Too Many Tales: for National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

As April 30th is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, I thought I would re-share a post from 2012, which I’m sure many haven’t seen. This one was also published in the My View section of one of my local papers, The Buffalo News, on 4/7/12.

We waded into a sea of faces masked in markings of black and white, gray and ginger, eyes shining through from a galaxy all their own. There were jewels in each look, some sparkling, others sadder from losing their luster. Tails were confident and questioning, like sails bringing a fleet of ships into the harbor of our hearts. We were immediately surrounded, immediately surrendering to whatever fate had in store for us, too. It was almost Dickensian, so many orphans vying for our attention, the first tiny one put in my arms thinner than should be survivable but as hungry for love. How frightened he was, not to be held but let go, rejected that day and every other, the moment all the hope he had, the back of a cage somewhere to disappear in forever.

Mom sat in a chair as wobbly as her resolve, a queen holding audience for hardly deferential subjects curling and climbing and clamoring to be her favorite. It seemed the most natural thing for her to be covered with such a crowd, lying at and even on her feet, piling into her lap, begging her embrace. She was as adoring as adored, her shoulders easily bearing the weight, her neck encircled, her composure finally crowned. She reached up to see who was so agile and awkward at the same time, a long slender creature with eyes closing tighter and contentment sounding louder. Oh, that’s Tilly—we were told—she was recently adopted and returned a few days later. Returned? Like a piece of clothing that didn’t fit right? Or an appliance that didn’t work? Oh—it was edgily explained—the lady said she couldn’t deal with such a loving creature.

There wasn’t any doubt. Tilly was affectionate enough to bring the warring world to its knees. She would never give up on love, never stop believing caresses and kisses and kindness were what she was born for. She was soft and white with an upturned pink nose and silky black cap framing her forehead and veiling her ears, a matching cape dressing her back and trailing down her tail. She was limp and lovely in my mother’s arms, her eyes suddenly swirling green and lifting up, still looking for a promise though they knew it could be broken.

The manager and volunteers did their best, taking in every cat abandoned to abandonment, providing more than food and shelter, healing wounds, offering a place of belonging for days or weeks or years. They knew every name, each personality, and all the stories that should’ve been too many to remember. They might’ve been glad of anyone to take some of the responsibility off their hands, but there was something more important to consider than seeing the numbers decline.

And so more cats came than went, left at the door and in the road, found in snow banks and ditches and barns, rescued from fighting and pregnancy and disease, given the chance to grow up and be cherished. What was it like when their crowded but companionable world was raided? How frightening was it to be counted and cataloged and taken away? Perhaps it was all for the good, everyone finally paying attention and wanting to help. But accusations didn’t acknowledge the good intentions that weren’t ever lost, just overwhelmed because they were so undervalued.

There’s confusion in my heart over what the shelter did right and how it went wrong.  

And why we didn’t take Tilly. We were reassured she would soon be adopted again and continued with our choice of a kitten. We left with the skinny one, who never let us doubt his happiness. And his brother, a munchkin, who a few days later almost stopped breathing but was saved for a lifetime of memories and a tale for another day.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Note (from 2012): Recently our local No-Kill animal shelter–the Wyoming Country SPCA (that my mother and I have supported for years)–was raided and declared unfit, the manager vilified for hoarding. Over 500 cats were found at the shelter (many many more than when our visit depicted in this post occurred).The hyped reporting of this for the most part failed to offer the real reason why the population of cats had increased so, making the care of them so difficult with the limited funds (from public donations) and help (mainly volunteers) available. This shelter is in a very rural area where cats and kittens were regularly and often pitilessly dropped off, and those coming to ‘adopt’ too frequently just wanted a cat or two to throw in a barn and keep down the mice. The manager did not want that kind of life for any of the cats who had already been rescued from dangerous and neglectful situations and was fussy about the kind of HOMES they went to, charging a minimal fee to ensure they were really wanted. She had been on local TV and through other means advertised the overpopulated situation at the shelter, but until the raid little help was forthcoming. It was reported that 30 cats were euthanized because of poor health but most were taken by other local SPCAs who have been adopting them out for free, hopefully, to secure and loving lives.

4/30/19 Note: The manager, referred to above, took her own life in July 2012. She had been indicted on charges of animal abuse for hoarding, which, it seems, broke her heart. She had dedicated herself to the shelter, because she wanted to help so many abandoned, abused, vulnerable cats, resulting in the shelter becoming overcrowded. She had tried to bring attention to this and get help, but, tragically, it came too late.

Also, we still have the two cats (then kittens) we adopted that day, Dante (tuxedo) and Blake (gray tabbey). They are doing well.

 

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Saturday – Sunday Shorts: Colette’s Taste for Life

“Everything that astonished me when I was young astonishes me even more today. The time will never come for me when there are no more discoveries to make. Every morning the world is as new again and I will not cease to flower except through death.”
Colette

With a new movie out about a writer I have long idolized, the French author and actress Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 1873–1954, I thought I would offer some quotes from this unique, witty, courageous, sensual realist who undoubtedly had—to echo the title of a book about Colette by Yvonne Mitchell—”a taste for life”.

