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sharing & caring, a cat story for all ages

This is a story of feline sharing and caring from my yet to be written, therefore unpublished, AdvoCat Studio anthology: My Life With Cats.

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Frankie, the polydactyl, tabby cat, began his life with us under the care and tutelage of Nicky, our big, luxuriously furred, Himalayan-Birman mix. With patience and forbearance, Uncle Nick taught Frankie the ABCs of cat behavior and etiquette, a sometimes daunting task.

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Frank was already a grown up with a long track record of caring and tutoring each kitten that came to live with us just as he’d been taught, but like any cat, he needed his rest and had his favorite spots.

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One fine winter’s day, when Frankie was asleep on his favorite morning spot atop the radiator in my studio, dreaming dreams only cats really understand… in walked Beau, the sleekly, beautiful, young prince of the household.

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“Ah, there’s Frank… must be a great spot for a nap,” he said to his cat self as he gracefully leaped up to join his friend.

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“Oh bother’ muttered Frankie through his sleepy cat lips. ‘Patience, forbearance… that’s the key…”

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“Okay, you’re cute, I love you: lay down now.” In truth, Frank was just a tiny bit annoyed, because he’d been dreaming the most wonderful dreams that morning and wanted to get back to them as quickly as he could.

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Beau sighed, deeply content with such loving acceptance, but he just couldn’t get comfortable.


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“I’ll give him another minute to find his groove,” Frank thought… ‘he’s just a kid.”

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“You okay, there buddy?” Frank asked in his best uncle voice.

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“I think my feet are too long,” whined Beau as he twisted about, certain that with perseverance, he’d find his perfect spot right next, and as close as possible, to his friend.

“Feet? Something like that,’ Frank whispered to his own self… ‘something like that!”

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“Got it, Uncle Frank! Thanks”

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“This spot feels great; I’ll just do a quick wash, be done in a jiffy. You don’t mind do you Uncle?”


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“Musn’t forget the hips ‘n haunches… so important to a cat’s graceful beauty. Appearances are important.”

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“Okay, all done, I’m back now. Thanks for waiting Frankie.”

Frank, running a bit low on patience said ever so quietly, “I’m sleeping now, gorgeous. Try it, you’ll like it… we’ll both like it.”Image 12a_Neg JI-26A_cropped

But Beau wasn’t ready to sleep yet. Settled near enough to hear his friend’s heartbeat, he said coquettishly, “Tell me a story and then I’ll go to sleep.”

Frank, reaching the end of patience as well as forbearance, thought: “I really don’t have time for this.”

” See you later…bonne nuit,  Beau, sleep well.” He said warmly, and slipped away to where grown-up cats go when they really, really need their rest.

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Beau was bewildered; he couldn’t understand why Frankie would just up and leave like that.  “Where’s he going,’ he mused, ‘I’m kind of lonely here all by myself… but I do look good, don’t you think?”


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cost of truth telling

Roberta Showalter Kreider has published compilations of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender faith stories in three editions, From Wounded Hearts, Together in Love and The Cost of Truth. I read the first two during my personal encounter with church exclusion in 2008/09. I ordered the third but couldn’t manage to read it without succumbing to memories of my own painful experience, still searingly fresh into the winter of 2009/10. When a friend expressed interest in learning more about LGBT people, I gladly sent all three off with her. She simply didn’t know much and that is not uncommon. Whew! Out of sight, out of mind…or so I thought.

Then, one evening a few weeks ago, dear friends came to dinner. They are the only friends who spoke up as boldly as we did at the church that didn’t want us. We all left that church tattered and torn—the cost of speaking one’s truth—and we’d not seen each other in many months, so there was a lot to share. During the conversation one friend mentioned that she had just finished reading The Cost of Truth, and urged me to read it. Having completely forgotten the title of the book, I said I would. Before I knew it there it was in my mail box and still I didn’t recognize it until I opened the cover and saw that this was the third in the Kreider series—the set I’d given away. I was ready to read it now and have done so. I know some of the people in this book. I may not have known them three years ago when I first ordered the it, but through time and travail, I do now. These are stories of Mennonite and Brethren, LGBT people, whose dignity and leadership gifts were not honored by their denominations. One story in particular spoke to me. The writer shared his story and then his lingering sadness in a poem that resonates for me as well:

LGBT inclusion just may be the last strong-hold of the patriarchal church. The Mennonite denomination—traditionally dedicated to peace and non-violence—has yet to understand the violence to heart and soul that punishment and exclusion produces. Such treatment of brothers and sisters in Christ stands in opposition to the core values of the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith. I have written about this many times and will likely not stop any time soon. If you are interested in this issue and have little experience with LGBT people, try one of these books.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves….
-Rainer Maria Rilke

For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. -I Corinthians 14:12



Seven days ago Adopted Daughter and I came to terms. She spoke to me and I to her. I felt her presence. That evening I went to a Taize prayer service and lit a candle for her, for my sister, for Darling Daughter and for some other souls dear to me. It was a spectacular experience being in that church, bathed in beauty and feeling her presence.

