Monday, October 14, 2019

The Story of Sir Laredo Bam Bini

  It has been a year today since my precious boy passed away and so it is time to tell his story. I had 13 wonderful years with him and although he had his quirks like an insatiable appetite for plastic and Parmesan cheese I loved every minute of it.
  The first part of this story is taken from the original story I wrote in 2001 after I found him and is about how he got his  formal name and I am leaving it the original way I wrote it then with the original title :
**Be careful what you pray for because you’ll always get what you really need


           I had been kind of down the past month of May mainly due to my car situation. It seems that Ester Lou, my 92 Geo Metro, is ready for car heaven. With my prospects for financing looking grim, it is a big concern to me. So I have been praying for a car.
            Them, on Wednesday May 30th, I opened my door to go down and put my laundry in the dryer. There in the hall stands this tiny little adorable kitten. I don’t know where he came from; I had overheard someone talking in the hallway earlier and think they must have dropped him off there. I yell for Timothy and within minutes kitten is inside our apartment, of course Timothy is instantly in love with him.
            I immediately looked up and said “Lord I said car not cat.” Could He have misunderstood me? Was His hearing as bad as mine I wondered? I knew of course that this was not the case, God always knows what He’s doing better than I do.
            I tried to be standoffish at first, adamant that we were not going to keep her. However God knows my heart better than that, slowly and surely he was winding his little ball of fur around my soul.
            Of course he is a little monster. Tearing all over the place and biting everything in sight-teething we think. When he finally gets exhausted, he plops down on top of you purring his little heart out.
            So what could I do but keep him, after all God had put him right in from of my door so there must be a reason for it.
            And his name? Why its Laredo of course. A current Country single about a guy trying to win back his girl.

Oh oh Laredo
Don’t let her go
Just take her by the heart
And let the wheels turn slow
Oh oh Laredo
You’re my only hope
Just get her back
To the day we met, cause
That’s as far as she needs to get

            And so he is my Laredo- restoring my soul with faith, hope, joy, and peace. Thank you God for giving me what you knew I needed most.


            And to that poor lost soul who left her in my hallway-you are forgiven. Although you may not have had the best of intentions, God always does. Go in peace!
  So there he was, a kitten named Laredo that I tried very hard not to love at first. Having just separated the year before and being in the midst of a divorce I didn't want to let anything into my heart . But I couldn't help myself, after all I am a lover of all things animal. And so into the apartment he came and he would make it his domain. And the Bam Bini, Italian for baby , influenced by the 3 years we lived there and he was most definitely mine  He was also called Bam Bam by his vets as they thought he was named after the Flintstones character. But a royal cat he was and with much character to boot.
   After finding him in the hallway, I heard from neighbors that people in the other building connected to mine had been evicted for breeding cats that same day. So that explained where he had come from but why did they leave only him. And then the first time my cousin saw him she said you have a cat there I have seen at cat shows, a Turkish Van. So I read everything I could on this breed and he was a perfect match except for one thing. The breed standard is an all white body with a colored tail & coloring on the head. But Bam Bini also had 3 colored spots on his body. And although I saw several photos of Vans with colored body spots I think the breeders thought he would be less valuable and that is why he was dropped in my hallway. He had no undercoat but had a much thicker winter coat which he would shed in the Spring. He also had a fondness for water and did not mind getting wet and always much preferred drinking from the sink. And he grew into that magnificent tail, the large breed cat he surely was.
   He was never big on toys but he loved a couple, one being a golf ball he played with only in the bathroom. I would wake up hear him playing golf at night. And the other being a  spider toy I found,. He actually pulled all 6 legs off the first one and I think I bought two more. He grew up with my Diamond dove pair and I trained him not to get on their cage with a cafeteria tray that would tip if he stepped on it. Tim taught him two things he never forgot, first to open the balcony screen door with his paw if he wanted to come in and 2nd, when he shook the coin purse of quarters it was time to race down three flights of stairs to the laundry room. The only problem was getting him to come back up the stairs. He wasn't the most affectionate of cats but he did like to be scratched behind his ears. And lapsitting required caution since he might just decide to bite after a few minutes. But I loved him with all of my heart.
   There were  a couple of scares over the years like the time he ate rubber bands & we nearly lost him. But the vet was able to flush his stomach and saved him. I never allowed another rubber band in the apartment. And he got very sick after grabbing a huge hunk of cheese off the table and trying to eat it all at once which required meds from the vet. But he was a generally healthy cat up until the end albeit he had litter box issues from time to time. It was difficult watching him decline in his last year. His appetite just wasn't what it once was and he lost a lot of weight. I took him up to the vets at one point thinking it was time but they wanted to try a couple more treatments. Unfortunately that did not help and the vet thought he probably had cancer in his gut somewhere. And so I took him back to the vet and stroked him gently as he crossed over the Bridge. They were very kind and let me stay with him as long as I wanted. I had him cremated and now his ashes are in a beautiful wooden box. I made a special photo album of pictures of him throughout the years. I will never forget this special cat that came into my life at just the right time and I know someday he will be waiting for me.

