We are in the early stages of a one hundred year inflation and what happened this week makes hyperinflation a fait accompli. The parallels between the US today and Germany 100 years ago are eerie. They include a global pandemic, an insane woke ideology, early stages of world war, a cut-and-paste gold chart.
The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to pay the costs for World War I in gold over a 42 year period. German debt rose from 38.6 billion in January, 1919, to 176.6 billion in May, 1921. As the government borrowed to make reparations, the value of the Mark eroded. By 1922 Germany could no longer make any payments. Their debt grew from 52 billion in January 1922 to 150 billion just three months later, and 1000 billion by the end of the year.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (aka nobody CARES what this does to prices) created $2.2 of debt which was monetized by the Fed. When the Fed could no longer convince people that rising prices were “transitory” they began raising the federal funds rate. But the economy was too accustomed to low interest rates to accommodate a higher cost of borrowing. This week, after the collapse of ultra woke Silicon Valley Bank, President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sat together in the Oval Office wearing surgical masks and then announced that they going beyond FDIC’s limit of $250,000 limit and make every single depositor whole. A new precedent was set. The Federal Government is now on the hook for all the debt of the fractional reserve banking system.
But there might be one difference between the inflation in Germany of 1923 and the US today. People back then were smart enough to get their money out of Marks and into gold. While the chart of dollar/ gold from 2019 to 2021 matches the chart of marks/ gold from 1919 to 1921, the explosion higher is yet to happen. An epic cup and handle, however, seems to be holding form.
I was not a cat lover. Just to be clear, I didn’t fear cats. I just didn’t like them much. We had a few running through our house when I was young. Some of them were cute but most were annoying. They would jump on you when you were trying to sleep and generally pester you non-stop.
It wasn’t until my husband, Joe, brought home his first rescue that I really learned about cats. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with her and the whole species. Cats are smart. They do enjoy the companionship of humans. They get along with dogs. They are resourceful. They know how to get what they want. They are also beautiful. What‘s not to like? So within about a week, I was totally hooked.
I cannot write about this without talking about the first cat in my life. He belonged to my grandmother, who was a cat lover. She got him as a kitten, but he became an outside cat. That is what people did back then. She named him “Boose” which, with her Italian accent, was her saying “Puss.” He was a legend in our family. He would disappear for months and then come home for a while. He was a big boy and knew how to take care of himself. He lived a long life, about eighteen years, which is not usual for an outside cat. Of course, he came home to die in our backyard. It was Easter Sunday. We were all dressed in our finest as we dug a grave in the backyard and gave him a proper sendoff. We all loved and respected him, but he was a far cry from the cuddly kitties I would come to know and love.
This love for all pets led me to start my business, Good Shepherd Pet Sitting Service, specializing in cats, which I ran for over twenty years. I met a lot of great cats, dogs, and an assortment of other pets including rabbits, fish, a snake, and my favorite, a pig. I had experiences including fire scares, plumbing problems, sick dogs, dog bites, and escaping pets. But that is another story.
One thing I learned about cats is that they are all different. They may look the same but each has his own unique personality. Two cats can look alike but be completely different. I rescued two kittens from a storage facility. They were littermates and you could not tell them apart. The boy, Yogi was outgoing and friendly. Boo was shy and afraid of people. The two were adopted by friends of mine, so I got to see them often. They never changed.
Cat rescue can be a heartbreaking ordeal. It can also bring great pleasure and love into your life. Some cats can’t be saved, but the ones who pull through are so grateful. And when they go to their new homes you cry because you miss them, but you are so happy when you get the thank you note from their new owners telling you how well the cats are adjusting and how happy they all are.
What do you do when you see a stray cat? Maybe it arrives in your yard looking for a meal and a warm place to sleep. If you feed it, it will never leave. But what will happen to it if you ignore it? If no one feeds it, it will die. You won’t see it happen but that does not mean it didn’t happen. That is a tragedy. So you do your best for it.
We have all been there, waiting for hours in the cold for a trap to trip. Hopefully when it does the cat will be inside. And she will stay there. Sometimes it will be a lost cause and you give up for the day. But you come back because you have to.
When we started rescuing we did not even use traps. Joe would just pick them up. My first rescue went that way, and I carried her home on my lap.
We didn’t just rescue cats. We also rescued a couple of dogs. The first was a stray who had been hit by a car. He was okay, but we had to wait two weeks to see if his owner claimed him. Nobody came forward, so we took Lucky into our home. He was our first real pet. He was great, he loved kids. He was afraid of some men, so we thought he may have been abused.
Lucky was a great watchdog. He liked to go for car rides. When he died we were lost without him. So we went to the Humane Society shelter and found a small hairy black dog who looked very shy. The look in his eyes said he was the one. He rode all the way home on my lap, and didn’t utter a sound. We took him right over to our groomer, who told us this was a Scotch Terrier. After his haircut we saw the groomer was correct. We named him Hondo, and he was the perfect companion for fifteen years. Hondo loved car rides and ladies.
Ironically, Hondo found our first cat. On one of his walks he spotted an orange kitten in a bush. Joe was able to get the kitten and took him home. The two got along fairly well, at least there were no fights.
Joe was always a bird lover. He walked at the county park and often spotted geese with fishing line around their legs. He would catch them and remove the line, hopefully before the goose lost his leg. If he found a goose or duck that was sick or injured he took it to a local vet who cared for wildlife. He was the person people called when they noticed any animal in distress. It took a lot of time and patience, but was very satisfying.
One day Joe got a phone call and told me to go with him on a rescue. He didn’t tell me what was going on, he just said you’ll see. We pulled up to a high rise apartment development and were led to an enclosed courtyard. There we found a bunch of chicks running around and chirping their heads off. Mommy was gone, she flew out leaving her babies to fend for themselves. She had her chicks in a big planter, but had no way to get them out. Some of the residents were annoyed with the constant chirping. We had to round up half a dozen baby ducklings, and it sounds easier than it was. They ran fast and were very slippery. Some of them fell into open drain pipes and came out in another part of the courtyard. Finally we were able to corral the whole gang and take them to a wildlife rehabilitator that we worked with. Mommy was nowhere to be found. The wildlife lady was able to introduce the ducklings to another duck mommy so they were able to grow up fat and healthy.
