Monday, July 19, 2010

So Long---For Now

With my lack of posts I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I've decided to stop least for now.

Stress at home (with one of my cats, Sweet Pea being ill), stress at work (many organizational changes in the wings since the Boss left and not knowing what my job will entail in the coming months), and the incredibly oppressive heat and humidity of this summer (they talk about a cool front that will lower the temps to 90!), has made one very stressed out and melancholic possum.

Rest assured I will keep in contact by checking out your blogs and by Facebook. It's just that there is absolutely nothing of interest going on in my life and trying to think of a funny and/or interesting post is just one more stress I don't need right now.

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Anniversary Jane!

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Jane Goodall's pioneering research on chimpanzees at Gombe National Park in Tanzania. She spoke at one of our conferences a while back. Although it was only a featured session, you would have thought she was the keynote speaker with how crowded the room was. Since I should have been working at our HQ offices at the time, I pulled strings, cajoled, and basically pi$$ed off some people for leaving my duties to attend her speech. I did not care. It was well worth it. Somewhat shy and reticent, her passion for animals and the environment came through loud and clear. She is such a positive role model for me.
While she is on the road giving speeches 300 days a year, I read on her website that she is marking the anniversary by going back to Gombe getting reacquainted with her friends (both human and animal). She will be taking a solitary hike up "Jane's Mountain" and then attending a celebration in her honor tonight.
Thank you Jane for letting the world know that chimpanzees are smart, sentient beings with a complex social structure, and not the silly mindless creatures that had been portrayed for years. May you have many more years of health and happiness in advocating for those who have no voice.

Gombe: 50 Years of Research and Inspiration from The Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Elephant Fluff

On this Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I leave you with a happy Ele video. I've been meaning to post this before but, well, you know.

This video was taken in March. It shows Shirley and Tarra being very silly. This is a wonderful video since at 64 years old, Shirley is the oldest elephant at the Elephant Sanctuary and the matriarch of the herd and while she is pretty mellow and sweet, silly just isn't in her repertoire. Shirley has had such a tragic life in the circus. You will notice that one of her back legs is misshapen from when a bull elephant attacked her at a circus event and broke her leg, but she was never taken for treatment. You can see part of one of her ears missing from a fire when she was on a boat that had caught on fire while being brought to a circus. More recently, she has lost two of her dear ele friends in the last three years and the Sanctuary has been finding her many times off in the woods alone.

Tarra on the other hand is the gadfly of the herd. Wanting to makes friends with everyone and always wandering around with her dog, Bella. It has been amazing watching her spend more and more time with Shirley. Caregivers at the Sanctuary insist that they can tell that Tarra senses that Shirley needs extra care and some silliness now and then. Watching Shirley respond in kind is truly heartwarming. Keep an eye out at around 1.53 in the video as Shirley strategically positions her bad leg to give Tarra a little kick! Oh, also make sure your sound is on.

Enjoy and have a restful and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend.

(Dang, the right side of the video is cut off. If anyone knows how to fix, let me know--thanks).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something to Plan For

The Board meetings have come and gone. Everything went off without a hitch. A co-worker mentioned to me that "it finally dawned on me that if ANY aspect of the board meeting went wrong, no matter how small, it would be on your back". Yes, I told her, now you know why I'm usually in an extreme state of stress right before and during the meetings.

Now, I am counting down the days to when my boss leaves. His last day in the office is the middle of June. While I'm not in fear of losing my job, the exact outline of what I'll be doing is still up on the air. There just hasn't been any time to discuss it. I have things written out about what I currently do and what I'd like to continue to do, along with a title change. I just need to get on the incoming Executive Director's calendar.

What keeps me going is my long term goal of working for my local animal shelter. While I can't think of looking for work there now, once my house is paid for I'll be able to take a job there at a lot less pay.

The shelter had a little reception and tour for the major donors last night. Now, I do donate, but am nowhere near a major donor. My neighbor is though and invited me along. I can't tell you how much I feel at home every time I walk through their doors. The Executive Director was once the chief veterinarian at a well known animal hospital in DC. He then became the Medical Director of the shelter's medical center. Now he is the Executive Director and a nicer man you will not meet.

I used to volunteer at the shelter until my own population of cats grew to the point (13) where I felt I was shortchanging them attention on evenings when I would go to the shelter. So, my plan is that in about five years, my herd (now at 8) should have thinned out even more and I can start volunteering again. Then, after I work my way into their hearts, and after my house is paid up, I hopefully can transition to employment there.

Would you like to see a few sights from last night? Sure you would...

This is Riley. Police were called to a domestic situation a little over two months ago. When they arrived they found three rottweiller puppies that had clearly been abused. All three puppies had collars that were so tight they were imbedded into their skin and had to be surgically removed. Riley also had a rubber band tightly wound around her front leg that had obviously been there for weeks. It had completely stopped the blood flow to the leg and unfortunately, they had to amputate it.

