Today is the day I think of you with tears in my eyes. I mark the calendar. I count it out on my fingers. I wonder how nine years have slipped by without you in my life. I think about the last day. I don’t want to, but I cannot forget it. I think about all the other last days I’ve had to witness since you’ve been gone, my Mother, cats: Stanley, Taz, Sasha, little kittens too young to have names, Bob Dole, Bobette, so many others.
I worry about the ones to come.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. My lovely, Squeegee.
You were my “before-cat”—before I knew about raw feeding and that the grain in your dry food was the culprit, causing your diabetes. It left you overweight and demanded I learn about giving you shots of insulin every day to keep you alive. If I had known I could have saved you simply by changing your food, even to just grain free canned food, you might still be with me today. You might never have gotten cancer, which when it entered your lungs, I knew the time we shared together was coming to an end.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Squeegee finds her place in the sun.
You were before I had the courage to foster more than a single cat, when I worked long hours away from home, hiring a pet sitter to stay with you each day so you wouldn’t be lonely. Back then it was just you, me and Stanley, my sweet tuxedo cat who died a few months after you did.
It was back when I had a life. I could leave the house for more than a day and not worry. My hair wasn’t falling out in clumps. The quilted lines under my gray eyes hadn’t even begun to form.
©2003 Judith K Feminella. I asked my Mother to take some photos of Squeegee once I found out she only had a few months left to live. I'm so glad I have these keepsakes of us together.
Part of my sadness is linked to missing the simplicity of my old life and you represented that life. You were also the last connection I had to my marriage, what there was of one. He didn’t even know you were sick, nor cared that you were slipping away. Now he’s on that list of last days, too, with cancer of the salivary glands and no health insurance to save his life.
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. A few hours before I had to put Squeegee down, she climbed onto the bed for the first time in months. The lung cancer was so bad she could hardly move, let alone jump on the bed. I took it as her way of saying goodbye, a gift I will always cherish.
I care that he’s sick and I ache because he suffers. I ask myself how anyone can grow old and not have so much pain in their heart from witnessing one loss after another that they have any happiness left? I honestly don’t know the answer to that any more.
You were the cat I didn’t want who ended up being my best friend and deeply treasured companion. You had a silly meow, which earned you your name; Squeegee, but you deserved more, so after some time I added: “The Baroness von FiFi.” You should have a regal, elegant name even if you weren’t a purebred cat.
©1990 Robin A.F. Olson. Squeegee and I take a nap without a worry in our hearts, a very long time ago.
I mourn the fact that I couldn’t give you the gift of a healthier life, but I honor your memory today by sharing your story with others.
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. Farewell, my sweet.
I miss you so very much, Fifi. Until we meet again…
With all the shopping madness ramping up and the rush to get ready for the Holidays, it's lovely that organizations who really need the help, have their chance today with Giving Tuesday.
My Non-profit rescue group, Kitten Associates, has been blessed with an early number of donations of food, treats and toys that came in after we broke the news about our Amazon Wishlist two weeks ago.
What I love about our Wishlist is it allows YOU to choose what we get and there are items at just about every price point. We'd love your help and you'll see, below, how our kittens feel about your donations, too!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah! This is WAY bigger than what we even asked for! Yipee!
There are few feelings that are as precious as giving help to someone who needs it. Thank you for helping us be part of Giving Tuesday. I hope you'll enjoy the special video I created to honor today.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Not even the DOOD is sure how to put it together, though.
This is a riot!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The energy in the room increased tenfold after the cat tree was in place. The kittens LOVE IT! Thank you Tereza & Larry for donating it to us!
It's been a long. lousy week. Time to kick back and enjoy the antics of Fred and friends as they fly through the air or walk like a zombie. Either way it's what the doctor ordered-no bad news, no rush to rescue, just plain fun.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jet Propulsion engaged!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte leaps.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney makes a mad dash.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred tries it on tippy-toes.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred & Tater's first ballroom dance class.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Holding on for dear life.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred weird, Tater nuts.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beware of Zombies! (check out Barney in the background!)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I stand on your head!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie-Latte, beware! (could be a Halloween beverage at Starbucks?)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Look at Tater's expression! He's like that in a number of photos. (rear left)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte liftoff.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Please don't fart.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My Precious!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. OMG!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. And stretch, 1, 2, 3…
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a flying' Fred!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zero gravity.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater in disbelief.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeeee!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater attempts liftoff but is foiled by big belly.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Flying's fun, but now it's time to nap.
