Monday, January 19, 2015

Mojo Monday ~ Furry Family

Once upon a time (around September of 1996) a stray can showed up on my front porch.  He was adorable with a little round head, bright green eyes and the softest short coat of fur ever.  The little guy adopted me and basically took up residence at the house.  Here is a photo of adorable Oscar with those bright green eyes joining in the pumpkin carving fun at Halloween.

Bandito Mommy - Oscar
Matriarch Oscarina

Next spring I suddenly noticed some behavioral changes in Oscar and quickly realized that Oscar was a female cat and was indeed pregnant.  Now being called Oscarina I took good care of the expectant mama.  One day while at work I received a call from a roommate stating she thought Oscarina was going into labor.  I left work early and arrived to find her in labor.  From what I had heard most cats tend to seek out private and hidden areas when it came time to deliver.  Not Oscarina.  She was in the bed I had prepared for her but she didn't want to be left alone.  She even rolled on her back and I rubbed her belly a little.  She had me right there by her side as she delivered four kittens into this world on April 8, 1997.  It was amazing to watch as she birthed all four and then went into mama mode, cleaning and caring for them.

Oscar and kittens
Mama kitty with her 4 kittens.

Each of the kittens had a unique appearance.  One kitten looked like he had the Phantom of the Opera mask across its face and was named Phantom.  A little black and white kitten had a cute little white goatee type look and we named it Foo Man Chu.  The third looked a bit like a racoon with a mask around the eyes and we named it Bandito.  The fourth didn't really get a name that stuck and as it would happen she was the one adopted by a friend of a friend.  If I remember right after all these years I think the plan was to name her Daisy.

As it worked out only one of the kittens was a boy, that being Phantom.  Foo Man Chu a little girl kitten, ended up being nicknamed Fooey.  Bandito, also a girl , continued to be called Bandito.  About 6 weeks or so after the kittens were born a friend found an abandoned kitten and brought it to me to add to the family.  This new kitten dubbed Cracker came with some issues but mama kitty and the other kittens took her in.  Mama would turn on her once or twice when Cracker would become aggressive about food with her other kittens.  Sadly one day mama kitty came limping into the house and proceeded to die.  All we could think is that she had been side swiped by a car and had sustained internal injuries.  We gave her a proper burial and mourned her passing.

Phantom and Bandito
Phantom and Bandito

The kittens continued to grow into healthy young cats.  Bandito was the kitten I chose to keep for sure.  One of my nieces ended up adopting handsome Phantom.  Cracker, the step-sister, also found a new home.  Little Fooey stayed with me, but was always a skittish, so unlike her confident and friendly siblings.  I now think Fooey was just waiting to find her human soul mate.  She did finally find him when she met my dad. That little thing claimed him as her person and my dad fell in love with her in return.

The years passed and it was nice that most had gone to family so I could stay up-to-date on how they were doing.  As these things happen eventually my niece's Phantom developed a cat illness and passed away.  About two years ago my dad's precious Fooey showed signs of illness.  He took her into the vet and learned she had some serious mouth issues going on.  They recommended mouth surgery and my dad proceeded with the treatment.  Fooey had a couple of teeth extracted and the vet thought there might be a mouth cancer at play.  Fooey never fully recovered and passed away three months later.

Queen Bandito
Queen Bandito

My matriarch Bandito has been the ruling kitty queen in our home for many years.  When we added our dog Shanti to the family in 2003 she begrudgingly accepted the new addition, but made it clear that she rules.  Shanti to this day will roll over and be submissive to Queen Bandito.  When our twin daughters were born I wasn't sure how Bandito would respond.  She ignored them for a few years, but when they developed good petting skills she finally gave them stamps of approval.  She used to jump up on the bathroom sink for her food and water.

