Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Warning: This post contains lots and lots of cute kitty photos.
We brought them home on June 15, 2014 on Father’s Day. My oldest son, who was a graduate student at the time, lived across from his Resident Director whose parents lived in South Dakota. They had three litters of barn kittens. I had lost my beloved almost 20-year-old cat 10 months previously, and had grieved hard. Though feeling a little reluctant, I decided I was ready to get a kitten. I plain and simply missed having an animal in my house to love and care for. I had love to give and I was ready to give it. Amanda, my son’s resident director, sent me photos of the three litters and my heart melted. How could I decide which one to take when they were all so stinkin’ cute? There were blonde tabbies, orange tabbies, gray tabbies, and calicoes. In the end, I chose two.
My husband was the one who named the little blonde tabby Nugget (he said he was our little gold nugget).
I named the gray tabby Dakota (after his birth place). That quickly got shortened to Cody.
I’ve enjoyed watching these two grow and can hardly believe that they are already four years old. There’s never a dull moment with these two around! They are as different as night and day. Dakota is shy and scared of strangers and his own shadow. But he’s also very affectionate to my husband and me. He drools when he gets affectionate. He’s also the more playful of the two. Nugget doesn’t know a stranger. He loves to climb in boxes, sacks and odd places. He loves water, especially watching dripping water. Oh, how I love these guys and can’t imagine life without them.
They love to help with the seasonal decorating.
There were the toilet paper parties I was never invited to during their adolescence and the looks of “We have NO idea who possibly could have done this.” Thankfully, those parties stopped as they grew.
They were mesmerized by their first snow.
Nugget has his favorite chair he prefers to nap in. We call him Archie Bunker.
Napping is what they do best. I love to watch napping kitties.
Cats are such funny and curious creatures. That’s what I love about them. Yes, sometimes they can seem aloof, but most of the time, they are very, very loving. They have such fun personalities.
I hope these two are around for many more years to come. They bring me much joy as you can see. They help ease the emptiness of an empty nest. Life is just better with them in it.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out
of your mouths, but only what is helpful for
building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.
Back in July of 2001, our family took a trip out west to South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, with Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park being our primary destinations. Our two sons were 11 and 8 at the time. We piled in my in-laws van and started on what would be a very memorable trip, driving some 4,000 miles round-trip. While driving in Kentucky and not quite even two hours into our trip, the van air conditioner went out. It was insanely HOT that day with temperatures of 100 degrees and a heat index of 105. We drove with the windows down for the remainder of that day, until it became so hot that we could drive no further. We drove with hair blowing in the wind while that same loud wind whistling in the open windows prevented any conversation. Paper towels were dipped into melting ice water from our two coolers and used to wipe our sons’ hot, red faces and necks (who were riding in the back of the van). My husband and father-in-law were able to take the van the following morning to have the AC repaired.
Our youngest son had a big interest in wolves at the time. At age eight, he was fascinated with them and checked out books about wolves at the library, wore wolf tee shirts and collected wolf figurines and other wolf decor for his bedroom. I hoped more than anything that we would be fortunate enough to get to see wolves at Yellowstone National Park. Upon arriving at Jackson Lake Lodge, where we were to stay, imagine our excitement when we saw signs saying there would be a lecture and slide show that night by park rangers about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. All were invited and believe me, we were first to arrive for front row seats! The talk was fascinating and we were enthralled. Getting first hand information straight from the people who were directly involved in the reintroduction of the wolves back into Yellowstone, was beyond thrilling to me. I could have listened to those people talk all night. My son was in heaven.
When we arrived at Yellowstone, I had two main goals I wanted to tick off my “bucket list” of wildlife viewing. I wanted to see wolves and I wanted to see a Grizzly Bear. Shortly after arriving, we talked to a nice and very helpful park ranger who advised us as to where we needed to go where we would most likely witness both. He told us if we headed to the Fishing Bridge area, we would more than likely see a Grizzly. He was right. And he didn’t have to tell this mama twice that we needed to stay at least 100 yards away from any bear we might see. It didn’t take us long to see a mama Grizzly Bear with two cubs. She was grazing on the side of the road. I was absolutely floored how close people were getting to this mama bear. People were getting out of their cars with cameras in hand and walking right up to within 20 feet of her. I couldn’t believe it. I told my family I was sure we were about to witness a mauling. I used this as a valuable teaching time for my young sons and told them to always, ALWAYS respect wildlife and give them their space. Especially a mama grizzly bear, who will stop at nothing to protect her cubs if she feels they are in danger or being threatened.
