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Posts Tagged ‘Cats’

I heard the clickity-clack of Ms Bean’s toes pacing around the bedroom, followed by flashes of lightening and thunder. I had no idea what time it was when Bob’s cell started blaring like an Amber Alert. Then came the sirens. It was 12:45 am.

That night, Bob had gone out to a neighborhood association meeting. I was disgusted with politics – Amy had dropped out, then Pete – and I’d become habituated to the  non-stop storm weather coverage. Tornado watches were nothing new in Nashville. Following all the transplanted, tough northerners, I barely paid attention to the predicted path of what might become a twister.

Instead, I tuned into The Hunters, on Amazon Prime.

Bob usually wakes up fast, but he must have been in a deep sleep cycle because it took his screeching phone to get him up and out of bed and into his office. The TV anchor said, “A tornado has touched down in Nashville, get to your safe space immediately.” And just like that, the darkness enveloped us – lights, TV, street lights were all gone and all we could hear were the sirens. “Get Dressed,” he told me in a way that meant this is an emergency, do what I say, I’m the doctor (for Dr Who fans).

I pulled on a pair of pants under my nightgown, got my robe and went downstairs with Ms Bean nearly attached to my knees. Our only space without windows, since we don’t have a basement, is under the stairs at our game table. I could hear the wind rattling the windows, and the blinds upstairs went whooshing. Bob said he heard a freight train, but all I could hear were the sirens and the windows and the whistling in my ears. As I sat down like I was ready to play a game of backgammon I realized I only had my bedroom slippers on…

So I went to the front door in the dark to find a pair of boots. After all, if we were buried in this house I’d need to be able to walk out to whatever was left. I could hear hail pelting the windows and the doors. And then, just as fast as it started, it was over. Maybe it only lasted a minute or two, and I felt like we were tickled by the tail end of hell. I could hear the emergency alarm from the apartment complex across the street, and the sirens kept blaring for another half hour.

The Bride woke us at 6 am. Were we OK? She wanted to come to us but streets were blocked.

I put some Aussie Bites and iced tea out on our picnic table, people stopped by to tell me their stories. One girl was from Oklahoma and she slept through everything! When we walked Ms Bean that first morning, everyone on the street was in shock. Ms Berdelle’s son Scott was staying with her thank God, so many of her big tress were down. One crushed her friend’s car. All her clerestory dining room windows were broken. Another friend, the girl who loves my chicken soup, wondered if we had a tarp, one of her windows was gone.

Then I turned a corner and debris was everywhere, windows were blown out of fancy, three story condos. It felt like I’d entered a war zone.

Yesterday we were part of a cleanup crew. Pulling mangled pieces of steel off sidewalks, picking up roof tiles and chunks of insulation, sweeping sidewalks. My arthritic knees did about as much bending as they could do. Tears had been close for a long time, our house was fine, we had only lost power along with the rest of the city. But seeing neighbors come together, giving out water, setting up food and charging stations, rolling up their sleeves to help, that’s when it hit me. It’s the kindness that gets me every time.

I still cry now. For the horrible loss of life. For the people whose homes are condemned. For our neighborhood non-profit, Crossroad Pets, a pet store with a purpose. Their building was hit hard. https://crossroadscampus.org/

They take in stray animals for adoption and train local, disadvantaged youth in grooming and general animal care. Many of their employees have aged out of the foster care system, and y’all know I was once a foster child. If anyone is looking to help out with donations, Crossroads could sure use your help.

I want to thank so many of you for reaching out to check on me and the family. The Great Grandparents live 8 miles away and are doing fine. We’re camping with the Bride and Groom until the power comes back. The Bride saw a man with carbon monoxide poisoning, so remember to keep those generators outside if you’re lucky enough to have one. And always look for people helping people.

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Buon Giorno! It seems that most of our little courtyard of Nashville neighbors are traveling to Italy this season. Rocky’s parents, a cute young couple, just returned from hiking around the Amalfi Coast, and Kudra’s mama is currently in Cinque Terre! FYI Rocky is about three pounds of Yorkie-mix and Kudra is a sweet grey tabby cat. Lucky for me, I’m the kitty sitter.

I love coming over to my neighbor’s house in the morning. The sun streams onto the screened porch and cute Kudra climbs up on my lap for a pet, or maybe a love bite depending on her mood. You can’t hear the street noise, only birds and squirrels, so it’s almost like a meditation; no Bob asking me where I’m going (to the bathroom honey), no TV background Michael Avenatti noise or pundits wondering how Supreme Court Justice “I Like Beer” Brett Kavanaugh managed to be sworn onto the highest court in the land.