As soon as Riley saw this little one, she immediately hopped over to her. The surgery was two months ago. A vet tech took Riley home to foster and has now adopted her. The two other puppies were adopted also. The couple who had the puppies are being prosecuted for animal abuse.

We then took a tour of the kennel area (or as they like to call them, doggy condos). Many of the dogs look like these two. They take in a high percentage of dogs from high kill shelters in West Virginia and they all seem to be hound mixes.

This white shepherd came all the way from Kuwait. Did you know that the country of Kuwait has only ONE animal shelter? Well, that one burned down and while they found homes for all of the cats and some of the dogs, there were still 20 dogs that were left out in the hot sun in cages. The Rescue League took them all.

We then moved on to the Cat House. This is were I usually spent most of my volunteer time. There are usually a number of cats roaming around, playing or sitting in volunteer laps getting brushed. They even have a separate room for playing for cats who might be contagious with respiratory infections. Each cat condo has its own air filtration system. It has cut the spread of infections by 90%.

I, of course, was drawn to this black beauty. There must have been around 20 people talking and laughing and he was the most laid back cat, just taking it all in. As laid back as he was, he was no match for this one...

You could barely wake him up!

The evening ended with a tour of the medical center. The shelter has six veterinarians on staff. The Executive Director (pictured above) told us he barely gets to do any surgery any more but tries to give a hand a couple times a month. (A humbling experience was looking through the offices. The Executive Director's office is smaller than mine. Though he has the BIG bonus of being able to bring his two dogs to work with him.) The medical shelter is also a life line for over 6,000 low income residents and their animals who live in the District. A typical exam will cost $10.00 (if they can afford it), while surgeries costing into the thousands will never exceed $100.00 (again, only if they can afford it). Plus they host monthly free spay/neuter days.
Yes, something to plan for...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If I Were a Rich (Wo)Man...

...I would quit my job so fast it would make your head spin. But, I digress...

I've been lax in posting and commenting on other blogs lately. With board orientation meetings last week and our full board meeting starting on Sunday, any spare moment I've had has purposefully NOT been spent on the computer!! But, I didn't want too much time to go by without posting about a few surprise guests to my local shelter.

The actor Harvey Fierstein is currently in town for a few months playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. He is a BIG supporter of adopting rescued animals (he has many of his own) and last week brought some of his castmates along for a tour of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

I've always thought he seemed like such a fun guy and now I like him even more knowing of his love of animals.

Unfortunately, I was not there when they took the tour. All photos are courtesy of WARL. I don't know why but this last photo just melts my heart.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Blast from the 80s (with a twist)

Okay, bad title. I'm trying to do a little cleaning today and decided to get out my 80s new wave music collection to help me clean. I was listening to the Safety Dance and laughing to myself remembering the very weird medieval video that went with the song. When it was time for a cleaning break I decided to look up the Safety Dance video and watch it. I googled it and up popped this video titled Safety Dance--Literal Version. Oh My God! I was laughing so hard! It's the actual video with a dubbed literal version by someone who sounds just like the original singer. I'm not sure if it will be as funny if you don't know the original song, but see what you think. Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

She's a Brick-----House!

Okay you cat-lovers in the DC area--have I got a cat for you! The Washington Animal Rescue League (the shelter that I support), posted this video of a cat they just got in. She is seven years old, declawed and weighs (ahem) 25 pounds!! Her name, appropriately, is Aretha. She was given up by her owners because she "wanted to be petted too much." Oh, the horrors.

I have fallen in love with her and if I didn't have eight of my own, including another big boned gal Chunky Lisa, I'd snatch Aretha up faster than you could say tuna! She obviously needs to go on a diet, but other than that she is very healthy and a sweeter girl you will not meet.

Check out the video and make sure your sound is on...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cat Tested and Approved

Things are moving along here at Possumlady Place. My work is getting a bit crazy again with upcoming orientation meetings for new board members and an early May board meeting. Luckily both are here in DC so no travel, which always adds a layer of stress to everything. The cherry blossoms have come and gone, so too, the Nuclear Security Summit.

I was cat sitting up the street a few weeks ago and last weekend my neighbor dropped off a beautiful woven basket from their travels in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico as a thank you gift.

I jokingly said that I hope the cats would leave it alone. I walked into the kitchen later that evening to see this

I just can't imagine this is comfortable. But I've long given up trying to figure out my cats.