How does one change from an ailurophobe to an ailurophile? It was easy. I just got to know one cat. The day Joe brought home the kitten Hondo found, my only thought was finding her a home. Our pastor friend was with us, and he decided we should pray about it. When he finished his prayer he told us he got his answer. This kitten already had a home. It was with us. I told him he must have his wires crossed. We did not need a cat. I had a dog and a parakeet and did not want any other pets.
Through the years Joe, who worked at a veterinary clinic, had threatened to bring cats home. I always managed to find a home for the cats, usually among my work mates. This time it didn’t work. I was not able to find anyone to take her. I had no choice but to keep her. Cats always seem to know who they need to butter up. Abigail worked on me, and within about a week I was smitten. She was sweet and funny and got along with the dog. She had good manners. She never even tried to eat the bird.
The point is this: unless you can really get to know a cat, you will never understand them. If you don’t understand them they will be a mystery to you. Cats demand our respect, and in return give us unconditional love. Okay, there is one condition, we have to feed them.
Blacki and Pickles
Blacki was the neighborhood cat who ate at our doorstep for years. She had at least two litters a year. She always brought them to me and we found homes for all of them. We couldn’t touch her and she would not go into a trap. It looked like a lost cause.
We always made sure she was well fed. I made a little shelter for her but she would not go in it. Her kittens were always friendly and I never had trouble finding homes for them.
One day Blackie wandered into our garage and I shut her in. Joe was recovering from knee surgery at the time so he wasn’t much help. Our garage only had one door. I slipped food and water under the door for her and called for help.
The next morning our vet came over and the two men went into the garage. After much scuffling around they shouted, “we got her.” Doc took her in to be checked out and he said she was healthy and pregnant.
We took her home and put her in a kitten cage. We had to keep her safe until she gave birth and was spayed. Soon a litter of five kittens arrived. They grew strong and chubby. She was a good mother. She had a lot of practice. This would be her last litter.
The no-kill cat shelter agreed to take the kittens. I made the mistake of taking them all away from her at once. She was distraught. I felt awful for her. A few days before this happened a friend brought over a tiny three-week-old kitten. A friend of hers had found her on the sidewalk with no family in sight. First I called the vet and also let Joe know what was going on. He met us there.
This tiny kitten was on the examining table surrounded by several humans: the vet, my friend, Joe, me, and a few techs who wanted to see the kitten. She kept running around the table and checking us all out. Each time she stopped at me. The vet said, “well, she has picked her person.”
I had to feed her with an eye dropper, she would not take the bottle. When we were done we would both be covered with kitten food, baby food, kitten milk, and vitamin paste. She needed a bath. I eventually got her to take food from the end of a plastic spoon. Soon I was able to place the spoon in a dish, and finally take the spoon away and she could eat like a normal cat. Meanwhile, I had this messy kitten and a crying mother. The solution was plain to me. First I called my vet for advice and he said not to do it. I did it anyway. Blacki took to this kitten instantly. She cleaned her, fed her, and mothered her. We named the kitten Pickles.
Pickles turned out to be a real sweetheart. She considered both Blacki and me to be her mothers. She responded to both of us when we called her. As she got bigger her little legs would fly all over when she ran. She slept with Blacki at night in the cage and was released in the morning for her feedings and to run around with the other cats. If they hurt her she would cry out and Blacki would run to her. When it was dinner time I called for her and she ran to me.
Anyone who has fostered and fed kittens this young knows how attached you get to them. Pickles and I had a strong bond. Once Blacki was ready, she was spayed and allowed free run of the house. All five of her kittens found homes, two even got to stay together. After years of having so many litters Blacki finally got to retire. But she had her new best friend, Pickles.
Then came Blossom. I had a pet-sitting job at the end of a cul-de-sac. The house on the corner was very run down and the yard was full of tall weeds. It looked like a good place for wild cats to hang out. I was right.
At the time, we were kind of full. We had a new mama with seven kittens and her older cat. So I decided to put my blinders on as I rode by. It worked until the last day. I let my guard down and looked over. There at the side of the road sat a tiny kitten. I decided if I could catch her easily I would, or else I would move on. I got out of my car to talk to her. She was obviously sick with weepy eyes. I asked her if she wanted to come over, and she crossed the street to me. I asked if I could pick her up and she looked up at me as if to say please. I picked her up and placed her in the carrier I always had with me. I dropped her off at the vet’s office and they told me to call later. I had to rush to my next job where two dogs were waiting for me to take them out.
When I called later that day the vet got on the phone. She told me the kitten was a full-grown cat over a year old. She was very sweet. She had a cold and bad diarrhea. She also told me she was HIV positive. What did I want to do with her? I said to spay her and I will pick her up tomorrow. It was a good decision.
She was a skinny thing, but we fattened her up. Her cold got better and her bowels improved quickly. Her black fur was shiny and the white gleamed. She turned out beautiful and we named her “Blossom.” Her love for us was obvious. She became great friends with Pickles. She lived a long healthy life.
A few years later I got a call from a rescue group, asking me and Joe to help with a rescue operation in a nearby town. She said the property was full of cats. Somehow I knew where it was, the place where I got Blossom. It was a cold night, and about ten people were there with our traps. We spent several hours trying to trap the cats. The owner of the house was not happy, but she insisted they were not her cats. We spent several hours there and finally did get them all out. All the cats were HIV positive and most were very sick. The group took all the cats to their foster homes and they were able to save most of them. I was always thankful that I got Blossom out of there in time.
We saw an ad in the paper placed by a local animal shelter. They had an older male cat for adoption who happened to be HIV positive. He was a beautiful smokey-gray long haired gentleman. They said he had a good disposition but they were having trouble finding him a home because of his health issues.
I went to see him and he cuddled into my arms at once. I knew he was a good find. I had to pay the adoption fee, but it was well worth it.
Asher was a great pet. I didn’t try to find him a new home because of his illness and it would not be fair to him. So he became a part of our household.
Asher was a ladies’ man. He always had a girlfriend, always the best-looking female. He had no scruples, if someone cuter came along he would ditch his current flame and go after the new one. He was a heartbreaker.