I’m done listening to prevaricators, and all the useless prognosticating…this weekend just plumb wore me out.

The weekend started out Thursday on a high note however, I accompanied Bob and the Bride to a Planned Parenthood shindig with our delightful 91 year old neighbor, Burdelle. The keynote speaker was Irin Carmon, the co-author of the 2015 book, “The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” I couldn’t wait to hear how this legit, liberal icon on the SCOTUS got her start.  https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/books/review-notorious-rbg-the-life-and-times-of-ruth-bader-ginsburg.html

Ms Carmon, once a writer and editor for Jezebel, is an “…MSNBC journalist known for her smarts and feminist bona fides.” She was quite charming in person, strode right up to me and introduced herself. I immediately wanted to know more about her, this Harvard alum, this confident, competent young woman who wore bright red lipstick. Before I knew it, I was in a tight circle of women looking at her wedding pictures – Ruth was her officiant!

“She came all the way to Brooklyn,” Carmon said. Her talk about Justice Ginsburg did not disappoint.

Did you know there’s a children’s book about RBG? The Love Bug has a copy –  “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark.” So just to be fair, I had to stop by Parnassus and pick up a signed copy of the Property Brothers new children’s book, “Builder Brothers: Big Plans” for the L’il Pumpkin. Not that girls don’t build things too…insert strong arm emojis now. Wasn’t sure if I should include a picture of the Bug in her pussycat headband planting an oak tree, or this one?

We #StandWithPlannedParenthood

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Rainy day snooze in the aviary

Rainy day snooze in the aviary

I awoke to tiny, click/clack paws-on-wood-floors and thunder. Roaring mountainous thunder and more rain. It’s coming down in buckets, replete with lightening and it seems the cat and dog of the house do not like thunderstorms.

Mornings like these at Camp St Joseph for Girls meant we could sleep late. They were called Rip Van Winkle mornings! No bugle calls or flag raising, just hanging out in the cabin, playing jacks or pulling the covers up to finish a book by flashlight.

I had to stop reading my book, “The Dovekeepers” by Alice Hoffman last night. Not because I was too tired and the words were swimming on the page, but because I knew what was coming. And OK, so this book is about Masada, and we all know what was coming 2,000 years ago when the Jewish people held onto this fortress despite a drought and the onslaught of Roman soldiers.

No, Hoffman was about to tell me why the two young grandsons of one of the matriarchs in the book had lost their ability to speak. I already knew, the backstory was perfectly clear. But I just couldn’t let her language of blood lust and revenge be the departure point to my dreams. I needed a restful night. Maybe today I’ll pick up where I left off, if the sun would only show itself.

Last night one of my favorite literary prizes, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, was awarded to Aussie Richard Flanagan for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is described by the 2014 judges as ‘a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it’. Questioning the meaning of heroism, the book explores what motivates acts of extreme cruelty and shows that perpetrators may be as much victims as those they abuse. Flanagan’s father, who died the day he finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway.
– See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/winner-2014-man-booker-prize-fiction#sthash.duwYDC1W.dpuf

Another book about war, another exploration of man’s inhumanity. this time told from the point of view of a male surgeon working within the confines of a Japanese POW camp. How soon I wonder, will someone be telling the story of a disaffected British citizen who travels to Syria only to become the executioner and butcher of Westerners for Youtube? The cost of war is too high. I’m feeling overloaded with hate and vitriol from the news lately. It’s no wonder we Americans are addicted to cat videos.

Leave it to my favorite novelist/book store owner, Ann Patchett,  to recommend books for us on a wide array of subjects; for instance, Buddhism and nihilism? “A Tale for the Time Being is about Buddhism, nihilism, the second World War, bullying, physics, marriage, depression, and expectations — it is constantly pushing past the reader’s expectations.” As the editor of Parnassus’ scrumptious blog, Musing, so aptly put it –  “Is there anything better than finding the perfect book?” And particularly on a rainy hump day. If you happen to be in Nashville, her shop dogs could use a good pet! Happy reading! http://parnassusmusing.net/2014/09/30/notes-from-ann-frogs/

 

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Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t feed the cat?” Literally it refers to the alley cat who comes to your door, meows and looks starved and miserable but cuddly too, and so you give it some food. Just a few bites of your leftover fish maybe. This would be a bad move if you don’t like or want a cat in your life, because soon enough you’ll be hauling said cat to the vet and setting up a nice, cozy bed by the fire for her. She will rule the roost; you will own a cat.

Well, I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to our country’s policy on kidnapping. Like Great Britain, we don’t pay ransoms. We are not feeding these cats so to speak. The sheer outrage over the latest beheadings of American and British citizens has caused us to once again go to war – and not with a country. With a bunch of highly organized jihadists who would like to claim a stake of sand in the desert as their own, to rule with their own biblical/koran-like laws. And the reason we say ISIS and our government says ISIL is telling.

