The Animals That Need Us the Most

As you may know, the Crankee Yankee and I are owned by five cats; this is how it all began. Our first of the five, Nala, our only female cat, had belonged to a couple who had adopted a dog. The dog and Nala didn’t get along, and she was unhappily hiding and living in the basement. We had just lost our beloved 20-year old cat Blackie, so we took Nala in, where she quickly blossomed into the undisputed queen of the house.

A few months later, I read about some “Desperate Housecats” who had been in the Cocheco shelter for several months, and needed homes right away. I saw all their pictures, and a shy little black cat caught my eye; Pookie. He came from a home with too many kids and animals. He came to us with a serious UTI and eye problems which we treated right away. He and Nala hit it off after a semi-rocky start.

Plumpy-Nut was a stray we fed all one spring, summer and fall a few years ago. As winter approached, we took him in (as he didn’t appear to belong to anyone) to our vet to be neutered, *micro-chipped and given all his necessary shots. He fit in as though he’d been with us always.

Tinker showed up shortly after the time we met Plumpy-Nut, and we fed and sheltered him as well. We tried to find out if he had an owner with no success. So we took him to our vet to get his shots and micro chip. Someone must have owned him at one time because he was already neutered. We made the decision to make him part of our family when we saw that he was sleeping near the house in the grass on a cold day. He is now safe and comfortable and always finds the softest place to sleep.

Bailey was my parents’ cat. When Mom died, Dad took care of him. The day came when Dad could no longer care for him, so we moved Bailey to our house. Soon after, we moved Dad in with us. Bailey is now friends with the others, and is part of the family.

Each of our cats were full grown when we got them. Like most people, we think that kittens are adorable, but still prefer older cats. Older cats are more set in their ways, which is actually an advantage. With kittens, you never know if you’re going to get a curtain climber, a toilet paper unraveler, a pouncer on bare feet and so on.

Many folks don’t like adopting an older cat because of possible medical problems, with the time and expense involved. But they are worth it. Seeing older cats in a shelter always tugs at my heart; they need a safe and loving home and a family who loves and cares for them.

I am not a fan of ‘special breed’ cats, or dogs. Yes, many are cute and sweet, but there are so many wonderful animals in shelters who need good homes. We are the kind of people who would adopt a three-legged cat, a blind or deaf cat, and so on. We had one stray we adopted a few years back and discovered that he had a weak heart and needed special meds and treatment.

We named him Pepper and kept him healthy and happy until the meds no longer worked. We were lucky to have him for nearly 10 months, but in that short time we gave him all the love and attention we could.

If you are thinking of adopting a pet from a good shelter, know that you are doing angels’ work. You are giving a sweet animal a loving and safe home, attention, food and water that they can count on each day, plus all the love you can give them.

Many people do not want a pet as they know how much it will hurt when the time comes to take their pet to the vet for the last time. I will tell you from my heart what it is like to hold a beloved old cat in my arms, whispering words of love in her ears until she closes her eyes for the last time. Believe me, it is worth that brief time of pain for all those precious years of love and companionship.

In closing, I would like you to know that my dear artist friend, Diane Kirkup, is working with the Bangor Humane Society, and is giving 30% of her jewelry sales from Oct. 10th through midnight Oct. 15th to benefit the animals at that shelter.  You can see her beautiful jewelry at

*Even if your animal never goes outside, it is a good idea to micro-chip your pets. All of our cats are micro-chipped and belong to Home Again Petfinder. On the off chance that they do get out, micro-chipping will help you get your pet back again.


We Can Only Be Who We Are

Just a quick note here: I often write posts about something I’ve experienced. I do this not to make myself a star in my own story, but with the hope that what I’ve learned may help others who read my blog. And to all who do read my blog, I’m grateful for your time and interest.

It is said that, prior to birth, we choose the parents we need. My mother always told me that her growing up was hard and very nearly loveless, but that she was grateful because it made her the strong person she became.

Her mother, Effie, was divorced by the time my mother was born (and she was a ‘surprise’ that Effie was not happy about, either). Mom had an older sister from her mother’s first marriage, and three brothers all much older than she was. Effie had at least two jobs going at any time, and there was very little time for her to pay much attention to Mom. I remember Mom telling me how much she wished for her mother to just put her arms around her, but that rarely happened.