Editors Note: This story was originally written August 1,2015

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Peace*Love*Community

Dear MOD’s,
Thank you for giving me the time off I needed this past week. During those days I read and saw much on Facebook both good and bad. And it became clear in my head and my heart what direction I needed to take with this group. I created this group almost 6 years ago because I was removed from another owl group after speaking up in defense of others. I needed a place to go and a place others could go as well. A place of refuge. I said I would allow anyone to join the group as long as they followed my only rule which was to be nice to each other. It was difficult at first, there were friends of mine that refused to join because I had allowed someone they didn’t like join the group. But I persisted and I kept my word. And the group grew. It started out with MOD’s I knew from the social stream, then MOD’s from chat & SPO joined as well. As time went on friends new to owls also joined. A group of people bound together by their love for owls. During these nearly 6 years there have only been 2 times I’ve had to remove someone because they weren’t following my rule which I think is a pretty good record. I admit the farther away we’ve gotten from those Molly & McGee days the harder it has seemed to keep the group going. Groups have become very popular in the last few years and I think people often get overwhelmed by them. But I have persisted even as seems at times there are very few of the 300 plus members interested. Last fall at the International MOD Meet in Minneapolis I met my friend Sylvia Oey and she asked me why I kept the group going. I believe my reason today is the same as I told her then. If I managed to make just one person’s day by making them laugh or smile or get their mind off all those other things out there then it was worth it. Yes it can be a lot of work at times and sometimes I get discouraged. Take the latest fall coloring contest for example, I gave a month and a half to enter thinking that would create more entries and yet there were only 5. I admit I was disappointed and I still owe the winners their prizes. I considered whether it was time to end the group after that and then I heard about Susan Shepler Blum, who was a group member and had committed suicide. She had suffered from depression & anxiety for many years. I don’t know if she looked at any of the group posts or if it would have made any difference but I wanted others in the group to know they mattered. I wanted them to know if they felt down or sad or lonely that we MOD’s were here for them because it speaks to the very core of what I was trying to do those almost 6 years ago. A place of refuge. And then to this past week which has been most difficult for me. I found myself struggling to reconcile my activity outside this group with my activity inside this group. I did not want to make mistakes with this most treasured place so I told you I needed to take a break and not post. I didn’t know how long it would take but after 2 days things became clear to me on the direction I needed to go with this group. Despite differences we all may have this must remain a place of refuge I still need a place to go - a place of peace, a place of love, a place of community

Editors Note: This was originally written in Nov. 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016

   I lay face down on the ground defeated

Surrounded by a cloud of sadness thick as fog

A deep grief of shattered hopes I held onto

I was certain it was a bad nightmare I would wake from

But a week has gone by now and I know better

I take in a breath of fresh air and cherish it

How much longer before it will be stifled by pollutants

The nature that I love faces grave danger

Will the future generations witness a falcon soar in a blue sky

and an owl in its silent flight on a moonlit evening

Or will they become stuffed exhibits only to be seen in a museum

Many families will now live with the threat of of being torn apart

Simply because of the partner they choose to love

Or the county they have fled from for a better life

I worry about the life saving health care

That may soon be taken from myself and many others

And as a woman how can I not help but wonder

How it become acceptable to treat us with such disrespect

As objects of desire rather than competent equals

How did hate and bigotry and bullying win out

I must find the answers with my actions

My weapons are just out ahead of me

I reach through the pain to grab hold of them

Strength, courage, love, peace, loyalty

Slowly I stand and gather them into my quiver

This battle will be long and hard fought

But I do not fear because I am am not alone

I have a nation of pantsuits standing with me

We must prevail because retreat is not an option


Braveheart




Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Store Continued .......

