Surprise Visitor

Recently, I was on a camping trip with my daughter. I wondered whether I’d be able to sleep in a camper since it had been many years since I had camped. I needn’t have worried. I went to sleep easily in the crisp air of the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. In the middle of the night there was a crunching sound near our trailer. I thought that it must be Allison’s dog, Jackson. Allison found the flashlight and bravely opened the camper door to find our midnight visitor!

Photo by Allison Puckett

Eagles

Off and on for the past several years I have watched bald eagle families on a live cam in Florida. It is sponsored by a realty company and has four cameras active at all times. The main one is aimed into the nest and lets you watch the entire process from egg laying through hatching and then much later the young ones taking their first flights. 

The other three cameras show the surrounding area including a pond where the parents forage for fish. You can see the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam at: https://dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html 

On January 23, this year, two eaglets (E17 & E18) hatched on the same day which is unusual. For several days we watched as they were loving fed by H (Harriet) the Mom, and M the Dad. They were wonderful parents in every way. On January 29 I was devastated, as I’m sure were all watchers, when the nest was empty. There was a typed message that they had been removed by CROW. I was so sad to think that those little balls of fluff were kidnapped and no doubt killed by a crow. 

It took a while for me to learn that CROW stood for the Clinic for Rehabilitation for Wildlife! The clinic staff had noticed that E17 and E18 had an eye problem. Their eyes were partly shut and had an exudate and CROW swooped in to help. Using a cherry-picker to reach the nest they took the eaglets and moved them to the clinic for treatment. 

Although this is a good thing that they were able to help the little ones, it was still very sad to see Harriet and M sitting on the branches of the tree looking out and wondering where their babies had gone. 

An update stated that the eaglets were doing well and should be put back in the nest after two weeks of treatment. By my calculations that should be around February 12 so I stopped watching the sad empty nest and grieving parents. To my surprise on Friday, Feb. 5 a friend texted me with the exciting news that the babies were back so, of course, I started to watch the little ones all alone in the nest. It was sad and scary. Hour after hour passed and I wondered if the parents were going to return. I was so afraid that the eaglets would become weak from no food. I knew that CROW staff was watching the camera and knew more about the situation than I did, but still I worried.

Finally, in late afternoon the parents returned. They took turns with E17 and E18, brooding, feeding, fluffing the nest. Isn’t nature wonderful? You can now check in on this bald eagle family anytime you choose. Over the weeks ahead they will grow, explore and eventually take their first flight. We can enjoy the progression and look forward to H and M’s next brood.

E17 & E18 at the CROW clinic (Photo by USA Today)

Title photo by Pixabay

Elliott

A week ago, I realized that Elliott was ill. First, he became very vocal. He followed me around meowing and looking at me expectantly. Soon I saw that he was frequenting his litter box with no results. It was Saturday afternoon and our vet’s office was closed so off we go, to Elliott’s chagrin, to the Emergency Vet Hospital. After several hours, an ultra sound and x-rays it was determined that he had a urinary problem. Duh.

They were unable to get urine for a test, but sent him home with antibiotics and pain medication. The fight was on. No amount of begging, force or tuna fish could get the meds down Elliott. He continued to struggle to pee and seemed pretty uncomfortable until Monday morning when we went to our own vet.

Here they were able to extract urine for a test. They found a small amount of blood, but no crystals which were expected. As we awaited the results of a urine culture we tried different antibiotics and still he would not take them. . . not forcefully, not disguised in food. Surprisingly he improved and started to void almost normally.

On Thursday the vet called to say there was no bacteria and not to worry about giving him the antibiotic. Well, Elliott had already made that decision on his own! After a long discussion with the vet we decided that his problem was stress due to the grief of losing Zoe, his housemate, a couple of weeks ago.

I knew that Elliott was a lover. He spends a lot of time on my lap and sleeps with me every night. I did not realize the bond that he had with Zoe. He always followed her around, but I, and she I think, believed it was more stalking than affection. She would hiss at him and he’d leave her alone for a bit. Now I think I was wrong. Elliott misses Zoe and the stress affected his urinary system which is not uncommon for cats.

So, here I am, almost $700 later with a sensitive boy missing his girl.

Zoe
Elliott

The Loss of a Dog

Why is it so hard to lose a dog? Having a dog die is heartbreaking. Having to euthanize one is worse. I had that experience many years ago and years after that with a cat. As much as I love my cats, I believe that the bond one has with their dog is stronger. It is hard to explain why but it must have something to do with dogs having spent the last several centuries adapting to the lives of humans. While some dogs have been bred to have dual roles as hunters or shepherds most have evolved only to be our companions. 

Dogs are like a friend who never brings up our weak or negative points. Dogs accept us unconditionally. Our dogs are always glad to see us and with their eyes they thank us for every morsel or treat that we provide to them. 

If you’ve never owned and loved a dog, don’t be surprised when someone who does have a dog becomes grieved at its loss. There is no service, no newspaper write up, no visitation to comfort the owner but don’t miss the fact that the owner does need for you to care. They may be hesitant to show their grief, but it is there just as it is with the loss of a friend for a dog is a faithful friend. 

As we established before https://crookedcreek.live/2019/12/05/benefits-of-owning-a-dog/ dog owners live longer and research shows they live happier. Dogs give back so much love and devotion for what they receive from us. 

“May I become the kind of person that my dog thinks I already am,” someone has said. 

“When the dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of a person you are. The dog is not judging you.” Eckhart Tolle

Title portrait of Luke by Artist Pat Brooks

The Arctic Refuge

The Arctic Refuge in Alaska is home to polar bears and migrating caribou. It also promises wealth from oil. After over sixty years of protection, the current administration has just finalized plans to open the area to drilling and fracking. “I do believe there could be a lease sale by the end of the year,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said.

Republicans since Ronald Reagan have worked to claim the fossil fuels in Alaska’s coastal  plains. The current Democratic presidential nominee does not favor drilling, but if it passes now, undoing it will be difficult if not impossible once the lease rights have been auctioned to energy companies.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge spans 19 million acres in northeastern Alaska. Alaskan lawmakers support drilling. Because of its likely effect on climate and wildlife environmental activists including Native Americans are strongly opposed. In this time of pandemic and civil unrest, it is easy to miss such actions that will affect our children and their children. We need to be vocal about our concerns by contacting our lawmakers whether we are for or against this and other actions.

 

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Photos by Pixabay

The Looter

I like to keep Milk Bone on hand for the neighborhood dogs, especially Bailey the little Westie next door. He is always so polite, begs, sits, and then eats every crumb. I kept the treats in a ziplock bag in a large basket on my porch. That worked for a little while.

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One morning I went out and found the top off of the basket and the bag of treats spilled over the porch. I thought how unusual that a dog would do that and decided that Tupperware would solve the problem. The following morning again the top was ajar and the plastic container was demolished. Then I thought it was probably a squirrel because I do feed them and chipmunks all winter. Finally, I put the treats in a coffee can thinking I had solved the problem. I forgot that the can had a plastic lid, so the following morning again my basket and treat container had been breached.

It was then that my neighbor who has a doorbell camera informed me that a raccoon was running about the premises. She had watched it drink from her hummingbird feeder and then head toward my house. I assume he was washing down his Milk Bones!

Animals! I love them all but I now keep my dog treats in the house.

Animal photos by Pixabay

 

Pangolin

Ever hear of a Pangolin? Me either, until recently. We might never have known about this unusual animal had it not been for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping China since December of 2019.

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These unusual mammals are scaly anteaters who curl into a ball when threatened. Various species live mostly in Asia and Africa. As potential transmitters of COVID-19 and because of deforestation they are gravely endangered of becoming extinct. Pangolins eat ants and termites and believe it or not people eat them! They are the most trafficked non-human mammals in the world both for their meat and their scales. While the scales have no known medical value they are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The meat is a delicacy in China and that is where the transfer of the virus comes into play.