As a little girl, Mom vowed that when she became a mother herself, she would shower her child with love and affection and attention. And she did; she was always hugging and kissing me, and telling me how much she loved me. I never had to wonder if she cared for me; I knew she did.

As we all know, when we are children we adore our parents; our protectors, our cheerleaders and our fixed point on the Earth. As we grow older, we see our parents’ very human flaws, and realize that they are just people after all; not gods. We may or may not forgive them for this.

We may find that the mother or father we looked up to had flaws. We may be dismayed and disappointed in them at times, but we are part of each other. Sometimes we have to just go along to get along. Often the ones we love the most push us to be better, or browbeat us for not being what they think we should be.

It is then that we realize that our lives may not always be in balance together; sad but true. It doesn’t make us better or worse; it just IS. Part of living is accepting who we are, and often grieving that our parents or siblings don’t accept us as we are. That’s the time when we may have to say that we are sorry, but we just can’t be what they want us to be.

Deep down, we are what we are. We are here at this time and in these circumstances to be all that it is in us to be. And if that doesn’t always work with our families, then we have to find our own ways of balancing who we are against who and what our families may want us to be.

Sad but true.


Purging the Inner Hurts

The other night as I was gearing down for sleep, I started looking at cat and dog videos. I usually always go for the ‘cute kitties’ or ‘silly dogs’ or ‘too adorable for words animals,’ and so on. For some dark reason, I opened a video of a kitten who was stuck on what looked like a large sheet of flypaper. I learned later on that in some countries this is a ‘humane’ sort of trap.

Well—-I watched the video of this tiny kitten, who looked like he/she had just about given up on life. A vet attendant was patiently and kindly washing it with warm water and liquid soap, and bit by bit, the kitten was getting freed from the nasty gook it was stuck in.

I couldn’t stop watching, although the video made me cry, and cry hard. As the kitten slowly was washed clean and was finally off the sticky stuff, it meowed. Although there was no sound in this video, I felt it was a meow of relief. It was as if it knew that it was finally free and was clean again.

Unfortunately, the video only had a musical background, and there was no message of what happened after the kitten was freed. As it looked to be a veterinarian clinic, I can only assume that the kitten was dried off, fed, watered and put in a warm, safe bed to recover and then to be adopted into a loving, kind and responsible home.

These are the kinds of things I generally never watch because they upset me so much. But this one somehow let the inner demons out for me. I am constantly finding that grief over my parents (Mom gone on December 16, 2015, and Dad on April 22 of this year) comes and goes in fits and starts.

Some of it comes out when I see or hear something sad, such as the recent events in Las Vegas, the deadly hurricanes and earthquakes. It is a mix of sadness, fear, anger, hurt, frustration and restlessness. I was afraid that seeing this kitten in such dire straits would keep me up all night worrying and fretting and feeling sad.

Instead, I found that in my own story of “what happened next” I envisioned that kitten, clean, fluffy, well fed, comfortable and living safely in a loving home, purring away in a soft bed. I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments when you realize that, although you cannot change the outcome of things, you can at least relegate these things to a place of kindness, comfort, happiness and peace.

Then I ask myself, ‘am I doing all I can to honor my parents, show love to my family and friends, live the best way I can and be a good person?’ If I can say that during each day I have done (or at least tried to) some of these things, I am doing all right.

It is imperative to our minds, bodies and souls that we give ourselves time to grieve and time to survive the grief. There is no time limit and there are no rules for it; it is what it is for each person. We do not have to carry these inner hurts forever. If we can examine one hurt at a time, give it attention, and resolve to let it go, we can survive pain and grief.

As that little kitten was slowly and surely being saved, so can we help save ourselves by letting ourselves be comforted and letting go of as many inner hurts as we can. It’s a process, and it takes time. But it can be done.

More That Unites Us Than Divides Us

During this sad time after so many natural and man-made disasters, a friend sent me this poem, which I will share with you. It especially called to me after I had heard of so many brave souls who jumped into action in as Vegas to help and save as many people as they could. They did not get up that morning knowing that their actions would save lives.

They could not have known that there would be people who would have been on that sad roster of the dead but for their quick thinking and bravery.

