Makes Me Happy Monday : My Bird Cage Jacket

This is my covered birdcage.

We bought the birds several years ago in November. I’ve wanted birds for ages. I knew they would be messy  and I put off buying them. But, they have been worth any extra work that they create.

They sing, sing, sing …. any time they are uncovered. Okay – their singing is more like chirping … and when life gets loud in our house, they actually squawk more than they chirp. But, I adore these guys.

We cover the cage at night with a thick, red tablecloth. It was available that first night having them home … and it has continued to keep them in the dark and quiet at night and in the early mornings.

To keep the cover in place, we just fold the cloth over itself on top and allow the bird food container to keep it in place.

It works.
And it’s ugly.

A few years ago, I was shopping downtown in one of my fav.o.rite stores
that was unfortunately going out of business,
when I spied some beautiful furniture upholstery samples.
Blue Magnolia was the place I went to buy presents … and an occasional splurge for myself.
They had the coolest items for sale … including a select few pieces of furniture.
Marked down for their going-out-of-business sale, I bought some of those samples for a quarter a piece.
I choose the earthy colors that I knew would fit in our home well,
with an idea that I would piece them together for a cover for our bird’s enclosure.

I had to remove the information label from the end of each sample.
Each one was around 2-3″ and I couldn’t afford to lose that much material from each sample.
I knew the job would be time-consuming,
which was surely part of the reason that I had put off this job for so long.
But, as I try to get to the root of my motivations lately,
I have also considered two other factors.
I probably put off doing the job
because I knew that the finished product would please me and only me.
Nobody else cares that we swaddle the birds in a red table-cloth at night.
But, I did. I hated the thing … probably because I had a vision for a more beautiful cover.
It somehow felt selfish to spend hours on something … that would only please me.
And the other reason that I put off starting the project was fear
that when I finished … it wouldn’t be “perfect” … it wouldn’t be “right” … it wouldn’t be “good enough.”
It wouldn’t be what I had envisioned.
Lastly, what if I had to seam-rip … over and over and over. There have been projects that have gone that way!
Oh, the frustration!

But, a week ago, I began the project. I seam-ripped labels off while I waited on carpool.
There was no way to sew around those grommets … and they would let in light if I left them on each sample.
They had to be removed, so I cut off edges creating nice, even squares
and pieced together squares while Joy serenaded me with her violin.
For several hours on Saturday and a few more on Sunday,
I sewed and fitted …

sewed and fitted.

There was no pattern, only the vision in my mind.

I prayed as I brought together pieces, edges and corners. Praise God, I only had to seam-rip one short seam during the entire building process.  My squares lined up well and they were just the right size so I only had about an inch of waste on each individual square.
And while nobody else will find pleasure at looking at my birdcage cover, I will.
It really makes me happy.

I’m so proud of how it turned out.
My corners are as true as I could dream.

The tabs matched up well so that the swing-front cloth door stays in place well when the cover is in place.

I even finished the edge with some trim that I had stashed away from some huge grab bag that I bought for $2 at a yard sale ages ago.

Would you just LOOK at that pattern on the far left bottom? *swoons* I just LOVE it!

The only thing I had to purchase for this project was velcro. It cost me $1.74 at Hancock. It was on sale … down from $3.49 for their Veterans Day Sale! Yay!

After years of looking at a frumpy red cloth draping their cage,
my sweet birdies have a beautiful jacket that was made just for them and their little house.
For less than $10. and several hours of focus, I was brave and attempted a project that I had put off for ages.

My Bird Cage Cover r.e.a.l.l.y  Makes Me Happy today.
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Dulcie … means “Sweet”

I have so few photos of her. Remember that she was afraid of cameras? That was probably rooted in the fact that they flash – like lightning – and she hated storms … probably, at least in part, because she spent at least a week (maybe two?) outside, on a plantation with a pack of wild dogs that took her in after she was abandoned.

 It was Fire Prevention week – the first week of October – in 2003 that she moved into our lives. We were on our way to a horse show when I got lost  on a country road … that turned into a dirt road … that turned into a dirt path. As we turned around to find another route to the show, she was there on the side of the road.