These shy nocturnal animals are now more endangered of being killed needlessly in the wild because of the fear of COVID-19. Recently there was a Pangolin Day to recognize this danger and to inform the world of these harmless animals’ plight.

 

 

 

 

Where Would You Go?

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I love to write but once in a while, I seem to slow down to the point of having nothing to say. I’ve told other bloggers that I do not like to use writing prompts for my blog, but I’ve recently changed my mind. My Granddaughter gave me a book entitled “300 More Writing Prompts” and I’ve found some ideas to use here on Crooked Creek. I’d always seen these writing helps as places to write my private thoughts, but this book has prompts that spurred me to share some ideas with you.

The prompt I chose for today is “If you could book a flight for anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” I required no time to think about an answer: the Galapagos Islands is where I would go. If I had a bucket list this would be on it. There are animals, fish, birds, and plants there that exist in no other spot on the planet.

It is a group of islands in the Pacific around the equator. Ninety-seven percent of the islands is designated as a National Park and therefore protected. In the past, some non-native species have been introduced which upset the natural habitat, but Ecuador’s measures to protect wildlife should prevent recurrences.

Where Would You Go?

“If you could book a flight for anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?”

 

Nature photos by Pixabay

Animals for Food

Before returning to the dark side, I was a vegetarian for ten years. From June 1993 to June 2003 I ate no kind of meat. It was harder in those days, especially when eating out, but I managed to explain to many servers that indeed fish and chicken were meat. It seemed they understood better if I explained that I ate nothing with a face. During those years I ate a lot of beans, rice, and pasta. I don’t know if I was healthier, but my conscience was certainly clearer.

Recently I ran across a list I made during that time. It is a list of ten reasons that I did not eat animals and I share it with you now.

  1. Animals have parents
  2. Animals love us
  3. Meat smells bad before it is cooked
  4. People who are allergic to animal hair have symptoms when eating sausage, think about it
  5. Animals experience violence, pain, and fear when they are slaughtered
  6. Animals have identity and personality; ever name your potatoes? talk to your peas?
  7. Meat is the only main dish with a gastrointestinal tract
  8. It’s like roadkill, just prepared differently
  9. I don’t care for blood and tissue in my mouth
  10. It isn’t necessary

I realize this list is partly disgusting, but so is eating meat when you give it serious thought. I also realize I am a hypocrite, because I do eat some meat now on occasion. I really do consider going “whole hog” vegetarian again and may in time.

 

“I think people should eat vegetarian food for 20 days and then see the glow on their faces.” Sangram Singh

 

Photos by Pixabay

ZOO WALK

My daughter, Dianne, and I signed up for a walking club that meets at our local zoo before opening each morning. I have ambiguous feelings about zoos. I know they save some animals even species and I love to see the animals that I would never see “in person” if not for zoos. On the other hand, I sometimes see animals pacing their enclosures and I know that we (humans) have driven them mad for our pleasure. So, I sit on the fence a bit, boycotting circuses but every few years visiting a zoo. My daughter feels even more strongly anti-zoo than do I.

So, how did we end up walking there? Good question. I suppose we felt we could see the animals without supporting the zoo by buying a ticket. Cheap? Perhaps, but I think it is more a rationalization. Regardless, I was disappointed that we didn’t see many animals on our first walk. A lion, a tortoise, a rhino, that was about it. But this past week we hit the jackpot by staying a little later. We saw, tigers, monkeys, wallabies, kangaroos, a grizzly bear, all kinds of birds and these, my favorites!

The slideshow below contains more shots of the gorilla and polar bear. All photos taken by Dianne Bynum.

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I welcome your opinions regarding supporting zoos and any special memories you may want to share with us.

Good Advice

This letter was published today in the Courier-Journal and I thought it was worth sharing.

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I found a wildlife baby – now what?

Our native wildlife are having their babies. If you find a wildlife baby that might need help, what do you do? The best thing to do is NOT care for them yourself, but call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator like Second Chances Wildlife Center or Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky.

Fawn and baby bunnies do not share a nest with Mom. Mom is only with her babies five to 10 minutes a day. Unless a fawn is crying for more than two consecutive hours, they do not need rescuing.

Fledgling birds flop around on the ground for days before flying. Baby birds can be placed back in nests.

Squirrels have multiple nests at a time. If you disturb one, she’ll move her babies to another one. Find squirrel or raccoon babies on the ground? Place them in a box by where the nest was and wait for Mom to come get them one at a time when there is no disturbance from humans or pets.

Opossum or skunk babies DO need help as Mom is with them at all times.

You can prevent wildlife from becoming orphaned and injured by checking your grass before mowing and watch outdoor pets. If you know there is a nest in your yard, keep your dog on a leash or inside for a week or two, so the babies have time to grow and leave your yard. Trim trees in late fall when there are no babies in nests.

Brigette Brouillard

Mount Washington, Ky. 40047

 

Photo by Pixabay

Rats? On The Other Hand

The last post was about the menace of rats.    https://crookedcreek.live/2019/06/12/rats/   Rats in the city, rats in the house or on the farm can be real pests, but as with most things in life, there is a flip side.

Rats Make Affectionate Pets!

My granddaughter, Kate, and her husband, Tom, live in a flat in Cheltenham in the UK that does not allow cats or dogs. Kate has always had several pets from the time she was born and could not imagine living very long without one or more. So, a couple of months ago they adopted two rats and here they are: 

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Meet Sergio and Earic (he’s the one with prominent ears!) These Fancy Rats were purchased from a pet store and are now part of the family in Kate and Tom’s home.  Kate says they are very smart animals and can learn commands such as fetch, spin, jump and come. They are not picky eaters and are easy to care for. Sergio is seen in the picture above in one of his favorite places, riding on Kate’s shoulder. Earic is here with Tom. 

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Earic & Sergio

 

So before we become too opinionated about any subject it probably pays to learn more and to have more experiences. I look forward to meeting Sergio and Earic in person when I return to England!

 

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“I do feel like by buying rats from a pet store, you are saving them because if not, they would get fed to a snake or something.” Nikki Reed

Rats!

I love all animals and, with the exception of spiders, all living creatures. They all have their places on this planet we share. I realize that some readers feel differently and I do understand, especially when it comes to destructive rodents. My birdfeeders are used by squirrels and chipmunks and I love sharing with them, but some of my neighbors disagree. I sometimes put out lettuce or a carrot for the occasional rabbit that wanders onto my front porch, too. I can’t help myself!

Recently, I was shocked to learn that a pair of rats left to breed without predators such as humans or raptors, will in three years increase to 3.5 million rats. That is not a typo! Three and one-half million rats can descend from one Mommy and Daddy Rat in three years. That is a big extended family!

As a person who started out on a farm on Crooked Creek, I was also surprised by another statistic: One rat will annually cause $28.50 of farm damage per crop acre. After these facts from the Raptor Rehabilitation of KY, Inc. it is hard for me to argue in favor of these little creatures. 

It is important to know though, that there are right and wrong ways to attempt rodent control. Raptors are nature’s way to handle the problem, which means if you poison rodents you are indirectly poisoning hawks, owls and eagles. Quick kill traps are safer as well as more humane than other types of traps.

Urban Escalation

Rats have always been a significant problem in big cities and a recent New York Times article (by Winnie Hu) sounds the alarm for a serious worsening of infestations.  Besides New York City (where “Pizza Rat” was a social media hit last year), other cities cited in the article include Seattle, Chicago (the “rat capital”), Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington (I don’t think they included politicians in their count). The statistics varied, but in some cities, the rat population has grown by over 100%.

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WHY?

One of the reasons given for such increases includes building booms (called “gentrification”), which one scientist likened to stepping on an ant hill. It could be that rats are simply more visible because they are being released by builders digging into their burrows.

