Friday, March 17, 2017


Big Boy.  YUGE.  Came home a little lighter yesterday.  He's the 160th cat I have altered.

Once at the vet, he escaped from the trap in the back room, and my vet had a heck of a time finding him and getting him back in.  He said he was one of the cleverest cats he's ever seen. 

Thanks to Becca.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Least of These

For I was hungry and you gave me food. Matthew 25:35

A lot of people have tried to contact me asking me how I am, where I have gone, etc., etc.  I have struggled to answer them, or postponed answering them, because I have been unable to put my feelings into words, or to explain myself to anyone.  I tried with someone here, someone also in animal rescue, but she had no idea what I was trying to say.  

She is not a believer, and I don't know many people here doing what I do who are.  I think you might have to be to even want to understand.  For the others, they shrink back in horror, or they try to lead me down a road that is not for me, giving me a pep talk. I don't want to be fixed in that sense, not if God is speaking to me through my experiences.

I don't even like to use those words anymore after what I have learned -after doing this for 6-7 years now - "animal rescue".  It makes me sound like I think I am a hero, and I don't.  I have learned unequivocally, I am not. Please don't say that.  Meet me where I am.

But I recently I heard a homily, a podcast, which put into words for me what I have been going through, and I would like to share it here, to speak for me.  For those who I haven't spoken to, I will be in touch as soon as I am able.  I have been facing enormous physical and mental exhaustion, mostly mental - probably mostly spiritual.  It was a blessing to me to have what I suspected confirmed by a member of my faith.

The notion that perhaps I am not on the wrong track, and this is indeed the way it is supposed to be, gives me hope in the path I have been taking, and the future.  But it will require to regroup, re-evaluate my goals, and re-prioritize them.

Here is the link to the podcast,  for those who might be interested.  I think the truth of it is profound:

The Least of These

Funny, when I see the quote at the top of this post from Matthew is the first quote I chose for my blog, over in the sidebar, when I started this work, it makes all the more sense to me.

I have learned instead I am the one who needs rescuing, and is being rescued by God, and hopefully will continue to be, to learn of my own spiritual poverty, and that this is the meaning of God asking us to do charity, to learn this awakening, sobering truth.

But I still can't explain it as good as he did.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heartbreak: Good Runs, Changing Seasons, and Losing Baba

For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
-- Psalm 109:22
Keep your mind in hell and do not despair.
-- St. Silouan the Athonite
I was there when she was born, underneath my couch. I heard her first tiny mews. 

Baba Feb. 2016 photo IMG_7090_zpsxjlskjqa.jpg
I named her Bubbles, but I always called her Baba.  And I said it like, "Bah-Bah" - like a sheep, or as my Cypriot neighbour would say, "like a ship."  She knew her name well.  She would prance in place like a kewpie doll and wink when I said it.
One day, after I moved her, her mother, and her siblings to my bedroom from under the sofa, when she and her siblings were still tiny, she got very ill suddenly.  It was the middle of the night.  She jumped off the bed and fell over.  She couldn't keep her balance.  She would try to stand up and just fall over. 

This was soon after Nick and I split.  I was on my own.  I had a new vet.  He was a young guy from Greece.  It wasn't his clinic, but the owner was never there.  It was a small clinic, not too busy, and he let me call him at odd hours.  I will never forget how he coached me on the phone. 

He told me what medicines to give her.  I sat with the door closed in the bathroom on the toilet seat holding her, talking to her.  I gave her little bits of water, and of vitamin gel.  I put her back in the bedroom in a closed carrier, and let her rest, so she wouldn't hurt herself.
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I drew Baba and her siblings nursing their mom in my bedroom  It's one of my favourite drawings.
I don't remember much more, just that she got better.  I credit my vet, and my energy that morning. And of course, God.  But then God is always there, we are just usually distracted.  It's hard to focus on God.  It takes an enormous amount of energy. 

That was about three years ago.  Then last year she disappeared from the garden.  It was the end of summer, beginning of fall.  She was gone days, more than a week I think, about 8 days.  I had started the downhill slope to comfort myself, but with caveats.  I knew I had seen strange things, like cats show up, when I still had the biggest hope, but only the tiniest faith.
Aunt Nini and Kittens photo Myturnwithkittens_zps6e56f61d.jpg
My Aunt with kittens when she came to visit.  Baba on the far left. 

And, sure enough, one evening after dark, I saw a strange figure approaching.  Walking funny.  Tripping a little and unsteady.  She got closer and closer across the garden, and when she had reached the little bit of light coming off the front porch, in the grass where I stood, I saw that it was her.  I noticed she looked confused, disoriented.  I grabbed her and put her straight away in a standing enclosure.  Not so much because I knew something was wrong, but because I wanted to keep her with me.  Sort of like a dog grabs a bone that has strayed, and puts it in bed with him.