Bandito chilling with the twins.
Bandito chilling with the twins.
Bandito turned 17 years old in April of 2014.  A few years ago she began to develop a cloudy cataract in her one eye.  We have also made various adjustments in the home over the years and recent months to make accommodations for her.  As a strong cat she used to jump up onto the bathroom counter to eat and drink her water.  This kept the dog from scarfing down the cat food. Eventually she didn't want to jump high anymore, so we put a kitty door in the bathroom door for her.  In recent months she didn't want to use her cat box with the lid on, so I removed and then bought a smaller box with a lower lip for her to step over.  We also took off the kitty door flap because it seemed to be bugging her.
Bandito at 16 years old
Bandito at 16 years old
About a month ago she appeared to have an episode of some sort.  Maybe a seizure or min stroke.  Yet after a short pause she was back to normal.  Except for losing some extra fur around the house.  Then this last week things turned suddenly.  She wanted to hide in a closet and I finally noticed a strong disagreeable order coming from her.  I googled a few things and grew concerned it might be renal kidney failure.  Just this past Friday we took her to the vet.  The examination of her mouth revealed a couple bad teeth and a horrible mouth infection.  They took blood and urine to test, gave her an antibiotic shot that would last for two weeks to help with the infection, and suggested having her come back in when she was a little better for surgery to extract some teeth.  We left the vet unsure of the outcome.  When they called with the lab results it was surprising for a cat her age that there wasn't anything significant to be concerned about.  Yet it also became clear that at her age the infection and tooth issues could be very serious.  When I heard about her sister's results after mouth surgery I grew more worried.  I was questioning whether to put a cat her age through such an ordeal.  My dad recommended to not do it.

Yesterday and today I have watched my beloved Bandito grow more listless.  She has been refusing food for about 48 hours now.  I have been able to get her to drink some water by bringing it to her bed.  I hold her for stretches of time.  She purrs and cuddles in tight with me.  She lets me pet her all over and brush her.  She doesn't indicate she is in pain, even if I pet her near her chin and mouth, which is good.  She just looks so tired and listless.  She has tried walking, but is wobbly.  I wonder if the time has arrived for her to pass on.  Every couple of hours I tear up and cry.  Like right now.  In finishing up this posting I just want to go and get her and cuddle her close.  Not knowing if it will be the last time.
Me and Bandito
Me and Bandito
Bandito has been in my life for nearly 18 years.
I have been her person since the day she was born.
This fur kid has been such an important part of my life.
She will be forever in my heart.


Do you have fur kids?

Are there fur kids who have passed on
that will remain in your heart forever?(I had a cat named Holly who lived to be 18 years old too.
She holds a special place in my heart too.  I still have photos of her.)


We track the lineage and ancestry of humans.  
What would it look like if we tracked the
lineage of our furry family members?
(I know for me it feels very special to have know Bandito's mama
and to have been there when she was born.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mojo Monday ~ Looking Back & Looking Forward While Staying Present

William Roberts and Sarah Briggs Family
Maternal great great grandparents William Roberts and Sarah Briggs and children.

Looking Back

lin·e·age

ˈlinēij/
noun
  1. 1.
    lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or pedigree.
My blog writing, besides coming from those stories that inspire me personally and topics that I wish to share with others, is also sometimes informed by my connection with my Cosmic Cowgirls tribe.  My writing appears not only on my personal blogs, but also on Cosmic Cowgirls member web sites.  Over on the Rodeo of the Soul we are going to be exploring the theme of Lineage.  When I began delving into my own personal ancestry research about a month ago I had no idea that this was part of the new year plan.  It is rather serendipitous how things are falling into place.  

In light of this theme there will be more exploration of ancestry in the coming months, yet it won't be entirely focused on genealogy per se.  When I think of lineage in broader terms, beyond my own family tree, I think of honoring the wisdom of all women (and men) that came before.  I think of a video I recently watched of Bill Moyers interviewing award winning writer Ursula Le Guin who is about 85 years old now and the wisdom she shared.  I think of suffragists, feminists, women historians, activists, artists.....and onto the legendary work and impacts we are leaving in our wakes for the women and girls to follow us.  There is much to explore in the coming months.  

