Saturday, December 27, 2014


I got a compliment last night that was totally unexpected.
I have a phone friend that I’ve known for about 10 years now. We occasionally see each other IRL, but mostly, it’s just on the phone. He is a bit of a hermit, no local friends except for me. But he is seriously One of the Good Guys. (No it’s not the slightest bit romantic, he really is just a friend.) 
He has traveled all over the world, especially in remote countries behind the former iron curtain where he spent time.  He never travels as a tourist but as a learner and listener.  He maintains a friendship via phone and e-mail with people all around the world. (He would hate for me to tell you, but there are several families that he helps financially, especially one in Lebanon.  He is not wealthy, he just believes in doing what he can)   
He was in Moscow shortly after the collapse of Communism and saw first-hand the devastation that happened because the USA did Not live up to it's promises to help.  He tells a story of an old man who was trying to sell his military ribbons of honor, just so he could eat.  He speaks of a Jewish woman and an Islamic man who fell in love, the horrors and the hatred they have faced because they live in the Middle East.  He knows a family in the Ukraine that has divided loyalties because of a mixed heritage.
Knowing all these folks, he has a unique perspective on what is going on in the rest of the world.
Anyway, despite all his sterling qualities, our relationship has pretty much been based on Arguing.  He is one of those folks who will take the other position, even when he actually agrees with you.   [facepalm]   
We mainly argue politics and he is terrifyingly bright (and very opinionated).  I am frequently at a disadvantage which we argue because of my Brain-fog (plus I get tired).    He makes no allowances whatsoever for my disabilities.  Bummer.

Anyway, last night out of the blue he said that he enjoys talking with me because My Logic is spot on and my Insights make him think. He likes that -- it’s just my facts that are wrong (!?!). ( he is mistaken about the facts thing. I have a good grasp of facts, he just doesn’t want to admit it because they weaken his arguments.  But of course, I Would say that.)
I was flabbergasted. 
He Never gives compliments (I think that’s the first one) and he always sounds like he thinks I am crazy when we argue. 
But my Logic is Spot On and my Insights are good.

I'm whelmed.

Like I said, he is one of the Good Guys.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mood Change

(Addams, scoping out one of the new folks)

Warning: Very Long Rant/Post ahead.  If you get bored, just skip over it.

This post is about my personal journey during the recent past.

Backstory:  A few days ago (ok, maybe a couple of weeks) I took a hard look at my life and attitude.  Lately I have been really angry and sad, mostly (almost entirely) at the fact that I am so isolated by the MM/CFS.  I have so few folks in my life.  I was beginning to be quite miserable and in a bad mood all the time.

It is no fun to be in a bad mood all the time.   I decided that something had to change.

BUT ------ I cannot change the fact that I am fairly bed-ridden.  I cannot change the fact that I can't do all the stuff I used to do.  I cannot change the fact that I don't have family or friends near me to care about.

So, what can I change?  The way I look at things.

 I decided to put away the image I have/had of myself as an outgoing, engaging person, surrounded by laughing people.   You see, I like having other people to think about, to care about.  I like hearing their stories and adventures.  I like having others around to talk with, to engage in discussions about how to accomplish stuff, or how to change the world for the better,  I love political discussions and religious philosophy sharing.  (You can maybe see why I truly loved being a minister)  And, I miss all that.  But that was the Old me.

Fortunately, I am an introvert (actually on the cusp between introvert and extrovert).  That does help. I do enjoy my own company.  And I have all the animals.  They are not so great on the discussion end of things, but they are pretty good at accepting love and caring.

So I decided to change my self-image.  No longer will I see myself as a poor, pathetic, bed-ridden, isolated person.  Instead, I shall see myself as a Hermit.  A Happy Hermit.  A Happy, Spiritually  Inspired Hermit, who gives herself over to the care and well-being of animals.  Someone who can listen to music all day, if need be.  Someone who is called to pay attention to the differences between the cats various personalities and the preferences of the dogs.  Someone who gets to watch the trees being kissed by the sun and the clear blue sky (it's always clear blue here) being a safe backdrop for the miracles below.  Someone who can indulge from time to time in expressing all this beauty and wonder in small works of Art.

Also, someone who does not have to deal with Bad Moods from other folks.  Someone who does not have to apologize for being happy, or laughing at how ridiculous she is from time to time.  Someone who lives in the NOW, because there is no other time.