   It's Oct. 19th 2015, a beautiful sunny fall day. Tomorrow it will be eight years since mom passed.I don't how that much time has gone by so fast but it seems it has. She is often in my thoughts and special times without her still make me lonesome for her laughter, her singing and of course her cooking. But today is a day to celebrate the memories I have of happy times shared and special places visited with her. And so I am heading to one such very special place. 
   The drive down is a slow glorious one. The air is cool but the sun is shining and the foliage is spectacular. The trees are in all their splendor, golden yellows, flaming reds and all shades in between. 
As I come into Naples I head right to my favorite place for all things grape, Cindy's. Now fully stocked with grape tarts & cookies I head back to the old standby Bob & Ruth's restaurant to use their outdoor facilities. The park across from them is alight with color. Sunlight streams down through the huge maple trees and the golden leaves look ablaze. After taking some pictures & walking around a bit I notice the beautiful old house across the street has a sign up. Vintage & More Antiques & Vintage it says, I must go investigate the treasures. It's a beautiful old place filled with lovely things but as I walk around I'm not seeing any owls so I inquire. She hasn't any there but we get to talking about collectibles and such. I pick out a green glass bowl that is a piece my mom' green glass collection doesn't have and tell her I'll take it. I tell her my parents were collectors and how we've been coming down this way since I went to Alfred State. That we would come down for the Cohocton Fall festival every year and go to the Bee Hive antique co-op that used to be across from the store. How I loved that Olde Country Store and I was heart broken when it closed and every year since I drive down to check on it. And then she says the most amazing thing. The store she says has in fact reopened. I almost think I have heard her wrong. But no, she tells me some of the story about a German family taking it over and I scarcely can take it in. And the candy I ask hesitantly, yes she says the candy is back also.
   I stand there in total amazement. She has no idea that my heart has just lit up like a Christmas tree. My eyes water on the verge of tears. I wrote a story about the store I tell her, just last year. It's like a dream come true, a miracle I never thought I would see happen. I am beside myself with joy and I all I can think of is getting there to see it for myself. She tells me her name and to tell them she sent me. And I am off and running back to the car with my treasure and a feeling that mom is looking down smiling also. North Cohocton is a 5 mile drive from Naples heading down Rt. 21 south and I feel as if I am floating all the way. As I drive past the old familiar places I am still in shock over what she has told me. And then I am there, pulling into the parking lot across from the store. And I see what despite the beauty of the nature all around me has to be the most splendid sight I have ever seen. A brightly colored open sign on side lawn of the store. 
   And the store looks amazing. The exterior gleams in the sunlight and a new sign, The Olde Country Store & More shines brightly on the roof over the porch. The porch is decorated with cornstalks and pumpkins and a neon OPEN sign lights up the window. I can hardly take it in this monumental sight. I grab my camera and take some photos and then grab my purse and head to the door. I step up onto the porch and look around. The Republican & Democratic benches have long since disappeared and I will forever wonder where to. But my mind fills will memories of siting on my favorite blue party bench. The last time I was on this porch I was looking through dirty glass at a few scatted remnants of penny candies. But now I reach forward and grasp the old metal handle of the door firmly and pull. As it it opens I step inside a place I never thought I would be again and I stand there in awe of it. I am welcomed by a girl at the counter and I tell her how I just heard the store was open again and I suppose I went on about my history with it and how I had written a story about it. She tells me they reopened on July 4th
   After taking it all in I quite naturally turn my attention to the candy. The wooden bins which hold it run the entire length of the store. And they are once again filled with candies of every size, shape and variety. A candy lover's dream come true. And so I do what I had done so many times before, I grab a paper sack & I begin to fill it with the penny candies. Hand candies and taffies, sweet candies and sours, so many favorites to choose from and like old friends I welcome them back. I just can't believe I am in the store once again and I almost don't want to leave. I peruse up and down the candy rows making sure I am taking it all in and missing nothing. I see a beautiful owl Christmas ornament from Germany that I would love but I haven't enough money left today. So I pay for my candies and tell the girl I'll be back again for certain. And with one last look around I force myself out the door. 
   The drive home is slow but steady and I stop at at Bristol to take some photos. I get home and start to put away all my grape things, still in awe of the day. And then I pour out that paper sack and eye all my penny candy treasures, trying to decide which one I should try first. Banana taffy is a favorite of mine but I also like the blue raspberry frooties and the mint juleps. I text my son and tell him the fantastic news about the store. He can't believe it either and is excited  to hear all about it. So it isn't until the next afternoon that I go to my blog and reread the story I had written the year before. And then I notice at the bottom there is a comment dated July 24th : Hello Braveheart !!! I just want to inform you that The Olde Country Store is again open !!! At least we are in our startup "soft opening" phase. 9-5 every day of the week. I hope to see you the next time you're in Naples for some grape tarts. Jeff Wells
  I sat there staring at my laptop wondering how I have missed this. If there is a way to get notified when someone comments on my blog I don't know how to do it. But I never imagined anyone connected with the store would read it. And they have a link to their Facebook page which I go check out. And there I find the story about how they came to reopen the store. And what a story it is. Store owner Jeff grows up in nearby Naples,NY on the family farm. Then seeking adventure a tour of duty with the army brings Jeff to Germany. There he meets his wife and they have two daughters. They continue to live in Germany for several years but after the loss of his wife and job a decision is made to return once again to upstate NY. After their original plan of opening a nature center doesn't succeed they go with plan B which is the reopening of The Olde Country Store.
  And so the store is once again a living breathing vibrant place and I hope it lives on for many more years. The future plans Jeff has for the store make me believe it will. There will be stories to tell by next generations of the wonderful memories they have of visits to the store. And I am thrilled to once again be making trips every fall to the store. I may make a few trips at other times in between, after all one's candy supply needs to be restocked and I will have to check out all the new things Jeff has planned for the store. Welcome back old friend, I have missed you. Here's to many more years at The Olde Country Store.






