Foster Kitty Adventures: One End and Three Beginnings

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Yes, I said three beginnings.

The Glitter who first stole my heart refused to love our dog or even to acknowledge his right to coexist in our home. She hissed, spit and charged at him even when he was cowering three floors away from her kittens and quaking in his doggie boots.

Yesterday, I scrunched down to pet her goodbye in her cage at the shelter. She purred and pushed her face into my hand while my eyes hurt from holding in tears. She seemed to enjoy the moment of peace away from her rowdy babies.

It may take a few weeks to get her a home, the staff told me, but they are confident she will find a place to finally call her own.

We had originally thought to keep Ash and Sissy and let Jack get adopted by another family along with (or separate from) his mom. It was agonizing to choose, but Jack had never seemed much attached to us so I hoped it would be easiest to let him find new people.

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Ash

Then the shelter lady said a snide ‘of course’ when I told her that we would bring back the black cat.

I knew black cats lingered in shelters, and her words sat with me until I had to call her back to ask for more information.

She said they have over ten black kittens. People too often adopt those little ones last and our Jack might sit at the shelter for two months before getting a home.

His slight grey highlights really come out here.

Jack’s slight grey highlights really come out here.

None of the humans in our house could handle that.

This is the color he normally looks.

This is the color our black cat normally looks.

This is how I came to have three kittens racing at my feet when I originally intended to keep the mama cat and Ash.

As soon as we got home, Jack snuggled into my lap for the first time and purred the best purr I’ve heard in a good long while.

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I knitted the fuzzy blanket years ago for our last cat. She says it still works.

I knitted the fuzzy blanket years ago for our last cat. Sissy says it still works.

Life is indeed what happens to me when I am making other plans. 

May you have the courage to face your own life as it comes at you-

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Note: This officially ends the foster series since we’ve adopted the three amigos. You may, however, still see cat tales here now and again. They are still running around my writing office every morning.

My Water Birthday: Overflowing with Our Abundance

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(A short break from the Kitty Channel)

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I listen to the Rob Cast every week without fail and this past week gave me some way to pay back the deep joy I’ve gotten from his words.

In his podcasts, Rob speaks of how to move from a false shallow happy light, to a place of crushing darkness, and then back out the other side to a deep soul shining light.

He speaks of the spirit that is here all around us in magic and miracles in every precious moment.

He speaks Truth to me.

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Recently, Rob interviewed Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity Water, an organization with a mission to get water to the people in the world who so desperately need it.

In the interview, Harrison spoke of women and girls who walked for miles to get the life giving liquid for their families. One girl committed suicide because she accidentally spilled her supply on the trip back after walking all day. The shame of facing her thirsty family without water was too much.

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When the communities that Charity Water helps get a well, they flourish. Many of the problems with disease, lack of opportunity and employment dissolve. Women and girls in particular prosper when they can do more than trudge from their homes to a water source and back again all day every day.

In the end of the interview, Harrison describes a woman who feels beautiful for the first time because she has enough water to wash her face.

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Here’s more on the Charity Water project if you like photos and audio by Rob to go with your stories.

One hundred percent of any money we give to Charity Water goes directly to digging a well because they have separate funding source for their overhead. (Rob Bell and his wife Kristin and several other well-known people give to keep the lights on. )

Plus, we get to see the well our money helps to dig with GPS. How cool is that?

Rob Bell has started a water campaign for his 45th birthday on August 23rd. The idea is to ask for donations instead of birthday gifts.

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I gave money to dig a well for women who can’t turn on a faucet and are now carrying water on their heads. It’s the best way I know to pay Rob back for what he’s given me this year.

I considered starting my own campaign since I am so close in age to Rob and our birthdays are nearby. (This sometimes makes me feel inadequate. I mean, sheesh, look what he’s done with his one big life. I need to up my game here.)

But I think I’ll keep my numbers quieter in the Internet space and ask you to give to Rob’s campaign for my coming up birthday. 

To give to Rob’s campaign please click hereIf you have ever enjoyed what I’ve written, I’d love for you to give.

He’s asking for 45 dollars or whatever you can manage because he’ll be 45. I’ll soon be 44 so you save a dollar if you give my birthday number. (I couldn’t swing that much myself, so I understand if you need to give less). 

Heck, you could even start your own water campaign for your birthday or some other holiday.

The people who desperately need water win and, I believe, so do we when we give.

I wish you the water that comes from wells and that other kind, too – the kind that quenches that thirst you have to love and be loved.

