at her! She not only had an eye under there, but it is whole. There was a good-sized ulcer on the eye, but it is a teensy sliver now, and on its way to being nothing. She’s doubled her weight and she is one happy little girl. A playing machine, especially with her cat dancer.

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And this evening, she goes to her furever family. Clients of mine, so I get to pet sit her here and there – woo hoo!! They are a great family, and the young boy has been running a countdown to Mary in his room. They went out and bought her way more stuff than she’ll ever need, but I love that they are so excited to have her. She’s getting a great family, and they’re getting a great cat.

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I will definitely miss this little girl. I get attached to the cats and kittens I nurse back to health, and it is hard to let them go. It helps that I will get to see her here and there, and also to know that she’s going to be very well loved.

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Have a wonderful life, little girl. You were born into misery, and you’re found your way out. You deserve only the best from here on in!

Mary, Mary, Not Contrary

Six of the seven kittens will be going off to a rescue organization this Wednesday, beginning their journey toward good homes, far better than the one they were born into. They have gained weight and are close to what is normal for their ages, and their eye problems and upper respiratory problems are gone. They are happy little kittens, playful, and very affectionate. Just the kind of wonderful companions folks may be looking for. I will miss all of them, though I will be glad not to clean up after them any more. They are slobs, one and all!

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One stays with me, Mary. She’s about four and a half months old, and she has an ulcer in her eye. When I first rescued her, that eye was crusted shut, and the vet thought for a while that it would have to be open surgically. We weren’t even sure there was still an intact eye under all that crud. But over time, with repeated eye ointment, the eye began to open, and there was an eye still there, thankfully. It is a little cloudy, and her vision in that eye may always be limited. Plus she has an ulcer on the eye, and the vet asked me to continue to care for her until that resolves. Which I am glad to do.

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The problem is that this is my favorite kitten. She cuddles endlessly, and is a total lover. She has completely stolen my heart. But we already have seven cats, which is too many. It didn’t help at all that my husband pointed out that we have had eight cats before. We can’t have another cat. We’re trying to downsize our lives, and have fewer animals over time so we can sell this house that is too big for two, and move to a smaller place. We need fewer animals to do that.

So it is going to be a challenge to keep Mary longer. Not because I can’t care for her. But because caring for her creates a stronger bond by the day. I am thinking hard about people, especially clients, who would give her a loving home…then I could pet sit her. That would be the best solution.

She’s going to be a long-haired beauty. By the size of her paws and ears, I think she may be a good-sized cat. I’m pretty sure she’s going to be a lap cat…she curls up on my shoulder now, and purrs up a storm. Paws crossed I can find her a really wonderful home. She lived in hell for the first few months of her life. She deserves heaven for the rest of it.

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WPC: Boundaries: Community Cats

This week’s photo challenge — boundaries¬† – reminded me the early days of Annie, our little feral kitten. Brought in as a very sick kitten at about seven months old (very late for an outdoor cat to feel comfortable inside with people) boundaries were critical to her. She needed them as a way of maintaining space between herself and me or other humans. She needed them to feel at all comfortable while she was nursed back to health, and eventually integrated into our home. She lived in a kitty enclosure inside a dog crate for the first month or so, before she got comfortable and moved to a larger kitty condo and eventually out into the wide open house, free to roam. But I have fond memories of her in her enclosure in an enclosure – very deep boundaries – at first, and watching those boundaries give her courage and confidence.


Aging, death , and twisted ankles: an off topic post

So many things have happened over the last week or so, and I am still synthesizing. Sometimes, writing helps me do that. We’ll see if this is one of those times.

A very dear friend and professional mentor died on September 22nd. Phyllis Tickle had the amazing gift of being BFFs with thousands of us, I think. She saw the light in each and every person she ever met, and had the ability to shine it just where it needed to be. We met at a conference probably three decades ago (am I really getting that old?). I was trying to get off the fast track professionally, but Phyllis put me right back on it. After a leisurely chat by the hotel pool, we were friends from there on, and talked on the phone almost daily for a year. She decided I was a writer, and when Phyllis decided something it was best just to go along for the ride. She is the reason a publisher came looking for me and offering me a book contract, and a number of others followed. She heard my voice long before I did.

She did that, literally, for thousands of us. Where she found the time and graciousness I will never know. And she did it with her Southern charm and straight-forward talk. Beating around the bush was a gift Phyllis lacked, thankfully. She captivated rooms filled with thousands of people, and each person in the room felt they knew her, and she knew them. She synthesized information and presented it in ways that amazed and often entertained, and she was always right on target.

When she announced to the world that she had lung cancer and only a few months to live, I started a Facebook group to let all of us who were mourning already tell our stories and be with one another. Even in the midst of radiation and all kinds of misery she took time to write me a note thanking me, not only for the group, but for a lifetime of good memories. It is impossible to describe how much we all miss her.

She left all of us with a final gift, and that is her lack of fear of dying. In part it was her deep Christian faith, and in part a near-death experience from her younger days that she only recently began to talk about. I have to share a very short video of her talking about death, not only to give you a flavor of the woman we all called the Divine Ms. T., but of her experience, which takes away my own fear of dying. There is no need to pray that she rest in peace – we know she does.

In the midst of all of that, I have been caring for seven kittens at the start of their lives, rescued from a horrible situation. All of them malnourished, underweight, and sick when rescued, they are doing well now. Close to normal weights all of them, and their eye and respiratory problems are gone, except for one little girl. But she’s improving loads the last few days and should be 100% soon. (If you want to see something pathetic, put an e-collar on a 3 lb kitten…so sad!!)¬† The only time I ever fostered a cat before, I became one of the statistic foster fails – Sheyden was a diabetic, and in need to huge amounts of help, so I adopted him and nursed him through the last six months of his life. But with seven of our own cats, I am determined not to be a foster failure again. All should be going to actual fosters who are part of local rescue groups in the next week or so. Still…they are so stinkin’ cute!!


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The day after Phyllis died, I twisted my ankle so thoroughly that I’m lucky nothing broke. My foot looked more like one belonging to an elephant than a person, but with all the colors of the rainbow throughout. It is healing and will be fine soon, but it might have been nature’s way of slowing me down for a little bit. You can’t walk fast on a sprained ankle.


And then a week after Phyllis died, I turned 60, which feels just fine to me. Each decade has been better than the last so far, so I’m good with hitting another decade mark. Besides, Marley took me out to a very nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, so what’s not to love?

So, lots happening. Not sure how it all fits together, and I’m not sure the recording helped, but maybe I’ll read this tomorrow and have an ah-ha moment. It has been one of those circle-of-life times, with baby kittens, and dying friends, and getting older myself, and I guess we just keep keepin’ on until we don’t anymore. And when my day comes, I truly hope that one of the saints who will greet me will be the Divine Ms. T. It would be good to hug her again.