Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back When Things Were Simpler

Really, we've gone way wrong somewhere along the way.

Here's a photo of where I was standing at the bus stop last week. As you can see it is absolutely pouring.
Fortunately I did have an umbrella with me.
Unfortunately it was a small umbrella and I was getting soaked.

I'd also missed 2 of the 3 buses that go on this route, meaning at least a 15 minute wait.

As I stood there I watched car after car drive by. Cars with one person driving. And it just made me think of my childhood.

Those were days when no one would drive by you in a rain storm. Like the good Samaritan, people were more inclined to help than to go on by and someone would pull over and offer a ride.

But no one offered me a ride on this day.

Those were also the days when hitch hiking was relatively safe and most of us never locked our doors when we left home. Out at the farm when someone drove down the road, they'd wave as they passed by. If you were walking along, they wouldn't hesitate to stop and offer a ride.

I just thought it was really sad that as a human race we just don't help each other very much any more. We're all too busy and too afraid to stop.

On a positive note, my garden is becoming like a jungle after all this rain. My peonies aren't open yet so the rain didn't wreck them.

Purple is my favourite colour and this is my favourite iris. I get my irises from McMillen's Iris gardens in Norwich near Tillsonburg, Ont.

Have you ever stopped to look inside an iris? It's really so absolutely beautiful. It makes me think of church cathedrals when I see the light shining inside an iris. It's like a holy place.
I wonder, if someone had stopped on that rainy day to offer me a ride, would I have taken it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Urban Jungle Cats

Here's Tigger doing his urban jungle pose just for the camera. He's a good hunter and loves to catch mice. He eats them too. He hunts rabbits too, along with Tom so both cats now wear collars with bells.

Tom is showing his age a little bit more since his adventure/disappearance over a month ago.

He's recovered from starvation and is more like his old self.

In fact he's recovered enough that he's gotten into a few scraps with cats outside, landing himself a few good scratches around the neck.

I've been cleaning the cuts and a couple even got septic so I cleaned them out and I keep a steady eye on him. Maybe I check him too much because the last couple days he's run away from me when he sees me coming.... he knows it'll be a hot wash clothe on his cuts and that smelly ointment stuff.

Tigger is the male version of a diva. Whenever Tom gets attention he must have some too. If Tom is on my lap, then Tigger must be higher up and tries to sit on my chest.

He's a big suck and his favourite thing is to be scratched and admired. Next to that he loves children and dogs!

Mommy, who we are calling Beauty is a foster cat from our local animal organization

Her kitten, first named Clouseau, changed to Tarzan, changed to Monkey and now Jay is growing in leaps and bounds, literally.

It's hard to believe that two weeks ago he and his Mom laid completely ill and listless in bed with barely the strength to lift their heads.

I had to hand feed the Mom. She wouldn't eat because her nose was stuffed up with her upper respiratory infection--when a cat can't smell, it won't eat. Despite all my attempts her weight dropped and it was worrisome.

She was on medication paid for by Animalert and with that and lots of love from my niece Amber, she and the kitten pulled through just fine.

Jay is 5 weeks today and I'm now teaching him to lap up milk from a saucer.

He looks a lot like Tom but he's not Tom's kitten. Tom's been fixed for at least 4 years now.

Jay learned in one session how to drink milk from a saucer and I could tell he was feeling very proud of himself, and grown up. Mom joined in too.

His new best friend is the other foster cat Whiz. Whiz is the gentlest boy and a complete sweetie, but looking at the two of them together in play is like watching a Godzilla movie. Whiz is so much bigger than Jay.

But Whiz's heart's desire is to have someone, ANYONE, to play with.
So he plays gently with the baby and I know that in about 3 weeks this little kitten will give him a run for his money!
Oh, and me... I'm back to work on graduated hours, slowly increasing to full-time again. The arm is healing and I'm trying really hard to be patient with the healing process - I'm such a go-getter that this is a real challenge!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stories Live on Forever

We went to my sister's home for Mother's Day. We had dinner with her family along with my Mom and Dad. It was a pleasant time, as it always is, a time to share our news about recent events, review politics both globally and locally, talk about the environment and to share any good stories.
We had some really good stories this time.
(photo of our Border Collies - my beloved dog Sam and Dad's beloved dog Boots - now both deceased from old age).