And strangely enough.  That has worked -- much to my surprise!  It was as if my bad mood simply dissolved.   It just wasn't there any more.  I am calm, relaxed (even when the pain gets really annoying), and non-stressed.  This is my life and that's OK.  I can't save the world from my bed, but I can add to the over-all peacefulness.  And I am happy, calmly happy.   I wake up Happy, even when I am in pain (Lately my pain is between 4 and 7, so not a big deal).  And this has now lasted for well over a week, almost two weeks

Now, add onto this that I haven't taken my Zoloft for about a month or more (and before that it was getting quite sketchy, remembering to take it only about once a week or so) and no pain pills for a very long time.  This is not a chemically-induce euphoria.   It's just me, all by myself, just doing what I can.  I know this calm will not stay forever, but I can invite it to stay for as long as possible and invite it back frequently.

(an old picture of Fred and I)

Of course, no sooner had I decided all these things when I got a phone call.  My social worker had arranged for a non-profit group to some over and clean my yard.  Turns out they were from the Sheriff's Dept, volunteers working with at-risk youth.  3 adults and 7 kids showed up and cleaned my front and side yard.  They were lovely and I enjoyed them very much.  I talked with the head guy and asked him if he would be interested in letting me work with some of the kids, teaching them Art with polymer clay (I have so much extra of the stuff).  He was very interested and it may happen.  They have the facilities, I have the clay and tools.

After they left, I went back to thinking about how to be a Happy Hermit.  It was good, I liked it.  After all, a Hermit does not necessarily have to be totally isolated from other people, just does not seek them out.

Then the phone rang again.  Someone else was taking a van that night with lots of folks to look at the Christmas decorations that people put on their houses, would I like to tag along?  Sure!    We had a lovely time (my favorite was a home that had the house only partly decorated, with a life-size mock-up of the Grinch taking down the lights).  Towards the end of the ride, I was really sore and hurting from sitting up for so long (better part of an hour), but happy.  I didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil it for the others, but I did have to be helped back into my home.  Ah, well.  The next two days I really paid for it, but I tried to remember the lights and the decorations when it got too bad.  Took my mind somewhat off the pain.

Several days passed.  I was still happy and starting to get over the van ride.

Then, Joy of Joys, the  Half-cat changed her ways (Her name is Tabygail, BTW).  She is now a Full Cat, staying inside all the time except for outside potty breaks.  She still doesn't like to be where people are, because that is also where the dogs are, but at least I know she is safe.  And when I go into her room (it's the junk room), she looks up and purrs and jumps down onto the table and weaves around so that I will sit down and spend some serious petting time with her.  We both love that.

To add to my joy, at least 5 of the ferals came in the house and began to explore.  I left the french doors to the porch open (just a crack) to air out the place, and they took that as an invitation!  Charming lead the pack, followed by Blaze, Xena, Noddy and Scamp.  I think a couple of others may also have come in for a while.   Scamp was especially bold.  He is by far the friendliest of the group.  Scamp took one look at Fred, the Blind dog, and went over and Head Butted him!  Then Scamp started purring up against poor Fred who just stood there, not really knowing what to do.  I saw Fred's tail hesitantly and questioningly wag, just a a bit.  I tried very hard not to laugh out loud.  I didn't want to discourage the scene.

The ferals stayed around for over an hour, but Scamp decided to spend the night.  He was mostly a gentleman the entire time.  Yes, he did a lot of exploring, but he didn't knock too much stuff over, just a few CDs in their cases.  He kept on coming over to me to ask if it was OK he was inside.  I reassured him with pets.  He loved that.  I will be very glad when he finally learns how to use the Cat door.  But the night itself was surprisingly peaceful, what with all the new cats in town.

Then there was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I had no ride to church (my Christmas tradition is the midnight service with candles) so I stayed at home this year.  But I did get to feed the ferals late at night (an extra treat) and it was at that point that I fall into the dark welcoming sky, cats tangling around my legs.  It was pure bliss.  But Christmas Day had a surprise for this newly-minted Hermit.

I decided not to go to the movie on the actual day of Christmas (want to see "Into the Woods").  I wanted to spend the day around home, I can go another day for the movie.  So I lay back in bed, putting the finishing touches on some artwork, when the phone rang.  It was a friend from my polymer clay days (I used to be Very Active in the polymer clay community).  It was a delight to hear from her and we talked for about an hour and a half.  No sooner had I hung up with that conversation (My hand was still on the phone) when it rang again.  Long distance SKYPE call from Ireland.  Yes, It was a Sister of my Heart (not a blood relative, but Dearly Beloved) - who does not usually like to talk on the phone.  We chatted from around 11 AM (my time) until 4 pm.  (!!!?!!)  When we ere finished, I went to the bathroom.  Upon returning, I picked up the phone to return it to the charger -- but it rang again!  Another long-distance friend, another 2 hours.  Then I made a sandwich -- and the phone rang.  A Local friend, four and a half hours.  Finally I was finished.  Turned on a movie.  Before the opening credits were finished, another call.  Total? well over 15 hours on the phone!!!

