Cat Ghosts And Halloween

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. No I don’t mean Christmas!

Halloween! Yep, you’re all nodding your heads and smiling right now. If you’re a paranomo-phile (yes, I made up that word) you love this time. The veil between the worlds thins out and we all hope for that contact, a brush with the beyond. Maybe you’ve lost someone special and you’d like just a little touch to show you they’re okay.

That’s what happened to me.

CMagic

In the week or so leading up to last night I’d been seeing little black flashes out of the corner of my eye, especially in her favorite spots; on my shoes, on top of the couch. Magic was only 14, but I wasn’t ready to lose her. Oh, I suppose you never are ready to lose one of your fur kids. It feels like they take a piece of your soul when they leave. I’d lost Jasper two years ago but while Magic and her older sibling Sage were older kitties, they seemed to be in excellent health. Until I noticed she was losing weight, then I felt that tiny lump under her jaw. So little, I thought Sage bit her while they were playing. Except it got bigger, and in just under a month I was crying at the vet over my sweet little girl. She had bone cancer, a very fast, aggressive one. It had already destroyed her jaw. As soon as I saw her x-ray I knew I wouldn’t be taking my little girl home and I had to say goodbye.

Every scrap of clinical and spiritual knowledge in my extensive experience couldn’t ease my breaking heart. It was the right thing, the compassionate thing to do. I knew her little spirit was only transitioning over, and as she passed I watched her move out of her body and into the loving arms of my spirit guide, surrounded by my other departed pets. But I still missed my sweet editor kitty, and how she used to lay on my hands and “help” me write. My writing corner is just a little colder in the weeks and months since she passed. It hurts still to sit and work, and tears often spill when I prop my feet up on the foot stool under my desk where she loved to sleep while I worked.

This is how she helped me write.
This is how she helped me write.

But this week, I’ve felt her near, seen her little black body flash from place to place. She tapped on the shower door like she used to the other night, making it shake and rattle strongly, and I saw a black spot dash away around the corner. But as I sat down to write a Halloween blog, wondering which topic I should address I swept my feet up onto my footstool and pushed a heavy little furry body onto the floor. Magic wasn’t exactly a svelte kitty.

I see and sense spirits on a daily basis, but actual physical encounters with them are rare for me. As with every other time I have physically touched a ghost I didn’t think it was a paranormal encounter at first. My first thought was, When did Sage start sleeping in Magic’s old spot? I actually got up out of the chair and poked my head under the desk, calling to Sage. And before the skeptics can say he ran out the other side, my desk sits in a corner and the only way out from under it is past me. The space under the desk was empty.

I knew my little girl had come to visit again and my heart felt just a little lighter. Magic has been the most present of all my departed animal companions. About 4 or 5 days after I put her to sleep I was sitting on the couch crying, when amazingly, I felt paws press into my arm and phantom weight settle onto my shoulder. She loved to cuddle and would often snuggle onto my arm and shoulder where it rested on the arm of the couch. I waited a few moments, breathless to see if the weight would fade. Instead a slight vibration buzzed on the skin of my shoulder through my shirt. My ghostly kitty was purring! Although her body was gone her little spirit was still very much present and very happy to cuddle with me one more time.

Have you ever wondered if your pet has a soul? They do. Our animal companions are beautiful spirits, and to share a life with them is a magical blessing indeed.

Well, Hello! Yeah, It’s Been A While…

Do you remember this song?

I always loved this song and the hopefulness in the lyrics. Listening to England Dan and John Ford Coley gives me this happy, nostalgic feeling. Like a homecoming, warm and familiar, and oh-so-glad to be back. That’s what it feels like to come back to this blog.

Hi! Do you remember me? Almost 2 years ago I wrote this post. Yeah, 1 or 2 weeks became almost 2 years. I’ve missed you guys! But it’s been a really incredible time, and I wanted to share some of my adventures with you.

I hurt my shoulder. Still hurts, but still writing. Working on it.

I put my (mostly) completed novel on hold, and finished a first draft manuscript for a non-fiction book. This one even has a publisher! More on that later.

I lost a good friend.

HaHaHaHa!  Your accent is terrible!
HaHaHaHa! Your accent is terrible!

I made a new one.

X071814bThe seasons changed, my garden grew and ebbed. My chickens still peck and scratch in my yard.

Overall, life is good. I’m looking forward to getting re-acquainted and hearing all about your adventures and life stories.  I’ll be touring around Blogville – checking in on all my favorite writers – I’ll see you there. And you can find me on Facebook too!

Happy New Year to all of you. Here’s to making 2015 great!

Wild Wednesday – Spring Chickens

Brrrr!  It’s the depths of winter.  We haven’t had snow yet in Seattle, but we have had cold, fog, and the ever-present rain.  My garden is sleeping, buried in a warm bed of straw.  It’s dark, cold and wet.

