I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Thoreau

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soap Suds

Last Thursday, Veteran’s Day, I officially ran out of homemade laundry detergent. I made the first six gallon bucket of laundry detergent on April twenty-fourth of this year. Being as this was one of our first forays into homesteading I am happy to report it was a success. I think seven months worth of laundry on an initial investment of $18.01 is pretty economical.

You can go on to cut that price in half because I had enough of every ingredient (excluding an additional bar of soap) to make an entire additional batch. I will never have to buy the bucket again and I think I probably could have gotten a third batch of the detergent out of my original ingredients except I used some of the washing soda for other household cleaning and craft projects. So from here on out I estimate my investment in detergent every seven months, assuming I get three batches out of the initial ingredients, to be roughly $3.70 (and that is rounding up)!

I am taking up another whole blog about this because I want to tell you some of the things I learned from my first batch as well as share my pleasure at a completely successful, heart-ache free venture! First and foremost, it takes some time and is a messy endeavor to make laundry detergent, so if you are pressed for time, or you have run out of detergent and waited till the night before work to wash your uniforms, you are out of luck. It takes about an hour, maybe a little more, to make the detergent and then the concoction needs to be left to sit overnight before using. I waited till I was completely without detergent before make more because I wanted to see exactly how long one bucket would last (and it was a good excuse not to do laundry for an entire day).

Secondly, scooping detergent out of a six gallon bucket for every load is messy and impractical. I saved an “All” liquid detergent container, submerge it in the bucket to fill it up and then just use the lid as a measuring device like normal. Any liquid laundry detergent bottle that you have on hand would work. This way I can continue to store my product like normal detergent, above the washer, and it does not add an additional step to doing the laundry. I just push the bucket off to the side of the laundry room and only fool with it when the bottle is empty.

Finally, here are a couple of tips for the actual making of the detergent: The first time I made it I ran the bar of soap through my food processor, mistake. It was glommy and I like to NEVER got the food processor washed or the “mountain fresh” scent out of the plastic. Ick. I cook with that! Lesson learned. So this time around I just chopped the soap up with a stainless steel kitchen knife, much easier to clean but it did leave me with coarser chunks of soap to dissolve on the stove which took longer. I will chop it up in even smaller bits next time.

I also thought, last time I made it, I did not get the bar soap entirely dissolved and so my finished product was kind of gloppy and had a chunky consistency. Initially, I worried that is would leave residue on the clothes. That was not the case. It dissolved completely it just was not aesthetically pleasing.

This time around I took the extra time and care to dissolve the bar soap completely so when I put my finished product in the bucket it was entirely liquid and the consistency of a thin syrup. Unfortunately, on Friday morning when I opened the bucket, it too had unattractively congealed. It is not a thick smooth get like a commercial detergent. Instead, it is lumpy, like the consistency of oatmeal. The plus of completely dissolving the bar soap this time was there are no white soap chunks in it, it is clear, just lumpy.

The consistency of the detergent does not seem in any way to affect the way it cleans. Our clothes, even Fred’s uniforms, come out fresh and clean and smelling great. We have not had any problems with skin allergies or clothes not getting completely clean. Also, there is never any residue on the clothes like with a powder detergent. There is also no soap scum, which was a personal concern of mine at the onset. So overall my verdict is I will continue to make our detergent at home, saving a fortune on the commercial alternatives and making a little baby step towards being a more responsible consumer.


In the same vein of getting things clean here is something else we have realized in the past two months. Dishwasher not only save time and alleviate a tiresome chore, they actually use less electricity and water than doing dishes by hand. Knock me over with a feather.

Our dishwasher finally gave up the ghost about two months ago and we decided to forgo the expense of a new one. I would wash the dishes by hand. I do not mind washing the dishes. I put on some music or use the time to day dream and plan, but let me point out, I cook, a lot, several times a day. I make at least two breakfasts in the mornings, sometimes three. I make lunch for myself and whoever else is home and I make dinner most nights, in addition to anything I bake throughout the week and any extra treats I may make. In short, I dirty a LOT of dishes.