Is it ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or is it ISIL the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? But as we learned from reading Gertrude Bell, nomadic cultures do not have borders. They roam freely according to the season and their history – borders were artificially drawn by the British when they left their Empire to the sands of time. And so our President has tagged this terrorist group with an “L” because the Levant is more fluid and denotes their mission if you look at their name in Arabic:

In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/18/isis-or-isil-the-debate-over-what-to-call-iraqs-terror-group/

al-Sham is translated into English to mean the Levant. It’s sounding a little more treacherous now, isn’t it? And I remember listening to an NPR piece about how European countries may say they are not paying for their kidnapped citizens, but their diplomats negotiate deals that fund certain Islamic charities and they launder money back to terrorist groups in this subversive, back-door way. Which is why many German and French hostages have been released over the years, and our people are not.

“Since 2003, at least 68 Westerners have been kidnapped in the vast Sahara.” http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29409361 When I read this BBC article I was shocked, not just by the numbers, but also to think my BFF’s daughter had worked for the Peace Corps in Mali and lived with a Tourig family. Aid workers, tourists and journalists are pawns in this senseless slaughter. And money talks, money funds their ammunition and their “soldiers,” Western money helps them to kidnap more Western citizens.

We may not be feeding the cat, but other countries are. Two Million per person! In Africa hostages are discounted, they were asking 10M for James Foley in the Middle East, although they may have accepted 5M…

“…Ransoms totalling at least $30m (£18.3m) have been paid since 2008 in connection with these kidnappings and that the going rate for a single Western hostage in the region (Africa) is now about $2m (£1.2m). Most of these hostages were citizens of countries that are believed to have paid ransoms….at least five Spanish, four Italian, two Canadian, two Austrian, two Swiss and two German hostages have been taken. Of this group of 17, one died of natural causes in captivity and the rest were released unharmed. Nearly all of them were aid workers or tourists.

It’s not fair, terrorist groups get 30M to fund what they do best, terrorize people, which creates that insane feedback loop of more and more kidnappings. And for those who don’t pay, a beheading on Youtube. I’m not a diplomat, and I have no idea how to stop this problem, except that maybe building schools, educating girls, and providing access to water, sanitation and basic health care needs might go further than drones dropping bombs. Maybe leaving Iraq and leaving Assad to his own devices, helped to create these black/flag/waving/zealots; but certainly, now that they have advanced to the edge of Turkey, we have to do something.

I’m writing this as I gently remove my Grand Cat from my laptop. It’s a good thing I love cats.   IMG_1263

 

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There’s been much ado about something. The Director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned, after being grilled by Congress and then skewered by the media. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/01/politics/secret-service-director-resigns/ How much did she know and when did she know it? These are always the two troubling questions surrounding Beltway Business.

We all watched President Roosevelt get shot and continue speaking during Ken Burns’ week, and some of us have lived through that horrific week in Dallas, watching President Kennedy’s motorcade again and again. Hoping beyond hope we’d wake from a nightmare. And then we had that close call with President Reagan.

We would all like to think our home is our castle, surrounded by an impenetrable symbolic moat. And the White House, why it must have many layers of defense – if not a real moat, fencing, dogs, Secret Service Agents patrolling the perimeter, right? Which is why of the series of bungles leading up to Pierson’s resignation, one breech seemed pretty lame.

I get that gunshots may have sounded like a car backfiring.

I could believe that a security guard might slip into an elevator with POTUS

And how many people have jumped the White House fence? 16 people over the last five years!

But the guard dogs. Now that was my last straw; not the elevator or the fence jumper. It was rumored that there was an incident with one of the highly trained attack dogs and our First Family’s dog, Beau. Supposedly the dogs were not patrolling because somebody asked that they be muzzled and kept in a certain area…Now I would agree that Beau should be the top dog IN the White House. But outside, in the Rose Garden and on the vast Lawn, that should be the K9 moat. Keep Beau on a leash, or make a secure run for him on a side portico – allow the guard dogs to work! Release the hounds!

Our guard dog has her work cut out for her. The mountain manse has been invaded by an attack cat, the lovely Ms Uli! Ms Bean is being hunted by tabletops and by windowsills, it’s a virtual Serengeti in here. And we’re doing what every normal pet owner knows to do, we’re letting them duke it out. Eventually, one or the other will become top dog/cat, and that will be that. I’m betting on my pretty little Grandcat, who thinks she’s a tiger in her mind.  IMG_1187

 

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