May you always have enough to drink-

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P.S. Please tell me if you decide to give. It would mean much to me.

Foster Kitty Adventures: Driving Me Around the Yowling Bend

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Caution: This story involves poop. I have found that poop is always involved when working with little people and animals, so maybe you won’t be surprised. But I thought I should warn you.

My friend LeAnna, a horse lady from way back, said: “Fostering kittens is like having a tiny herd of horses in your house that also climb your curtains.”

She is so right, and I’m so glad the critters are healthy enough to wreak havoc again.

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Glitter uses the bird perch to escape her babies now and then. We haven’t told the bird.

Glitter’s stomach has been bothering her. Last Saturday night it was bothering her so much that her poop looked like a cow patty and smelled like something that could be a biological weapon.Then the black kitten started to have diarrhea.

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The best picture of the black cat yet. Can you see the eyes in the bookshelf cubby? (Photo credit goes to Kieran.)

I did the usual foster cat mom thing. I freaked and tried to pretend that I was not imagining all sorts of deadly diseases I once saw in kennels full of cats.

I ended up going the the Blue Pearl Veterinary Clinic in Tacoma (If you ever need a place to go late at night when your own animal is scaring the sleep out of you, this is the one. It’s clean, open 24 hours a day, has friendly staff, and the prices were not in the slightest bit ridiculous.)

We have them sorted now and the poop situation is back to normal. No horrible nightmare viruses wiped out the whole family.

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Mom and her mini-me again. Kieran is calling her Bacon. I’m not sure about naming pets after food.

Two weeks ago, the mom gave me heart failure when she moved a baby without asking for a permit. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook about that adventure:

Mama cat has been agitated and bawling at us for the last day or so. I kept thinking she wanted out of the kitten room to stretch so I let her roam and put the dog outside.
Then Kieran says: “Uh, Mom. There are only two kittens in the basket now.”
Ack! We could not find her or the kitten for a few VERY long minutes. (You probably know how this ends and I guessed at the time but was still quasi panicked.)
Finally, she reappeared and lead us to where she had hid the baby deep under the couch. Kieran had to use a flashlight to find and retrieve him.
I thought I might croak. 
And I took the hint. We consulted with shelter experts and got a kennel I covered with a blanket and moved up into my office to make her feel more secure.
Now they are quiet and she is resting sprawled out on my office floor. Not bawling or pacing. Totally content.
My keyboard may now have a cat fur lining.

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Lap is not big enough for the three any longer.

From all this I learned (for the millionth trillionth time) that loving comes with such a high worry price tag. The zen masters would tell me to use it as a practice in letting go and for the most part I do. My skill falls a bit short late at night when the vet says words like cat forms of parvo and distemper. Then I get to dig a little deeper and practice with a fierce intensity through a sleepless night.

I am sleeping once more and they are really beginning to gallop around.

May you know great love and find the strength to live through it at the same time. 

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P.S. Here is a video of a cat raising ducklings I saw a while back. It struck me more today after watching the herd that has taken over my office. As an added bonus, the farmers have an Irish accent they use to describe the fostering mama cat. Life can be full of surprising goodness.

Foster Kitty Adventures: Patience Lessons from the Animal House

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The first time Glitter saw our yellow lab she hissed and charged, thowing all of her 6 pounds (mostly fur) at his quivering 90 pound dog body.

My dog is not thrilled about the newcomers and I can’t say I blame him. The two of them are now beginning to tolerate each other but we like to play it safe and keep them apart.

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The first time Glitter walked into the room where Ella the cockatoo stays, the bird hollered like: “What is that!?! Oh. My. Bird in Heaven!!! What is THAT!!!”

She can be very loud. Sometimes I think firecrackers have nothing on her volume.

The cat flattened herself like a sniper and slunk as quickly away as she possibly could, thinking: “What was THAT!?! What kind of place is this!?!” If she could have covered her ears, she would have.

Now Ella does not holler at Glitter. She just gives her the one-eyed beady stare down and the feline never stays long in The Room of Doom from Above.

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This beady-eyed stare is for the scary camera phone.

Transitions are tough whether you are the one moving in or the one trying to adjust to others in your space.

I understand their troubles. Lately, I’ve noticed that transitions make up the hardest part of my own days. Something about moving from the house to the car and then from the car back into my house pushes every cranky button I have, especially if I have to inspire someone else to move along with me.

Changing from writing mode, to get ready for work mode, to drop the kid off mode to start work mode often feels like I need to race to get it all done or Something Terrible will happen. And that is at the front end of my day. More transitions happen until the moment I fall into sleep for the night.