In the past I would load the dishes into the dish washer as the day went on and then run the dish washer when we all went to bed. I would unload it in the morning and start all over again. I ran the dishwasher almost every day and occasionally twice a day. Well when the dishwasher went on to the great kitchen in the sky I was left piling dirty dishes in the sink. The sink basin is small and usually breakfast dishes alone filled it up and spilled over onto my limited counter space. This make for some technical difficulties when it came time to make lunch and dinner and I was left with no space. So I would at least have to washes dishes once in the morning and once in the afternoon and usually at least once in between to clear up enough space to turn around in.

You can imagine my shock and horror after putting in all this additional work only to find out that both our water and electric bills had gone up significantly! That did it. It was like adding insult to injury. Not only did I have at least an hour or two of extra work every day but I was paying for the privilege! GRRRR! We bit the bullet and went dishwasher shopping this past Saturday.

We settled on a lower price point whirlpool with an extended warranty. No, we are not crazy about buying one more plastic and metal thing that will eventually find its way to a landfill but we also are not in love with pumping scads more water into the sewage/waste water plant or using tons of fossil fuel to heat that water just to wash our dishes. Buying the new dishwasher seemed like the lesser of two evils, the greener of two brown choices. We bought an energy efficient model that supposedly only cost thirty-three dollars per year to run and we will install it ourselves this afternoon.

The recyclable parts of our old dish washer will go into the scrap pile and we will try and determine if we can come up with a use for any of the skeletal remains of plastic. HEY! Maybe I have finally found my backdoor composter?! We will see. In the meanwhile we are still learning and taking our small steps although this one was quite the eye opener. Who knew washing dishes by hand was really so costly. Of course if you live alone or do not cook very often it might be much more cost effect, just a thought.

Thanks for reading,
Much love,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Great Egg-scape Part II

Ok, so remember that whole analysis of why Helga was the only one who could escape from the confines of our back yard? You know the others were too fat, or too small, or too old, etc. Nonsense. Toss it out. Sigh.

A couple of weeks ago, after successfully pruning Helga’s wings with very little incident, I thought we had effectively arrested the problem of the chicken escapees with minimal chicken drama. Helga did not seem in the least upset with being re-confined to the yard nor did anyone else appear to be exhibiting signs of wanderlust for the great green grass beyond the fence.

After all, our back yard is nothing to sneeze at, it is roughly a third of our property if not a little more. It is more than enough space for six chickens and there are several trees to get under and lots of shady places to scratch for snacks. Not to mention the “magical” back door opens several times a day and chickens are treated to everything from left over spaghetti (which they love) to raisins and oats (a little more common but equally desired). There is really no reason for a chicken to step outside the confines of the fence except out of sheer nosiness. Let me tell you: a cat's alleged curiosity has got nothing on a chicken's. Those are some of God’s nosiest creatures. There is a reason gossipy old women are referred to as biddies!

So several days after pruning Helga’s wings I was sitting here on the couch working on gathering some homesteading information when I heard some intense chicken squawking and it sounded astonishingly close. Allow me to pause for a second and address that the location of the couch is not close to the back door, instead I was sitting relatively near the front door and it distinctly sounded as if a chicken was attempting to sell me a magazine subscription. At first I ignored it, sound does strange things in the hollow and sometimes people talking several houses away sound as if they are on our front step. Then the ranting became incessantly louder. I thought maybe someone was stuck in a tree so I stepped on the back porch to investigate.

I called “stinky chickens” “stinky chickens” this is what they respond to in the way that a house cat will come to “here kitty kitty” Helga came tearing around the corner of the house at break neck speed, wings stretched out to the side she toddled as fast as her fat little legs would carry her. If you have never seen a chicken run you are missing a real treat, it is hysterical, they wobble back and forth and their fat thighs narrow down onto spindly little ankles and feet that look as if they will give way at any moment. You can see where the cartoonists got the idea of a spinning circle to represent a running animal, their legs appear to spin precariously through the air as they rush to their destination.

Helga was shortly followed by three of the Black Jersey Giants and Momma lethargically bringing up the rear (Momma is in a molt, a topic for a later blog). I called some more and examined the BJGs to see who was missing. Gina-chicken was notably absent from the group so I called specifically for her by name. I gave everyone some oats (so they would cease chattering and pecking my toes) and listened. I could hear a distant ruckus that sounded distinctly like a chicken stuck somewhere. I left the back porch and began walking around the house towards the sound. As I rounded the corner I saw Gina-chicken standing outside the chain link diligently jamming her little chicken head in between the links and fussing as loudly as possible. Good grief. Some days I feel like Charlie Brown perpetually having the football yanked out from under me.

