Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cat Invasion

I’m Just a Woman Who Can’t Say No—July 17, 2010

Last Saturday I was working at the Farmers’ Market—no, I’m not a farmer. My church has a booth there which serves as a fundraiser for some of our outreach programs both locally and in Navajoland. I volunteered to work the booth, and I baked some cupcakes to sell there. I was working there with a wonderful woman who does so much for the church every day and who has a spirit of joy and love. That tends to rub off on me.

She mentioned that a woman had come into the church office the past week looking for someone to adopt a cat. My ears perked up. Ever since I lost my GoGo kitty I have felt a great loss—he was such a fine, sweet kitten. I listened carefully to the description of this cat; he was about five years old, extremely friendly, an indoor and outdoor cat who needed a safe home. This woman had rescued him from the streets, but she has a neighbor who hates cats and wants to kill the cats who roam their neighborhood. This cat does like to roam apparently.

Do I really need another animal to take care of? No. But I am such an easy mark. I could easily be one of those old women who has sixty cats and twenty dogs, and you would read about me in the paper when I die and the health department breaks down the door of my house to find the mess I’ve left behind.

Monday I got a call from the woman who had the cat. I only showed a bit of interest, but Lee knew she had a mark and passed on my number to this woman. I love this lady’s spirit—she is seventy-one years old, has three cats that are her house cats, but she takes care of three other feral cats in the neighborhood. “Ditto” is the cat she was trying to find a home for—Ditto because he looks just like another of her cats. Ditto stays outside most of the time, but he is extremely affectionate and knows how to behave in a house.

I don’t need another animal, not really. I love my dog and my cat, so why am I even showing interest? I am crazy, that’s it. I do get so much joy from these animals. I get hugs, sort of, and love and attention. Since I live alone, affection is a rare commodity, so why not add little more love to my life? My cat sits on my lap and purrs as I rub his ears and neck, which in turn makes me feel pretty good because I am providing him with love and attention. Isn’t that what we all want—a little love and attention?

So the new cat is trying to adjust to a dog—he is terrified, justifiably, of a dog. A street cat knows that a dog is dangerous, but this guy doesn’t know Lucky. They will have to work this out. As I write, the two cats have not yet met. I am sure Happy cat will not be happy as he adjusts to the new guy in town. It is going to be fun around here for the next few weeks.

July 18, 2010

I forgot about the neighbors' kittens!!!! Their cat had four babies. I told them I would take one if they could not find homes for all of them. Yesterday as I was out back weeding a bit--a very little bit, mind you--the neighbor came out and said, "Are you ready for your kitten?" I told him that I had just taken in an older cat, so why not add to the fun. A new cat and a new kitten to get used to the old cat and the dog.

Once upon a time, Happy Cat and Lucky Dog were so content napping on Karen's bed. Then along came "Ditto" (but now answering to "Buddy"--he comes out of hiding when I sing "My Buddy") the street cat. Buddy is still hanging out in the bathroom most of the time, but he is now trying to rule the roost, hissing at everyone except me. Just as Happy and Lucky were adjusting to the new guy, here comes Karen in the back door with a little fur ball of cuteness. The new boy is nameless so far, although Peanut is a useful handle for now. The neighbors called him Cab, short for Cabernet, but I am not fond of that. Cab Calloway and Buddy Guy for the two new ones is OK, but Cab just doesn't work for me, not sure why. I don't think he cares what I call him. Since he does not respond to Cab, I am in the market for cat names. Please send suggestions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Take Me to the River--Part One

US 50 at the Indiana border to the west side of Cincinnati

Something about the wide expanse of moving water has always attracted people to the banks of a river like the beautiful Ohio, from the business and travel opportunities to the recreational possibilities of navigable waters. The Ohio River from the Indiana border in the west to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania juncture in the east comprises hundreds of miles of small river towns, rolling hills, farm lands, parks, recreational facilities, and industrial development which all take advantage of and inspiration from the moving water.

