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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Saturday night my wife and I made a plan.  We were going to get up early, go into town, make a quick stop at the Wild Life Rehab center to pick up some possums (so we could release them) and then spend the rest of the day doing nothing.  Imagine my surprise when Sunday morning rolled around and we were ready to leave before 10am.  That almost never happens, usually on Sunday morning we are just getting out of bed at 10am.

Whenever I put Sequoia in her kennel I always give her a treat, without fail when I open the kennel door she runs in ahead of me and waits for her treat which I put next to her water bowl on the deck of her dog house.  This day however, she ran immediately to the left side of the kennel, put her nose to the floor and stared intently at an old broken recliner that is sitting just outside her kennel, (which I keep meaning to take to the trash).  No problem, there must have been a chipmunk playing in the recliner.  I put her treat down and left the kennel, as I turned around to lock the kennel door I saw some movement at the base of the recliner.  I got on my hands and knees to make sure it was indeed a chipmunk.  Staring back at me was a little black nose with a white little ‘dash’ running down the critters forehead.  It took but a moment for my brain to catch up.  SKUNK!  I threw open the kennel door, grabbed a very reluctant to go husky who was in full hunting mode, and headed for the house.

Stop! Rewind.

Saturday night, after my wife and I made our plans we went to sleep only to be woken up at some ungodly hour to the horrific smell of skunk.  By woken up I mean my wife woke up to the horrific stink who then woke me up to ask how I could possibly sleep through such a horrific stench,  I, now awake, with tears streaming down my eyes could not possibly return to sleep.  My wife however was asleep two minutes later.

Back to the story.

Now what? obviously we can’t leave the dog in the kennel and we have to get the skunks to move on.  My wife calls our neighbour who not only volunteers for, but also sits on the board of directors for the Wildlife Rehab center.  While waiting for our neighbour to arrive I realize it is not one skunk under the chair, it is two. Wonderful.

Our neighbour comes over and amazingly, puts on a pair of gloves, picks up the skunks and places them in a carrier and heads for the woods.  Okay it is never that easy.  She gets the first one in the carrier without too much fuss the second one wraps its little body around her glove, bites at her thumb and sprays.  The neighbour takes a direct hit on the shoulder,  the stench is horrific but the deed is done and the skunks are in the carrier where my neighbour takes them deep into the woods.  Luckily my wife and I only got ‘residue’ spray.  A quick shower got the smell off, and the clothes, while outside at the moment will find their way into the wash and all will be well.

In the end we had a pretty good day, we had a very enjoyable brunch at Denny’s with our brave neighbour, who only slightly smelled of skunk, (seriously I didn’t smell anything).  We got our errands run, released some possums and still managed to spend some time relaxing. 

You just never know what a day will bring.

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Today celebrates my first guest poster and I am honoured that it is my mother who, through this example shows us that this is not just a small town, or a small country, but a small world.  So, take it away mom!

Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago, my daughter received a frozen turkey from her boss at Thanksgiving. That was the good news. The bad news was that it wasn’t Kosher and my home is.

After some consideration I decided to give it to my non-Jewish friend, Joni. She kept it frozen and made a scrumptious turkey dinner for Christmas and invited us. That bloomed into a tradition that still exists, even though she moved from Montreal to Kitchener Ontario.

Although we were friends prior to the turkey and often got together on a Saturday night, we always ate out.  Since that time, whenever a turkey was involved we were invited. We were not the only ones at the table. There was usually an assortment of interesting people there.

For instance, while still in Montreal, Joni and her husband, being skiers, shared a chalet in Stowe, Vermont for the winters with a bunch of other people from Canada and the U.S. who were skiers.

One day Joni called to invite us for turkey dinner as one of the people who shared the chalet, Ron from Washington, D.C, was in Montreal for the Tour de l’Ile, an annual bicycle race around the island of Montreal (I think it’s a race or marathon) and people come from all over to take part in it. Ron, Joni, her brother and the regular writer of this blog used to partake in the race. Anyhow, here we are all sitting around the table enjoying our dinner while Ron told us stories about his recent trip to Tibet. He went with a tour. They were at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and the guide asked if anyone was interested in climbing. He was. It turned out that only he and a couple from Montreal were fit enough to make the climb. He said the three of them became friendly being the only ones there and the fellow he befriended gave him his card and told him to call if he ever came to Montreal. I asked the person’s name.

