Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Peppe



Peppe was a cat and he taught us many wonderful lessons about love in the all too short time he lived with us. We affectionately called him "Peppe Le Pew" because he wasn't very well groomed when we first met him.

First of all, I “stole” him…

Mark and I lived in a condominium with our two cats, Pumpkin and Dusty. We had a ground floor apartment with a covered patio which we used as our main entrance since parking was so close.

The first fall that we lived there, this mangy, but still beautiful, white and dark-grey long hair cat started hanging around. He started greeting us at our car when we came home — I had no idea who he belonged to, he looked well fed even if not well groomed. Since we already had two cats (one of which adopted us shortly after we moved to the condo) we really weren’t looking to take in a third; we still let this stray take refuge on our patio in inclement weather.

After about two weeks a young blond haired little boy came bounding on to our patio screaming “TJ, I found you!” and started hugging the cat. Of course I came out to meet him and he tearfully told me how TJ had gotten out of the house a few times, but this was the longest it took for him to find his cat. He told me that he lived on the other side of the condo complex and that this was the second cat they had that kept getting out. After a little while he bundled this big cat into his arms and took him home.

The next day TJ was back! And a little while later, so was the little boy. There were several repeats of this scenario, it worried me because the weather was beginning to turn frosty. Finally one day my next door neighbor, whose patio was next to mine, knocked on my front door to complain, she had an unbearable fear of cats (which I didn’t know about) and asked me to stop hosting this cat so close to where she had to walk (she also used her patio entrance primarily). It was clear that she regretted having to ask me but I also understood her fear.

When the little boy showed up again, like clockwork, I asked him for his home phone number and last name. While he played with TJ on the patio I went inside and called his mother. The phone call did NOT go as I expected.
·       The mom: No, he’s not getting out. I don’t want him anymore. (She then told me that she was upset that her son kept bringing him home) Besides, I’m planning on getting another kitten, I like kittens, not full grown cats.
·       Me: Look your son keeps coming here to find him. My neighbor is scared of cats…
·       The mom: (angrily) So just shoo him away! Eventually he’ll disappear. I know, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this.
·       Me: (my blood was boiling) Look you know that there are laws about letting animals run free and the association has rules about that as well.
·       The mom: (expletive deleted) Alright, I’ll be right over to get him to take him to the shelter to have him euthanized.
·       Me: Wait a minute! You don’t want this cat even though your son does? Tell you what, he is not yours anymore, he’s mine.
·       The mom: Hell no. You want him? You can’t steal him like that. He’s purebred Angora, I have his papers!
·       Me: Screw his papers. You’re going to come over to get your son and tell him you gave me the cat. And I better not ever hear that you went out and got another kitten. (I cut off her protest) You have five minutes to get here or I am calling the police, the humane society and then the association.
And that was how Peppe came to live with us… INDOORS.

Mark and I were still not convinced we wanted a third cat, but there was no way we would abandon him. BTW, as long as the woman lived there, I never heard of her getting any other pets.

My recently widowed mother had suffered a stroke after my dad’s death. She was in a facility receiving therapy and we had hopes she would one day be able to live in a nearby handicap-accessible accessible apartment. I remembered how much she enjoyed playing with my other cats so I asked her if she wanted one; she was excited at the idea. I brought Peppe to visit her one day and it was instant mutual love. Unfortunately my mom passed away before being able to leave the facility. Mark and I promised her that we would always love and take care of “her cat”. It wasn’t just my imagination, even the cat seemed to know she had passed.

Peppe guarding Jenni
I always referred to Peppe as my mom’s cat although we loved him just as much as our other two. We moved into a house with the three felines and started our family. Our first child, Jenni, was named for my mother, and I think Peppe knew that because, as far as he was concerned, she was his. He watched over her at night and played with her during the day. As toddlers often do, she got away with doing anything to that cat and I learned when I heard insane giggling he probably needed rescue, but he seemed to never mind. By the time our second child was born Peppe, along with his two feline brothers, watched over both kids.

