The Cat’s Meow

I didn’t grow up having cats as pets. To be honest, I didn’t give cats much thought. I believed the stereotypes about them, that they are arrogant, the owner follows THEIR rules, and they climb on everything in sight. I have to say, when I lived in the city I had a cat that for reasons known only to her….picked me to be her person. She was a stray that lived on my front porch. I started feeding her and that sealed the deal. She was mine from then on. A small delicate, black cat. I named her Salem. Having an outside cat worked for me. She had her life. I had mine. I pet her and fed her and she purred for me. Then I married my husband. He had inside cats…..so now I had inside cats too.

Samson

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Samson was a black Maine Coon, long haired and elegant. Samson was very stealthy. He could sneak up on a person before she realized he was even there. One night, early on in our marriage, my husband and I had gone to bed. It was pitch black in the bedroom so I couldn’t see a black cat. Samson found his way to the top of my head and curled himself into a tight furry ball on my pillow. In the middle of the night I woke up, feeling a “presence”, it was like I was wearing one of those fuzzy Russian hats. Joe was the other cat. A black and white domestic cat. A sweet boy who liked to “talk”, and was content to lay around and watch the comings and goings of the family members. My husband was Joe’s person.

All three of the cats I mentioned have passed on. Samson, from old age, went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Salem, for whatever reason got high blood pressure, went blind, and had a stroke. Her poor health broke my heart. Joe just recently passed from a 6 month bout with feline cancer. Joe was the first pet I’ve ever had to put to sleep. I cried like a baby.

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Nikki is a calico. I suspect that she was “dumped” out here in the country, by someone who no longer could afford to take care of her. She showed up at our house several years ago, and hung out under our deck. I noticed her one morning and coaxed her to me. From then on she was ours. We ended up bringing her inside because she had already been declawed and fixed. She couldn’t live outside with no front claws. If I could sum Nikki up in one word, it would be persistent. She loves being loved.

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A couple of years ago, stray mama cat chose our barn for her labor and delivery. She bore five kittens, four survived. For being stray kittens, even the vet has said, “They are some of the most beautiful cats I’ve ever seen.” Lara Croft (Barn Raider) is a buff long haired girl, her sister Juliette a sleek Tabico (tabby with calico coloring), and the two boys are big and long. Dante a sleek white, and his brother, Virgil, a gorgeous long haired white. Virgil does not understand that he is a long haired white, and is not above trouncing through whatever might be on the barn floor. Dante went to live with our grandson, in Texas, the other three are with us. They live in the barn and hunt around our twelve country acres. They are the best mousers, hands (or paws?) down!

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This puts us up to last October. I was on my way to work with one of my home instruction students, when I saw the smallest little piece of gray and white fluff on the side of the road…..in the middle of nowhere. No houses around. This little guy looked like he couldn’t have been weaned for very long. He was so small! I called home, and my daughter drove to where I gave directions and picked the little guy up. I took Itty Bitty to the vet and he was checked out. Now, he lives here with us and his other feline friends.

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Finally……last but not least…..is Jack. Jack is a young orange tabby that showed up at our house a couple of months ago. I don’t know where he came from. He was attracted to me like a magnet. Every day he greets me when I go over to the barn. I am seriously wanting to bring Jack inside. He has a special place in my heart.

So, as you can see, I am now a dog AND cat person. Probably, if truth be told, I am just a plain ol’ animal person.

It is difficult to obtain the friendship of a cat. It is a philosophical animal… one that does not place its affections thoughtlessly.

Hot Diggity Dog!

I’ve been thinking about dogs lately. Actually, I think about dogs quite a bit, since my family has four of them! Each of them is unique and special, with their own personality. If a person doesn’t understand that, than it is pretty clear to me that he/she has never owned a dog. I really can’t imagine my life without my canine companions. They make me laugh. They make me yell (sometimes). They shed and howl and bark. They jump and lick and are loyal beyond anything else.

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Ace is technically my daughters dog, although she “shares” him with the rest of the family. He is a twelve year old baby. He may be getting old, and because his joints ache, he takes longer to get moving, but he loves to love. Even though he is a 70 lb, pure bred Scotch Collie, he does not understand why he can’t be a lap dog, after all he is a dog and we have laps. Ace has been the best guard dog….running the perimeter of our property, letting the coyotes know that they are not welcome here. Now, he spends his days laying around the yard, and barking at the UPS guy…..not because he will eat the guy (in his old age he doesn’t have many front teeth left), but because he knows the guy will give him a treat. According to Ace, the UPS guy is smart. The FedEx guy needs to get with the program.

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Lonnie is a Terrier mix, the vet thinks maybe a Terrier and a Schipperke. Lonnie is my son’s dog…he and I went to the shelter and picked Lonnie out of a line-up. From the moment I saw the, then 5 year old little guy, with his big brown eyes and energetic spirit, I knew he was the one….so did my son. In a few months we will celebrate 5 years with Lonnie. I can’t imagine life without this guy. He makes me laugh. He can do several tricks and runs in circles when he knows it is time to go outside. I enjoy laying on the living room floor with this little guy laying next to me. He also enjoys a good massage and belly rub during our TV time. This dog isn’t spoiled, at all. Really. I promise.

