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Thursday, February 27, 2014


Everyone is complaining about the weather.  It's the tiresome topic of any day and indeed it is taking a toll financially, physically and mentally, but as I read a journal entry from this date in 1989 I see that this seasonal despair is actually not all that unusual as evidenced by the following excerpt:


The weather, usually boring, but at least predictable has been the biggest news this week. Yesterday everything was coated with ice.  The fog was nearly impenetrable and then it rained.  The wind picked up and blew so hard it made this old house tremble.  This morning it is warm enough for no coat, but is predicted to drop to 25.  Will spring ever come?


But of course, life goes on and this week an interesting event occurred, one that is both maddening and revelatory.  We all know that politics is rotten, but one doesn't expect to experience it as personally and vindictively as my daughter has. 

I should mention that her life is devoted to animal welfare, cats in particular.  Since the inception of Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends, Inc. ( a registered 501 (c)(3))  a trap, neuter, return program has rendered over 450 feral cats sterile and healthy, thus preventing countless births of more homeless unwanted kittens.  It's a program with tremendous positive community impact. She also presents regular educational seminars (free to the public) and helps individuals, many of whom are elderly, physically or financially challenged with animal issues.  She does more good than I can convey in this post.  She is passionate, honest, works her butt off and does not make a penny for her altruism.  I'm quite proud of the person she has become.  She is motivated by compassion and principles, not by money or ego.

As a caring contributor to the community she felt that joining the local Chamber of Commerce would be a good way to enhance awareness of animal-related problems and solutions and the work that Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends, Inc. is doing for the community, so last December she applied to become a member.  One might think she would have been welcomed with open arms, but that was not the case.  Her application was denied and the reason is outrageous. 

Back up a year.  Like other enlightened people who oppose animals that are exploited and often abused for the sake of human ‘entertainment,' my daughter politely expressed her personal feelings directly to the man responsible for bringing a circus to town.  This particular circus was also one with a long, well-documented list of animal welfare violations.  The influential man (who owns most of the town) said he was unaware that circuses imposed animal suffering and that he would not repeat the event in the future, but that it was too late to cancel the one already-scheduled.  My daughter thanked him for his understanding and it seemed the issue had been civilly resolved.  The circus came to town for what was to be a one-time engagement.

It should be noted that my daughter had nothing to do with the public protest that ensued.  It was the effort of others who also opposed circuses, but the man believed otherwise and expressed his anger by vowing to continue sponsoring this circus every summer. 

Her opposition (which had been expressed personally and privately) was the reason her application for membership was denied, but she was snidely invited to set up a booth for Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends at this year's circus. 

In my opinion, the Chamber of Commerce's refusal to welcome a valuable member of the community to the organization cow-tows to one person's ego and only serves to hurt the community at large.  It sends a message that personal principles are not tolerated unless they conform to those of the one with the most money.  It strangles public discourse and exemplifies that even in a place as small as Hartville, Ohio the Chamber of Commerce is little more than a name. 

9:20 pm est          Comments

Monday, February 17, 2014



Bill appeared in the garden shed the first morning the weather turned brutally cold.  Rattycat, being a compassionate and laid back sort of fellow felt obliged to share his condo with this apparently-homeless guy and more or less welcomed him.  After all, there was an extra kitty bed, plenty of food and the condo was snugly outfitted to keep residents safe and comfortable.

I expected Bill to bolt when I opened the shed door, but he allowed me to pet his head and graciously accepted the bowl of proferred cat chow, but after a couple of days here he vanished.  Since he was friendly enough and didn't appear thin I thought/hoped he might have an actual home somewhere, but of course that was not the case.

"Someone dumped him and his beige buddy the other night.  That one's been hanging out at my barn," said neighbor Sandy, rolling her eyes in resignation.  (Welcome to rural living.)

For the most part Bill was a no-show.  When Rattycat said that -10 F. was just too cold for his old bones I moved him into the cellar where he remains comfortably ensconced although he could leave via the kitty door at any time.  RC seems to think being a house cat (even if it is the cellar of the house) is pretty nice.  But back to Bill.

When he appeared again last week, waiting for breakfast to be served in the garden shed I did a more thorough inspection of the hobo and I really thought Bill was a Lil or Jill that would soon deliver a pile of unwanted kittens, so I immediately made an appointment to have ‘her' spayed. 

The trip to the vet was very unpleasant for Bill and especially for me.  A short distance from home Bill pooped in his cage and filled the truck with a disgusting odor to be endured the remainder of the journey, hence the unfortunate moniker Stinky Bill.  Imagine my surprise when I was later informed that the cat I had delivered to be spayed had instead been neutered.  How embarrassing!  I should have done a pelvic exam before making that appointment!

After a couple days confinement for post-surgical recuperation Bill was released and quickly beat feet to wherever it is he spends his time when he's not here.  I've informed him that he is welcome to lodge in the barn or the garden shed, but he simply thanked me for the offer and vanished again. 

Today he came for a visit and to let me know that he doesn't even miss his missing parts, not even the tip of his ear which was tipped to indicate his presumably-feral status.  Ear tipping is the universal marking used for cats that have been trapped, neutered and returned, so should you see such a cat in your area, know that he/she will not be breeding and adding to the surplus of homeless animals. 

Currently lounging on the porch as if it's a sunny spring day, Bill gladly posed for his debut photo.

3:07 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 9, 2014



Lots more beautiful snow lured the dogs and me outside for a walk.

Good dog, good dog, good dog... 


Bad ass, bad dog.