So much for Hermiting.

Anyway, today I am back in Hermit mode, happy and content.  A quiet calm.  I intend to enjoy this mood while it is here.

I may take a nap.
(Addams, after a long night, hosting)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When I was 17, I stopped celebrating Christmas. I was really unhappy with all the THINGS and STUFF. It seemed to me that Christmas should not be about that. Christmas felt like a time to be Greedy and it was not a good feeling. So I stopped celebrating. No cards and no gifts. Oh, occasional cookies or fudge. I’d make those and share, but not the store explorations, not the money spent, not the grumpy hassle of unhappy crowds. None of that.
But then I went into the ministry.
Even a UU minister has to celebrate Christmas for the flock, so I had to figure out how to make it meaningful. It seems to me that when we celebrate the birthday of a person who was so exceptionally wise and peace-loving, that to put greed into the mix is unfortunate, at best. I respect Jesus and wanted to honor him in an appropriate way.
So my Christmas traditions became thus: I would put together a Christmas Eve service that contained Beauty and Hope – and lots of music and even some laughter. We would always end by turning out the lights in the church, then each person would have a candle that they would light from their neighbor’s candle as we sang ‘Silent Night’. And a final, soft Benediction of Peace.
After the service was over, I would walk out to my car, then stop, look up into the sky, and fall into it. The deep, dark welcoming sky, that has seen so many humans praying for Hope, for Peace. The prayers of the world, given to the sky, to whatever, whomever is listening, caring.
Then someone would call out “Merry Christmas” and there would be laughter and I would come back to the here and now.
But when I became so disabled five years ago, I had to give up the ministry –- which I dearly loved – and with it, the tradition of putting together the Christmas Eve service went by the wayside. I sorely missed it.
Having moved around so much, I live nowhere near friends or family, so Christmas has become a time to be alone.
You might think this is a bad thing, but it is not. For me, Christmas is a time for quiet celebration, for music and good cheer, love and peace. I live now with 3 dogs and 3 cats, plus a small herd of Ferals that I feed and have been taming. This means I am surrounded by love.
So tonight, when I was feeding the Ferals, I stopped for a moment. The cats were circling at my feet and rubbing my legs, saying “Thank you” for the food. I looked up and once again fell into the sky. The deep, dark, welcoming sky. The sky full of Prayers for Peace.
It is a Beautiful night and I am content.
My hope for each of us is a wonderful and sweet

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Feral Portrait: Prince Charming

Prince Charming is an incredibly beautiful cat.  He is basically cream colored with a very light dusting of gray stripes.  If he spends a lot of time in the sun, he does get darker, as this picture shows.  Without exception, everyone who sees him comments on how handsome he is.  In a fair world, he would be encouraged to breed simply because of his coloring.  But alas, this is the real world, where even stunning and wonderful cats may not find a home, so he was neutered at an early age.

Like many very beautiful people, Charming is rather shy.  He likes to hang out with his siblings in a basket located at the feeding site but humans are always kept at a respectful distance.  Long  after most kittens have gone their own way in the world, Charming has kept close contact with all four of his brothers and sisters, but he is especially close with the triplets.  He is almost always in the company of at least one of them.  He seems a good older brother to them, as they like him and seek him out.

He is most likely not a mighty hunter.  He plays with wind-driven leaves but has never gone for a bird while anyone was watching.

He is a pensive cat, often musing over the Fate of the World.  He has a lot of very serious thoughts as you can tell by the picture above.   He likes to stay around home, but has yet to come up on the porch.  Like his mother, Lil'Mama, he does not allow anyone the familiarity of petting him.  He stays clear of friendly hands, even at feeding time.

He has impeccable manners with other cats.  Unlike many of them, he does not bat felines away from his eating.  Rather, he will move aside and let older cats take over.  He will gladly share his diner with any of the triplets.  And he loves to curl up with his brothers and sisters in the basket or under the tree.

He is very contented.  There is reason to believe that as he ages, he will become a philosopher cat.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Feral Portrait: Pearl

As you can see, Pearl is a very sweet and sophisticated young lady.  She is from the same litter as Blaze, but she was not as quick as Blaze to trust me.  She politely stood back and watched Blaze for several months before she decided that I was safe to be around.   Now, she lets me pet her -- but not too much.   Pearl is very laid back and gives no one any trouble, most of the time.  I have seen her take a whack at some rude cat who might be muzzling in on her food, but she doesn't push others out of the way.  She waits for the most part for her turn.  However, once she has settled down to eat, she brooks no interference.