   





Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to Save a Life : Story of the Colorado Barn Owlets

   In 2010 when Molly and McGee came on the Ustream scene it was a whole new experience for many of us. The ability to view a pair of barn owls 24/7 through cameras placed in the owl box. People from all over the world logged on to watch. Classrooms around the country used the owl box as a learning experience and logged on to ask Carlos questions about the owls. Molly and McGee became the worlds most famous barn owls and brought owl popularity to new all time high. But there was so much more to be gained from watching them. Not only did they  teach us about the life of a barn owl they taught us lessons about life. We learned about their mating rituals, brood patches and lop sided ears. We learned about talons and feathers and pellets which became known as horks. As we watched them raise their two clutches we learned how much care Molly gave her owlets, even helping with their hatching when needed. And we learned how much affection they had for one another. We saw love in that owl box and it and we'll never forget it.
   So fast forward to 2015  and many many owl clutches later. In the years after Molly and McGee owl boxes popped up all over Ustream and there was no shortage of them to watch. And yes we are still out here watching. Things haven't always gone as perfectly as that first clutch of Molly and McGee's. As we learned from their second clutch baby barn owls are so very fragile and sometimes even in the best of circumstances they don't survive. Yes we've seen loss but we've also had the privilege of seeing some what I consider nothing short of miracles. Pete at Starr Ranch became a hero to us after the male of a large barn owl clutch was found dead. We knew the female would not be able to provide enough food for them herself, she needed help. Pete was hesitate to intervene at first but he came to realize it was the right thing to do. And so every night he climbed a 50 ft. ladder to place supplementary rodents in the cavity for the owlets. And it worked , they survived and fledged successfully. Other owl box owners have also done this successfully when rodents seemed in short supply or the parents were not providing enough for the entire clutch. Precious lives have been saved by these food supplements.
   I first heard about the Colorado barn owl cam from a Facebook post and immediately went over to check it out. A clutch of five precious owlets hatched around the middle of August now nearly two months old. The older ones were starting to lose their fluff and golden feathers were appearing. The smallest owlet aptly named Little Mister was still a ball of fuzz. Originally this was thought to be a second clutch of the original barn owl pair but additional information indicated it was a different pair entirely. But something was off with this clutch. It seemed the mom had left the box much to soon for whatever reason. A mother barn owl will usually stay in the box with her clutch shredding food for them until the youngest owlet is able to swallow a rodent whole. But she had left before Little Mister could shred his own food. And he was competing with four older siblings for the food that was being delivered. Even though it appeared both parents were providing food there just wasn't enough to sustain the entire clutch. At their age they they needed to eat 4-6 mice a day. Little Mister was not getting enough food and his decline was inevitable . Attempts to let the cam owners know something was wrong were answered with It's nature. Little Mister passed away on Oct. 8th. The Colorado Avian Research and Rehabilitation Institute announced on it's Facebook page the next day that an owlet had died from lack of food. This didn't have to happen. It may be nature and nature is cruel but as I said to them it's man made nature complete with cams. And we were watching.
   The four remaining owlets Big Bird, Trois, Deux & Pounce continued to struggle for food as deliveries had significantly decreased. We were told they would be banded this past weekend and would receive food then. There was much concern it would be too late and they wouldn't make it. On Saturday the owlets were banded, the box was cleaned and the cam re positioned. According to CARRI 30 mice were left in the box. But the owlets were starving and the rodents were quickly gobbled up. And then deliveries from the parents came to a halt. The remaining owlets had all but been abandoned. We feared they would all starve to death. Donations had been sent specifically for mice for them. Emails & comments went out to CARRI to intervene and rescue the owlets. Finally yesterday we got word that our voices had been heard and the owlets were going to be rescued. But it shouldn't have come to this.
   I am writing this story to honor the life of Little Mister. Short as it was he touched many and I do not want it to be in vain. I believe cam operators have a responsibility to both the birds that occupy the box and the viewers that watch the cams. Yes it's nature but you have already interfered with it. So I am asking CARRI that if you decide to put a cam up in an owl box next year please be responsible. If an owlet clutch needs help then please help them. And if you won't then at the very least be respectful and turn off the cam if something happens. No one wants to watch owlets starve to death unnecessarily. I hope these four precious owlets grow up to fly wild and free as they deserve and I hope Little Mister flys free at the Rainbow Bridge. I want to thank everyone who stepped up and donated, emailed & commented for action to be taken. We saved these owlets and I am very proud to have been a part of it.