I went back in the house and out the front door, the shortest route to the escapee. As she saw me exit the front door she started up at ruckus that had me in fear of the ASPCA being called at any moment. She was beating her wings on the ground and making enough noise for a dozen chickens instead of one solitary soul. Clearly, she was extremely put out that she had been over the fence for quite some time and no one was heeding her demand of immediate reentry. In fact her fair weather sisters had eagerly abandoned her to her fate as soon as the opportunity to procure some snacks became available.

I am still at a total loss as to how they manage to “fly” out but cannot seem to work out the mechanics of “flying” back in. I walked up to her and gently lifted her under my arm, pinning her wings at her side and allowing me to briefly examine her for injury without being flogged half to death. Flogging does not really hurt (at least not from a chicken that size) but it does present the opportunity for the bird to injure itself and it is really annoying and hard to work around. I checked her over she seemed fine except for being riotously angry.

I considered walking around the yard to the gate or taking her back through the house but in the end the easiest solution seemed to be to just put her back over the fence. I held her wings at her sides and her body out in front and leaned as far over the fence into the yard as possible. (Note: I am still wearing pajamas at this point, all I need are rollers in my hair and I am sure my neighbors will begin taking their morning coffee on the porch to watch the show.) I am not the tallest person in the world so even leaning in as far as I could left Gina-chicken roughly a foot to foot and a half off the ground. Oh well, at that point it was either drop her in or fall in on top of her.

I let her go and she angrily fluttered to the ground, she turned and tried to peck my finger, I assume in protest of her man handling and I thought to myself, “Go ahead sister, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait till this evening.” I figured Fred and I would need to clip everyone’s wings as soon as he got home from work. Helga is the tamest of the bunch and pruning her wings was no treat. I was not in the least looking forward to chasing down and trimming the BJGs.

I checked on the girls several times throughout the afternoon and I had practically convinced myself that obviously Gina-chicken was the only one who could get over the fence so maybe we would only need to clip her and Helga and everyone else would be fine. Then Fred’s mom came to visit. Fred’s mom grew up in Illinois where her parents and grandparents raised most all of their food, including chickens for both meat and eggs. She was our main detractor in our chicken endeavors stating that chickens were mean, filthy and stupid. She and her younger sister had always been left in charge of the chickens and to this day she wants absolutely nothing to do with them.

I told her about how Helga and now Gina-chicken were getting outside of the chain link. I shared with her that I was afraid one of them would panic and get hit by a car or worse that one of the roving neighborhood dogs would sneak up on one of my girls while they were waiting to get back in and maul them. She agreed that those things were possible and then she shared with me a charming story about how several of their leghorns had broken their necks attempting to get out of the fence and falling short only to land with their heads stuck on the top of the fencing. She said they would come home from school to find dead and half dead chickens swinging by their necks on the gallows of their own design.

That did it. Everyone was getting pruned the second Fred got home from work. I was NOT coming home to find one of my birds swinging on the fence line. Poor Fred, I did not even give him an extra second to stop, he sat his lunch box down and I handed him the sheers and hustled him out into the yard. Now here is the second part of our dilemma. The BJGs do not particularly like Fred. In fact, they tend to flee from him at amazing speeds. I told him they can smell the chicken on his breath. I honestly do not know why they do not like him other than he just is not around them enough for them to get comfortable with him. Whatever the issue, it was like they could sense something was up the second we stepped outside. They headed for the big pine and hunkered down.

It was a comedy of epic proportions as we tried to flush the BJGs from hiding all the while Helga was underfoot like the annoying pup from the Bugs Bunny cartoons “Where ya goin’ hey, hey, what ch doing? Can I go? Hey, hey, what cha doing?” and Mamma stood on the sidelines watching the excitement. We had decided we did not need to clip Mamma, as old as she is and being in molt I was afraid the additional stress of clipping her wings might make her croak. It is funny how they can sense that something is amiss. Only the BJGs hid as their inner radar alerted them that they were the ones about to get the business.