Peppe soon developed severe kidney problems and required medication and eventually fluids (under the skin) which we were able to administer at home. An acquaintance commented that we should get rid of the cat, he was costing too much money, but Peppe was a family member (and I did ask the vet if he was suffering). We managed for a few years like that until Peppe seized and coded late one night — he had been a part of our lives for a little more than ten years. We buried him in the backyard. My children stayed home from school that day and we lit a Sabbath candle (that burned for about an hour) and sat Shiva* for that hour to give each of us time to mourn Peppe’s passing; we’ve done the same routine for each subsequent loss.

Through the years we’ve had the joy of living with several more pussycats, each of them with very individual personalities. The strange thing, and very beautiful, is each of my cats have often conversed (meowing) with “someone(s)” unseen. It’s a comfort to know that they are each with us to this day. When we moved a year ago we took a handful of dirt from above each of their graves and buried it in our new backyard and I am sure that all of them have come with us. We will never forget any of our beautiful felines, they’ve been more than “cats”, they have truly been family.

*Shiva — A structured period of Jewish mourning



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Moving On



As we grow older we experience many changes in our lives, we move on from jobs, lifestyles, and losses. When we reach retirement we often find ourselves moving on to new residences, new surroundings. It’s a wonderful new beginning!

The problem is as we move on to new places we wind up leaving a lot behind. We can take our memories with us, but we leave behind attachments… and friends. Often we’re not the only ones leaving a place behind, our friends have chosen to move on as well. Nowadays our best friends are scattered from L.A. to North Carolina and back to lower Manhattan, all people we once shared neighborhoods with. It’s hard and rare to see each other in person, gone are the last minute impromptu dinners and the touch of a friend’s arm across the shoulders to help work out some problem.

With the miracle of technology we don’t have to say goodbye at least, we can call on the phone, email, or even see each other on a screen as we video chat and all in real time — still it’s not the same. Being pen-pals isn't enough, the letters take their time getting to your friend's door. The benefit of social media allows us to stay in touch without much effort and in the company of thousands, kind of loses the intimacy of that special bond that friends can form. It’s what we have.

We can always make new friends without letting go (completely) of the older friends (not in age but in longevity). The problem with new friends is that you don’t share history, it’s harder for new friends to just “get you”. How much of your own personal history are you willing to share, how much do you need to share before your new friends really KNOW you? And do you rewrite your history to fit in with your new crowd?

This is life in 2019. It’s a rare individual that is born, grows up in and dies in the same small town for all of their life. We make moves and follow jobs and passions. Is what we are leaving behind too great a loss?

It’s not our fault we made the move, sometimes we weren’t even the first to leave the old neighborhood. I guess that part of growing up is knowing how to keep your friendships even across the miles… it’s not always easy, but definitely worth it.

..

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Second Chances



We hear about people getting second chances all the time — marriages reconnect, employees are rehired, friendships rekindle… But sometimes that “second chance” is really a new beginning.
A woman gets burnt by a selfish and abusive husband and gets the gumption to leave him and build a new life. And so the newly divorced woman finds a new love, someone who treats her as an equal with all the respect and courtesy she deserves. Sounds like a romance novel, right?
Or how about the employee who made a mistake and is blamed for costing the company a fortune, he gets fired on the spot. After a few tears, and maybe even a few drinks (not too many I hope), he decides to pick himself up and get out there again. So he pounds the pavement for a while and finally lands himself an incredible job and in the ideal world he gets to stay there a long time moving up the ladder. Another Hollywood movie of inspiration?
How about the young teenager who struggles with homework and freezes with every class quiz. Then a special teacher offers her extra help and she manages to pass the class and graduate with the rest of her peers. Maybe this is only a fairy tale we tell our kids to make them work harder?
These are all second chances, a do-over to hopefully get it right this time. Sometimes the changes we face in life may seem insurmountable, sometimes we really aren’t interested in moving on, maybe we feel too defeated or things happen that leave us totally scarred and afraid. Sometimes we can’t get past that feeling of failure, or maybe we are just too scared to try again.
But everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone deserves to feel happiness. None of us are infallible, that’s actually part of the beauty of being human.
If you have suffered a disappointment and are finding it hard to try again, or maybe even just go on, then please know that YOU deserve GOOD, you deserve to forgive yourself or others. The world would be far worse off without you in it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, counselors, your faith, or your own heart. We need you.
Don’t be afraid to grab that second chance — as many times as it takes.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Skeletons in the Closet