More and more people are coming to cities such as NYC both as residents and as tourists, leading to more and more waste from apartments, hotels, and restaurants. This garbage sits in plastic bags lining the streets overnight and providing a banquet for rats.

The Solution?

It seems there is no one answer to the infestation of rats in cities. Each municipality is approaching this problem with everything from rodent birth control to education of residents and improved reporting systems. It will be interesting to observe the effects of milder winters due to climate change on this situation.

Meanwhile, rodents are not only a destructive nuisance and a scourge on the quality of life, but also a serious health risk. A bacterial infection spread by rat urine, leptospirosis, can be lethal.

cartoon rat

“I live in New York, and the only live animals you see are cockroaches, rats and pigeons, which I admire immensely. When I see an animal that thrives in the garbage, I feel relief; in our urban environment, other animals are dying out.” Isabella Rossellini

Spring

Today I look at the flowering trees and think of you.

When we enjoyed them last spring we had no reason to think it would be our last dogwood season together. 

Now you lie in the cold ground with woods of redbud all around, but cannot see, or smell, or move to raise your eyes skyward. 

But, then I see an unexpected crane, a cardinal or a deer and I wonder if that is so. 

Sue Baugh Mattingly – April 15, 2015

 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

The Parklands

Yesterday, I was on duty as a docent volunteer at the Parklands’ Visitor Center. It was a beautiful day in the 70s with lots of sunshine. That made it a great day for the school children who were spending time at Beckley Park. Two schools brought their students and it was fun seeing them exploring and playing. 

The Parklands provide not only playgrounds but miles of trails, acres, and acres of wild natural habitat to explore and a visitor center with many learning experiences. “Wednesday Wonders” class for preschoolers was taking place and the little ones were excited about each new experience. Enjoy the slideshow below that shows more random shots of the park and kids having fun!

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Lastly, meet a newcomer, Ranger Randy. This turtle was born and raised in captivity for many years. It was donated to the park for children to enjoy and learn from. The Parklands does not remove creatures from their natural habitat. 

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Rumi

 

https://www.theparklands.org

Staying Alive 6 of 6

Over the past five posts, we have reviewed some ways to achieve longevity. I have had some fun with the topic of “Staying Alive.” It seemed fitting that since I discuss death so frequently I owed you these tips on survival. Some of the content has been tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t mean the advice isn’t sound. It should be obvious that there are many other measures we can take to increase our chances of living longer. A few that come to mind immediately are not smoking, regular medical checkups, good nutrition, safe driving habits, and a multitude of others. 

If this series has helped you to be a little more mindful of a few ways to live a longer, healthier life, then I am happy.  All together now! Hit this link with your sound turned up:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c

 

A special thanks to the Bee Gees for helping us to wrap up “Staying Alive!”

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Theme graphic by Pixabay

Staying Alive 2 of 6

OK! Now everyone has a puppy, right?

Next: Get a Female Doctor

No kidding, a study of 1.5 million hospital records proves this is a good method of “Staying Alive.” Harvard researchers reviewed and analyzed these Medicare records in 2016 and found that patients cared for by female doctors were, (A.) More likely to survive and (B.) Less likely to be readmitted within thirty days of discharge. Furthermore, “If male physicians achieved the same outcomes as female physicians” 32,000 fewer people would die each year.  

I realize these are startling claims and we all know that this is not saying that each female doctor is superior to each male doctor. What the study shows is that overall female doctors as a demographic have better outcomes. This study and others suggest that female doctors are more likely to follow clinical guidelines for care and are overall better at communicating with patients. 

Since over 50% of graduates from medical schools are women, there is no scarcity of female doctors from which to choose. 

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“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” William Osler

Graphics by Pixabay

 

 

Staying Alive 1 of 6

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is a tricky term. Statistics vary greatly in the way they are gathered and calculated, e.g., whether they include infant mortality and what country is being studied. As the chart below demonstrates women have a longer life expectancy than men, but we will not discuss the possible reasons for that here. Let’s just look at ways of “Staying Alive” for all of us. 

TIME

FEMALE

MALE

COMBINED

2012

78.7

1985

62

1900

30

Current

80.1

73.4

Born in 2018

81

76

Various sources including USA Today, Statistica and Wikipedia

Staying Alive

There is no lack of advice out there for ways to stay healthy and live a long life. Every person who hits 100 years has some type of answer for the secret to their longevity. Some say a glass of wine a day or perhaps a cigar or some other thing they enjoy.

Do you have “secrets” to a long, healthy, and happy life? If so, please share them with us. I can’t say that I do, so I’ll share what some of the experts tell us. We’ll just look at a few over the next several posts.

First: A Four-Legged Friend

Those of you who own a pet will probably attest to the fact that pets reduce anxiety. Research also shows they lower the owner’s blood pressure. For those of you who may doubt this advice let’s see what the American Heart Association says.

In the journal “Circulation” the AHA recommends owning a dog, in particular. As an owner of cats, I’m hurt, but I can see one big advantage to having a dog. Dogs must be walked so the owner is more active. But, the AHA goes even further and states that a person with a dog is more likely to survive a heart attack. 

Some of my doggie friends: Luke, Jackson, Hawkeye, Monty and Aslan

 

“My fashion philosophy is, if you’re not covered in dog hair, your life is empty.” Elayne Boosler

Theme graphic by Pixabay

Grizzlies

 

There are only about 1,500 grizzly bears left in the lower 48 states. Approximately 600 of those are in the area of Yellowstone Park. In spite of serious population decline, in 2017 grizzly bears (also called the North American brown bear) were stripped from the Endangered Species Act protections. That meant that the Grizzlies in the Yellowstone area were no longer to be protected by Federal laws and further that plans were in place to allow them to be hunted for sport in Montana (800 population) and Idaho (estimated at less than 100). 

Good News – A federal judge has ruled these actions illegal! 

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These magnificent creatures hibernate five to seven months each year. In preparation for this time of inactivity, they must eat approximately 400 pounds of food. The males leave hibernation first followed by the females with young born during hibernation. 

Most Grizzlies die before maturity due to hunters and predators. Those who survive live for 20-26 years on average. We are fortunate in the United States to have over 50,000 Grizzlies in Alaska, but those in the lower forty-eight are in danger of disappearing unless we continue to protect them and their habitat. 

It is up to us to be aware of the violations and threats to laws and rules that protect these bears and other endangered species. 

“The grizzly bears that live in and around Yellowstone make up almost half the population in the lower 48 states, and now those bears are at risk.” Lydia Millet

Photos by Pixabay

Cat Cafes

Have You Heard?

One of the brightest ideas for a new business has to be the “cat cafes” that have sprung up in many cities. Some are coffee joints. Others serve light food menus. The thing they all have in common is cats! These businesses are in partnership with feline adoption agencies. Cats and kittens are available for petting and holding and bonding, which is really the idea. 

Since I already own two cats I’m almost afraid to walk into one of these establishments. How about you? Have any of you readers had any experiences with cat cafes? If so, I’d love to hear about it. 

Thanks!

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ELLIOTT ~ 11 Y/O

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ZOE ~ 14 Y/O

 

“The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.”

                Jules Renard

 

 

 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Tintern Abbey

Wales’ Best-Preserved Abbey

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Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard of Clare, an Anglo-Norman lord. This community of buildings where monks once lived and worshiped had one of the most advanced drainage systems of its time, however, there was only one room where there was a fire for the residents to warm up or dry their clothes. There was an infirmary on the grounds and many early carvings. Traces of medieval glass can still be seen in the imposing windows.

After suppression by Henry VIII, the Abbey changed from its religious purpose to crowded cottages and an early industrial complex. 

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Wales

I loved the drive through the countryside in Wales. There were sheep scattered all about the hills presenting the peace that only such a pastoral scene can provide. There were signs to “Mind the Sheep” because in certain areas the animals were allowed to graze along the roadsides. 