A funny aside: I had to drop off some papers to my boss's house last night. His wife let me in and I was greeted by their dog T (a recently rescued 3-year old springer spaniel). T bounded up to me and then quickly spun and ran back to the kitchen/family room where my boss was. I gave my boss the documents that needed signing and we were all just chit chatting away in the kitchen. I saw T standing near his bed with his head down and called him to come over. He looked up with this big roast chicken looking toy in his mouth and stood there wagging his tail furiously. I said "what have you got there T?" My boss's wife cried out "he's got our chicken!" Apparently they had grilled a whole small chicken and it was resting on the kitchen counter and T decided to go for it. I was laughing so hard while my boss was yelling at poor T to "drop it". My boss got the chicken away not looking too bad except for a decent sized bite taken out of it. They were both SO embarrassed saying that he has NEVER done anything like that before. Of course T knew he was in trouble so he quickly came over and sat down right on my feet and was leaning against me looking all innocent. I can honestly say that I've never had to wrestle a cooked chicken away from one of my cats!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Never a Dull Moment... or...Living with Cats

Living in a multiple cat household can be challenging at times. With the newest cat (Oliver) being brought into the herd back in 2006, everyone is more than used to my routine and what is expected of them. With the exception of my occasional travel and the occasional mouse, you would THINK things would run pretty smoothly.

Yet, all it takes is one cat getting into something to throw the whole household into a frenzy. Such was the case last night. The day started well. I had done some more spring clean up of the yard and had finished laundry and a kitchen clean up. I got all the cats in the house by 9:00 (the wind and rain really helped with that) and was hoping for an early night. In fact, I was in bed by 11:00 (quite early for me) and had fallen asleep for about 15 minutes before all hell broke loose.

First I heard things falling over (hmmm, a cat must have gotten into the tv room closet), then I heard what sounded like a bunch of ping pong balls dropping and bouncing (okay, what the HECK is that), then I heard a cat screaming and a whooshing sound with what sounded like something substantial being knocked over. By this time, if there were any cats on the bed with me, they had all jumped off to investigate. As I threw the covers off I yelled out "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT THERE!!" Complete silence. I'm now standing by the side of my bed wondering if I should check it out now or just wait until morning to see what the damage is. Since I've had a few recent mouse experiences I decide to check it out in case that is what all the fuss is about. I stomp into the tv room, look around and take a moment to try and figure out what happened.

What I can make out is that Chunky Lisa opened the closet door and while trying to jump up on the boxes, pulled them down instead. One of the boxes had my miniature Christmas ornaments, that included a bunch of tiny red glass balls that were now scattered all over the floor (ahh, the ping pong ball sound), with other cats now joining in batting the balls around. Chunky Lisa was up straddling the back of a chair with the look of a crazed animal. Somehow she had gotten her head through the handles of a large red plastic bag from Target that now was draped across her back like Superman's cape. (Okay, that accounts for the scream and whooshing sound.) She must have been frantically running around trying to get rid of her "cape" and in doing so knocked over the table lamp.

Stifling a laugh I quietly yet quickly walked over to Lisa who looked like she was about to bolt, removed her cape, picked up the glass ornaments, closed the closet door and went back to bed.

And people wonder why I have such dark circles under my eyes...

Without any visual proof, I vehemently deny the allegations about me in the above story (although the red plastic cape WAS pretty cool)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Earth Hour

Wow, it looks like I have figured out how to post a video again! Huzzah!

Earth Hour is this Saturday. Please check out this video and join me in turning off your lights this Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 pm. I did it last year and while it's not so much fun doing it when you live alone, it was fun watching my neighborhood go dark. A number of us went out on our front porches and we all started gabbing away and before you knew it the hour was up!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sorry Ollie!

I guess it was bound to happen. With the wonderful weather we've been having the inside/outside kitties are spending more and more time outside. I still like to have them in the house overnight though, as referenced a couple of posts back.
Last night was a pretty warm night. Temps around 11:00 were still in the 60s. I was pretty tired having worked in the yard a bit. I got every cat inside and went to bed. This morning I woke to a cat-filled bed. It seemed like every cat was up on the bed and wanting to be cuddled and talked to. When I finally was able to extricate myself from all that fur and started walking around turning off the outside lights, I did a quick head count and kept thinking to myself "now where's Ollie?" He's a small, skinny fellow that can curl himself up pretty much anywhere but I couldn't find him. I was up before the sun and opened the front door and there he was, pawing at the storm door and crying to be let in.
Aww, I'm so sorry Ollie. I thought I had everyone in last night. Maybe this is a reminder that when I call you to come in and say this is the "last call", you will heed my words. Then again, maybe not.

Here he is curled up on my pillow. I took this photo a couple of minutes ago. When he came in he went right to the food bowl, then jumped up on my bed and has been there ever since. (Can you see his left clipped ear? He obviously got caught up in a feral colony at some point and was trapped, neutered and released. How he made it to my house is anyone's guess.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Observing Two Anniversaries

What is the longest you ever stayed at one job? Would you ever think you could stay in one job for 20 years? Me neither. Yet, last Friday, March 12, marked my 20th anniversary at my association. I've seen board members come and go, staff come and go and now I will be going on my third Executive Director as my current boss announced in December he was leaving as of June 30th.
They had a quiet celebration for me. So quiet that, wait, they didn't have ANY celebration for me! Was I a bit peeved--yes. On one hand I could understand it as my boss was getting ready for yet another overseas trip and was already working one day a week at his new job. Plus our HR director has been away on Grand Jury duty since the beginning of February and she is the one who usually keeps track of such things. Still....