Looking Forward

At the beginning of a new year most of us not only look back at year we just wrapped up.  We also look forward to the new year, perhaps with dreams, goals and resolutions in mind.  Here are brief introductions to several articles that offered some thoughtful ideas for looking forward to the new year ahead. 

Beyond Carb-Cutting: Resolutions After A Trauma — Sleep, Play, Love - I especially love the simplicity of these heal-the-trauma resolutions and wonder how life might flow if these were your most primal goals for the year?  (Click the link for the full article.)

1. A restful sleep
2. Play, Sing, Dance  

3. Love the One Who Is With You 
4. Be In Nature
5. Ban Perfection (though I might tweak this one to Embrace Imperfection)

2 Choices That Can Make This Next Year The Best Year of Your Life - A fan of the wisdom of Dr. Margaret Paul and her Inner Bonding newsletters and program I found her two suggested choices to be sound advice - Gratitude and Intent to Learn.  (Click the link for the full article.)

If 2014 Tried You or Tested You, Do This - If 2014 was a hard year for you I encourage you to click on over for a visit to this article.  It has the ability to shift perspective.  I especially loved the passage below.  (Click the linked title to access the original article.)

"I believe 2014 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.

Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage"

10 Ways To Live Simply In 2015 - Inspirational and thoughtful descriptions of ways to simplify.

Staying Present

Simple and wise words from Maya Angelou.

If you must look back Maya Angelou

Have you read any inspirational articles that you'd like to share about in the comments?

What are your thoughts about looking back, looking forward and staying present?  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Ancestry

Linda Hogan Quote

A number of years ago I got into doing some genealogy.  Maybe it is the history lover in me.  Maybe it is my curious nature.  My last foray into delving into the history records was before I had twins. Plenty of things fell to the wayside after I became a mom.  Recently though as my husband delved back into his genealogical research I too decided to sign up for a month of access on Ancestry.com. It is a fascinating journey to find the connections and the mazes of my family tree.

A week into it, sometimes obsessively tracking and connecting the dots of one generation to another, I found myself asking "Why am I spending my time doing this?  Does it really matter if I find out the names and birth dates of the people who I share my DNA?  Does that have any bearing on the present and my life today?"

What I find myself contemplating is how all of these people who I am related to were once alive and walking on Earth.  They were born, grew up, got married, had children and eventually died.  I am perplexed at times how quickly memories and historical information in a family can fade away.  So many stories and the history of a family can be lost in a generation.  I consider how after I die and my daughters grow old and die that I too could fade away.  I consider that this too is just how things are, and yet at the same time I think about keeping the stories alive and doing my part to preserve some of the family history for future generations.

I wish I had realized

There are moments such as when I discovered the death certificate of my paternal great grandmother Eva Lavendar that she and her life story becomes more real to me.  My paternal side of the family I new the least about.  More of her life story began to unfold as I discover census documents, a marriage certificate, and her death certificate.

Yet let me start at the beginning to give great grandma Eva Lavender a moment in the spotlight. This is a woman who could fade away if descendants, like myself don't keep her memory alive.  Eva Lavendar was born on July 28, 1880 in Menard Co., Illinois.  She married Thomas Franklin Higginbottham on January 1, 1901 in Weiser, Idaho.  They moved to Missouri and their first child, Howard Higginbottham was born on October 19, 1901.  Their first child Howard sadly died the following July.  Their next child Jesse Ray was born on July 20, 1903. The third child Annie may have died at birth as the records only estimate she was born in 1903, though I am guessing it had to be more like 1904.  Their fourth child, my paternal grandmother Lula, was born on June 9, 1905. Following the birth of my paternal grandmother Lula, my great grandmother Eva would go on to have seven more children.