As we approached, she was encouraged. She got up and began to wag her tail. I wonder if her previous owner drove a van. She was certainly patiently waiting for their return … there in the wide open world, dirty, hungry and forlorn.

When I rolled down my window,
she heard my voice,
and cowered.
Mine was not the voice she had hoped to hear.

We decided that we would return with food after the horse show. If she was still there, we would try to rescue her.

We found the house nearest her stalwart spot and asked the gentleman in the yard if he knew anything about her. He told us that she had been in the area for over a week. She had taken up with a pack of wild dogs for a bit, but had been back out on the road … patiently waiting … for several days.  She had been abandoned.

It took us a while to earn her trust, but canned dog food and a make-shift noose-leash helped us grab her. She reluctantly got into the rear of the van.

We were as afraid of her as she was of us. She certainly wasn’t trained. She didn’t know the word “sit” at all and she was under the mistaken idea that the couch was for her comfort. But, she was a mild-tempered sweet dog.

And she did.not like to be left alone … at home … outside …. or even in a room. She shadowed us – especially me – for ages.

I searched high and low for her owners. I put out flyers and placed ads in the papers. I called the pound to leave her information. Then I began the arduous task of calling the local vets. One at a time, I called hoping to find that there was a family in search of her.

Surely … they were looking …. right?

It was around the tenth to fifteenth call that struck me a blow. The merciful woman at the vet’s office said,
“If you keep looking, you will probably eventually find her owner. But, you will be returning her to someone who does not want her and was not kind to her. You will be handing her back over to harm. If you have had her for three weeks, you need to consider her your own and drop the search. It is obvious that you care more about her than her previous owners did.”




We couldn’t call her Spot or Domino. She wasn’t an Oreo.
Who was she? She was so pleasant … so sweet.
We named her Dulcie, which comes from the latin root word dulcet …
which means “sweet” …  because she was.

When we found her, she was thin and tattered. She looked like she had the mange. A vet visit explained that she chewed off her hair in multiple places because she was overcome with irritation from fleas. She had a terrible cold and was frightfully fearful of us. She had wounds on the back of her neck where she’d been bitten by the other dogs. She had a rear leg scar that proved that she was once hit by a car. And she had heart worms. And she was probably around three or four years old when we found her.

It took a lot of work to help her become healthy and happy. It took months and months to keep her off the couch. And I still remember her following me upstairs or to the back of the house for a year or more after we rescued her. She couldn’t stand the thought of … being left.

She was gentle and calm. She was expressive and protective.
And she was incredibly grateful that she was ours.

Off and on for years, before going to bed, I would stop at her bed
and place my head on her neck and tell her how much I loved her.
And she responded so sweetly … with little agreeable moans
as if to say, “I love you, too, Mom.”

She fretted when we packed the vehicle for a trip. She knew was preparing to leave. She hated to be left behind. She often went on trips with us. But, not always. When I would load the van in preparation to leave, she would take it upon herself to find a travel spot …
in hopes that she would be included.
It always broke my heart if I knew I would have to ask her to step out before closing the doors.

The last trip that she went on was this past year during spring break. Stone and Jet adored Dulcie and were happy for us to bring her along to Atlanta. We spent a few days on Lake Lanier with my sweet friends, the Baskins, as well. This is the last trip photo that I have of her. She had followed me out onto a tiny portion of a deck and found a sunny spot to wait for me while I snapped photos of the lake from that wonderful vantage point. She was right under my feet … where she was most content.

This past year, she had a few accidents on the floor. Sometimes, her joints would lock up when she got off her bed and she would fall. I watched her think herself youthful and jump with enthusiasm from a few steps too high on the deck down to the ground. A few times, her legs splayed out from under her. I was fearful that she might injure herself. And that she did.

Several months ago, she began to wince and cry out in pain while standing beside me at the dining table. Within a day, I realized that this was not something that would quickly heal away. A vet visit with x-rays pointed to a slipped disc between the shoulder blades. That made sense. That would be the point that would take the impact when she did those adventurous jumps to the ground. Surgery for a dog of unknown age that was already having joint trouble was out of the question. Drugs and rest would be the best route.