A board member was in town that day going to another conference and she stopped by to say hello. She is cycling off the board this year and was talking about how she was going to miss everyone. When she started talking about how long I had been at my association I quietly said, "well, as a matter of fact, today is my 20th anniversary". She started making a big fuss and invited me out for a drink which turned into a wonderful dinner and gab fest, all "off the record" of course!

Word must have gotten round to our HR director as I received these beautiful flowers yesterday

(Pay no attention to the mess behind the flowers)

I particularly like the mini orchid sprigs with the Spanish dancers!

Since I had my camera out I thought I'd show you my little cat and elephant tchotzkes I keep at my office.

Including a close up of a button my niece Meagan found for me. I LOVE IT (tee hee).

Now the next anniversary. Today marks the second anniversary of my sweet and gentle Butterball's death. I find it truly amazing how much I STILL miss him. Possumlady Place is again filled with laughter and little and not so little cat feet, purrs, trills and just general cat craziness. But, I still ache for Butterball, my gentle giant, my main man, my Gandhi of cats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Really...You Shouldn't Have

The weather has finally started warming up yet there are still a few mounds of snow around as painful reminders of the Blizzards of February 2010!! The inside/outside kitties are getting restless with all the time indoors so I let them out to burn off some energy when I come home from work. Just like with children, I start calling them to round them up about an hour before they need to come back in and I go to bed.
Around 10:00 last night I made my first call out on the front porch. I could see two cat silhouettes racing around each other. Hmm, looks like something's up. Then, Oliver struts up the sidewalk and starts prancing up the front porch steps trilling away with a little mouse in his mouth. Oh no, I say, keep that little mousey down there. Oliver dutifully marches back down the steps and drops the little mouse. Little mouse then scampers off into the undergrowth. Oliver watches it for a few seconds then starts after it again. Well, that's enough excitement for me, I think to myself as I go back inside.
It's 11:00 and I'm all ready for bed. I look out the storm door onto the front porch and see Oliver sitting there looking pleased as punch and ready to come in. Next to him is the little mousey, now deceased. Oh, thanks very much Oliver. I open the door and Oliver starts coming in, stops, turns and picks up the mouse. I'm sorry Oliver, mousey stays outside. I'm not sure if it was my tone or not, but Oliver again drops the mouse and races inside. I then call Tobey and he runs up the porch steps, stops dead in his tracks and slowly walks up to the mouse. He sniffs it and looks up at me expectantly. I shake my head, no Tobey, mousey stays outside. Tobey then saunters inside while I say a little prayer for said mousey then close up for the night and go to bed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jaxx is Back!!

In the past few storm posts, I mentioned I was looking out and worrying about a couple of feral cats. Well, one was poor Pyewacket that had to be put down last week. The other was Jaxx. Around the first of December, my neighbor sent out an email to be on the lookout for a brown and black ear tipped cat that escaped from her carrier. Her name was Jaxx and had been ear tipped, spayed and given her shots. My neighbor and others felt she was a stray that started hanging out with a feral group and they decided to try to keep her inside and see if she would tame up a bit, when she got loose from her carrier.

Well, I kept my eye out but never saw her until the night before I was going away to Orlando for a board meeting in mid-January. I had brought all the cats inside and was keeping them inside for the 2 days I was going to be away so I wasn't replenishing the food on the front porch. Around 10:00 pm I heard a commotion on the front porch and saw a brown and black cat fussing with a raccoon over about four measly pieces of kibble that were left in the bowl. I chased away the raccoon and the cat ran off too but immediately came back and was crying at the bottom of my porch stairs. I put out a can of food and I never saw a cat wolf down food so fast. I then put out another, then another, and then another! She wolfed down four cans of food!! I was afraid she was going to throw them right up again! I called my neighbor and said to keep an eye out for her and relunctantly had to leave for the airport early the next morning.

I started seeing her regularly in my back yard. She was hanging around my shed and I would see her crawl under it. We still had snow from our past storms and very cold weather so I could not try and trap her until the weather got better. Well, it never did. I was feeding and seeing her regularly until the first big storm hit on February 5th. After that I never saw her. I waded through snow every evening and put down dry kibble next to the shed. I always saw cat tracks, but it could have been any number of cats in the neighborhood.