None of my other cats contracted the disease since he wasn’t a fighter. I found that the several HIV cats I had through the years always had the best disposition. The disease is usually passed on either through their mothers or from fighting. My cats shared food and water dishes and slept together. All remained safe.
Asher was a sweetheart, even though he was fickle. He remained in good health and stayed with us for several years, living to a ripe old age. But he always had a girlfriend.
Grizzy and Bella
All my rescues did not take place in the wild. It seems cats were just delivered to me. Whether it was people bringing me their unwanted pets or cats like Blacki depositing her precious babies on my doorstep, they just seemed to make their way to my home. All were welcome and none turned away.
A friend of mine called to ask for my help. Her son found a litter of kittens with no mom. He took them home but they had a big dog and worried about the babies. I picked them up and took them to my vet to be checked out. I hoped they would help me find them homes. We soon discovered that all the kittens had eye problems, so I decided I would foster them myself.
Taking care of four kittens with no mommy is a lot of work. They needed to be fed and potty trained. They were good at eating but weren’t too good with the potty part. I used a cardboard box that cat food came in, and removed one end flap and added litter.. It took a while but they finally got the hang of it.
I was happy when a neighbor offered to take two of them. I kept the one with the worst eyes and the one with the best eyes. It turned out one was totally blind and the other had one good eye.
The neighbor kept her two and named them Tarzan and Jane. I visited them often until they moved out of state. They both grew strong and healthy.
We named my blind boy Grizzy and his sister was Bella. He followed her all over and they were very close. Bella was very affectionate. She was a lap cat from day one. Grizzy was also affectionate but a real boy. He was blind but never ran into anything that was in his way. He had great radar. He couldn’t see but it didn’t stop him.
A friend gave him two balls that made a crinkly noise and he would chase them and play fetch. He also loved ice cubes. If he heard anyone open the freezer he would come with the hopes that we would drop one. Of course, I always did so he could play with it until it turned into a puddle of water.
One day he decided to go upstairs to see what was going on up there. He got up fine but didn’t know how to descend. I found him at the top of the stairs looking bewildered. He was smart enough not to try it himself.
I went to get him, but instead of carrying him down, I decided he needed a lesson. I showed him how to put one foot down, then the other, then hop down, one step at a time. He caught on before he made it all the way, and now there was no stopping him.
Soon it was time for their trip to the vet. Bella’s spaying went well, but Grizzy had some complications. It was a bigger operation than usual, but both of them healed up quickly.
I decided I had to keep these two. All four of these foundlings turned out to be great pets. These kittens were found abandoned in a tree house. I wonder what would have happened to them if those two young boys hadn’t reported it to their moms. Having Grizzy and Bella in my life was a blessing. They taught me a lot about being handicapped and making the best of your life. Grizzy didn’t know he was different, that is the advantage animals have over us humans. They both lived a good life. They were loved and gave lots of it back.
Somehow people know I am a cat person. All of us rescue people know this. People we hardly know will approach us to let us know about stray or lost cats. They have never been to our houses, and we never discussed cats with them. They just know.
A neighbor was sitting on my doorstep one day when I arrived home. He had his little girl with him, and she was holding a kitten. They couldn’t keep it because someone in the household was allergic. Could I take her? He told me they found her when someone threw a litter of kittens out of a truck. He tried but was only able to get the one. We called animal control in the town where it happened and they promised to try to find the others.
Of course, I took the little one. She was a tiny gray and white tuxedo. She was not shy at all. She must have been born in his house, but the kittens were a bother so the people just disposed of them like so much garbage. I wish we had gotten his license plate. We did report it to the police in the town where this happened, but I have no hope that they found the culprit.
A lady from the rescue group was supposed to come to my house that day. She called and said she couldn’t make it. I would have given the kitten to her. I was always thankful for this turn of events.
I named the little foundling Teeny. Sometimes you get a cat that is adoptable but you just can’t part with her, and this cat was Teeny. She was always at my side. She was the kind of cat that sensed your moods. She would comfort me when I was down, and cuddle with me at night. She got along with the other residents.
When Teeny came to us the top cat in the house was Sheba. She had been with us for several years and was always on my lap. That was her territory, and even though she was sweet as can be, nobody tried to take her place. Sheba was well respected.
At about eighteen years old Sheba succumbed to kidney failure. She died peacefully at home. When that happened, Teeny took over Sheba’s spot. She became my BFF.
Teeny stayed with me for many years and lived a good long life. She never knew the awful fate she escaped, thanks to a kind man,
Heidi was one of my pet-sitting clients. I had cared for her for several years and was quite attached to her. I used to spend a lot of time with her, holding her and telling her how pretty she was. She loved it.
One day her owner called me. She had heard that her high-rise apartment building had a fire, and she was at work in the city at least an hour away. Could I go and get her cat? Of course, I said yes, so Joe and I rushed over to the apartment. This happened to be the same place where we rescued the ducks. We had to park about a half mile away because of all the fire trucks but were allowed inside since the fire was out.
We had to walk up to the second floor and find our way around a maze of halls in the dark. The smoke was thick with glass underfoot. Finally, we came to a fire door and a few firemen were on the other side with flash lights. That part of the building was not affected. We asked one of them to kindly escort us to apartment 25. He did and when we went in the smoke alarm was blaring. I felt so sorry for Heidi. We found her under a bed and were able to get her into a carrier. Then the long walk back to our car. I called her owner who was so relieved.
I offered to keep Heidi until her owner could get situated. She was staying with someone who had two dogs who hated cats. I kept Heidi for about a month and was sorry to have to return her to her owner when she found a new apartment. She would not go back to the old place.
This was a different kind of rescue, but still important. This poor cat had been trapped in her apartment for hours with the alarm screaming. I was glad we were able to get her out and give her a home until she could be reunited with her family.
Whitney had a story to tell, but we would never hear it. No one knew how she got where she did. She was trapped inside a wall in a church basement. A friend was at a meeting there and she heard meowing coming from inside the wall. She had been told the cat had been there for a few days. They had called the fire department but they were no help. So she called Joe.
He and a friend went to the scene with sledgehammers and broke through the concrete wall. Joe put his hand inside and pulled out a tiny black kitten.
Of course, all the ladies cooed and said how cute, but nobody wanted to take her. Joe said no problem, my wife knows how to take care of a little kitten.