Sweet dreams fearless flyers!
I’m compelled to move forward, as a Buddhist might say, as a pebble in the stream. The water pushes me and I am unable to resist the force. I may get caught up against larger rocks or deeper pools along the way, but the water continues to flow around me, urging me onward, freeing me for a time until I get caught up again.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney growing up fast.
After Kissy’s passing a few days ago, I felt stuck, unwilling to go on. I’ve felt the same way after other cats have died and even more so when I lost my parents. It seemed cruel to me that the sun still rose in the sky and that everyone else went about their business. I wanted the world to stop spinning and mourn, as I did; to pay respect by simply standing still. Moving on meant the pain would soften; the memories begin to fade. I never want to forget, but it’s inevitable that I can’t stay in this place forever.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte, no longer a skittish kitten, but a stunning lady.
Earlier this week, before the tragic news, I realized I needed to update the photos of my foster kittens for Petfinder. Although I’ve gotten plenty of applications, most are for just one of the kittens and many are not a good match. I risk the kittens growing into young cats. The bigger they get, the longer it will take for me to find them forever homes. A few of them are already six months old. Time is running out.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater's big eyes are now his trademark. He never seems to blink and he always makes me laugh with his silly antics and constant chattering.
Tater Tot & Latte
Tater and Latte, along with Willow and Coco were all getting sick or not resolving their upper respiratory tract infection. I had a DNA test called a PCR done on a swab taken from Tater’s mouth. As you may recall, the test came back positive for Mycoplasma, which explained a lot of his issues and made the course of treatment more clear.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Latte.
For the past month I’ve been doling out antibiotics to each of the six foster kittens since they share the same room. Each day, twice a day they get their pill, then get their meal. They’re to the point where they know to come to me to get their pill so it’s gone a lot easier than I feared. Having to pill cats 360 times over the course of the month went from a nightmare to routine. Perhaps I'm finally learning something?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater looks on as Fred reaches for the stars.
Tater is doing much better. His sinuses have dried up. I don’t hear him sneeze. He isn’t breathing as loud.
Latte was never as sick as her brother Tater and is doing just fine. Her once dark coat is getting lighter and her true Tortie colors are beginning to glow. She’s overcoming her shyness and focuses on having fun, instead of hiding.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Willow is getting fluffier every day!
Willow, too, was deeply affected by the same health issues and she seems to be resolving them, but she’s still having sneezing attacks. I believe she’ll be on the antibiotics much longer than the others. Overall she’s doing very well. She’s charming and dainty and loves to play fetch. I can’t figure out why I don’t have a list of adopters for her. She’s very lovely and sweet.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred in a somber moment between chasing after toys.
Fred & Barney
The boys are growing up fast. They’re rough and tumble and enjoying each day. Fred was sick for a short while but the antibiotics cleared up his issues, too. These days Fred loves to jump high into the air after his Cat Dancer toy (which keep needing to be replaced he’s so hard on them!)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and the lavender ball.
Barney is more of a mellow fellow and a dash sweeter. They were both sick with roundworms, but that’s been treated and they’re doing great.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Librarian-Coco.
The older Coco gets, the prettier her coloring. Her eyes are blue and peach. Her points are getting a bit darker orange. She was once fairly skittish and now she’s more outgoing and friendly. She’s right there with Fred, enjoying leaping high after toys. She initially had some symptoms, runny eyes and nose, but that seems to be resolved, too.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bored by the string toy, Coco would rather jump after her “prey.”
I’m glad they’re all doing well, but they need to move on to their forever homes. With Hurricane Sandy shutting us down for a week, followed by the big snowstorm; add the economic woes to the mix and it doesn’t look good for anyone getting adopted soon.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Super Stretch!
In the meantime, we’re doing okay. I’ll write a separate update on Jackson and Winnie’s crew later. I’m grateful there aren’t (knock wood) any crises with the cats, but I know things will change. Hopefully I’ll have time to gather my strength before it does.
I'm pushing back against the tide. I want to stay put in my grief for a little while longer, but I know the water will always urge me along.
