Goodbye dear Spanky…

Today, we had to say goodbye to our sweet girl Spanky and I need to share.

Spanky was a stray who came into our lives twelve years ago. A black cat who wore a white bikini. She was pregnant when we found her roaming the neighborhood. We started feeding her, but left her alone, thinking she might go back to wherever she belonged. She gave birth to three kittens in the a roll of carpeting, in the back of a neighbor’s truck. We decided to take her in when the young neighbor showed up at our door with a pure white kitten in his hands asking what he should do.

At that point in time, we had four adults, two dogs and two cats already living in our home. Fortunately our home and our hearts had enough room to fit her in. She quickly became a part of the family, although she truly preferred being a one pet family. She tolerated the other animals, and people, and became extremely loyal and attached to my honey and I. It took us almost three weeks to find the perfect name for her. I remember lying in bed next to my honey tossing names about, when he said, “How about Otis Spankmeyer the third? Spanky for short”. It fit her a personality, and the name stuck.

She was the youngster in the house. We got her spayed, and she outlived all the others. In 2011, we became empty nesters. My dad had retired, and my folks decided they wanted to spend some retirement years in their own place. They had moved in with us several years earlier when we purchased a large home with in law quarters. They took their cat with them. We downsized, just us and the two cats. A while later, we had close friends, family really, who were moving from another state to our town. They moved in with us for six months while they found jobs and looked for their own place. A few days later, I found cat pee on my down comforter on my bed! My first thought was that our older cat had started to lose her faculties. She was, after all, fifteen years old. We battled the peeing for a few weeks, and I was ready to put her down. Until… one day I walked into the room and found Spanky on the bed trying to hide some fresh pee!!!! That little stinker!!

A regimen of canned pumpkin for a possible bladder infection and replacing the comforter put an end to the peeing. The vet said she may have just been mad at us for bringing change into the house. She ended up having a love hate relationship with the guy who moved in. He loved to tease and play with her, and in later years would treat her to pieces of shredded mozzarella cheese when he visited.

Spanky loved to play hide and seek with her daddy when he arrived home from work. Often running from him into a room, waiting for him to come find her, and when he did, she would bolt to a different room. She was a triller too. Whenever she would jump, awaken to a pet on the head, she would let out a squeaky little trill. It was like an early warning that she was coming up into the bed to cuddle. She loved to cuddle in the mornings. She would crawl under the covers with me for about 15 minutes, and she would stretch out next to her daddy a little later in the morning for love. At night, she loved being scooped up by her daddy like a baby, and would gently paw at his chin while he stroked her back.

She was a hunter, and cleared the backyard of voles when we first moved in. Patiently she would wait at a hole, watching and listening, sometimes for a half hour, before suddenly springing and flinging a one of the little creatures into the air with her teeth.

These past couple months were filled with many vet visits, and she quickly gained a reputation as the “infamous Spanky” amongst the vets. They even marked on her chart beware of fast teeth.

Our favorite thing was sitting in the backyard on a warm sabbath morning, drinking coffee and watching her chase bugs in the backyard.

The tears and sobbing comes and goes. I know that with time, the hole she leaves in our hearts will shrink. We are entering another chapter of life. She brought us great joy, we brought her great joy. No one is immortal except the Almighty. But, the hole she leaves in our home may well make space to bless another abandoned animal in the future. She will be desperately missed. Rest in peace with no more suffering, our dear Pookie Bear, our Spanky Girl.


Beautiful chaos…

That pretty much describes my life this past week. Our daughters family arrived from overseas to visit, our other grands came to spend time with their cousins. I have been called upon to watch the youngest, ages 3 and 9 months almost daily. All the while, our cat is trying to recover from surgery, which means broken sleep for me. The cone hits a wall, or the headboard and I am awake. Add to all that the inspections I have to attend on our property, paperwork I need to stay on top of and being the contractor’s go-fer, and I feel like an octopus with every leg being pulled in a different direction.