So she came home to me. She was screaming her head off. You would think we would get a thank you. But no, she just kept on singing. Since she was black and beautiful we decided she should be named Whitney. The name fit her.
Once she calmed down she kind of took over the place. She was very sweet and got along with her housemates. Nobody knows how she got where she was. The only theory is that the mom had her litter in the belfry of the church and she fell through a false wall in the building. We searched for the rest of the family but couldn’t locate them. Whitney will always be a mystery.
I was never sorry that Whitney came to live with us. Black cats are kind of special. They are not bad luck. In fact I was lucky we found her. She was very calm and it was contagious. She was also a lot of fun. She kept all of us on our toes with her silliness. Whitney, like her namesake, was one of a kind.
Jack and Jill
I was feeding two stray cats on a property that was public, but I needed to park on private property. A church. I would pull up in front of a lawn that lead to a wooded area. That is where the two came to eat. When I pulled up they would run to my car, and then race each other up the hill into the woods. They would leap-frog over each other. It was funny to watch. So I named them Jack and Jill.
Jack was a gentleman. If on occasion Jill didn’t show up Jack would not eat until she came. When she arrived they would dine together. I knew I had to get them out of there, having already rescued their kittens. I set a trap and quickly got Jack. Jill refused the trap. I even tried different traps, a friend made a special one out of twigs. Nothing worked. When I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not park there, I had to abandon her. There was no way to park on the street. I was heartbroken. I could only hope someone else was feeding her.
Jack and the two kittens turned out to be great indoor pets. They were never tamed enough to be rehomed, but they got along with all the resident cats and people. We named them Snuffles and Hobbit. Jack was a real honey. The two girls were sweet. Hobbit and Garfield were great friends and could often be found cuddled with their arms around each other. I was always happy that I could give them a good home. But we never got over the loss of Jill.
It is sad that these church people could not care enough about God’s creatures to allow us to continue to park on their property during times when the lot was not in use. In time we probably could have gotten her, but in the very least she would have been fed.
Ebenezer and Mackie
One night when Joe was checking on Jack and Jill he came upon a large male cat sitting on the church steps. He was very friendly but seemed to be homeless. Someone must have deposited him in the woods. After a few days, my husband decided to take the cat home. He tried to put him in the carrier but the cat would have none of that. He rode shotgun on top of the carrier.
The cat walked into the house like he owned the place. I name him Ebenezer. Ebenezer was a cool dude. He had an appetite that would not quit. He ate anything, he liked chickpeas and even ate frozen peas. He cleaned up all the food dishes each night. We never had any leftovers with him around.
He had a great disposition. All the other cats looked up to him. There is something special about a big male cat who is so friendly. Ebenezer had a buddy, another big guy named Mackie. The two of them were a sight to behold. They were both such gentle soles. All the girls loved them.
Mackie came to us through a woman in town. She had several cats and was having a hard time caring for them. We would see him wandering the streets alone. She asked Joe for help and he agreed to take Mackie. By the way, she named all her cats Blackie. He wasn’t black, so we changed his name.
The two boys were a force to reckon with. Whether you were a cat or a human you needed to guard your food. They never seemed to have enough and would steal to get more. They were both quite chubby but healthy. Both boys were big by nature but were such sweet pussycats. They were not lap cats, which was a good thing, but they showed their affection by just being kind and loving to all of us. It was an honor to be their caretaker for many years.
Garfield was a big red cat much like his namesake. He belonged to a woman in town. He was a really cool guy. We got to know him and his caretaker. She would sit on her porch in the evening and I often visited her.
Garfield was an in-and-out cat. His lady, Mary, liked to go visit her friends who lived around the block. The two would walk over together, and she would sit outside to gab with the other ladies. Garfield would go on his own to do cat things. When he was done he would go to pick up Mary and they would walk home together. They had a good routine.
The time came when Mary could no longer live alone. Her daughter lived out of state and wanted Mary to come live with her. Mary was not allowed to take her cat with her, so she refused to go. We offered to take Garfield so she agreed this was the best solution. She sold her house and moved away. Garfield joined our family. He was no longer allowed to go outside but he didn’t seem to mind. He fit right in.
I am sure many town residents missed him but we will never know for sure. I did meet one man years later who recognized me and asked how Garfield was doing and I was able to assure him that he was fine and had adjusted well. He seemed relieved to hear that. We also let Mary know that her best friend was doing well.
Garfield was another food monger. He was more like a dog than a cat. I was required by him to save some of my dinners for him. I had to adjust my cooking so that I didn’t use any ingredients that were harmful to cats. If I was eating too slow he let me know by sitting on my shoulder. He was not a small cat. He really was just like the comic Garfield.
Being a cat rescuer was really an honor for me. I got to know so many different cats with different personalities. Garfield was unique, as they all are, but he was also special. It was a privilege to know him and to care for him in his final years. He was unforgettable.
Kelly and Her Kittens
Kelly came to us with baggage. A lot of baggage. We would soon find out how much.
It all started with a phone call from the chief of the SPCA, of which Joe was an agent. He told me about a situation in the next town. There was an elderly women who lived on a non-working farm with a lot of property and an old farmhouse. She had stray cats on her property and she was feeding them.
Apparently, a child was bitten by a black cat and they claimed it was her cat. She did not have a black cat. She was fined because her cats were not licensed and they told her to get rid of the cats. That is where I came in. I had to trap these cats and find a place for them.
I went to the site that evening and was met by another agent. I also met the homeowner. We set traps and were able to trap the four cats. Two older males were adopted by a friend, and I took home the mother and her daughter.
The two boys went to live in a rural area and enjoyed life as indoor-outdoor cats. They were very much at home there and their new people loved them. I was told that one of them chased a bear up a tree. They were two tough cookies.
I named the mama Kelly and her girl Smokey. A few days later we heard a lot of crying and squeaking. We found Kelly surrounded by a bevy of kittens. Seven, to be exact. There was one boy and six girls, in an assortment of colors.
One was the runt, and we took to her immediately. While the other six were running around wreaking havoc, this little one would find a lap to sit on. She was so calm and loving, we decided to keep her. We named her Cobbie and she stayed with us in the house where she was born.