She is a solid Gray Tuxedo with no stripes except for a hint of stripes on her tail.  Her nose is a very dainty white.  She has two other siblings that look very much like her, except that Opal has a Black nose and Almost doesn't have a strait line down her nose, it is somewhat cock-eyed.  But as you can see below, Pearl is very refined.

Pearl has been inside the house at least once.  She is not the pushiest of cats, but she did look around a bit.   I think Adams might grow to like her.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Colony News

I will get to another feral profile, but first a minor update on the colony.

As you can see, most of the cats are either Black or Gray.  We only have one Yellow cat, no calicos or other coloring -- except for Prince Charming (More about him in an upcoming profile).  There are several different Tuxedo cats, both Gray and Black.  For the most part, they don't really look the same to me any more (OK, except for the triplets).  Naming them really helps to see their individuality.

Lately the colony seems to be shrinking.  I don't know if that is bad news or good news.  I used to feed around 28 or 29 twice a day.  But lately the numbers have been more around 22 or 23 twice a day with about 14 who also stop by to ask for a mid-day snack.  Sometimes they get it.

As to the shrinkage, I don't know if some cats are just moving on, or if they are getting adopted.  Or if they are running into foul play.  It could be any of those possibilities.  However, except for one very friendly kitten, it is not the friendly ones who are disappearing.  I can now pet all but about four or five of the cats.  

Several of them have decided that now that our cat-hating dog is gone, they are moving onto the porch or in the yard in various places.  Three of them came came into the house tonight (Yes, Blaze is one of the three)!  I left the door open for them, and they did come in and explore a little.   A couple of other cats look as if they may want to venture in the future, but they are still working up the courage to try.  Personally, I love it.  I love seeing the cats on the porch and I feel quite honored that some of them think my home may be a safe place for them.  It doesn't get terribly cold in this part of the world, but during the winter, nights can be very uncomfortable for those not used to the chill.  I will begin to build a few small shelters for the cats next week-end.  There is a place by my fence that has some boards leaning against it, like a lean-to.  I'm thinking of making a couple of real lean-tos to give them choices in shelter.  I am also hoping to get one of my sheds fixed up so that I can move my Mobility Scooter into it (like a garage) but also have a doorway or two for the cats to have shelter in there.

When on the porch, the cats weave in and around the dogs, with no fear and only a very little wariness about them.  Of course, two of the dogs are smaller than the cats and the third dog, Fred, is blind, but not stupid.  He knows better than to give grief to a cat he cannot see.

All in all, I am very pleased with the progress of my feline and canine family.  They are getting braver and I am honored by their trust.

The above is a picture of Chester and two of the Triplets down in front.  More Profiles to follow.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Feral Portrait: Lil Mama

Introducing Lil Mama

She is the mother of over half of the cats I now feed.  She is Very fertile.  Every 4 1/2 months, like clockwork, she produces another litter.  She is also very wary of traps or tricks that might end up getting her spayed.    She won't fall for anything.   Of all the cats I feed, she is the one I would most like to trap, and she is also the smartest when it comes to avoiding getting caught.  Alas, she is very intelligent and knows what to avoid.  She takes no chances and has a poor opinion of those who do.

She lives underneath the Mobile Home next door.  It keeps her fairly safe, since most dogs can't fit through the opening she uses.  She keeps her kittens hidden away until they are about 6 weeks old.  Then  slowly, you will see the new litter, poking out their ears first, big eyes on the new world.

Once her kittens are weaned, she brings them out to the feeding area and from then on, they are on their own.  She bats them away from her food, she hisses at anyone else (human or feline) who might come close to her.   She has NO interest in becoming tamed and keeps a healthy distance between herself and the world.   She is very good at setting boundaries.

She is a pretty little thing, the smallest of all the cats and very well-groomed.  She is also always in a  Bad Mood.   She is the personification of Grumpy.  She is perpetually mad at the world and all of us who are in it.  She tolerates no nonsense from the other cats and is not the slightest bit sentimental. Tiny though  she is, the other cats all respect her and give her lots of room.  No one ever tries to fight her for the food.  She gets what she wants.  Period. 

I have no idea how she manages to raise such wonderful  kittens who are so eager to be tamed.  Her children seem to have inherited her intelligence, but not her trust issues.   But to give her due, she is a survivor.  And she keeps her kittens safe while they are young.