I told Fred just to wait I would go in and get some raisins. I stepped back out on the porch and shook the box. Of course, like me, their bellies overrode their common sense and they came barreling out of the pine onto the porch. Fred snuck up behind them and while they were eating he grabbed Autumn-chicken. Of course the other three quickly made for the pine tree and Autumn-chicken began to fuss & carry-on like it was the end of the world. Fred flipped her upside down and instead of relaxing she kind of stiffened in a really good imitation of rigormortis. I struggled to stretch her wings and trim the feathers, she jerked a few times and began to drool.

Now, let me tell you, I have NEVER seen a chicken drool. I did not even know they could drool. It was pitiful. In the few second it took me to clip her feather she had drool a great big slimy puddle on the porch. Fred eased her back to her feet and she was so shook up she just stood there for a few minutes. She would not even take a raisin offered right in front of her beak. She finally staggered away, made it off the porch, shook herself and ran full tilt for the pine screeching at the top of her lungs.

We realized that we were not going to immediately catch any more chickens so we waited about thirty minutes before once again trying to bait them back up on the porch. We thought we had a pretty good system. Once they were on the porch they were cornered so it was only a matter of snatching up one and doing the pruning. Ha, anyone who tells you chickens are stupid is probably a moron. They are not going to solve the NY Times crossword anytime soon but they are not brainless and they do remember things.

I coaxed them back on the porch and they were moving around so furiously we could not determine who was who, and who had already been trimmed. As Fred made a move to grab one they panicked so badly they began running into the railing of the porch and knocking over my potted plants. They were so distraught that two of them managed a feat I would not believe if I had not seen it with my own eyes. They squeezed between the porch railings and hopped a good three and a half to four feet to the ground. Their body width is easily twice that of the space between the slats. It was like watch a train wreck and being unable to look away as wings were wrenched backwards and sheer terror propelled them through the bars.

I thought surely we had some injured chickens on our hands, but no, other than being terrorized they seemed fine. We managed to capture and trim one more before we finally gave up and decided to grab the other two after they had gone to roost that night. Somewhere in the midst of this mayhem I came up with the bright idea of painting the toenails of the ones we had trimmed so that they would be easily discernible in the dark. We painstakingly applied pink polish to the middle toe of the left foot of both the clipped BJGs and left them alone until dark.

Once the sun had set and the girls had gone to roost we snuck out with our Coleman lantern and our kitchen scissors and determined to get the job done. They were on to us, The whole thing about chickens being comatose and docile after dark? BUNK! They had huddled as far away from the coop door as possible, piled on top of each other against the far wall, blocking the small door and outside of arms reach of the nest box. And did I mention? There was not a painted toenail in sight.

We sighed, set the lantern down and began the arduous task of climbing around the coop in the dark and wrestling unwilling chickens into submission. It was a nightmare they were terrorized and for our trouble we were pecked, flogged and drooled on. Feathers flew everywhere and it is amazing that everyone escaped without injury. Needless to say none of us are looking forward to the next time pruning is necessary. Also probably needless to say, we did not see eggs for several days and when we finally did see eggs again they were hidden all over the yard like a vindictive and deranged Easter Bunny had escaped the institution and gone on an egg hiding spree.

There is a steep learning curve in the chicken raising business and so far I feel consistently on the bottom of the bell. Oh well, they are not dead yet so we must be doing something right. Stay tuned.

Much love,


Friday, November 5, 2010

Henry, a Life Interupted

Many of you will read this and wonder what it has to do with the general theme of this blog. I can save you some trouble and tell you absolutely nothing, however, I cannot let Henry “go gently into that good night” without at least pausing to honor his life and the importance he has in mine. I have many things backlogged to blog about but none as important to me as this.

In 2001 I was newly married and desperate to channel my maternal instinct into some childless path. My husband at the time had one cat, Sophie, but Sophie was solely his and solely a one person animal. I wanted my own cat, something I could love and baby, something all my own. In looking back I realize that this all consuming desire to love something and to have that something return my love unconditionally obviously reflected on the frailty of, and the seismic flaws in, a marriage that should never have been.

What I really wanted was a child but that was not to be and, as hind sight is always twenty-twenty, I realize now the marriage was doomed from before we said “I do” so it was better that we had no children. It is much easier to maintain custody of a cat then it is a child. These later realizations did nothing to quell the almost all consuming desire to mother something. We argued about the merits of another pet. I had an overwhelming desire to save every animal I saw and my then husband had a much more pragmatic view of taking good care of the one pet we had versus struggling to feed more animals or our combined minimum wage salaries.