But it won’t be for long.  I’m already planning which seeds I’ll be starting early indoors; grapes, peas and beans.  Maybe more, with me, you never know.  I know what I’m not planning for this year…baby chickens.  The flock Hub and I raised last year are laying beautifully.  They’re coming up on their 1-year birthday.  It’s hard to believe in just a few short months they went from this:

We are chicks with 'tude!
We are chicks with ‘tude!

 

To this:

She's so well behaved.
She’s so well behaved.

 

To all grown up and laying delicious eggs:

 

Brahma Mama
Brahma Mama

Isn’t she gorgeous?  You want chickens now, don’t you?  Have you always had a secret desire to be an urban chicken farmer?  Do you realize the benefits of raising your own food, even if it’s only in small quantities?  If so, now is the time to start planning for your new flock, and I’m here to help.

Before you go any farther, check with your local government, and familiarize yourself with the city codes concerning livestock.  In Seattle, they recently upped the number of chickens you can have in the city from three to eight.  Lucky me, I’m in an unincorporated zone where the only requirements are minimum square footage per animal.  It’s also a good idea to have a friendly chat with your neighbors about your chicken plans.  Usually, free eggs help ease any concerns, and you’ll likely have plenty to share.

How many chickens should you have?

Chickens are flock birds, so just one is not a good idea.  She’ll be lonely, she may make extra noise trying to find friends.  Two are okay, but they’ll constantly be vying for top bird status in the pecking order, and that can get noisy, not to mention uncomfortable for the birds.  It’s best to have a minimum of three hens so they can keep each other company.

This time of the year is perfect to plan what size flock you want, where you want their coop, and what breed of chicken you want.  You can check out these earlier posts on some basics of chicken coops and care, and the breeds I have right now.

What breed should you have?

I can hear you asking; you mean there are different breeds of chickens?  There are actually hundreds of chicken breeds!  Check out the wiki list for an overview.  But which breeds are going to best for you, a new chicken farmer?  Here are some suggestions for your consideration; these breeds are generally easy-going, hardy, and readily available.

Buff Orpington

BuffOrps

Pretty gold ladies with mellow temperaments, often described as calm and friendly.  They are excellent egg producers, and lay light pinkish-brown eggs.  Buff Orps are heavy-bodied birds, that can tolerate colder climates.  They are considered dual purpose (eggs and meat) if you are inclined that way, but to be honest, egg-layers are tough and stringy after a year and take a lot of cooking.  Buff Orpingtons will likely be available at your local feed store (if they carry chicks) come spring.

Wyandottes

Silver Laced Wyandotte
Silver Laced Wyandotte

Wyandottes come in a variety of color schemes; gold, silver, blue, to name a few.  Like the Buff Orpington, Wyandottes are heavy-bodied birds with an easy-going nature who are also very good egg producers.  You can expect about 4 brown eggs a week from one of these girls.  Wyandottes are hardy in cold weather.

 

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red

These birds do it all.  They are excellent egg-layers (some report 6 or 7 eggs a week), hardy in winter and heavy bodied.  They are even the state bird of Rhode Island!  Most report mild and friendly temperament in these birds, although my two girls were the dominant birds in my first flock and were on the bossy side.  That’s okay, every flock needs a leader!  For a first time owner, 3 or 4 Rhode Island Reds will provide you with more than enough eggs for you and your family.

Have you kept chickens?  What are your favorite breeds?  What birds would you pick for your flock?  Would you want a variety or keep all the same breed?  Good luck, and be sure to check back for more chicken, garden and animal training tips!

Wild Wednesday – Animal Buddies

In my dolphin post, I shared a video of a cat interacting with dolphins.  It was such an Awwww moment, I thought I’d share a few more with you.

 

I give you….Dog and Owl.

 

Dog and Otter.

 

And my personal favorite, Dog and Elephant.

 

Looks like Dog isn’t just Man’s Best Friend.

I have three cats.  Two do little more than ignore or occasionally hiss and bat at my two dogs, but Sage, my oldest loves to torment play with my dogs.  It’s all done out of love though, I’m sure.  He’ll stroll teasingly in front of my aged Belgian, taunting him to give chase.  Sadly, Domino’s hips aren’t what they used to be, so he has to be content with yelling at Sage instead of leaping to his feet and sending Sage scampering.  I’m sure Sage misses their fast and furious chases; more and more I find the two of them curled up together on Domino’s thick and comfy bed.  Sage is probably starting to feel his age too, he’s got three years on Dom’s thirteen.  They often groom each other, trading face-washing and ear cleaning.  Lately though, when Domino’s not watching, Sage also makes up to Golly, our 5 year old yellow Lab, face butting and grooming her.  Golly is a little embarrassed by it I think; when I catch them in the act, Golly will turn her head away or stand up and walk off as if to say, “Nope, nothing to see here.”

