Friday, June 25, 2010

Not There

It's done. My beloved Oma has moved to an assisted living facility. The move is quite against her will. She thinks she is still capable of taking care of herself and living on her own, thank you very much. Of course, she can still drive. Except that she can't. Doctors orders. Of course, she still cooks, it is her life long passion after all, except she no longer remembers how to even cook eggs. Dementia has whisked her out the door of her home, her sanctuary, her stalwart identity of independence. The house at 296 Lake Street, my Oma's house, has lost its soul.

In that house, that suddenly silent house, stands a room that lives more poignantly in my heart than any other I've known. It is the room of comfort and joy. It is, it was my Oma's dining room. My entire life has been made up of occasions, large and small, that were celebrated, as a family, in that room. Some of the best meals of my life were served there, bathed in evening light; the earthy red cabbage (rot kohl) only Germans can properly prepare, the whipped cream tortes, the homemade pickled pumpkin, the meal-of-my-dreams that will never be served again with the same love or perfect hand, pfutchens and wine soup.

For the past 2 years I accepted every invitation to dine in that room, knowing that each meal could be the last. As all things do, the end has come. The gatherings pass into memory, the world turns, the evening light is extinguished. She is still here, but not there. There in the house of independence and love, and the room of my comfort and joy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Touch With Cream And Blue

Yesterday, I went to visit Creamsicle and Blue. It was the first time I ever touched them. They were so scared and my heart felt sad, but I'm assured they will come around. The care they are being given is fantastic.

Would you mind sending up a few prayers and requests that a loving person with patience and understanding will come along to give them a safe and happy home? If you live in Buffalo, would you mind paying them a visit a the SPCA shelter at Eastern Hills Mall and letting them know in person they are loved? Thanks from me to you. xo

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I sit in the kitchen, fan whirring on high, as night falls on the last shards of spring. The evening star, beacon and friend, descends a blink at a time down the dusty window screen. I look up from a borrowed book. The room is scented with cold tea, green with jasmine, and the few remaining licks inside a yogurt cup. I notice the jumble of mugs and flea market juice glasses waiting to be washed. I quickly gaze past them and settle my eyes on the bee.

It was on the floor, dead, by the cat food bowl earlier in the week. I remember not not wanting to throw it away, but felt too lazy, at the time, to lay it under the hostas. So instead, I placed the bee on the sill, one stiff leg pointing skyward.

It is such an impossible little creature, with cellophane wings too small, in theory, to lift its weight. Yet, those bits of cellophane carried it up to my second floor kitchen, defying science and reason. Whether it died at the paws of a cat or whether it simply expired, unaided, next to the button-shaped kibble, I cannot know.

But its messages of "things are not so impossible as they seem" and "with willingness comes lift", I can know and I do know, and in its sacrifice, at the last shards of spring, I remembered.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The New Sheltered Life

Creamsicle~ so scared!
Blue~ scared, too!
Stephanie loving up to Blue
1st minutes at eastern hills mall, back together again.
Stephanie sitting in front of the boys
the cat room~ super clean!

The 2nd Rescue~part 2

The trusted little voice within that led me to 4 stray cats this past January, led me in May to a fairly new cat shelter at a local mall. At that mall shelter, I spoke with a volunteer and told her the story of Creamsicle and Blue. The story upset her. Especially the part of Creamsicle being labeled a feral. I inquired as to what it takes to get cats into that stellar and highly visible shelter. I was told they were not taking anymore cats. But. If I was willing to buy a dog cage and pay for the vet bills, they would take them, heal them and put them front and center with the other cats-in-a-row. The volunteer, Stephanie, told me they would absolutely find a loving home through their shelter. The woman in charge, Sue, also known as a cat whisperer, told me even if Creamsicle had feral tendencies, she would work with him and make him adoptable in short order. I was sold. And elated.

