Cats in the Gap (A Memorial Essay)...

Jul 31, 2012 by

It’s 93 degrees and the sun is relentless.  It’s hard to dig in the dry Colorado dirt, but I’ve done this before.  I know I’ll need the rubber mallet and a tent stake to pry out the rocks.  I’ll need the square shovel to shave down the sides, making room for the box, and the big shovel to carry out the loosened dirt. The sharp shovel cuts through the tree roots, and I feel every blow and break.  The roots, sheathed in red, scream a painful mess of color into the soil.  I don’t know which tree I’ve severed, lilac, elm or fir, but I know how it feels. We called Snowball the Last Cat Standing.  He lived the longest of the three and a full year from the time of the first cat’s...

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Gluten-Free Dog Treats

Dec 16, 2011 by

Last week, I shared a yummy recipe for homemade Bacon Doggie Biscuits. Since “gluten-free” is becoming popular as people adopt healthier eating habits, I wanted to also share a low-fat, gluten-free alternative for people who want their dogs to eat healthy, too! I must warn you, however, that dogs are no different than the rest of us. They have a taste for treats that are a bit more decadent than this one, so if you offer them one of these “good-for-you” snacks, they just might look up at you as if to say, “Where’s the Beef?” One little dog named Spencer, who’s a rather finicky eater, was clearly not interested in these new-fangled dog bones. His owner, a journalist from an area newspaper who had written an article on my dog-biscuit endeavors, told me...

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Angel Kitty

Oct 10, 2011 by

It seems as though sometimes we sustain losses in chains.  Spot died in May, then Snowball got sick and just as he got better, Kitty got sick. I’ve never seen my feisty little cat so weak.  She would stand over the water bowl, staring at the water and muster all her strength to make a soft, desperate sound.  It was the same sound she made when I greeted her on Sunday.  I had been out of town for a few days and was shocked at how quickly she had gotten so sick. Last week she was stealing Snowball’s food and insistently displacing my computer in my lap.  We had an “argument” last Thursday about who was going to sleep in the middle of the bed (an argument she won).  Kitty had stopped eating on...

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I Love Lucy

Aug 17, 2011 by

Just nine months ago, I adopted a cute cockapoo. I named her Lucy.  I must admit though my husband was definitely reluctant. Excuses like “you’re never home” rang true, but the reality was I was home quite a bit, just not when he was home! What is interesting is that although couples may vehemently disagree on most topics, they usually both soften in manner and tone to agree that the dog, cat, bird or horse is great. What happens between people and their pets that accounts for this emotional outpouring of love? Funny, if there is any criticism, it is the verbalized wish to receive the kind of love and attention the pet is getting. “I only wish she was as affectionate with me as with our dog!” “You should hear him speak to...

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My Grand Pup, The Model

Aug 10, 2011 by

I often write about my wonderful daughter Erika.  She is a Hospice Social Worker in Bellingham, Washington, and has been happily married for 3 years to a man she met on She is beautiful, smart and funny and absolutely dotty about her two Chihuahuas, Ginger and Lulu.  They make her laugh and she admits she loves them to distraction and makes no excuses about it. Ginger, my first grand pup, led the wedding processional in my garden 3 years ago. Dressed in fetching pink organza with a flower on her back, she pranced down the garden steps, her matching pink leash held high by one of Erika’s friends. She set the tone for the whole affair and everybody agreed it captured the lightness and love that permeated the whole event.  My daughter declared...

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The “Thing Thing” (Clean your cabinets!)...

Aug 1, 2011 by

I recently moved my mom, aka “The Momster” to Albuquerque.  As such things go, I couldn’t move most of her material possessions. Too much stuff. Too little time.  Too many and higher priorities. And, as I spent hours digging through drawers, closets and cabinets…much of it appeared to not have been touched, much less used in years, if not decades. ALL of it coated in multiple layers of deep, deep brown nicotine (Hey, wasn’t this white when I sent it as an Xmas present? Ack. Ack.)  So, what the hell to move??? –  especially given Mom’s directive to “do the best you can.” Still, I tried…digging out old family jewelry…sifting through piles of paper… trying to get the things that would really (I thought) mean something to the Momster.  All while breathing in decades...