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Words from Braveheart to the 2015 Clutch

To Cadence, Genesee, & Bronx,


Well it certainly has been a day of new

adventures and tonight may be one of the last

nights the three of you spend together so it's

time for a talk.

Maybe it's that I'm getting older but it seems like

the time goes faster every year.

One day you are fluffy white eyas and the next

you are in full juvie plumage.

One of you shares a birthday with me and

although I'm not certain which you are all a very

special clutch.

Your parents have done a wonderful job and will

continue to teach you.

So now as you hear the sky calling to you listen

and learn so you may fly.

High and strong, wild and and free as a

peregrine is born to.


As you fledge I pray your wings will carry you

safely on your journeys.

Love Braveheart 6.14.15

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Store

  Seven years ago today on Oct. 15th, 2007 would be the last time I would set foot inside the store. The photos from that day are like treasures now, the only ones I have from the interior and of those famous benches. Tim was home from college and we headed down to the southern tier to check out the fall foliage and get grape tarts. We had actually driven all the way to Alfred that day. It seems fitting now for that is where it all began and how we found the store.






   In 1980 I started college at Alfred State and thus began the trips back and forth between home and there. Heading south from Geveva on Rt.245 past Middlesex and picking up Rt. 21 south in Naples. continuing on past Naples a left turn onto 21 into North Cohocton and there it was, the store. The Kinsfolks Olde Country Store was built in 1849 and has been a store for over 100 years. It served as a full grocery store to the neighborhood but it was the candy that we sought. Upon this sweet discovery there was never a question of not stopping.

   I acquired my sweet tooth from my mom. Mom loved her candy and so it was no surprise after she passed that I found several bags in her closet she had most likely purchased after the holidays at half price. Goodness knows how long they had been there. The candy store as we came to call it carried bin after bin of penny candies sold by the pound as well as every other kind of imaginable candy bars or novelty you can imagine. Mom and I would grab a paper sack and fill them with our favorites and I have have to admit I often had two bags full. We loved that place.

   In 2008 I would once again make my journey down to Naples for my grape tarts and then make the short drive a few miles south to the store. But I arrived on that beautiful Fall day to find it closed and empty, the benches nowhere in sight. In disbelief I peered in the dirty windows where a few pieces of penny candy still remained. It had apparently like so many small town stores fallen victim to the recession. I went back to the car and broke down sobbing. Like Mom it too was now gone.



 I have made my way to Naples for my grape tarts most every year since. Some years  I've gone down to check on the store and some years I just couldn't bear to see it as it deteriorated. But this past Sunday as I drove down  I just had to check on it. It's been up for sale all these years and I was hoping someone would buy it and once again open a store. I find it looking amazingly good, it has been repainted and has a new roof but is still for sale. Oh if only I had the money....and someone to rebuild those famous benches and candy, lots and lots of candy.