I whined, I cried, I moped, I threatened, I wheedled, I argued, I pleaded and eventually I merely wore him down. He conceded to one more cat, but that was the limit. I could choose the cat but he would have the privilege of naming the new addition and that new addition must be declawed, spayed/neutered and vaccinated before entering Sophie’s world. These were terms I could readily agree to so off I went to the Kanawha Valley Animal Shelter looking for a cat of my very own.

When I arrived at the shelter, just like every other time I had visited, I found myself overwhelmed with the sights, smells and sounds of a small venue filled to the brim with terrified, lonely, confused and unwanted little creatures. (I applaud the shelter, the workers and the volunteers for taking on a monumental task that involves so much heartbreak and so little reward. I could not do it. I can barely stand to walk through the door. I would gladly give my last dime, all my worldly possessions and the clothes on my back to save everyone of those little souls but even if I took home each one there are countless others awaiting their spots. It is heartbreaking, it is always heartbreaking.)

I wandered into the cat room and found myself face to face with numerous pairs of pleading eyes and countless tragic little faces. I wandered from cage to cage as paws reached out to touch me and warm fuzzy bodies threw their purring weight against the bars of their confinement. You cannot put your fingers in the cages for fear of cross contamination, so I laced my hands behind my back, and stopped at each door to talk to the little prisoners. Their eyes tell sad stories of loss and abandonment, of heart break and hope, I desperately wished I could save them all.

I was pretty sure I did not want a tiny kitten for fear Sophie would make mincemeat out of it and I was afraid an older cat might already be too set in their ways to blend well into a family where the position of alpha female was already well secured. I was leaning towards a tom and had pretty much decided I would need to choose a bigger kitten when my eyes locked on a half grown waifish looking hair ball meowing at the top of his adolescent lungs from behind his bars. I walked towards his cage and he immediately set to wailing at me, reaching through his confines with arms that seemed two-times too long for his spindly body.

He looked distinctly like he had been standing at the end of the line when God was handing out the cat parts, and had gotten the very last scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. He was mostly a dingy white, with a half grown half starved body, he had very long legs, a very long tail, and a very large head quite in disproportion to his slender trunk. His head looked as though someone had placed a tabby helmet on it and cut out ear holes, his back and tail continued the tabby motif making it look as though he were a white cat dressed in costume for the tabby ball. I was in love. He had a spot on one ear which lent him a flair of quirky charm and when he rolled on his back his belly sported a single tabby spot above his navel which would forever be referred to in Seuss-ical fashion as “stars on thars.”

Like I said, I was in love. I thought him charming in an awkward and gangly sort of way. He was very much a four legged representation of the type of man I was attracted to, poised and intelligent, trapped in an uncomfortable and ill fitting physical structure. I paid his bail and had him shipped to the local veterinarian we used for his surgery and vaccination. I was over the moon. When he came home several days later I was disappointed to be questioned as to why I’d “picked the ugliest kitten in the pound?” I did not care I was in love, he was not ugly, he had potential.

I was advised his name would be Henri Cartier Bresson after the famous French photographer who specialized in quirky black and whites. That was fine by me, Henry was a perfectly suitable and charming name and he soon grew into a lovely French accent and haughty French attitude as his personality blossomed. I do not know whether cats take on the traits we believe them to have, or if we shape their personas around the traits they naturally exhibit, but either way there could not have been a more fitting name or pseudo-heritage for my Henry.

He was odd, as all artists should be. He hid his feather-tailed mice in the food bowl. He was fast and vicious with the “fuzzy-mitton” strike, he could thunk Sophie or Pablo so hard on the head you could hear the distinct sound of plunking a ripe cantaloupe and never see a thing. He tattled on his sister when she fell out the bedroom window by nonchalantly pointing with his nose. He preferred his treats on the carpet because the linoleum was too cold. He snuck into the kitchen at night to chew the stalk of my Christmas amaryllis and let his sister take the blame as he sat innocently washing his face. He loved David Bowie and many Bowie lyrics were slightly altered to suit his name and personality and, most importantly, he grew into the child I so desperately wanted.

