Hiding from the horrors of life

California is on fire, and I am hiding in my guest bathroom.

california-wine

Not from the fire, but from the despair I feel about the world right now. I’m not just sitting in the dark on the floor in the bathroom. I have the current foster cat family in with me. Or they are letting me hang out with them. It gives me comfort. But still, I consider it as hiding.

 

I want to help, but I don’t know how. My anxiety keeps me from making a move. I can easily donate money (not much, but some), but I want to DO something. Yet here I sit, playing with kittens, feeling defeated. The most I’ve done is obsessively share Facebook posts about resources for help. Cooking also gives me comfort. But instead of volunteering my services to help feed evacuees, I cook for the 2 of us, and we eat in front of television.

The things I “should” be doing today seem so unimportant. Folding laundry, who cares? I could be writing scholarly papers for school; my PhD is important to me of course, but I can’t focus on anything. It seems trivial when people are losing everything, some even losing their lives.

People do come forward to help in emergencies. Volunteers are helping at evacuation centers. Animal rescuers are helping find shelter and foster homes for displaced animals. Others are organizing donations of supplies for the evacuation centers and animal shelters. I want to be one of those people.

evac
Evacuation center at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga.

The world seems like it’s falling apart. The hurricanes and the continuing devastation left behind, especially in Puerto Rico. The Las Vegas shooter. The never ending issue of racism and inequity in this supposedly civilized country that treats its own people like garbage. A “president” who couldn’t care less about anyone but himself.

trump-paper-towels-701x478
Trump throws paper towels at the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

It’s like the modern-day Fall of the Roman Empire, or how I imagine it.

fall-of-rome_2184860b

I was already feeling it. Whenever I drive around Oakland and Berkeley, I see more and more homeless encampments. Oakland is turning into Tent City. I despair for my own city and its people.

 

We’ve been watching the Ken Burns series on Vietnam, which I am finding so painful to watch. I am ashamed of how ignorant I am about the times in which I was born and raised. It hurts me to see the the death and destruction, not just of the American youth sent to fight a senseless war, but the countless civilian deaths of the Vietnamese on both sides of the fight. Children killing children. Hate mongering. Old white American men thinking of lives in terms of numbers and “kill ratios”, and continuing a war for their own egos.

Ken Burns.png

 

Vietnam PBS

And now a place I hold dear to my heart is being destroyed by fires. (Why can’t the idiots in power face up to climate change? It’s for real and the effects are being felt right now.) I lived and worked in the Napa and Sonoma areas not so long ago. I didn’t want to leave to live in Oakland, but life doesn’t always work out the way we think it will. I still have friends in the area, some of whom I know are safe as I write this. Others I haven’t heard anything about, and it scares me.

my backyard
The backyard of my former house in Napa, circa 2005.

And lest I get complacent thinking I’m safe, the fires continue to spread. I never think it couldn’t happen here. It did happen here. There was a fire not so long ago that destroyed a large swath of the area where I live now–the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991. It’s only about 40 miles from Oakland to Napa, and the fires are now approaching the rural area around Fairfield, among other places.

Oakland hills 1991
The Oakland Hills Fire of 1991.

I don’t have an emergency plan. We’ve never prepared any kind of earthquake kit (the usual recommendation in California) or thought through how we’d get all of the animals and ourselves safely out of here.

My heart is breaking for the world, but I bury my head in the sand. I care, and caring is a good first step, but sometimes we have to do something with that caring. It’s is too close to home this time.

Stay safe.

Why We Won’t Be Keeping Chiclet (meant to convince myself more than anyone else)

Meet Chiclet.

IMG_1371

Now that we are all in love with our current foster kitten Chiclet, here’s why this won’t be a foster fail. If you believe all of this, great! I’m trying. I haven’t been quite this attached to a foster since I’ve been fostering for the East Bay SPCA.

Last night, Bob broached the conversation of keeping her. Not because he thinks we should, but because he knows I want to. This was such a sweet gesture, and he firmly keeps the World’s Best Boyfriend crown on his head.

us

Of course I wanted to squeal in delight and jump up and down, but I was trying to be sensible. Silly me!

Here’s the rundown:

  1. She is highly adoptable. The minute she’s available, there will be people falling in love with her and wanting to give her a loving home. If I am going to foster fail again, I’d rather save my Keep the Cat card for one who is going to have a harder time. You know, that 3-legged, 1-eyed, snaggle-toothed one with a personality disorder. Who won’t have everyone oohing and aahing and filling out adoption paperwork at blink of a kitten eye.
Bill
Bill the Cat needs love too.

 

2. We have 3 cats and a dog living with us already. I don’t want to be a hoarder.

confessions-animal-hoarding-facts-020

 

3. Sara is going to be 19 this summer. Does she really want another kitten in the house? We recently added Marble, aka the Tasmanian Devil, to the lineup. Maybe Sara would like some peace and quiet in her twilight years.