Another interesting thing that I noted while in Wales was that signs were in both English and Welsh languages. All the maps and brochures that I saw in Wales were equally bi-lingual. While just about all citizens speak English on a daily basis, the government claims that 24% of the population over age three can speak Welsh, the official language of Wales. This makes this Celtic language the only official language of the United Kingdom other than English. 

I would love to return to Wales one day. 

 

Goatman

Urban Legend

If you are a regular follower of Crooked Creek, you may recall my mentioning the Goatman a few times. As Halloween approaches, I want to give you a full introduction to the half-man and half-goat. This creature, known as a satyr has frightened generations in this southeastern Jefferson County community. He resides near the trestle at Pope Lick pictured below. The picture of the actual Goatman is borrowed from a sign I saw in Pope Lick Park last fall. He has to be real or there could not be a photo, right? 

 

I’m not sure how a creature of Greek mythology came to reside here in Kentucky, but he is well known and feared. Such beasts are known for their drunkenness and lust and if you want to know more, you’ll have to check him out outline because this is a PG13 blog! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyr

Many times train conductors have seen adventurers on the trestle in search of the Goatman. Sadly a woman died in 2016 when she and her friend were exploring on the track. The man was able to survive by lying between the ties, but the woman was struck and plunged to her death below the trestle. http://www.wdrb.com/story/31800606/woman-dies-after-being-hit-by-train-on-pope-lick-train-trestle

Happy Hunting!

If you are brave enough to search this Halloween. 

Cow Eyes

“You Have Cow Eyes”

Have you ever been told you have cow eyes? It’s supposed to be a compliment. Cow eyes are big and dark and kind of dreamy looking. That’s one reason to give up beef or at least to not get up close and friendly before a steak dinner.

Well, I once knew a man who had cow eyes. Let me explain.

While not identical, bovine eyes are very similar to human eyes. If you are a science teacher and you want your middle school students to learn first hand about the human eye by dissection, what do you do? You obviously don’t have access to human eyes.

A teacher I knew years ago had access to a butcher and this butcher had access to cow eyes. He was especially fond of the teacher and could not say no when she requested enough for each of her students. They made plans for her to pick them up on a certain day. Imagine his family’s dismay when he came home from work that day with a bucket full of cow eyes.   

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“I absolutely adore cows. They’re the most fascinating gentle and beautiful animals. Their eyes are so amazing. I have ten that live on the land around my house. I love to talk to them.”  Mary Quant

 

Theme photo in title and graphic by Pixabay

A.M. Walk

A rare lower humidity day brings a cute youngster out to play at Pope Lick Park. It was curious, but not a risk taker. This was as close as I came.  

A surprise on the walkway was this baby frog. It was definitely a day for juveniles. She/he was the perfect subject for photo taking, holding still and posing. fullsizeoutput_18e1

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” Saint Bernard

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As will flowers, deer and frogs. 

Saving Planet Earth

Straws Again  

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/07/02/waste/

After writing Wasting Planet Earth posted earlier today, I read a comprehensive article in the Courier Journal (7/1/18) about plastic straws. The movement to eliminate these devices is picking up steam. There was even a report on broadcast news last night about the subject (NBC). 

In the CJ I learned that there is only one manufacturer of paper straws in all the United States. That company, Aardvark Straws in Fort Wayne, IN, cannot meet the demand so now many paper straws used in the US are from China. Aardvark’s natural cellulose product is both compostable and biodegradable. 

We have been using plastic straws since 1970 and they are a part of the eight billion tons of plastic we dump into the oceans each year! By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the planet’s oceans than fish. We must do better.

Challenge

If you still are not convinced that these small cylinders of plastic that we suck on so cavalierly are a problem, I challenge you to watch all eight minutes of this YouTube video. If you are sensitive to coarse language you should watch without sound. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=4wH878t78bw

Thank You

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“Small Acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world.” Howard Zinn 

 

Theme photo in title and graphic by Pixabay

Frogs 2

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Frogs Are Valuable

Frogs are precious and, not as dinner. Did you know that according to the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project* (Panama) between 1996 and 2006, over 100,000 tons of frog legs worth almost half a billion dollars were consumed by human diners? 

Frogs are valuable and not just as pest control. We would certainly suffer without frogs eating flying pests. Considering the diseases carried by mosquitoes I cannot imagine a world without frogs and other amphibians to keep them under control yet, since 1980, we have lost over 120 species of amphibians!

“So what?” some may say, but the value of frogs goes way beyond pest control and culinary uses. Frog skin is a virtual bonanza for medical research and treatment. Frogs have been found to carry cures and controls for some of humankind’s most threatening conditions*.  

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 It is True

Someone has said: “Frogs have it made, they get to eat what bugs them.” Anonymous and it is true. We once had a koi pond with frogs and lily pads and it was great entertainment until one very large frog became “bugged” by a bird. The bird just wanted a drink from the pond, but that hungry frog rose up and gulped the bird into its mouth! Only the tail and wing tips were not swallowed. I would never have believed it possible had I not seen it in my own backyard. And, you might not believe it either except in addition to a couple of (frightened) witnesses I have pictures.

Warning, it is not pleasant. 

 

Like people, they may not all be sociable but we need frogs and they need us to preserve them for the value they add to our world. 

Part 2 of 2

Frogs

I Love Frogs

All my life I have been fascinated by frogs. Sometimes I wish they were not so slimy and there are poisonous ones I would not want to encounter, but overall frogs are intriguing creatures. Once as a child, I was climbing a tree and put my hand on a big piece of bark to steady myself and that bark scurried away from my hand! It was a perfectly camouflaged tree frog. 

Have you heard a tree frog’s voice? They are amazing. If you think all frogs make the same sound, you are so wrong. Only the male bullfrog can “croak” using his throat pouch that enlarges and vibrates to make that familiar sound. Other frogs have individual sounds and you can experience some of them, including American and Canadian frogs here: http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/sound/shfrsnd.html There are several other sites on the internet which present the sounds that various frogs make and a favorite of mine is: http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/songs.html

I cannot help but smile as I listen to the recorded frog sounds. I hope that you enjoy them too. Frogs whistle, peep, grunt, ribbit, and bark to name just a few of their distinctive sounds. Please tune in to the links above and listen to their serenades. Even as a frog lover, I was not aware of spring peeps until my daughter pointed them out a few years ago. 

Frogs Are Vital

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Frogs are more than fun. They are sentinels that warn us of crucial information regarding our environment. Amphibians, including salamanders and toads as well as frogs,  are sensitive to gases like oxygen because of their very porous and sensitive skin.  This means they are also very sensitive to pollution even from their egg stage because the shell is soft, unlike eggs of birds and snakes. 

Amphibians have been declining with some species disappearing completely. Other signs of environmental compromise include extra or missing legs on frogs. They are compared by many scientists to the canary in the coal mine. We must respect and pay attention to frogs and their cousins. 

“Don’t be a fish; be a frog. Swim in the water and jump when you hit ground.”                    Kim Young-ha

 

Part 1 of 2

Pope Lick Park 2

Goatman?

Today while walking I thought I had spotted the Pope Lick Monster, https://crookedcreek.live/2018/05/23/pope-lick-park/  but it turned out to be just another tree. I wanted to share it with you regardless. 

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Friendly Deer

She wasn’t shy. I talked with her a while and didn’t want to disturb her by getting out my phone to photograph her. After a friendly conversation, I realized she wasn’t in a hurry nor was she worried about this human. Here she is for you to enjoy. 

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Pope Lick Park

After an unusually busy spring burdened with lack of energy, this morning I returned, yet again, to my favorite park. Pope Lick didn’t disappoint, so I will be there again tomorrow. https://www.theparklands.org/Parks/Pope-Lick-Park 

The honeysuckle was blooming abundantly and generously unleashing its heavenly fragrance. I wish there was a way to share that lovely scent with you here. 