Do any of your dogs have unusual animal buddies?

 

 

 

Wild Wednesday – Go Batty!

Short and sweet this week folks.  I found this video a while ago, and just love it!  Lil’ Drac is a short-tailed fruit bat abandoned by his mom and raised by the folks at Bat World Sanctuary in Texas.

Why bats?  Aren’t they icky, scary bloodsuckers?  On the contrary, they pollinate and eat bugs.  If you have bats in your area you can thank them for helping keep the insect populations in check.  Go ahead and enjoy those bananas, mangoes and guava, all pollinated by bats.

This quickly became one of my favorite memes on Facebook.

http://weknowmemes.com/2012/11/stop-touching-me-i-am-the-night/
http://weknowmemes.com/2012/11/stop-touching-me-i-am-the-night/

I love bats!  I always wanted to have one as an education animal when I worked at the Zoo, but it never happened.  So, I am content to enjoy them from afar, and ask Hub to build us a bat house.

What’s a bat house?  Why would you want one?  A bat house provides a safe place for bats to roost and sleep.  With increased habitat loss, bat populations are in trouble.  You can provide a safe home for bats on your property, keep them from roosting inside your house and under your eaves, and reap the benefits of their insect control.  Check out why we need bats, and why bat houses are a great idea here.

Go on, put up a bat house.  Go Batty!

Weird Weekend – Bigfoot, Hoax Or Real Deal?

Ah, Bigfoot.  One of the trifecta of cryptids that also includes the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti.  Remember the Patterson film that surfaced in 1967?  A large lumbering ape-like creature filmed by two men out on horseback in Northern California had been praised and vilified.  Is it a hoax?  Is it real?  Both men involved consistently claimed it was not a hoax, but many have come forward since saying they wore a suit and faked the Patterson film.

Others, such as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization maintain that this is a legitimate film showing an actual Bigfoot.

Real or fake?  A flesh and blood organism, a large mammalian species that has thus far gone undiscovered in North America?  Sightings continue to this day, as you can see in the two following videos.

Some of them even make it to the evening news.

Naturally, some are manufactured, deliberate hoaxes, as was the case in Montana when a man put on a Ghillie suit (a type of camouflage), to try and get people to call in and report Sasquatch sightings.  Sadly, that hoaxer met a tragic end when he was struck twice and killed by cars while crossing a highway.

The biggest factor brought up by the naysayers is the lack of hard evidence.  The blurry photos and videos, the absence of physical trace seem to point to an absence of an actual animal.

Or do they?  Is there any physical evidence that has not hit the mainstream media?  Researchers in Texas say they have sequenced Bigfoot DNA from “purported Bigfoot samples.”  They claim that the DNA proves Bigfoot is a heretofore unknown species that is a “a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry.”  Wow.  Take that one in for a moment, and ponder if we can prove that one cryptid is real, what does that say about the rest?  I encourage you to read the report I found, here.  It’s not a scholarly article, still waiting to see that, but nonetheless, it is food for thought.

Have you seen a Bigfoot?  Heard one hollering in the woods while you were camping?  I haven’t, but a good friend tells how she and another friend listened to one howling on a mountainside while they were camping a few years ago.  These were experienced campers, and outdoor enthusiasts and both said it was like nothing they’d ever heard before.

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Wednesday – A Brand New Year

Happy New Year!  New beginnings, new possibilities, new horizons to seek are all awaiting us in 2013.  This is the time of year when people make resolutions, plan to break bad habits and form good ones, and reconnect with friends and family.  My wish for everyone on the planet is this:  May 2013 be the year that brings you all the love, prosperity and abundance you desire.

But we didn’t get here all at once.  It was a long journey through all of 2012; the joys and sorrows of the past year are part of us, and it is up to us to take in those lessons, the bitter and the sweet, learn from them and move on.  Take your pain, bless it, thank it for its teachings, and let it go.  Take your joys, embrace them, tell yourself that prosperity/love/abundance is your true destiny and desire, and manifest that for the coming year.  You can do it!

Every journey starts with a single step.  Today is the first step of your new life.  Seize it!

To help you on your road, I want to introduce you to two animals that make incredible journeys in a single year.  Let them inspire you, that you too can accomplish much and travel far in 365 days.