I shared a story that I'd seen that afternoon on Animal Planet (love that channel). A cat had gone outside and wandered to a paper factory where it climbed in a drum. Workers closed up the drum and put it on a truck no realizing the cat was inside. The drum travelled across the USA (sorry I can't recall the name of the city it left from). Thousands of miles later it was in Chicago. From there it was put on a ship where it travelled through the Great Lakes, out the St. Lawrence River. Then it crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The drum was unloaded in France, put on another truck and taken to another factory. When workers there opened the drum they heard a meow. The cat was still alive and wearing tags with it's owner's contact info. Thirty (yes 30!) days had passed with the cat in the drum with no food or water!!! The cat was flown home first class and was happily greeted by its family and the TV news station.

Dad told a story about a man who walked his dog in the off leash park but his dog had climbed on a fallen tree stump close to the fence and then used that as a launch pad to hop the fence and achieve freedom. The man spent an hour chasing his dog and then gave up. Luckily the dog had tags and an hour later he got a call. His dog was found about 14 miles away. Talk about getting out for some exercise!

My brother-in-law talked about the problems with their dog hopping the fence at the back to chase raccoons wandering around at night time in the neighbour's yard. He's planning on creating an obstruction and making the fence taller.

Then I had to share Barry's blog story about his dog Lindsay ( who ate a funny looking dog treat which it later excreted when they were on their daily walk in the woods. The funny part is what happened when some other people came along and found the poop. You must read this story. It's pretty funny. My family totally enjoyed this story and the laughter was very gusty. We're a family of animal lovers, dogs in particular and we're also faithful dog poop picker-uppers just like Barry.

Then I mentioned how I knew Barry - or at least knew him through his writings and reading his blog. I told of his recently finding out about cancer of the esophagus and the surgery, chemo and radiation treatments planned for the near future. We all nodded about that one and grew quiet and Mom and I made eye contact and she nodded too. No words were needed. She has been through this one with thyroid cancer and knew a lot about it.

On the way home I became meditative thinking about how I'd shared someone else's story and how it had created enjoyment for the listeners. They may well tell it to someone else they meet along the way. I realized how important our stories can be. At some point we will all pass from this life as the great circle of life takes us through our time here but the stories, the stories can remain to be told and retold long after we are gone.
I noticed too that stories don't just have their life on-line in a blog with followers. They can grow outside of it and find life in the oral retelling of a great tale.
May these stories live on forever to encourage others, bring insight, share knowledge or just give a good belly chuckle when it's really needed.

And now I'll share one of Dad's funniest stories which I hope you'll share and enjoy with your dog loving friends:

I was sitting at home when Dad came by. He had just taken my dog Sam and his dog Boots for their daily walk. He brought Sam into the house which was part of the normal routine but what made me lift my head from my book and take notice was that Dad was stomping his feet. I could tell from his tense body that he was pretty mad.

"What's wrong?" I asked. He turned and headed for the door. "Dad, what's wrong?" I repeated, realizing he was not just mad, he was furious.

"I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!" he said and left without looking back.

There was nothing I could do really. Obviously something had happened on the dog walk but if he wasn't willing to tell me there wasn't much I could do.

A few days passed and Dad was again returning Sam from the walk. He was in his usual pleasant mood so I asked him what had happened the other day to make him so mad.

Finally he was willing to share.

Boots had a life long habit of eating things off the ground, things that most dogs wouldn't eat. Any Kleenex the the floor became a snack and he'd often eat Kleenexes on the dog trail. It seemed any Kleenex would do. He'd eat bark from trees and if he caught a rabbit or a vole it was an instant meal for him (I was NOT present when he caught rabbits because I would have stopped him).

On the day in question Boots had seen a used condom on the ground and he was determined to eat it. Dad was equally determined that Boots would not eat it and thus ensued a struggle where Dad tried to prevent Boots from eating a condom, while trying not to touch it.
Trying to stop Boots just made the condom more desireable and, yes,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Room Mates

It's true what they say about words hurting more than broken bones. When I fell down the stairs I was very distracted. I wasn't feeling like my normal self. Shortly before that incident someone had been saying some pretty hurtful words.

It was done publicly in front of people I know. It reminded me so much of primary school. I do my best to respond with grace. I can't let myself stoop to that primary school level.

The broken arm is healing well, it just takes time. I'll be back to work on graduated hours as the arm permits and from there my issue will probably be more to not push to hard or try too much too soon.

Often I wear the sling just to make sure the arm is removed from use so I'm certain to rest it.

That's the hard part, giving up plans for spring in the garden.

