I was born in British Columbia, the mountainous west coast of Canada. I’ve been a visual artist all my life, with a Diploma in Fine Arts from Kootenay School of Art, a BA and 3 years of graduate school in History in Art from the University of Victoria. Community theatre, non-profit arts organizations and the Society for Creative Anachronism (a medieval re-enactment group) have also been keen interests for me.
My father’s work took us to 7 towns in 13 years. We finally settled in southeastern BC in 1969, where my parents bought a house. All told, my parents lived in 13 houses in their married life. I’ve moved 22 times and went to 8 different schools.
After living a married life in a small town in the sunny Okanagan Valley in south-central BC, I realized this life was not right for me. I moved into an Airstream trailer for the summer, then an orchard cabin. I worked at a winery, and made trips to Morocco, New York and California, dreams I’d had since childhood.
In 2009, my father became gravely ill and my mother was diagnosed with dementia. My cats and I, all of their stuff and all of my stuff made the 4 hour trip in a Honda Civic to be with my parents “temporarily,” and this turned into 3 years. My father died and my mother couldn’t manage on her own so I stayed on. She died 20 months after my Dad. I stayed in my parents’ house and worked at sorting out and getting rid of what I wouldn’t need.
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” The year after my mother’s death, on my mother’s birthday, I sprained my ankle very badly, and was bedridden and housebound for weeks. I decided to sell my parents’ house and move back to the town I’d lived in for nearly 20 years. The plan was to find a small house with a big workshop for all my creative pursuits, but I ended up with a big house on a ridge overlooking the town.
This blog is about having the courage to begin anew, about the difference between the life we expected to have and the life we get.
In the Kitten World section of my blog, you’ll meet assorted characters. For 12 of the previous 15 years I had 5 cats, even 6 at one point. Between March of 2013 and June of 2015, I lost all 3 of the Big Boys, as I called them.
The “kittens” are Julius and Henry, who came into my life in June of 2015, the same week the last of my old boy cats died. Julius came from the BCSPCA and is a long-boned medium-haired grey and white cat of great dignity and aplomb. He rarely makes a sound. He tends to sit back and observe, which led me to talk about him doing Science. He has an obsession with those little plastic balls with the bells in them. I buy them in six-packs because he plays with them until they disappear. They may go into another dimension, I’m not sure. All I know is that they re-appear in the water dish but I never actually see anybody put them there.
Henry is a month younger than Julius. He was discovered in the drainpipe of a friend’s art studio, about 10 days old, with his brother who later died. Henry is a feisty little character, sometimes a brat, with no fear. Ginger cats often seem to be almost a breed unto themselves, and he fits the mould. He’s a fighter, I’m sure he would be a great hunter if he ever went outside, he has tons of energy and plays hard, but is also a lover and cuddler. Henry talks a lot, and if I’m out of his sight, he’ll weep and wail like his heart will break. Then I come back and everything is fine. Henry has been climbing up onto things he shouldn’t since he was 3 months old, and jumping with great strength and precision almost that long. Did I mention that he has no fear?
I also have two older females, Fritzie and Alis. Both of them came from the farm where I lived before. For their entire lives, they were the youngest of a family of 5 cats. They were all related, 2 brothers and a sister, a cousin and an uncle.
Finding themselves suddenly the only ones left after being the youngest of a large family was hard on both girls. To my surprise, I realized they don’t actually like each other very much. For them to be thrust together with no other cats as buffers was not going to be fun for anybody.
Fritzie is intensely competitive. All she wants to do is win the race, but you need someone else to make it a race. Being the oldest did not suit her at all. She’s not a dominant cat by nature, but she will tell you that she *IS* the smartest cat, the best looking and the nicest cat of the bunch, so you should pet her now. Nope, too late. Okay, NOW. Wow, you are REALLY slow. Okay, here’s your chance. Pet me now. I SAID now!!
Alis was perpetually the youngest. She’s timid around anyone but me, skittish even with me and will go off and hide for hours at a time, but she notices when anything is not right. She’ll tell me if the water is low in the water dish or you can see the bottom of the dish so starvation is imminent. She’d notice an alarm going off or a strange sound. I used to call her my little alarm cat. If she had hands to wring, she’d be wringing them. “Mommommom, something something!” And she whines! She actually does that 3 tone “oh-OH-euw!” that little kids do. Drives me crazy.
With these new young guys, she’s come into her own. Even though she’s technically a senior, she plays with the kittens, watches them play from close up, and if I call the boys, she comes too. She’s a bit awkward, like a child who never learned how to make friends, but she’s much happier and far less timid than she ever was. She and Henry will wrestle and scrap, she screams and runs away, then turns around and comes back for more. She LOVES Henry and they’ll often sleep with their heads pressed together. She’s like a new cat. Light on her feet, cheerful, playful. Getting these kittens has changed her life for the better.
All of my cats are fixed and they never go outside. I live in an area that’s usually full of coyotes and other wildlife right in town. I hear coyotes most nights, Great Horned Owls nest in the trees around my house and cougars have been sighted more than once on the bank right below me. So my cats have lots of windows to look out of, lots of toys and things to poke into and play with, but they stay safe indoors. Deer, raccoons and skunks go by fairly often, and there are tomcats who think this is their yard and talk trash through the screens at my cats in the summer. One of them looks a lot like Henry, who was born only a couple of kilometres from here. Maybe it’s a family resemblance . . .