Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas Miracle

It was Christmas Eve, 1995.

I had lost my dear dog, Martha, just a few months earlier. It was Martha who was going to be by my side as I transitioned out of the corporate workplace, looking for my soul work. I didn’t know exactly what that would be, but I knew it would have something to do with animals.

I didn’t know Martha would become ill and leave me suddenly, before I knew what I was supposed to do with my life. I didn’t know it was her sudden loss that would put me on my true path.

So there I was at midnight on Christmas Eve, standing at her gravesite in our backyard. I was in my bathrobe and slippers…and I was freezing!
I don’t know exactly what I thought was going to happen. I had heard the story about animals being able to speak at midnight on Christmas Eve. Maybe I thought I’d hear her beautiful bark, or feel her magnificent shaggy coat one more time. After all, I’d already seen her in the arms of an angel. What was ONE MORE MIRACLE?
Midnight came, and I could feel the magic in the air! I held my breath, and then all of a sudden….absolutely nothing happened!
It would be 9 years later that I would experience my Christmas miracle. It came in the shower on New Year’s Day 2005. There I was, shampooing my hair, and suddenly I heard this story being told about an old dog who wanted to leave his sad earthly life and go to the heavenly world. He would do this through the Christmas Nativity – something I didn’t understand until I sat down to write the story.
If I had sat at my computer for the rest of my life, fingers curled expectantly over the keyboard, I never could have thought of this story on my own. Old Dog and the Christmas Wish would be the last book I wrote and illustrated with my beloved dog, Jake, still curled up by my feet. Every time I read that book I feel Jake’s spirit running through the pages.

One day I realized something – THIS was my Christmas miracle! It was the miracle I had been waiting for all those years earlier, come to me in the form of this magical book. And what better way for a miracle to manifest in a writer’s life than through a new book, clearly inspired by Martha, by Jake, and by a loving and wondrous universe.
May all your Christmas wishes come true!
With love,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Losing an animal at the holidays

I’ve said goodbye to many animals in my lifetime. Those farewells have taken place at different times of the year, but never during the Christmas season.

It was close, once, back in 1993. My sweet dog, Jessie, spent much of the week before Christmas in the hospital as several of her organs began to fail simultaneously.

She came home on December 24th, a shadow of her former self….but she DID come home. The vet said the only reason she was alive was because she wanted to come home for Christmas. Jessie left me three months later, so I was spared the heart-wrenching loss of my four-legged friend at the holidays.

My heart goes out to those of you who’ve had to endure the
painful loss of a critter at this time of the year, when everyone around you seems to be in a festive mood. Holiday movies run non-stop on television. School groups sing seasonal songs at the mall. Cards arrive, wishing you Ho Ho Ho Happy Holidays.

I wish I knew a magic word, or secret ritual, that would soften the grieving process. For some people, relying on their friends, family and faith can be a tremendous source of comfort. For others, staying close to home…alone…is all they can manage. That’s fine, too.

I wrote about this at my website, in a section called Grieving – How Do You Cope with the Loss of a Pet? It still brings tears to read the words I wrote about the loss of my forever dog, Jake. But I also find hope in those words.

Perhaps others can find hope there, too.

If you’ve lost a critter at this time of the year, know that you are in my holiday heart and prayers in the weeks to come.

With love,

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Remembering Clint

If ever there was a “forever dog,” surely it was Clint.

His two-legged mom, Sandy Grossman, wrote to tell me about the loss of her beloved long-haired dachshund to cancer, after spending 17 years with this special boy. Here’s what Sandy said:

“Clint was a special and remarkable animal. In 1997 he suffered from what would be the first of three immobilizing “slippage of the vertebre” episodes. He astounded veterinarians and others alike with his remarkable lust for life and unexpected full recovery from that episode, and the two that would follow in 2001 and 2004. It was noted by Veterinary Neurologist Dr. John Speciale that Clint should have been a cat, as he clearly had 9 lives.”