The marriage stalled and eventually failed. I moved out, but by this point Pablo and Sheva had ingratiated themselves into our family and the cat limit had been abandoned. We divided up the children. He took the girls, Sophie and Sheva. I took the boys, Henry and Pablo. The three of us packed our belongings and moved to an apartment across the river from my parents. It was an adjustment. We were not used to living on our own but we had each other. I cried myself to sleep many a night with a cat on either side of my pillow offering wordless comfort and creating a little fuzzy family nucleus, just the three of us.

Henry would sit on the table and watch me intently as I ate my solitary dinners for one. He would give me his attentive poochy face, his mouth would purse and his whiskers would come forward and if he had opened up his mouth and begun pelting me with advice in a thick French accent I do not think I would have been in the least bit surprised. He and Pablo were my companions, my family, my therapist, at times it felt like they were all I had and at time they were the only ones standing in the gap between me and the pits of despair. Our little family grew to include Dorian, and Henry begrudgingly made a spot for him on the bed. He continued to wear the mantle of “first-born” with an air of dignity and an iron “mitton-paw” of authority.

We moved several times. I fell in love, I fell out of love, we moved some more. At one point we moved back in with my parents the four of us descended on the five of them (my parents and their three cats) like an extra, unwritten, biblical plague. We moved back into my high school bedroom. We made do. Pablo and Dorian have Rastafarian countenances, they roll with the flow. My precious Henry was slightly more high strung, with more discerning tastes and was not at all pleased to share sparse quarters with grandma, grandpa and their brood but eventually he forgave me my bad taste in men, and my inability to function normally, and we made the best of our situation until we could once again move back into our apartment.

Henry never abandoned me, he never tried to run away. Through all my bad decisions and all my lack luster choices he remained faithfully mine. He never shunned me for another, he never made me second pick. He never cared how fat or thin I was he always, faithfully treated me the same, every day, for almost ten years.

Eventually our lives settled down. We found Fred, and in Fred we finally found unconditional love and stability. Fred’s love for all of us is a lot like Henry’s love for me, it is without failing and it is faithful. He took us as we were, a motley, bedraggled crew of rejects, and he loves us without the desire to change us. Shortly after Fred came into our lives our merry band of misfits expanded to include Bettie and not long after Fred and I were married Johnnie was thrust into our lives. Henry as the patriarch of this crew took each addition with grace and aplomb if not a small measure of disdain.

As our lives settled into a more normal routine Henry seemed content. He could still cut you down with a look or dole out the “fuzzy-mitton” of judgment as necessary, but he spent more time curled on my pillow asleep or nestled deep in the covers of our bed. He never missed the opportunity to snag a treat and occasionally he would feel his inner kitten well up and be smitten with the desire to chase a toy, wrestle his brothers or dance with the string.

Cool mornings had begun to find him with a slight limp on his way to the food bowl or the litter box but nothing alarming and nothing that seemed to slow him down. I assumed he, like me, was beginning to feel the effects of age settle into his bones. His attitude had not changed and his lust for life remained the same. I still awoke in the mornings to “needle feet” massages and opened my eyes to a giant cat head peering into my face and white whiskers tickling my nose. His high pierced “meow!” would still greet me when the bottom of the food bowl was visible or when the litter box was not cleaned to his satisfaction.

He was not ill, ten is not old for a house cat.

This past Sunday, when we arrived home from church, I found Henry’s body lying in our bedroom floor at the foot of our bed. I screamed his name. I checked for breathing and a heartbeat, I found none. His eyes were open and his stare was vacant and my heart was torn asunder. I picked his body out of the floor and cradled him to my chest as I ran out of the house screaming for Fred. I fell in the yard with my beloved baby in my arms and I wept. He was gone.

I feel heartbroken, I feel robbed. I know many of you will read this and find me and my grief ridiculous. I have lost my child and there is no solace for the bereaved of another species. People say things like “he was just a cat” or “he had a good life” and while those things are true and logically and I understand them it does not ease my heartache and it does not “fix” my grief. Ten years was not long enough and describing Henry as a “pet” does not even begin to encompass everything he meant to me. I am heartbroken.

Beloved fuzzy child, Mommy loves you. I will never forget you. I hope all kitties go to heaven because you have taken part of my heart with you.

I will endeavor to wrench this blog back on topic but I am not making any promises.

Much love & sadness,