I put her some good food and water.  I don't remember if she ate.  But I do remember she was so happy to be in the enclosure.  I wondered why.  I put an open carrier in there with a blanket for her to make her den, and a litter box.  I wrapped up in the garden and went inside.  She was alive.  She was home.  She was with me.  That's all I needed to know.  How do you thank God properly at a time like that? 
 photo IMG_6690_zpse12391f6.jpg

The next morning I was tending to her when I caught a glimpse of something very red on the inside of her leg.  I tried to investigate.  She wouldn't let me.  But after a time just watching her do her normal things, I saw there was no skin on the inside of her leg.  Just the raw meat of her muscles and tendons.  They weren't torn.  It was a very clean display. 

My young vet had moved back to Greece by then, and I never found anyone again willing to help me at all hours.  I researched myself as much as I could, and because Zooty had recently been bitten by a snake, and Bonnie had disappeared just before that, the next day I concluded it was a snake bite.  Because I had recently cared for another cat, Astro, who lost the skin on his leg, I knew what to do.  It was too late for an anti-venom, but not too late for antibiotics. So she stayed in the enclosure until she healed, a long time, and then I brought her inside.  I think she would have been happy forever inside the enclosure.
twigs kittens photo IMG_3197resz_zps373d749f.jpg
Baba and siblings in my bedroom when they were wee

She wasn't that happy inside the house.  Too many cats.  She felt vulnerable.  But I kept her in for months anyway, until about 2 months ago. One day I let her out.  I wish I hadn't.   

This morning before the sun rose I was on my way to the feeding stations, and I saw  what looked like a cat's body in the dirt road in front of my neighbor's house.  I know my cats go there and eat sometimes.  And theirs come to my house to eat. I stopped my car and got out.  At first I thought it was one of the torties, but I knew they didn't go down there.  As I got closer I saw the torby coloring, and the shape of the feet, and her very distinctive head shape.  I swallowed hard.  I moved her off the road and put her the grass beside.  I would pick her up on the way home.
I took these pictures of her early one morning in the garden last week.  They are the last pictures I took of her. 
Baba Feb. 2016 photo IMG_7092_zpsxtlsbo9p.jpg
I spotted the yellow wildflowers early this year, before it warmed up. There were difficulties the end of last summer, a whole string of them, but since then, until now, I cannot complain.  I had a good run. 
Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.
-- Henry James 
I used to think of romance when I heard this song, now I think of the Holy Spirit, and how to keep Him with me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Very Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:14-15
Wow this really is belated.  But I want to post something I love.  I love Christmas so much.  I will be listening to Christmas carols for at least another month. 
I love this award winning Russian animation of the Nativity so much, I am going to post it permanently in the side bar.  It's one of my favourite things. It has so many wonderful creatures in it: a lion, rabbits, birds, an ox, a donkey, all an essential part of the Nativity story.  In Orthodoxy we don't say Merry Christmas, we say, "Christ is born!  Glorify him!"
Even the humble creatures of the sea glorify Him in this version of events, as it should be. Enjoy. 
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things,...1 Timothy 6:13

Sunday, May 10, 2015


“Believing isn’t wishing, Grady. What you know with your heart is the only thing you really ever know.”   - Dean Koontz, Breathless
 photo IMG_9547AlethiaPawCauliflower_zps09216a05.jpg

For the first time in my life, these last months, since Christmas, I haven't had very much to say. 

I think that's a good thing.  I am hoping so.

I do a lot of things.  I do TNR.  I take in cats from the streets in my village.  I feed and care take colonies. I take care of sick cats in my home.

The last thing is the most trying, taking care of very sick or chronically ill cats. I imagine most people would put some of these sick cats to sleep. I imagine if I put some of them to sleep I would have more time to better care for the healthy ones. I don't know why I continue on with them except that I feel somehow it is the right thing to do.  It's hard to explain my reasoning to someone who is not of my faith, and even to some who are, but then I guess you could argue we are not in the end sharing the same faith.

If you are taking care of sick cats or sick people then you know what it's like.  You know how trying it can be. You know how it can turn you inside out and expose your worst weaknesses and greatest shortcomings.  You may find out you are not who you think you are. You know first-hand the effects of caretaker's syndrome. You learn what a love without limits actually demands in time, energy, selflessness.  You know all about the struggle to remain and become more human.

To value life more than time.  To value life more than convenience. To value life more than money.  To not try to solve the problems of life with death. To become a real person. To seek God's grace.  To be like love.  To see a few miracles.

And I guess that's why we do it. 

Even when it turns us inside out.  Even when we are staring at a horrible stranger in ourselves.  Even when it leaves us breathless.

"All will be well, if we do what is right. "  - Dean Koontz, Breathless

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Christ is Born, Glorify Him! - The "Ultimate Poverty" of Love

Whatever Holy Day you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you peace and joy.  Thank you for your love for and kindness to the animals.

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Here is an amazing story I saw in the news today.  Please don't miss it. It fits right in with the mystery we experience on these wonderful Holy Days as we contemplate the wisdom of God, what His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew calls, "the “ultimate poverty” of God, which always acts as love and which surprised the wise men and the entire world."

nativity icon from Cappodocia photo Navitiy-Icon-from-Cappadocia-620x350_zps182bc9d8.jpg
nativity icon from Cappodocia

Joy to the world for this wonderful surprise, this mystery that always catches us off guard and sets our hearts right.