“Oh, yah, right. How many people in Montreal, 2 million? I don’t think you know them.”

“You never know” I replied.

He took out the business card and handed it over to me.  I freaked. The person on the card was Irving, the son of my father’s close friend. My father and his friend were both custom tailors. They were part of a group that used to play gin rummy every week, often at our home. When I told Ron, he thought I was pulling his leg. But the best is yet to come. When my husband saw who it was, he said that the Irving’s father made his Bar Mitzvah  suit for him some fifty years ago, and he has a movie of his Bar Mitzvah* where at one point they are showing off the suit and show the label.

So before I even knew my husband we were connected. I did know that my father’s friend made his suit.

When my Dad was phoning the whole world to tell everyone his daughter was getting married and to who, his friend said, “What do mean, do I know them? I made his Bar Mitzvah suit for him!”

It’s a small world, after all!

*For those that may not know, a Bar Mitzvah is when a young Jewish boy (13yrs) is called upon the read from the Torah.  It is a right of passage where the boy becomes responsible for his  adherence to the laws, traditions and ethics of the religion. Before such time it is the responsibility of the parent.

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I don’t play a lot of jokes on people I think practical jokes are stupid, mean and usually don’t end well.  But in this instance I couldn’t help myself.

Back in my banking days a co-worker, (Kim) was given a betta (Siamese fighting fish) from one of our customers.  Kim kept the fish (who we will call ‘fish’) on her desk and grew quite attached.  One fateful day Kim asked me to look after Fish while she went on vacation.  I don’t know what came over me.  Two days before Kim was to come back to work I found a fish bowl exactly like Kim’s, I found the same blue gravel the same plant the same everything.  Then I got a fish, Kim’s fish was red, I purchased a blue one.  On the day of kim’s return I exchanged the red one with the blue one.  Kim went right to fish as I pretended to count the money in my teller drawer.  It took about 15 minutes before Kim came running across the bank;

“Brian what happened to Fish?”  

“Nothing, why? is everything okay?”

“He is blue!”

I didn’t really have a plan.  I figured she would assume Fish had died and I tried to cover it by replacing it with an imposter only I was too stupid to buy another red one.  But something in the way Kim looked and sounded told me that Kim thought it was still Fish, so…

Me, “Yeah, and?”

“When I left he was red!”

“Really? how long have you been gone, two weeks?”

“Brian, Fish was red! is there something wrong with him?”

Blink! “Uhm no, I thought he changed while you were still here, I guess he changed colour after you left.”

“He changed colour, why is he sick or is that normal?”

Now I have to be fair, Kim is an extremely intelligent woman and somebody I greatly respect.  Clearly however this was not her strong suit. “Kim, Fish is fine all Betta’s are blue I thought you knew that.  They start out red but turn blue almost overnight when they reach a certain age.”

I noticed that the rest of the tellers vanished into the vault, they obviously couldn’t keep it together as the conversation progressed, I also realized I had nowhere for this scenario to go and it had to come to an end.  Kim had bought the story hook line and sinker and the look of relief on her face was priceless.  But all I could think of was how to back out of the situation without making Kim look stupid. Making her look stupid was the furthest thing from my mind.  I figured she was going to be mad at me for trying to cover up the fact that Fish had died, I could live with that as Fish was fine but this reaction while even more funny, had the potential to cause some hurt feelings. 

“Fish is fine Kim”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure, wait one second I will prove fish is just fine.”

At which point I got the real fish and showed Kim.  The next line was spectacular.

“Brian! You also got a fish!”

“Well yes I guess I did, this however is your fish, the blue one your desk is an imposter”  There was a pregnant pause while Kim’s brain kicked into gear and the gales of laughter that came from her was music to my ears.  She laughed till the tears were pouring from her eyes, she saw it all,  she saw the funny part of the joke, she saw how stupid she must have sounded and how funny that must have been.  She took it the way it was given a humours, harmless joke among friends. 