Since going back to work on Tuesday, I decided the snow had gone down enough and paths had been forged so that if she was still around she could make it to where I usually fed her, next to my back porch. So I opened the window and called her and put out a can of wet food. I called and called but she never came. Wednesday morning the food was gone, but again, it could have been other cats, possums or raccoons. Wednesday night I went through the same routine. I called and called and lo and behold up popped a little ear tipped head! She was crying and hopping through the snow to get to where I had the food. Oh it was great to see her. She didn't wolf down the food so I know she was able to get to the kibble I was putting down for her. I talked about my day as she ate a few feet below me. In fact. I was just about to tell her what I was planning on eating for dinner when she turned and gave a big stretch and sauntered back to the shed. "Oh, okay", I said, "see you tomorrow." Isn't that just like a cat?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's the Little Things in Life

It's Day Two of returning to work after the back to back blizzards. Along with still dealing with mountains of snow and two hour commutes when it should be 30 minutes (in fact, I'm sitting in my office right now hearing the honking of horns outside--oh how I don't want to get in that traffic again), I'm dealing with mountains of paperwork from the unexpected time off.

In trying to keep myself calm and centered, I'm thinking of all the little things in my life that make me smile. Oh sure, my animals keep me on my toes and make me smile and laugh every day. That is a given. But, as I was standing at the lunch counter today, I started looking at my scarf and I smiled. I LOVE my scarf! Is that silly? I got it at Kohls over a year ago and each and every time I put it on I smile. It goes with everything I have and the colors are so bright and cheerful, even the black has little shimmering threads. Everyone that has seen it comments on it and thinks it is handmade.

So what about you? Is there something in your home or office, or a piece of clothing that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face? Enquiring (possumlady) minds want to know!!

P.S. I'm sure you noticed my new header photo. Can you tell I was dealing with cabin fever and thinking of a time with no snow? I know the photo is too big but I don't know how to shrink it. I also inadvertently made the type of the entire blog larger because I wanted to make my header type larger. Obviously, I don't know what I'm doing. Any instructions would be greatly appreciated!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Photos of the Day After

With the federal government on a delayed opening/unscheduled leave day, I checked with my boss to see if he could pick me up as my driveway is still not shoveled out (since he lives just a couple of minutes from me). He was leaving earlier then I had planned so I guess it's an unscheduled leave day for me today!!

Side of house view on Sunday after the first storm

Photo of side of house yesterday after the Wednesday storm. Notice the much longer icicles.

Birdy prints

The "tunnel." I had to shovel three times with each scoop, first the top layer, then the middle layer, then the bottom layer, before I could move forward. My back was NOT happy by the end of the day.

Possumlady Place held up just fine.

No, they weren't napping--Chunky Lisa and Figaro showing their displeasure of mom's use of the "flashy box".

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Since the start of this snow storm and the aftermath, before I go to bed, I always put out a fresh bowl of dry kibble on the front porch with some hot water in a bowl (so the water will not freeze so quickly). In the morning before I let the outside kitties out to release some of their energy, I take a quick peak. If no food has been touched I open the door and let them out. This morning I took my quick peak...nope, food is still there and doesn't look touched. I opened the front door and made a quick look into the little cat igloo. Imagine my surprise when I saw two golden eyes staring back at me! It was Pyewacket!! Oh, was I relieved!! Well, the outside kitties would have to wait as they would have chased Pyewacket away.

I opened a can of wet food and slowly and carefully opened the door and quietly walked outside talking gently to him. I waved the food past the igloo opening so he could get a wiff and put it down and quietly backed into the house again. I watched as I could see him licking his chops. He then struggled a bit but got out of the igloo (that is up on a wicker chair). He does not look good. He looks very thin and has leaves stuck to him. He has a wound on his back leg and will not put any weight on one of his front legs. Yesterday was the first day that I dug out of my driveway to the cleared street, so it was obvious he was across the street the whole time yet had no way of getting to me until he had a clear path. Poor, poor thing.

With our offices closed again today and a major storm approaching by the end of today, I had one objective. To try and get to a supermarket and stock up again. Now I have two. I'm going to try and get Pyewacket into my cat carrier and bring him over to my neighbor's where she has a caged cat condo. At least there he will be safe and warm. We will bring him to the vet once the weather clears and go from there. Since he is pretty feral, if we find that he has a broken leg or other serious issues that would require daily pilling or other medication, I hate to say this, but I think the best thing would be to have him put down. He is clearly not happy and not able to fend for himself and with the weather as bad and cold as it has been, it could be the most humane thing to do. On the other hand, If he just has an infected puncture wound of some kind that will heal up we may just keep him inside until the weather gets better and the snow melts and he is able to walk again.

So keep your fingers and paws crossed for Pyewacket, or as I call him "my little hissy boy".