One little multi-colored girl was a real troublemaker. When any destruction occurred she would get a look on her little face that said “it wasn’t me, they did it”. I named her Missy, as in little miss innocent.
Missy and her sister Midnight were adopted by friends. Good thing we have a lot of cat-loving friends. The other four went to the no-kill shelter and found good homes. Kelly got to live out her life with her two girls.
Ruby was hit by a car. She was hurt, so the police called us. Joe ran over and found this her in distress. He called our vet and he came over and took her back to his clinic. The cat had a broken jaw and a few other minor injuries.
She stayed at the cat hospital for several weeks with her jaw wired. She was not able to eat regular food. I don’t know how they kept her fed, but I visited her often and brought her homemade broth to lap up. She seemed to appreciate it.
Christmas was coming and I didn’t want her to spend it alone in the hospital. So as soon as they removed the wire I took her home.
We named her Ruby Tuesday. We never knew where she came from. She was a beautiful tortoiseshell cat with perfect markings. She was very friendly. We were not able to locate her owners so she became a member of our household.
A local photo studio had an annual pet photo contest. They had a photographer who was very skilled at taking pictures of pets. It was free to all comers for a donation to the local animal shelter. Every year I took my best-looking cat to be photographed. They displayed the pictures in the store window and at the end, we were given our picture free of charge. They also allowed us to buy additional prints and all the proofs. A panel from the shelter judged the pictures and awarded cash prizes and ribbons.
Ruby Tuesday won the red ribbon for second place.
Now Ruby was a beauty queen, but she didn’t lord it over the other cats. She was just as down to earth as always.
Lily was a white cat with odd eyes. One was blue, the other green. That meant she was deaf in one ear. The original owners had three cats and a baby on the way. They believed cats and babies did not mix. So they decided to get rid of one cat. They chose Lily, who they called Flake, because they said she was nasty. This cat didn’t have a nasty bone in her body. Anyway, they just put her outside to fend for herself.
The upstairs neighbor, one of our cat-loving friends, heard her crying and gave us a call. My husband went over and collected the cat. We took her to be checked out and found out she had a heart problem. She would not have lasted long on her own. She needed medication. We renamed her Lily.
Lily went to have her picture taken for the contest. At the same time, I also took my black cat, Jambo. Jambo was very well-behaved, as usual. She sat for her pictures like a little lady. Then it was Lily’s turn. The photographer took a couple of shots and then sat her in a little wicker chair. I suggested we put the black and white cats together on the red chair. It would have made a great shot, but Lily was not pleased. So she let out a big hiss. The photographer was quick, she took the shot. That was the shot we entered in the contest, and she won a red ribbon for second place. She also won a toy mouse.
Now Lily was a beauty queen, and she knew it. She acted as if she was the queen of the house. Everyone had to do Lily’s bidding. Nobody could play with her mouse. Nobody could sit too close except for her rescuer. She loved him. Lily believed the old saying that cats were once worshiped, so everybody should worship her.
But I can’t complain, we all loved her. And she was very pretty. She was happy to be living in a home where she was respected as all cats should be.
He was with us only a short time. He was on the street alone, and my husband would see him every day. One day he picked him up and put him in a cat carrier with food. When they arrived at the house the starving cat was still eating. I took him out and checked him over. He was such a skinny thing and hadn’t had a meal in a long time.
I took him to the vet at once, and he found the poor cat must have been abused. His tail was bent and it was infected. His eardrum was ruptured. Doc did what he could for him and I took him home. We called him Fuzzy.
Fuzzy was a sweet thing who just wanted to be loved. I could do anything to him, nail clipping, ear cleaning, pilling, etc.
We had a little rabbit at the time, named Twitchy. He was another rescue Joe had found at the park one evening on his walk. Rabbits were new to me, I had no idea how to care for him. After a few phone calls to friends. I learned what to feed him and how to care for him.
Fuzzy and Twitchy were great pals. They sat together in the kitchen every night while I cooked and fed the cats. They groomed each other and chewed each other’s ears. It was the cutest thing. They both would wait for handouts, Fuzzy a piece of meat, and Twitchy loved spaghetti.
Fuzzy loved to run and chase the girls. He just wanted to have fun. But when the chase was over he wanted to find a lap to sit on. He was so lovable, I don’t understand how someone could have left him alone on the street. We did all we could to let him know he was loved back.
Fuzzy didn’t stay with us too long. Apparently, his early years on the street had an effect on his health. Twitchy missed him, but I was devastated without him. He was a little scamp, but so lovable. The house wasn’t the same without him. I still miss the fuzzy little guy, but only hope he is in a place now, all his scars healed and no longer afraid.
Lucy and Linus
One night we went to the shelter to adopt a cat. We wanted to take home a cat who was older and unadoptable. Instead, we ended up with a new mom and her two kittens. We agreed to foster them. The mom was beautiful long-haired calico who was not very friendly. The two babies, a calico girl, and a black and white boy were very skittish.
After a few days, the girl got sick and the boy soon followed. Both had kitten colds, with runny eyes and noses. I got them some meds, and they were very good taking their medicine. They recovered fast and soon became the hurricanes that baby kittens are. They were all over the place, getting into all kind of trouble. I loved it, having kittens around is the best.
Too soon they were ready to be go to a permanent home. A lady from the adoption agency picked them up and planned to take them to a local pet adoption event. Lucy and Linus got a home together so theycould continue their reign of terror.
Mom took a while but eventually came around and was comfortable living in our home with other cats. She thrived on good food, comfy beds and the companionship of her new friends. She never really warmed up to humans but that was okay At least she wasn’t adding to the cat population anymore.
Matey and Company
We adopted a mommy with three babies. Two of the kittens went to new homes, but nobody wanted the black one. I had no choice but to keep him and Mommy. I named the boy Monkey because he loved to climb. Mommy was called Pumpkin. We also acquired Monkey’s Dad Matey, and his uncle Bro. Now I had an entire family unit. They got along great. The three boys were very people friendly, Pumpkin was a bit stand-offish. She kept to herself, but the boys could often be found cuddled together. They knew they were family.
Monkey was my buddy. He was a lap cat, and was always with me. As soon as I sat down he would be there. He had a great personality. He was also a big troublemaker. He picked on the girls mercilessly. His litter box habits left a lot to be desired. He was a food thief. In other words he was a cat. Cats are great companions. They are always happy to see you. They comfort you when you are down. They sense when you are sick and know when to be gentle.