It helps when I stop in my anxious rush to remember that the moment I am in is a transition, not a race. Living in the moment can mean breathing through moving from one space to another.

I am a much better writer, mom, wife, teacher, and human when I   am not hissing or hollering like my cat and bird.

I know the critters need time to adjust to each other in changes they never asked for, and I’m starting to give myself the gift of that time between, too.

May you know calm in your own moments between different worlds and with new people and animals who come your way.

May you, in the best possible transitions, feel like a kid in the sprinkler, drinking in the joy of now.

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Foster Kitty Adventures: Double Syrup Whammy

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The only thing slightly more syrupy than kitten stories has to be a story with kids and kittens.

Brace yourself for syrup.

This week Quinton started helping me to change the blanket in the kittens’ basket by holding the tiny ones in his lap on a blanket.

We had thought Glitter might want to roam a bit to get some time to herself but when she saw the kitties on Q’s lap she curled up in his lap to nurse them there.

My five year old was born with dimples. His indented smile was so deep when he looked at the cat family in his lap that I thought his cheeks might not recover.

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Meanwhile, the babies are growing and starting to look at our faces like they know we exist even as they begin to scootch around on their bellies.

Life in this house is grand.

May you know great small joys in your own place.

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Foster Kitty Adventures: Part One

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My friend Lynn won with the most original way of saying it: “You are taking in a teenaged mom!”

I am.

Here is Glitter.

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I fell in love with this very young mama cat at a local animal shelter but couldn’t take her home because she had just had kittens who needed to grow up before they could find homes of their own.

It occurred to me that I once fostered kittens back in the day when I worked for an animal shelter. Why not foster this mom and baby crew and have the added joy of watching her little ones get big?

That’s how we came have them with us for now, and I foresee more cat-related posts in my future. I suppose if you don’t care for felines you can consider yourself warned. Cat pictures like these will be here often.

If you do like tiny ones, though, then by all means stay tuned.

They have all gained about an ounce in the past 3 days which is more than 10 percent of their body weight. The big guy tips the scale at 10.5 ounces today.

May you know the joy of squeaking kittens and dimpled kids like my Q giggling over miniature claws as they tickle his legs.

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Fear and My Jury Duty

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This month I had planned to write about fear and then jury duty happened to me. Again.

This is not my first jury duty rodeo.

Once when I was in my 20s, I got busy with school and did not read the newspapers or talk much with anyone about current events which made me the perfect candidate to sit on a jury for a murder case. I could probably write a blog series on that experience all by itself. Maybe someday I will.

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What I’d like to start with today, though, is how much I rely on and cherish my ability to speak freely. During that (blessedly short) trial in 1995, I was repeatedly instructed not to discuss or investigate the case. I did not until after we found the defendant guilty of first degree murder. (He was something of a small time Ted Bundy. Really.)

In this most recent superior court case, I was again instructed not to discuss the procedings so many times, I thought my eardrums might burst from repetition. Now the instructions included a mind numbing number of electronic ways we should not mess up our empty minds with researching the case or communicating about it.

We also could not discuss what we heard with our fellow jurors. It was almost comical to hear difficult testimony and then go back to our small room to talk about those Seahawks.

In addition to the judge of many words who gave us the instructions multiple times, I sat in the juror number three chair with my legs crossed in front of a laminated print out detailing all the ways I should not communicate and how I could be held in contempt if I did.

I kept my mouth shut until the case resolved, and I noticed something while I stayed mum.

I find it extraordinarily hard to write when someone is constantly telling me to keep my mouth shut.

I’m not saying I think jurors should blab. I’m saying I don’t want to be in a profession (like lawyering) where I feel constrained like that. I’m saying I treasure my ability to speak and write my experiences more than a good number of other things in my life.

And I’m explaining why my blog has been gathering dust on the web.

This month was supposed to be about trying things that scare me. I think I’ve done that by:

1. Passing through security checks multiple times a day at that towering courthouse (they took my lunch fork!).

2. Facing an intense voir dire with potential vocal jurors questioning the process while a prosecutor and pro se defendant asked us awkward personal questions.

3. Once again knowing I might have to make a decision that would affect others’ lives so deeply.

I spent a good deal of time praying for all the players in the stifling drama of the courtroom while fumbling around looking for my own center.

Maybe I need more than a month to write on it or think of what to say with my new found freedom.

For now I’m turning over how much of the story is mine to tell even after I am no longer facing that laminated sign telling me how many ways to hold my peace.

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