Monday, March 30, 2009

Foster Mom

Six years ago our two cats, Tegan and Avon, passed away a few months apart from one another. Tegan was 17 and Avon was 15. We missed them terribly. They were our first "babies", our only "babies" for five years until our daughter came along.
There was a no-kill animal shelter that housed cats and dogs near our home. After Tegan and Avon were gone, we would all go in with donations of money, food, towels, blankets and to get our "cat-fix" by playing with and holding the cats and kittens. Soon this morphed into me volunteering once a week in the cat room, cleaning, feeding and giving medications. During kitten season the shelter would be swarming with kittens. My husband and I even made a couple of rescue trips to pick up cats and kittens. I personally made two trips to the local airport to pickup mommies and their kittens that had been flown in. On one of those trips there was a mommy cat with four babies of her own and two she was fostering. The babies were only days old. The shelter's cat coordinator asked us if we could foster the mommy and her four babies, someone would take on the other two kittens. With very little deliberation we said of course.

When the shelter took in a cat with a litter, the names given to them all, had to start with the same letter, this way there was a way of keeping who belonged to who straight. We dubbed mommy cat Bonnie and her four boys Baxter, Boris, Bart, and Barry. We brought Bonnie and the Boys home.

As the foster family we had to raise kittens who would be people-friendly. This entailed lots of cuddling, petting and loads of playtime with the boys (not hard to do for cat lovers). Part of our duties was to weekly weigh each kitten to make sure they were growing on schedule. We would put my blue bowl on the kitchen scales and place a kitten inside. The boys loved it and sometimes it was difficult to get them out of it.

Kittens know about the concept of a litter box, but you have to introduce them to kitty litter and teach them that it is not kitten chow, another one of our duties. They catch on quickly, but like all babies, they want to put things in their mouths.
We kept Bonnie and the Boys in the little room off of the kitchen and put up a baby gate to corral them ...that lasted for a while until one morning we were in the living room watching the television and two little eyes peeked around the was Bart, he had made it over the wall...of all the boys he was the most precocious. It did not take long for the others to follow. Down came the baby gate and off went the television. We were so entertained by their antics that we rarely had the T.V. on again while the Bonnie and the Boys were in our home.

When it came time to take them back to the shelter it was a little difficult. We had grown to love the little guys, but we were getting ready to move and I was not ready for a new cat(s) of our own again. Baxter and Boris were adopted together which was fitting, because they were close to one another. Bart was adopted by a woman who loved his spunky personality and Barry was the last of Bonnie's boys to be adopted. He was adopted by a couple who could not live without him.

My Foster Mom experience was rewarding and one I will never forget, but even after all of that, I am still not ready to adopt a cat of our own. Since our move we've had a cat adopt us. We have named him Riley and he is an outdoor cat. I think Riley is the Harriet Tubman of the cat world. My house is on the Feline Underground Railway. He has brought other cats to the back porch. One day he brought a pregnant cat, which we promptly took to a no-kill animal shelter (remember, I did not want to be a cat owner or Foster Mom again), then he introduced another female cat, non-pregnant this time, to the porch life. We call her Charlotte. Finally, we have a big, black, tomcat who hangs around the porch. He is skittish but my husband (aka the Cat-Whisperer) has been able to touch him a couple of times. We call him Shadow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Millionaire's Family" Decoded

In an earlier posting I wondered about the meaning and origin of the term, "Millionaire's Family". A gentleman had once claimed I had one and was lucky, when he saw me with my toddler daughter and infant son.

That daughter, several years beyond toddling now, googled the term and gave me its meaning all these years later. Her search informed me that it goes back to the time when it was important to have a male heir to carry on the family name and assets as well as have a daughter to marry off to a moneyed and influential gentleman, thus increasing your chances of maintaining or gaining power for generations to come.

Interesting. I love little bits of historical trivia.

Where is Mr. Darcy when you want him?

Mermaids Revisited

I felt the need to revisit my love of mermaids and how it has contributed to the decor of my house. My husband got new orders, so we packed up our belongings, kids and cats and headed to what became the Jewel in the Crown of our military postings: Key West! We had 3 1/2 years of fun in the sun on that quirky, friendly, come-as-you-are, tropical island. I will blog more about our time in Key West, but for now this post will be about the Trading Spaces Mermaid.

Most of you are familiar with The Learning Channel's (TLC) show called Trading Spaces. While we were living in Key West they taped a show down town. One day, while watching television, that episode aired. It was obvious by the end of the program that one of the participants was not at all happy with the results of the trade. We liked what Frank had done to her little place. A couple of weeks later we were walking around town and stopped in a local bookstore and who should be behind the counter, but the disgruntled Trading Spaces lady. We chatted with her, got her take on the experience. We asked since she did not like the design, what ever happened to the mermaid that was central to the new decor? She said she had taken it off her wall and set it out on her porch. Could we have it?, we asked. Certainly, for a nominal fee. That is how we became the proud owners of a piece of Trading Spaces memorabilia. She now hangs in the living area of my guest cottage.

