in order to bring the wealth of communal knowledge to people in need.
Meet Bunker Roy whose lifelong committment to human dignity and self-sufficiency has proven that a single individual can make all the difference.
Last year we lost our cat Stanley to the ravages of old age. Stan had been ‘quite the cat’ who, as a kitten, was adopted from a Chicago shelter and first lived with us near Chicago’s downtown. Stan had a long and exciting life, as my daughter can attest, because he came to live with her in Minnesota. Life in a college town suited Stanley very well; there he was able to pursue the indoor-outdoor life he craved. A life which had been impossible in the City of Chicago.
Fast forward eighteen years and Stan came back to us to enjoy ‘his retirement’ at Sontheim. He was dropped off with the comment that “there was a warrant out for Stanley’s lynching” because the neighbours were no longer able to endure his nightly yowling concerts. There was also a longstanding lack of song birds in the neighbourhood which rightly or wrongly had been attributed to Stanley’s hunting skills.
So Stan came to Sontheim where he yodeled to his heart’s content. Initially the dogs, Sophia and Lilly, were terrified by his sounds. Neither one of the girls had encountered a cat before and especially not a feisty one like Stan.
Within a year Stanley’s health declined and he left for the happy hunting grounds in the big sky. Once he was gone, we made the decision not to bring another cat into our home. The family was complete, especially after the arrival of our big boy Sam. A house without the litter box, without the necessity to prevent a prowling cat from escaping out-of-doors, without the constant vigilance to keep birds safe from cat attacks, that was the goal.
But alas, it was not to be!
Within a few days of Stanley’s passing, his mirror image appeared on the porch of our apartment in Chicago. George called to let me know that a shy Stanley was hanging around. For months I occasionally heard about the budding friendship between the big guy and the little alley cat. Then one evening I got the news that the stray had overcome his fear and followed George inside; and I was told that he would be taken to the Chicago Humane Society in the morning. A few years ago George did precisely that, he rescued a pretty little alley cat, took her to the Humane Society, and she was promptly adopted out. But alas, this is the year of over-crowded shelters and George was told that Stanley’s double would have to be transferred to the City Pound were he would likely die alongside so many other unwanted cats.
In a panick George called and we decided that certain death was not an option. The cat would have to travel to Wisconsin, get checked over by our vet and get a name.
So let me introduce our new cat to you. Meet Felix, who we suspect was sent or way by Stan who just could not imagine the family without the company of a cat.
I want to follow my last post with three TED presentations in order to share with you a multitude of women who (unlike Sarah Palin) are neither ignorant, nor self-righteous. The videos show three extraordinary women who, each in her on chosen sphere of influence, are making a real difference.
Meet Majora Carter, who starting in the South Bronx, has redefined the field of environmental equality. In her presentation she brings us the stories of three individuals who are saving their own communities while also doing their part to save our planet.
Next meet Lesley Hazelton, a journalist and accidental theologist, who one day sat down to read the entire Koran. Her presentation shares with us what she found in the Islamic holy book which was not at all what she had expected.
Please click on the link below to see the video:
And finally, meet Jody Williams who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in eradicating landmines. TED describes her as bringing “tough love to the dream of world peace, with her racer-sharp take on what ‘peace’ really means, and a set of profound stories that zero in on the creative struggle — and sacrifice — of those who work for it.”
Listening to women like Majora Carter, Lesley Hazelton, and Jody Williams makes me proud to be a woman and hopeful for the future of our world.
2010 was an enlightening year which brought me clarification on many fronts. Most importantly it brought the joy of reconnecting and strengthening a family bond which had unraveled and become fragile over many agonizing years. My loved one, in her wisdom, pursued a path of healing which in the end brought us together again in a connection that will strengthen and endure.
But 2010 also brought sadness at the early death of two dear friends. You already know about Patti, whom I met through our mutual love for the Bernese Mountain Dog. I wrote about her passing ‘A few days after Thanksgiving’. I think of her often and wonder how our young friendship would have deepened over time.
And there was Bob, my friend Cindy’s beloved husband, who died of a brain aneurism within a few days of Patti’s death. While Patti’s passing came after many months of unrelenting suffering and can be looked upon as a blessing, Bob’s sudden death struck like a lightening bolt and was a shock to all. Bob is remembered as a generous man who raised his children well, a man who loved his wife, a man who will be missed.
Here at Sontheim 2010 was an important year. The dogs have settled in and become a closely knit pack. Our newcomer Sam has become the undisputed, but gentle leader whose presence has brought out the best in Sophia. Because of Sam, our neurotically shy Berner girl has learned to boldly go where she never went before. Now, Sophia comes running to collect her share of hugs and kisses throughout the day. And what a change that is from not so long ago, when I would have to corner her, in order to bestow some petting.
And now that 2011 has begun and last year’s snow has largely melted we are settling into Winter. The air crackles with frost and the wood burning stove warms the house. I think of the long line of lovely people I have been privileged to know and wish a very happy New Year to you All!
I received a gift today which will make my life more enjoyable as I continue to live with the unrelenting progression of Multiple Sclerosis. A fellow blogger who calls himself the ‘Wheelchair Kamikaze’ very aptly describes MS as creeping paralysis. According to his research, Creeping Paralysis was the original name of this daunting illness, before it was given the less disturbing and very sanitized name of Multiple Sclerosis. For who the heck knows what ‘multiple’ ‘sclerosis’ really is? I usually explain it to people by suggesting that they think of the brain being turned into a swiss cheese. This explanation is descriptive in the extreme and also not very kind. But after reading Marc’s post about the frustrations our shared illness brings, I shall use ‘creeping paralysis’ instead. The name accurately presents the condition without exaggeration or hyperbole.
Well, I know Multiple Sclerosis very well, in fact so well that after 18 years of acquaintance I know that the original name holds true. And yes, Creeping paralysis it is! And there is absolutely no doubt about that. Eighteen years ago I was strong and I participated fully in the richness of life. I had built a challenging career, I was doing my share to make the world a better place through my philanthropic efforts, I had travelled around the world, and after my child had gone off to college, I opened my home to creatures in need of a nurturing home.
And what a difference Creeping Paralysis makes: today I am a recluse who hardly leaves her home. It is difficult to appear dignified when stumbling about and dropping things for no apparent reason. At home it is easier to deal with failing limbs.
She cleverly devised a way to insure that my daily enjoyment of two cups of coffee continues.
A lovely cup with two handles, angled in a perfect way to ensure a firm one or two-handed grip. How cool is that???
And what could be better than a sister’s thoughtful love. Thank you my dear Elke, your gift has brought me joy.