Clint went on to make several valuable contributions to veterinary medicine, including working with a world renowned Veterinary Cardiologist in developmental research for the cause and treatment of a rare heart condition known to cause sudden death. Clint donated his own abnormal EKG results discovered while under anesthesia for a routine teeth cleaning. Clint volunteered his time to have the EKG test redone, to contribute to the ongoing research of this rare condition.

But most important of all, Clint was loved…deeply loved.

“Clint will be cherished forever and loved always, for his doggie smile, his huge heart, his gentle nature, his CONSTANT licking, and his boundless energy,” said Sandy.

Clint is flying through the starry skies now, but I know he will always watch over Sandy…because that’s what angel dogs do for the people they love!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Knowing when to say goodbye

I always thought that saying goodbye to a treasured animal came when your critter was older, or perhaps ill, and you knew your time together was coming to an end.

I wrote about this in the Pet Loss Section at my website. It’s such an excruciating decision. We shouldn’t HAVE to make it. We don’t WANT to make it. And yet, in most cases, our animal companions are depending upon us to make it.

So we begin the painful process of accepting that our journey together is almost over, and, one step at a time, we begin to say goodbye.

With the sad loss of Creamsicle, the neighbor’s kitty who began visiting my yard earlier this year, I’ve learned that when a critter just disappears, and you never have the chance to look into those soulful eyes and say farewell, the process of letting go is very difficult…or at least it has been for me.

The neighbors said that most likely Creamsicle was taken by a coyote. Considering the evidence, and the prevalence of coyotes in our neighborhood, that’s probably true.

But still, I find myself looking for him every day. I peek out the window, expecting to see his orange-striped body crawling under my fence. “I’ll be right there,” I would call to him, and I’d run to the kitchen to prepare Creamsicle’s meal.

I just can’t seem to let this little ritual go, even though I know that I must. Over the years people have contacted me to purchase one of my pet loss books for someone whose critter also “just disappeared.” I always thought I understood what they were going through, but I don’t think I really did…until now.


Monday, November 16, 2009

For Creamsicle

He wasn’t my cat. He had spent the last 6 years with a family who lived around the corner from me, but I didn’t know that when he showed up in my yard earlier this year.

He was awfully thin – his bones poked out of his orange striped body. I began feeding him, which made him a regular visitor to my yard. I didn’t know his name, so I started calling him Orange Cat – or OC for short.

One day I saw him sprawled out in front of my neighbor’s home, and I learned he was THEIR cat, and his name was Creamsicle.

It would have been hard not to love him. He was very affectionate, and could purr and chatter with the best of them. So he became my 6th cat, joining my 4 inside kitties and Sammy, the outside feral cat I’ve fed for over 6 years.

Creamsicle made his last appearance in my yard about two weeks ago. I wanted to believe everything was fine, but a visit to his home the other day confirmed that he was missing, with evidence suggesting he was taken by a coyote.

When I wrote For Every Cat An Angel I chose an orange striped kitty for the story so my kitties (none of whom are orange) wouldn’t have any issues with me. We all know what it’s like when your feline gets an attitude – MAJOR CATTITUDE!

Whenever I pick up For Every Cat An Angel I'll always think of Creamsicle, who touched my life and found a forever place in my heart.

Farewell, OC – I’m sure going to miss you.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Losing my forever dog

“And there will be times when your world will fall apart, when a beloved animal becomes lost, ill or has simply come to the end of their journey with you.”

Those were the words I wrote in my very first blog entry, back on June 5, 2006. I had no idea that 9 days later I would lose my own beloved forever dog, Jake. I can’t begin to tell you how devastating this loss was to me, but if you’re reading these words, chances are you understand.

Losing Jake – it wasn’t what I had planned on. Oh, I knew we were coming to the end of journey together – Jake’s old and achy joints were having a hard time. But I had hoped that MAYBE we might have the rest of the year together.

There’s a beautiful book by Sue Bender, called Everyday Sacred. The cover shows a simple bowl. The author says that bowl represents the “begging bowls” used by monks, who accept whatever is put into their bowls.

Losing Jake was NOT what I had wanted, but it’s what was put into my bowl, and I had to accept it.