Colette in her dance hall days

Colette is most famous for her novella Gigi, (1944), but to fully appreciate her talent, personality, heart, and spirit, you must be adventurous and delve further into her repertoire to truly discover the delicacy, humor, and wisdom of her narrative and poetic voice, which, besides being “largely concerned with the pains and pleasures of love, [is] remarkable for [its] command of sensual description.” To quote further from the online Encyclopedia Britannica entry by Kathleen Kuiper: “Her greatest strength as a writer is an exact sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colours of her world.”

I actually got the idea for the illustration included in my kindle short The Library Next Door from this photograph of Colette as a young woman.

“It is the image in the mind that links us to our lost treasures; but it is the loss that shapes the image, gathers the flowers, weaves the garland.”
Colette, My Mother’s House & Sido

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

“I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.”
Colette

“By associating with the cat, one only risks becoming richer.”
Colette

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

Revisited for International Cat Day: Escaping Ziegfeld, A Kindle Short

It’s

 International Cat Day

A pur-fect opportunity to remind

my blog visitors and readers that

all my author profits

from my Kindle Short Story

Escaping Ziegfeld

will go to

Second Chance Sheltering Network, Inc., a wonderful animal rescue organization through which I adopted my kitty-boys, Yoshi and Kenji last year.

The story is only

$.99 on amazon.com

(I will also donate $1 – $5 for every review
posted on amazon and/Goodreads)

also available at

amazon uk

amazon canada

Available in other countries, too

For Kindle devices

OR

Download free app to read on your pc, laptop, tablet, or phone

Cover artwork and design © Copyright by DM Denton

The fingering and pedaling of the Mozart piece required her absolute attention. What could be more important than effecting the appoggiaturas, the upper half of her torso leaning and lifting like a dancer, her elbows slightly bent, her wrists almost imperceptibly rolling side to side, her fingers always in touch with the keys and lightly en pointe?

Irene had been a little unnerved by the Italian’s ice-blue eyes, but how could he compete with the possibility of her following in the footsteps of Lillian Lorraine, the Dolly sisters, Marilyn Miller and Fanny Brice?

This short story, inspired by my maternal grandmother, Marion Allers DiCesare,  has been ruminating in my imagination for a long time.
Read more here: Picking Flowers off Wallpaper.

Yoshi and Kenji thank you!

Thank you to Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books for offering her editing expertise and refined literary eye and sensibilities towards the publication of Escaping Ziegfeld.

Illustration from Escaping Ziegfeld Copyright © 2018 by DM Denton

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

The Irish Connection for Anne and Me

There is an Irish connection to the subject of my latest novel, Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit. Anne had Irish roots through her father Patrick Brontë (nee Prunty, Brunty or Bruntee), who was born in a two roomed cabin at Emdale in the parish of Drumballyroney, County Down, on March 17, 1777.

Haworth folk were known for their bluntness & lore. Usually Anne welcomed the contrast to her own circumspection & realism—her Irishness might normally play along, while her Aunt Branwell conscience relished the relief.
~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit, by DM Denton

As I have for many years on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing the poem and illustration below, both inspired by one of three trips I made to Ireland in the 1980’s. (There are also some allusions to a couple of traditional Irish folk songs…curious if anyone knows what they are).

Flowers of Ireland Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

I traveled there a woman

and came back a child

with my eyes full of the clouds

coming over the mountains

so I could never tell

how high they were,

the rivers going on

forever,

the irises

floating down to the sea,

the fuchsias so wild

but not really.

All along the way

cowslips lived

where meadows survived

and milkmaids didn’t mind

the rain

so sudden

as suddenly gone.

The fields were greener than any

in France

through the glass of our visit

going down to the sea,

everywhere surrounding,

only my heart brave enough

to go on

into the waves,

a lonesome boatman calling me

to come live with him

forever.

1983

Photo of me walking on Inch Strand on the Dingle Pennisula in Ireland in the mid-80’s. Inch Strand was the beach location for “Ryan’s Daughter”,

 

March 17th is also ‘St Gertrude’s Day’, the Patron Saint Of Cats. Bless all the kitties, here and in the hereafter.

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Portrait of Mischief and Love: International Cat Day August 8, 2017

Why not see

Through the eyes of a cat

With jeweled vision

In topaz and green and sapphire

And the preciousness

Of each moment

 

Where was my heart when
my hand captured time in a portrait
of mischief and love?

Work in progress of my new kittens, Yoshi and Kenji, Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

Cats Between the Lines

Cats must be there. Even as I wander long ago and faraway, they follow me, rub my legs, curl on my bed and beg my attention without disturbing it. Their purring is my mantra too, so natural and deliberate at the same time, encouraging the perfect rhythm of my heart. They are soft to the touch yet strong enough in their will. One swipes at my pen to remind me not to take it all so seriously; another paws my arm, pleading, eyes green with envy for the obsession that seems to leave him out. Oh, no. How can I tell him? With a turn and a bow and a stroke he’s reassured; with an Eskimo kiss he’s a distraction but—as one of my favorite writers, Colette, once noted—never a waste of time. Yet another stretches, slithers and yawns like a serpent enticing me to a nap. And then I realize I’m being watched, by that scamp who only sleeps to run and jump and wrestle when he’s awake, small and smart and certain I can’t grab him before he runs away again.

