Healing Thoughts for Henry

July 5, 2009

Henry is the kitty of one of my dearest friends. I was there the day he was adopted. I adopted our Gustav the same day. Henry fell suddenly ill this week and it is not getting much better. I’m sure he would appreciate healing energy from all the cat lovers out there.

Get well soon, Mr. H.


A Hard Winter for Animals

December 16, 2008

Here is an article in the Globe that deals with the issue of shelters being overrun (and adoptions being down) due to the economy. This relates to my post just a few days ago about little ways that you can help shelters struggling during this time.

A Free Way to Help Others This Holiday Season

December 14, 2008

(Scroll down for bolded text to get to the gist of this message! And the free way to help…)

So, no-kill (and probably those that also euthanize animals) are being totally overrun in recent months. As people struggle to feed and care for the human members of their families and lose their homes, they are increasingly unable or unwilling to care for their animal companions. Donations are down to shelters. It is harder and hard to adopt cats and kittens OUT to families to make room for more (we have had four kittens since April that we cannot find suitable homes for). There is no room at the “inn” at all for many animals, but also no manger for them either. It is so difficult to watch for those that run and volunteer for these shelters that already operate on a shoestring budget and zillions of unpaid hours by people who really and truly give up big parts of a normal existence in order to care for abandoned animals. We do a little bit, but it is really quite little.

Of course, it is hard for many of us to give more money or time. But, for those that do Chrsitmas shopping online, there are ways to funnel a bit of money to these organizations. Animal Umbrella is a shelter in Revere, MA that kindly took three 15 year old cats from us that we rescued from a woman’s house who left town and left her five cats behind to freeze to death (you might remember reading about it a few years ago on this blog). We found a home for one of the kitties, kept for a year and a half Marisol the attack cat who was finally adopted by a kind and loving woman in New Hampshire who wanted to rescue an otherwise unrescuable kitty, and Animal Umbrella took J.R., Goldie and Mama Calico even though they were already truly overun by cats in a small area. Of course, you can imagine it is hard to find homes for very elderly cats. Someone from the shelter actually adopted them shortly after they moved in because they were so sweet.

Anyway, I realized that Animal Umbrella has a link to amazon.com on their website where they get a small percentage of all of our amazon purchases, and this is where we buy significant portions of our books (we buy a lot of books, as a student and professor) and we also buy many Christmas gifts here.

I bookmarked this link which automatically always links directly to amazon but with the code of the Animal Umbrella so they get some of (y)our purchases. So there is no extra work to do. Also, if you shop at other places online, you can register for igive here and part of your purchase price will go to Animal Umbrella. This lovely shelter operates on such a shoestring that seriously cents matter. So don’t think it doesn’t make a difference! This shelter is especially sweet in that they just can’t say no even if they are out of room. Which is sweet, but also causes a host of other challenges, so they are particularly in need of help.

If you feel like writing a check or gifting someone with a donation to a shelter, we volunteer for Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain, MA and this is another small shelter all-volunteer run (just like Animal Umbrella) that is truly amazing. The person who runs the shelter really has dedicated her life (and her house – she turned her house into a shelter when she married/moved in with her husband) to loving and saving cats.

You can send donations, litter coupons, litter, toys, cat medicine, towels, food, to: Second Chance Shelter, 675 VFW Parkway #266, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I have meant for a while to post something about Heifer International, and will do so soon enough. As you can tell from my lack of blogging, things have been a little hectic lately.

Happy Holidays, all! E

p.s. If you know of other good ways to “donate” without actually paying anything (i.e. clicking through or registering or whatever) feel free to leave in comments.

p.p.s. Isn’t is strange that wordpress spell check flags the word blogging as misspelled? You would think they would add that to the dictionary.

Something Nice (for a change)

September 30, 2008

With all the dire news about the economy and world, and me feeling really quite busy and a little bit overwhelmed with school and work, I am very pleased to sit here and hear our neighbors talking to our cats from their window to the cats in our window. They have just moved into the building next to us and it must not occur to them that we are home (or maybe they don’t care) because they keep going, “Meooowwwww! MEEEE-OOOOOW. Mew mew mew! Hey, there’s another one! Wow, how many cats are there in that house? MEOWWWWW. MEOWWWWW. Mew mew mew. Hey kitty kitty kitty. Meowwwwwww.” It is very cute. Our cats are super impressed.  Except Leo who is hiding. He is shy.

Now back to work.

Murray – April 2007-September 2008 –

September 1, 2008

He was very loved little cuddle bunny who very much enjoyed watching the foster kittens play, being groomed by his best friend Gustav the cat, and eating Papa Johns pizza and as many treats as he could get his paws on. He left us gently this evening at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston after looking at us and saying (with his eyes), “I’m ready to go, okay?” Wolfgang and I were with him as he felt gently to sleep.

The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.