I began writing about my grief in my blog. I wrote about how “deafening” the overwhelming quiet was in my home. I wrote about letting go with a loving heart, even if that heart was broken. I learned that grieving is a journey...a personal, private process.

Yesterday, there was a terrible fire in one of our schools here in Portland. The children all got out safely, but the devastation and horror of the experience was seen on the faces of all those kids as they left the building.

This morning a therapist was interviewed on TV about the fire. She said the best thing a person who has been through a trauma can do is to talk and talk and talk about the experience, until they are almost bored with the telling of the story.

The grief and terror pour out of them until, eventually, they begin to separate from the story. That’s all part of the healing process.

Maybe that’s what I was doing in my blog…telling my story…telling Jake’s story.

Next: Knowing when it’s time to say goodbye.

Lighthearted Press

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pet Loss Comfort

It’s been about a year since I added the Pet Loss Comfort section to my website. Since then, many people have gotten in touch to tell me how visiting those pages brought them a little comfort as they coped with the heartbreaking loss of one of their critters.

Any animal lover understands those feeling of loss. They are deep, and they are real. And although time may soften the edges of the pain, and warm memories may begin to take the place of the tears that come from saying goodbye, it's still easy to find yourself back in that moment when your world fell apart as a beloved animal friend left your life.

It’s been almost 3 ½ years since I lost Jake. Not a day goes by without my thinking of him, wishing I could hold that beautiful head in my hands and “nuzzle the muzzle.”
When I read the Pet Loss Comfort section I feel Jake leaping out from the pages. Going through all the photos, and recalling all our adventures together, brings me a deep sense of peace.

In the next few blogs I’d like to share some of my thoughts from those pet loss pages, with the hope that they may provide comfort...or at least a soft and safe place to rest...for anyone who is struggling with the pain of losing an animal.
Next: Losing my forever dog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

If someone had asked me last June how I’d be spending my summer, I don’t think I could have ever imagined I’d be visiting bead stores and attending gem shows.

But that’s exactly what happened!

It all began when I decided to create something new for the animal lovers who purchase my gift books. So many of them have lost beloved critters, and for many of them the story of The Rainbow Bridge has brought comfort during a painful time.

According to this lovely legend, when our animals leave this life they go to a place called Rainbow Bridge. There they are restored to health and vigor, where they run and play in sunny meadows. They live in happiness and peace, waiting for the day when they will be reunited with their earthly companions.

On the day of that joyous reunion, “you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.”


I’m delighted to introduce The Rainbow Bridge Forever Bracelet. This timeless piece of jewelry is designed with a rainbow of natural stones, whimsical swirls and sterling silver message beads that say “Forever” and “Love.” Each bracelet comes with a paw print dog or cat charm. For those of you who share your life with dogs and cats there is an option to order both charms.

Whether your forever critter waits for you at The Rainbow Bridge, or is happily still by your side, wear this beautiful bracelet in celebration of the timeless love you will always share.

To learn more about the Rainbow Bridge Forever Bracelet and our books for animal lovers please visit the Lighthearted Press website http://www.lightheartedpress.com


Sunday, October 11, 2009

My new neighbor

This summer a lovely new family moved into the home next door. The household included two wonderful Standard Poodles, but last week the four-leggeds grew by one.

Meet this sweet little toy poodle puppy. Is he cute or what? The little guy is waiting for a name. I told this fluff ball he is welcome to crawl under my fence any time.

Whether I return him is another story.

I sure do miss having a dog in my life, but thankfully there are enough pups in the neighborhood to help me get a regular doggie fix.

Perhaps my angel dog, Jake, had a hand…I mean paw…in arranging this.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Relax like a cat

I share my heart and home with four cats.

I have no business EVER being tense in the presence of these feline yoga masters. They pour themselves down the stairs like Slinkies -remember those?

If there is even one square inch of sunlight in the house they will find it and sprawl out as if they're on a beach in Hawaii. They can spit and pounce and ambush with the best of them, and then it’s gone and they’re quickly back in relaxation mode.