My plan evolved. I began the inquiry, via email, with the private shelter about being able to adopt the boys myself. I was met with heavy resistance. Just because I surrendered the cats did not give me the right to adopt them. They were now "owned" by the woman running the shelter. And she did not deem them adoptable at this time. Blue had only recently been neutered and given shots, and Creamsicle had made such a fuss at the spay/neuter clinic, hiding and scratching, the vet labeled him feral and would not perform the sterilization. A cat without shots and a neuter could not be adopted. The boys were now separated. Blue was in a small "healthy-cat" room (of which almost half the cats I witnessed in that room back in April were NOT healthy) and Creamsicle remained in his cage, alone, in the "getting acquainted/sick room".

I bought a large bag of saccharine. I spoon fed myself heaping quantities and wrote more emails. I was as nice and as patient as humanly possible. I out-right lied. I swallowed more saccharine and lied some more. And after more than a month, it was agreed I could have the boys back, not as an adoption, but as a "return of surrender", thereby absolving the private shelter of the need to give Creamsicle his veterinary care, or have any liability regarding the cats. The shelter made a last ditch attempt to convince me how much better off the cats would be in their care and that my responsibility had ended when I brought them in from the cold. I declined the offer and asked for the cats.

During my month of saccharine and lies, Stephanie kept in touch with me, asking for updates and helping me keep the faith. A cat-loving friend at work, Lynn, emptied her coin jar and gave me money to buy the dog cage. Because I found one on sale, her donation will go even farther. And finally, finally this past Monday evening at a gas station parking lot not far from the private shelter, Creamsicle and Blue were returned to me.

We drove immediately to Stephanie at the mall. Darling woman that she is, she welcomed them with big, loving arms. The boys were traumatized by the car ride and she had them calm in no time. She told them she loved them and with that, my lying days were over.

On Tuesday, the cat whisperer, Sue, paid the boys a visit and had Creamsicle sitting in her lap right away. She took him to her shelter's veterinarian and had him properly cared for. The vet laughed at the notion that Creamsicle was feral. Yesterday's email from Stephanie had me in tears, however. Both cats had arrived in rough shape. Ear mites, eye troubles and Blue, sweet Blue, has tapeworm soars on his skin and a virus on his tongue ,that if left uncared for, would "rot out his tongue". Rot out his tongue???? Holy mother of god. Stephanie said I got them to proper care in the nick of time. And both cats will be fully restored to health.

So this is what I ask of you, should you live in the Buffalo, New York area. Go visit Creamsicle and Blue. You will find them together, in full public view, at the Wyoming County SPCA satellite shelter at Eastern Hills Mall. Go in through the movie theater doors by Macy's. Look left and there they'll be, along with 65 or so other gorgeous cats. Give the boys some love. Let's heal them together and help them find the most loving home possible.(Stephanie would like to adopt them as a pair!)

Warning: I speak, on this video, as if I were an 8 year old child. Maybe a 6 year old. Feel free to roll your eyes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The 2nd Rescue of Creamsicle and Blue

I had planned to write an update on the adventures and well being of the beautiful strays, Creamsicle and Blue, at the beginning of April.  I had planned to tell you how I was going to be a volunteer at the private shelter the boys were living at, how I was starting a blog to help get the word out about all the wonderful cats waiting for good homes. But the moment I stepped foot in that private shelter, the moment I saw for myself where the boys had been living since the end of January, my plans changed.

Instead of finding a scene that matched the glowing words I had been told for more than 2 months, I found a stench that almost brought me to my knees in the patio room where the boys were kept. The "getting acquainted/sick room" was ripe with illness and some cats in obvious pain. The little cat with complete bowel failure, coated in its own dried feces, and the panting cat, coated in her own dried saliva (from a toothache, I was told) horrified me the most. The boys were in a cage together, still unchecked by a veterinarian. Blue had developed an eye infection. Creamsicle looked terribly frightened. I was told he was likely a feral cat.