It has been hard to settle down and just enjoy things. For instance, we were invited to a concert in the park, and I found myself not wanting to go because I had too much I could be doing at home. It took about a half hour for me to settle in and enjoy. But, I am reminding myself to take time to play with the visiting grands, and not to resent their need for love. And I am enjoying every giggle, growl, smile, “Gwammi” I hear. This will have to sustain me for the next year once they go home.


Here I am, sitting still while my toes nail polish dries. I only use polish when I have a special occasion to attend. This weekend we have a neice getting married. Most of the family will be there. Sadly, one family is angry with a couple siblings, and probably won’t come so as not to bump into them. Another will be there, but holds a grudge against a couple. Another will be there and is bitter about the whole debacle that set these things in motion.

Family gatherings are awkward with this side. I pray that there can be forgiveness for perceived wrongs and restoration of relationships, but to date, that has not happened. And so we gather. If the conversation comes up, my honey and I try to steer people towards forgiving, letting go of bitterness, resentment and anger.

During my divorce, many years ago, I prayed, and asked God to show me what part I had played in my husband’s discontent and subsequent affair. I don’t remember how the answer came, but the prayer was answered immediately. God reminded me of a humiliating incident that happened during the early years of our marriage. It was completely unintentional, and I responded improperly. I won’t go into details. But I remembered thinking to myself that I would never let him do that to me again, whereas I should have shared my emotions with him and dealt with it immediately. I had hardened my heart towards my husband and was harboring unforgiveness. I repented, asking God to cleanse my heart of the hardness. After, I went to my husband and confessed my sin to him and asked him to forgive me. He flew off the handle, saying I wasn’t to blame, this was all him, and more. My apology was not received. I chose to forgive him for the perceived humiliation, which he never intended, and I was at peace, knowing that I had done the right thing.

Sometime in the past year, I clicked on a Facebook video someone posted. There was a gentleman talking about forgiving. He stated that forgiveness is not for the benefit of the other person, it is for our freedom. He illustrated this by holding a one liter soda bottle in his hand with his arm outstretched. He said that in the beginning, that wrong that we hold onto isn’t a big deal, not very heavy. But hold it long enough, and it becomes a burden, wearying the arm muscles, until cramping begins and eventually it will involuntarily drop from ones grasp. Kinda like those endurance challenges on the reality show Survivor. In order US to be free, WE must let go of the wrongs others may perpetrate against us.

We also need to realize that the person who wronged us may be holding sorrow or guilt in their hearts about the wrong, but is paralyzed or doesn’t know they should ask for forgiveness. Who knows, if our asking for forgiveness for the way we responded to the wrong, may set someone else free to ask forgives for the wrong they perpetrated.

Today, set your heart free by choosing to forgive, even if forgiveness is not asked for. May you come to know the joy of walking in true freedom.

Twenty years…

Tuesday will be our twentieth wedding anniversary. My honey blessed me with a long weekend trip to Banff, Canada, to celebrate. We honeymooned there, many years ago, and have returned a few times since.

It was hard leaving. I was finishing up misc. building things up until we were ready to leave. I hate to admit it, but I also brought two little things with me to do while we were gone. To be honest, I knew the weather was going to be rainy, and we would probably have one full day in the hotel room, so I don’t feel too bad for bringing work with me.

Spanky cat wasn’t real happy with us. She was fine the day before we left, because I was the only one who has pulled out a suitcase. But when dad pulled one out too, she gave it to us. First, she jumped into his suitcase, pleading her case to come with us. When that didn’t work, she followed my honey around as he went around the house gathering his stuff to pack. She finally perched on a sweater I was going to wear, figuring I couldn’t leave if she was on it. She was wrong. She retreated to her bed donut, and watched us pack with her ears laid back. When we were ready to go, I wrapped my arms around her, rubbing my chin on her head. I whispered a little prayer of protection for her, then counted off the days until we would return to her. We have always counted off days until we return to our pets. I think it makes us feel better that they know how long we will be gone.