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The landscape was lush with green . . . the hills, the meadows and even the occasional swamp. There were a few wildflowers and wild things. Cardinal couples were on the scene and I gave up counting after five or six. 

Blackberries are in full bloom. In fact, they look well into the season and I do not recall the usual “blackberry winter” that we expect to experience before the berries appear. 

 

Pope Lick Monster

Everything was there except the Pope Lick Monster! I don’t always look for him/it but today I heard the train whistle and even though I was not yet at that infamous trestle, I wondered if the Goatman was lurking there. If you live in this area I’m sure you are familiar with this creature. If you are not, you should take a look at what he’s been up to for generations. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/pope-lick-trestle-bridge

or

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Lick_Monster

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When I eventually spot the monster you may be assured that I will tell you and hopefully with photos, too!

Heroes need monsters to establish their heroic credentials. You need something scary to overcome.  Margaret Atwood

 

SOUL 6

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THE ESSENCE OF EACH PERSON 

I believe the soul is the essence of a person. It is who they are at their core. This is not original, we’ve seen this word used by others in this series.

Since “soul” is such a difficult concept for me to imagine and since that word has connotations of both good and bad from my religious upbringing, I needed a different, more neutral word and “essence” works for me. It means a person’s intrinsic nature and immutable character. It is real, everlasting and never changing. Even after the person has died it is as recognizable as their face or their voice. 

My Recent Experiences

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My husband, who died in December of 2014, was a nature lover. He was wise in the ways of animals and birds. He was a master at growing beautiful things. He imparted his reverence for creatures and his appreciation for all living things to each of us who knew and loved him during his eighty-five years of life.  

When my two daughters and I visited their father’s gravesite for the first time we were driving along a country road on our return home. Suddenly, we all three, at the same time, saw a large group of cranes ahead of us flying in a V formation. In my entire life, I do not recall seeing more than one crane at a time and rarely in flight. I pulled my car to the side of the road and we watched this magnificent sight approach and then fly over our car in direct view of the sunroof and then behind us and off into the distance. 

We did not need to discuss or compare thoughts. Each of us knew that we had experienced our loved one communicating with us. Those strong birds in flight represented his essence.

We rarely go the thirty-plus miles to that quiet old cemetery without seeing a deer, a beautiful blue bird, or some other unexpected creature. One time there was even a box turtle on the road to be rescued and repositioned in the grass. It happens at other times, too. Just days ago I opened the front door to see a beautiful squirrel in front of my porch, sitting there to remind me of my husband’s nature and his love. This was the very first squirrel at our home in five years of living here and it was a gift. Let me be clear, I am not saying that any of these creatures are my deceased husband nor his soul. I’m saying they represent his essence. I believe they are there at his beckoning.

These instances happen less often now than in the first year or so after his death. I believe he knows we need them less now than early on. I believe he knows somehow that our family continues to think of him and cherish his memory, but that we have been comforted and are more at peace now with his absence. 

 

For more information I recommended this book: images

 

“Some cognitive scientists believe human response to music provides evidence that we are more than flesh and blood—— that we also have souls. “ Judy Picoult

Post 6 of 7

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Soul 5

 

Questions? Questions!

More questions than answers, perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in discussing the soul. We speculate, imagine, believe, or believe in, a certain idea but we have no facts to back up that concept. One may have had experiences that reinforce personal beliefs, but is that proof? No.

Or perhaps you do not believe there is a soul at all? Many do not. Although said in jest, the statement made by a friend sums up that philosophy. She once referred to death as the “long dirt sleep.” Believing there is no soul, is no fun! How boring that would be. I would much rather speculate, study and discuss possibilities. As one reader/follower commented earlier, that means being “not a doubter, but a questioner.”

So, for the sake of discussion, we will go with the thought that there is a soul. I hope you are not offended as I sometimes refer to “it.” We all know that soul is the subject.  

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When does the soul begin? At conception? At birth? At death? 
Does it come as a vacuum or filled with wisdom to dispense? 
Does it belong to us or us to it?
Can it travel? Can it be in one location while one’s body is somewhere else?
How does the soul communicate?
Is it a generic template or are all souls individualized?
Does it direct? Correct? Control? Comfort?
Does it stay with the body after death, i.e. in the crematoria, in the grave or tomb?
Does it make choices or is it programmed?
Do only humans have souls? What about pets? Other animals?
Can a tree or body of water have a soul?

OK! OK! 

I’ll stop with the questions because we could go on forever. Also, many of you have previously shared some personal thoughts and beliefs about what a soul is like, including the following characteristics: spirit, eternal, underlying part, essence, oneness with others, capable of regeneration. 

Essence

For several years “essence” has been the word I use or think of in relation to the soul. When we meet people and form a close relationship we get to know them on a deep level and develop a sense of who they are at the very core. We get to know them well enough to evaluate their fundamental qualities and we remember that essence long after they have left us whether in distance or death. I also believe this “knowing” lives on in many ways in our hearts and minds, consciously and subconsciously as we continue to live life without that person, that relationship physically present. 

Approaching my seventy-fifth birthday, I have by this time, naturally lost many persons in my life who I loved and who I continue to miss. That’s life, it includes death. If we have one we have the other. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that people do live on in many, many different ways and in the next blog I will explain further, but in the meantime here are a few hints in photos.

 

“The true nature of soul is right knowledge, right faith and right conduct. The Soul, so long as it is subject to transmigration, is undergoing evolution and involution.”                      Virchand Gandhi

Part 5 of 7

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

 

Beauty 4

Beauty Four       

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 Fairy tales can come true? 

           It could happen to you. . .music-2570451_1280

Please don’t let it be true!

 

Beauty and the Beast

In spite of learning so much more about Beauty and the Beast, I still suspect that Beauty and many other females in fairy tales suffer from Stockholm syndrome.  I would prefer this story: 

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Fairy Tales

A close review of old stories for children, even nursery rhymes, and songs, contain thinly veiled topics that few would find healthy for young children. Some subject matter that comes to mind includes poverty, patriarchy, arranged marriages, cannibalism, incest, and beastiality. (I sure wish I had not used Google to find the correct spelling of that last word!)

The country of origin seems to have little influence on whether the tale is age appropriate. Beauty and the Beast was written in France as we learned in the last post, Aesop’s Fables are from Greece, Hans Christian Andersen was Danish and the Brothers Grimm were German.

Nursery Rhymes

Again I am guilty of jumping to conclusions without complete information because when I started reading full versions of many nursery rhymes I found that I was only familiar with part of the story. For instance, I had only heard the first verse of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Did you know that the last verse is about a zebra? There are workable theories that this rhyme is based on slavery or unfair taxing, but we won’t go there today. 

Again I had not read or heard all of Little Bow Peep. Did you know that when she found her sheep it “made her heart bleed” because of the loss of their tails? I’m not sure what it is about tails but The Three Blind Mice had theirs surgically removed by the farmer’s wife! 

Poor Humpty Dumpty is mortally crushed in a fall. Everyone knows I suppose that Peter held his wife captive in a pumpkin shell and Jack sustained a skull fracture which Jill tried to replicate as she came tumbling after.

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Courtesy of DLTK

Maybe it is the nurse in me, but I see emergency departments filled with these casualties. Perhaps you’re seeing it reported on cable news or from the viewpoint of law enforcement. 

Songs

I would be willing to bet that you have either sung “Rock-a-bye Baby” or had it sung to you. Did you, like me, picture that sweet fragile baby crashing to the ground when the windstorm breaks the limb upon which its cradle was hung? Could it be that the words really do not matter at all? Is it conceivable that the only thing that matters is that someone is lovingly singing a lullaby?