Sara.JPG
Peace and quiet, please.
Sara meets Chiclet
Maybe, maybe not.

 

4. Poor Einstein can’t catch a break. He’s a very patient dog, but will another cat be the last straw? And he’d like some time and attention, too! Walkies!!!

Einstein
What about me??

 

4. The aforementioned Tasmanian Devil.

Taz-Looney_Tunes.svg

Marble isn’t a year old yet and is a handful! When we tried introducing him to previous foster kitten Pepper, he grabbed her by the throat. Not good. If I have to spend my time making sure one cat doesn’t kill the other, I will not be happy or pleasant to be around.

 

5. Misty. When we adopted Misty, she was considered “unadoptable” because she really doesn’t like people. Can’t blame her. She was treated roughly during the 4 years before she came to us. She’s slowly coming around, but VERY slowly. She’s great with Marble, and might be fine with Chiclet, but like Einstein, she could use some more special time and attention.

Misty
Unadoptable, says who?

 

6. The family just waiting to meet Chiclet. It would be selfish of me to keep her. I imagine the 8 or 9 year old me meeting Chiclet and falling in love. How can I stand in the way of another child’s destiny??? Those moments at the animal shelter when I hear a child say, “Mom, I NEED this cat!” are why I work there.

girl with cat

 

7. We aren’t getting any younger. If Marble lives to be 20 (perfectly possible), I will be 75 and Bob will be 81. Should we really keep getting kittens? Maybe we should adopt older cats when we adopt more. Senior cats need homes too, and what better match than a senior with a senior?

old-adopted-cat-37__605

 

8. When I take Chiclet and her mother Sugar Cube back to the East Bay SPCA, I make room in our home for another foster family, helping to continue the cycle of saving lives. Isn’t that the point? We have fostered 32 cats for the East Bay SPCA since we started back with Abracadabra in 2015.

IMG_1065.JPG
Mama Sugar Cube with her little Chiclet.
IMG_6477
Abracadabra!

This count does not include Marble, who was a rescue of a different sort (that might or might not have been entirely legal but it was definitely in his best interest).

Will it be hard taking her back to the shelter? Yes. Will I be sad? Yes. Will I sing sad songs? Undoubtedly. I’ve already got one picked out, Irving Berlin’s What’ll I Do? as sung by Rosemary Clooney.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 9.51.22 AM
What’ll I Do?, Irving Berlin, 1923

 

But I’ll get up, dust myself off, and find out who my next foster family is. I’ll fall in love again. Life goes on.

Up next: Take Me Out to the Ball Game!, in which there will be no mention of cats but lots of baseball, the Arizona desert, and a side trip to the Musical Instrument Museum. Stay tuned!

figure-2-take-me-out-to-the-ball-game-postcard-1910.jpg

Making a kitten video becomes a music appreciation lesson

Smart phones and social media have made it possible for me to indulge myself in my fantasy world of talking animals that I so believed in as a child. I was a shy, quiet, bookish girl, lost in my stories of animals and little people like The Wind in the Willows and The Borrowers (see Some of the books that made me a life-long reader). If I had access to video and the internet in the 1960s, I am sure I would have been unbearable, dressing the family pets in clothes and making them act in weddings and other such human activities. But I can have my second childhood now and let my mind go back to that precious place.

kitten-in-cap

Today was the day that the most recent family of foster kittens left our care to return to the shelter for their next steps in the adoption process. So the 10-year old that lives in my head decided we needed to make a graduation ceremony video. My cameraman (cough, cough, Robert Ward) kept getting his hand in the picture, but we are still working on our technique.

 

You can’t have a graduation without playing Pomp and Circumstance.

pomp-sheet-music

Which is where the story takes a turn from kittens to musicians. As we were driving the kittens to the East Bay SPCA, Bob, who happens to be a classical musician, said, “Elgar is the James Taylor of classical music.” Um, what? This required some explanation.

NPG x11894; Sir Edward Elgar, Bt by Charles Frederick Grindrod
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
jt
James Taylor (born 1948)

James Taylor has a way of creating a sentimental, nostalgic, introspective mood that often seems to look back on better days and times.

 

Matthew Riley wrote an entire book on Edward Elgar and the Nostalgic Imagination (2007, Cambridge University Press). He uses terms like vanished greatness, a lament for times past, childhood and the countryside of an old England as musical subject matter. The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th were times of great change, and Elgar’s music was a look at times past, not a look forward to the future. Arguably, the same can be said for James Taylor reflecting on the late 20th century/early 21st century.

While driving me and the kittens (I see a new story called Driving Miss Crazy Cat Lady in here somewhere), Bob put the car audio system on Elgar’s Piano Quintet in A Minor. It’s quite lovely. Here it is performed at the North York Moors Festival in 2013.