I Will trap her and get her spayed.  I don't know how, but she is too darned fertile not to.  She will never forgive me, but  then, she doesn't like me much anyway.  After she is caught, she will still come around and get her food.  She is no dummy.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Feral Portrait: Blaze


This little lady is named Blaze, for the perfect marking on her forehead.   She deserves a better, more individual name, but I haven't thought of one yet.  She is by far and away my favorite of all the Ferals.

Blaze was the first of the wild cats to show up on my doorstep.  Slightly over two months old, she decided she wanted to live here with her two sisters and two brothers.  All of them are tuxedo kitties, one black like her and the other three solid gray tuxedos (no stripes).  Shortly after Blaze showed up, her mother followed the brood, but Blaze was the first.

Blaze is a talker.  She calls out when it is time to be fed.  She presses herself against the porch gate and reminds me that it's time.   And sometimes she gets lonely and calls me to come outside and keep her company.  I sit on the steps and we just spend time together.  She gets closer than her mother is comfortable with, but Blaze doesn't care.  She lives here, this is her home.  She seems to know she is safe and loved here.  She used to try to come up on the porch, but it wasn't a good idea when we had Sophie living here.  Now that Sophie is gone, I suspect Blaze will be coming back for another try at the porch.   

Sometimes Blaze just likes to call me to watch her fall asleep in the potted plants.  Sadly, I didn't start trying to tame the Ferals until recently, but Blaze was the first one that could be petted.  She wasn't sure it was a good idea at first, but she put up with it.  Now she understands that being petted is the price she must pay for her food, and she no longer seems to mind it.  If I had started sooner, she would be a lap cat.  She has an affectionate character and likes people, even though she still is a wild kitty.

If you take a good look at her face,  you will see that she has two small white markings just under her nose.  For all the world, they look like buck teeth.  But buck teeth are incongruous with her personality, because Blaze is a lady in every sense of the word.  Her manners are impeccable.  She waits for me to invite her before she eats.  She always looks at me as if to say 'Thank you',  both before and after each meal.

Yes, Blaze has been spayed.  She was the first with that, too.   I am hoping that when the weather turns cold, she will find that coming in our home is a pleasant thing to do.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feral Portrait: Chester


Feral Portrait:  

Currently, 23-28 feral cats show up twice a day on my front lawn to be fed and watered.  Some of them have begun to hang out there all the time, because it is a safe place with lots of good places for a kitty to make a home.  You might be interested in getting to know them,so here is one Feral Portrait.  More portraits will follow.


This handsome Tuxedo cat is named Chester.  Roughly 2/3 of the cats are tuxedos.  When Chester was born evidently there was a problem and he has a broken hind leg.  But he doesn't seem to care.  He runs and plays around freely.  He is named after the Character from 'Gunsmoke' who walked with a limp.

Our county (Kern County in California) no langer will accept Feral cats at the shelter.  Instead they have instigated a program of TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release back into the wild).  So far they have been doing this for about 13 months and have neutered over 2,100 Ferals.

Chester was taken in to be neutered in July of this year.  Sadly when he arrived, they took one look at him and said they would put him down humanely.  Why?  Because they only did shots and neutering, they did not have facilities to take care of broken legs, etc.  We grabbed him back and took him home.  
We live in a tiny mobile home park, one block long, only 31 spaces.  I live at the end of the block in a corner, so it is rather safe for Chester and the others.  Even though he is lame, he does just fine here.

Chester is close to being tame.  He can be petted (but not on the head) and when I go out to feed the cats, Chester weaves in and out of my legs.  He is a gentle cat.  Though he has not been neutered, he does not engage in fights nor does he bat away the kittens who come to eat.  He seems to be very friendly to the other cats.

He never misses a meal, but he also likes to lay about between meals as part of the decorations.  He seems to be the Grand Old Fellow who presides over the entire area.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Take what you like and leave the rest.

I don't know how I feel these days.  It's confusing.  Part of me feels like I am in an isolated place.  But that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's just that it would be nice to have someone to talk with, to share bits of my life, to share bots of theirs.  Ah, well.

Here's the latest update on my situation:

Last week, Sophie, the rescued dog, killed a cat.  It was horrible.  She was so proud of herself, but I was ready to get rid of her!  At first I thought it was one of our Feral kittens, but a nose count proved they were all well and present.  So whoever it was, was a stranger.  My heart still goes out to it, poor thing.   Now I have to figure out what I am going to do about Sophie.  This is a problem.

Poor Sophie was abandoned by her people when they moved out and left her chained to the mobile home. She mourned for them for over three months.  She was almost totally denuded of fur, since she was allergic to fleas and was flea-covered.  Her ears had been damaged by the chain on her neck and were poor little shriveled up appendages on her head.  She was cowering all the time and seemed to have no joy in her.