It's a busy time of year for me that I look forward to it every year. I love working in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt.

A saving grace is that I also love sitting outside and reading books and observing nature and that I can do quite painlessly as long as I don't look at all the garden work that I can't do right now.

Photo - bags of soil from last fall and plans to finish the back yard with a curving path from the swing to the bench at the back. This is the view from sitting on the swing.

My niece has stayed the weekend and she's helping me with my new room mates - A mother cat and her only kitten.

They've been rescued from the city's animal pound and I'm fostering them until they're adopted. But first we have to get them healthy.

The downside is that they've been sick, really sick. Animalert had them at the vets where they got lots of care and now that Mom has improved she's in isolation with her kitten in a spare room at my place. She still has her meds which she gets twice a day.

It's that stress related thing--upper respiratory infection, gone bacterial so she needed heavier drugs. Her kitten is coming along but he's got the sneezes too. Unfortunately he got the illness from her but will also get the cure by being medicated via drinking her milk.

The problem with city animal pounds is the same as hospitals - too many sick people in one location and the germs just spread, despite everyone's good intentions. The down side is that it can often lead to the pound doing a kill because treating gets to be too expensive for the city budget.

It just makes me wish I was as rich as Croesus (the spelling may not be right but I mean that king that could turn everything to gold with a touch of his hands). I'd open up a huge animal shelter with the best of everything to help stop the spread of disease and viruses.

This brings me to tell you about Nancy. Nancy is a stray female cat that has been visiting my 'kitty corner' neighbour Mary. Mary has been feeding her for a while and has worked to tame her. Of course Nancy grew fatter, quite fat actually and we knew it wasn't just the food Mary was giving her. She was pregnant. Mary watched and kept an eye on Nancy and then she disappeared for a few days only to reappear thinner. We knew she'd had her kittens.

Mary did her best to find the kittens but Nancy had them well hidden so it took a couple weeks. Finally they were found, across the street in a rhubarb patch. Next to the patch was a plastic drainage tube which they crawled inside like a cage.
Mary brought them all home and put them in her basement bathroom. She planned to take Nancy to the vet and then she would keep her, letting her be a third cat in her home and then finding homes for her 5 kittens.

I got the call from Mary the next day in tears. Nancy is positive for FIV Leukemia and it's expected that her 5 beautiful kittens will be as well. Unfortunately the FIV would be transmitted by the Mom to her babies.

Mary managed to find a some friends who will foster these cats until homes can be found. Let's hope for a positive outcome for this small family.

There's never a shortage of need for a miracle.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fuller Kitty

Now what you might ask is a Fuller Kittie?
That, my dear reader is a term I've applied to this cat.

His name is Whiz. He's a foster cat with the local non profit animal rescue group I volunteer with called Animalert (
His name was Little Whiz but he's grown now and is just over a year old. He's a little sweetie that loves to play.
But occasionally we have had a little bit of a conflict.... over fibre.

Whiz loves fibre. He loves all the usual cat toys but his preference is string.
I had attempted to do a tiny bit of knitting last night - knitting Continental so left hand doing the motion and right hand just holding.
Thank God I could knit a little. It calms my soul.

So I set the knitting down because I got distracted by Vogue Knitting's latest issue - a gorgeous circular shawl.
I saw Whiz out of the corner of my eye but for some reason my warn-o-meter didn't got off.
I guess I thought this roving was somehow special, that Whiz would recognize it's importance to me.

When I looked up he had it strung out on the floor and HORRORS had chewed the yarn in half--This my 'nearly lace weight' home spun alpaca roving. The nerve of this cat not to just settle for getting it all gummy with spit, but to actually do some real damage.

I didn't need to discipline because my scream scared him off ;)

A while ago I noticed how this fine spun sheep's wool that I had left resting on my--okay what do you call this thingie? It's not a nitty-noddie....
It's an antique that I inherited from my grandfather but I've put it into active use (he'd be happy about that).
Anyways, I noticed how this yarn which was very tightly spun was somehow getting softer and fuzzier.
It seemed to be growing more and more fuzz each day. I hadn't done the 'fulling' process on this yarn yet. I wrote about fulling a couple weeks ago - see it at

Then I came home to find several broken strands and I knew a little fibre monster had been playing with it.
The cat had in fact irritated and teased the yarn so much that he fulled it, fluffing out its fibres and softening the yarn.

By the way, is anyone looking for a cat to adopt?