Key West holds a sunset celebration at Mallory Square every evening. There you can see many vendors selling food, jewelry and art. You can also see the famed Cat Man who has miraculously trained his house cats to do amazing tricks, as well as fire-eaters, jugglers, dogs jumping through hoops, a man walking on broken glass and musicians. One evening we were at the celebration and happened to see the local artist who painted our mermaid. We told him that his original artwork had a nice home with us. I saw the relief in his eyes, knowing that his handiwork was not at the bottom of some landfill.
We had made one more lovely mermaid purchase while in Key West at at nice chandlery filled with all things nautical. We were poking around the shop when we spotted her. She is a solid wood, antique, ship's prow figurehead. She hangs on my living room wall with some, as seen on T.V., Hercules Hooks, because she is heavy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


When I was younger, my family had a lifetime membership at a local pool. In the summer we would go to that pool where I would pretend I was a mermaid along with a couple of my sisters. I think I have always been enchanted by the idea of mermaids and the possibility of their existence. I am a sucker for any (well-done) mermaid movie. I recently visited Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida with my husband and children where mermaids, real ones, abound. The day we visited was the 60th anniversary, to the day, of the opening of Weeki Wachee's mermaid shows. We were able to see amazing underwater feats like eating fruit and drinking Grapette cola and beautiful, graceful moves performed by the mermaids. The shows have not changed much in these 60 years; I probably saw the same show Elvis (the skinny, hot Elvis) did when he visited the springs. I loved it! I recommend visiting the mermaids whenever you are in Florida where you will get a great taste of Old Florida. Next time you watch the movie JAWS, pay close attention to the girl at the beginning of the movie, the one who is jerked under water by the Great White, she was a Weeki Wachee mermaid. My husband very thoughtfully surprised me last Christmas with a mermaid movie called Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid which was filmed at Weeki Wachee Springs in 1948.

Living in Florida helps me to be able to continue this "love affair" with mermaids. I have a sinking suspicion that mermaid themed rooms would not seem as natural or acceptable in let's say, Casper, Wyoming. I have a bathroom in my house decorated with a mermaid theme and I have mermaids in their various forms, tastefully strewn about the house. Mermaids in moderation. My most recent mermaid purchase is an interesting vase I got while at an art festival. I have filled her with pretty, tropical flowers (fake, as I do not have a great green thumb) and a bit of artificial red coral.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Hero

This is my husband of nearly 23 years. He is my hero. He literally is a hero. He served this great country for 20 years in the Air Force and was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Look at his chest full of medals, my hero has had a distinguished career and I have been along for the ride. Though I never got overseas with him I have seen some different parts of these 50 states. Our daughter was born in gorgeous and green Washington state and our son "where the wind comes sweeping down the plain", in Oklahoma.

I know this sounds pedestrian, but my hero is also my soul mate. He is who I dreamed of, when I did dream, which was not as often as most little girls; I did not sit and plan out my wedding day to the nth degree before the age of 8 and revisit that dream on a daily basis, nothing wrong in that, it was just not me. I never thought about the ceremony stuff, I just knew what kind of man I wanted as my husband. When I was young I wanted to have a husband who had the same sense of humor I did, the same likes and dislikes, same goals and set of values. I got that man in my husband. God sure knew what he was doing when he brought us together. Now that he is retired from the Air Force I have more time to spend with him. I am looking forward to having more adventures with my hero.

My Babies, Then and Now

I was once told by a gentleman, that I had the "Millionaire's Family", one of each, perfect. I don't know about that term and its origin, but I do know that I am blessed to have my children and blessed that I have one of each. Some times it seems as if it has been eons since my babies were babies, and yet at the same time ,as if they grew up overnight . My daughter is graduating from high school this year, 30 years after her mother, and will study art this Fall. She is smart, witty and creative. My son is a sophomore this year and is active in NJROTC at the high school. He is also smart, witty and has plans for a military career, like Dad. My little family of four is suits me just fine.

Family Photo

Here is a picture of my sisters, brothers and I from our younger days. Back row, left to right is Lucinda (Cindy), Kathleen (Kit), Lori and then myself. Front row, left to right is Jennifer, Andrew, Michael and Samuel. Having my siblings doing the weight loss competition along with me is a great source of motivation to stay on track. In this situation sibling rivalry is definitely called for.

New Beginnings

I have begun this blog (along with the help of my daughter) to have an outlet for my yearnings to get my creative writing juices flowing as well as to have a way for family and friends to experience my day-to-day life and musings in Florida.
Another new beginning is a "Biggest Loser" competition with some of my siblings. We started our competition on January 1st and will end it on July 4th, our "Independence From Fat" day. The winner will win some cash, enough to buy a nice new outfit to go along with their new figure. I have decided to use the Weight Watchers Points diet. It is working nicely (when I stick to it) and I know my "Fat-Footprint" is definitely getting smaller.
(My sister Kit won. She beat me by 1%)