cats

The reality is…raccoons are known pests. They tear through the trash. They eat food that is supposed to be for the dog or cat. They go into people’s homes by way of their doggy doors, and the resulting home invasion is disastrous. All that is true, but then you look at their antics, and I for one have a really hard time “hating” them. I know that lots of people will totally disagree with me, but just look at their cute little faces. No, I have not had a raccoon sneak into my house, but my neighbors have, and the stories they tell are…well, yikes!!

I suppose that their stories should have made me realize just exactly what pests raccoons are, but they really don’t know any better. They are just doing what comes naturally. As human take over more and more of the world, there is little chance of avoiding all interaction with animals, and truth be told, I don’t think I would want to. For anyone who has stepped out their back door to see deer lounging in their yard, watched the squirrels on the power lines deliberately teasing the neighbor’s dogs to make them bark, the woodpecker pecking on the neighbor’s metal chimney early in the morning, and yes, the sneaky raccoon stealing your dog’s food, their antics are sometimes really funny. I love the videos of dancing deer, bears sitting at the picnic table, deer and cats playing together, and funny shots of animals in all stages of being startled by each other.

Yes, there are dangerous animals, and we would do well to keep our distance from them, but there are more animals who seem to have a wonderful sense of humor, and if we can get a peek at them when they aren’t aware of us, we might see them in some of their funniest antics. The raccoon washing his bread before he easts it, even if it totally dissolves before it gets to his mouth, or laying lazily in a tree branch sleeping with its leg hanging over the sides. You might even get to see a little raccoon peeking at you from the tree branches where he is hiding. Yes, they are pests. Yes, they get into things, but they are just trying to share the space we all live in. Next time you are outside, take a look around you. You just might be surprised to see a wild animal being totally funny.

My grand-niece, Hattie Parmely is the second child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. They live on a farm outside of Casper, where Hattie and her siblings Reagan, Bowen, and Maeve are learning the ropes of taking care of farm animals. They have chickens, goats, cows, dogs, cats, and horses. Hattie and her siblings have no qualms about helping out. They get right in there and help clean out stalls, feed the animals, and of course, love on the new babies as they come along. They totally love their fur babies.

Hattie has mastered her bicycle now, and is becoming quite the equestrian. She looks so cute riding her little pony. She can’t get up by herself yet, but that will come as she gets taller. Hattie has grown up around these horses, so she has learned to make them comfortable with her. It’s strange to see this little girl standing in the midst of great big horses. Yet she is not afraid, and they aren’t either.

Hattie, along with big sister Reagan, are their parents big helpers. With a little brother and a new little sister, there is lots to do. Hattie is learning all the things that she can do to help her parents around the house, and she stubbornly sticks to things until she has mastered them. Hattie is in the unique position of the two girls, because she has a big sister to show her the ropes. Reagan loves her little sister. The two girls are very close, and very good friends. I find that siblings who live in the country tend to be good friends. Maybe it is the distance from other playmates, or maybe it is a mutual love that comes from learning to cooperate to get anything done. Whatever the case may be, these two girls are the best of friends. Of course, they both love their younger siblings too. Hattie is a very caring girl who often puts the needs of others ahead of herself. Kindness and compassion are traits that will carry her all her life. Today is Hattie’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is a hardworking and very busy guy. Josh works two jobs. He services fire extinguishers at All Out Fire, and at Sanford’s Grub and Pub, where he is a jack of all trades. I guess that five years in the restaurant industry teaches you every job. Josh doesn’t have much time off. His jobs keep him very busy, and we, his family don’t get to see much of him. It’s part of what he does to be able to live as an adult. Sometimes you have to, work more than one job to make ends meet…especially in this economy.

Josh has a couple of pets, whom he loves very much. His little Dachshund dog, named Molly is his best pal. I’ll never forget when he first got Molly, and he loved her so much that he carried her everywhere. I don’t think that dog walk three feet in those days, and she still doesn’t walk much when Josh is around. I think Molly has completely convinced Josh that it is his responsibility to carry her everywhere. He also has Lilly, the cat, who has a couple of kittens.

Josh has such a soft heart, me I think Molly takes advantage of that fact, but I guess it doesn’t hurt anything. It is Josh’s soft heart, in my opinion, that makes him excel in the EMT/Firefighter field. Josh is studying to do both, and is very good at both. He has the heart of a helper. He doesn’t like to see anyone with a need left unmet. It doesn’t matter if the need is medical or some other need, Josh tries to help. It isn’t that he always has the excess to meet a need, but he will sacrifice his own needs for the needs of others in a heartbeat.