Cats know more than they ever say, probably for the best if progress is ever to be made. A leonine length with legs neatly crossed and head shaped for stillness sets me wondering if any activity could be better than none. Oh, I know. I must make a living, eat and drink and pretend to hunt. So I do so with their goal in mind, eyes squeezed closed and whiskers and paws and tail twitching, to savor sleep as much as success—for the dream of the mouse even more than its taste. 

Cats can be characters, as many as I’ve had there’s no end to the possibilities. I can dress them up and use them in stories that otherwise might not welcome them. I suspect they would be flattered if they knew, that they expect me to take them everywhere I go and include them in everything I do. Saying that, they realize being ignored is freedom from expectation, especially if turned into a choice. And vanishing is just another way of being found.

In memory of my beloved fur-babies Gabriel and Darcy
who in 2017 left this world but not our hearts

 

 

The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.
~ Colette (French Novelist, 1873 – 1954)

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Poem: To Éire with Love

Writing the last few pages of my novel about Anne Brontë in-between working the day job, dealing with wind storms, power outages and a snow storm, means I haven’t had the time or energy to come up with a new post for St. Patrick’s Day. So, once more, I’m sharing this poem and illustration inspired by one of three trips I made to Ireland in the 1980’s. (There are also some allusions to a couple of traditional Irish folk songs…curious if anyone knows what they are) The painting was actually never quite finished. I decided to leave it so.
As a side note, as some of you may know, the Brontë’s had Irish roots through their father Patrick Bronte (nee Prunty, Brunty or Bruntee), born in a two roomed cabin at Emdale in the parish of Drumballyroney, County Down.

 

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

I traveled there a woman

and came back a child

with my eyes full of the clouds

coming over the mountains

so I could never tell

how high they were,

the rivers going on

forever,

the irises

floating down to the sea,

the fuchsias so wild

but not really.

All along the way

cowslips lived

where meadows survived

and milkmaids didn’t mind

the rain

so sudden

as suddenly gone.

The fields were greener than any

in France

through the glass of our visit

going down to the sea,

everywhere surrounding,

only my heart brave enough

to go on

into the waves,

a lonesome boatman calling me

to come live with him

forever.

1983

 

March 17th is also ‘St Gertrude’s Day’, the Patron Saint Of Cats. Bless all the kitties, here and in the hereafter. The one in this illustration looks like my Gabey, who I very recently lost and miss so deeply. It makes me sad but, also, comforted.

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Playing with Ambition (Remembering Gabey)

Below the first image is a repost about one of the greatest loves of my life …

It has been almost two weeks since I lost my beloved Gabey-kitty, leaving a large hole in my heart and space in my life that had been so sweetly and feistily and affectionately filled by his physical presence for 13 1/2 years. I miss those sparkling amber eyes that looked into my soul and his confidence in his own magnificence and just all those little ways and means that were specific to him. His kitty brother and “cousins” are feeling his absence as profoundly as we are, breaking my heart a little more when they look for him or at me asking “Why?”, but they are also mending it, filling the deep sense of loss with their individual precious presences. Comforting and caring for them is a way to actively do the same for myself. And, through their natural awareness of the energy of the non-physical, they are a constant reminder that, although Gabey’s mortal body is no longer here with me, his pure, loving, blessed spirit can never be absent as long as I stay in touch with my better self.

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Playing with Ambition

He makes a grab for my pen, puffing his cheeks, twinkling his eyes, smiling if he could. It’s not that he wants me to stop writing, at least not in the long term, for it keeps me captivated and close to him. He likes to interrupt my ambition, a playful swipe over the page I stare at for a thought too good to miss if only it would come.

He came, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, with topaz eyes and quick sharp teeth, infecting my hand and heart with feisty vulnerability. Then he was gone, taken as I allowed, others to care for him better. Except I wasn’t convinced, traveling far and near to find the dirt road and unclear path to making him mine.

No one wanted him like I did. Certainly not those who had more than they could handle, separating themselves from his beauty as I thought impossible. In my arms he pretended he didn’t know me, hadn’t tempted and tasted me, too young a fellow to know he shouldn’t cry. I assured him that a love like mine, patient and doting, was all he needed. Slowly he believed, fed on fairy tales and fancy feasts.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

And now he’s only for losing if eternity fails us. At times he prefers his own space and I’m more distracted than when he steals my pen and chance for inspiration. Somehow I always convince him to lie again at my feet—on my feet, warming them, massaging them, numbing them, until he notices my papers set aside. He moves up the bed for undivided attention, licking my cheek, nuzzling my ear before smothering me with his love, his gingery mane blinding me as his unexplained pleasure eases my doubts.  

Then it’s all too serious for him. He makes a grab for what is still in my hand, holding it in his teeth, his head and shoulders performing a tango. I laugh though not too loud for it is the middle of the night. We dance for a few moments longer, light on our feet with no need to exercise more than our imaginations.

“The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.” – Colette (French Novelist, 1873 – 1954)

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©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.