It’s been less than a day since our former foster girl Bobette, who was named Kissy after she was adopted in May, passed away. Just typing those letters, “p-a-s-s-e-d” makes me cry. I’m still in shock and still hoping someone will call me and tell me it was just a bad dream, that the Vets figured out a way to save our sweet pumpkin girl and she’s going to be okay—but no one calls.
The events leading up to Kissy’s death, I’ll leave to her “mama,” JaneA Kelley of Paws & Effect to write about. This is her story to tell, with her cat. My post is about my reflections about a foster cat who just barely a year ago arrived in my home, with her three young sons. They’d reached the part of their rescue-story where all the shots are done, they are spayed or neutered, and all that’s left is for them to just have fun and wait for their adopters to find them. It’s usually the part of the story where we all can relax, knowing the worst is over and the best is yet to come.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. A stray cat dumped at a Kill Shelter with her six newborn kittens waits for rescue.
Kissy didn’t have an easy life. I wrote a great deal about her and her boys, Jakey, Mikey & Teddy…and their three siblings, who passed away a few days after we rescued them from a Kill Shelter in Georgia. If you do a search on Covered in Cat Hair using the phrase: “Bobette” you can read all the stories, but here are a few: Life in the Pumpkin Patch
Bobette's Secret Pain
Harvest Time for Bob's Pumpkin Patch
and the Cat Writers' Association Certificate of Excellence winning: It Had to be You about Kissy's adoption.
Kissy was rescued in honor of my cat, Bob Dole, after he passed away in September of 2011. He was a beautiful, brilliant orange Maine Coon tabby mix with piercing green eyes. When I saw Kissy’s photo and her brilliant orange coat and piercing green eyes, I knew I had to rescue her and her family...which also explains why she was originally named, Bobette.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. Not eating for four days, Bobette was in dire straights.
Thanks to Maria, I had a foster home for the family until they were ready to come to Connecticut. Thanks to Bobby Stanford, I had someone to go bust this kitty and her babies out of the shelter before they got sick or were euthanized. The pieces fell in place. It was meant to be.
Kissy was far too thin and far too young to bear the burden of having six kittens. She began to recover and eat again, but after the loss of three of her kittens perhaps part of her shut down. She was a good mother for a time, but as the remaining boys grew, her love for them waned. She taught me that not all mothers and kittens suffer being separated. In fact, Kissy did better without her boys, though I know they missed her a lot.
©2011 Bobby Stanford. Moments after rescue.
Kissy was just 9 months old when she had her kittens. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to be away from them, as she was barely a kitten herself.
©2011 Maria S. Safe in Maria's home Kissy can finally relax.
The pain I was feeling was why many people can’t foster cats. They fall in love with them along the way and they can’t bear to be parted from them when the time comes. I realized that all these years of fostering cats that I truly do love each and everyone just the same and just as much as I love the cats who live with me for their entire lives, not just for a few months.
©2011 Maria S. Kissy and her boys.
Each foster cat charms me, delights me, challenges me to learn more, to make fewer mistakes, to remember to cherish each day. I fall in love with each foster cat, not just a little, but fully, completely. I can’t build a wall to protect myself from how I feel about them. Instead of running away from that fear, I push into it. It does me no good to hide from feelings. In facing them head on, perhaps I gain some gentleness about saying goodbye when they get adopted.
©2011 Maria S. Her spay surgery over, Kissy relaxes in a comfy bed at Maria's.
When I go for a drive, I often pass homes where my foster cats now live. They are still my cats, they just live with other families. I still feel the tether that connects us. I sense they’re out there and they’re okay and because of that, I’m okay, too.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally in my home, Kissy and I get to know each other.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Family portrait with proud mama.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Kissy and son, Churchy (formerly Mikey).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lap time with Sam as Kissy recovers from her corrective surgery. In the end, the surgery didn't help Kissy live more comfortably. Her leg was too deformed to be corrected.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Such a good girl.
Kissy’s short life will not be in vain. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, but I’ll be doing something to honor her. Kissy taught me a lot and made me realize I was foolish to think that love could be restricted or spooned out in measured amounts. It’s all or nothing and I loved that cat completely. I will never forget her and I thank her for what she taught me. Maybe we’ll meet again one day? I can only hope so.