My freedom from acedia lasted 4 days. Sometimes all it takes is for a well meaning person to say something a bit off putting and my whole structure comes tumbling down like a child’s tower of blocks. We call this phenomenon the last straw, or the straw that broke the camel’s back, or…that was just one too many! So that is what happened after 4 acedia-free days: one too many straws and I’m back slogging through the dense underbrush.

For the past 3 days I again feel as though I am moving about in a tent of gauze—layers and layers of gauze. In this gauzy tent I have added 2 more Kathleen Norris books: Amazing Grace and The Virgin of Bennington. I am now starting on The Cloister Walk, her account of becoming a Benedictine Oblate. I am looking for something…an answer to a question I do not know and cannot ask.

I have to balance carefully so that I do not slip off into depression. Now in my 7th decade, having lost more than I care to count, I no longer see an open ended future as I once did—as the young do. I see an ending now and time becomes a gift…no longer taken for granted. One day I will pass to the other side and I think it will be grand. I do not plan to leave any secrets behind—any stones unturned—any opportunities unappreciated, even if unacceptable.


2010 in like a lion

2010 came in like a lion…we hope it goes out like a lamb.

Full of hopeful anticipation, my partner, Big Dawg and I drove to a popular little 70’s, retro,  coffee shop/diner about 15 miles west of the city to meet with the pastor of the”open and welcoming,” Mennonite church we have been attending for the past seven months. Our mission was to share our stories and discuss membership.

We were packed in table to table, with barely room to lean back in our chairs…but that goes along with retro 70’s, flower-power and all of that fun nostalgia, I am told. At the table immediately behind us…and I do mean behind us…were three persons: a young man sitting alone on the side nearest us (directly behind BD) and two women (or one woman and one man…I don’t remember which) on the side opposite. Sometime in the midst of our private conversation—in the midst of a universe of private conversations—the three people got up and left. It was after we’d closed with a  prayer of thanksgiving, that BD noticed her wallet was missing from her bag. She was sure she must have left it at home and we quickly went home to reassure ourselves.

We arrived home and began a serious and repeated search effort: no wallet. None had been turned in at the diner. Eventually we ran out of places to look. Remembering that she did have her bag on the corner of her chair, and there was someone seated directly behind her, our brains began to clear. Slowly the pieces of recent memory accumulated and we realized that the wallet had been stolen, plain and simple.  Having lost my own wallet a month or more ago,  this was déjà vu. In that first experience the wallet was found, emptied of cash but found with everything else intact…happy ending—round one.

Adopted Daughter, being a banker herself, knew exactly what to do the first time around and went to work immediately one more time, as though it had been a dress rehearsal for the current, actual theft. The first thing she did was to box the thieves in electronically to minimize damage. Remembering what was in the wallet was challenging, there was a good amount of cash, but the most important items were the credit cards, insurance cards and driver’s license. The thieves, with their head-start had already used each card successfully with small purchases. Their attempt to obtain a large cash advance  from the issuing bank of one of the cards was refused, but only because the card was new and didn’t yet carry a high credit amount.  While the three brazen thieves were plying their trade, we contacted all the card companies as well as all three credit agencies and headed them off at the pass. Their last transaction was a cartload of items totaling over $600. When they got to the checkout, the card was not only rejected, but a warning sign flashed for the clerk to confiscate the card!

After our electronic vigilante work was done, we drove to the town where the incident took place to file a police report. While waiting for the officer to take our information, another woman came in to report a nearly identical experience happening that same morning, in the same town, in another tightly packed, little eatery. Unfortunately, her card carried a higher credit amount and she didn’t have the advantage of living with a banker who knows what to do on the double. During the prior week a woman reported her wallet stolen in a similar scenario. It began to look to us like stealing and dealing are alive and well and diners beware.

The following week was one of cleaning-up and counting our blessings. No one died. No one got mugged. Everyone lives to tell the tale (thieves not withstanding) and life goes on. We are working on ways to avoid carrying important items in purses and bags—not an easy thing to do for women. The people who make our clothes don’t think we need pockets. When they do give us a pocket or two, they’re small and more or less decorative—useless for anything but Kleenex.

The moral of the story? I’m working on that.

Happy 2010.

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