This past year, my retirement entertainment reading has included Lillian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who…” series. The stories combined some of my favorite things (no pink-satin sashes for me): mystery, cats and small-town life. The plots tend to be predictable with the cat-hating ailurophobe being the murderer, but her description of cat behavior is always right on. She romanticizes small-town life which is in keeping with my fantasy of living in a small town. I’m on number twenty-eight. There are only thirty in the series, and since Ms. Braun died ten years ago, that will be it. It will be time to move on. I’ll be looking for something light and happy to read next. I’m always looking for something light and happy.
My friend Rikka moved to the four-corners area of New Mexico after extensive travels. I’ve followed her family’s travels since she was a co-worker of mine around seven years ago (ahhh, work, the thought can still be frightening). Theirs is an adventurous family, having traveled extensively and calling many things home, including a schooner named Wind Dancer. Now that they’ve settled in Northwestern New Mexico, they’ve opened their home to more animals (and more animal species) than I can keep track of, and they’re not even retired. They have dogs, cats, bunnies, birds and fish. Their young daughter, adopted while they were in Guam, looks so happy among her many siblings (human and other animals) in the many photos they post on Facebook. Their posts will be a nice segue into my next reading endeavor.
While I have not loved, nor owned, as many animals as Rikka and family, I have loved all of the animals I have owned, starting with my first pet, Snoopy the rat. She was a former lab rat that retired to our family’s home. We taught her to jump from our knee to the coffee table and back. We loved that rat. Next came Vigaro the cat. He was a big Maine Coon. We loved that cat. After I left home there was a long succession of cats, a few dogs, a half dozen ferrets, turtles and then more cats. Our ferrets were famous for their industrious and fastidious tidying of our home (moving beanie babies, shoes and visiting family members’ underwear from wherever they found them to under their bed of choice). One of our ferrets was discovered missing shortly after starting the dishwasher. We quickly opened the dishwasher to find a waterlogged unconscious ferret in the hot water standing in the bottom. We grabbed her, revived her, rubbed her ears with our hands that had been cooled with ice and her gums with water mixed with corn syrup. We loved that ferret (and all of our other ferrets).
I enjoy watching videos on the internet of animals behaving with total acceptance and unconditional love for other animals and people. I’ve been bitten by ferrets and dogs and scratched by cats and I still think that those animals were better behaved than some people. I’m blessed to have amazing (well-behaved – except when it’s more fun to not be well-behaved) friends and to have had wonderful (even when not well-behaved) pets. Animals and life are good!
Historically, we’ve had lots of “greats.” They include The Great Depression (I had one of those a few weekends ago), The Great Recession, The Great Chicago Fire, The Great Famine, The Great Train Robbery, and The Great War, just to name a few. Historically, “Great” can be terrifying. I’ve decided the last twelve months have been my Great Hibernation. It has been a little terrifying. My parents survived The Great Depression, and The Great Recession. They both died before the pandemic, a.k.a. The Great Hibernation. They came and went at will their entire lives. Family and friends have determined that neither of them would have thrived in the pandemic-required social isolation.
My children, grandchildren and I have earned the right to tell those not-yet-born, “Yep, I survived The Great Hibernation/Coronavirus pandemic.” Unlike some of those aforementioned “Greats,” the pandemic has had some positive outcomes. People have been incredibly inventive and flexible. Children learned at home. Adults worked from home. Animals found homes. I’m not saying it’s been easy. So many have lost livelihoods, and family and friends. This great has been much like those other greats in that regard.
Back to the hibernation analogy. Wikipedia defines hibernation as, “a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression. Hibernation is a seasonal heterothermy characterized by low body-temperature, slow breathing and heart-rate, and low metabolic rate. It most commonly occurs during winter months.” The metabolic depression explains “the Coronavirus five” pound weight gain experienced by me and many others. Because this was a “GREAT” Hibernation, it spanned two winters and included the seasons between. I’m a huge proponent of mask wearing as evidenced by my manufacture of over 150 masks. Sadly, the masks I made were uncomfortable to wear resulting in slow breathing by the wearer; hibernation. As for “heterothermy,” what the heck is that? Well, according to Wikipedia it’s, “a physiological term for animals that vary between self-regulating their body temperature, and allowing the surrounding environment to affect it.” Yeah, we did that during the pandemic too (I think).
We’re rolling up our sleeves and getting vaccinated. We’re coming out of our self-regulated, temperature-controlled environments. It’s GREAT that we’re coming out of pandemic-induced hibernation. Let’s be nice and have a Great Awakening. Life is good.
These days, I write a blog. In days gone by, I wrote letters. In the mid-nineties, I wrote a letter to Kathie Lee Gifford in response to a statement she made in an interview, saying that anyone could be as wealthy as she and her husband, if they worked as hard as she and her husband. She made the statement in response to criticism about sweat-shop conditions for migrant workers employed to make her line of clothing. I said in my letter, that for some, no matter how hard they worked (and many worked unimaginably hard) they’d never escape poverty, much less be rich. I never received a reply.
I wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton, thinking she would win the 2016 election, saying that I believed she would win, and asking her to fight for a better world for all grandchildren, including hers and mine. It was a call for grandmother solidarity in the fight to protect the future of the planet for grandchildren everywhere. I never received a reply. It was a contentious election, so I understood.
Blog writing has not put an end to my letter writing. I recently wrote to the Dental Board of the State of New Mexico. I asked that they encourage dental practitioners to provide patients seeking dental implants with information regarding the timeframe involved for the process (it takes months – unlike what is illustrated in commercials promoting the process) and the cost (I was given a quote for “implants” but wasn’t told until the day the posts were surgically installed that I would have to return to my dentist for costly “crowns”). Drat. I never received a reply.
Some might think I would give up letter writing, but I have received lovely replies to letters I’ve written to friends and family. That’s all the encouragement I need (the secret’s out). Thank you!
Spring is behaving this week (unlike last week) just in time for Easter. Life is good. The jury is still out on letter writing.