For now I share my grief with those of us who fought hard to give her a great life and who will keep fighting for other cats so that they may have the same chance Kissy did. She will never be forgotten and always be in my heart.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, my sweet. No more pain.
More on this heartbreaking news another time. I'm crying too much to write.
Bongo is seven months old. In that time he’s made friends, learned to play and met some very nice people, all while his right front leg didn’t function properly. We rescued him before he was going to be euthanized at a shelter not knowing much about him other than something was wrong with his leg. They noted his paw was crushed, but that turned out not the case.
©2012 Maria S. Bongo.
We did tests and x-rays. Bongo met with noted Orthopedic Vet, Dr. Alan Cross of Georgia Veterinary Specialists. Dr. Cross felt that Bongo, while happy and otherwise healthy, could not feel anything in his right front paw and that he had severe nerve damage that was either not repairable or would be very costly to repair with very little hope for success. He suggested the best course would be to remove the leg since it was only getting in the way and slowing Bongo down.
©2012 Maria S. Favoring his leg.
We work with a great Vet who helps rescue groups. Her nickname is Doc Thomas and she really knows her stuff. During our rescue of Bongo, Doc had taken a few weeks off-a rare vacation for her and certainly well deserved.
©2012 Maria S. Getting some lovin' from foster sister, Bunny Boo Boo (who needs a home, too!)
We knew she could do the surgery for far less than the $2000. Dr. Cross quoted us, but we had to wait a few weeks to talk to Doc T about whether she could do it. Dr. Cross felt it was not a rush to do the surgery because Bongo wasn’t in any pain.
In the meantime, Maria, Bongo’s foster mom noticed Bongo using his leg as a crutch. He couldn’t bear weight on it, but he did push litter around and use it to help him balance. He did this by swinging his leg from his shoulder.
©2012 Maria S. Bongo with his new BFF-George who we rescued from an apartment complex in GA.
When I heard about this I thought the same thing Maria did; “Maybe we should talk to Dr. Cross again? Maybe Bongo is getting feeling back?” The last thing any of us want to do is amputate this cat’s leg unnecessarily.
Maria contacted Dr. Cross. He felt that it would be very unusual for nerves to begin to work again and that Bongo didn’t have to have the surgery–ever, as long as he wasn’t dragging the limb. Dragging the limb meant he’d get infections in it eventually and that’s dangerous especially because he can’t feel if something is wrong.
©2012 Maria S. Bongo with catnip banana.
Maria took Bongo to meet Doc Thomas today who has done plenty of amputations for other rescue groups. She looked at Bongo’s x-rays and examined him and came to the same opinion—Bongo does not need to lose his leg at this time. If it’s not bothering him, then leave it.
We worried that as Bongo ages he would have arthritis in his shoulder or as he grows larger and gains weight, that the constant pull of his “dead” leg would give him back pain.
©2012 Maria S. His leg problem doesn't stop him from climbing.
Both Vets agreed that he should be just fine. If he drags the leg it has to go, but as long as he’s holding it up, running around and having fun, then for now it can stay. It’s really up to us if we feel he would be better without it in the way.
So again, Maria and I are wondering what to do. Neither of us want to take Bongo’s leg, but how will that effect his future? Would he be better off if we amputated his leg now so he could adjust and so we can oversee his care before he gets adopted or is he more adoptable with a leg that doesn’t function? What if he got his leg stuck somewhere because he couldn’t feel it and was home alone and did worse damage to himself?
©2012 Maria S. Brothers from other mothers.
Fortunately, Bongo is adorable and affectionate. Leg or no leg we’ll find him a wonderful home one day. It would be easy to leave the leg alone because we don’t want him to lose it, but what is best for Bongo? He has to be considered first and last…not us…not our ideas of what might not be as appealing to adopters or what might make us feel sad for Bongo’s sake.
Choosing what’s best for Bongo is very difficult. Perhaps we have our answer now and just have to accept it? Perhaps we need to do something more difficult and have the amputation done?
©2012 Maria S. Da boyz.
I don’t know, but I’m grateful we have the luxury of seeing how it goes and waiting on making any firm decisions.
Last year I reviewed Mike Bender and Doug Chernack's wonderfully warped book, Awkward Family Pet Photos which hit the market on the heels of their New York Times Bestselling book: Awkward Family Photos.