She seemed to be improving for several days, but took a downward turn the following weekend. I was out-of-town at a weekend bike ride so the big kids were in charge of her care. I truly see this as God’s merciful intervention.

During the week while I was home, I had this gut feeling that things weren’t going to get back to a “healthy normal.”  I told all three of the children that they should love on Dulcie. I told them that she was not young and that she might not fully recover.

I don’t think they believed me.

But, while I was gone, they had to call the vet again. Her pain was escalating to a fearful level. Glory and James were both in tears. But, I had to let them handle things. They called the vet. They got a new medication. Through their having to be responsible for her, they were so much more sympathetic to her … and in the end knew that this was much more serious than it had originally appeared to them.

But, on Friday night, I had to travel home. She couldn’t find comfort. She was crying out in pain while lying still on the floor. The pain had even made her vomit. She hadn’t eaten her food. She hadn’t had a drink most of the day. She wouldn’t go outside to pee. She couldn’t get comfortable. All she could do was lie there and cry in pain.

I made the hour and a half long trip home. When I got there, she was trembling and panting on my bedroom floor. She wanted to get up and greet me .. but couldn’t.  I stretched out on the floor and laid her head across my thigh. We covered her with her blanket and just sat there still, petting her and telling her we loved her. I called Joy so that she could come home from her daddy’s to tell Dulcie good-bye. Glory came over from her apartment, as well. James was already there.

I didn’t think I could lift her without hurting her
to take her to the vet.
Our incredible vet
actually made a house call
at 11:30 pm on a Friday night .. to put her to sleep.

And in that still, quiet night
in the comfort of my bedroom,
without even a whimper
she took her last deep breath.
She didn’t flinch.
She didn’t gasp.
She just laid there sweet and pleasant
and left us
and her pain.

I miss her so.

Someone stole my jon boat

I’ve been having a really hard time getting to sleep the last few weeks. Some nights, I get to sleep on time but then wake up to *blink blink blink* at the ceiling in the darkness for several hours before I am able to settle back down.

At 12:15 am last night, I was proud to be sleeping soundly when I heard someone dragging a jon boat around the end of the house. I wondered how they would hoist it up over the fence … unless of course, there were two thieves working in cohorts. Had they looked closely?  The chain link fence on this end of the house has no gate. As my ears honed in on the flexing metal, I realized that we were finally receiving some much-needed rain. HA! The burglar is getting soaked while he plunders.

I listened intently and tried to figure out EXACTLY what was happening outside. Knowing that we HAVE no jon boat to steal, I decided to open my bedroom door and meet this rustler face-to-face so I could see what he really was attempting to gain on the sly.

All that racket?  …. with flashlight in hand and hood pulled up over her ponytail, ’twas my oldest girl/child. She was coming out from under the crawl space of the house (which has an unwieldy metal entry door that is almost DIRECTLY underneath my bed) digging out cat care items … litter box and cat carrier type. Not knowing I was there, she jumped with a startle when I asked, “WHAT are you doing!!??”  She handed me the maglite and asked me to illuminate the metal door while she tried to wrestle it into place. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that a big, black roach was teetering on the brickwork eighteen inches above her head. “Okay,” I agreed while I bit my lip and prayed that roach would stay put. If the neighbors weren’t awake, they certainly would be when she screamed and ran through the yard in the rain. And I wondered just how long it would be before a clap of thunder set off the neighbor’s car alarm which would simply add dimension to the wonder of the night.

You KNOW the girl wants to take a cat badly if she’ll brave RAIN
(which is accompanied by thunder and lightning- her trembling fear)
at midnight
when Palmetto bugs crawl down from the tree crevices and explore the world
in order to retrieve a pet carrier.

Glory moved out about a year ago. She lived with two girls who were sisters. Just as much as she enjoyed living with them in the beginning, she struggled in the end. One sister is a great deal like Glory, in my opinion (doesn’t mind telling people what to do – a wonderful quality … but doesn’t work well when there are two trying to fill that role) and the other is … well … Glory affectionately called the other room-mate her “Five year old BFF room-mate” for quite a while. She’s incredibly silly and fun. She’s quirky and But, just as deep as their gregarious endearment for each other, their contempt for each other was the same when they disagreed.