My honey is great at finding unique hotels to stay in. We stayed at The Fox. A beautiful lodge style hotel. We had a loft room, on the fourth floor. The views were spectacular! We were close to downtown, but not too close. We enjoyed some time in the semi outdoor hot pools, created to mimic some local cave hot springs. That always helps the achy joints that weren’t an issue twenty years ago. We made decisions about garage door styles, heating options for the house, design decisions for the house and more. The conversation flowed smoothly, and yet, we were also content to sit on the couch quietly reading, or watching a basketball game.

It was a nice weekend in spite of the rain. A much needed respite form the hustle and bustle we left behind, and would have to return to.

I hope you can find a time of respite from your hustle and bustle, even if it is only a few hours.

A Gana memory…

My maternal grandmother’s nickname was Gana. Not sure what it stood for, where it came from, but we called her that as long as I can remember. My other grandmother was Grandma in Florida, because, yes, she lived in Florida. We continued using that name even after Florida became North Carolina, then Massachusetts. When she began having great grand children LC the name changed to Gigi, the initials GG spelled out. You guessed it, that stood for great grandma.

I have so many grandmother memories, but today I want to share one specific memory of Gana. At the age of ten, my folks decided she should no longer live alone due to some dizzy spells she had been complaining of. Doctors called it Ménière’s disease, my dad called it asking for attention. She was a highly independent woman. Her mother died when she was in her later teens, her father slipped into alcoholism, she raised her younger sister, putting her through college instead of attending herself. She married and go pregnant, only to have her new husband decide he wasn’t coming home from the war, he’d met a foreign woman. My mother never met her birth father. She remarried when my mother was twelve. By then she had developed a hardened shell after being a single, working mother in a predominately male world. He left after my mother graduated from high school, but kept in touch with my mother, and many years later, I was blessed to meet the man for a meal when he passed through the area. He died soon after.

I was an impressionable pre-teen when she moved in with us. She was always impeccably groomed. She visited a salon once a week to have her hair “done”, which meant curled and styled. Pantsuits were her clothing of choice, pants, a coordinating shirt, matching jacket and shoes, and of course her earrings. She had a huge jewelry box that she let me look through every time I used to visit. I now have it, with all her old jewelry in it. My children played with it, my grand daughters have played with it, and hopefully, the next few generations of girls will also play with it.

Every Friday, she would sit at the kitchen table and do her nails. Old nail polish was removed first, they were shaped with an emery board, then she would soak her fingers to soften the cuticles. An orange stick would push them back. After drying them, new polish was applied. She had two favorite colors, a gentle coral and a gentle mauve, both had a not glitter, but that metallic type luster to them. During the summers, I would often sit and watch the process, and we would talk. She would tell me that I had such beautiful fingers, and that I really should stop biting my nails. She would encourage me to work on my posture by saying that I had a beautiful swans neck and that I really should sit up straighter.

As she aged, and her sight worsened, she had someone at the salon she visited weekly do her nails for her. A few years after becoming a grandma myself, I found myself desiring to do my nails also. Maybe I was feeling old, maybe I was wanting to treat myself, and maybe, it was a way to stay connected to her memory, or all of the above. My grandmother was able to keep her polish nice for a week, why couldn’t I? Oh! Because I garden, clean and do other stuff my grandmother didn’t do. I tied gels a few times for special occasions, only to have to spend the next six months nursing my nails back to health. Recently, a friend introduced me to Red Aspen nail dashes. They are glue ons that look fairly natural. Since we leave tomorrow for a 20 year anniversary weekend trip, I thought it would be fun to have pretty nails. I bought and I applied.

So here’s the rub. I love the way the nails look and feel. They make me feel feminine, which I often don’t feel when I have been on a construction site all day. But, I also feel… fake? Kinda like I am putting on airs. When I see another woman with her nails done, I don’t think she is fake, or haughty, I just love seeing her nails and all the fun things people can do to them these days. And as I am writing this, the answer is already there. My grandmother did it to present herself in a certain way. She felt the need to look professional, confident and strong, even after she retired. It was part of her persona. Women today do it because they love feeling feminine, treating themselves because they deserve something nice too. And so, I am caught battling between two mindsets.