With all his faults Monkey was still a great pet. He and his Dad and uncle, gave me a lot of laughs. They were always up to something. They were the three musketeers. Their club was exclusive, open only to other black cats. When Opus came along he was welcome. I could often see a big black mass on a chair or in a cat bed that was actually three cats cuddled together.
These three big boys were such gentle souls. They were all strong, healthy and confident. But were also kind and loving. It was a pleasure to have them and be able to care for them. They brought joy to the household.
Opus and Lulu
We heard about a cat colony in town that needed to be removed. It was at a storage facility, and there was a new owner. He did not want the cats there. The lady who was feeding them had to stop or she would lose her job. With the help of animal control we were able to get most of the cats and kittens. There were just two left, so Joe and I went back several times and finally got them into a trap. Brother and sister, both solid black. I named them Lulu and Opus. Both cats were very shy and preferred to be left alone. We respected that. Cats all have their own unique personalities, and that is one of the nice things about them. You can never force yourself on them, that just causes more anxiety. I just left them alone. They were happy, no more cold nights with no food.
Lulu just did her own thing. She kept to herself but didn’t hide. She tolerated the other cats and the humans. Opus was different. He always shied away from people but loved other cats. I never had a cat who was so social with other cats. He didn’t hide from us, he would sit in the same room with us, but he always had a cat snuggled up with him.
He loved them all. Girls and boys. If he was ever the last cat in the house I knew I would have to quickly adopt a new friend for him. If a new cat came in, Opus made them feel welcome. He was a one cat welcoming committee. He really loved Monkey and Matey, they could often be found in a big black cat pile.
Some people think black cats are bad luck. The truth is they are like no other cats. They are very loving, if not to humans, to other cats. Of all the cats I have had none have been as affectionate to other cats as Opus. When I had to take in a new cat after my tenant got sick Opus moved right in and made this scared little girl comfortable. He made her feel at home in a way that I never could have. She was scared of me, but went to him and allowed him to comfort her. It took her a while, but she finally did get used to the routine in this place that was new to her. If not for Opus the transition would have taken a long time.
Opus and Lulu were very different, but were special in their own way. Unlike dogs, which I love by the way, cats do not live to please us. They live to be adored and worshiped and cherished. If we are lucky we will get a bit of love back. I believe that because we respected these two very aloof cats that they loved us back in their own way. I never got to pet Opus until his last day, but I think he knew then how much he meant to me.
That little cat I took when my tenant went into a nursing home is a girl named Baby. After over thirty years of adopting and rescuing cats and always having a houseful, I am down to one special cat. She is mostly white with black markings. She is small, about five pounds. She is very sweet and social, she loves when we have company. Baby is a true lap cat, she will go to any available lap.
Having just one cat after having so many through the years is strange, it took some getting used to. Now me and Baby have our routine and are happy with it. She is an old girl, and I know if I lost her I would have to get another. Having no pets is not an option for me.
So now I have the time to write about my experiences. I do not regret a single thing; the cold nights trapping cats, the vet bills, the bags of cat food and litter, the cases of canned food. It was all worth it to have had a hand in saving so many of God’s creatures. I am not done, if a stray cat came to my door he would be fed. If able to catch him he would be neutered and if he wanted to come in he would be welcome.
We all have a purpose in life, and I guess mine is to care for animals. It has been very satisfying to do so. There have been times when I said “why me?” But I guess that is a normal reaction. Would I change anything? I don’t think so.
Tonight will be the first night in exactly thirty-three years that I will sleep in my home without a cat. On January 1,1988 our first pet cat came to live with us. She was a sweet orange fluff ball who taught me to love cats. Through the years I have loved many cats and shed many tears.
I remember the day Joe had to take Jambo to the vet for the last time. He wanted me to stay home for obvious reasons. I was hysterical. Our vet had just called with devastating results from her blood work. Nothing could be done. She was only eight. Joe had to pry my fingers off her tear stained fur. But as bad as that was I had at least one other bundle of fur to console me. It made a big difference. Now, with Baby gone, I am alone.
Now I have no cat to feed, no cat hair to clean up, no litter box to scoop or stray litter to sweep up. No Baby walking on my face at night or sleeping on my pillow. Now I can leave a door open and not worry about a cat running out. I can leave a cup of coffee on the counter and it will be there when I come back. My pens and keys are not disappearing. I can go out for hours and not get dirty looks when I return.
How can I live like this?
Baby was a quiet cat. She rarely meowed and when she did it was very quiet. It meant to feed me. Her purr was so silent you could feel it but not hear it. So why is my house so deadly quiet now? It is because a very spirited life has been silenced.
Baby and I have been struggling for most of the last year. She had an overactive thyroid and was anemic. She was very good at taking her pills. She would do very well for a while and then stop eating. A trip to the vet for fluids and a couple of shots did the trick. This time it didn’t work. She would do fine for a few days and then stop eating again.
She decided to hang out on the kitchen floor in front of the radiator. I made her a nest with a couple of fleece blankets. She was warm and comfy. But at night she joined me on the bed.
She really rallied over the weekend, eating up a storm on Saturday.
On Sunday she did not eat at all. I had her on my lap that evening, but she didn’t look good. She was kind of limp. She was a small cat, but now she weighed about four pounds.
Later that night she started to have convulsions. They didn’t last long, but were frightening. At one point she needed to use her box. She jumped down and staggered towards her box. I picked her up and put her in the box and let her do her business. Then I carried her back to the couch. As sick as she was, she didn’t forget her manners.
Finally around 4AM I took her to bed so I could try to sleep. I wrapped her in a fleece throw to keep her safe.
When morning came she seemed to have calmed down. Then the shaking started. They did not stop. Fortunately my vet was open on this holiday. They said to come right down.
I wrapped her in her throw and my friend drove us there. I laid her on the table and finally the shaking stopped. When the vet came in he confirmed that she was gone. At least they did not have to give her the needle. Small consolation.
Then I had to come home to my empty house. I needed to call the friends who loved her as much as I did.
Someone told me that losing a pet is gut wrenching. That is an understatement. It rips your heart out.