As one first responder said, “There is more that unites us than divides us.” There are blessings that may be unseen at the time of crisis, but there are there just the same.

I hope that this poem touches your heart as it did mine.

Blessing When the World is Ending

Look, the world

is always ending
the sun has come
crashing down.
it has gone
completely dark.
it has ended
with the gun,
the knife,
the fist.
it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the television,
the hospital room.
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.
But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.
It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.
This blessing
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.
It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins


—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace 

Trans Fats and Why We Should Hate Them

Note: I wrote a similar post on trans fat a few years ago. Now that the Crankee Yankee and I are interested in losing some weight, I dusted this one off .

What exactly are trans fats, anyway? You can find all the information you could possibly want to know about them on countless websites, so I won’t tell you here. But I will tell you that trans fats are bad and we should all hate them.

Why? Because trans fats’ main gig is to make unhealthy foods taste fabulously good. Respectable people who by day virtuously lunch on green salads and 12-grain bread can be seen after dark, driving stealthily up to the local McDoodles wearing a fake mustache and a big hat.

How does this happen? My personal theory is that, the more healthy foods you eat, the more you feel entitled to take a walk on the dark side now and then.

And that occasional foray can become a greasy slope. You approach like an ant to a pitcher plant, drawn by the seductive scent of mystery meat, fatty cheese and double-fried fish fillets. But once you slip and fall in, it takes a heroic struggle to get out—if you can.

There are many “good fats” that should be part of our daily diet; these actually improve body function. But trans fats are just no good, and are certainly no friend to any of our body functions.

Trans fats are the bullies of the fat world. They will throw your sneakers up into trees and push your face in the dirt, all the while clogging your arteries with cholesterol. They know the extent of their badness, and they aren’t the least bit remorseful. They love it when the top button on your pants parts company with its buttonhole so violently that it bursts into flame.

Trans fats are out to get us so unhealthy that, when the space aliens finally arrive to take over the earth, we won’t have the strength or will to resist. At that time, our only hope will be to offer them a triple cheeseburger and super-sized fries and hope for the best.

Please pass the Brussels sprouts….

Vitamin “N”

I recently heard John Roseman (on PragerU) talk about a serious “vitamin deficiency” kids are missing today; vitamin “No.” There was a study done about the cause and effect of parents who did and did not give their children each and everything they wanted when they wanted it.

Long story short, the children of the parents who gave them everything and didn’t require them to earn what they wanted became angry, lethargic, depressed, whiny, unhappy, unfulfilled, and were likely to get into drugs and alcohol.

The children of parents who required them to work for what they wanted were in general happy, well-balanced, smart, responsible, empathetic, caring and compassionate.

I was born in 1951, and at a very young age, I understand what the phrase “we can’t afford it” meant. Once that phrase was spoken, that was it; end of story. No whining or begging could change it; we just could not afford everything I wanted.

But my parents gave me a way to earn what I wanted. I washed dishes for 15 cents, I dusted the furniture for 10 cents, I shoveled the snow out of the driveway for 25 cents, and so on. My friend Mike and I used to take his wagon and scour the neighborhood for empty glass soda bottles to return to the candy store. I put every cent into my piggy  bank.

Dad taught me how to ski one winter, and I loved it. Back then, the latest and greatest ski outfit included the new stretch pants. They were wonderful, and expensive. Not only did they keep you warm while skiing, but they really cut the wind resistance. That part was especially important to me since I was downhill and slalom racing by then.

A pair of regular black stretch pants cost $25; an unheard of amount of money! But I stuck to my dishwashing, dusting, shoveling snow and any other chore I could do to earn money toward my precious stretch pants.

When the day came that I had amassed that $25, Dad told me that he was proud of me. He took me downtown to buy my first pair of stretch pants, paid for with my own money. I was so proud of those stretch pants, and I took good care of them. I knew how hard I’d worked to buy them. I wore them until they just about fell apart.

It makes me cringe when I hear kids saying that they broke their $700 smart phone, but it didn’t matter, because Mom or Dad would just buy them a new one. The problem with this is that the world will not treat those kids kindly. They will find that, sadly, they will be accountable for their actions, and that Mom and Dad can’t always bail them out.

This is just my two cents, but I think that more vitamin “N” may be the answer.