I write this for a few reasons.  1) is I think it is funny.  2) I watched a YouTube video of a magician making a fool out of his audience and was reminded of why there are people who don’t like magicians.  To my magic friends, please respect your audience, they are there for you, shouldn’t you be there for them? 3) We would all be better off if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

By the end of the week each teller had a fish at their window.  We loved them, we looked after them made sure the bowls were always clean, they gave the bank a really nice atmosphere.  The customers loved them and the regulars would come in and check on each fish.  Some of the tellers allowed the customers to name the fish.  I however named mine ‘Stick’. People would ask me why his name was stick.  I just told them to think about it.  Usually as they were leaving the bank they would start to laugh.  They got it! ‘fish stick’

We had the fish for about 6 months or more when the powers that be told us we could not keep the fish at the bank.  We tried to fight the decision,  customers called the manager and district manager telling them how much they liked the fish, but those in power were not hearing any of it, and in the end we each took one home.  Stick, like all our pets became part of the family and lived for a good three years.  Today, a good four years after his passing my wife and I still fondly remember Stick.

 

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During my stay in the hospital I shared a room with MR. B. who happened to be the grandfather of one of my brother’s childhood friends.  Despite the difference in our age (about 40 years) we ended up having a great deal of fun.  We were both hospitalized for stomach issues, (although he had a few other things going on at the time) and we would cheer each other on every time one of us would pass gas because that is a sure sign that things were on the mend.  The passing gas that is, the cheering had nothing to do with getting better.

There was a period of two days that we had a burned out light bulb in our bathroom.  Why did it take two days?  That’s exactly what we wanted to know.  Turns out that the nurses were not allowed to change a light bulb so they referred the issue to maintenance who claimed that because it was a regular light bulb and not an incandescent bulb that it was an orderly’s responsibility, of course the orderly’s didn’t think that was correct and would refer it back to maintenance.  Mr. B and I wanted to see how long it would actually take so we were not about to change it ourselves, besides who needs a stinkin’ bathroom when you have a bedpan?  Mr. B’s grandson couldn’t let it go and stole a light bulb from somewhere and put it in our bathroom.  Otherwise I am sure 30 plus years later that bathroom would still be dark.  This is ironic when you understand that it was Mr. B’s grandson who used to steal street signs and decorate his room with them. 

Seeing the opportunity for something to amuse himself Mr. B would throw a ball of tissue on the floor to see how long it would stay there till somebody picked it up.  I couldn’t understand why he would always make sure and throw it directly across from his bed.  To be fair the tissue would only be on the floor a few hours before somebody picked it up, once it took three days because it was a long weekend.  Finally I had to ask:

 “Mr. B. why do you always throw the tissue to that particular spot?”

“Because I like to watch the nurse bend over and pick it up. I’m old, not dead”

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Friends of ours were having a yard sale in Milsburg so we loaded up the car with junk and headed on out in hopes to further our progress in getting rid of some crap good quality items that we don’t have any further use for.  And then there are the books. My wife manages to read about 2 or 3 books a week, so we always have a stockpile of books looking for a home.

Milesburg is one of those quaint little towns where everybody knows everybody. the church is located next to the gun shop, the houses are old and beautiful, and the volunteer fire department is the focal point of the town.   The annual yard sale is a community event that has more to do with the neighbours getting together then it does about getting rid of items and making money.  The people were very nice and if I had to move into a town,  it would be a town like Milesburg.  And while it was a long day with more physical labour then I’d normally like on a Saturday, we did have fun hanging out with our friends, meeting new people. 

Even though people kept asking me questions like ‘how are youins doin?’ and hearing an abundance of expressions like, ‘gorsh darn it’ we did manage to unload a mess of books and other assorted stuffs. 

I couldn’t help but walk around the town and look at other peoples wares, I was, to say the least, perplexed.  I found, (but did not buy).  One roller skate, broken and dirty toys, puzzles with missing box tops so there was no way to know what the picture was, a checker board without checkers, two basketballs (the inflated one was 2 dollars, broken Christmas decorations, a dog kennel without a door, a cane with the head of a snake in which the eyes lit up, oh and hidden inside the cane was a sword.  What made the sword cane interesting was the woman who purchased it for her 12-year-old boy who was tagging along behind, he also got a set of throwing knives.  Of course mom had a rather large and I’m assuming prison tattoo down her forearm.