I might eventually get another cat. But there will never be another Baby. She loved everybody, and never let a lap go unoccupied. She was so sweet, and never did the mischievous things cats are known for. Yes, she did claim the kitchen table as hers, and would not stay off the counter. She insisted on sleeping on my pillow, and couldn’t understand that night was for sleeping.
I would take it all to have her back, but that is not possible. There was only one Baby.
What is a good education in 2023 and beyond? We may find the answer through a process of reverse engineering. If the end goal is to live a good life, then the education of the child today will look little like the education of the parent. This is to say that none of the avenues known and available are ideal—not government schooling, private schooling, homeschooling or unschooling.
The process of reverse engineering education must start with self awareness and honesty on the part of the parent. Asking and answering hard questions: How much did I really learn from school? How much of my time was wasted? Was I treated with respect and kindness? Have I succeeded because of, or in spite of, going to school? Have schools gotten better since I was a child, or worse?
People tend to like those who are like them and have traveled a similar path, so the parent must also ask: Do I truly want my child to live better than me? Can I handle being surpassed at an early age, either in monetary success, notoriety or even well-being? Am I willing to let my child be different, travel a different path and be educated in a different manner?
Thousands of years of evolution have given parents the desire for their children to be like other children, or in a single word, “normal.” This is sensible when the bulk of children are well, but maybe not when they aren’t.
The end goal of education is for the child to live a good life. One lives a good life by creating value for self and others. The child learns to create value for self and others by developing skills and knowledge through productive activity in real and natural environments.
In his book The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle explains how greatness can be attained. Set out to learn a skill just beyond current abilities. When reaching a mistake, figure it out, then start back from the beginning. Toddlers do this naturally without any prompting. Maybe the detrimental practice of ignoring mistakes, or fixing them and continuing rather than starting fresh, is bred by having too much pointless work to complete before getting to go out and play.
If one were to reverse engineer education one would find little need for filling out workbooks, studying grammar rules or even doing set after set of math problems on paper. We learn by doing and there is enough doing needed that it doesn’t have to be manufactured.
0-4 Basic Skills and Verbal Acuity
One can buy a child a toy kitchen set with plastic food to pretend to cook and eat or let her learn with the real thing instead. From birth to four the parent should allow the child to develop skills organically. Limiting toys and screens helps.
Verbal acuity is a simple matter of how many words an infant hears spoken every day. Videos do not do the trick, according to a 2007 study out of the University of Washington, published in Pediatrics. The infant has to see and hear the words being spoken. The child should have someone in his ear every hour of the day. Conversation, stories, explanations, jokes, chatter, songs or nonsense—the more words, the greater vocabulary and verbal acuity. As verbal acuity develops, quality of speech and literature should be favored over sheer quantity.
4-8 Core Skills for Education and Achievement
The core skills to develop from the ages four to eight are drawing, reading, writing, research, typing and use of a calculator. From these foundational skills a tower of skills and knowledge can be erected.
8-12 Hands on Learning
From ages eight through twelve the child should be encouraged to create value for self and others through education focused work. Some examples are growing crops in the garden, building a pollinator for the garden, building a garden fence, harvesting crops, cooking and baking with crops, making clothes or furniture, starting a book club or debate tournament and volunteering at a bookstore or flower shop.
12-18 Meaningful Work and the Roots of Career
By twelve the young adult knows how to create value and is ready to do meaningful work. He can follow his interests, experiment and explore. An enduring sense of identity and self worth has emerged. He has authentic self esteem along with humility. Having learned organically through real-life, productive activity, he is intrinsically driven, ethical and honest. He is on course to earn a good living and live a good life.
Organic education is unheard of today but has been the rule throughout human history. Most of the world’s geniuses had limited to no schooling. People such as Leonardo di Vinci and Ben Franklin learned primarily through apprenticeships. Children should be free from the burden of work but they should still have the benefit of hands-on learning. The ideal is work which is free of any financial imperatives and performed voluntarily.
Elon Musk didn’t think his children’s private school was teaching in the right way, which he believes is starting with real-life problems and then finding tools to bring about solutions, so he pulled his children out and brought them to work with him at SpaceX. With the help of one of the children’s former teachers who agreed with him, he started an education program called Ad Astra. Though still having one foot in the door of the schooling paradigm, it’s a model to emulate and build on.
Children should not be sitting still at desks absorbing propaganda and doing pointless activities that only teach how to blindly follow orders. They should not be conditioned to stop what they are working on when a bell sounds. They should not be burdened with ideas that will take time and needless suffering to unlearn.
If it is true, as Jim Rohn said, that one becomes the average of the five people one spends the most time with, then great care should go into the decision of who a child learns from and plays with. Parents should be the primary teachers and share their skills and areas of expertise.
Those who choose to educate their children independently should feel no need to follow anything the government schools are doing. Those who do not try to mimic school should not label what they are doing unschooling. If the child was never schooled, she doesn’t need to be unschooled.
Youth of today are crying out for something new and better, something beyond schooling, homeschooling and unschooling. Organic education answers the cries, for the children and a world giving back the gains of The Enlightenment.
1. You are excited to play out in freshly fallen snow but you can’t find your mittens. You look everywhere and grow increasingly frustrated until you realize that don’t really care about the snow, you just want hot chocolate. You go to shelf for hot chocolate mix and find your mittens.
2. It’s the most important job interview of your life. A man walks into the room and introduces himself as Ward Cleaver. You manage not to laugh but you can’t stop your eye balls squirting out onto the table.
3. The annoying new coworker is telling everyone that you are a super good listener but she will change her tune when she learns what comes after “Jimmy crack corn.”
4. You best friend Melissa Gaylord is getting married. You want to support her decision to use a hyphenated last name, but she is engaged to Jake Straightslave.
5. Your girlfriend stops you from speaking and says that she just wants you to listen not offer solutions. She shares her feelings for 35 minutes then asks why the ferry hasn’t shown up. You tell her that they announced that it was leaving from a different dock 36 minutes ago.
6. Your pet monkey is fighting with your pet iguana, you don’t want to take sides, but you can’t help but notice banana smeared on the iguana’s head.
7. You are not one to start conversations with strangers, but you can’t help but to ask the women in line next to you why she is wearing a t-shirt with your face on it, then you remember that you are famous in this dream.