 

It was suggested by my instructor that I might like the Enigma Variations as well. I do have a taste for both nostagia and melancholy, but I usually lean toward sad and folky singer/songwriters since I am still fairly ignorant of the classical music world after all these years (sorry Bob).

enigma-cover

The Enigma Variations (1898-1899) comprise 14 variations on an original theme, each variation being a musical sketch of a loved one or close acquaintance. I won’t post all 14, but here is a selection, Nimrod, the 9th variation and tribute to Elgar’s great friend Augustus Jaeger, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with conductor Daniel Barenboim in 1997.

 

jaeger_enigma
Music editor Augustus Jaeger (1860-1909).

Another singer/songwriter in the musical world I inhabit is Natalie Merchant.

natalie
Natalie Merchant (born 1963).

Whenever I take a foster cat family back to the shelter, saying goodbye to them always makes me think of the song Break Your Heart.

 

Did Sir Elgar like animals? I have no idea. I assume Natalie Merchant does, although I couldn’t find an image of her with any. She did allow the use of her song My Skin on one of those heart-breaking and tear-inducing ASPCA ads, which is too hard to watch so I am not showing it here. But this is the song:

 

I know James Taylor likes animals. His cat, Ray Taylor, is often featured in JT’s social media.

 

jt-and-ray
James and Ray Taylor.

Now that we’ve come full circle back to cats (I knew I could do it), I will leave you with this. Please consider fostering for your local shelter. It will add joy to your life, and help the shelter save more lives. You might even meet your new best friend, like Marble here, who entered our lives as a foster and now is a member of our furry family (see The one that didn’t get away).

marble

Peace and hugs.

The City of Oakland wins the battle, but I win the war (meow)

If you are one of my loyal readers (Hi Beth, Cathy, Ellen, and Bob), you might remember my call to arms over being issued a parking ticket on Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day when the meter was clearly marked that it was a meter holiday (see City of Oakland, You Suck! (Or, a Tale of a Valiant Fight against a Parking Ticket)).

 

I filed my appeal, and waited for the ridiculously slow snail-mail response.

I finally got the letter in the mail. Remember when going to the mailbox to get the mail was exciting? Those days are long gone.

charlie
When I was a kid…
scarymailbox
…versus now.

 

Basically, the result of my so-called “administrative hearing” (how is it a hearing if I never got to speak?) is that I am being called a liar. M. Thornton, the Administrative Hearing Examiner, writes: “The pay station in the photograph does not match City of Oakland pay stations.”

 

 

WHAT?! Last I checked, Ultimate Grounds Coffee at 4225 Park Boulevard, Oakland (where I was at the time of the ticketing) was most firmly in the City of Oakland.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-57-10-pm

 

M.Thornton advised that I had until December 16 to file another appeal, which would cost $25. I already paid the $58 ticket. I don’t really care about the money. It’s the principle of the darned thing.

 

its-a-matter-of-principle_1920x700

 

I enlisted my deputy, Bob. Armed with a mighty iPhone (and reinforcing our strength at Marzano restaurant, conveniently across the street from the alleged parking violation), we gathered our evidence.

 

20160206__mon-marzano-0212-011

 

As you can see, not only is the pay station still marked with the meter holiday label in question, it also is marked with the City of Oakland logo. What do you have to say now, M. Thornton?

 

IMG_9649.JPG

 

I could smell victory in the air! Or maybe it was the coffee from Ultimate Grounds.

coffee

The only problem was, I had to now actually find a time to go in person to Alameda County Superior Court. I work full time. And I am a full-time student. And it was coming up on the end of the semester with 4 major papers due. But I had plenty of time, so I said to myself.

So I procrastinated. I worked. I wrote papers (or procrastinated about writing papers). And all of the sudden it was December 15th! Argh! What’s a warrior princess to do?

merida_web_small

 

Then I got the email from the East Bay SPCA. A mother cat with 1-week old babies needed a foster home. Could I take them? And pick them up during my last two-hour window of time to file my appeal of the ticket on December 16 before I had to be at work? Of course I could. Kittens! Hello! Kittens will always trump parking tickets.

scales
The scales of justice will always favor kittens in my book.

 

I heeded the wise words of Goethe.

Things-which-matter-most.jpg

 

And I did what would the best thing not just for the kittens, but for my peace of mind.

 

warrior-goddess
Yes, this looks exactly like me. Really.

 

Meet Rosarita and her little beans. All are healthy and doing well.

 

I hope when the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future visit M. “Ebenezer Scrooge” Thornton, they scare the wits out of him/her.

musicalscrooge02
How I picture M.Thornton.
p1080963
Scrooge visited by the Ghosts. He became a nice man after this.

I’ll leave you with the words of Tiny Tim.

 

Oops, wrong Tiny Tim.

Even you, M. Thornton.

I always wanted to be a political activist (Or, can someone recommend a good pair of vegan walking shoes?)

