Friday, May 14, 2010

Photo of the day: Before Swine

I do have some real pearls. An anniversary gift from my first husband. I am so not a pearl person, but it was sweet of him nonetheless. These are fake. The best jewelry usually is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thank you. Go away.
Being a volunteer and being surrounded by other volunteers is an interesting experience. Sometimes I feel like I'm working harder now for no money than I ever worked for a paycheck. I get no benefits. No boost to the bank account. I get paid in purrs and those moments when a cat that normally bites you finally calms down and lets you get near.

The other payoff is being around the other people at the shelter.

There's a certain kind of kindness that is common in people who give of their time. And I don't mean that to sound egotistical, it's just an observation. My fellow volunteers are all in it for the same reasons. Because we love animals and because we want to help them. There are some retired people happy to be able to do what they love now that their working career is over. Some people on various forms of disability who struggle with the physical demands of the job but do it anyway. There are part-time workers and college students with a desire to do something worthwhile with their free time. Even a few full-time workers who find the time to do something good.

I'm kind of the weird one. The voluntarily unemployed. But then again not everyone is as lucky to have someone like Husband who is willing to support me both financially and emotionally.

The odd thing is that not everyone is likable. You find that you want to like them, because they're doing good, but it's impossible to like everyone and there are as many annoying people in volunteerism as anywhere else. There are some people who, when I seem them come in, I sort of say to myself "oh no....X is here." On the one hand you applaud them for their social conscience. On the other hand you want to turn and run because of their bad oral hygiene or boring stories. Thank you for giving of your time but if I have to hear about your freakishly adorable granddaughter one more time I'm going to zarf.

As with paying jobs, you don't get to pick your co-workers. And sometimes you just have to make the best of it. While most of the time we're going one-on-one with the animals, there are times when circumstances force you to team up. If someone asks you to help them socialize a bonded pair, for instance, you can hardly say "not even for the sake of these needy cats will I voluntarily put myself alone in a room with you and your iPhone full of pictures of Vermont." So you go. And you do your best to nod and say "yes, lovely tree....a lot like the last 15 trees" and you try to get their focus on the cats. And when it fails and you realize you're stuck there for 20 minutes, you wonder if it would be more bearable if you were getting paid for it.

God I love my job.
Photo of the day: The Old Scary Tree

Not that scary, but I like the shadow.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Photo of the day: In Memory of

My best friend Steve
December 17, 1963-May 12, 1995

I still miss you. And love you. I'll spill something on my shirt tonight in your memory.
Good Cat/Bad Cat
Cats are endlessly fascinating. And endlessly mysterious.

There are some cats that I've worked with for ages who, for one reason or another, will suddenly take a dislike to me and turn the visit into a Vaudeville sketch. We go from play and purring to something resembling one of those crazy Italian acrobatic acts where everyone is tripping over everyone else. You can almost hear the crazy music in the background.

It's like one day Cat X will say "oh, it's that nice lady with the catnip. I will sit in her lap to make her think I like her." And a few days later Cat X will say "I must assert my superiority over the two-footed creature. I shall unleash the claws of hell."

Of course the opposite happens as well. Some kitty notorious for it's gang signs and long rap sheet will greet me like something out of Bambi and little bluebirds will appear as the kitty will lean into me for affection.

Today I had both happen. One of the cats that is usually sweet, loving, and gentle was in no mood for attention today. Maybe it was kitty PMS. Maybe she had a flashback to Nam. Whatever the cause, I opened her cage and instead of being greeted with the expected welcoming meow and a stretch before walking over to me, she did her perfect imitation of a Halloween cut-out and gave forth with a hiss like a steam engine. I tried talking quietly to her, trying to calm her down, but she was having none of it. After about five minutes, I gave up. I knew it was best to leave her alone to try another day.

Later I approached, with understandable caution, a red cat noted for scratching and biting. This time I opened the cage and he came right to me. He leaned his head into my hand and instantly started purring. Naturally I looked around for the hidden camera, expecting at any moment for the cat to have its "a ha!" moment when he turned with fangs bared and divested me of two fingers.

But nope. No such thing. He was like an advertisement for Adopt-a-Cat. He was loving. He was playful. He purred. He snuggled into my chest like it was an ad for fabric softener. We had a long and lovely visit and when it was over, he licked my hand as if to say "thank you, human, you have made my day."

Cats. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo of the day: Bootsy

Our kitten nursery has only one resident at the moment. This is he. Bootsy, the most loved kitten on the planet. Three times a day as many as five volunteers gather to feed, snuggle, and generally fuss over this little guy. Luckily he loves all the attention.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother(less) Day
I am not a mother and I don't want to be.

I'd be a lousy mom. I'd be miserable and stressed and make the kid that way. I'd never sleep. I'd neglect Husband (whom I adore beyond words). I'd eat my young.

And yet everyone expects every woman to want kids.

Nope. No way. God forbid.

I have some wonderful friends who are wonderful mothers. And I stand in open-mouthed amazement at them because I couldn't do it. Nor do I have any desire to do so. Never did. Never played with baby dolls as a girl. Never wanted to hold anybody's baby. Hell, I didn't talk to my own nephew until he got into high school and could hold an intelligent conversation.

And yet rather than being applauded for recognizing that motherhood would be a disastrous choice for all concerned -- society views women who are childless by choice as being somehow selfish.'s not like the species is in any danger of dying out. Considering how many abused and neglected children there are in the world, it would probably be a better thing if more people decided never to breed.

So I'll reserve what little maternal instincts I have for Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) and the cats at the shelter. And while I won't have breakfast in bed or a homemade cup with "world's greatest mom" on it -- I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I have made absolutely, positively, the best decision to never, ever have kids.