8. They tell you that you can not return a cow, all sales are final. You say that the cow is moody. They tell you that you can’t get a refund and it’s not good to name a cow.
Reading Bambi to my daughter, I come to the heartbreaking lines…
“Bambi ran as fast as he could. When he reached the thicket he said, “We made it, Mother!” But she wasn’t there. Then Bambi heard a second gunshot.”
“Why do they kill Bambi’s mother?” she asked with tears welling up.
“I don’t know, they probably need her for food.”
“Why don’t they get it from the supermarket?”
“Maybe they think it is better to harvest it themselves.”
Later in the story, she asks, “Why do they burn down the animals’ home?”
“Sometimes people have to burn down trees in order to grow food.”
A story can have a powerful impact on a child, maybe more than we even realize. In his final work published right after his death, psychologist Eric Berne theorized that fairy tales become life scripts for many people.
It’s questionable whether a child can be imprinted by Little Red Riding Hood and spend his or her life running errands for others and getting rescued. But only those raised on prince and princess stories could admire the British Royal Family and Bambi has surely forged many vegetarians.
Most of the new children’s books published today have some kind of agenda. When I read these to my daughter I omit an extraneous “super” before an adjective, and give at least a hint that there is another side of the story.
If a story suggests that it is bad to eat meat I might say that a plate of pasta kills more animals than a steak, because many small animals get caught in plows that cut grain.
If a story says that we are facing a climate crisis caused by man, I might say that excess carbon in the atmosphere causes trees and plants to grow more abundantly which generates more oxygen which lessens carbon in the atmosphere. It is a self correcting system. The climate will change as it always has whether we drive cars or not.
Usually I will save these discussions for a time when they can be understood and just dismiss the book as propaganda. When she asks what propaganda is, I will say that it is anything that tricks you into thinking in a wrong way.
Bambi personifies animals in the forest, then has the titular fawn’s mother inexplicably shot and his forest home inexplicably set aflame. Perhaps more insidiously, it repeatedly refers to Bambi as a “prince.”
A good alternative to Bambi, with true-to-life portraits of animals and the people they interact with, no less charming and entertaining, is James Herriot’s Treasury for Children. These stories engage children emotionally without suppressing their reasoning capacity. The writing and illustrations are superb. There is no agenda other than to enrich and educate.
“How many people did you murder, Gengkis Kahn, 20 million? I caused 100 million deaths in the twentieth century alone.”
“You didn’t kill the people yourself, Marx.”
“I didn’t have to.”
“Your ideas are out of favor today.”
“Are they, now? Have you ever heard of critical race theory?”
“You can’t take credit for that.”
“Ever heard the words ze, hir or hirs?”
“But they’re not killing over that nonsense.”
“Not much, yet, but give it time.”
“You’re a megalomaniac, Marx.”
“It’s all me Kahn, it’s clear as day. And why is the Pol Pot calling the kettle black?”
“I see what you did there.”
“You see Kahn, your killing stopped when you died. I wrote the Communist Manifesto. No one reads it, but they get the idea. Take people’s envy and use it against them. Be their champion, tell them you will help them get what’s rightfully theirs and take everything they’ve got. They will kill and die for you.”
“It’s brilliant I’ll give you that Karl, but remember I ruled before the printing press.”
“All the easier, you didn’t have the bible to contend with. Look, books are useful but they are not really necessary. Disarm children of the capacity to think in government schools and they will swallow any lie. Destroy the family and you will have an army at your disposal. And I mean disposal.”
“I’ve still killed a larger percentage of the population.”
“Genghis, please! Do you see what’s happening in America right now? How many more deaths will I amass?”
“I didn’t think it would happen there.”
“I knew it would since 1965. It’s only taken some time.”
“You were taking Vietnam and you already had your sights on the opposition.”
“And I didn’t lift a finger, never have. I just watch it all unfold. My ideas do all the work. And Adam Smith sits up in heaven weeping.”
“They have a president who fleeced Ukraine and another with credible rape allegations who has been to Epstein Island and they raid the home of the one who builds buildings and ended a streak of new wars, that’s perfect evil.”
“Evil can only be reached for, Genghis, it is never fully achieved.”
“Wait a second, I never actually saw the devil down here?”
I’ve long said that kids don’t care about toys. They don’t really care about dolls, balloons or stocking stuffers. Not the things themselves, only the emotions and ideas they attach to them. They can have the same emotions and ideas without the landfall-destined toys. Now I have evidence.
This wasn’t a planned experiment. It started one night during a bath. I gave my daughter an empty shampoo bottle to play with. We were both in a silly mood, so we gave the bottle a name and a backstory. The story continued for a few nights. The bottle became a friend.
A few weeks later, she had stopped playing with the bottle, so I threw it away. She asked me where it was a day later. I told her it was in the recycle bin at the curb and would be taken away in the morning. She cried in protest and begged me to go outside and get it.
“It’s too dark,” I said. I will go first thing tomorrow before they come. But the next morning I woke up late. I looked out the window and saw that the bin had been emptied.
“Sorry, they picked up.”
“Where is he going?” She asked, tears falling.
“A new adventure.”
I left her to fix myself a bagel. “Hi!” I said loudly enough for her to hear from the living room. “What’s your name? Nice to meet you!”
I brought the Philadelphia Cream Cheese box to her. “ Look who I found in the kitchen, his name is Philly.” The tears stopped. “Sometimes when you lose a friend you find an even better friend.”
She took Philly to bed that night. 5 am the next morning she ran out of her bed crying, “Daddy I lost Philly!”
“What’s wrong,” I said
“I can’t find Philly.”
I went to her room and found the box under the blanket.
Philly was lost again a few hours later. She had been looking through books on the living room table.
“Daddy, I can’t find Philly.”
“Clean up these books!”
“Clean up these books, or I’m taking something away. Usually, I will take away anything I have to clean up, but don’t like to confiscate books. When another request went unanswered, I put away the books myself, finding Philly.
“If you cleaned up the books you would have found him. Now I’m throwing him out.”
“No!” she cried.
I ripped the box up and threw it out.
I apologized a few minutes later, then retrieved the pieces from the garbage and taped them back together. But the magic was gone. She never touched the box again.