After the girls had been living together for a bit, Glory took Brier to live at the apartment. She’s been very fond of Brier since Brier first came to live with us. And Brier is pretty low maintenance. She has no front claws so she doesn’t hurt furniture. She’s very laid back. There is no issue with spilling, digging or making messes. She’s a sleeper and a lover. BUT, she has some odd intestinal issues. When she’s fed cheap cat food, she will vomit. And she can’t have any kind of “people” food – especially milk.  And evidently, her stomach acts up when she’s under stress.

Not long after Brier went to live with the girls, the Five Year Old BFF got a kitten. My understanding is that the kitten … acted very much like …  a kitten. He was rambunctious and quite the teaser. He was notorious for knocking over glasses of any  beverage. He plundered and played. He was … acting his age and species.

Brier began to eat the kitten food and then had some stomach issues. She threw up several times … even in the roommate’s room.  This caused the room-mate to fall into a tail spin.

So, late one evening, after being cussed out by text message by the kitten’s mom, Glory came in with Brier in her arms …. sobbing the tears of a brokenhearted mom. She said the stress was too much and she couldn’t take it any more. Glory hated the room-mates kitten and the room mated hated Brier. I’m proud of Glory. She took the high road and brought Brier back home.

Strangely enough, Brier hasn’t thrown up since that day.

….. fast forward ….

A few weeks ago, Glory moved into a new apartment. She has one room-mate, which, in my humble opinion, is always better than two. When Glory was growing up, my rule was (per Dee Brestin’s advice in the wonderful book Friendships of Women) “one – OR – three or more.”  We would never have TWO girls over to play with Glory because there would ALWAYS be one girl left out. It’s the way we are built, we women. We cling. We gravitate. We group. And when there are three girls in a group, there is one left out.

Glory’s new room-mate, River, has been off on a trip. While she has been away, Glory has been lonely (being the social chicka that she is).  With a thunderstorm overhead, she decided she needed to swing by after work to pick up her girl and all the cat products necessary to do a dry run at the new apartment. She’s hoping and praying that River and Brier will hit it off well.

And, frankly, so am I. I love Brier … but Glory loves her more. I hope things will be good at the new apartment.

And I hope nobody else tries to steal my jon boat
because late night thievery is quiet unsettling ….
especially when getting to sleep in the first place
has been a real challenge.

The Well Trained Mind

It is definitely a ritual.
He knows the distinct sound of a spoon against a bowl.
The ting of a fork on a dinner plate doesn’t work.
The combination is important: spoon … bowl.

If he’s napping on a bed in the back of the house,
by the time the bowl is empty … he is there.
If he is in James’ room, he ambles out to the kitchen.
If he’s been let out and hears a bowl,
he will find a window and peer in, hoping to catch someone’s eye.

Yes, he shows up before the berries
with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt are all eaten.
He comes around before the last spoon of ice cream is gone.
In fact, when cereal is involved … oh!
He knows the sound of the tinkle of o’s or flakes hitting the bowl.
He’s usually close-by BEFORE the milk is poured.

And I only give him a tiny bit of a treat.
Always a milk product …
always sweet …
and never more than a teaspoon of cereal milk.
And he’s only really “licking the bowl” of ice cream.
Really, he just receives dregs … he doesn’t need much more.
But he’s very grateful.
Even to lick the bowl
is a treat.

We’ve never, ever fed our pets from the table.
I especially dislike a dog who begs.
They’re so much more boisterous
than a cat. And even Smudge is a gentleman
as he waits.

Smudge doesn’t meow. He doesn’t rub on your leg.
He doesn’t crawl into your lap or make a big scene.
He simply waits … still …silent … patient.

For years and years, Smudge was called James’ cat.
James has become angry with me.
He says I am spoiling his cat.
He says I have taught the feline to beg.
I disagree.
I say, he’s simply “Well Trained.”

And that’s a good thing isn’t it?