I read on the death certificate filed in August 1914 that Eva died from childbirth, a postpartum hemorrhage on July 18, 1914.  She was only 34 years old.  The child she gave birth to died too.  I discover this as I look at the birth and death date of her 11th child.  As I contemplate her life I do the math and figure out she married at age 21 and had her first child that same year.  In the course of only 13 years she gave birth to 11 children.

Death Certificate Eva Lavender (Higginbotham)

There are many women in my family who had this many children or more.  My maternal great great grandmother Sarah Roberts (Maiden name Briggs), was born March 17, 1868 in England.  She emigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings and married her husband in Beaver, Utah on April 16, 1884.  Her husband William Roberts had also been born in England and had emigrated to the USA.  Together they had 16 children.  Her first child was born when she was only 17 years old and her last child was born when she was 44 years old.  My great grandma Ida was her 10th child.

Roberts (Briggs) family tree

Roberts (Briggs) family tree page 2

In my research I came across a short written biography about my great great grandmother Sara Briggs parents and family. Her father James was a Methodist Minister in England.  He ended up converting to Mormonism and married his wife Betsy Fielding who converted with him.  They left England on the ship "Idaho" on June 30, 1875 with four of their children Betsy Alice, John, Alma and Sarah.  They arrived in New York City on July 14, 1875.  They then arrived in Utah by rail on July 22, 1875.  They were received in Salt Lake City by Bishop Jacob Wheeler.  Two of their older sons had come to Utah two years before.  In my searching I come across some journal accounts of those two sons.  In with the biography I also discover someone wrote a poem about the Briggs family.

The James Briggs Family

There was Robert, Alma, John and Joe
Finest of men you would ever know.
Bob, a shoe maker, the best they say,
Made many a shoe without any pay.
Joe lived in Frisco, for a long time,
Was superintendent of Horn Silver mine.
Alma and John owned a big her of sheep,
And would tramp o'er the hills, till they got sore feet.
The girls were Sarah, Alice and Nancy,
Lovely and charming as girls could be.
Sarah, blue eyes with blond curly hair,
When she caught the eye t'would make folks stare.
Nancy, brunette and brown hazel eyes.
And a shy little way that took folks by surprise.
Alice was small, dainty, gentle and sweet,
As pretty a lassie as e're walked down the street.
The Father and Mother were Betsy and James.
They reared this family a credit to their names.
James lived the gospel and knew it by heart,
And in every way tried to do his part.
'A very good family', folks would say,
Now may years have gone, since they passed away.

Madeliene L'Engle quote

I am bound to them
 My explorations will continue.   It feels like a treasure hunt and when I find photos and stories posted it feels especially exciting. Getting a glimpse into reading my ancestors life stories is interesting.  There are other people on Ancestry.com who have created their own family trees and they show up as links and hints because we share relatives.  I have yet to reach out to any of these long lost relatives. I came across an article called My Top 7 Tips for Finding Old Photos of Ancestors on a website called Teach Me Genealogy that offered some great ideas too.


Have you done any exploration into your ancestry?

 Do you still have great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins, who you could talk to about your family history?

Are their family photo albums, bibles, or other records that could provide details about your ancestors?

In addition to genealogy sites that require you pay like Ancestry.com which I am using, I came across a list of sites that offer free resources. I haven't looked into all of these, but feel free to explore for yourself:
  1. Family Search www.familysearch.org (For research, historical records and
    volunteering to help index)
  2. Find a Grave www.findagrave.com (Millions of online memorials, from transcribed headstones)
  3. World GenWeb Project www.worldgenweb.org (Genealogical data per country)
  4. US GenWeb Project www.usgenweb.com (Genealogical data per state)
  5. National Archives www.nationalarchives.gov (Archived Genealogical data from the US Government)
  6. Genealogy Today www.genealogytoday.com (Genealogical Data)
  7. Google www.google.com (Genealogical data, images, maps, and more)
  8. Access Genealogy www.accessgenealogy.com (Online Genealogical Data)
  9. Family Tree Searcher www.familytreesearcher.com (Online family trees)
  10. GeneaBios www.geneabios.com (Genealogy Biography database)
More highly recommended Free sites:
Genealogy- chasing your own tale2