Final Thoughts

You may wonder what these four posts entitled Beauty are about and if so my job here is done. I want you to wonder, to question. I am interested in thoughts this series might have prompted. I would like to know your opinions, your favorite or least favorite children’s story, whether you reached any conclusions. Please share in the comments. Thank you.

My Favorite?

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is brilliant. It seems much more like an adult tale than a child’s, but regardless there is such a valuable lesson contained in this story. It isn’t sing-song verse nor does it rhyme. It does not frighten but manages to carry a profound message. 

 

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Beauty 2

Fairy Tales

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Google Photo

 

In the last post, I promised to give you my “idea” for a children’s book. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/03/20/beauty/

Some reader comments indicate you may be expecting an actual book, but I am sorry it does not exist. I’ve only gotten to the title because I know that actually writing the book would be an enormous waste of time. No publisher would be interested in a book with my title.

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Handsome

Handsome guy, right? My book would have him falling in love with an ugly hag. Can you picture him dancing with or kissing such an old woman? Of course, you can’t because it has never happened and it never will. There’s no money in that story! There is no reality in that story.

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and the 

For centuries, however, the opposite plot has been accepted and even expected. The book Beauty and the Beast has been read to children for generations. The three movies by the same name have been attended by families since the first one was released in the 1940s. I would love to know how many children may have asked their parents why the beautiful girl was in the arms of the big hairy monster. I wonder how many parents were uncomfortable with the storyline.

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HAG

 

 

        

 

 

“Handsome and the Hag”

 

Some food for thought:

“A beautiful woman with a brain is like a beautiful woman with a club foot.” Bernard Cornfeld

“The highest prize in the world of men is the most beautiful woman available on your arm and living there in her heart loyal to you.” Norman Mailer

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.” Tom Wolfe

“It’s the combination of marrying a beautiful woman three decades younger and my iPad that keeps me young.” Bruce Forsyth

“Surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young.” Hugh Hefner

“My addiction has always been to beautiful women, being surrounded by them.” Corey Feldman

Number 2 of 4

Theme photo in title and others by Pixabay

Cats Again!

Zoe & Elliott

A few weeks ago in Cats 3 post, I made the following statement:  “In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together.”

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/17/cats-3/

Those of you familiar with small children may know that they often make a liar out of their parents. When Mom or Dad says the child will not do such and so, the child will immediately do that. 

It seems my cats are no different. After all these years of not lying or sitting near each other, I now have about a dozen photos of them doing just that. Here are a few, just to finish their story. 

 

Medicine 3

Sexology Continued

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Conceiving a “Babe”

There is little doubt why there were very large families at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease, which was no doubt the prevalent thinking of the time, provided a very long and detailed chart outlining fertile and barren periods in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, it was dead wrong. The chart lists the days at the beginning and end of the cycle as “probable fertile” and the middle of the cycle which is we now know when ovulation occurs as “probable barren.”  By accident, a couple of the “probable fertile” days may have been in fact fertile. 

Birth control is not a subject of these chapters on Sexology and I am glad. No way would I care to describe here the method most common at that time. We’ll just move on to determining whether the “babe” will be a boy or a girl. This book seems very confident in opinions regarding choosing the sex of a child. 

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Will the “Babe” be a boy or a girl?

We know today that the male sperm determines the sex of a baby. We’ve had more than a   century to study and learn, so it is unfair, I suppose, to make fun of the 1910 thinking. But hey, that’s up to you. Here’s what the manuscript says in direct quote or paraphrase:

  • “The ovary is undoubtedly the predominant factor.” 
  • “Nutritional disturbances” such as diabetes are more likely to lead to the birth of a girl. 
  • “Emotion” is a factor in sex determination and the soul pervades every element of our bodies with either pleasure or pain.
  • To conceive the desired sex, during intercourse (or coitus as Sheldon of “Big Band Theory” would say) ones’ mental recollections should be pleasant and calm. 
  • Experiments were made using cows and horses resulting in eight (8) different conditions that influenced the sex of a calf or colt, including the age, strength, health and work history of each animal parent. 
  • These animal observations were then applied to human parents.

 

 

 

Want a Boy?

The husband must partake of “substantial food, exercise in open air and indulge in light literature.” He should also not “indulge” himself for a few days prior to intercourse. The wife should eat a vegetarian diet, exercise daily to almost fatigue and spend some time with older women. She should also take certain extracts which are listed. 

Want a Girl? 

Do the opposite! The wife should eat animal food, not “indulge her passions” and keep all her “vigor for the desired time.”  The husband should do “exercise to fatigue,” and take a “sitz bath of cold rock-salt water” morning and night. 

Final Sexology Warning 

Above all take “Care of the Passions.” The book cautions that those who are reckless in this respect will “Produce disorders of the nervous system. Messengers of evil or of good are ever passing” through the reflex centers of the brain, stomach, and genitals and “to touch one is to touch all.”  

 

 

 

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/23/medicine/

Part 3 of 4

 

 

Cats 4

Trips to the Vet

fullsizeoutput_126e  Zoe

Taking Zoe to the vet has become increasingly difficult. Part of that may be that I now must do it alone, but the biggest factor is her fear of enclosure. She is quick to sense that something is up. It makes me wonder what she may have endured in her first year of life before she was given up for adoption. I learned long ago to not let her see the carrier ahead of time or she would hide where it is impossible to reach her. Currently, she escapes under the king sized bed and holds her ground right in the middle where not even the longest human arms could retrieve her.

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After doing some Online research I ordered a “Cat Bag” to transport her in an effort to help her feel more secure. It has a long zipper and adjustable velcro at the neck. A soft handle in the middle allows carrying the cat snugly in the bag. She said, “You’re kidding, right?” and the chase was on.  

She weighs less than ten pounds, but the total package consists of amazing speed, terrorizing screams and four paws equipped with dagger claws. Now almost twelve years old, Zoe is behind in vet visits for the first time. We are waiting each other out and I’m pretty sure who will win. Yes, the one with the claws.

fullsizeoutput_1227  Elliott

Elliott couldn’t run away if he wanted to. I simply pick him up and stuff him into his larger size carrier. Simple, until I start to carry the carrier! Really, I’m capable of carrying twenty-two pounds. I carry heavier bags of cat food and litter, however, those packages do not shift. Elliott cries half-heartedly as he moves from one end of the carrier to the other, keeping me off balance as I carry him.

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With each annual trip to the vet, it becomes increasingly more difficult. The staff always sees my challenge and offers to help me get him back to the car, but I need to demonstrate that women (and senior women at that) can handle any job we accept. He is my cat. I can carry my cat. I always pray they are not watching my retreat wobbling to the car. 

I have a plan for Elliott’s next outing. We will meet the challenge.

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Bottom Line

Zoe, Elliott and I are all seniors. We understand each other. We need each other. We love each other. We know that, one at a time, we will conclude our stay on this spinning orb, but for now, the three of us are making one another happy day by day.

 

So now you know that adopting a cat (or any pet) is a big responsibility. You probably knew that already, but thank you for reading about my life with Zoe and Elliott. I hope you have pets you love as much. Animals are wonderful. They give so much love and devotion and expect only that in return.

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Night Prayers

Part 4 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats 3

Here We Are in 2018

In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together. She has never warmed up to him. He has never learned that she likes her personal space. 

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Monetary Liability

I am not exaggerating when I say that the medical care for the two cats combined is a few thousand dollars. Even though I have all the records and receipts I don’t want to know the actual total. I do recall that Elliott’s heart ultrasound was $350 back in 2008 and that his workup last year for a period of lethargy when I thought he was surely terminal was about the same. He was apparently just faking it since all his tests and exams were normal.

These charges are fair and are part of the deal when we take animals into our lives. The total includes annual exams and vaccinations as well as illnesses. Add to that food, litter, treats, toys, brushes, nail trimmers, bathing (Elliott loves his spa days, Zoe not so much) and laser pointers which are so much fun for cat and human and the investment is not insignificant. This fact is important to know before taking on the responsibility of a pet.