I toured the other parts of the small shelter and met most of the 200 cats. Say that again, 200 cats. It was obviously an understaffed operation, with 4 volunteers and the owner, if I recall correctly, and one of the volunteers had just quit. It was easy to see the situation was overwhelming. But in putting together some puzzling phrases I had heard from the ladies over the coarse of those 2 months and seeing the shelter in person and hearing some obvious statements of defense while at the shelter and realizing the attempts to adopt out any of the cats were few and far between, it hit me. What likely began as an extremely well-meaning, big-hearted desire to help the displaced cats of the world, turned into cat hoarding.

After taking a few videos of the crowded, healthy-cat section (there are some gorgeous cats in residence), I left with a thank you and a smile on my face. That smile was utterly false. I drove away and burst into tears. My God, what had I done? I got home and called no less than 4 cat-loving friends, sobbing and practically begging them to help me figure out what to do for Creamsicle and Blue.

After returning from Istanbul, I went in search of help. On the first day of my quest, I found it. With luck, divine intervention and the willingness of 2 fantastic women, I formulated a plan...

  Blue: april 2010

Creamsicle: april 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

i have news

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right,
especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.
Society's punishments are small compared
to the wounds we inflict on our soul
when we look  the other way."

Martin Luther King

i have news of creamsicle and blue.
stay tuned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the joy project

As my brain clears and my head bobs to the surface, I can see the far horizon of summer. From this bobbing point and that distant line of earth meeting sky, I am formulating a plan, best termed a project, and it is all about joy; the seeking it, the finding it, the embracing it, the remembering what it feels like to live in it. This is my summer of the joy project. The goal is no less than the reclamation of me~ body, mind and soul. Join me, if you will, in dedicating this summer to keeping our hearts open to the little things that lift the spirits and remind us how glorious life can be.

The joy project filler-upper number 1, for me, is always nature. Luckily, I live 1 mile from an active arabian horse farm. I plan to hover at its fences on my way home from work, numerous times each week, to refill what was drained away.

And I promise myself I will pull over for the unexpected when it presents itself~ like the elusive mother wood duck and her 7 babies seen grazing on the side of the road yesterday. So what if I caused a bit of traffic annoyance as I slammed on my brakes and maneuvered closer to the painted lady and her brood. I had never seen a wood duck so out in the open and refused to miss the chance to observe.

Note to self: spend entire summer with camera at the ready. Capturing  joy brings joy.

So. Are you with me?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

it happens

it happens.

eventually, when the output of energy required during 40 hours of the week is greater than what is available within and like me, you just keep pushing onward for a very long time, and the various circumstances that make up your life each have their own stresses and those stresses mound themselves on top of one another, things begin to shut down.

eventually, like me, you may find yourself unable to enjoy a life beyond those bill-paying 40 hours, which realistically take up 56 hours of the week (with prep and commute) if you don't have to work overtime. you begin to decline invitations, you rarely answer the phone, email reply becomes spotty at best and one day you find yourself watching reality tv because your mind and body have gone numb.

interest is lost in most things that once sparked your imagination. emotions become out of balance. joy goes out the window and you are left sitting next to that window watching life blandly slip by. perhaps then, on the 3rd of 3 precious days off in a row from the usual work day extravaganza you find yourself, like me, unable to maintain a vertical position for any length of time, you may finally say, "what the f*ck".

you seek help.

eventually, like me, you will find a trusted soul who will say to you your adrenal glands, those power packs that sit on top of your kidneys, are spent. fatigued. exhausted. if you do some research you will find that every symptom of adrenal fatigue can be marked with a little red check. that trusted soul also has wonderful recommendations to help combat this level of fatigue and fingers crossed, gain back the life you've surrendered to useless television. you buy kelp tablets, a cadillac-level mutli vitamin and 100 capsules of b-complex. you begin to pop them like pez. you vow to eat better, even if it costs more money to buy already prepared dinners. there is joy on the far horizon and you vow to drag yourself there.

so this is me, dragging myself back to joy and interest in blogging and all around verve, one little homeopathic pill at a time.