Since it’s the day before Halloween, I felt inspired to tell you two TRUE humorous stories about skeletons Hope these bring a smile to your lips

1975
I always loved Halloween, I loved the dressing up, the laughter, and of course, the bounty. (My dad always had to inspect the candy and then took his “fair” cut of the profits, LOL).
By the time I reached my teens many of my friends and I thought we were too old for such shenanigans, but I didn’t quite want to give it up. Each year my parents allowed me to decorate the apartment hallway so that when I opened the door to the kids, I was also in costume, they would get a thrill as well as a stuffed Trick-or-Treat bag. My prize decoration was when I hooked up a pulley so that as I opened the door a (paper) skeleton came flying down the hallway towards them. Their screams and laughter were so rewarding!
Each year I saved as many of the decorations as I could so that I didn’t have to spend too much each Halloween. When I met my husband-to-be (Mark) it was a whirlwind courtship and since I was always busy with my own brand of haunting, he never saw my creativeness on Halloween.
Early December, the year we got married, he was sitting in my bedroom while I packed my belongings to move into the apartment we rented to start our marriage in. Mark decided to joke around, we were still learning about each other.
He asked me, with a smirk on his face, “So, do you have any skeletons in the closet you should tell me about?”
I looked at him puzzled, I really didn’t think he was joking. Then I looked at my closed closet door and without a word I went over and opened it. He literally fell off of the bed laughing when the paper skeleton I had hung in there for safekeeping presented itself to him!
He married me anyway.

2019
I recently posted this story (again, TRUE) on my Facebook page
Mark and I were out today getting some errands done, on the way home I stopped and bought a cute little skeleton to use for a decoration on Halloween night.
I was in a goofy mood and sat the thing in the backseat with the seat-belt on. When we got home we drove up our very long driveway and pulled the car into the garage.
Still giddy I said "Ok kiddo, we're home!"
Mark says, "Who are you speaking to?"
I explained, "The skeleton I buckled in the backseat."
Mark starts shaking his head... just then we hear a voice behind us, "How ya' doing folks?"
Startled the #### out of Mark.
I turned around and we quickly realized that neither of us had heard the FedEx truck come up the driveway behind us!
The poor guy couldn't understand why we couldn't stop laughing.

Have a Happy and Fun Halloween!



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Deadline


Oh my, that word sounds so ominous! Dead… line, it almost sounds like “you will hang at dawn”. It is so final, just like there is nothing beyond. A deadline is a noun and according to Dictionary.com, there are three meanings to this formidable noun: “(1) the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something: a five o'clock deadline; (2) a line or limit that must not be passed; (3) (formerly) a boundary around a military prison beyond which a prisoner could not venture without risk of being shot by the guards.”

No wonder the term strikes fear in students, masses of office workers watching the clock, and writers. Missing that deadline could mean a failing grade, an angry boss, or a lost contract. Sometimes life interferes with the assigned deadlines, (a party, an emergency, an illness) but most times that won’t make a lick of difference to the person waiting for that finished product. “The dog ate my homework” just won’t work anymore. It’s truly anxiety producing.