Are They Worth It?    

Absolutely, many times over, but if money is tight this may not be the time to adopt a cat (or other pet). 

Hard Decisions 

To the vets’ chagrin, Elliott has continued to gain weight. None of the counseling, handouts or warnings has worked. Not even four pounds when we adopted him, this week he topped the scales at nearly twenty-two pounds. It wasn’t that I did not understand the instructions or the cardiac condition that made being overweight a risk. I did. I do. But when there are two cats who live together and one is skinny and the other obese it is a dilemma. The only way to limit Elliott’s food is to put the cats into separate living areas and that is next to impossible in this space. So, the decision I have made, right or wrong, is quality over quantity.

Elliott was rescued on a railroad track when he was a kitten. There is no way to know how he got there or how he survived long enough to be saved, but he has been happy for all the years since. 

We are lucky that his murmur has not worsened in spite of the weight. He is a big fat happy boy whose heart is full of love. 

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Number 3 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats 2

Elliott

Perhaps I should have known something was up when the person who was fostering Elliott insisted that she would deliver him to us in spite of our plans to pick him up. She also discouraged my naming him Zack. She assured me that he knew his name as Elliott. I had thought that Zack and Zoe would be so cute, but I didn’t want to confuse him, so I agreed that he would stay Elliott. As it turned out I don’t think he knew his name for about a year after he came to live with us.

When he was delivered our friends, Mike and Debbie were visiting. I thought the least upsetting for Elliott would be to turn him out of the carrier and into a room where he could be alone without us humans around, so we put him in an upstairs room with food and water and closed the door. In about an hour I checked on him to find that he had chewed or clawed a large piece of trim from the door frame in an attempt to get out. This was just the beginning. 

Dysfunction

When Zoe spotted this stranger in our midst she retreated to the top of our spare refrigerator in the basement. She practically lived in that private loft for the next couple of years. When she did venture down to eat or use the litter box Elliott wasn’t mean to her, but he stalked her. He followed her closely as she scratched and hissed at him. At times she made horrible screaming sounds and at others, she cursed in a low guttural growl. He was just a guy confused by his lack of popularity with this feline housemate. But, Elliott was a lover! He jumped into our laps, he cuddled, he purred. In spite of his concern for Zoe, my husband, Raymond, bonded quickly with Elliott. 

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Within a few days, we took Elliott to the Shelbyville Road Veterinary Clinic to become an established patient where our pets had been cared for about ten years . Unfortunately, the examination revealed that Elliott had a heart murmur. During a later ultrasound, we learned that he had two septal defects, a.k.a. holes in his heart. We were devastated, not knowing what that meant for his long-term survival. The doctors would monitor his condition and advised us to keep him from becoming overweight. 

The Humane Society did the right thing and offered to take Elliott back but it was too late. We loved this cat in spite of all the trouble he brought with him. We were hooked on Elliott. Even Zoe was becoming a little more tolerant even though reclusive. A few years later when we moved to a condo she lost her basement sanctuary and has never been as happy. In fact, she has had a couple of stress-related illness, but she is resilient. She has managed to tolerate this big clumsy roommate for ten years now. 

And, that presents another challenge. Zoe is thin. Elliott is not. Leaving food out all the time is necessary for her, but detrimental to his need to be on a limited calorie diet. So, we continued our dysfunctional ways, loving both cats and trying to provide equal attention and devotion. 

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My Point?

If I have one, I suppose it is that pets are a big responsibility. They require our time and a fair amount of work. They also deserve humans who are knowledgeable about their needs and compatibilities. It is not enough that we care and that we want to rescue at-risk animals. We need to be well informed of their needs. We owe them the same love and devotion they give to us. 

We have done our best to care for both of these cats, but if I am honest I know that Zoe was much happier as an only cat. We didn’t know that at the time we adopted Elliott, so we’ve tried to be responsible to both of them. Now as I care for them alone, I do my best to give them what they need.

The Best Part

We have adapted to the changes in life, a cat added, a smaller home, the loss of a caregiver and we’re still a family. Zoe still curses. Elliott still stalks. But, we have love. 

The cats do yoga with me most mornings. Elliott sleeps with me at night. We have neighbors and relatives who care for them if I need to be away for a few days. I would not take anything for my two cats regardless of the work and expense. They have made my life happier and I trust that is mutual. 

 

Part 2 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats

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Photo by Kate Puckett Elliott – Australia

 

Advice 

Never go to a place where rescued animals are up for adoption unless you are planning to adopt. It can be heartbreaking. It can lead to a dysfunctional relationship. 

2006

Several months after the unexpected death of our beloved cat, eight-year-old Annie, we felt we were ready to adopt another cat. We went to Shamrock Foundation http://shamrockpets.com to select another cat who would hopefully be as loving as Annie. We did not find that cat on our first visit but we filled out adoption papers listing personal references and our veterinarian and agreeing to a home visit if requested. We wanted to be ready when “our” cat appeared.  

In a few days, we received a call that a nice young “tortie” was available. We had no idea what that term meant, but soon learned it is short for tortoiseshell. These cats are usually a combination of two dark colors with little or no white and the pattern is somewhat like that of the shell of a tortoise. Fun fact, they are almost always female, because the few males born are usually sterile. 

We went in to see this “tortie” who had been brought to the shelter because her owner had too many cats to care for. We watched as she played with balls and string and after about an hour decided to adopt this little girl who still had stitches intact from her recent spaying. 

Meet Zoe

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2008

While shopping for supplies for Zoe at a pet store we accidentally stumbled into a nest of large cages containing cats for adoption. The Humane Society of Kentucky https://www.kyhumane.org from an adjoining county had about a dozen cats there. I tried to ignore them, but it was impossible. While standing by one cage a large caramel and white cat stretched out his paw through the grid and gently touched me. I instinctively stuck one finger inside the cage to rub the top of his head. That was an action that sealed our future as a family. 

After much deep consideration and discussion with my husband and friends, I knew I had to return for that cat. Long story short, (I know, too late!) We became a two cat household. Twice as much litter to scoop, hairballs to clean up and vet bills to pay.

Unfortunately, I did not consult Zoe. She would have clearly said “NO!” Little did I know that male and female cats (especially those who have been “fixed”) are not going to get along well. 

Meet Elliott 

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Part 1 of 4 

November

Winding Down

November was not a favorite month for many years, but I have learned to appreciate it more. In the past, I thought of it as rather colorless and simply a time to be traversed to reach December’s cold, snow and Christmas. 

This year somehow I have learned to appreciate this bridge month between autumn and winter. The neighborhood trees have been beautiful and one especially has brightened each of my days. I see it, perfectly framed, through my office windows subtly changing colors day by day. Only over the past 48 hours has it lost its bright glow as seen below, as the leaves have dried and withered, many falling to the ground.

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After a several week hiatus, today I returned to one of my favorite places, Pope Lick Park. As I walked listening to the rustle of crisp leaves blowing along the way, I realized that I would miss this month, November. It has been generous with its nature, colors and warm sunshine. It has been much more than I could have anticipated or earned, filled with love and affirmation. 

There were a few birds along the trail today including a noisy flock of crows fussing as I passed. Yes, I know the proper term is “murder” of crows, but they didn’t seem mad enough to warrant using that word! I saw one squirrel who I hoped found the nuts I had strategically placed under some trees. With most of the leaves now carpeting the ground the trees looked stark, especially the sycomores reaching their chalky limbs up to the sky. 

 

So, in a few days, we say, “Goodbye November.” You have been a good month and I look forward to your return in following years. 

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To Shoot or Not

Shooting

The topic of guns can bring out very strong feelings. I have strong feelings about the issue at the same time that I support the Second Amendment in the way I believe it was intended. That, however, is not the purpose of this post, since I pledged to not write about political topics and I believe “to have or not have guns” enters that realm.