Today, as Josh turns 21, I find myself almost in shock that this, my youngest grandchild could already be 21 years old. He is no longer a child, he is a man. He works more than full time, and lives on his own, with two roommates, and a menagerie of assorted pets. Josh is responsible. He gets to work on time, takes care of his animals and his home and he studies and gets good grades. He makes me proud. A grandmother couldn’t ask for anything more. Today is Josh’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Nick Olsen became my grandnephew when he married my grandniece, Siara this past summer. Nick is perfect for Siara. They love to laugh, and they are always doing funny things. Nick loves to make people laugh, and he has a funny, sarcastic way to do just that. That is something I like. I find comedic sarcasm to be extremely fun, and I like when people are able to laugh at themselves. That describes Nick perfectly. He’s usually up for whatever goofy things Siara wants to do. I think his joking ways were probably in large part one of the things that attracted Siara to him in the first place.

Nick is a hard working man, who takes good care of his wife, and will someday make a great dad, I’m sure. He came from a big family, with 6 siblings, and he loves his mom very much. I’m sure he will want to have his own family. Nick and Siara already have two fur babies, Forest and Emma…their cats. Siara tells me that Nick is obsessed with Emma, and she’s not too sure he doesn’t love the cat more than he does her, but I don’t think so. Nick can fix just about anything, and so he keeps things in their house in good repair. He also likes to “surprise” Siara with a very clean house when she gets home from work. Now that makes him a pretty rare sort of a guy, and a keeper for sure.

Nick and Siara’s dad, Dave Balcerzak have bonded quite well over sports, as well as everything else. They really enjoy getting together to watch the football games. Nick’s favorite team is the Seahawks, but Siara and Dave’s is the Steelers. I’m not sure how that works while watching the games, but they seem to be able to deal with their differences, and the games they spend time watching together are mutually fun for everyone…unless the two teams are playing against each other, that is…then it’s probably war!! Even if they were playing against each other, I’m sure that there would be some good natured ribbing, especially from the winner, but they would still be good friends, and that’s great, because Siara loves her daddy and her hubby, and she loves that they get along so well. Today is Nick’s birthday. Happy birthday Nick!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In my niece, Elizabeth “Liz” Masterson’s 14 year teaching career she has molded the minds of about 1680 students. I’m sure that there were some students she couldn’t change much, but many others have been forever changed for the better because of Liz’s teaching abilities. Of course, there are always those special students…who really pull out the best Liz has to give. Those students have stayed friends with Liz since they were students. She has been invited to their weddings, baby showers, and they have remained friends on Facebook, because Liz is the kind of teacher they never want to forget.

Many of her students call Liz, Mast or Miss Mast. It isn’t a derogatory name, but rather a show of respect. It is, of course, the first part of her last name, but the respect is in the way the students say the name. Liz likes the name so much that she even named her photography sideline business, Miss Mast Photography. I think it is a term that shows her how much they like her as a teacher, and that shows in the lifelong friendships she has made with her students.

Liz is an amazing teacher, and she is interested in so many things. Her students see how passionate she is about teaching, an how knowledgeable she is on the subjects she teaches. I have had the opportunity to listen to Liz as she talked about the yearly Holocaust section she does, and as she spoke, I found myself shocked at how much she knew. I always thought of myself as pretty knowledgeable about the Holocaust, but I am finding out that she could easily teach me quite a bit. I think that is what you get when you combine an inquisitive mind with a teacher. Liz is a great teacher, and her students will tell you that she definitely makes learning fun. I wish I could have had Liz be my teacher, but that would have been impossible, unless she decides to leave the high school arena, and teach college, and I took a class.

Liz is also mom to her four little Fur Babies…dogs, Luka, Scout and Buffy, and her cat, Piper…AKA Kitty. Liz is as good a mommy as she is a teacher. If her babies are spoiled, it is with love. They have to be at the house alone during the day, while Liz is working, so at night she really hates to leave them alone. If she has to be at an event, she usually takes the dogs to her mom, my sister Cheryl Masterson’s house, so she can babysit them. And they totally love that she does that. I think it makes them feel very special. Kitty stays home, because she likes the peace and quiet for a while. Yes, I guess they are just a little bit spoiled, but she likes to think she is molding their minds too. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, people can associate certain things with certain religions, and even Satanism. They can then make decisions on life based on what they perceive something to be. Unfortunately, sometimes those decisions end up being disastrous. Such was the case with Pope George IX, who decided that cats where a part of devil worship, and so ruled that cats should be exterminated. Cats throughout Europe were exterminated in droves immediately thereafter. Of course, we know that while some religions might use certain animals in their religious practices, that does not make the animal evil…but rather, the animal is a victim of that religion, much like people in certain religions use snakes as a part of worship.