My living room has two large windows in front. When I’m having one of THOSE days I stretch out on the rug under the windows and bask in the daylight. Even if it's a wet day here in Oregon there is STILL light behind those raindrops.

I may start out alone, but within seconds cats start coming to me from wherever they are in our home. It’s as if they sense I’m ready to give myself up to the universe, and let all that wonderful healing energy pour down over me like syrup on a pancake.
One by one they come, brushing against my leg or sitting on my chest, purring their soothing love into my heart.

Like I said…yoga masters.



Friday, September 18, 2009

A picture is worth 1000 words...and a few tears

So there I was, visiting some online sites that cater to animal lovers. I stopped at retail places, rescue sites, social groups – anything that promised to bring a smile to a critter lover’s face.

And then I came to a screeching halt.

There he was – my beloved angel dog, Jake, sitting proudly next to a man I didn’t recognize. The picture took my breath away. Even though I was with Jake when he left this earthly life, for a fraction of a second I thought this WAS Jake!

It was more than a resemblance – this dog looked like a Jake clone! All the memories of our years together, and the pain of his leaving, came rushing back. It was overwhelming.

I closed down the computer, but it took awhile before I felt grounded. The next day I tried to re-create my steps and find that photograph again, but wasn’t able to.

Maybe I was meant to find that picture...in that moment…and for ONLY that moment. Perhaps that was a message from my dear boy, letting me know he’s happy and loved wherever he is, for I know that is true.

To read more about Jake visit


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Take time to enjoy the view

Wishing all you animal lovers a peaceful and relaxing Labor Day weekend. Don't forget to take some time to enjoy the view...just like these doggies!

(Picture courtesy of my friend Muffet Arroll, who lives in Georgia.)


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Painting the Bones

The other day I was in a store, chatting with a man about his wife’s beloved cat. She had found the cat when it was a kitten, and the two had been constant companions for about 15 years.

The cat followed her “mom” everywhere including, on one fateful day, out to her car. Mom didn’t realize the cat was there until it was too late and she had run over and killed her feline friend.

The man said his wife’s grief was very great, and she had no way of handling her loss. A kind neighbor took the cat’s body and buried it in his yard. The woman did not go to the cat’s gravesite, nor did she speak of its passing.

Three years went by before the woman felt she was able to deal with her loss. The neighbor dug up the box and the woman brought her kitty home. Her husband told me she meticulously cleaned off all the bones, and then painted each of them in a color coordinated pattern so she would know how they all went together.

The painted bones went back into the box, and the box went onto a shelf in the closet.

We all grieve in our own way. It took several years, but this woman was finally able to find peace with her loss. In my heart I think all those painted bones magically found their way to her cat, and somewhere up in the heavens one very colorful angel kitty flies contentedly through the starry skies.

Here’s to painting the bones!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For Senator Kennedy - a dog lover

I wrote the following blog last year, when the news of Senator Ted Kennedy's brain tumor first broke. Last night the Senator lost his battle with brain cancer. May his spirit fly free, up there in the starry skies.

From May 21, 2008:

Like so many others, I have been following the story of Senator Ted Kennedy’s health problems. I was stunned to learn his seizure was caused by a malignant brain tumor – he just seems like a man who would laugh off any illness that dared to enter his body!

My dear friend, Judy Ditfurth, was a flight attendant back when the Senator first went to Washington. She often worked the DC/NY/Boston run, which was frequented by many politicians, including Senator Kennedy. Judy said she always liked him – he was very friendly, never demanding…a nice person.

But here is what touched me about the Senator’s story -he was walking his dogs, Sunny & Splash, when the seizure occurred. The family members who visited him at the hospital included his four-legged buddies. And when he left the hospital this morning, his dogs were there to accompany the Senator home.

I didn’t realize Senator Kennedy had written a book about life in Washington DC from a dog’s perspective. It’s called My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington D.C.

Senator Kennedy, I know that between your family and your medical team you are in the best of hands. But I think you may also be in the best of PAWS! I hope you, Sunny & Splash will be walking together for many years to come.

Chris Davis

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gabby and Roofus and Hope…oh my!