Well, she is beautiful now.  Full fur coat, no fleas, and I have been massaging her ears.  They will never return to normal, but at least they are no longer infected and painful.  Sophie has finally started trusting me and she takes very good care of Fred, the blind, diabetic dog.    She was also very good with the abandoned kitten we found.  (So why kill older kittens but nurture the younger ones?  I think it may be partly a case of wanting to chase anything that runs away.)  Anyway, what to do with Sophie and still keep all the cats safe?  I am NOT going to put her on a chain!  Period.  She had seven years of that with her former people.  Never again.  Right now she has the run of the house and a doggie-door that gives her full access to the fenced-in yard.  She deserves a Good Home with people who love her and other dogs to play with.  I just don't think I can provide that and still maintain a safe place for the Ferals.  One good thing, she does not even try to bother my house cats.  I think they may have swiped her with claws at one point, so she has respect for them.

The Ferals are doing well.  Several of them let me pet them a little when I feed them.  Two new kittens have joined the group.  They are very young, prolly around 6 weeks.  And they are very hungry.  One of them now lets me pet him.  This is the one that ran away at first because my eyes met his.  Scared the daylights out of him, but now he is beginning to get the idea that I am a friend, since I bring him food.  One of these days I will take a picture of all the Ferals eating and post it here for you to enjoy.

And my home.  Ah, my home.  Three weeks ago it was absolutely beautiful.  Homey, comfortable, inviting. Then someone (human) needed a home, so I cleared out the back room to make room, Looked through over 75 boxes (!), moved the furniture and a couple of walls.  Chaos in total.  For various reasons, it did not happen, but here I am now with the Chaos and furniture that cannot be moved back unless I take down some walls and then re-do them.  So, a different configuration is in order.  I figure that I can do it better this time, making all my art supplies accessible, not hidden behind things.  I will be switching out the desk and my bed in just a little while.  Then everything else can move at my leisure.

Finally, my health.  I survived the cancer.  The jury is still out on whether or not I shall survive the treatment.  Two weeks ago they had to stretch my throat so I could swallow. ( Man, that hurt!)  And I can swallow better now, but not freely.  Plus chewing is a challenge.  So I am drinking most of my meals, soups and protean drinks.  Smoothies hurt too much.  And I think I am still losing weight.  That makes over 80 pounds gone.  I am very slim now and none of my pants stay on unless they have belts or safety pins.

OK, that's enough of this.  I will type things later when life (or my stories)  are more interesting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

By Rev Byrd Tetzlaff
I do not mean to offend, take what you like and leave the rest

I have a question, and I would really like to hear your answer, so please do leave a message with your answer.   But first, let me set up the scene:

Imagine if you will, that you are getting a piece of mail.  It is a small package, about 2 inches by 3 inches by 4 inches.  You have no idea what it could be.  You have not bought anything recently that would shipped to you.  It is not your birthday or near any Holiday that would cause someone to send you something.  As you look at the package, it is clearly addressed to you, but there is no indication of who may have sent it to you.

Cautiously, you open it.  Inside is a beautifully wrapped tiny oil lamp – complete with a note.   The Note reads as follows:

    You have been chosen to receive this magic oil lamp, because it is believed that you will be able to use it wisely.  You will have three wishes to use as you wish – except, that one of those wishes must be entirely about and for yourself.  If none of your wishes qualify as being entirely for yourself, none of your wishes will come true.
    Also, you may not wish for more wishes or transfer any of your wishes to someone else or change the conditions of this lamp. 
    All of your wishes must be made within 24 hours of receiving this package.   When you have made your three wishes,  The lamp will disappear and go on to the next candidate.
    Good luck and Happy Wishing.

Now, as with many of you, I would wish for world peace, or an end to starvation among children.  I might wish for the planet to be saved from Global Warming or a cure be found for cancer.  All these are noble wishes and I’m sure each of you could come up with many more that are similar.

But what would you do for the wish that is only for you?  What would you wish?

Would you wish to win the lottery or to lose a certain number of pounds?  Would you wish to have naturally blond hair or to fall in love with someone worthy of you?  What would be your most cherished wish about/for yourself?  Please share.

I will leave my answer on here sometime later this week.

I promised you my answer.  Well, mine has to do with my sense of humor.  You see, for a very long time in my life, The people closest to me did not care for my sense of humor.  They would often get angry if I was cheerful when things were down.  Evidently they thought I wasn't taking life seriously enough.  And, good people-pleaser that I am, I would try not to make jokes or smile when they were in a bad mood.  Also, I didn't like getting hit.