Well, it's good and it's bad. I watched Pyewacket struggle down my front porch steps and down my walkway to the street. With a bad front and back leg it was tortuous watching him struggling to get across the street. As luck would have it he made it back to my porch about 20 minutes later and jumped up into the little igloo. I then cautiously brought my cat carrier out and put the opening up against the opening of the igloo and tapped on the igloo and out popped Pyewacket into my carrier. My neighbor called our vet and he was at his clinic. I decided to bring him in then and there. The vet looked at him and said given his unknown medical history regarding shots and the look that he was in a major fight with most likely a raccoon, they put Pyewacket down. I feel bad but honestly I mostly feel relieved. He is no longer struggling to survive in pain and in the freezing cold. I honestly don't know how he made through this last storm with those injuries and with another coming later today, I think it would have been too much for him. So goodbye Pyewacket. At least you got a good meal and was able to quench your big thirst for water, along with being safe and warm for your last hours. Your life had meaning and I'm glad I was able to share some of it with you.

Photo of Pyewacket taken a year ago when he first started coming to my porch for food. The photo was taken through a storm door since he would not allow me to get close to him.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No TV and No Beer Makes Possumlady Something Something*

*My apologies for those of you that aren't Simpsons fans since the title is a variation of a quote from Homer when they did a Simpson's version of The Shining.

Day two of the snowpocalypse. I still have electricity which is a VERY BIG deal. But, I still don't have tv and for that matter beer! Luckily I'm not a sports fan and would not be watching the Super Bowl if you paid me. (Well, I guess it would depend on how much!)

Shoveled FIVE times yesterday. Today it is in the teens with the sun shining. A plow FINALLY made an appearance about an hour ago but big deal--my car is completely buried and am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. Let the outside kitties out this morning and Chloe is still out sitting in the sun on a front porch stair. Made a small double batch of Zick suet dough yesterday and will be distributing it today along with more bird seed. I have a hungry mob of grackles that came by yesterday afternoon and they're back looking for more, more, MORE!!

I have no idea how the feral kitties are surviving. I waded through (pardon my french) crotch deep snow to get to the back shed, carrying a shovel, a can of cat food, a baggie of dry food and a plate. Found a small area that I shoveled out but if she was under there, she didn't make a sound when I called her. I left the plate close to the opening. Also left a small bowl of dry kibble on the front porch last night and this morning it was all gone with little kibbles flung every which way so that must mean a raccoon stopped by.

No photos yet as I'm still in my jammies. I'm quite surprised that I'm feeling no ill effects from all the shoveling yesterday. In fact, my back is feeling quite good! Naproxen rocks!!

Wait! Maybe just one photo...

Manny, Mo, and, no it's Chloe, Oliver and Figaro. I really need to bring my suitcase back down to the basement!

Friday, February 5, 2010

This Could Be The Start of Something Big

If you've been following me on facebook, you know that the DC area is getting into a world of hurt with another snow storm. Not just ANY snowstorm, this could break records. First they were talking about around a foot of snow. Then 12-18 inches. Then 12-24 inches. Now some weather models are saying we could get close to 30 inches!! Oh, and not just snow either, 35-50 mph winds tonight.

I've done as much as I could for the evening regarding a couple of semi-feral strays that come around. I know one stays under my shed out back. I've made sure that one little area will not get covered up and have put a lot of food under the shed. There is also a small insulated dog house on the side of my house under my eaves away from the wind. I also made a canopy from an old bedspread that is hanging over my wicker on the front porch to make sure the food and water doesn't get snowed under.

Now my biggest concern is the electricity going out. This is a very heavy wet snow and we have lots and lots of big trees around here so I'm crossing my fingers and saying prayers tonight. The news folks are also stressing that we need to shovel multiple times so that we are literally not killing ourselves trying to shovel two feet of heavy wet snow.

Taking a break after my first shoveling around 7:30 tonight to take a picture of little Possumlady Place. Hmmm, do I see something or someone in the window?

Can you see little Figaro's black head on the lower right of the window? He was desperate to get out. Not on my watch mister!

Then there's Woody--"Snow, what snow? Could you close the door please, I'm feeling a draft".

Okay, it's 10:00 pm and I'm going out for my second shoveling and last one of the night. Wish me luck!!

11:00 pm update: WHEW! Well, I shoveled over a foot of snow. Luckily my neighbor across the street was also out and he helped me. I just can't imagine what it will be like tomorrow morning. The weather folks have said the heavy stuff is just beginning! The wind is picking up and I saw a flash of light. They did mention the possibility of Thunder snow. The canopy on the porch is not working because the wind is so strong it is blowing snow on all the food and water. I just threw a handful of dry kibble into the little igloo in case Pyewacket makes his way here. Good times....good times

I'm taking a naproxen and calling it a night.