Thanks to Gabby, the tri-pawed 10 lb. Sheltie, there’s never a dull moment at Hope Marchbank’s home in Michigan.

Gabby, who is also deaf, apparently barks at everything she sees outside, so Hope always knows if the Sandhill Cranes are in the area or if someone has come by for a visit.

I love this picture of Gabby on guard at the door – looks like a bed made for a princess.

And then there’s Roofus, the little kitty Hope rescued from…you guessed it…the roof!

Don’t you just love his face?

Hope was telling me about the book
“Mutts Shelter Stories : Love. Guaranteed.”

The book is by Patrick McDonnell, creator of the Mutts comic strip. She was very enthusiastic about the book…so much so that a few days later a copy was waiting for me in my mailbox, courtesy of Hope!

This book is delightful, and I highly recommend it. You can learn more about "Mutts Shelter Stories: Love. Guaranteed." at Amazon.com.

Thank you, Hope, for your kindness. I knew that any critter who came your way would be fortunate indeed, but now I see that good fortune extends to us two-legged creatures as well.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael Vick

If you’re an animal lover, you already know who this man is – a football player who was thrown into jail because of his involvement with dog fighting. I won’t list the details – they are too horrific to put into words.

He’s just been hired by the Philadelphia Eagles, after having spent a year and a half in prison. There is no question the man is under a very intense spotlight. I watched Michael Vick speak on TV. It was a clear, well-rehearsed speech that contained absolutely no remorse. He could have been selling floor wax, except THAT probably would have had more authenticity than what I saw.

I do believe in second chances, but not necessarily for the same opportunities that were available prior to conviction. The man tortured and murdered innocent animals. This must have come from some dark, deeply disturbed place in his soul. That doesn't go away after a short stint in jail, followed by getting your old job back. If he had killed a human being no one would be putting a football back into his hands.

I would have liked to have seen him walk away from sports and devote his life to speaking on behalf of all suffering animals, especially those poor creatures trapped in the unspeakable world of dog-fighting. Maybe then I would have felt that he truly understood the horror of his past actions.

I needed to see that he was willing to give up a career he (presumably) loved, knowing his sacrifice was nowhere near as great as the sacrifices made by all the animals who died agonizing deaths because of him.

This man may have talented hands, but what he did with them when he WASN’T holding a football should have kept him barred from ever playing the sport again.

Chris Davis

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I can get rid of those bugs for you, lady

That’s what the pest control man who knocked on my door the other day said to me. He pointed to the wasp nest in the roof over my front porch.

“I see you have a lot of spiders – I can kill those, too,” he said.

I smiled at him. Many years ago a wasp had built her nest above my front door. I asked her if we could make a deal – she and the kids could stay as long as they wanted to, as long as I was free to come and go in peace.

A silent agreement took place, and for the next several months I watched Mama and her babies. The kids eventually left the nest, but Mama stayed. She was there in October when I got up on a ladder and decorated the front porch with Halloween spider webs. She stood at the end of her nest and watched me.

She was there on Thanksgiving. I remember feeling very grateful for her presence in my life on that special day. And she was still there in early December. Was it possible she’d remain through Christmas?

It was not to be - Mama left before the holidays. I was truly sorry she had moved on – I wanted to wish her a Merry Christmas.

For years I’ve waited for another wasp to build her nest on my front porch, and this was the year. I was actually excited! Every time I water the plants on the porch I say hi to Mama, and tell her how fine those babies are looking. I don’t know how long she’ll hang around, but she’s welcome to stay as long as she wants.

“No thanks,” I told the pest control person, and I closed the door.