There was a blanket on the ground with a bunch of stuffed animals on it.  They were free, many people let their dogs go through the pile and select a toy, it was really cute seeing the pit bull running down the sidewalk with the stuffed flower in its mouth that it had chosen.  The really cute puppy rottweiler had a hard time choosing but eventually settled on the purple bear.  Then there were the kids. I was horrified as parents watched these dogs, rooting around drooling over the toys and then letting their little kids play in the pile of stuffed animals and choose whatever they wanted.  You all know I’m all about animals, but this was a little much.

Both my wife and I had trouble talking to the guy with the black stumps in his mouth that we can only imagine were once teeth.  He was very nice and like us, he was remodeling his bedroom so we had a lot in common and had plenty to talk about.  Of course I couldn’t look at him.  I still see those little rotted black stumps when I close my eyes. 

Then again, who am I to judge?  I kind of wanted the sword cane.

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Many moons ago I attended (and yes graduated) from Dawson College in Quebec.  I won’t discuss the educational system in Quebec because it’s too long to explain.  Suffice it to say the province figured out how to keep young adults out of the job market for two more years, while being able to ‘track’ (for lack of a better word) students into different career paths.  The school system is not what I’m here to talk about.

My third day at Dawson I went to a creative writing class.  During this first class the teacher wanted us to break into pairs and we had to interview each other about our lives then take the information and turn it into a short composition which we had to read to the class.  In this way we would all get to know a bit about one another.  So the entire class was shuffling about breaking up into pairs and I just sat there.  I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t particularly want to know anybody.  I certainly didn’t want to interview anybody.  I was trying to figure out how to get to the door unobserved.  After a moment or two the teacher asked who did not have a partner.  Two people raised their hands.  George and Myself.  Turns out George and I had  a lot in common.  1) We had both been in the school for three days. 2) George was the first person I had spoken too since being in the school, and I was the first person George had spoken too since the first day of school.  3) Neither of us really wanted to be there. 4) Neither one of us were very talkative and didn’t have much to ask or respond to in our interview. 5) We pretty much agreed that the redhead a few seats down was incredibly easy on the eyes.

However we had to produce something so we interviewed each other.  Fifteen minutes later both interviews were done.  George brilliantly noted, “It is pretty sad when you can sum up your life in five minutes”

That is how I have felt these last few posts.  I have so much to draw on yet it is so hard to write,  so hard to come up with a topic.  Many nights I sit and worry about what I’m going to write next.  I don’t believe I’ve missed a Sunday or a Wednesday yet, but my wife will tell you it has come close.  Many a nights I sit in front of a blank page thinking,  “Forty Four years, there has to be something to write about.” 

In the past it has taken three days to write a post.  A few  moment to get the idea on the page, and then days to shape it into something.  Posts still take three days(ish) to write.  But now it is three days of thinking about what to write and then a panicked hour of writing to meet my self-imposed deadline.  I’ve been at this for about five months now.  Will I have the steam to continue?  I’m not so sure, but I shall continue to try.

Whatever happened to George?

A group of us at Dawson became friends (my ex-wife was one of those people, but thats another story) and we stayed friends throughout University and then some.  Sadly I lost track of all of them about twenty years ago, (my ex-wife about thirteen years ago).

What happened to the redhead?

Suzanne was part of that group of friends.  I was far to intimidated to ask her out, George did manage to sum up the courage and the two of them were together for many years.  They are both still good friends with each other but have moved on.

A few months ago I was able to locate George on Facebook and through him I was able to track down Suzanne. We exchanged a few emails caught up a little, they are both friends on my Facebook but that’s about it.   I don’t have much contact with either one of them.  But it is nice to know they are there.

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Dorian

In my twentieth post I said I couldn’t write about anything I was unable/unwilling to part with.  I’ve thought about posting this when I first contemplated blogging, forty-seven posts later, it has finally arrived.  If I have to be honest, I’m still not sure about how I feel about sharing this, and I don’t know why.

I can’t quite remember when or how Dorian entered our lives but my wife and I won’t forget him.  Dorian was a big grey monster of a cat.  My wife thought he was ugly, I thought of him more as a bruiser. He never came inside, he would allow you to pet him, but picking him up was out of the question. He would disappear for weeks at a time and just when you thought he was gone for good he would show up on the doorstep waiting for his plate of food.  We suspected (and years later confirmed) he belonged to a neighbor, but except for forcing him to come indoors we considered him one of ours.