©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Pretty in Pink..and blue and purple?
Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Wall Calendar
This year the purveyors of preposterous are back, just in time for the Holidays, sporting a dazzling duo of 2013 Calendars. One is a well designed, colorful, 12-month Wall Calendar whose message, “Celebrating the Special Bond Between People and Their Pets” is achieved in the most twisted and sometimes downright creepy fashion. Each month celebrates a particular species. The year begins with dogs. In April, they celebrate bunnies or animals dressed a bunnies. One month features monkeys but I won't spoil it by telling you which month it is. Can you guess which one it is?
©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I hope they get matching cars one day, too.
I'd like to know the criteria Bender and Chernack use to choose their photos. The process must be a delicate one, walking the fine line between photos that make you shudder with delight versus photos that are simply vintage images including pets.
Perhaps they have an inner guidance system that recognizes they're on the right track when scrutinizing a family's precious photos? They might wonder aloud; “Why did they do that to their hair?” or “Did they really wear that sweater with the image of the cat rear ends on it, then send it out as their Holiday card?”
If Bender and Chernack ask themselves “What were they thinking?” I'm guessing it seals the deal and the photo is accepted into their collection.
Clearly the people and pets featured in this calendar never asked themselves these sorts of questions and we are all the richer for it.
©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Well said.
The beauty in projects like Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Calendar is that it reminds us that we're not as cool as we think we are. Everyone has a photo (or in my case albums full) tucked in a drawer somewhere they'd rather no one else ever see… and no, I don't mean that kind of photo!
Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar
If you can't get enough Awkward Family Pet Photos, then check out the 365 days of screwy-louie-weirdness in their 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar. Each day reveals a new image of the curiously clueless. I love it. Unlike some desk calendars, this one is in full color so you can appreciate the awkwardness even more. The only thing lacking is that it should be in 3-D and come with a pair of glasses. Maybe they'll do that next year?
©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC.
©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I want to see the photo that was taken 30 seconds after this one.
Oh, and make sure you check out May 16th if you get a copy of the Day to Day Calendar…I'm just sayin'...
In honor of Awkward Family Pet Photos, I thought I'd share a special one with you from my archives.
©1992 Judith K. Feminella. My dad in his underwear reading the Sunday paper---if Blue the cat will let him.
After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.
I don't know what day it is. Let me think about it. Yes. Ok. It's Thursday. I've been on the run for four days. Four days since the end of the world as I knew it. Four days since the wicked winds of Hurricane Sandy arrived and destroyed the power grid.
Now my life has shifted into solving the “how do I” of mundane tasks. How do I get something to eat when all the food in my refrigerator has spoiled? How do I keep myself clean if I don't have running water? Where do I go to the bathroom if I cannot flush the toilet?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Before the storm.
It boils down to that due to Hurricane Sandy, I live in a winterized cabin with no plumbing. The home I knew is gone for now-until Connecticut Light & Power has time to come to my middle class neighborhood and reconnect the line that is currently laying across the road, snaking its' way across the open woods.
The first few days weren't too bad, it was an uncomfortable flashback to last year's outage, but the nights have gotten cold. The temperature in the bedroom was in the 50's, which is not as bad as I've experienced, but it's very uncomfortable if you have to get out from under the covers. To make matters worse, the simple act of getting up to pee turns into having to get mostly undressed (at least the bottom part of any pajamas), then hover over a watering can. Yes...that's what I rigged up for myself. Its' shape is more like a pitcher so the top is open and the handle is at one end. Hovering over it with my bare feet on the cold tile, I tell myself to go ahead and pee, but my middle aged body says NO WAY. You do not just squat and pee here, you just don't do that! That's gross! But if you have not other options, what do you do? Run outside? It takes a tremendous amount of water to flush a toilet, which I was saving for “other purposes.”
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Only two ways out of my neighborhood. Both were blocked by fallen wires. One road was opened after less than a day, thankfully.
Eventually the task is completed. The vessel is sprayed with bleach. The contents carefully poured down the sink. Yes, gross! I hate it. I bleach out the sink and rinse it with water I saved in a large bucket before the storm hit. I'm trying very hard to keep things clean while feeling like I'm turning into a savage. I'm also worried that if I see a watering can months from now I will wet my pants…okay, maybe not.