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Fun Deficit Disorder

Life isnt as serious

Sometimes I can be really serious.  I am sensitive to world events.  My heart hurts when there are painful and sad things happening.  I struggle with the big issues regarding injustice, violence against women and children, as well as hurtful actions against animals, which is why I adopted a vegan diet 6 years ago.  I also happen to be in my fourth year of writing for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine and while the first years leant themselves to me writing about inspirational uplifting topics, we as a collective group have dug deeper into more challenging topics, especially this year where the theme is Taboo.  I have now tackled the topic of Naked Vulnerability, "Death" in We Are All Going to Die. Poetry Can Help , "Ambiguity" in Shades of Fucking Gray or Delicious Ambiguity? and the most recent, sexual abuse of children, in The Bogeyman Under the Bed.  Goodness I sometimes feel like this series is putting me through the proverbial wringer.

In my off time from contemplating and writing about topics like death and abuse I can also get caught up and focused on chores, to-do lists, keeping my car clean, organizing my emails and hanging up my clothes according to color scheme.  (Oh dear, I am revealing my idiosyncrasies.)  Yes, there are aspects of my moderate OCD personality that likes everything in a certain order.  It is the last trait that can trigger my irritation about towels hung up haphazardly, the bed not made, books and homework strewn across the dining room table, too many things cluttering up the house, jackets thrown on the floor...well you get the idea.  It is something I feel I have to tame regularly if I am to avoid the true grumpy grumps and grumbles about wanting to live alone, so I don't have to clean up after other people.  I love my children and my hubby.  It is terrifying to consider a life without them, so obviously moving out or moving them out really isn't the answer.  What I aim to focus on instead is making peace with things I cannot change. Not always so easy, but when love trumps everything else, you do what you need to to make it work.

Even Cowgirls get the BluesSo in consideration of how serious I have been feeling, and in all honesty, the blues I have been struggling with for months now (yes even Cowgirls get the blues), it was timely to receive a newsletter that reminded me of the importance of Play.  It also seemed appropriate for the magical month of December.  I laughed, but related especially to the description of FDD ~ Fun Deficit Disorder.  Let me share with you the inspirational message from Kathy Tyler of Innerlinks that struck a chord with me.
 
Inspirational Message
Maximize every moment of liveness. Experience 
pleasurable involvement in all your activities and enjoy what you are doing.  Have Fun!
 
Play is at the heart of our creativity and animates our being in our most carefree moments. It helps us live with absurdity, paradox, and mystery. It feeds our childlike joy and wonder. It keeps our search for meaning grounded and on to earth.
 
There is so much going on in the world, and within us, that our stress levels have adjusted upwards to a new 'normal' creating a hidden epidemic of fun deficit disorder (FDD). Play is an antidote to stress. It can totally absorb your attention and cause a cascade of feelings that greatly impact your happiness quotient.
 
Play engages us with the imaginal realm and supports and enriches our metabolization of life. It is integral for generating insights and effortless realizations. Play literally gives us a 'breather' – restoring our vitality at a core level.
 
This month find a fun activity that totally captivates your attention to the point where time seems to slow or even stop, and the voice inside -- (the one giving constant commentary on what you’re doing, have done, or will be doing) -- ceases.  Laugh heartily at jokes, situations, and yourself.
 
Wishing you playful, joyous moments throughout December. And, transformed FDD to F:):)....
Warmly,
Kathy

Ways I am choosing to have fun this month ~

Created a new holiday music mix and will be designing the cd cover.

a-sprinkle-of-love-christmas

Prepared the annual family holiday letter
with photos and news about our 2014.

holiday letter snapshot

Getting creative with our Elf on the Shelf named TwinTweety.

IMG_2325

Delighting in putting up lights, including a new heart and star
on the porch that make me happy.