September 1, 2008

And such is the case with the passing of our Murray. He still breathes shallowly, his little eyes opening just a slit every once in a while. But his time is here. I have written about him several times on here. He has been sick on and off for many months. We thought he might be better. But on Thursday he got much worse, very fast. Our vet tried some alternative treatments. But they merely perked him up for a few hours, until he descended back into that space between this world and the next. We hope he will pass gently on his own, comfortable in his little fuzzy bed, tucked in his favorite closet where he is happiest. But if he hangs on until tomorrow, we will gently take him to the vet and give him the help he needs to let go. I thought that I would be okay with it – sad, but not too sad, knowing that he has always been a bit weak and sickly, and that he would be far more comfortable in some world beyond this one. But instead I am just overwhelmed with sadness and wishing he could be better and it, well, it just hurts. Logic about how this is best for him and was partially expected doesn’t make it much better that my kitty is dying, and he is uncomfortable and, as a mostly feral cat, even less consolable than a regular sick cat.

My partner, Mr. Philospher, told me so ministerially and lovingly that the heart has reasons which reason does not know. It is so true. Our hearts so often just do their own thing, no matter what we tell them.

Such is this life of suffering and joy and struggle and hope.

May your passing be smooth and comfortable, sweet Murray. We love you.


Here is Murray just last week cuddling his favorite foster kitten, Juliet.

Thoughts and Pictures From Ohio

May 26, 2008

I’ve been in Ohio for a week visiting my parents on their farm (which they don’t actually farm), going to Arcanum Old Fashion Days where I used to run around every May with my best friend Katie chasing boys and trying to be cool, visiting the young men I mentor and their beautiful families, working at The Kettering Foundation, and thinking about and trying not to stress over my upcoming Regional Subcommittee on Candidacy Interview on June 2.

I loved the the country, the green, how slow life is, how easy it is to drive, how much space there is to prance around in my parents’ yard, how there are barns to explore if I want to, how you can smell the grass, how police and farmers always wave to you when you pass them on the road, how there are no jack hammers outside your window in the morning, and how I know all the streets and back roads and even how I know people at the grocery store even if I don’t really want to talk to them, introvert that I am.

I loved visiting my parents and being and adult and it being okay to extrapolate myself from family dynamics that you can’t extrapolate yourself from when you are 17.

I like how I can have a bon fire in the back yard and make smoores if the mood strikes.

I love how each tree is a tree I climbed, or how the barns are hideouts we made and adventures we had searching for secret passage ways and evidence of a crime we could solve (like Nancy Drew). Each back road all with their names that only seemed strange once college friends visited and told me so (Hogpath or Schnorf-Jones or Otterbein-Ithica or Dull Rd.) is a story, or a memory, or a home I used to visit of a childhood friend, or where so-and-so lived who married so-and-so.

All the memories are not good. But they are mine and taken together they are the first 17 years of my life. Corn stalks, and woods, and barns, and school mates, and religion and all of it. They are rich and dark and funny and sad and happy and complex. Like our lives.

I love the religious signs and radio stations, in a weird sort of way. I forgot how much more religious Ohio is than Massachusetts. I have documented some of them for you (along with other lovely pictures). My dream would be to make a book documenting this sort of thing, except that several of them have already been written/photographed.


This is an awesome looking coffee house in Arcanum (population 2,000). You know coffeehouses are main stream when Arcanum gets one.

This is my parents house from the back yard.

And this is the hole in the wall where the raccoons broke in through the attic, down into the walls and into the extra room upstairs. There are some legendary stories involving raccoons in our attic, a hand gun, my dad, an attacking Mama raccoon, and eight year old Elizabeth, but that, I shall save for another post.

This is Sugar Boy. He graciously allows my parents to live with him and feed him and attend to his every whim.

Their sister Priscilla did not want her picture taken until she looses a few pounds. She currently weighs 18 pounds.

This is Pablo, our foster kitten. Just before we left for Ohio, we lost his brother Logan and sister Maria – the first two kittens we have ever lost. Very hard. Especially for Wolfgang who doesn’t really believe in any sort of kitten afterlife. They were just too young to be away from their Mama (who apparently abandoned them, or was unable to attend to them for some reason) and they just couldn’t pull through. We almost lost Pablo, but he is doing quiet well now.

He is considering taking up blogging about his near-death experience and being abandoned by his mom. Either a blog or a memoir. He isn’t quite sure yet. Since he is only six weeks old, he figures he has a little time to decide.

That’s all from Ohio. And Somerville. For now.