One enjoyable day trip along the Ohio River begins at the Ohio-Indiana border on U. S. 50, a scenic byway that follows the river into the Queen City, Cincinnati. A perfect way to start the day is with breakfast at the State Line Restaurant, a friendly roadside diner open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week. The breakfast special includes homemade goetta, a popular Cincinnati area German tradition made from ground pork and pinhead oats. Add to the goetta some eggs, hash browns or home fries, toast and coffee and the perfect southern Ohio breakfast is yours. There are no substitutions allowed on the special, and no one would think of substituting anything for the southwest Ohio specialty goetta which is made to perfection daily for a devoted crowd. With four pickups and eight cars parked in front of the diner at 11:30 AM on a springtime Friday, this diner is obviously a local favorite, and it is a wonderful starting point for the trek eastward to Shawnee Lookout conservation area.

After a filling breakfast, travelers can plan on spending the morning at Shawnee Lookout where the recreational possibilities provide ample opportunity to burn breakfast calories. Heading east on U. S. 50 is Elizabethtown where the first light marks the right turn toward Shawnee Lookout, a Hamilton County park. From a challenging 18-hole golf course to numerous hiking trails and a boat ramp for canoe and kayak enthusiasts, Shawnee Lookout encompasses 1,439 acres along the Great Miami River where it feeds into the Ohio. The park works to conserve historical sites and natural resources for all to enjoy. The 1.4-mile Miami Fort Trail follows prehistoric Indian earthen works with views of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers. The historic Micajah Dunn two-story log cabin, circa 1795, and Springhouse School building, dating back to 1800, can be toured near an Indian burial mound, all adjacent to picnic areas and playgrounds. Three nature trails allow visitors to view the habitats of many birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians which are drawn to the protected wetland areas of the conservancy. Whether it is a morning of golfing, hiking, or paddling, visitors can pause at lunchtime to enjoy a picnic at one of the many beautiful spots in the park, or they can move on down the road to an Ohio historical monument, the Harrison Tomb, and picnic later at another Hamilton county riverside park.

The Harrison Tomb, which is open year-round during daylight hours, can be reached by turning left out of the Shawnee Lookout entrance and following the Ohio River along Brower Road into North Bend, Ohio. This scenic river drive passes industrial developments and a power plant in addition to quaint riverside homes and camps that look over the river to the Kentucky hills. President William Henry Harrison and other family members are honored with a grand limestone tower marking their burial site on Mt. Nebo in North Bend. The tower commands a panoramic view of the bend on the Ohio River near the place where the ninth president spent much of his adult life and met his wife Anna Tuthill Symmes following the War of 1812. The Harrison Tomb is surrounded by a nature path meandering through a lovely hollow and back up to the Congress Green Cemetery, the burial site of Anna’s father, John Cleves Symmes, among others. A short walk and a gorgeous view make this stop worth at least a half-hour of the day’s trip along the Ohio.

A convenient stop for walking along the banks of the Ohio is the Fernbank Park, just east of the Harrison Tomb Historical Site on U.S. 50. In addition to the paved path for biking, walking or running, this Hamilton County park provides sheltered picnic areas and a giant play area for children. Day-trippers who did not picnic at Shawnee Lookout will want to stop here to enjoy a packed lunch and to watch the river traffic of barges and pleasure boats.

For travelers not interested in a picnic, there are a few options for lunch or dinner on U.S. 50 as they travel east toward Cincinnati. If it is a Sunday, Rohrer’s Tavern in North Bend has a buttermilk fried chicken dinner special that includes a dessert of fried apples over ice cream dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel sauce—YUM. The house specialty is their signature, award-winning, hand-breaded cod, or try a half-pound Build-Your-Own Angus burger. Rohrer’s has been an Ohio River town tradition for sixty years.

Another fun stop is a little further east on U.S. 50, right next to Anderson Ferry. The Anderson Ferry takes cars across to Kentucky seven days a week. Next door is Drew’s on the River, a sports bar and grill, which has an outdoor tiki bar and spacious patio overlooking the river. It is a family friendly place during the day for traditional pub food, and Drew’s offers live music every Friday and Saturday night for the adult crowd.

The next stop on the road is the big city—Cincinnati. Traffic picks up and the drive get s a bit complicated. Of course the city has everything to offer travelers—good restaurants, hotels, shopping, professional baseball and football, museums, and the river. Just across the river in Kentucky is Newport on the Levee offering live music, restaurants, shopping and an aquarium for more fun. However, Cincinnati and Newport are for another day, or two, or three. For those who are called to the river, the road continues east toward more adventure and history in the charming river towns yet to come.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dramatic Ponderings/Ramblings July 1st, 2010

There must be a reason…

I’ve heard it and I believe it, “When one door closes, another opens.”