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

Oh, that I would be so well-trained …
that I would know well when my Heavenly Father
has the intention of sharing a treat with me …
that I might be so attentive …
that I might be listening so well
that I might quickly make a way
from the farthest corner of my life
to be there at His side

I really love this little guy.
And he knows it.

And HE
really loves to lick the ice cream bowl
and I know it.
I think we make a pretty good team.

Oh, that I would fully grasp how much my Heavenly Father loves me
and always be watching, listening and waiting
for the treats He has to share with me.

Tearing down the House

This boat looks safe, now doesn’t it? Inviting even? Clean and colorful … and off the ground.

And with a little fortress … a door of sorts …. to protect from predators?
They would live tucked away and dry
with the seat of the kayak blocking the entrance
to their world.
They could raise their sweet little family in safety.

But, I know better.

I spied them yesterday … busy, busy little House Wrens.
They were back and forth with sticks, pecan blooms, pine needles and leaves.
I’m amazed that they work together …
so many mothers in this world build the house alone.
But, he was there, as spry and quick as she.

(one on the corner near the roof line and the other on a limb of the tree behind)

They were quick to load that boat with the frame-work of home
and just as quickly, she’ll settle in and sit
waiting to lay down those speckled eggs of brown
spotted and mottled
camouflaged and still.

I’m trying to make that difficult decision. Do I put up a sign so the neighbor boy won’t come over and toss them upside down, unknowingly. Upon occasion, he borrows the boats. I’ve told him to help himself.
What if he wants to paddle … now?
Do I leave the nest and simply try to protect the lives inside?
I can do my best to shoo away my furry folk … but my best will surely fail.
Do I, with a single swoop, ravage all of their hard work … that sweet mama and daddy?
Should I tumble their nest away that they might begin again somewhere else?
Would it be better to cause them extra work now
(of building another nest in a more suitable spot),
or leave them be knowing they are in danger?
Surely, they will have more energy to build another aerie
before her little body can build no more
and eggs must be laid?
Ahh … but I remove her home, am I also removing the chance for a lesson well learned?
That a nest out of harm’s way must be in a different sort of safe place?
But, how different? I just wouldn’t know. I only know

And my kit cats can climb. I know the song of feathered babies crying out to mama,
“Feed me! Feed me!” will alert my furried bodied felines.
Those little feathered babes
won’t stand a chance.

I think of my own children. Do I step in and rescue them from harm
when there are valuable lessons to be learned?
Do I let them place their treasures
in unstable areas
that give an appearance of safety, beauty and comfort?
And where is the line drawn … between allowing a fall that a lesson be learned
and being a negligent or uncaring parent?

And me?
My Heavenly Father …
knew where my path would take me.
I’d like to think that He allowed me to build my nest
in the place that I did
knowing that I would be a stronger person
for having past knowledge
and going through the motions
of rebuilding – flexing muscles,
measuring, planning and evaluating
when I found that the nest I crafted
was tumbled to the ground.

While I believe it may be better to move the beginnings of this little nest
so the wrens will begin to rebuild some place safer,
I am not fully sure that I have the heart to move this little stack of twigs and leaves.
I wonder how much MORE difficult it is for our Heavenly Father
who knows all and sees all
to sit back and watch us make our messes?
There are times I am thoroughly thankful
for my limited view and small degree of understanding.

The Price We Pay

Feathers lay on the hardwood planks
in blue and white or striped
not unlike leaves under a tree in autumn.

When I began to toy around with the idea of bringing home a pair of feathered friends,
the thought of cleaning up their mess
or being irritated by their song at times inappropriate
made me put off taking the plunge to visit the local pet aviary.

But, here we are, a year later, having learned that this sweet couple remains quiet
as long as their cage is covered, so noise is not an issue at all.

The mess … well ….. that’s another story.

When we first brought these two home, it was near Thanksgiving.
They were extremely quiet and still for the first few weeks.
But, they slowly warmed up to us and now we all know what to expect.

I cover their cage when I go to bed around 8:30 pm.
It is uncovered in the morning by sweet Joy around 7:30 am.
She changes their water and gives them fresh food every morning.
We clean their cage once every week or so.
When we clean their cage,  we take them out
and let them F L Y around the house for about fifteen to thirty minutes.
(No, they don’t “poop on everything.”  We’ve only been given that gift
once that I saw … and it was about the size …. of ……
let’s see …….. something universally known ….maybe a sugar ant?
It was tiny.)