I only worry about having my bladder suddenly behaving like Pavlov's dog is that because in the 1940's my grandmother got constipated. Her doctor prescribed something but it took a long time to work. He told her to get a copy of the New York Times and sit on the throne and wait. So she did. It worked, but after that my mother told me that every time my grandmother read the Times she had to go to the bathroom.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A common sight-many grand pine trees fell onto power lines, their root systems not deep enough to hold them in place.
Today I was able to wash 16 dishes at Animal Care & Control since I'm buddies with the ACO and they have a brand new generator so things are working there. I warmed up the raw cat food (which has not gone bad due to my pre-loading the freezer with ziplock bags of water to make big ice cubes). I got something to eat. I helped Sam do two runs to the dump to get rid of ALL the recycling that had been sitting around in the garage for months. I went on a fool's errand to Loews to try to find more portable lights, mirrored tiles (to put candles on to magnify their light and a wick for my mostly burned out hurricane lamp), but they had none of those things. I overheard one of the salespeople say you couldn't buy a gas can in the entire state since folks needed to haul gas to keep their portable generators going.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Coating the doxycycline pills by flashlight.
I finished some paperwork for the Town that was due today. I got a cup of tea at the local grocery store that just opened back up. I read SOME email, but it's too difficult to reply so I gave up on that. I posted a few things here and there. Somehow that took me 11 hours. Normally I'd get all these things done in a flash.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The one thing that worked-ziplock bags filled with water before the storm kept the precious cat food cold.
We've learned that we MUST be home BEFORE dark to feed all the cats or we just can't see what we're doing. The kittens want to bust out of their room and they still have to be medicated twice day. Trying pilling a cat with the light from a flashlight as your only source of illumination or scooping the litter pan in the dark.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I knew that already!
I told Sam I feel like we're running from Zombies. We can only be out during the day. At night we race home not only for our cats, but to take shelter. To try to get some heat out of our lousy fireplace to warm the cats, to try to put on more clothes to keep the chill away, to try to think of something to do for the rest of the night, sitting in the dark by candlelight.
At least we don't have to worry about boarding up the doors and cowering in the corner in fear of having our brains eaten. The only thing that's truly horrible outside is our neighbors generator, which makes so much noise we can hear it through the walls of our house when we're trying to go to sleep. Maybe the generator is protecting us from the zombies by distracting them to go to the neighbor and kill him and crush that noisy-ass thing?
I can dream, can't I?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The second biggest oak tree in the state of CT is down the road from my house. Once I saw it still standing I had hope in my heart that everything would be okay.
I finished writing this post Thursday night, a few moments before Sam and I got kicked out of the Town Hall. They close at 8pm and we'd already run back home, fed the cats, then came back for some work time. I wanted to stay longer, but there was no place else to get internet access so we headed home.
There's a traffic light about a mile from my house. It's been off since the Hurricane hit. I said to Sam that our power would be back on when that light was on—which was wishful thinking on my part.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Empty fridge again, but this time we didn't load up on food before the storm. The loss still stung, but not as bad as in 2011.
As we approached the traffic light, Sam noticed it was on. As we drove closer to home, we saw lights in other homes, but they were located before the break in the line. Certainly our power was not back on yet?
I didn't want to get too hopeful. Most of our neighborhood had power, just our street was out. As we passed over the downed line there were signs someone had been working on it. There was an orange highway cone and some official looking tape on the line. I looked to my right and the lights were on in the house nearest the break. As we continued down the street, every house had a few lights on.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD minds the bags of spoiled food.
Could it be true? Were our lights on FOUR DAYS SOONER THAN EXPECTED?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My food is bratty, but not that spoiled.
I immediately felt badly, too. I started texting any of my friends who were nearby and who didn't have power yet and told them to come over right away. I thought about all the other people who don't have power yet, who are cold and in the same lousy state as we had been. My joy was short-lived, but my appreciation for having a chance to get back to normal will stay with me for a very long time.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's al over at last. Exhausted from the craziness of the past week we simply spent the day in bed with a good book, cats and a cup of tea---and loved every second of it.