I don’t usually post on the blog two days in a row, but I have a lot on my mind, as do many of us. My blogpost from yesterday (Why isn’t there any tofu in The Hunger Games?) got lost in the excitement of the US elections, but I did happen to mention the similarity between a Trump presidency (gag) and The Hunger Games. I hope I’m wrong.

snow-and-trump

While there is a part of me that wants to flee the country (any Norwegian language tutors out there?) or just pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for four years, the rest of me is looking for motivation to keep moving forward and keep working for change in the world. My kind of change, not his.

In order to get myself moving today, I’m making a mental list of all of the reasons it’s still a world worth fighting for and things I have to be grateful for:

Kittens.

img_8104

The sun is shining today where I live.

sun.jpg

I live in a blue state.

california-dem-state-clip-art

I have a job that I love.

 

I have a roof over my head.

I know many people who feel like I do and we aren’t going to spend four years sitting on our asses crying and complaining; we’re going to stand by our commitment to make the world a better place.

Did I mention kittens?

 

There are plenty of books to read when I do want to sit on my ass and cry.

books.jpg

 

I have plenty of healthy food options and water to drink. Don’t take that for granted! If we enter The Hunger Games, I live in one of the better districts.

 

Puppies (hey, I am not a speciesist). And squirrels. I love squirrels.

puppy

e

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

Coffee. Gonna need lots of it!

coffee 4

 

Chocolate. See coffee.

chocolate.jpg

And I live in a country where I am (at least for now) able to disagree, dissent, protest. People around the world give their lives for that right. And I plan to exercise it.

So, anyone got that recommendation for a good pair of vegan walking shoes? I am going to need them for the protests I’ll be going on.

And again, did I mention kittens?

 

As always, peace and hugs.

Three little sailors

In a moment of insanity, Bob agreed to me bringing in another foster cat family from the East Bay SPCA.
We have 3 resident cats and a very tolerant dog.

Einstein

 

Sara, 18 years old and queen of the house.

 

Misty, the magical mystical cat.

 

Marble, the new kid on the block.

 

But knowing that we could help save 4 more lives outweighed my common sense and Bob is the best boyfriend ever, so welcome aboard Yuki and her babies Kyro, Smudge, and Patrick. I’m in love again!

Yuki, such a good mom and super nice.

 

Yuki and the kids. Patrick is the orange and white, Kyro is the gray and white and little Smudge is the dilute tortie.

 

It’s hard not to fall in love with kittens! And I play the “if I could keep one, which one would I keep” game. Smudge.

Marble is understandably confused about the guests in what used to be his room.But he has Einstein to harass and Misty has taken him on as her annoying kid brother to boss around.

Me, I’m spending a lot of evening hours sitting on the floor taking endless pictures and videos of the family and introducing the kittens to my favorite shows. They love a good cooking competition.

Kyro likes Worst Bakers in America.

 

Kyro, winner of Best Kitten Belly.

 

Patrick weighs in.

 

Smudge, wriggling her way into my heart.

 

Whenever we have kittens in the house, and they are just getting mobile, I can’t help singing the old song about drunken sailors.

 


They’ll be with us for another couple of weeks. Fostering is one of the best things we do!

And thank you, Bob.

Remembrance of pets past (National Pet Memorial Day 2016)

National Pet Memorial Day is the second Sunday in September, which this year happened to fall on September 11. As in 9/11. I decided to delay posting a couple of days so as not to seem insensitive to the horrific losses of that day in 2001. But I have been waxing nostalgic over all of the companion animals who’ve made their way into my life over the years.

Early in our relationship, Bob asked me once to name all of the pets I’d had in my life. He jokes that it took at least an hour. But it actually probably did!

I had some time on my hands today (well, I should have been studying, but this project was more fun), so I made a chart of them all. I’ll pretend I was studying the organizatonal system of companion animals.

img_7145
Argh! I forgot Sam, the jaunty little rooster who lived with us from 1974-1975 and really did go to live on a farm, and one of the foster kittens, Raisinette, who spent a weekend as a newborn being nursed by mama Mars until we could get him a better foster placement.

Some lived longer than others. The lives of some were cut short way too young (e.g., kittens Aloysius, Henry Aldrich, Dagwood, and Smokey).

img_4739
Me with Luke, circa 1970.

Explanations:

Tripp: She joined the family before I did so I am not sure what year she starts on the chart.

Cassius: I barely remember him. He wasn’t named for Muhammed Ali/Cassius Clay but for the Roman senator “of the lean and hungry look”, according to my mother. I think me dressing him in doll clothes was too much for him; he ran away.

1972:  A very bad year in many ways. When my mother remarried my evil stepfather and they were planning on splitting up the family and moving from Georgia to California, I came home from school one day to find that all of the animals except for Tripp had been taken to the pound. Even he wasn’t despicable enough to take Tripp away from us. That was also the year that the cat Christy had the ill-fated and oddly named kittens. (Note: Please spay/neuter your pets!)

Molly McGee: A beautiful Irish Setter who was meant to be my companion, but I came home from school one day to be told “she’d gone to live on a farm.”