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August of 2014, the family decided to get another dog. My daughter and I made a trip back to the local shelter. Rocky was a 1.5 year old brindle Boxer and not really sure what other breed, mix. I think maybe a lab? Really not sure, and Rocky isn’t saying. Rocky was the dog in the back of the kennel with his tail tucked between his legs, nervous to come to the fence so he could be pet. He wanted to, but he was scared. Come to find out, he had been an owner surrender, his first family couldn’t afford his care. He was then adopted and brought back, because another family dog didn’t get along with him. Poor guy. He needed a family to love. My daughter and I looked at each other. We knew this shy brindle was going to be our newest family member. After bringing Rocky home, it took a little while for him to not be so scared…..you’d never know it to look at him now! Rocky has a vicious bark and scares the delivery drivers, “I think he would eat me for lunch!”, but Rocky is a true love bug. He is content to run around the yard and play with his other furry friends, or lay at my feet while I’m sitting at the table. He has soulful brown eyes, and I swear he knows how great life is now, compared to what it was. He is grateful. I can feel it, and see it in his expression. I love this guy and am so happy we chose him……even if he has chewed up my solar lights, ripped up plants, and mauled all his toys. Such is the life of a dog owner.

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Lastly, is our little surprise, Mitford. Last September, Miss Sophia (the neighbor’s dog) and our Ace were the proud parents of six little bundles of joy. Sophia decided to have her precious pups up under our deck. We could hear them crying, so my daughter did an army crawl through the (very) narrow space under our deck to retrieve the puppies and bring them up on the deck where we could all admire them. Pudgy and blind, but we fell in love with them. We and the neighbors each kept a puppy and the rest were given to good homes. Mitford will celebrate his first birthday on the 29th of this month. He has the beautiful soft fur and curled up tail of his mama, and the coloring and size of his daddy. Mitford has enough energy for everyone. He is a natural “fetcher” and loves to chase–and bring back his toys for more. I love to pet him, as his fur is incredibly soft. He irritates his grumpy daddy with all his shenanigans, but loves running around with his buddy, Rocky.

Yes. I love dogs. I have always considered myself a dog person. I was fine with this title until about ten years ago…..then I married a cat person. Now, I’ve expanded my love to the feline persuasion too. I’ll blog about them in my next post.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 

Decisions…Decisions…Decisions…

IMG_1174Some days threaten to pull me under, not because of anything life changing, or terrible that has happened. No, it is more of the mundane. The little things that gnaw at me. The schedule, the decisions, the ups and downs of living on this spinning orb. On days like today, I mull over the hours in the day and can’t make up my mind. I know what I need to do, but I don’t feel like it. Isn’t that true for most of us? It is rarely the huge, life changing decisions that we worry about or second guess. It is more likely the little daily decisions that cause us to fret.

The seemingly small, daily decisions create a path that leads us through our days…….

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (NIV)

 

 

9/11/2001 We Remember…

A DIFFERENT WORLD

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

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The day was normal. Just like any other. Elementary school children chattering with each other. My teaching assistant and I were working with our reading groups on that Tuesday morning. A sunny day, nothing out of the ordinary…and then a fellow teacher popped into my classroom to tell me to go and watch the TV in the school conference room. I excused myself, leaving my kiddos with my assistant for a minute.

I stared at the television, not comprehending what I was looking at. The plane, the World Trade Center, the fire and smoke. People everywhere. The second plane hitting the building. News anchors eerily silent as, even they, had no words for what they were seeing. Chills ran across me as I stared in disbelief.

I numbly walked back to my classroom. Knowing that life was different now.

I told my assistant to go to the conference room.

I looked at the faces of all my young students and realized that life as we knew it would never be the same. These children would grow up in a different world than I had.

And it made me so sad.

September 11, 2001 — We Remember

Living in Grace

The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing a long term substitute teaching job at a local middle school. The school is about twenty minutes from my house. I don’t really mind the drive, because most of the roads I take are out in the country. I take the time to admire the late summer corn surrounding the white farmhouse and barn in its sea of green. I stop and watch a mama deer and her two babies (still with white spots on their backs) cross the road. I wind through turns and pass by more farmhouses. I notice some trees with the slightest hint of beginning to turn from summer’s green to autumn’s golds and oranges. I always watch the black and deep chestnut colored horses. Friday morning they were standing close together, right next to the fence, looking as if they were whispering to each other.

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As I drove along, radio turned down low, I started to think about my life and how it has played out thus far. Driving alone tends to make me contemplative. I started to list all the ways that God has shown Himself to me….throughout my life. The good times, the hard times, the thrilling times and the heartbreaking times. My life, much like yours, truly is a tapestry of the moments of each day, woven together to create something unique to each of us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Life has not always been easy or fun, but even in those difficult times, I can look back and see God at work in my life. Like most of us, I’ve made some good choices and some poor choices through the years, especially as a young adult. I shudder to think what might have been. I realize and am humbled to know it is only because of God’s unending mercy and grace that I am where I am today. My life is no mistake. Neither is yours. Dwell on that for a minute. On that early morning drive, I thought about that. Tears squeezed out the corners of my eyes and slid down my cheeks. I tried to stop, because I didn’t want to mess up my make-up on the way to work, but a few more slid out leaving me with a tear stained face. When one truly understands God’s mercy and grace as it pertains to him/her personally, it SHOULD overwhelm you, because His grace truly is amazing. Mercy is when God chooses to withhold the consequences of punishment for what we DO deserve, and grace is when He gives to us, and gives to us (unmerited favor) …all the things we DON’T really deserve. The realization is humbling. How can we not give thanks, with each breath that we take?

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”