I am going to enjoy the nails for the weekend, but I am not sure if I will wear them regularly. Maybe just for those special occasions when I want that extra feminine touch. Just as my Gana had to be true to herself, I need to be true to myself. I am not my grandmother. I am me, I am Grammi.

May you see something beautiful and strong about yourself today, and embrace it instead of excusing it.

My Gana’s jewelry box.


If you have ever been owned by a cat, this will resonate with the deepest part of your soul. How is it that a cat will expand to fill any sized empty space on a bed at night? And why do they prefer to lay between your legs, trapping you in one position instead of next to you?

For those of us of a certain age, the between the legs thing is torture! I already struggle with hot flashes, or power surges, as my friends who don’t want to admit they are getting older say. You put that furry little ball of heat between, or on the legs and it is a recipe for setting the bed on fire! I kid you not! I used to appreciate the extra heat during the cold winter months, but no more. Maybe once I have the hot flashes under control?

Then there are the water drinking habits. Our girl, Spanky, Otis Spankmeyer the III, LOVES to be hoisted into the bathroom counter to drink water from a dripping facet. Our facets don’t drip, but we oblige and turn it on for her. Of course we wait for her to be done. We wait, and wait, and wait, wondering if she is part camel. She used to jump down on her own, but the older she gets, the more often she will wait for us to gently lift her down. I think it is easier on the bones and brain than the jarring jump.

Our black cat, Spankie, aka.: Pookie and Butthead, was a stray. She joined the family when we had two teens, our two dogs and one cat, my parents and their cat all under one roof. She is a hisser, and would often hiss and batt at the dogs. Our other cat at the time rules the roost, and Spanky avoided her. Mom’s cat stayed in their room near mom. It wasn’t until a few years later when we moved my dad and his cat PK into the same house with us and Spanky that we learned she is also a screamer. I still remember the first time she and PK went at it, and she let out a blood curdling scream that belonged in a horror movie! My heart was beating so fast when I heard that! Over the past 5 years, I have gotten used to the sound. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I don’t jump anymore. We do keep the cats separated at night though, just so that scream doesn’t jump start our hearts at 3:00am.

My dad’s cat PK, short for Phantom Cat, has always had health issues. When he got the beautiful Tortoise Shell cat as a rescue after my mom died, he didn’t see her for six months. He knew she was in the house, because there was poop in the litter box, and the food would disappear. It wasn’t until he took in a stray kitten I had found that she magically appeared. Since then, he hasn’t been able to shut the little chatter box up. For the first several years, she hated being picked up, and was skittish. We think she may have been in a less than tolerant house at some time. She is also afraid of the outdoors. After ten years of lovingly and quietly working with her, she will tolerate being picked up, and sometimes enjoys it. One reason she didn’t like being picked up, was that it would often trigger a coughing fit. A vet said she needed drugs, or eventually all the cats in the house would have it (we had three at the time). But we are pretty sure it is asthma. We affectionately say she has a smokers voice and cough. Who knows what her past held. And so, I will be trying some homeopathy on her here real soon. It also appears that she may be having seizures. This manifested in front of me the other day for the first time. It would actually explain some other behavior we had been wondering about.

You may be thinking that we are just cat lovers, but that isn’t at all true. We have had dogs too. Raised them, fallen in love with them, lost them. After my Australian Sheep dog Sunny died 8 years ago, we decided that our lives were too busy to have dogs. There is an element of stress making sure they are let out regularly, finding someone to housesit them when you go on vacation, walk them. We just haven’t been ready to tread that path again.

Probably the hardest part of being a pet owner is the end of life. You spend ten to twenty years with these animals. You learn their personalities, they become a friend you find yourself talking to when you need a listening ear, and then you watch their health decline. It’s hard knowing that inevitably, death will happen. It does to us all, eventually. I am trying to learn to reframe death as being as much a part of life as living is. We gave her a good life, filled with love and care. As hard as our furry friends deaths will be, maybe that will just give us an open space to rescue another one, and continue the cycle of loving.

We’ll see. In the meantime, I will tell her to stop snoring on the other couch.