Murray Seems Recovered

April 8, 2008

So, our little foster cat (likely to be permanent cat since really, who wants to adopt a cat with a history of an unknown neurological disorder that doesn’t like to be touched?) Murray has almost fully recovered from what we thought would be a terminal illness. You can read about his adventure here and here (and here) if you are so inclined. We took him to three doctors and no one had a very convincing explanation for what was happening. Except that it was neurological and it was getting worse. Poor little guy just laid in his little bed by the heater for over a month. But, we treated him with a homeopathic thing (which we were a little skeptical about – how could those three little tablets somehow heal a progressive neurological condition that was causing him not to be able to walk?). But, one week later, we noticed a marked improvement. Two months later he seems almost as good as new – maybe a little on the slow side but he was never the brightest bulb in the bunch. Although sometimes our alternative health vet seems a little just like “well, just keep and eye on [whatever cat is sick]” and just give them [fill in homeopathic remedy] thus far, we have fostered over 50 cats and kittens in five years and no one has died or had to have even a really expensive treatment. Phineas was the most expensive – he had to go to an eye specialist and other stuff for $500 (which, by the way, was covered by an animal loving reader of this blog!!!) and he ended up just fine and in a super loving home with only slight reduced vision. So three cheers for alternative medicine. Of course, can I prove that the homeopathic treatments work? No, but it does seem to correlate that within a week of the treatment the little cuddle monsters get better. For more information on alternative and complimentary veterinary medicine, please visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association,The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy or The Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. You can also find practitioners in your area on those sites.

Checking In: Congregations, Cats, Anti-Racism Class, etc.

February 28, 2008

Ah, school and work are setting in. I’m dying to jump into the conversation on Unitarian Universalist-identified people who are not part of congregations, the limits of Unitarian Univeralist congregationalism, the exciting possibilities for broadening our vision of what it means to be Unitarian Universalist, and the ways that this could expand our reach and ministry. Ms. Theologian links to the various posts here and also eloquently writes about why she is Unitarian Universalist but does not go to church. But, alas, I just don’t have the time to craft something worth putting out there – a lot of important things have already been said. (Come to think of it, I will refer readers to a 2006 post – A Congregationally Based Movement? On Community Ministry and the Work of Our Faith in the World – about my call to community ministry and how I struggle with how that fits into a congregationally-based movement. Slightly longer. Written in third person – why? I do not know. Maybe just how I was feeling that day….)

In other news, our cat Murray is hanging in there. He changes all the time. But seems to not be getting worse (as of the past two days – but who knows).

I am teaching OWL (a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum – Our Whole Lives) and loving it. I was never a huge fan of working with teens. Not so much that I was against it, but I just never understood how people could think it was so awesome. Not that I am clamoring to be a youth minister now, but I “get” it much better how one could consider that as a career option or long-term volunteer option. I’m sure all people who work with young people and really like it think that they are working with especially impressive teens, but I actually think it is true in my case. And my co-facilitator is great too.

I have started five posts relating to the sexual purity movement, a NYTimes article on meat, “the hard work of being a peaceful presence”, and the GA brou-ha-ha (as Philocrities put it) but none have gotten done enough that I want to put them out there. I guess I will just have to resign myself to things being slower while classes are going on and chiming in on discussions a little late in the game.

Speaking of classes, I am taking one called Racializing Whiteness with an excellent instructor who presents ideas, but does a great job of not making everyone feel guilty and horrible (which was my fear of what it would look like) and leaves room for the exploration of issues rather than preaching some sort of party line about the only and right way to be anti-racist (again, this was a fear of mine). I am learning a lot. And now fear less nervous of saying something “wrong” about anti-racism work, since it can be (lest we all forget the brown bag controversy last year) a sensitive subject in our denomination. I think it will help me be more anti-racist (or, framed more positively, more just) in my own life and inform (in a positive way) my ministry and scholarship. Somehow it is a huge relief to me that it is a really helpful and meaningful class and that we have room to learn and grow and grapple with hard questions.

That’s all for now.

p.s. I just read Chalice Chick’s reasons she does go to church. It is super-good. A great compliment to Ms. Theologian’s post about why she does not go to church.

So how is Murray?

February 19, 2008

One of my favorite and most faithful blog readers asked how our Murray is. I wrote about Murray, our sick kitty, here and here and so here is the update:

Things are not good, not much worse, and they are also not conclusive. No one can even tell us if cerebellar hypoplasia is progressive or not. Our theory is that if it happens in utero when the mama cat is sick or if she is given a distemper shot (and this seems to be the claim), and it causes lack of development of part of the brain of the kittens, that it seems impossible for that to somehow “kick in” at age nine months as it did with Murray. How did that part of his brain function the first nine months when he was walking just fine and then all of a sudden worsen in the matter of a week? So, our theory is that doctors and people on the internet (whose doctors have diagnosed their cats with cerebellar hypoplasia) tend to use cerebellar hypoplasia to refer to a range of neurological problems that cause similar symptoms when the actual causes are very varied and unknown. So one doctor says it is CH, our alternative doctor is sort of like “try this homeopathic medicine and see what happens” and none of the doctors has any suggestion about the next steps, short of trying various natural remedies or doing a $1200 MRI. We don’t feel up to (and the shelter also doesn’t think we should) try to get a third opinion given the already substantial costs and tests we have already run that all came back normal. He is declining slightly – his walk gets worse and he sometimes looks a little hunched over – but he also still eats well, gets up and hangs out, and spends a lot of time following our other cat Gustav around trying to get him to cuddle him. We still hope that he will plateau and be just fine. If he worsens a lot more, we may try to go to another vet. We hope that the homeopathic, natural stuff will start to work. Keep him in your thoughts.