Brandy: He was a really dumb Siamese cat (and I don’t say that lightly; I love cats and find most of them to be as clever as all get out) who escaped and ran away. I hope he was found by a friendly person and not hit in Sacramento traffic.

Coffee: Brandy’s brother, died of feline leukemia. (Note: Please keep your pets’ vaccinations up to date.) (Second note: I did not name Brandy and Coffee. That was my stepfather, who liked to put booze in his coffee and thought he was being funny with the names.)

Goldfish: They were cute but…

Parakeets: Sadly, one (Woody) got out a window, one (Albert) we gave to a friend before a move, and one (Arlo, the one we actually taught to talk), just keeled over. After that we gave up on parakeets.

Sam the parrot: I mislabeled Sam. For all I know he is still alive. He was awesome in many ways but he drove me crazy flinging food all over the living room. And Pofuduk was taking too much interest. A friend with a shop took him to be the shop bird.

Halo: After another move, our beloved Angora cat Pofuduk got out. We put up “Lost cat” signs. The doorbell rang, and a kid was outside holding a portly, odd-eyed Angora that was not Pofuduk and asked if she was our cat as he’d found her on a busy street (well, as busy as they get in Chico). Pofuduk had already returned home, but Halo stayed for a bit. The nicest landlord ever asked if he could take her home when we were moving out of our rental. Pofuduk hated her, so we let her go.

TicTac: Hamsters and cats are a bad combination. I’d just been through a divorce and wasn’t thinking clearly about that one. Never again.

100_0075
The doomed TicTac. Don’t ask.

I don’t have digital images of most of the early pets, but here is a sampling:

img_0234
Me, with Rush and Mischief, circa 1974.
img_1893
Pofuduk, circa 1982.

And the more recent:

happy-bingo
Bingo in his senior years.
100_1063.JPG
Sweet, shy Gumbo.
2003-dog-walk_0130
Sadie, the friendliest dog I ever met.
img_1968
Ben. We miss you, buddy.
christmas-cat
Sara, my feisty girl. Eighteen now and doing pretty well.
img_6535
Goofball Einstein, saved from doggy death row.
img_6130
Beautiful, temperamental Misty, rescued from kitty death row.
img_6449
Marble, the newst addition to the family. A foster “fail”.

The foster lineup (also see The one that didn’t get away):

 

I am sure there will be more, assuming I have a few years left in me. I’ve loved them all, and miss the ones who are gone.

Have you hugged your pet today? Do it!

 

The one that didn’t get away

KITTENS! Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about fostering animals in need.

foster quote

I’ve written about the various cats and kittens we’ve fostered, starting with the post:

The Kitten Chronicles

(Thank you Robert Ward for your patience with the ever-changing array of guest felines.) But now I am here to say I am offically a Foster Failure. I actually don’t like that term; it makes it sound like I lost the cat or something bad happened. What it means is that I finally met my match and can’t part with one and he is now staying here as part of the family. That’s a good thing!

foster fail image

Marble yoga
Marble, the one who stole our hearts.

My first attempt at fostering was more than 18 years ago. That one was a fail too, and I didn’t try it again until last year, as part of my volunteering with the East Bay SPCA.

Ben and Sara
Ben (orange) and Sara (brown), 1996. Sara is still with us; RIP Ben.

Our first guest was little Abracadabra, who needed to gain a few ounces before she could be spayed and enter adoptions. What a little delight she was!

Abracadabra shoulder

It only took her a week to get up to weight. I was dreading taking her back to the shelter, but I knew she’d find a good home quickly. In the week she was here, she was a great helper.

Abracadabra laundry
The laundry basket is empty now, you’re welcome.

Unfortunately, black cats and kittens take longer to get adopted, so she waited a couple of weeks but the right match came along, and she went off to her new life.

We were ready to jump in and take the next step: a mother cat with a litter of kittens. So Mouse and her babies Ratticus, Sugar Glider, Ferret, and Chinchilla came to occupy the guest room, now known as the foster room. NOTE: I am not responsible for any of the cat and kitten names; don’t blame me if they seem ridiculous to you.

You can follow their adventures:

The Kitten Chronicles

Kitten Chronicles, age 13 days

Kitten Chronicles, part 3

Kitten Chronicles, 4 weeks old!

Kitten Chronicles–7 weeks old!

Mouse’s Kittens–Ready for Their Debut, or, They Leave the Foster Nest

From the amount of blogging I did about them, you can tell that Mouse and babies had a big impact on me.

We decided to go with another “singleton” for the next one, and along came Honeysuckle. She had a broken front leg and a shattered ball joint in one hip. She needed a place to recover from the broken leg, and then have surgery on the hip.

Honeysuckle cast
Such a beauty. Of course we welcomed her to the foster suite.

More than likely hit by a car, this Maine Coon mix sweetheart was a real trooper and made good progress recovering from her injuries.