Dorian had no front claws, but despite this disadvantage he was king of the roost.  Truth be told, the world belonged to Dorian, the rest of us just live here.  Sequoia, our 60 pound prey driven, animal hating husky treated Dorian with all due respect.  Often Sequoia would be on our porch (secured by her zipline) ‘asleep’ in her chair and Dorian would saunter up the porch.  Normally if a bird so much as lands on the rail Sequoia would be trying to snap at it.  Slow chipmunks/squirrels don’t survive Sequoia, other dogs, cats, possums, skunks, raccoons, turkeys (you name it) that tread on land that Sequoia thinks is hers (any property within her line of sight belongs to Sequoia) will suffer her wrath.  Dorian however was a slightly different matter.  Sequoia would pretend to be asleep as Dorian sashayed within easy reach but once he reached the door which just happens to be out of Sequoia’s zipline range, Sequoia would leap into action, fur standing on end, ears back, teeth bared, growling, snarling, straining at the end of her leash.  This happened too many times for it to be coincidence and more than once I caught Sequoia feigning sleep (one eye open watching Dorian) only to leap into action once the cat was out of range. Dorian on his part would look at Sequoia without a care in the world.

When Dorian showed up one evening limping, with an open wound on his leg we risked life and limb and shoved him snarling into a carrier and took him to the vet.  After we described the problem and the cat, the vet and vet tech put on the Kevlar gloves subdued Dorian and secured a muzzle in place which Dorian promptly bit through.  

Dorian supervised a great deal of our animal releases.  He would follow us into the woods, sit well back while we released our charges and then walked back to the house with us.  Dorian, secure in his position as King of the world was at heart, a gentle soul.

One day my wife was standing in front of the house watching Dorian walk away, when he reached the top of the driveway he stopped looked back at my wife and then moved on.  My wife told me that this was the last time we were going to see Dorian.  At the time I didn’t think much about it, of course we never saw him again.  We later learned that he did indeed live across the street.  His name was actually Smokey and he came home one day and for the first time stuck around the owner said Smokey was obviously ‘feeling his age’ then one day he left home and never came back.

I choose to believe that Dorian found a quiet spot in the woods, went to sleep peacefully and never woke up.  It would be just like him, making his own decisions in his own time and in his own way.  Whatever his finals days were I certainly miss that big ole’ bruiser.

Dorian EatingRelaxing

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Friday was a bad day.  I bent down to tie my shoe and my back went out.  During the week we hit temperatures of  80 degrees , Friday it was snowing  and the heating system took a dump.  In the end however, our problems were not so bad.  Bear, a dog that had been lost for 7 weeks was found, We called the repair guy and our heating system is up and running.  I went to the doctor on Saturday and I’m  now on Vicodine and Flexerol, (yes this is going to be a short post) and while my back still hurts it doesn’t seem to matter as much.  In trying times you just have to remember things could always be worse and you have to remember whats important.

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I was asked today how I dealt with stress.  My first thought? I just stuff it down till it’s a burning, churning boiling knot in my gut.  While I admit that does happen on occasion it is not my usual method or is it?  I suffer from Crohn’s and when I think about things that are unpleasant my stomach tends to hurt. For the most part I can tell when its a stress related kind of thing because I can usually will the pain away.  If it is something I’ve had to eat or simply the disease roaring its ugly head willing the pain away doesn’t work.

Lately I’ve been undergoing quite a bit of stress.  My stomach doesn’t hurt anymore then it usually does, but my jaw hurts each morning from clenching my teeth.  So how do I deal with stress?  The question alone is stressing me out.

Does blogging help?  I gave myself two rules when I started blogging, first no rants, second no blogging about work. I have failed on both counts, a few of my posts are metaphoric in nature and not only are they rants, they are rants about work.  It is strangely thrilling for me to tell a story from my life and have it ‘secretly’ mean something else.  I guess its true that the best place it hide something is in plain sight.

So, how do I handle stress? I do have a few techniques.

Breathing!