Feb 6, 6:30 am update
To quote Christopher Walken as "the Continental" -- "Wow, wowee, wow, wow, wow! The good news is I still have electricity!!! The bad news is that it is STILL snowing like mad and the wind is blowing like crazy. I had my first really good belly laugh of the day as I opened the front door. Of course, the outside kitties made a bee line for the front porch. They all stopped dead in their tracks on the snowy porch floor and looked at me like "what the #%$@!! Then Chunky Lisa led them down the front steps. At the bottom she almost disappeared into the snow. She had a hard time trying to get going but she almost flew back up the front stairs and back into the house as did the other three. I promise to have my camera at the ready next time. Will keep you updated with photos throughout the day (what the heck else can I do, except for shoveling of course!!)
9:30 am update

I went out around 7:30 for my 3rd shoveling. Uff da!!

First casualty of the storm--no cable tv!! Boo Hoo. Oh well, with hearing transformers blowing out around me, I should be thankful I still have power. Hearing on the radio that over 200,000 are now without.

My polar bear flag looks quite appropriate, no?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Farewell Butterstick

We here in the DC area have heavy hearts this week as we say goodbye to our Panda Tai Shan. Tai Shan will be flown back to China today (by Federal Express no less).

(photo capture of a video from The Washington Post)

Tai Shan was born in 2005 at the National Zoo. They had a panda cam set up and I was a faithful follower of him for that first year. Chinese tradition dictates that 100 days have to pass before naming a panda cub. So when a caretaker at the zoo described the cub after he was born as being "about the size of a butterstick", the name Butterstick stuck as a local pet name for him.

The National Zoo had an internet poll where everyone could vote for their favorite name for the cub out of five that were approved by the Chinese government. (There was an actual write in vote for the name Butterstick, by the Chinese government did NOT approve.) Most of the names meant "magnificent warrior" or "dragon warrior", etc. Tai Shan meant "peaceful mountain" and I immediately voted for that name. I happened to be in Churchill, Manitoba watching polar bears at the time when the Zoo was going to announce the name. As soon as I got settled, I searched around town for a computer so I could find out and was thrilled they chose Tai Shan as his name.

Tai Shan's first snow in 2005

Here he is as a big boy looking like he is playing a bamboo flute in 2007.

So, farewell Butterstick. Even though you are going back to your homeland, you will always be a native DC'er. Live long and multiply.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Routines

Everyone who has ever had more than one companion animal knows that each one is unique in their personalities and routines. When a companion animal dies, their daily household routine goes with them.

I, like my cats, crave routine. My morning and evening rituals pretty much revolve around taking care of all my animal charges. When I wake up, my bed is usually filled with a few cats. But they are off the bed as soon as I am and into the living room, stretching, yawning, and scratching. After I get all the cats happy with more food, clean water, clean litterboxes, I settle down into the couch listening to my classical radio station and get online for a while to read the news of the day. When it's time to get ready for work, I move back to my bedroom and teeny tiny bathroom that is inside my bedroom.

Since he was adopted, Butterball always padded back into the bedroom with me and kept me company while I was showering, getting dressed, etc. I would always spend a little time on the bed with him either giving him loads of pats and belly scritches, or playing catch with a wadded piece of paper. Since Butterball's death in early 2008, I've gotten ready for work alone. No other cat has stepped up to the plate to keep me company. I was so lonely after a few months of this, I would go into the living room and carry a cat back with me trying to get it to stay in the bedroom. No such luck. That is, until now. For the past month or so, Chunky Lisa has been in the bedroom lying at the foot of my bed, either casually snoozing or watching me.

No, she doesn't play catch or scratch my back, but she sure does purr up a storm.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Note from Sweet Pea

Hi everybuddy, Sweet Pea here. I have two things I'd like to meow to you about today. First, I know I've thanked you before but I just want to thank you again for all the kind wishes when I was very sick. As you can see from the photo mom took a few weeks ago, I'm all better. No bleeding from my mouth, no more lumps or bumps on my neck and my luxurious furs have all grown back.

I feel very fortunate to have "strayed" into mom's yard and becoming a permanent part of her family over eight years ago! Yet, my heart is very heavy thinking about all the destruction in Haiti. I asked mom what is happening to all the poor animals and at first she said she couldn't focus on it since there was so much death and injury with all the peoples, but later she said in the back of her mind she was worrying about the animals too.
We know all our blogging friends have given as much as they can to help the human suffering but we'd like you to know about an opportunity to give help to the animals of Haiti. Mom has been a member and volunteer of UAN (United Animal Nations) for going on five years now. Their slogan is "bringing animals out of crisis and into care". UAN was founded in 1987 and their charge is to bring animals out of crisis through programs including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Throughout the United States, whenever you have seen on TV, people rescuing animals from a natural disaster or a raid on a puppy mill, or a dog fighting ring, you can be assured that UAN is there. They are the umbrella organization that coordinates with the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the US and local animal law enforcement and humane organizations to bring in whatever help they need.
UAN has now joined forces with the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), an international group of professional animal welfare organizations working together to help the animals affected by this tragedy. ARCH is spearheaded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Through ARCH, relief teams will work out of a mobile clinic donated by the Antiqua and Barbuda Humane Society. The clinic will be shipped to a WSPA member society in the Dominican Republic and driven across the border into Haiti. Once in Haiti, the team will administer emergency care to farm animals and pets belonging to people displaced by the disaster.
So, if you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating through UAN. Your money will go directly to helping the animals in Haiti. All of us cats at Possumlady Place told mom that we will gladly go without our usual Temptation treats for a while so she can put a few more dollars to work in helping our friends. We received an email about this on Tuesday and as of today (Thursday), UAN has already raised and sent over $30,000 to help. UAN has the Sweet Pea Paw of Approval!!
Fangs in advance,
Sweet Pea