 

Honeysuckle blue chair
This sweet beauty was adopted within a week of going back to the shelter.

When I took Honeysuckle back to the shelter, I was asked if I could take another “broken” kitty. Of course! Meet Kianna.

Kianna cone

Kianna had a broken tail and a fractured pelvis, also likely hit by a car. Two words–purr machine! She looks intense but what a love!

Kianna intense.jpg

Once her pelvis had time to heal, she was taken in to have the tail amputated, and then came back for more recuperation time. She was welcome to stay as long as she needed!

Kianna no tail

For reasons I can’t begin to understand, she waited at the shelter for a long time for an adopter. We thought long and hard about whether to adopt her ourselves, but the East Bay SPCA wisely transferred her from the Oakland adoption center to the one in Dublin and she was very quickly went home from there.

Kianna waiting
Waiting at the shelter for someone to realize what a jewel they’d found with her.

There was a wintertime slow-down in the need for fosters, but like clockwork, it was kitten season again! Our first foster of 2016 was another short-term singleton, Babou. Talk about a lively kitten!

Babou window
Chasing a bug.

Again we had a vacancy. Thus, Mars and the candy bar kittens–Dove, Milky Way, Twix, Snickers, and Reeses–took over the foster quarters. You can read more about them here:

The Kitten Chronicles, Redux

Mars and newbies

Mars had a much different approach than Mouse; where Mouse was ready to have the kittens independent after 4-5 weeks, Mouse was extremely devoted to her babies and kept close watch over them the whole 2 months they were here.

Mars cuddling

Five kittens seems like a whole lot more than four! As they got older, the foster room seemed to get smaller and chaos ensued as the kittens became mobile. But entertaining, that’s for sure!

Mars babies beanbag

Mars babies with Alex
My friend Alex visits the Candy Bar kittens.

The house seemed so quiet when they were gone, and as expected, everyone found homes quickly. Have good lives, little ones! While they were here, we briefly had little Raisinette, rescued from the mean streets of Berkeley by Alex. We tried adding him in with the bigger candy bar kids to see if momma Mars would take him. She reluctantly let him for a bit, but a better mother/baby group was found for him.

Raisinette
We called him Raisinette to stick with the candy theme.

Going outside the “system” for the first time, two amazing people, Eliana and Mark, involved me in a rescue of two little beauties at the Office Depot in Berkeley. It was not easy to catch these girls! Mark was like a kitten rescue ninja! They only stayed with us a few days; a home was found for them with friends of Eliana and Mark.

Gray girls
We called them Grayson (right) and Ember (left).

And next, the three French Sisters: Joelle, Amelie, and Elodie, featured in:

A Tale of Three Sisters

French girl trio

Très précieuse! I hate to admit to favorites, but Amelie (top center) was the one I thought would lead me to foster failure.

French girls and Bob
Bob was charmed by the girls as well.

The girls all made their age/weight goal for adoptions, and I sadly took them in to the shelter to go on to their new lives.  Bonne chance!

Well, in a major fluke of timing, that same morning my awesome friend Molly had come across a kitten in need of a place to crash. Long story that I won’t go into. I said, sure, I can take him, thinking I’d put him in the foster room for a day or two and then see if they had a spot for him at the shelter. That was more than a week ago and many vet bills later. The poor little guy, Marble, ended up needing some serious vet care. Again, thank you Robert Ward!

For the record, I was not the first one of us to suggest we keep Marble. It was in fact Bob.

with Bob
Day one: he’s got Bob figured out.
Marble and nerd girl
I’m an easy mark; I’d never say no to adding him to the family!

He was having trouble keeping food down, and of course it was the weekend, so off to the 24-hour clinic, Pets Referral Center, in Berkeley. The nicest people in the world work there!

at the vet
The veterinarian’s office is not fun!
adorable
Making friends everywhere he goes.

We were afraid he would need surgery for a possible obstruction, but with medication and monitoring he is on the mend. He does not like medication time! But he’s eating and playing and cuddling and making himself indispensible.

med time
Not medication time again?!

I was afraid he was cold in the foster room (it is a bathroom and has no direct light), so he is now ensconced in what was my office until he is fully recovered and can start being introduced to the other residents. In the meantime, he is my right hand assistant and keeper of the laptop.

keyboarder
My editor. Blame him for the typos and mistakes!
IMG_5922
He also likes books and sun puddles.

It looks he’s here to stay! Whether another foster comes to use the foster room, aka guest bathroom, is yet to be seen. I hope so!

You, dear reader, can also have some of this adorableness in your life. And if dogs are more your thing, the East Bay SPCA has those too! There are lots of animal rescue groups for other small animals, including birds. (And no worries about vet bills when you foster for an organization; they take care of all that.)

