Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feline Forum Part I

I just spent the best weekend in Chicago at a conference devoted to all aspects of cat welfare, with 600 other cat advocates from places as far away as Hawaii and Alaska. (or advocats as the ASPCA called it) This sounds like maybe it could have been a little frightening, especially if we all focus on the crazy cat lady stereotype, who do exist, but are not usually the people who are working in rescue. We are crazy, just in a more overzealous, passionate kind of way.

The opening ceremony was emotional, as we all thought it would be. The speakers all had stories to share, with great imagery, such as the family cat being the go-between during the night, uniting a family in sleep with a touch to the nose with its nose. Another woman spoke of a Persian cat, Mrs. Beasly. Mrs. Beasly was the cat for her, the one that woke her up to animal rescue. She met Mrs. Beasly as a child, and Mrs. Beasly was a gorgeous spoiled Persian, who belonged to a friend. Mrs. Beasly had it good- for awhile. Through twists of fate, the her friend had to move to a farm with relatives, and could not bring Mrs. Beasly into the house with her. This fancy cat, who had only ever known love, warmth, and the indoors, was consigned to the barn, with the other barn cats, who had always been barn cats, and were that kind of semi feral cat tough. The speaker told of going to visit her friend, and watching the gradual decline of Mrs. Beasly; her once silky fur became matted and dull, she lost weight, and the life had gone out of her eyes. And then one day, Mrs. Beasly just was not there anymore, and the speaker never found out what happened to her. But she never forgot her, and with every cat she saves now, she honors the memory of that forgotten, mistreated Persian. She mentioned that back when that incident occured, people had different perspectives on animals, and the thought that this was not the way to treat a beloved housecat never entered into their thought processes. It was just a different time, one that we are moving past, a little bit at a time. We still have to work to change attitudes that cats do not belong outside, do need human care and love, that they are not totally independent, and do not really want to roam. But we are getting there, bit by bit.

The workshops I attended were fantastic! I took the creative, marketing track, all about how to promote your cats, dispel misconceptions, even how to "profile" the cats to match your adopters expectations. I was surrounded by such creative energy, that I was inspired, and now have a whole list of adoption promotions that should take me three years to finish!

I learned so much, and I know that the rest of my group, fellow P.A.W.S. of Michigan members and Wyandotte Animal Control Volunteers, had just as much fun, and also gained immensly from this forum. I made many contacts, and talked to many people about things that are working in their shelters and rescued. I feel fully armed with information that will get our cats adopted faster, and into the right homes for them, where they will be well treated and not returned, but instead have a loving home for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to work

So, I have been extremely busy for the past couple of weeks, and I have been missing blogs- reading them and writing them. If only I could get paid for sitting at home doing those two things! I am glad I have some spare hours today to spend writing, and reading, and with Billy, Penny and Maggie. Penny and Maggie are glad to have me around again, I think they have missed me, if the fact that Maggie has been sitting on top of me all weekend, and Penny hasn't wanted to leave my side is any evidence.

School has started again, and I have been back getting the library ready for the students to circulate. This is always fun, I love the first couple of weeks of school, the kids are really excited about the new books on display and finding their old favorites again. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom would take me to the library - I loved the coolness of it in the summer, the coziness of the books and the building in the fall and winter. It was always quiet, a good place to think and relax. Now the Wyandotte Library is a good place to escape to, no one can call me there, and I can get lost in the stacks, looking at books and learning about whatever catches my eye that day. I only hope the students at our school can enjoy the library as much as I do.

I also have been getting ready for P.A.W.S. of Michigan's biggest fundraising event of the year, P.A.W.S. in the Park. This event is a dog walk/adoptathon, and is always quite a bit of work to get set up, but is well worth it. Just seeing all the different dogs us exciting! This year I also volunteered to give the nature walk, since our naturalist could not make it, and while the walk was not my most shining moment, I did ok, considering I only had a quick 30 minute lesson on trees and plants two days before the event. I managed to remember all the trees and flowers that I was taught, thank goodness. I had planned on winging it if I had to, but to my surprise I had a biology teacher in my group. I used her as confirmation of my identifications instead, since I wasn't going to be able to make things up if I got stuck.

Since it was a dog walk event, Billy and I took Penny with us. She had a blast walking through the woods, and getting tons of attention. She was exhausted by the time we got home, and so were we. My dad brought my stepnephew Brayden down, and it was so cute to see him signing "dog" constantly. He met Penny for the first time, and he just laughed and laughed. He also enjoyed seeing the dog pictured here - the car was remote controlled, and so it appeared this guy was driving around the park by himself.
And finally, Billy and I have been busy working on Cinnamon Owl Studios, our photography company. Eastern Market in Detroit accepted me as one of their artists for the Artisan Village that will run all year, so we have been picking out photos to take to the booth, and finishing the website. I think Billy did a great job, check it out at

Just a few words today, to get back in swing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Hour I First Believed

Wow. What a powerful, moving book. I read this book on the recommendation of my friend Alyssa, and I am glad I took the 700 page journey. At times, the path seemed overcrowded, there was almost too much going on- Columbine, Katrina, prison, prejudice, sexual abuse, drug abuse, 9/11, the Civil War; it seemed like the author was taking on every tragedy the U.S. had in one book. But strangely, it worked for me. I alternately hated and loved the characters, was there in the library with Maureen during the shootings, with Caelum as he discovered his real history, with Velvet as she seemed to get her life together despite the crappy upbringing she had had. I could not stop reading this book. If you like to read, and are not afraid of a long book, check this one out.
I was most focused on the Columbine aspect of this book. Working in a school, this does cross your mind from time to time. What would you do if this were to happen? How absolutely terrifying? I can't imagine the horror of this happening at my school, but I know I would do anything in my power to protect those kids. The thought of harm coming to them chills my bones, and this part of the book really shook me up. Would I be like Dave Sanders? Or Liviu Librescu? How to even think about comparing yourself to such selfless individuals? What heroes these men are, or any of those teachers and staff out there who did not think about themselves, just about the students around them. My cousin's daughter attends my school, and even when we have drills, I look for her, scouting her out, making sure she is ok. God forbid this should happen. How tragic, how sad. There is a special place in hell for those people who harm children and animals, but what about when the killers are just kids themselves?

This book gives you so much to reflect on, I feel I will be thinking about it for weeks to come.