Friday, January 8, 2010


Starting in mid-December of each year, the cable station Turner Classic Movies puts out a little video remembrance, that they play throughout the month, of all those who have died in the film industry that year. These are little pieces of art. The video montage along with the music is achingly beautiful. So much better then the little tributes put out by the various news outlets.

That said, I was a little disappointed in this year's tribute. The music didn't seem to live up to past years. Still, again, much better than most. It doesn't seem like I'm able to add videos anymore. Lord knows why not. So I'm putting a link to them. Here is 2009's Tribute, along with 2008, and 2007. I hope you will take the time to watch them and let me know what you think. One more reason why I love TCM so much.

Oh, one thing. It looks like when the video comes on they put a little trailer on the bottom about the song. Make sure to click that closed or you won't see the names at the bottom of the screen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kuku Paka nu Wala

On a cold winter's night, I can't think of a better stew to eat then Kuku Paka nu Wala (often referred to as just Kuku paka), an East African dish of chicken with coconut milk. I was served this when I was on safari in East Africa, though they served whole chicken pieces on a bed of rice with a coconut sauce over the top.

On our last day in Tanzania, we stopped at a gift shop. I was so excited to find a small Tanzanian cookbook that had a recipe for Kuku paka. That excitement turned to frustration as the line to check out was long and not moving. I saw a few incidents of the "ugly American" syndrome where folks were trying to haggle with the shop owner into lowering the prices. They would make comments about what a rip off some of the items were. Looking at the folks who worked at the store you knew none of them were getting rich. In fact, by American standards, they all looked pretty destitute. I was so put off by the bickering that I put down the cookbook in a huff and left. I sat in our van waiting for everyone else to return. After a half hour, folks were starting to trickle back. A fellow traveler, Gale, quietly sat down next to me and handed me a package, saying this was her goodbye gift to me. Inside was the cookbook! I will be forever grateful to her for that small gift. I've lost count on the number of people who now have this recipe or who have passed it on to others.

After over ten years of cooking it, I think I've perfected the dish. Here is my version of the recipe:

Two packages of chicken breasts (you can use whatever kind of chicken you prefer, it should amount to around 3 pounds of meat). I also recommend using chicken with the skin on and with bones still attached. I swear it makes for a much more flavorful stew than using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Two large onions, sliced.

Two cloves of garlic, minced.

A "thumb" of ginger, peeled and grated.

One tsp. of salt

Two tbls. of oil.

One can of diced tomatoes (the recipe calls for 4 small tomatoes, but with the pink and woody tomatoes of winter, I have no problem using canned tomatoes).

Four cups of coconut milk, which is basically two cans. (To lower the fat, I've tried using two cans of reduced fat coconut milk and the flavor was just not there. I then tried one can of reduced fat and one can of regular and it still is not as good as using two cans of regular.)

A bunch of chopped cilantro

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 cup of rice


Heat the oil in a large stew pot. Add the onions and saute on medium high heat until they are limp and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and ginger (I just peel the ginger and grate it directly into the pot). Stir until you start smelling the garlic and ginger. Then add the salt and the can of tomatoes (no need to drain). Put the chicken pieces on top of the onion/tomato mix, cover and lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Then, add the coconut milk, mix as well as you can, turn the heat up to medium, cover and cook for 50-60 minutes.

Now, turn off the heat, take out the chicken pieces to cool so they can be handled (about 20 minutes). Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken and return it to the stew. Turn back on the heat to medium, add the fresh cilantro, lemon juice and rice, stir to mix and cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.

I also will add a little cayenne pepper for some heat on occasion but it is not necessary. As with all stews, the flavors really blossom reheating it the next day.

I hope you will try it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Zen Kitty

Woody enjoying the sun.

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!! With my sporadic internet at home, it's been near impossible to do anything. Just keepin up with my farm on Farmville and a few Facebook quips is about it. My camera also finally died. My new one is a Cannon Powershot. Doing a little test photography on my favorite puddies of course!!

Oh, if only this one was in better focus!! Trying out my zoom on Chunky Lisa.

Better focus but I prefer the first photo.

Well, that's about it for now. I promise to do better in the New Year!!