Lighthearted Press

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Mending Fences

Every so often a repair project comes up at my home that seems so overwhelming I find myself pushing it to the back burner.
That was the case with my 18 year-old fence – 300 feet of 5 ft. high fence that was on the verge of falling down my steep hillside.
Over the years there were many “plugs” added to keep animals in…or out…of my yard. Boards were nailed to the bottom and rocks were used to block up holes.
In many places openings were dug UNDER the fence to allow the feral cats into my yard so they could get to their food.
There were many special memories attached to this fence. I was reluctant to let it go, but in my heart I knew it was time to say goodbye. I found the right people, and this past week my decayed, moss-covered, chewed-up fence came down and a brand new one went up.
It’s beautiful – a perfect backdrop for all the trees in my yard. As the boards were being attached I went around the perimeter with the crew, digging holes and moving rocks so the critters who need access can get in.
I’m happy to say that all the creatures who come and go seem to have adjusted.
And so have I.

Here’s to mending fences!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life is so precious

One of my daily treats is watching the ground squirrels run along the rock wall behind my cat enclosure. The squirrels build their homes inside the wall, digging out the dirt and carrying leaves and twigs into the runs.

I’m privileged to watch these playful creatures every year. The other day I was enjoying the youngsters running wildly when one of them fell backwards off the wall. I ran outside and saw the little one on the ground, trying to stand, desperate and terrified. Its head was hanging to the side.

I gathered the squirrel into my cat carrier and raced to my vet’s office. I put the carrier in the front seat next to me, singing the only lullaby I knew – in German. They’re not supposed to take in rodents, but the vets knew the right thing to do was to put this little creature out of its misery, which they did.

It broke my heart, because this baby squirrel was just playing. It wasn’t taken by a cat or a hawk – it was only playing.

Life is so precious.

Special note to my angel dog, Jake - no chasing the squirrel!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Meet SimbaKitty

Marie Mosely Plummer, of Wasilla Alaska, knows all about Forever Cats. For the last 16 years she has shared her life with one…SimbaKitty…who was actually born on the same day she landed in Alaska for the first time.

Talk about something that was meant to be!

Marie told me that SimbaKitty is coming to the end of his journey with her. Anyone who has ever loved a critter understands how heartbreaking this is. Our animal companions can often live for a very long time, but it’s never long enough.

My kitties and I are sending lots of purrs and hugs to Marie and SimbaKitty. My beloved angel dog, Jake, loved cats – it was he who found the litter of kittens under my deck, brought them in, and raised them as his own. It is those four 11-year old cats with whom I share my life.

I like to think that Jake takes a special interest in all the new heavenly kitty arrivals.

So one day, when SimbaKitty finds himself heading up to those starry skies, perhaps Jake will be there to greet him and welcome him home.

I hope so.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

That's one small step for man...and woman

Has it really been 40 years?

I can remember Apollo 11 landing on the moon as if were just yesterday. I was allowed to stay up late to see this historic event, following along on the Moon Map in my Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. I even used a pin to mark the approximate spot where they landed, just in case they forgot and later needed that information.

My obsession with “all things space-related” began when I was a little girl. All the books I’ve written for animal lovers are filled to the brim with brilliant stars.
Walk into my home and there isn’t a room that doesn’t have a star on the wall, or hanging from the ceiling, or attached to a mirror.

I have always felt more comfortable “out there” than “down here.” In my dreams I fly through the stars, sometimes on the back of a beautiful whale, sometimes just floating along on the heavenly currents. Being in the stars is always like being home for me.
Many things have changed in four decades. However, one thing that will never…ever…change is my fascination with the heavens, if for no other reason than all my furry kids are waiting for me up there in those starry skies!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Six cats, one angel dog and a plaid golf bag

According to the dictionary, a family consists of people who are probably, but not necessarily, related.

I think of a family as a cohesive unit of living things that balance each other well and provide a comfortable and safe place to be...even amid the occasional hissy fit.

In my home, my family consists of me and four felines – Dickens and his three sisters Pippen, Molly and Star. I would do anything for these precious kitties. If any of them were missing it would leave a huge hole in my heart. Each brings me their own brand of kitty magic, along with the occasional hairball…and mole.

Then there are the two outside kitties. Sammy showed up six summers ago, a product of that year’s kitten season. He has been coming ever since.

Creamsicle is a fairly new arrival. He actually lives down the road, but shows up regularly for (as the Hobbits would say) “second breakfast,” and some badly needed affection.