When they first came home they hardly dropped a feather.

But, oh, dear spring!

With the lengthening of days,
they are active.
Rocket is serenading this girl, Zana.
He bobs his head and feeds her.
He dances and sings …. and sings …. and sings.
He flies about. He preens her lovingly.
And feathers, they are a-flying.

And they are cleaning their plate.
We have added 50% more food to their bowl each morn
because they are eating more.
Will we get to see them bathe soon?
We haven’t been given this treat yet.
In fact, I don’t understand how they haven’t dehydrated … shriveled up and died.
I’ve only seen them at the water bowl … four times? ….  since bringing them here.

All this activity has …..
well, like toddlers in the house,
it has made a mess.
Today I saw sweet feathers on the hutch right beside the cage,
I thought   … “This is the price we pay.”

And it’s true, isn’t it? Everything has a price ….
every thought … word and action.

I guess my most concerting question is
Do I cost more than I am worth?
Do my words uplift? And do well?
Am I a positive influence on those around me?
Do I  speak words of life and encouragement?
Or do I leave a conversation
with feathers scattered about on the floor ….
a mess that someone else must clean up?
Are my actions helpful? Do I use my energies in a way that blesses others?
Or do others have to come behind me
to sweet up the debris of my visit?
And even my thoughts? Do they keep me focused on
the giver of Life? … the Strength that I need? … the One who is Love?
Or are my thoughts full of babble … and condemnation?

Joy and I made the decision to bring these
delicate, winged beauties into our home.
And, yes, there is a price we must pay for their presence.
I believe that the blessing of their presence in our lives
well outweighs the cost of the action of their care.

I just pray that my presence in the lives of others
is also worth the effort that is required to upkeep that relationship.

Blessing in disguise?

I don’t know why I have this fascination with Brier.  I’ve written about her a few times before. You could read here and here, if you’d like.  She’s my dear friend, Heather’s, feline.  She’s with us for a bit, until I can make my way to Virginia to return her to her rightful family.

She’s kindof a quirky thing – but most living beings are, aren’t they?

She sleeps on high places, rather than the floor or comfy furniture.  We’ve decided this is because her home is filled with little hands that can reach the lower places.  Crawlers and scooters are on the floors and cruisers and walkers can reach couches and chairs.  But, ahhhh…… table tops are a little more difficult to reach.  This is simply self-preservation.  Her favorite place to sleep?  The desk by the window on the back of the house.

She’s an incessant talker.  As long as you look at her and talk, she’ll meow back.  She does not tire … ever.

She drinks more water than the dog.  Seriously.  Is she near kidney failure?  I can’t figure this out.

She is … overweight.  In her Ristau home, she was once part of a two kitty family.  The other cat, Hammer, was quite the man.  If he was in human form, he would sport tatoos, use profanity in everyday language and kick your fanny if you looked at him wrong. He was a ladies man with a ‘tude.  He was a tough guy.  I think Brier must have felt the need to eat all she could because he was going to be near the bowl soon and she knew she’d be out of luck then.  So, she eats … a lot.