Best laid plans…

I keep getting these messages from God that now is not the time for me to take off for the month of July. And lately I’m getting flack about plans for August—my previously made commitments for August are conflicting with travel plans I want to make.

I better just settle into the idea that there is a reason for me to be here—I have work to do here, work that I would so happily and easily neglect given half a chance to go somewhere else.

What is it about going somewhere else that so entices me? Somewhere= anywhere in most cases…just give me a chance to GO.

And what is it about staying here that does not call me?

I must ponder these questions. What could I be searching for over there? Is it something that I cannot find here?

New people, new music, new vistas, new experiences, new friends, new foods, new art, new fun. I should be able to find those things right here if I would only get out of my rut.

I want to go somewhere else because I cannot conceive of anything new or interesting coming out of my everyday life here. It is harder to change when surrounded by the everyday—so easy to remain in bad habits.

However, I cannot go to the places I want to—not right now anyway. I must stay here and get my work done. There is physical work I need to do, of course. There is probably also some emotional and spiritual work to be done as well.

Perhaps in my busyness and travel I am avoiding the real issues that are most important to my happiness. What ARE those issues? What do I do now?

Negative thoughts, feelings of apathy or fear—I must shed these.

Then again, maybe the travel and busyness are my happiness. I am soooo confused.

I want to go to another music festival over the 4th weekend…Really Karen, $300+ for two days of music in Virginia? Or stay here and get the back yard cleaned up? Okay, I really need to spend some time with friends. I really need to get in touch with reality here. Staycation, try it you might like it. MAYBE.

July 5th, 2010—I stayed home. I worked all week finishing up the GED classes and paperwork. I started cleaning up the garden before the weeds began eating my house. Still more work to do, but I made a good dent.

The best part—and the reason I was meant to stay here—Saturday night all three of my sons came over and we cooked out in my back yard. ALL THREE.

Take note, my friends with young children…When our children get older, their lives become just as busy and complicated as ours. It is often impossible to get everyone together. I am lucky that my boys all live near me, but still we very rarely get together all at once. Someone always has to work. And their mom does love to travel, so she takes off on her own adventures frequently. My habits are as much to blame for missing this family time.

That evening with the boys was laid-back--chatting around a fire, cooking some burgers, and no one rushing of to go somewhere. Precious time with adult children. There really was a reason to staycation this weekend.

As an added bonus, I spent the 4th with my bestest friends cooking out and watching fireworks from the highest point in Butler County, their back yard.

So it was about work, family, and friends. Adventure will be there, next week maybe.

Yes, I do love to travel, and I will continue to go away as often as I can. I just know that sometimes my need to leave is not always the best choice.

Ideally, someday, I will have a partner to share my travels, someone who will be my family and best friend. Until then, I have Lucky Dog and Happy Cat for the road, I have my work to keep me grounded, and I have my friends and family to share my dreams.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dog Rescue

Why is it so hard to do the things we really love and commit to right actions? I have always loved animals, and I will adopt a needy dog or cat far too easily, or try to find a good home for it. I wanted to volunteer at the animal rescue shelter, but I realized the danger in that. I already have enough animals to be responsible for, and I would want to bring home every sweet thing I saw. I am afraid I could become one of those strange cat ladies, so I have to be careful. If I see a stray dog walking along a street while I am driving, my first instinct is to stop and take it home with me. I want to DO something to help needy animals, but I am having trouble finding the avenue for that action.


When I got home from work on Tuesday night, I noticed several calls from my son Adam. He lives around the block from me, and I wondered what was up since he didn't leave a message. I called him, only to find out that he had found a stray dog running the street when he got home from work that night. He was worried because the dog seemed lethargic. I mentioned that it had been 90 degrees all day with 1000% humidity--who wouldn't be lethargic after running around in that all day.