One of the things families should do is watch out for each other. I never realized how much that meant to me until I lost my dog, Jake. OK, being part German Shepherd Dog and part Border Collie did give him some very strong protective instincts. The thing is, though, I loved it…and I really miss it.

Over the years Jake and I took thousands of walks through the woods by my home. The trail opens onto a golf course. Jake always took point, ready to tell me if something seemed off.

One day, in his later years, we came onto the golf course and Jake suddenly stopped. All of the fur on his back stood up and a low growl came out of his mouth. He kept his eyes on the object of his concern, and then carefully nudged me back to the path.

For as long as I live I will never forget how bravely my knight in shining armor protected me from that dangerous, plaid golf bag!

I am additionally blessed beyond words by all the wonderful, loving people who are also in my “family.” It’s odd that some of the ones I feel closest to I rarely see…and some I have never actually met. That’s ok – the heart has a way of maintaining a love connection through time and space. Face-to-face meetings, while lovely, are optional.

Some people are surrounded by friends and relatives, yet they feel very alone. As I look around my home on this rainy summer day, and look at my furry friends curled up in their favorite places, I feel very fortunate to be safely tucked in the arms…ah, paws…of my loving family.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Keep it Simple

This morning I was watching my 4 cats playing outside in their kitty enclosure. The weather has been picture-postcard perfect here in Oregon, so two of the felines were sunning themselves on the upper decks while the other two were stalking bugs and bark chips on the ground. They were blissfully content.

I wondered how often I touch the level of joy my kitties seem to live in almost all the time. Lately, it seems that joy has been eluding me. I know these are tough times. Many people are living in fear, dealing with heartbreaking loss, wondering what the future holds for them.

I looked back at those happy kitties of mine, and realized that even though I provide an insulating layer between them and the outside world, if that layer wasn’t there I suspect they could create joy so much more easily than I could.

Why is this?

Certainly the boundaries of their world are much smaller than those of mine, and they have many fewer options than I do. But rather than feeling that something is lacking, I think my cats revel in the simplicity of their lives. They make the most of everything they have, and when they’ve had enough food, or sun, or playtime they simply trot to their favorite spots and curl up for a nap.

In many ways this seems like a prescription for a perfect life. I remember once reading that happiness isn't wanting more things, but rather learning to want the things you already have.

My cats embody this belief. And although I am currently “dog-less in Portland,” I think all the beloved canines who’ve shared my life also understood those three most important words:

Keep it simple.

What wonderful teachers my critters are.

Time for a nap.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here's to love!

Musicals – they’re my life! I don’t need to be wined and dined by a man – I just want him to kneel down and sing “If Ever I Would Leave You,” from Camelot!

So it is no surprise that yesterday, as I waited for the cable repair person to come and check the problems with my system, I was delighted to find that the musical Gigi was about to begin. I happily plunged into the delightful turn-of-the 20th century Parisian love story.

I cried and sang my way through the movie, right up until the last 20 minutes or so when the doorbell rang and the cable repairman had to temporarily turn off my cable box.

Thankfully, the diagnostics didn’t take long, and the cable guy and I were able to watch those last few moments of the movie that can turn any romantic into a blubbering idiot. (Note to self: next time wait until repairman leaves to watch ending of romantic movie.)

Suddenly, I wanted to know if Louis Jourdan, the male lead, was still with us. After all, Gigi came out in 1958! I ran to the computer and was overjoyed to learn that Mr. Jourdan is living in the south of France with his wife of 65 years. 65 years!!

Today would have been my 20th wedding anniversary. Perhaps that is why this love story hit me so hard.

On the other hand, I cry buckets and buckets of tears whenever I watch The Iron Giant, which may just be my favorite animated movie of all time. The giant sacrifices himself to save a small town…and the little boy in the town he has come to love.

In the last scene of the movie we see him magically “calling back” his various mechanical parts that have been blown to smithereens all over the earth. I watch those nuts and bolts bravely marching back “home” and I fall to pieces.

It is a different kind of love story…but a love story nevertheless.

So, here’s to love...in all it's wondrous forms!