But, while she’s been here, she’s lost a little bit of weight.  We have a kitty door to the utility room.  This separates the litter box and cat food from the rest of the house and, thus, keeps the dog out of them.  You would think that Brier can’t fit through the little door. Truth be told, we’ve seen her go through it and she does have to do a little “wiggle thing” to squeeze through. BUT, it’s no true tight fit.  It’s not hard …. in fact, it’s kinda comical. Rather than climb through,  she sits outside the big door and waits and waits and waits – if we are around to see her.  She’s waiting for someone to open the door so she can slip in.  If she’s in another part of the house and hears the door open, she comes running.  If we’ve gone in, she knows we’ll be coming out.  And she darts through our legs as this happens.  We’ve noticed that she will sit outside the door for up to an hour, waiting for us to open the door.  When we leave the kitchen for an extended period of time, she realizes it’s useless… and she jumps through.  We figure, we’re helping her lose weight by making her wait a bit.  Trust me.  She’s not wasted away while we’ve had her.  But, you can see her flap hanging over the side of the coffee table here. We’re thinking of suggesting a tummy tuck for her. The oddest thing, of late, is her fascination with a wooden crate.  It is a great little crate that was most recently filled with a smorgasbord of paperwork – that I have since organized and put away!!  Yay!!  After emptying it, I moved it to the screened porch to be moved under the house … when Brier found it.  She climbed inside and stayed the afternoon.  We found her there several days in a row, until it was moved back inside by a child.  It’s now been donned “Brier’s crate,” as remains in the chair beside “Brier’s desk.”  I’m wondering if her fascination with the crate is a continuation of her need to feel safe (like preferring tables over the floor or furniture).  Inside the crate on the first day/sticking her head out after being My sweet Glory has divulged that she will surely cry when Brier goes home.  Cry? Yes.  She will miss her dearly. Even James says he will miss her. He’s always been the cat-man-do around the house.  He’s much more of a cat lover than a dog person.  He, too, says he will miss her.  In fact, there are more pictures of Brier on his phone than there are of our own Smudger.

I don’t know if it’s her talkative spirit, the fact that she comes when you call her (she’s an affection hound) or her quirkiness that is most appealing.

But, whatever it is, Brier will be missed when she’s gone.  We’re enjoying her.  She’s a bright spot in our days and I appreciate that ..

what I thought was going out of my way to bless another family

in fact has been a blessing in disguise to my own.

God is good like that.

Pet Changes

Our home seems to have an ever-morphing group of inhabitants.  We have entrances and exits that keep things interesting – and I like that.

My sweet friend, Heather, has settled into her new home in Virginia, but her dear furry one, Brier , is still with us.  She will probably be with us for a while … until we can orchestrate a drive north or can meet midway.Brier

My big kids just love Brier.  She’s a quirky girl.  She’s very vocal.  When you talk to her, she’ll talk back.  In fact, as long as you talk to her, she’ll talk back.  And she’s more often found sleeping belly up on the floor, than in the normal “protect my belly” position of most resting animals. She will not jump through the cat door to get into the utility room where the litter box and kitty food are located (out of range of our canine member).  Well, obviously, she DOES jump through, because she’s not starving.  But, she will patiently wait for hours for some sucker family member to open the door.  I guess, she gives up when we all leave the kitchen/living area and she finally wiggles her way through (she’s not svelte like our Cat-man-do, Smudger).  If we’re around though, she sits … and sits … and waits.

We’ve done some more pet sitting lately.  We had neighbors at Fort Gordon, when we first arrived in Augusta, who moved north.  It’s been about three or four years since we’ve really gotten to visit.  They came through town on their way to a Disney/Sea World getaway and left their pets with us.

For me, pet sitting is just as much (or more) about the people friendships as it is about the pets.  I’ve been to kennels and hear the dogs insistent barking.  I’ve seen the cages where the pets live.  That type of babysitting is fine for a day or two, but it’s just too stressful for an extended stay.  Many pet parents feel that way.  So, when we’re pet sitting for other families, it’s as much about friendship and serving the Mom and Dad as it is about the furry folk being comfortable. I see it as a way of ministering to others and blessing them, and that’s important to me.  My kids need to see that, oftentimes, ministering to others is messy and inconvenient, but it’s very important, because people are important.  If they can grasp that at a young age, I have done well.

When Sarah emailed me to ask me about a good kennel, I told her we would be happy to pet sit for her.  Whitekeys (rear) and Hippy (front)

Her kitties were almost reclusive.  They stayed in the party room (Mother in law suite) most of the time.  They had plenty of room and there is often a family member out there for something.  We have had a television out there, so some of the time, we would be out there watching tv.  Both cats received plenty of attention.  The shot above is of the two of them hiding inside a chest of drawers that temporarily had a drawer removed.  (Joy took that shot … so it’s a little close : )

Daisy was an unusual addition for us…. not because she was so odd, but because she and Dulcie made an odd combination.  Both are fiercely afraid of storms – which we had SEVERAL during our almost two week visitation.  With each flash of lightning, Dulcie would pace up and down the hall and whimper.  With each clap of thunder, Daisy would bark three or four times.  They were quite a pair.Daisy snuggling under the table Here, she sits under the table, snuggling with me as storm clouds roll in one afternoon.  She knew what was coming.