But they are no longer in my life (I decided that I didn't need toxic folks to be with), so now I can smile and make off-center remarks.  But it is as if I have forgotten how to do that.

So, my wish would be that my sense of humor would return and that I would know how to apply it judiciously.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This not meant to hurt or offend, so take what you like and leave the rest.


It's a Beautiful Lazy Sunday morning.  After years and years of non-stop church-going, it is pleasant to just sit and be on a Sunday morning.  To feel the breezes, to hear the birds, to watch the feral cats sunning themselves after a full meal,  ah, Heaven.

I feed feral cats.  I didn't plan it, but it is truly against my religion and ethics to let someone suffer needlessly.  It is not the cat's fault that humans could not be responsible enough to have them or their parents neutered.   So far, over one third of these ferals are neutered or spayed.  The rest will be done as they can be caught.  In all, there are feral 14 cats, not counting the 3 house cats  (and 4 dogs) that also live here.

One cat in particular has my heart.  Her name is Blaze, because of the white Blaze of fur down her nose.  She is a lovely tuxedo cat with a white bib and stockings.  She first appeared on my front yard at the ripe old age of 3 months, along with three siblings.  They all have the same markings (tuxedo), but Blaze is black while the others are solid gray.  They are all semi-friendly.  They trust me to get very close to them, but not actually touch them.

Blaze is very personable.  She often calls to me to come out and sit on the steps.  She doesn't want food, she just wants company.  She likes it when I talk to her and she talks back.  I often imagine what she would have been like had she come inside when she was little.  She surely would have been a lap cat, involved in everything that was going on.  Her sisters and brother would have been on the bed, sleeping with us, but not quite as cuddly.

So what is it that makes one animal reach our hearts when others, just as lovable, do not make the same connection?    Once in a while, a dog or a cat, (or a rat or a bird) seems to look directly into our eyes and see who we are.  When that happens, if both parties are open, a connection can be made.  

I have seen people who ride horses, but the horse is merely a means to an end.  Then I have seen other people who seems one with their animals, who connect on a very fundamental and personal level.    That connection that some animals make, well, we humans can make those connections too.  We too, can look into the eyes of others, both human and non-human animals, and make our own connections.

I often wonder why there do not seem to be any classes or teachings on this?  It seems so fundamental, to look into the eyes of others, to make that connection.  Why do we not teach this in our schools, in our temples, in our homes?

We are all connected. We all live on this planet and share its resources.  It is we who choose what sort of place we live in.  Whether it is a place of lack and loneliness, or a place of abundance and connections, we decide.  

The more we reach out to others, the more Peace we create.  Peace.  Perhaps that might be the Ultimate Goal for us all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


"This is not meant to offend or convert anyone.
Take what you want and ignore the rest."
— Byrd 

SANDYby byrd tetzlaff

As she looked at the bright blue sky, Sandy wondered what on earth was happening to the weather. This time of year should be cold with snow on the ground. Instead, it was warm and balmy with a slight, friendly breeze.

Sandy suddenly needed to be outside for a while, so she decided now was a good time to clean out her small garden, getting it ready for Spring planting. She hurriedly changed into old clothes and shoes, then stepped out into the welcoming weather.

She felt a little frowsy, hair slightly unkempt and stretch pants, but no one would see her over the fence around her yard, so she proceeded to her tiny flower bed.

There was a time when she had turned heads, but these days it was no longer so. Age and weight had snuck up on her. Vaguely, she wondered how it happened that she had gotten so much extra bulk around her middle. She didn't remember it happening, but it must have, because her girth had become impressive.
It seemed a bit strange to feel bad about the fact that she had the good fortune to be able to afford getting larger. How many people throughout history had thought that large women were the height of beauty? Rubens, Rembrandt, and even Van Gogh had painted beautiful women that would have tipped the scales.

Sandy remembered the very first human representation of the Divine. The first time that humans had tried to depict God, they had chosen to do so with the form of a female: The Venus of Willendorf. She was not a slender playboy model. No, she was large beyond large, fecund, huge breasts and buttocks, rolls and rolls of fat around her middle. In her day, that Venus was the epitome of beauty.

As Sandy bent over to pick up various leaves and sticks from the garden bed, she noticed that her own middle was in the way. There was too much her. She couldn't bend over, instead she had to sit down and lean over.

She had to laugh at herself. It felt so silly to be sitting, legs outstretched, trying to clean out a flower bed.
Ruefully, she thought about the fact that recently, she had taken to buying sneakers that did not need to be tied, because it was difficult to bend over and reach the ties. Velcro was a real blessing.