Adam said he would consider keeping this dog as his pet, but he was immediately concerned about his health. I told him to bring the dog over and I would check him out to determine if he needed emergency vet care. We came up with the name Gizmo when I said the little guy looked like a Gremlin with his pointy ears and big, bulging eyes. He is about a 4 pound chihuahua with skinny little legs and a barrel-like torso. Poor thing had toenails that had not been trimmed in ages--they were curling around and back into his pads in places. He was infested with fleas, and his teeth were awful, covered in yellow-brown tartar. First up was a flea bath--I did not want fleas in my house. Next we called brother Matt to bring over his toenail clippers. Adam held the little guy while Matt cut his nails--those he could get to. A few of them were curled into the pads. Poor Gizmo screamed as his nails were trimmed, and really let out some awful sounds when Matt tried to get at the embedded nails. Still, he could now walk much better. No fleas and the ability to walk made this a happy dog.

I told Adam I would try to get Gizmo into my vet the next day; since Adam was working all day Wednesday, I kept the little guy overnight. Wednesday I went out to buy him some soft food because he was unable to chew the kibble I had. I found him a cute collar, too. Once he had a good night's sleep, a belly full of food, some healthy bowel movements and some loving attention, this was a new dog.

Gizmo will go to the vet next week. My friend Sheri came over to work on the embedded nails, and she got them clipped. Sheri is a miracle worker for animals. Gizmo is back at Adam's apartment. We'll see how this goes for the next week.

I want to do more with my time to help animals. I don't have much money to give, but I do have time and physical strength, so I need to find a way to help. Any ideas out there?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ohio River Folk Festival, Madison, IN

May 21 and 22, 2010, I went to the Ohio River Folk Festival in Madison, IN. I camped at Clifty Falls State Park, just outside town. Madison is a great river city, with a vibrant downtown area of quaint shops and cafes. I love walking the several blocks of the downtown shopping district visiting the thriving stores. I went into town early Saturday morning to the Farmers' Market where I bought some eggs, onions, and lettuce. Festivals in Madison are held down by the Ohio River in a park, unfortunately a park with few trees so it can get pretty hot. The lineup for this festival was great, and I will go back again as long as they keep bringing in such talent. I went to see my favorite band, the subdudes, who were the Saturday night headliners, pictured in the top photo. Loudon Wainwright III is pictured below the subdudes, below him--the Carolina Chocolate Drops who are amazing. I'm so glad I got to see them play live. Below the Chocolate Drops is Krista Detor, and from Friday's lineup is Tommy Ramone--yes, of The Ramones, now playing some pretty serious bluegrass.

W. C. Handy Blues Festival

I didn't take many pictures at the festival, but thought I should share a few. Top is Albert Castiglia, and the bottom two are Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble. The lady in the green shirt in the middle picture danced all day and night long--she had a really good time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This weekend's trip was a true journey of discovery. I went to the W. C. Handy Blues and BBQ Festival in Henderson, KY, and camped at the John James Audubon State Park.


The festival was great; I got in Thursday afternoon, set up camp in a beautiful shaded spot and headed into town. It was Zydeco night at the festival with two fun bands, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble and Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. People told me that Wednesday's lineup was great fun, especially with headliner Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. HOT music and HOT weather--it felt like we were in the bayou, dat true. Festival planners provided red beans and rice, Andouille sausages, and other Louisiana favorites on Zydeco night, so the food was a good as the music. Thought I was in NOLA.

Friday was hotter and the music was better--blues all day and night, with a good variety, starting with the Bryant-Stevens Band with lead singer Dana Bryant who has style and power in her voice. Their bass player went down with the heat, but the band found a sub and they played on. The Stella Vees were next with jump blues followed by Albert Castiglia, a slide guitar virtuoso. Then came a great set with the incomparable Kenny Neal, and closing the night out was a trip back to the bayou with Tab Benoit. Hot and sultry music and atmosphere--ninety plus degrees all day, very little breeze, but thankfully enough shade in the beautiful park by the Ohio River where the stage is set.

Did I mention that this festival is completely free? Outstanding musicians four days, every day, been going since 1991, and free! The town is wonderful, the crowd is down home people, the food vendors and especially the Java Shakes are perfect.