IMG_2327

Decorating the candy house with the family.

IMG_2326

As one who loves finding and giving that oh-so-perfect gift
I'll delight in wrapping and preparing gifts for loves ones.


present

Before I head off for the fun task of
plotting the next adventure
for our Elf on the Shelf
I encourage you to consider how you 

can make this a Season of Magic.

IMG_2329
Artwork by Kristina Swarmer ~ card by Brush Dance

I'll also close with another
inspirational message from Innerlinks.


You are important.
Your thoughts create.
Your actions matter.
Your presence changes everything.
Be an Intentional Butterfly,
a participant in the ripple effect of caring.

This is the beginning, now is when you start. It is time to awaken to your presence, to be inspired in your actions, and to hold the highest and best outcome for the planet, humanity, and all life on earth. You make a difference and you decide what that difference is. What you think about yourself affects how you feel and how you act. What you think about those you meet affects how they view themselves. We all create each other. I am cannot be a teacher if there are no students. I cannot be a student if there are no teachers.

It is not a question of whether what you think matters. It absolutely does. Your participation is mandatory regardless of your perception. You are here, you are a part of life, and you make a difference. You are a participant in the creation of our future. So, the only question is; what kind of difference do you want to make? It is up to you to decide to be a conscious or unconscious participant. Non-action, to do nothing, is a choice and one you are ultimately accountable for. And, sometimes, non-action is the most courageous choice. But, to do nothing because you do not want to get involved is an excuse to stay disempowered and unaccountable. So, make choices with intent. Be willing to learn, grow, and evolve in your ability to discern what to do and what not to do.

As you go about your daily activities, you touch numerous people most of which you do not even meet. The woman or man behind a cash register who serves you at the counter, your interaction adds or subtracts from their day and how she/he then interacts with the next customer or co-worker. Your interaction with them may tip their inner balance point in the direction of kindness or anger. What kind of influence do you want to be? What is the ripple your energy is creating?

Become a beacon of intention. Intend kindness, peace, grace, appreciation, and recognition of the spirit of the person who is in front of you. You do not need to 'know' them to extend your good will and good heart. It is not the receptivity of the other that prevents you from extending your best to each moment.

Practice goodness, become an intentional butterfly that lights upon each interaction with the blessing of the true reality that is our shared humanity. Add your presence to the love and compassion that are the healing agents that free our spirits and open our souls to the knowing of our true selves.

Each interaction is an opportunity to start a chain reaction of caring. Of giving the moment a magic touch that reverberates and carries out like a ripple on a pond. Endless in possibilities to affect an outcome many steps down line from your initial incidental action.

This is a way to contribute to the phase shift where change can happen. Like water heating to the boil, there is a moment before it reaches the temperature to start to boil, but if the heat remains at that point or drops, the water never makes the phase shift to actually boil, to become steam, to change its frequency. You can be that moment; you can choose to add to the phase shift of another. You can be the butterfly with the gentle touch that contributes to the phase shift, to the change. You may just be the difference that changes everything. Don't miss your opportunity.

Join the circle, become an Intentional Butterfly. Make a difference. Start now, be a conscious, caring, human being. You are part of a larger picture, a much grander plan then what you may perceive. What you give to one gives to the whole and ultimately gives back to you.

Keep your acts of intention simple.
  • Open a door for someone and as look in his or her eyes, smile.
  • Let in front of you the driver who is waiting to merge.
  • Ask the cashier how they are.
  • Compliment your partner.
  • Give specific appreciation to your children.
  • Return a shopping cart to the door.
  • Recycle your cans.
  • Make a phone call to someone who lives alone.
Build on simple acts increasing in frequency. Frequency meaning both: more often and increase in vibration. Upping your intentional actions. Extending your loving presence to touch that in another.

Then, ask for more opportunities to be an intentional butterfly. Keep your heart open. Stay alert to the seemingly incidental moment that can change the outcome of someone's day.

IMG_2330