The Humpback Whale

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/04/20/article-1378791-0BA0B85D00000578-665_634x765.jpg
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/04/20/article-1378791-0BA0B85D00000578-665_634x765.jpg

Humpback whales make the longest migration of any mammal on the planet; 5,160 miles traveling from the frigid waters surround Antarctica to the balmy Caribbean.  Think you’ve had a long year?  Try swimming from the pole to the equator and back again. Humpback whales are found in all the oceans, and they regularly migrate from cold Arctic or Antarctic feeding grounds to warm equatorial waters to bear their young.

Humpback whales are baleen whales.  All cetaceans, the animal group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises, are divided into two groups, baleen whales and toothed whales.  Baleen whales strain very small fish and other organisms from the water using thick, fibrous plates called baleen.  These baleen plates hang from their upper jaws like curtains, and the skin and muscles of their lower jaws expand tremendously to take in huge quantities of water and food.  The water is pushed out with the tongue and the little critters in the water are trapped by the baleen and eaten.

It’s not just their travels that make the humpback unique, look at those long front flippers.  Oh yeah, and they are flippers NOT fins, here’s the difference; flippers have bones and fins do not.  No other whale has elongated, wing-like pectoral flippers, making the humpback whale instantly recognizable.

What really makes me love the humpback?  They sing.  Just like my own Hubby making up songs to delight me, humpback males sing long, complex, beautifully haunting melodies to entice the ladies.  Here’s the really amazing part, all whales sing the same song.  It changes year to year, but every whale makes the same changes in a year.  It’s still a mystery how they communicate the changes to each other.

I figure if all the humpbacks in an ocean can manage to get their act together each year and all decide on the new song, I should be able to step it up and make the goal of being better at networking and growing as a writer.

The Arctic Tern

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Arctic_Tern
http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Arctic_Tern

This tiny, 4-ounce bird makes the longest migration of any animal on the planet.  They have the humpback beat by a whole hemisphere.  Arctic terns migrate from Greenland to Antarctica, traveling 44, 000 miles one way.  These birds have a life span of up to 30 years, and scientists estimate in that time they travel 1.5 million miles.  Let me give you a little perspective on that number; in its lifetime, an Arctic tern will travel the equivalent of to the moon and back three times.  I will never again complain about my commute.

On the upside, they never see winter.  Their travels take them from northern summer to southern summer.  How far would you travel to always have long, warm summer days?

Arctic terns mate for life.  Talk about commitment:  “Honey, it’s time to pack up the kids and head to Antarctica.”  It must be true love.

How far would you go for what you love?  From one pole to another?

We are all on this life journey together.  Many small steps taken one at a time can carry you incredible distances.  What commitments do you need to make for your journey?  What is your first step?  How far will you go?

 

Weird Weekend – Between Lives

This weekend, I am thrilled to have a guest post on SJ Driscoll’s blog, Come Sit By My Fire.  She’s hosting a series on life changes called Being Between.

I’ve written about one of the biggest transitions in my life, leaving the job I loved at the San Diego Zoo to move to Seattle and become a nurse, Between Lives?  Don’t Micromanage The Universe?

Make sure you check out Charis Maloy’s piece on how she juggles multiple roles and plans for future happiness.  Lena Corazon talks about learning to love the spaces between and shares her poetry, and Louise Behiel describes keeping her sanity when it feels like she’s between a rock and a hard place.  These ladies stories are all inspiring, you won’t want to miss them!

Thank you to SJ Driscoll for hosting the Being Between series.

Wild Wednesday – Happy Thanksgiving!

I worked today, late and so didn’t have regular post ready to go.  A little late, however is better than not posting at all.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Take a moment to be grateful for the blessings in your life.  Here is my list:

  • For my Husband, the love of my life.
  • For my loved ones near and far.
  • For the blessings in my life, big and small.
  • For my home, my animals, and my health.

What more do you really need?  I am also thankful that my dinner tomorrow will be far more satisfying than this poor froggy’s.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Wild Wednesday – Happy Halloween!

I’d play Name That Mammal, but you already know this one:

Nocona, my sort-of buddy

The wolf.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Halloween without this classic creature of the moon.  Wolves are one of the most wide-spread mammals on the planet, they can be found on every land mass but Antarctica.  The rarest wolf is the Ethiopian wolf, check them out in this great article by National Geographic.

The wolf has been one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet; myth and legend frequently paint them as ravening beasts, bloodthirsty killers.  The supernatural association with werewolves and vampires has only added to the animal’s mystique and fear factor.

Conversely, the wolf has also been revered as a teacher, a pathfinder, and a keeper of wisdom with the admirable qualities of loyalty and strength.  They have been powerful totems for cultures around the globe and through history.

The Cherokee tell the following tale:

 

https://plus.google.com/101936851270775627859/posts/6cogjx9H3DK

 

In honor of Halloween, since it is a time when the Veil thins between the worlds and cycles turn, I’m going to ask you my readers, to feed the good wolf.

 

Blessed Be!