I want to tell you about the two times that I shot something and about how very sorry I am when I recall each instance. I wonder how many of you watch Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show.” He has a frequent segment where he goes into a confessional box and confesses to the audience things he “feels bad about.” I suppose that is what I am doing today.

Hunting

As I was growing up my father, as well as probably every male we knew, had guns. They were long guns used for hunting, usually for food. My Dad hunted, not so much because he enjoyed it, but to provide needed meat for the table. We had rabbit frequently and I remember as a child crying and not wanting to eat it. I especially detested the milk gravy that Mom made after frying the poor bunny. I protested that it tasted “fuzzy,” to no avail. I was made to eat it. We occasionally had a squirrel and once, even a goat, but that’s another story.

Long guns were also a part of our home after I married. I was very relieved when my husband gave up hunting after he realized he would much rather observe nature than to shoot it. It was his decision gradually made over time at about mid-life. I remember the one and only time he went deer hunting. He came home soaking wet after spending a few hours in a tree in the pouring rain. He did see a deer, the doe came right under his tree stand and stood peacefully as he admired her until she trotted off. He loved to tell about that one day of deer hunting. His guns were displayed on a rack in the den for years and once in a while he would take them down and clean them. Those guns remain today.

My First Kill

As a young teen, I learned to shoot a 22 rifle. I loved the challenge of holding the gun steady and aligning up the little bead thingy on the end with the target. I shot cans with my older brother and my future husband and loved to show off my girl skill. One day I was at home alone on the farm my Dad had bought when I was about 14 or 15. We often saw snakes around and especially in an old tree growing in the yard fence line. It gave me the creeps to know they were hanging around up there. On the ground, I felt we had a fighting chance of not being bothered, but I always had the feeling they were going to intentionally drop on top of me from above. On this particular day, I spotted a very big, long snake on the yard fence. He was wrapped around the wire with his head hanging down and without any hesitation, I went into the house and grabbed Dad’s rifle. I walked out into the yard, sighted carefully and shot that poor snake in the head. At the time I felt pretty good about ridding the yard of this snake. Looking back years later, I felt nothing but disgust that I could so easily kill an innocent creature that was not bothering me at all. I never aimed at a living thing again and in fact soon lost interest in my skill with the rifle.

My Second Kill

There was one other incident with a gun that I regret almost as much but for different reasons. I was older and married at the time. It was winter and while the men had been out hunting, I had been playing in the snow with my younger brother. When the guys came back and started to put away the guns I realized that I had never shot a shotgun. I really didn’t know anything about them, but for some unknown reason I felt it necessary to experience shooting one, so I asked my husband to show me how. He carefully explained that unlike rifles, shotguns “kick” but I don’t think I knew what that meant. After repeatedly explaining that I had to hold the “butt” tightly against my shoulder because of the kick, I said, “Yeah, I got it” and looked around for a safe target. I aimed, I held the stock tightly against my shoulder, I pulled the trigger. Once I was able to open my eyes after the blinding pain from the gunstock recoiling, a.k.a. kicking, against my shoulder like a wild stallion I looked at my target. The poor snowman I had aimed at was full of round holes and looked back at me with dead eyes of coal. Again, I had shot an innocent and that was the last time I fired any kind of gun.

 

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What I Know for Sure 4

The Last Seven

As you may have noticed, this subject has been difficult for me. Quite honestly I am surprised, because I’ve been nothing in life if not sure of my opinions, but therein lies the problem, I believe. Opinions are easy to come by, easy to hold, easy to change. Knowing something for sure is utterly different. Knowing means possessing proof, irrefutable facts, it is a reality, the unwavering truth. This reality is harder to come by. In previous posts, I came up with thirteen (13), if you allow me to include those I threw in facetiously. In order to meet the high bar set by Oprah, in number only, I was determined to come up with seven (7) more things of which I am sure. After much contemplation, here they are:

14. The love of an animal is pure. They give physical comfort, make no demands, don’t pout and are quick to forgive. 

15. Death comes to all living creatures. No matter how we try to avoid this fact it is a reality. 

16. There are no perfect marriages. Some are happier than others, some have more trials, but regardless of the effort put into a marriage, it is not possible to live with another human being without some rough spots and adjustments along the way.

17. White privilege is real. The greatest advantage I’ve been given in life, I have done nothing to earn. It was provided to me at birth simply as a result of having two white parents. 

18. Time spent in nature is rewarding. The sounds of birds, crickets, and water flowing, the feel of breezes that touch one’s face, the glimpse of a small furry animal scurrying along the ground, even the faint fragrance of a wildflower are healing and rejuvenating to the spirit of who we are or were meant to be. 

19. I cannot turn over a new leaf. No matter how many times I try, simply acknowledging that I need to make a change is not incentive enough. For me to make a change, it must involve serious consequences.

20. High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health. Created in Persia (Iran today) to be worn by men riding horses, a raised heel served the practical purpose of keeping the feet within the stirrup. High heels today serve no purpose except to hobble women, making them more vulnerable not only to assault, but to back pain, falls, and injuries to the foot and ankle. Yes, I am aware that they can be beautiful and that women who are strong and agile, can look stunning wearing them, but I maintain that they are not worth the risks involved. 


We have explored and exhausted this subject for now at least. You, the readers, have contributed many things that you know to be true and they are listed below. Please feel free to comment, adding more things you have decided are true over the past month. I believe that something can be true to one of us, yet not all of us. We are individuals and we do not think, feel or believe the same. Thank you so much for sharing with me and with each other. 

What Readers Know for Sure:

I am but a microscopic speck in the great macrocosm of the universe.  
My existence has had a purpose
Life IS worth living
I am a morning person  
I know God is real
A true friend lifts you when you’re down, listens to your problems, is caring and encouraging.
Columbus Day marks the beginning of recorded history in America.
Millions of European migrants came here bringing their music, art, science, medicine and religious principles that shaped the United States.
A leopard can’t change its spots.   
You can’t go back, only forward.
You can’t change the past.
One hand washes the other hand.
You can’t change a person’s thinking when it comes to religion or politics.
What I believe for sure, you may not.
My mother, brothers, and sister have loved me unconditionally.
I have the inner faith and strength to get through very difficult times.
Teachers can change a student for a lifetime.  
Seasons follow each other.
Spring starts from the ground up.
The moon and stars follow the sun. 
Full moons cause strange behavior in people.
Everyone is either predator or prey.
Every action has a reaction.
The human body is the most incredible organism.
Every person has a story.
Every person can choose how to react to their story.
We move through seasons and chapters of our lives individually.
Some decisions are more difficult than others.
When inflated, balloons float up.  
We all die alone, even when others are around us.
We are on this earth as we know it today, only once.

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What I Know for Sure:

I love my family with all my heart.      
Having time alone is a necessity for me.
Native Americans should not be called Indians.
Dish towels should be laundered separately.
April is not delivering in March.   
Love, at first sight, is a real phenomenon. 
Depression should be renamed. 
April had a baby.
Alot is not a word.
I am no Oprah.
CPR does not always work. 
Grandparents are not infallible.   
Adventure Animal Park will continue to make money on April through May. 
The love of an animal is pure.
Death comes to all living creatures.
There are no perfect marriages.
White privilege is real.
Time spent in nature is rewarding.    
I cannot turn over a new leaf.
High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health.   

The flowers bloom, then wither . . . the stars shine and one day become extinct . . . This earth, the sun, the galaxies and even the big universe someday will be destroyed . . . Compared with that, the human life is only a blink, just a little time . . .  In that short time, the people are born, laugh, cry, fight, are injured, feel joy, sadness, hate someone, love someone. All in just a moment. And then, are embraced by the eternal sleep called death.     Virgo Shaka

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)