6:39 pm est          Comments

Friday, February 7, 2014



Such a week.  The weatherman's earlier prediction seemed excessive; 12" of snow...., but although the snowfall was slightly exaggerated, the conditions were indeed difficult.  The icy crust that still tops the new snow was enough to freeze the gates, encase my truck and generally make life miserable.

The snow plow knocked the mailbox from its mooring and deposited it in the ditch, but in order to fix it before the mail carrier arrived I had to shovel a path to the gate, then shovel a swath big enough for the 16' gate to open.  It wasn't easy, but I got the job done.  The mail box was retrieved and tentatively bungee-corded onto its post.  Exhausted I headed back toward the house-just in time to see the plow barreling down the road to once again send the box sailing into the field.

At the barn more bad things awaited.  One of the perches in the chicken coop was awash with blood!  The girls and their studly companion looked unconcerned--and totally unbloodied.  Not one of the flock had an injury and stranger still, not a spot of red on anyone's plumage.  I think the bored birds killed a mouse that had ventured into their space.  I've seen them do that before.  And adhering to my 'waste not, want not' rule they eat what they kill.  That's what I suspect happened, but it must have been one big mouse.

The bad asses continue to deconstruct the barn and if I ever found them endearing, well....  The winds bite my face as I pump water and the little snowboat is useless on the crust of ice.  Barn chores aren't very enjoyable right now. 

Back at the house a beautiful blue jay lay dead on the porch after foolishly flying against the window. I held it in my hand for a long while hoping it might just be stunned, but it was quite dead, so I tossed it as far as I could, thinking it might provide a meal for some wildlife. Tess quickly retrieved it and prepared to pluck it for consumption, so it's now in the trash can.

Inside, despite endless caulking, a bitter draft blasts across the dining room floor. Lest it sound as if I'm whining, well, yeh I guess I am.  I do love my small country life, but right now big city life in a nice hotel sounds very attractive to me.

8:07 am est          Comments

Tuesday, February 4, 2014



You would be hard pressed to find a bigger proponent for dogs than I, but today I might have paid someone to ‘steal' a certain canine from this house.  Oh sure, she looks innocent enough here, but that look is deceiving. 

I'd had a productive morning and early afternoon, so when friend Patti said she would be happy to trim my hair later in the afternoon I was delighted.  A trip to Patti's place is like a mini-vacation.  Nothing could be more different from my Spartan lifestyle than Patti's lavish, over-the-top digs.  I love visiting her land-of-luxury and felt refreshed and happy after a few hours with my old friend.


By the time I got home the bad asses were braying as if they hadn't eaten in days (it was 45 minutes past their regular dinnertime), so I unlocked the back door, called the dogs and went directly to the barn. 

I like the warm end-of-day feeling when chores are finished; a soft glow from the windows welcomes me back to the house and the kitchen feels toasty and snug as I pull off my big red parka.  It had been a good day-until I saw the dining room. 

The weatherman has been threatening that a major snowstorm will hit tonight, but it looked as if it had already taken place.  One very guilty, but totally unrepentant black dog shuffled nonchalantly through the mess and one yellow dog looked nervously about, not quite sure if their big party met with my approval or not.  It most definitely did not!

A corner was chewed off the new dog bed and polyester fluff littered much of the room. The damaged bed was in the living room.  Grumbling and reprimanding with words that dogs do not understand I set about cleaning up the mess, then stitched up the damaged dog bed.  I was not happy. 

But apparently the party had not been confined to the dining room.  The puzzling white plastic bits mixed with the bed stuffing turned out to be part of the upstairs smoke detector casing.  Pillows from the sofa in my bedroom were on the floor and the smoke detector was dismantled.  It seems I missed quite a celebration. 

Bad dog:  Free to any home.

7:36 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 2, 2014



The beautiful cock pheasant was here this morning.  He visited both brush piles, inspected the grape arbor area and then headed back down to the woods.  ‘Sure hope he finds a mate this year.     February 2, 1990

One of my New Years resolutions was to organize and read the journals I have kept most of my adult life, but which I have never dared to read.  I have confronted this task with great trepidation and admit to picking up any one of these books with great angst.

The many journals I kept during my eleven year marriage are gone.  Most likely they wound up in some land fill thanks to the moving company that was entrusted to storing my belongings for over a year following my divorce.  They managed to lose three boxes of books, break one leg off my desk and ruin a beautiful antique armoire.  They sent a restoration person from the Butler Museum of Art to try to restore that piece, but it was never the same and rather than look at the wrecked cupboard I sold it.  The repaired desk was never the same either and I was happy to replace it with one that had four legs.  For the lost boxes of books, one of which contained the history of my marriage, the moving company paid me fifty dollars.  Fifty dollars for eleven years-plus of a life.

There are other journals that were kept in special places, like the cabin in the woods that my former companion and I built.  Those books are filled with records of incredible undertakings and joy--well, at least most of them are....  Still others record travel adventures.  There are a lot of journals and the words on the pages transport me back to those times. 

So many pets long gone, some that I'd forgotten all about, but which spring back to life in my minds eye as I read about Murray's mouse du jour or Benjamin Franklin's untimely death by speeding motorist.  Bert and Ernie, two feline brothers that liked to swim.  So many past lives....

Even with the volumes that have vanished for whatever reason I am left with enough ‘reading material' to occupy most of 2014.  Although many of the entries have been wildlife observations, records of amazingly-productive gardens or building/remodeling projects and such, I know that future entries will not be so innocuous or entertaining.  I know there will be a lot of painful confrontations

I will persevere, but I still wonder why I continue to pick up a pen and record things that no one will ever read.  I guess it's just because I must.

6:03 pm est          Comments

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