Monkey Gives First Aid to Electrocuted Friend

VIDEO - Astounding!


by St. Ephraim the Syrian

“Pure is the present night, in which the Pure One appeared, Who came to purify us! Let our hearing be pure, and the sight of our eyes chaste, and the feeling of the heart holy, and th...e speech of the mouth sincere!

The present night is the night of reconciliation; therefore, let no one be wroth against his brother and offend him!

This night gave peace to the whole world, and so, let no one threaten. This is the night of the Most Meek One; let no one be cruel!

This is the night of the Humble One; let no one be proud!

Now is the day of joy; let us not take revenge for offenses! Now is the day of good will; let us not be harsh. On this day of tranquility, let us not become agitated by anger!

Today God came unto sinners; let not the righteous exalt himself over sinners!

Today the Most Rich One became poor for our sake; let the rich man invite the poor to his table!

Today we received a gift which we did not ask for; let us bestow alms to those who cry out to us and beg!

The present day has opened the door of heaven to our prayers; let us also open our door to those who ask of us forgiveness!

Today the Godhead placed upon Himself the seal of humanity, and humanity has been adorned with the seal of the Godhead!”

the “ultimate poverty” of God, which always acts as love and which surprised the wise men and the entire world. Peaches ad Dolly photo IMG_0470_zps11cf9920.jpg
"the “ultimate poverty” of God, which always acts as love and which surprised the wise men and the entire world."

May we all dig for it and find it, this wonderful treasure, this gift, this "ultimate poverty", the humility of love, for which we will be one day be crowned, in every place and in every circumstance we are in.  Especially the most trying ones.

"Let earth receive her king."

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Heart of a Servant

He thinks I’ll be all right
With doctoring. But it’s not medicine—
Lowe is the only doctor’s dared to say so—
It’s rest I want—there, I have said it out—
From cooking meals for hungry hired men       
And washing dishes after them—from doing
Things over and over that just won’t stay done.
(from A Servant to Servants, by Robert Frost)


I am really rethinking Facebook.  That's where I spend most of my time talking about the cats these days.  It's weird, so different than this blog, which was a lot of work when I kept it up regularly, but I enjoyed it.  It was rewarding.  On the other hand, I have met many nice people on FB and people who have helped the cats and me and I would miss them. 

The thing is, I feel like I can't tell the truth on FB, because every time I do, if people are involved, people always think what I write is about them, even when it is not.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe because people go there searching for a reflection of themselves.  But I am really not prepared not to tell the truth about what the experience of trying to help and look after these cats and other animals is like.  It's not all jingle bell collars, it's a little of that, and that's nice.  I like that, too.  And it is not all cats that are about to...


or cars aiming at and running over stray dogs, because let's face it, I have lived here for about 9 years now and last weekend is the first time I have witnessed it, even though I hear about it all the time. I have witnessed more poisonings and shootings, and even then, thankfully that's not even 50% of what I see.

Mostly it's in the middle.  Hungry cats.   Sick cats.  Lots of sick cats. Sick cats that pull through, and sick cats I stay up with while they die, when I can stay awake that is. Skinny cats with one good eye eating olives and bread that the locals throw out for them,  Cats hit by cars I pull out of the road and bury when I can.  Cats with diarrhea.  Dumped kittens. Litter boxes, food orders, dirty empty bowls, endless dishwashing, laundry, laundry, laundry I never get through, cleaning floors, vet visits, failed trappings, cat fights, jumping out the window in the middle of the night to break up cat fights, trouble making ends meet, trouble with people that don't like cats, feral cats that disappear after I alter them, and missing cats in general.  It's not what people want to hear about on Facebook.  They either want the jingle or the gore, and, well, that's just not what most of it is, and all that middle stuff doesn't seem to fit in there, where everyone is putting either their best face forward or their goriest, most upsetting one. 

I do want to write about what it is really like, for the benefit and consolation of cat rescuers if nothing else, but also because I like to write, it helps me understand things, it's like a puzzle coming together.  And, see, if I wrote this on FB, someone would take offense, because they would think I am talking about them, and I am not thinking of anyone in particular.

Maybe I will just put the cute pictures and the horrible things that happen there and save the rest for this blog. 

Although I have to say, it's a pretty sad state when sickness and death from sickness become part of the middle thing, but they have in this world. The dog that was killed in the crusher at a hotel is gone, and yet people are still talking about him and donating like crazy to get justice.  The skinny one eyed cat is still eating olives on the street corner and rescue kittens need their vaccinations and people scroll right past.

Could it be that people would rather punish human beings than save animals?

And maybe FB is no place for the truth.

How about you?  Don't you find that the hardest stuff to get through is all that stuff in the middle that never stops?  Even if it is not cats you are taking care of?

By good rights I ought not to have so much
Put on me, but there seems no other way.
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.       
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through—
Leastways for me—and then they’ll be convinced.
(from A Servant to Servants, by Robert Frost)