Though not very good photos, these are the two photos I got of the mama bear (from the inside of the van mind you).
What I didn’t get a picture of was the people ahead of us who got out of their car and walked right up to that Grizzly bear to snap a photo of her! I told my kids they were acting as if it was a giant teddy bear and NOT a grizzly bear. Not smart.
Later, in Hayden Valley, we witnessed Bison crossing the road. Again, we saw people getting out of their cars and getting much too close to snap photos. I’ll never forget my father-in-law shaking his head and saying, “Look at that man there, he’s close enough to sprinkle salt on that Bison’s tail!” And he was. I cringed. A ranger had told us that if you see a bison raise its tail straight up, beware, that he’s in danger of charging.
You’ve probably seen the video of the man who was recently arrested for taunting a bull bison in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Here’s the video if you didn’t see it. Note the bison’s tail.
This guy is lucky he wasn’t gored, killed or maimed! The man was later arrested because yes, this kind of behavior, besides being stupid, is also illegal in Yellowstone. Who in their right mind would taunt a 2000 lb. bull bison? I think people mistakenly think bison are clumsy and slow-moving. They’re not!
I enjoyed our time in Yellowstone. It’s a magical place really, with all its thundering waterfalls, vibrant canyons, mysterious spouting geysers, its sulfuric smelling mudpots, its brilliantly colored thermal springs, its clear lakes, and the abundant wildlife and magnificent wilderness that just seemed to emanate peace. We loved our time in Yellowstone and saw such a diversity of wildlife– deer, elk, moose, bison, bears, bald eagles, and pronghorn antelope to name a few. We didn’t see any coyote (which are supposedly everywhere). A ranger told us that most people confuse the coyotes for wolves, which are much rarer to see. Unfortunately, while headed to Lamar Valley to try to get a glimpse of the wolves, a bad storm blew up and brought heavy swirling winds, hail, and torrential rain, and we were forced to turn around and abandon that journey. So we didn’t get to see any wolves (my biggest regret). We did however happen to come across two bull elk fighting and stopped with windows rolled down to watch and listen for a while. Well, I honestly don’t know if they were sparring or fighting (there’s a difference) but it all looked pretty violent to me so I’m going with fighting. It was a special treat getting to see that and I had a headache just watching and hearing the loud echoing sounds as their antlers clashed together.
As much as I loved Yellowstone, I couldn’t help but feel saddened and quite honestly perplexed at times to see how foolish people acted. They willingly put themselves and the wild animals there in danger. They ignored posted signs or warnings from rangers to stay at least 25 yards from wildlife (100 yards from bears and wolves) and not to get off the boardwalk in thermal areas.
I’ve witnessed people using poor judgement around animals all my life. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, my parents used to take us to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These were the days prior to bear proof trash cans when it was rare to visit a picnic area in the park and NOT have a bear sighting. We witnessed black bears being fed by families picnicking and we witnessed bears getting into people’s cars with food. I remember my mother being appalled at people who thought it was a good idea to get close enough to the black bears to feed them food right from their hands. What were they thinking?
Watch this man getting launched into a tree like a rag doll by a bison he walked right up to in Yellowstone. He’s very lucky to be alive!
I learned while working in a small zoo at Opryland USA as a teenager that there’s a large number of people who disregard signs posted (which are posted for their own safety) and who disrespect the animals. I once leaped a fence when I witnessed a tourist trying to physically and forcibly break off a deer’s antlers. It was during the summer when the antlers are soft and velvety and are in the pre-calcified state. The tourist stopped as he saw me coming at him yelling, “STOP THAT, STOP THAT!” He told me he had only wanted to take the antlers home as a souvenir! Sometimes people honestly used to leave me shaking my head! I kid you not, I once had a tourist ask me if it would be alright if he climbed on top of the Grand Ole Opry House roof to get a roof shingle to take home as a souvenir! We had a fence up at the monkey exhibit as well as signs up not to throw food to them, but always, always, I would catch people who had climbed over the fence, or who had thrown food or other objects into the exhibit. You name it, they threw it. More than once tourists threw their car keys into the monkey cage and then became angry at us for not being able to quickly retrieve their keys. Often people found it amusing to throw things like burning cigarettes into the exhibit where the curious monkeys would pick them up and receive burns to their hands.
And then there’s this guy who was caught on tape at the L.A. zoo this week climbing into a hippo enclosure (!) and slapping a hippo on the bottom. I have no words.