Nearly a decade ago I attended a two-week long Shambhala (a form of Tibetan Buddhism) retreat called Warrior Assembly. It was the cumulation of 10, weekend long classes held over the course of two years. Warrior Assembly was akin to a gathering of graduates of the same program held in different cities all over the world. Attending this program was a big deal, but it carried many challenges along with it.
I grew up in a nice home. My parents were fairly private people. We enjoyed the luxury of going on an occasional family vacation, but we never did things like go hiking or camping. My Mother was a smart Jewish girl from “da Bronx,” what did she know of camping? My Dad was a good Catholic boy from Brooklyn, but even though he'd been a Boy Scout, I don't think dry gin martinis go well with pup tents.
I had, I guess, a "normal," conservative, middle class life. The outdoors was for sketching flowers I found while sitting under the shade of a tree. Religion was not discussed. We were left to our own devices in that regard.
Warrior Assembly meant the teasing away of my cocoon, my emotional one, my little whiny ego. This was where I started that work and boy did I NOT want to do it. I liked my safe places, my known daily routine. I love to watch TV and "space out." I like my privacy.
I didn't want to sit in a room with over 100 strangers, most of whom seemed to be happy to be on retreat without the comforts I was so used to. There was no air conditioning and it was June. It was too humid. There were too many people in a small space. I had to sit too close to them, sit near enough to be annoyed by hearing their breathing. I did not want to eat Oryoki style, where food is served while you sit on the floor. You have to eat in a certain way, in a certain order. Eating becomes meditation. You chant. You do not talk while you're eating other than chanting. Food is not comfort, it is for providing for your body. I couldn't "stress eat" my dinner or load up on carbs. Whatever they gave me was what I ate. Case closed.
I decided to stay at a hotel instead of a small spartan room with a shared bath or stay in a room with a bunch of strangers getting undressed in front of each other. The fat girl in gym class was not getting changed in front of anyone. I told myself that no matter how bad it got, I could always run back to the hotel and hide if it got to be too much.
I tried to tell myself not to be bothered by all this "hippie, veggie-eating stuff" (as my dad would say). I was mostly going to be sitting on a gomden for 8 hours meditating. It's not like I had a task. I just had to sit, follow my breath, try to experience my desire to push back but not do anything about it. Experience what is this moment and let everything else go.
There were days of complete silence. No talking allowed. It reminded us how unimportant most of things we say are every day, all the time, talking, talking, talking to fill up our fear of just being quiet with each other, to face that uncomfortable feeling, to simply abide.
Every day I hated it and I pushed back. We all took on tasks to help out the facility. I cut so many carrots my hands were stained orange, but there was joy in the work in the kitchen and a softness between the people there.
We studied and learned new things. We walked the expansive lawns and admired the organic gardens, yet, I still needed to run back to my hotel each night so I could feel normal again.
Near the end of the progam, though the temperatures were still muggy and my seat mates were still close to me as ever, something shifted. The pushing back feeling was fading away, replaced by acceptance of how things are and surprisingly, a cheerful feeling unfolded. Letting go freed me from a lot of pain and anxiety. Once I relaxed into the situation I was no longer angry and really, what was there to be angry about? In this moment I was just fine. Yes, I would like to be less sticky feeling but feeling sticky was okay, too. It wouldn't last forever. I knew it would change and I'd feel differently again and again and again.
When the time came to leave the program I was reluctant to go home. I got in my car and within the first hour my car broke down in the middle of nowhere Vermont. I didn't get scared or upset. Perhaps my sense of good cheer was the key to everything that followed? I found a small gas station, they called some friend to come to the station. They didn't give up on me or push me off saying they had no resources. They found me some help that made it so I could get home safely. I didn't flip out and I got home okay.
I was thinking about Warrior Assembly today and how I feel like I'm pushing back a lot right now. The power has been out for two days. Tomorrow CL&P will tell us when they estimate we will have power back on. I overheard the First Selectman say 7-10 days.
Even the simplest task is annoying and challenging. I'm irritated beyond irritation yet I'm compelled to look back and think about what I learned so long ago.
Sure there's no water, heat or light. No tv or internet. Tonight it will go down into the 30's. There's very little in the bank and the contents of the fridge are going to waste soon-again-just like last year.
Eating out is expensive, but I look around and we're all still here. Some of us may need a shower or wish we had a hot cup of tea, but in this moment everything's all right.
I just need to let go.