Once, she was young and slender, moved easily and gracefully. Now she felt as if she was plopping wherever she went. It was very easy to slip into feeling bad about herself.

But Sandy had a secret weapon. Sandy had a sunny nature and a sense of humor. And, she had often played the Glad Game from Pollyanna. So maybe now was a good time to think positive things about being larger.

Sandy had a history of playing the Glad Game. When she was fourteen she had braces. She'd noticed that she was no longer expected to eat cooked spinach in public, since there was absolutely no way to clean the braces until she returned home.

When she first got her glasses, she had discovered they hid her crow's feet.

Now, it was time to look at the benefits of getting large.

Sandy noticed that she was now very huggable. Her grandchildren loved to put their arms around her and even sometimes bury their faces in her body. And she felt good to hold, no boney arms or elbows, rather, she was like a human Teddy Bear. That was nice.

She also gave very good hugs. Since her arms were well-padded, they felt comforting when cuddling a sniffling youngster.

Plus, she really liked the clothing for larger women. Slender women wore either very tight clothes, which were always uncomfortable, or else the cloth just hung on them. But larger women had mass and girth. The cloth could have patterns that you could see, rather than having the patterns and colors get lost in the folds. And many larger women choose to dress with splash.

Splash, that was a nice word. Slender women could dress with drama, not so larger women. Instead they had splash. Slender women did not have splash, so it evened out.

Jewelry was nicer, too. Now she could wear all sorts of jewelry, including nice dramatic pieces that before would have dwarfed her. Now they adorned her.

Sandy smiled at herself.

It's true, there were fewer men who looked at her. A lot fewer. But that was to the good. When she was young she had enjoyed the attention and it was great fun. But lately, it had become merely annoying. When she wanted to do her job, she didn't really want to be interrupted by someone flirting. Now, when a man talked to her, she knew he was really talking to her, not just flirting. Or, if he was flirting, he was probably much more worth taking time to flirt back to. She supposed that for many women, this aspect would not be a plus, but for her, it was all to the good.

She also noticed the women who talked with her. They were nicer and more caring people. The ones who ignored her were shallow and not folks she would want to know anyway. This was a very efficient way of weeding out the turkeys in her life.

Sandy inched herself over to another part of the flower bed and started cleaning out that area. The little garden was beginning to look good.

Sandy had noticed recently that she was now warmer. Sheer body mass had finally given her something she had never had before in her whole life: warm hands and feet! It was so nice to not be shivering all the time, wearing layers upon layers of sweaters just to keep her teeth from chattering.

In playing the Glad Game, sometimes the best things to be glad about were the silly stuff. The sillier the better.

For instance, Sandy had noticed recently that because her tummy was pushing itself out, her breasts were pushed up. That was nice, because her breasts were beginning to sag. But since the tummy was there, her breasts were held up a bit, like they had a shelf on which to rest. Comfy.

Age and weight had also given her something else she had never really had before: authority. When she spoke now at a meeting of the PTA or at church, folks listened. She wondered if it was because before she had been too small or young, therefore inexperienced. Now she had weight. She took up space. She was harder to ignore. Even when she was silent, she had presence.

Perhaps best of all, her husband (a carpenter) no longer expected her to help him carry heavy lumber.

Sandy smiled to herself as she pulled out the last of the old weeds from the flower bed. She enjoyed playing with her mind, looking at reality in a new light. She enjoyed laughing at herself and turning things upside down. She enjoyed finding good things about being fat.

When she was a little girl, she had seen young fighters doing an exhibition of Kung Fu. She had been told that the Martial Arts depended upon making your weakness into a positive and your opponent's strengths into a weakness. That is what she was doing now.

She was finding things which were considered to be less than wonderful and finding some positive aspects to them.

She didn't really want to be fat. Being plump would be nice, but all the way to fat was not so nice. She knew the health risks and some other aspects which were inconvenient at the very least.  But she knew herself, and when she felt bad about who she was, she had no energy or willpower to do anything about the situation.

So she smoothed the dirt with her hands, then smiled at her handiwork. She rolled slightly to one side to get her started on getting up. She smiled as she arose, thinking how nifty it was to have the extra padding on her bottom so that sitting on a bit of gravel no longer hurt quite so much.

She dusted off her hands and considered seriously going in the house to change into a nice, full walking skirt, one that made her feel feminine and flouncy. Then perhaps she would take a nice stroll around the block.

She felt very virtuous for even having such a thought and laughed out loud as she entered the house.

So Be It.