Throwback Thursday #4 – Pets

Lauren is tugging at our hearts this week on Throwback Thursday Memory BlogHop as we remember those best friends of our lives – our pets. Click on the link to read the rules and join in the fun.

Today’s subject: The Pets in My Life

When I read Lauren’s subject today, I was not sure what I wanted to write. I have written about the sadness of losing my pets Midnight and Queenie so I knew I did not want to tell those stories again. I have decided to go stream of consciousness style rather than plan it out.

My mother had such a strong emotional connection with animals and it bled over deeply in our lives. I always heard stories about my mother growing up on the farm, and the stories that were told over and over always seemed to involve animals. It’s not surprising we all connected deeply to animals – especially those with interesting personalities.

Here are a few of those stories.

Mickey – Somewhere along the way our parents developed an affinity for Siamese cats. We stayed with my paternal grandparents for a while and my grandmother was not a fan of any inside animal — especially those who might knock her African violets off the window sill. Mickey was a female Siamese and she escaped one day while in heat. One of the neighbors from the far side of the valley called my mom to let her know our cat was at their house. Mom left out walking to go pick up Mickey. Sadly, when she returned, my mother’s hands and arms were bleeding from where Mickey had scratched her as Mom carried her home. My grandmother asked my mother what in the world happened. My mom in her very laid back response quipped, “Everything was fine on the walk home. She was calm until I called her a little whore.” My very Christian grandmother looked my mother in the eye and said “Who can blame her then? If you called me that, I would have done the same thing.” They both laughed!

Mulligan – When we lived in Ohio, we frequented a little shop for last minute food items – Irv’s Market. One snowy night, my mom and I went to Irv’s. There was a little black and white kitten curled up near the entrance trying desperately to get out of the inclement weather. As my mom approached the door a man took his boot and kicked the kitten away from the door. My mom rushed to the kitten, scooped her up and proceeded into the store. She forgot everything she intended to buy. Instead she bought a litter box, cat litter, and cat food. Mulligan (named after a Mulligan stew – a little of everything) would eat until there was no food left in the bowl. Her little legs would spread apart because she had eaten so much but she would not leave food. She was a super cool cat.

Whiskey – Whiskey was a cocker spaniel my high school boyfriend gave me. My mom named him, saying he was the color of a good grade of Whiskey. He was smart and I could teach him anything. And talk about a beautiful dog. Just as I was graduating from high school and already committed to join the military, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My parents found it too taxing to care for our much loved dog, so my high school boyfriend took him back and cared for him. Such a good guy.

Smokey – Smokey was a pound cat my ex bought as a surprise for me. She was partially blind in one eye and her poor ears were infested with ear mites. The pound told us we could exchange her for another cat, but how do you do that once you have bonded with an animal? She was always destined to be my cat. She loved to curl up in the crook of my elbow as I petted her. If I stopped too soon, she would lift her tiny head and open her mouth and close it around my chin – not biting, but strongly suggesting I continue to pet her or else! She was a night hunter. She would howl sometimes at night while she hunted objects in the house. In the morning we would find the headphones drug into the middle of the floor, the result of a successful hunt. If we left a pack of lifesavers out, we would find a trail of broken peppermint pieces along the rug where she had eaten them. At night I took my wedding rings off to sleep because my hands would swell so much. Smokey would pick them up in her teeth and hide them under the furniture – foreshadowing my future perhaps! 😉 The kids played ‘baseball’ with her. She would sit on the back of the couch and they would toss a ping pong ball to her and she would jump up and hit it across the room with her paw. Later in life, she  saw me through a very traumatic divorce. We eventually moved on together and the last years of her life were filled with happiness and contentment.

Now we are left with Grand-dogs and Grand-cats. We love them as if they were our own. We have two Grand-cats in one household, four Grand-dogs in another (three German Shorthaired Pointers and a Maltipoo), and two Grand-dogs in another – two Boykin Spaniels. To say our family loves their pets is an understatement.

There are so many other great animals and animal stories in my family. Just as I try to close this out, I remember another pet I cherished. They all occupy a space and place in my heart. They are each deserving of their own post, but for now, I will just enjoy the afternoon with all their memories swirling around me.

Thanks for a great throwback post, Lauren.

Grand-dogs and Grand-cats
Blog, Home

The Night Visitors

Day Four

I remember my father telling a story about encountering a black bear while he was alone doing a little fly fishing. I rarely saw my father frightened, but I remember so well how scared he was. He often said he was afraid he was going to have a heart attack that day!

Such is life in the mountains. You learn to live with the creatures that share your space. We have lived here over two years and we are learning to live with nature’s residents. Last year we put out a small container garden. The next morning all the plants had been dug up, but oddly they were fine. Some creature (likely a raccoon) decided to dig in the fresh loose dirt for grubs. Most of the ground here is red clay so finding loosely packed soil must have been a treat. The plants were simply an unintended casualty.

Wild turkeys are a common sight. In the summer, squirrels and chipmunks, field mice and rabbits are seen almost daily. I love capturing them on my camera whenever I can.

We have had several visits from black bears. It is a little unnerving the first time you see one just five feet outside your living room window. We had several bird feeders crushed and several shepherds crooks bent beyond recognition. Needless to say now the bird feeders come in before dusk although when bears are looking for food, they are not necessarily nocturnal. (Party stores carry small air horns perfect for startling an unwelcome visitor.)

We saw bobcats a couple of times, but could never quite capture them on a camera before they were long gone. Majestic creatures in their own right, bobcats are powerful and while they look like an overgrown cat, they are a force to be reckoned with.

After finding evidence of night visitors, we decided to buy a trail camera just to see who was coming by. This morning, my husband brought the SD card in to see what creatures had been around these last few weeks.

black bearWe clicked through the images and saw the rabbit, two raccoons and an opossum. We love opossums because they love to eat ticks! Then we both said – Oh no. Yes, there were several shots of a bear walking down the brick walkway behind our house. You need to understand this walkway actually touches our house, so this means the bear was only about 4 feet from our back wall. A few more clicks and the bear was now standing. Whoah! They look so much larger when they stand on their hind legs!

Black Bear StandingThe images were timestamped around 4:00 am so the bears could still smell the evidence of the bird food. Looking at where his head was in relation to the pole, he was about 5-6′ tall when standing on his hind legs.

Of course, this is life in and around the mountains. It’s all about having respect for your surroundings and for the creatures that lived here long before we did. We love seeing them – at a distance – but we never approach them or try to lure them with food.

I love this calm integration with my homeland. I love seeing the wildlife, the birds and the plants and trees that grow effortlessly around us. It is truly home to all of us.

Thanksgiving Day 2016

“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.” 
Steve Irwin