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I Hope Happiness IS Contagious

Jun 29, 2011 by

Friends and regular readers of my writing here and at Lipsticking know that I’m going through some major adjustments with my mother.  Fiercely independent. Unwilling to ask for help. Unwilling to accept help. Well, that explains me…but it also explains why my mom ended up where she is…in an assisted living home here in Albuquerque, with multiple major ailments. So sad. Too late. She simply can’t live alone anymore. (She’d HATE my telling you this.  She considers someone asking her where she went to high school a major invasion of privacy (!?)  More about that – generational differences and various conceptions of social interaction in another post.) All that said, Mom is doing amazingly well, adjusting to living with seven other women, in a city she never liked, in a home she didn’t choose,...

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An Opera Picnic

Jun 10, 2011 by

June is opera season in St. Louis.  Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the premiere festival companies in the world.  It is dedicated to nurturing young talent in both performing and production and to presenting opera in English.  As our late, great Artistic Director Colin Graham said, “No one composer ever lived who wanted his opera to be performed in a language foreign to his audience.” OTSL is also unique in its glorious setting.  Our tiny (987 seat) theater is nestled at the foot of a hill on a leafy suburban college campus. The hill is topped by a green-and-white striped tent surrounded by picnic tables, also decked out in green-and-white and topped with ivy and candles. Patrons picnic before the opera and then gather with the cast and crew afterward for...

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Resting Spot

Jun 8, 2011 by

Mr. Spot, one of our beloved cats, died on Thursday morning. He died in the way of his choosing; at home, under the bed, where he felt safe.  He hadn’t been able to breathe well for months due to congestive heart failure.  Six months ago, I took him through a labyrinth of stressful veterinary medical procedures to ease his breathing, but two days after, his symptoms returned. We could have done it again.  We could have submitted to another terrifying day of waiting rooms and needles, but how many times until we accept the inevitable? Since the death of my husband in 2008, I have had an uneasy relationship with the medical system anyway.  When they told us Dave had leukemia, his only symptoms were some lethargy and pain in his side.  He checked...

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Remembering Newhart

May 2, 2011 by

I love reading about the pets whose presence in our lives combined companionship with guidance, silliness with responsibility. And when they die, we miss them, mourn them and tell stories about them. My dog Newhart came into our lives as a Guide Dog Puppy which my teenage daughter raised as her 4H project.  He quickly revealed himself to be an extraordinary spirit garbed as a Golden Retriever. Even the other parents of kids who were raising guide dog puppies admitted that Newhart was different. He was smart and goofy, totally tuned to whoever was with him, and a love magnet beyond any I’ve encountered since. We were good 4H members, following the rules that allowed puppies to develop the right social skills without spoiling them in ways that would hinder their later life of...

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Living a Dangerous Life

Apr 20, 2011 by

Everyone knows it’s dangerous to, say, ride a motorcycle or eat saturated fat, but somehow we miss the inherent danger of being alive. My husband died of acute leukemia.  In June of 2008, we were living ordinary lives.  In July, I took Dave to the doctor for what we thought was diverticulitis, common to 45 year old men and easy to cure.  In August, he was trapped in the hospital on chemotherapy and by the end of September, he was gone.  The whole hospital episode, from diagnosis to death, took six weeks. Is it any wonder it seems to me that we barely control anything in our lives?  Trouble will find you, even if you’re perfectly still.  What kind of world is this?  The raw truth is that it’s a world where the person...

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A Soul in Cat’s Clothing

Mar 24, 2011 by

Spot the Cat is not doing well.  Spot is one of three cats who made the journey across the country with me after my husband died.  I call our little family “Bonnie and the Traveling Cats” because we all had to go.  We all had to change. Did you know cats can get heart disease?  Spot has it and it makes his little chest fill up with fluid.  He can’t breathe well.  I watch him try to carry on his normal feline activities while his chest heaves, trying to bring in enough air.  He is uncomfortable.  I can take him to the veterinary internal medicine specialist to have the fluid drained, but it scares him half to death and his chest fills right back up.  He is not getting better. How do I know...

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