Many who foster make it for years without a so-called “fail”. You would be doing an amazing service for a shelter or rescue group, and helping to save a life.

foster kitten

foster quote 2

And should you have a foster fail, don’t worry. There are lots of us! We even have a Facebook page.

foster fail facebook

Please consider being a foster for your local shelter; you’ll be glad you did.

masthead_image6_1368715790

A Tale of Three Sisters

3 sisters

pretty sisters

IMG_4819

There are three sisters living in my spare bathroom. They are very beautiful girls, each different from the other and I love them all. Their names are Joelle, Amelie, and Elodie. They are in fact triplets, although there is a big, middle, little connotation to their size and attitudes.

necklace

Joelle
Joelle, the big sister. Confident and social, and physically the biggest as well. She’s also great at IT.
Amelie
Amelie, the middle sister. A bit of a loner but always gentle with her sisters.
Elodie
Last but not least, tiny Elodie. Never underestimate the smallest!

I find myself reflecting on sisters and sisterhood. I am the youngest of three sisters (the youngest of four siblings, but my brother isn’t getting much space in this post; sorry Steve!). Our mother gave us each one of these pins several years ago. I rarely wear mine, not because it doesn’t have meaning, but because I just don’t wear pins often. Mom, bless her heart, never seemed to understand that we didn’t really want to dress alike or get the same gifts.

IMG_4915
Maybe I don’t wear it because the Far Fetched label makes it seem like an impossibility that three sisters are getting along?

There are many stories of sisters. I found several versions of Native American legends of the three sisters and planting “three sisters gardens”. This version is from the Cherokee:

Once upon a time there were three sisters. The first sister was very tall and strong; her name was Corn Girl, and she wore a pale green dress and had long yellow hair that blew in the wind. Corn Girl liked to stand straight and tall, but the hot sun burned her feet and hurt her. And the longer Corn Girl stood in her field, the hungrier she got. And every day more weeds were growing up around her and choking her.

The second sister was very thin and quick and fast, and her name was Bean Girl, but she wasn’t very strong. She couldn’t even stand up on her own. She was good at making food, but she just had to lie there stretched out on the ground, and she would get dirty and wet, which wasn’t good for her.

The third sister, Squash Girl, was short and fat and wore a yellow dress. She was hungry too.

For a long time, the sisters didn’t get along. They each wanted to be independent and free, and not have anything to do with the other two. So Corn Girl stood there with her sunburned feet and got hungrier and hungrier. And Bean Girl lay there on the ground and got dirtier and wetter. And the little fat sister Squash Girl was hungry too.

So Bean Girl talked to her sister Corn Girl and said, “What if I feed you some good food, and you can hold me up so I don’t have to lie on the ground and get all dirty?” And Corn Girl thought that was a great idea. Then little Squash Girl called up to her tall sister, “How about if I lie on your feet and shade them so you won’t get sunburned?” Corn Girl thought that was a great idea too.

So the Three Sisters learned to work together, so that everyone would be healthier and happier. Corn Girl helped Bean Girl stand up. Bean Girl fed Corn Girl and Squash Girl good food. And Squash Girl shaded Corn Girl’s feet and kept the weeds from growing up around them all.

And that’s why the Iroquois and the Pueblo people and the Aztecs and everybody in between planted their corn, their beans, and their squash together in the same field – the Three Sisters.

I accept my role as Squash Girl happily!

Unfortunately, my sisters live more than 3,000 miles away and we don’t get to see each other very often. I don’t have many photos of us together, and it is very rare that there is a photo in which all three of look as gorgeous as we really are. Pictures from our childhood are all packed away and not yet digitized.

sisters photo
Not so great photo from a few years ago after an Atlanta Braves game.
IMG_0708
Yes, the brother is in this time.

Continuing the exploration of sisters, on the serious side there is the play The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, written in 1900 and first performed in 1901.

 

The three sisters in Chekhov’s play, Olga, Masha and Irina, are living in a drab town a year after their father’s death and finding life tedious. From IMDb:

Olga, Masha, and Irina Prozoroff lead lonely and purposeless lives following the death of their father who has commanded the local army post. Olga attempts to find satisfaction in teaching but secretly longs for a home and family. Masha, unhappy with her marriage to a timid schoolmaster, falls hopelessly in love with a married colonel. Irina works in the local telegraph office but longs for gaiety. Their sense of futility is increased by their brother’s marriage to Natasha, a coarse peasant girl. She gradually encroaches on the family home until even the private refuge of the sisters is destroyed. They dream of starting a new life in Moscow but are saddled with the practicalities of their quiet existence. Despite their past failures, they resolve to seek some purpose and hope when the army post is withdrawn from the town.

IMDb

There are also several geographical sites named Three Sisters.

The Three Sisters in der Abendsonne
The The Three Sisters, Alberta, Canada.
Blue_mountains_-_three_sisters
Three Sisters, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.
The_Three_Sisters,_Torres_Strait_(Landsat)
The Three Sisters islands, Queensland, Australia.