After the cats were removed from Europe, an unexpected and horrific side effect occurred. The sudden lack of cats led to the spread of disease because infected rats ran free. The most devastating of these diseases, the Bubonic Plague, killed 100 million people. Pope Gregory lived from 1145 to 1241, AD, so little was known about how disease was passed. He was born Ugolino di Conti but took the name Gregory when he became the pope. That was when Ugolino was over 80 years old, not a young age to take on the papal role.

The cat fiasco is just one part of Pope Gregory IX’s story. He is mostly known for issuing the Decretals and starting the Papal Inquisition. The Decretals reorganized the whole library of Catholic laws. The papal inquisition rained down justice on heretics, the people who spoke out against the church. It was Gregory’s past as a lawyer that connected him to his acts of justice within the church. It was his distaste for cats that penned the Vox in Rama (the papal decree – this one about the cats). That was the first church document condemning black cats as instruments of satan. By Gregory’s decree, there was a target on the head of every black cat. The Black Death or Black Plague was the original zombie apocalypse. People living during this time lived in constant fear of death. Many believed this was the end of the human race, and that is understandable. It was one of the most deadly pandemics in history. By rough estimates, as many as 200 million people died. If you survived, you lost many loved ones, and in Europe, it was all because of a lack of cats.

My grand niece, Jala Satterwhite is really into horses, and she is blessed enough to live on a small ranch seven miles outside of Powell, Wyoming, where she has access to them every day. Jala loves all kinds of sports, and she is in great shape, but horses are her true love. They have five horses on the property. Two belong to Jala and her family, and the other three belong to her step-dad’s parents, but Jala and her little sister, Kaytlyn get to have access to them all. Of course, horses aren’t the only animals they have. There are also four cats and three dogs to play with and take care of. My niece, Susan Griffith, Jala’s mom tells me that they are slowly buying more things for the horses, and she comments that what used to be an economical mode of travel, sure is expensive these days. They would love to be able to go riding more often and for longer distances.

This summer, Jala did get to go on a week long back pack trip with a group of young ladies. It was called Dano Camp. It was a completely amazing experience. I had no idea what that was, so I looked into it. Per their website, “Dano Youth Camp was established in memory of the life and character of Danny “Dano” Ostrom. The camps are unique in that they provide the equipment…tents, backpacks, camping gear, food, etc…and the basic gear needed for the trip. The only requirement of the campers is to fill out the appropriate paperwork, make a commitment to the time frame, bring along a few personal items, and be prepared for summer fun!” It sounds like an amazing experience for the kids, and it sure was for Jala.

This seems to be the summer of camps for Jala. She also attended the Youth Life Camp in Oregon, and just got back last Friday. Jala describes it as the best week of her life. The camp is a Christian camp, and Jala is growing closer to God everyday. That makes her parents, and me, very happy. I’m sure the camp in Oregon, where she was surrounded by other young people who are believers too, was an amazing experience. It’s wonderful to be able to share your faith with others. For Jala, it has also been a camping summer, because the day she got back from Oregon, the family loaded up and headed for the Big Horn Mountains to go camping for the weekend. It’s a good thing that Jala is an outdoor sort of girl, because she sure didn’t spend much time indoors this summer.

Jala is going to be a Freshman in high school this year, and will be participating in swimming competitions. Jala did some diving competitions last year too. Practice for that started yesterday, even though school has not started yet. As most people know, gearing up for the school year is almost as busy as the first day. Nevertheless, it’s going to be a great and exciting year for Jala…especially since she is now old enough to get her learner’s permit and start learning to drive. Today is Jala’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

goats-milkanimals-and-kidsMy niece, Ashley Parmely, who married my nephew, Eric five years ago, was raised largely in the country. She loved horses, dogs, and cats, which I knew, but what I didn’t know was that she really loves all animals. Since she and Eric bought a house next door to her parents, initially to be near her beloved horses, I have found out that her love of animals knows no bounds. She probably could have been a veterinarian. Ashley and Eric, now have goats, chickens, cows, and even little piggies. Some of these may belong to Ashley’s parents, but that makes no difference. Eric, Ashley, and their girls, Reagan and Hattie take care of the animals as much as anyone does. They just love being around the animals. Ashley is teaching her girls to take care of, and be gentle with the animals, and in turn the animals love the girls. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and Ashley treats us to lots of pictures of the her family with the different animals.

Lately, Ashley has been working to get her goats milk tested, because apparently if you are going to sell the milk, it has to pass a certain number of tests to show it is of good quality. I never knew that before, but I guess if you are around farm animals, and plan to make some money off of them, you have to find out all the quality control details first. Growing up with a farming background, Ashley knew that, and of course, her parents also did, so they could show her the ropes. Ashley and her little family are all working together to make their little farm a great success.