As a creative sort, otherwise known as a freelance writer, I’ve learned the importance of deadlines. In all my years of professional writing I have truly only missed one deadline, I honestly can’t remember the reason why, but it certainly didn’t go well. Now creative people are not usually known for routine or well-controlled organization, but when it comes to a deadline, oh boy! In addition to my paid writing gigs I sometimes offer my services in a volunteer situation, and I treat these voluntary pacts the same way I do my business dealings, as professionally as I can muster.

This past week was a challenge on a voluntary gig. I had to wait for input from another individual who does not live by the golden rule of YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE DEADLINE. I am not sure what her business is but I do know that she controls her hours and her work output. So I finally got her input and set about to editing it and then placing it in the item that was due for publication just four days later. And I sent it (via email) to the next step, the person in charge of distribution — only that person, unbeknown to me, had a family event and was away for the weekend and so my finished work sat unattended. As the date of distribution came without any progress I do admit feeling some (minor) palpitations.

Now this was a challenge. I had no way of getting this item out to the people who were promised its receipt. What to do???? Well to make a probably boring long story short, I did manage to get the item posted on a substitute site and the item was emailed from another source a day late. I had posted an apology to those waiting for it and promised delivery as soon as possible. In the end it was no harm no foul, folks appreciated being kept in the loop as such. Within three days of the original deadline everything was back to normal and I got to breathe a sigh of relief.

Of course now I am sitting here wondering, just where did my once fun-loving, free-wheeling self go? And when did I become so rigid? I don’t want to have an anal personality! I am NOT reserved and meticulously neat. A long, long time ago a teenage boyfriend once dedicated the song Wild Thing to me and everyone agreed it fit. I’m fun-loving and wild and unpredictable… or so I thought.

Sigh, is this what it means to be a grownup?
..

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Seduction



Seduction is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to engage in a relationship, to lead astray,
as from duty, rectitude, or the like
;” (Wikipedia)


Although it’s often been used as a sexual-conquest tool seduction can also apply to so many aspects of our lives. Marketing gimmicks attempt to seduce the consumer, politicians seduce their followers into voting for them, realtors seduce their clients into homes beyond their budgets, and even some job hunters are seduced into taking relocating for jobs that sound a whole lot better on paper than reality. Seduction is a tease, a front of only selected facts which may be far from the whole truth. Seduction is a way to entice someone to do something they might not have if they had the full story in front of them.  



Most sexual seduction is NOT sexy — it’s one partner tempting the other to engage in sex based on promises and conditions that (intentionally) might not be accurate. Seduction is trickery. Please excuse the metaphor, but seduction is something a “snake-oil-salesman” would do. In the instances where seduction is used in a true romantic setting, it is a way of using sensuality to tempt, not lies and half-filled truths. The seduced comes out of the encounter feeling cheated. Sexual seduction has frequently been used in romance novels in very “hot” scenes in order to grab a reader’s imagination and interest. Seduction has also been used in instructional guides telling men AND women the various techniques they could use to “win” their way into bed with a partner. Face it, alluring is sexy, trickery is just a lie.

Television commercials try to seduce the viewer every 8-to-10 minutes: “Come buy this product”; your clothes will be so clean it’s almost as if you didn’t even have to wash them; how about the more blatant sexy female model who shows up to help you decide which soda machine to choose for your cola or the housewife who is bored by her husband’s sloppy loungewear while she eats yogurt and suddenly she is facing a very attractive male actor. The possibilities seem like dream come true, but they really aren’t.

Cynical or not, most politicians will tell their would-be constituents what they want to hear and not necessarily the truth (even if it is just a few unmentioned facts). Folks go off to the polls believing in what they heard only to find in later years exactly how much they were never told and may even regret being led astray from the “other guy” they had planned to vote for. And even that job offer you received that came with a salary at least 25-percent higher than what you earn now is certainly enticing, but what the offer fails to tell you is that the cost of living where you would have to relocate to is a minimum of 38-percent higher than where you are living now.

Be wary of being seduced. Don’t be coerced or shamed into doing anything you might not have considered. Truth is a heck of a lot sexier and certainly more rewarding than deception.