But I prefer popular culture sisters. In Little Women, there are four sisters, so that never worked out for me to label them as me and my sisters. Meg was clearly my sister Cathy, sweet and nurturing and maternal. Jo was obviously Ellen, funny and athletic and the one who holds them together. But was I kind, sweet, sickly Beth or artistic, selfish and temperamental Amy? I think I was a bit of a mix, without the sickly part. Of course, we all had a bit of each sister in us.

jw_smith_pix_bookcover

Then we get to the Gabor sisters. I don’t think there are any personality matches there (thank goodness).

Gabor

As a child of the 1960s, I watched endless reruns of Petticoat Junction.

petticoats

And I can’t leave out the Brady sisters! Oddly, my favorite was poor maligned middle sister Jan. I couldn’t stand goody two-shoes Marsha or insipid youngest Cindy. And Jan had the long beautiful hair.

brady sisters

My favorite isn’t a story of three sisters but of two. The 1954 movie White Christmas is not the best (or the worst), but at the beginning of the movie  comes the song Sisters, by Irving Berlin.

Sisters
Sisters
There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir”
I’m there to keep my eye on her

Caring
Sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing

When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress and I stayed home

All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two diff’rent faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one

Those who’ve
Seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us

Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man

In the film, the song is performed by the Haynes sisters, played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Vera-Ellen was a dancer, not a singer, so for this song, her lines were actually performed by Clooney as well (i.e., Rosemary Clooney sang a duet with herself).

Musical-Monday-White-Christmas-Movies-Tom-LOrenzo-Site-TLO-2

I, however, am partial to the version done in the film by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

hqdefault

But you are here to see kitten pictures! Here you go, the three beautiful sisters at their weigh-in yesterday.

IMG_4865.jpg
Joelle
IMG_4863
Amelie
IMG_4870
Elodie

Please consider fostering for your local shelter or other animal rescue organization. Not only do you help them save more lives, you get the wonderful opportunity to spend time with some amazing animals such as Joelle, Amelie, and Elodie. I foster for the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, CA. It’s one of the best things I do in my life.

photo1531

 

 

The Kitten Chronicles, Redux

family
Mars with the “candy babies”, Milky Way, Snickers, Reeses, Twix, and Dove at about 5 days old.

It’s kitten season! I love kitten season, and I hate kitten season. Kittens are absolutely adorable and so much fun. But there are so many of them all summer, and the sad truth is that when there are kittens available at the animal shelter, the wonderful adult cats tend to stay longer waiting to be adopted. Until the spay/neuter message really gets out there, there are more kittens than the shelters can care for. In steps the foster brigade, of which I am a proud member since last summer. The foster team at the East Bay SPCA, led by Joseph and Mimi, does awesome work facilitating the program.

After a short winter break, we have our new guests in the foster quarters, aka the guest bathroom. Mother kitty Mars came to us with her 5 babies on April 9 when they were about 4 days old. Of course, I immediately fell in love with them all!

Mars
Mars, a little unsure of her new surroundings at first.
Dove 2
Dove (boy)
Milky Way 1
Milky Way (girl)
Reeses 1
Reeses (girl)
Snickers
Snickers (boy)
Twix 1
The littlest, Twix (girl)

Mars is such a devoted mother, after 2 weeks still only leaving them to eat and use the litter box.

IMG_2923

And the babies, though still tiny, get bigger and more active every day. Their eyes are open now. Even though Twix is the smallest, she was first to see the world!

IMG_2884
Meet Miss Twix!
IMG_0772
Twix snuggles up against Mars while her siblings walk all over each other.

Their personalities are also starting to shine through. Dove is the loudest and the pushiest, always in best position at the milk bar and most likely to be on top of the kitten pile. Milky Way was the first to purr, and is like a cuddly, sleepy teddy bear. The orange twins, Reeses and Snickers, are always together. Snickers is defnitely going to be the Classic Orange Tabby. And little Twix, feisty and determined but still a mama’s girl. She’s the one who tugs on my heart strings.

IMG_2952
Cuddly sleepyhead Milky Way.
IMG_2996
Snickers makes a nice pillow for Twix, left, and Reeses, right.
IMG_3014
Dove makes his way to the top.
IMG_3019
Snickers in a rare moment without Reeses.

The family has been with us 2 weeks now. The kittens had a weigh-in yesterday; Reeses is the biggest at 11 ounces, Snickers, Dove, and Milky Way all came in at 10 ounces, with little Twix pulling up the rear at 8 ounces. Just remember, great things come in small packages!

IMG_3071
Sweet, devoted Mars.
IMG_3036
Getting hard to hold on to!
IMG_3075
Reeses
IMG_3040
Snickers
IMG_3067
Happiest together.
IMG_3043
Dove in a quiet moment.
IMG_3081
Milky Way, and her pink toe beans!
IMG_3058
Little Twix, too curious to stay still for the camera.

They change every day. More fun times and updates ahead!