Of course, farming isn’t the only thing Ashley is about. She loves being a wife and mother, and her family’s happiness if her first priority. She is such a good mother…playing with the girls, and teaching them new things. taking-a-breakashley-hattie-hikingThe girls like to go on walks and hikes with their parents, and Reagan, being in preschool, is learning new things including Spanish…but I’m getting ahead of myself, because that is tomorrow’s story. You see, four years ago, Ashley was given a wonderful, but one day late, birthday gift, when little Reagan arrived. Now her life is very busy with two very active little girls, and a farm full of animals. It’s a far cry from the single life she had before she and Eric were married, and one that makes her very happy. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Tin Bath TubCCI06282012_00022_editeddaIn the days before running water in homes, people had to go to river to bath, or bring water into the house from the river, creek, or well, and heat it on the stove so the family could bathe. Since families were usually large, the whole process took time, and heating water over and over again was not really feasible. What that meant was that the family pretty much all bathed in the same bath water. For the last guy, that had to be…well, disgusting, but that was the way it was done back in the old west, and even in more recent times when there was no running water in homes. For the little kids, however, I seriously doubt if it mattered. Getting wet was getting wet, and it really just didn’t matter what the water looked like…at least to the little boys. Girls might have felt differently. I think I would have.

Personally, if I had a river or creek available, I think I would use that…in the summer anyway. Then again, there is very little privacy in a river or creek…and you can’t exactly put up a curtain around a river. I can’t really imagine how they lived that way exactly. I guess in that way I’m a modern girl, and don’t try to take my shower away from me. Maybe that’s why Bob and I don’t go camping…no running water, or if there is, it’s very inconvenient. As I have said before, I love hiking and being outdoors, but I like the modern conveniences of a hotel room afterward.

Of course, when homes got running water, bathing in an old tin bath tub went the way of all things old west. Nevertheless, for babies…it doesn’t matter if they are bathing or just playing in a bucket, pan, or clothes Lazy QuincyAmy in a Shoe Boxbasket. Kids just like to play in them. I don’t think there is anything so amazing about that, like a throwback to the old west days of bathing in a barrel, but rather that kids just like finding different places to play. Things like an old box, barrel, or clothes basket are perfect. In that way, they remind me of cats. If you have ever watched a cat, you will find that they see a space, and if it looks fairly close to a good fit, in they dive. Babies tend to be that way too…but, the thing that is the funniest about that is when the baby tries to fit into a box that is seriously too small. Nevertheless, it’s a baby or cat thing.

imageWe often don’t realize how much we are like our parents or our children are like us, until a picture provides us with the realization that the thing we thought was so cute they our child did, was not so very different than the things we did at their age. That very thing jumped out at me when I was looking at this picture of my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me holding our cats when we were little girls. I was probably about the same age then as my daughter, Amy Royce was when she, because of her love for her kitties wanted to hold the two of them at once. Because her little arms were not able to keep the kitties held around their tummies, they ended up being held around their necks. I was always impressed with those sweet cats, in that they did not scratch my little daughter for putting them in that precarious position, but rather seemed to understand that she loved them and that she was doing her best. I have seen cats scratch a child for less, but our cats never did. Amy's as a present

Had I known then, what I do now, I might have thought to get a picture of Amy holding our cats by their necks, but while I thought it was very cute, and I have never forgotten it, somehow, I never thought to take that picture, and so the kitty events of Amy’s past live only in my memory files now. Nevertheless, looking at the picture my parents did think to take, I can see that the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree. Quite possibly, Amy got her kitty handling skills from her mom, since the neck seemed to be the easiest place for me to hold my kitties too, and since they don’t look particularly upset be the whole situation, I guess they didn’t scratch me either.

There are many ways that Amy is my mini-me, and this picture just goes to show that. We are alike in our personalities, and in the way we do things…although I must say I was surprised to find that when it came to handling cats, we were exactly the same too. What I find equally surprising is that our cats never took our clumsiness out on us. They just instinctively knew that we loved them very much, and that was enough for the scan0031cats. I can imagine that my mom and dad tried repeatedly to get me to hold the kitties differently, but somehow it always ended up the same…just like it did with Amy.

Cats can be mean, and scratch you for the slightest infraction of the rules of pet care, but I think that when they know that you are a little kid, and that you are doing your best, they tend to cut you a little slack. I don’t think I ever hit the cats or pulled on their tails, and I know that Amy didn’t either. Our cats just knew that we were their little human, and they loved us very much. That shows in the amount of time they spent around us, even if we were asleep. Yes, in pet interests, as well as many other areas of life, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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