Many moons ago on the way to the hospital an EMT gave me some breathing techniques.  Just getting more oxygen into your lungs does a body good.  Secondly concentrating on the breathing allows you to focus on breathing and not on the pain.  It’s like a magic trick. When I get frustrated over a particular task, or when things start to come at me all at once I just stop, take a few breaths and bring everything into focus and only then do I continue with the task at hand. 

Hope/trust

At some point I just have to take a leap of faith and know that it will all work out.  I am not fond of flying. But I have hope that the pilot really doesn’t want to die either.   So I’ve shifted the responsiblity to the pilot, doesn’t mean we are not going down in flames but it does mean there is nothing I can do about it so why waste my time worrying over it, right?

I do have an underlying faith that one way or another everything is going to work out.  What other choice is there?

 Yes I know, it’s all so much easier said the done, but then again I have to ask, what other choice is there?

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In post Number Ten I said that the end can usually be found in the beginning.  No matter how much we learn, how much we do, how many changes we endure I am becoming more and more convinced that the above statement is true.  Of course I can’t know that for sure as I’m not yet at the end, possibly the middle because now and again I get a hankering for a shiny red car, but thats another story.  

 I was talking to my oldest friend the other day and it sparked the memory of  his cat Skippy.  I am happy to report that Skippy lived a very long and luxurious life.  

The year was early high school and on most days I could be found hanging out at Richard’s house.

As Rich and I were leaving school I looked down into some bushes and there sitting ever so quietly was the cutest little grey kitten. Never before had I seen something so adorable and so pathetic.  It was all grey except for a white patch on his chest and huge polydactyl paws, that is, he had an extra toe on each front foot, a massive head and a tiny body.   I picked him up and looked at Rich, we knew there was no way I could take him home, but Rich had that look in his eye, he already had a plan.  We carried the cat 3 miles to Richard’s house and Skippy to his credit only panicked once while we crossed a busy street.

Once we got home I realized the brilliant plan Richard devised was to carry the cat home and figure out the rest when we got there. Skippy gobbled down the milk and Kraft singles we gave him and then explored the house. We knew Richard’s mother was due home soon so we put the cat outside and put more cheese on the porch so he would know which house to hang around of course Skippy gobbled down the cheese (so no evidence was left) as we headed to our usual spot in the basement. Richard only knew he couldn’t let his mother know that we brought the cat home.  The plan quickly became the ‘cat? what cat?’ plan.

We heard the front door open.

“Boys, there is a little grey kitten at the front door do you know anything about it?” we both went running upstairs to see the kitten that we ‘had never seen before’ . “Mom can we keep it?” was Richard’s plea, and of course the answer was no but we were not allowed to just abandon it we had to find the owner, our task was first to knock on all the doors in the neighbourhood and to call the local paper and put an ad in the lost pets section. We did as we were told, picking up the cat and knocking on doors knowing that there was no way anybody in the area owned this kitten after all it was found 3 miles away.  But Richard’s mother was watching us from the porch so there was no getting around it. Nobody of course had ever seen the cat before.

We were allowed to bring the cat in but had to keep it in the garage. We called the paper and placed the ad just as Richards dad came home. I always had trouble understanding him because of his heavy german accent but he was able to make himself  very clear this time,  the cat was to stay in the garage and under no circumstances was that cat allowed any further into the house.

The following day was Saturday, as usual Rich and I got together at his house, imagine my surprise to find the cat in the basement not the garage. Richard’s father relented and allowed the cat into the basement, but in no way was that cat allowed upstairs. 

By Monday morning Skippy had a name,  Mr. that cat is not leaving the garage had named the cat but it was some german name that nobody could pronounce luckily we were able to change the name to Skippy (because Rich saw him chasing a squirrel but the kitten was not running, he was skipping)  Mr. That cat is not leaving the garage not only named the cat but was now allowing the cat to sleep on the bed and rule the house and pretty much claimed the cat as his own.  Richard’s mother had gone to the butcher to buy chicken livers for Skippy which from that day forwards always topped off his cat food.  It quickly became the norm for Skippy to peruse the people food and only after determining that it was not better than his food could we all eat in peace.

All those years ago I never even thought about animal rescue, I was much to busy just trying to survive high school. It is only a good twenty-five years and many rescue’s later that I realized Skippy was my first rescue.  And now animal rescue which I only got involved in 10 years ago has partially defined who I am today.

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