Critters

(Inspired by a twitter conversation with Temerity Jane, Awlbiste, and Naithin)

I make no secret of my love of animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, even fish and reptiles (and amphibians!) are worthy of admiration from me. Yes, I’m the weirdo that feeds the garden toads, chases the cats away from the geckos that get in the house so I can catch them and put them outside, won’t step on spiders (and, in fact, will feed the big outside garden spiders), and chirps at the tree frogs in the yard.

I also am currently the caretaker of two (mostly) fabulous felines. Max and Charlie are a great deal of fun, and rarely a day goes by that I don’t at least smile, if not laugh at one or both of them being … well, cats. They love string. They love playing Kitty-WWF on my bed and then tearing after each other through the house like tiny furry rockets. They love playing chicken with my laptop.

Unfortunately, this time of year is rife with people doing horrible things to animals – particularly cats, especially black cats.

I get that not everyone is a cat fan (preferences, we has them), which is totally fine. Being annoyed with a cat is… well, part of living with cats, and when they do annoying things, generally it seems that the appropriate response is to shut the door, ignore them, go somewhere else, dump them off your lap, etc. Or possibly to engage in some corporal cuddling, whereby you are as annoying to the cat as it is to you.

Being annoyed with an animal does not equal maiming, mutilating, or otherwise doing horrible things to it – as TJ was noting had been happening in the news where she lives in Arizona, and which has recently been on the news from Florida. It doesn’t mean torturing an animal that is essentially helpless. (I’d rather not go into any more specifics, simply to avoid getting internet hits from creepy fuckers who want to do that kind of thing, but I’m sure a little Google-Fu will find you everything you never wanted to see, and more)

Reading about it, hearing about it… honestly makes me a little sick.

I look at Max, who was obviously someone’s pet that ended up out on his own for several months (whether through ill will or escape tactics, nobody knows), starving outside until he got picked up, and realize he was lucky. And that to live with us, he’s /really/ lucky. When we got him, he barely weighed 7 lbs and his fur was scrawny and thin.  Now he weighs 14lbs and is considered healthy – if a bit chubby – by the vet, with a gorgeous cream coat with pumpkin points.

I look at Charlie, who has taken the better part of two years to get over his fear of my husband and of anyone’s shoes and of loud noises, and see that he’s warmed up into a happy and sociable cat. And I realize he was less lucky than Max, but that he still has a happy ending that includes gooshyfood and feathers-on-a-string and a screen porch to watch birds from.

So if there’s a critter in your life that you love (or maybe just tolerate most of the time), give him/her/it a pat from me today.

I don’t know what any of us can do to keep horrible people from doing horrible things, so I settle for doing the best I can for the two I signed up to care for.

Obligatory note that if you are looking for a pet, rescue organizations that you can find through Petfinder.com are a great place to look (whether you want a young animal or an adult, and whether you want the standard cat or dog, or something a little less common).

Particularly if you are interested in a cat or kitten, adopting a black cat is often less expensive because of the superstitions commonly associated with them; you may not be able to adopt a black cat or kitten in the months of October/November, however, due to people doing horrible things to them and ending up on the news.

2 down, a lifetime to go

Two years ago today, I woke up in a hotel room in downtown Houston, opened the blinds up of my 18th floor room, and felt my heart sag just a little.  It was, in fact, pouring rain.

The kind of pouring that it does in Houston in January, where it’s foggy and windy, not really cold, but a driving, drenching, lasts all day kind of rain.

Normally that wouldn’t bother me so much, but two years ago today, I got married – and I wasn’t really looking forward to a white wedding dress in the rain and mud. But, I couldn’t exactly control the weather, and it wasn’t cold, so I couldn’t complain (just the weekend before it’d been 30 degrees, so complaining about 65 seemed rather silly, esp for January). I got up, got dressed, and went down to eat breakfast with my family before heading off to the whirlwind that is being the bride in a large family style church wedding in Texas.

At breakfast, I ran into my grandparents – my grandfather was the officiant in our wedding. Nobody had mentioned the weather – and there were probably 15 of us in the restaurant. It was, in a way, like the elephant nobody wanted to mention. Nobody, that is, except my PopPop, who has never had a shy moment in his life (I don’t think).  Anyway, he must’ve noticed the elephant and took it head on.

He looked over at me, as I’m three spoons deep into my oatmeal and yoghurt and fruit, and said “You know you’re not allowed to worry about the weather right?” I looked back, puzzled, at the grinning, white haired man who I’d call “impish” if he didn’t have quite so much presence when he wanted to (Italian grandpas are like that sometimes).

“Well, you see, I took it up with Management, and they’ve assured me that it will be sunny by 2 o’clock.” He pointed up at the ceiling, winking at me. We all laughed, but it warmed my overwhelmed heart to think of him having such a conversation with “Management” (his faith has always astounded me, but I suppose thats how ministers are) about the rain on his eldest granddaughter’s wedding day.

After breakfast, I started the whirlwind. Hair done, back up on the 18th floor my best friend’s little sister was doing our make up while we picked at some turkey sandwiches and sipped ginger ale through straws so we wouldn’t muss our lipstick. We had a big suite, my parents and I, with a large “meeting room” in between – it was really convenient, since there were never fewer than 12 people in the two rooms combined.  IN and out, in and out – who called the florist, did someone call the reception manager lady back about the cake, around and around.

And then – around 1:30, just as we were getting the last of our things together to make the short trip over to the church, someone else came in.

“You should open the curtains.”

I raised an eyebrow and opened them.  And sure enough, out over the Houston skyscape, drenched with the morning’s rain, the sun crept out.  Ok maybe crept is an understatement.  I squinted into the light, shading my eyes.

And from somewhere in one of the other rooms, my grandfather’s voice floated in, chuckling. “I told you, I took it up with Management.”

The weather eventually brightened so much that not only was the church bathed in multicolored light from the stained glass, but in the downtime between the ceremony and the reception, our photographer winged us a photoshoot in Hermann Park – and captured what would become my favorite pictures of the entire day. (Including one of me walking over traintracks in my chapel length train… with my dress held up about my knees and crinoline spewing out around everywhere.) The eventual high for the day was 74.  On the 27th of January.