Our last big change is that we gave away Valentino.  As he matured, testosterone raced through his little bunny body and he decided he didn’t want to be held any more.  This was no big surprise.  I don’t know many teenage boys who want to snuggle.  Having him fixed would have improved the situation, but Glory nor Ryan didn’t want to spend the $130.00.  As sweet Ryan and Glory have broken up, this left Glory to care for this bunny single-handedly (hmmmmmm…. sounds like a relationship of the people kind, doesn’t it?).  She was cleaning the cage and paying for food and …. well, we just decided we needed to find Val a home that was better fitted for him. Valentino

After many, many calls from several weeks of ads, I praise God because I think we found just the right fit for him.  A grandparent couple who live in the country and have goats, chickens, doves, pigs and koi came to take him home.  They have grandchildren who visit often and were looking for a male bunny for their two females.  I think he’ll be quite happy with them.

So, the bunny has a new home.  The three visitors are gone. And Brier will only be with us for another six weeks.

I think I need another fish.


My sweet friend, Heather, has really had some struggles.

Her son has some very serious emotional issues.  Her husband has recently been sent overseas.  This change of pace in the home has caused a flare up of Sam’s semi-settled struggles.  With much trepidation, Heather decided the best thing for her family of four little ones would be to move back home to Virginia so she could be close to family.  Because she was forced to squeeze her growing, busy family of five into two bedrooms in her parents home, the Tea Cup Chihuahua got to go along for the ride, but the sweet kit-kat did not.  Brier was left behind for a bit. Heather planned to be back in just a week or two to gather belongings and Brier, but that didn’t happen as quickly as she would have liked.

Sweet Brier

And honestly, it was breaking my heart to know that
Brier was there in the house in Albany all by herself.

A friend was going in to feed Brier and freshen up the litter box.  She would pet Brier for a bit, give her a good brushing (as she’s shedding terribly …. a sign of stress?) and give her some attention.  But, all I could think about was how social and vocal Brier has been … immersed in this busy, active and loud family of six.

And then, she was left alone.

So, when we went down to Nina’s graduation a few weeks ago, I went in and swept Brier out of her solitude
and brought her back here to Augusta. Wondering about the outdoors

She spent the first few days holed up in my bedroom, moving from my vanity dresser to my bed …. back and forth.  Upon occasion she would go up under the bed.

Our Smudger wasn’t especially cordial, but then he’s not taken to that kind of silliness.  He’s quite the curmudgeon of late.  He’s not one for wanting to be bothered or put out of his own preferred schedule.  And he’s not much for social interaction.  Brier and Mr. Man met with some squalls and stare downs, but thankfully, no fur went flying.  The two have fairly accepted one another, now that Brier has been our guest for a good month.

Relaxing on my bedIt’s hard for me.  Heather has now brought her brood back to Albany – four under eight.  She is single-handedly sorting and packing up an entire house full of goods for four little people and two adults – five years accumulation… which is quite a long time for a person of military stature.   I am here in Augusta, going through finals until next Wednesday.  Her movers will be there by the time that I am free and able to leave town.  I’m not much help to her this far away <sighs>.

It’s hard to know that what I want to do (go and help her … feed her babies, wipe noses, drink a cup of coffee with her and help clean her home before inspection)  and what I am able to do (none of the above), do not match up.  But, I look at Brier and am thankful that I have been able to help Heather.

While she would have sat alone for weeks on end, instead Brier has been loved upon.
While she would have lived in silence, we have given her noise.
While she would have felt abandoned, we have provided company.

So, there are times when we must
do the things that we CAN do
and not think about what we WANTED to do.

I’m thankful that Brier has been with us.  In another two weeks,
Heather will swing through our town and pick up her girl and head north.
I know Brier will be happy to see her family.
And ours will be sad to see her go.