Why do people act so foolishly? I think some do it unintentionally (out of ignorance or lack of education) and some do it intentionally to show off (like the hippo guy). And then I think there’s some people who simply feel entitled and feel it’s their right to disregard/disobey the rules. I’ve watched videos of tourists in Yellowstone who will do anything just to get that perfect picture and in the process get gored by bison or thrown into the air and injured. People act as if they are in a giant petting zoo with tamed animals. They just don’t understand the danger they are creating for both themselves and the animals. I can’t help but think the danger is even greater now, in the cell phone era we live in, where people now turn their backs on these wild animals to pose for that perfect selfie to post on social media.
Behavior like this just makes me shudder.
Have you ever witnessed foolish behavior or people blatantly disregarding posted signs and rules at a National Park?
I don’t know why I stole the money from the purse. I was plenty old enough to know it was wrong. But I did it anyway. I’ll never forget how my mother cried when I confessed. And how disappointed she was in me.
I don’t even remember exactly how old I was the day I stole the money, but I was around 10 or 11 years old. My sisters and our neighborhood friends and I used to spend most of our summer days at a local Knights of Columbus swimming pool where our family had a membership. For weeks, my friend L and I had noticed the small dark brown suede fringed pouch hanging from a shower rod in the girls bathroom at the pool. It never moved.
Then one day, my friend convinced me the purse had been abandoned and we should look inside. She climbed up and retrieved the small pouch from the shower rod and peeked inside. It contained a few dollars– around $5-6 as well as I remember. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, that was a lot of money to two preteen girls. I told my friend we should put it back, that taking it would be stealing. She said not if it had been forgotten or abandoned. So we took that money and we divided it between the two of us.
By the time I went home that afternoon, my friend had convinced me we had not stolen anything, that we had just taken money that had been abandoned. I had no guilt whatsoever for taking the money. In fact, I was so convinced I had done nothing wrong, that I didn’t even flinch when I told my mother what I had done.
My mother always gave me $2.00- $2.50 when I went to the swimming pool which was plenty to get a hot dog, or hamburger, chips, and a drink for lunch and then ice cream or a sno-cone for an afternoon snack.
When I got home from swimming that day, as was par for the course, my mother asked me if I had any money left over from the pool that day so I quickly retrieved my coin purse and counted the money. “I have over $3 left,” I blurted. Imagine my mother’s puzzled expression as she tried to figure out how I ended up with more money than I had started out with. Then I explained how L and I had been watching the small abandoned brown suede purse with the fringes. I told her how we had watched it for days and then weeks, and how it never moved. How we took the money inside the purse because whoever it belonged to had obviously forgotten about it. And how we had hung the purse back up on the shower rod where we had found it, after taking the money. My mother’s mouth flew open. “OH GAIL, YOU DIDN’T TAKE THAT MONEY!” she yelled. I hung my head. And then she cried. She told me that it was not my money to steal, and that what I had done was wrong. “But it had been left there and abandoned…. FOR WEEKS,” I said! “I DON’T CARE, IT WASN’T YOURS TO TAKE,” my mother admonished. She then calmly reminded me of the 8th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Steal.
My mother informed me I would be returning the money the next day and would make a full confession to the swimming pool manager. Her tears and telling me she was so ashamed of what I had done, was enough punishment and hurt me worse than any spanking she could have given me. I went to bed with a hurting heart that night realizing that what I had done was indeed wrong. I told God I was sorry and asked Him for forgiveness.
The next day, I was driven to the swimming pool with my friend L, and together we walked in and confessed our thievery to the manager and returned the money we had taken. He had us put the money back in the brown suede pouch. Believe me, I did feel shame and guilt that day. The manager made no big deal out of the incident and passed no judgement. He watched us put the money back into the suede pouch. Part of me wished he would have gotten mad at us. My friend chided me for blabbing to my mother about taking the money. She was mad at me for a few days but quickly got over it. In hindsight, I’m not sure she ever really realized that what we did was wrong.
Several weeks later, on the day the pool closed for the summer, I noticed that little brown suede purse still hung in the same place, high above my head on the shower rod. Years later, the pool closed down and the bathroom made out of cinder blocks was torn down. I imagined that dark brown suede pouch still hanging from that shower rod the day that bathroom was demolished. I envisioned it being buried in the rubble.
The other day, my sister asked me if I remembered how mad our mother was the day she learned I had stolen the money from the purse at the swimming pool. I shuddered. “How could I forget that?” I replied. It’s almost fifty years later, and I’ve never forgotten my mother’s reaction or her tears over what I had done.
And so help me God, I never stole again.
Did you ever steal anything as a child? How did you feel? What was the outcome?
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10