It all sounds so perfect, so what was the challenge I faced? HEAT with no air conditioning. I am a wimp. My camper is pretty nice, and I love to travel around and have my little home on wheels to return to at night. This weekend, however, the air conditioner was running but not cooling. It blew hot air. I tried all Friday morning to find someone to come give me a shot of freon, at least that's what I thought I needed, but no luck. No one could come fix it. I climbed up on the roof to make sure all the moving parts were actually moving--they were, so I decided I could survive with fans. I turned on all the fans in the camper, then went to Super Walmart to buy a few BIG fans. Big fans helped as long as I was sitting directly in front of them, not moving. I showered frequently, dressed in as little clothing as possible--not a pretty picture, but this was survival mode--and drank cool, iced drinks. Thursday night cooled down enough for sleeping, but Friday night was miserable. Luckily at 3 AM Saturday morning, still awake, I heard the distant rumbles of thunder and the crack of tree limbs as the wind started to gust. Cool winds heralded the storm that was headed my way. I checked the internet for dangerous storm warnings and found that a small, but bright red front was headed Henderson's way. Yeah!!! Cool winds. I didn't much care that a giant tree might fall on my trailer, I just wanted relief from the heat. Sweet cool winds, I sat outside feeling the front moving through. I started packing away my camping gear before the rain started because I had already decided I couldn't handle another night in the non-air conditioned camper--no matter how good the music was going to be on Saturday. Around 5 AM, I was sleeping soundly, under a sheet--it actually got a little chilly--as the rain came down. Beautiful sound of rain on a metal roof.

I do not handle heat well. I do not handle disappointment well. However, I learned to appreciate the good things I have. The music, the people I met, a new town on the Ohio River, a place I will go back to again and again. Next time I will make sure the A/C is in good working order.


After reading Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, I had a chance to practice being nice in the face of rudeness and adversity. Packing up the camper and getting ready to leave a campground is hard work, especially in swamp-like heat. I trailer my car behind my RV, and one of the more dirty and difficult tasks is getting the car hooked up. I had already emptied my black and gray water tanks at the dump station, hooked up the tow dolly to the hitch, and was ready to drive my Beetle up onto the dolly when a gray-haired couple in a big truck pulling a fifth-wheel pulled up behind me to the dump station. I was not blocking them from the dump, but they were blocking me from getting my car onto the dolly. I walked back told them all I needed to do was pull my car up to see if they could wait a few minutes. He got huffy, "This is the dump station, not a parking spot." I thought about kicking something and saying a few choice words, but instead I smiled and said, "Okay, I'll move my camper." I took deep breaths the whole time thinking that I could still remain happy--I did not have to let that old man steal my peace. It worked. I moved to a shaded drive around the corner, walked back to get my car, hooked it up and left. As I passed the old man at the dump station on my way out, I smiled and called out to wish him a safe trip.


It was my day to be tested by old men. I left the campground and pulled into a nearby gas station to fill the RV for my trip home. I was pretty close to empty. My RV is 28 feet long pulling a trailer with my VW Beetle. I need to make big turns and it is impossible to do reverse towing a car like that. I headed toward a pump which would allow me to make a big turn to get in and back out onto the street. A thin, gray-haired old man was pumping gas there already into his late model sedan. I figured it wouldn't take too long for him to fill his tank. Ten minutes later he was still at the pump. Finally, he finished pumping the gas. Then he walked into the station to pay--who does that anymore? Still waiting and waiting and waiting--what could he possibly be doing in there? I decided to shut off the engine--my gas was already pretty low. I went back to the fridge and made myself a big glass of iced tea for the drive. Then I made a ham sandwich with Swiss cheese on wheat since it was nearly lunch time. I could eat as I was driving that way. HE STILL WAS NOT OUT!!! Did he die in there? There was no ambulance, no sirens headed our way. Finally he came out........Got in the car........Adjusted the mirrors, the radio, the A/C (something I did not have!).......Looked around the dashboard for something--oh, his glasses.........Had to clean the glasses.......Seatbelt. During all of this wait, I was sitting directly behind him in a 28 foot RV, waiting to get gas. Did he have any idea that I was there? Meanwhile, I kept telling myself that this was a test of my ability to remain calm and happy--let no one steal my peace. I did okay--I smiled--"always act the way you want to feel"--I enjoyed the oldtime Gospel music on the radio, and I sipped my iced tea. "Oh Happy Day."