Saturday, March 27, 2010

working on our night moves - OSI

Moon rise over the mountain,
a fresh spring wind in the woods,
through the camera lens,
my spirit breaks free,
clean, light, unencumbered by
aching joints or uncertain steps,
and dances into the dark night.

© sgreerpitt
Saturday March 27, 2010

For other poems on the theme "avatar" see One Single Impression March 27-April 3.
Photograph taken 9:00 PM Saturday March 27, 2010, 8" exposure, 4x magnification.

still waiting

This is the first time that I've had up close interaction with a pregnant cat. It fascinates me to leave my hand on her belly for a while and feel for the movement of the kittens. If we can both sit quietly for long enough (Tabitha is more likely to wiggle than I am), I can feel tiny little feet kicking and bumping.

On very rare occasions, like just now, when Tabitha lies on my desk, I can actually see tiny movements in her belly, not caused by her own breathing or heart beat.

I'm actually a little surprised that one does not feel or see more movement from four kittens. Of course, kittens, like other mammals (other than humans and great apes) are born at an earlier stage of development, and do more developing outside the womb. For example, humans are born with their eyes open, looking at everything (except when we scrunch them closed to cry), whereas kittens don't even open their eyes for two weeks.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Apologies to all my blogging friends, I know I haven't been by your blog to read your posts in a long, long time. I promise I'll come back again some day, when I figure out how to get life back into balance. I started to stay "back under control" but control is not something that can be applied to our lives, or our feelings, or other living beings--and who would really want a life that was "controlled"? Not me.

But a little more balance might be nice. I've said "yes" to too many things -- all interesting, valuable, important things. "Yes" to new work challenges (committees, projects, conferences), and "yes" to new home challenges (Tabitha kitty and all that entails). Fate also hands us little obstacles to enliven our lives (like my husband's car window getting smashed and his wallet getting stolen).

I've fallen dreadfully far behind on teaching related activities (lectures, study guides, discussion questions, and exams not yet written and posted for my on-line students). I'm so far behind that I've decided that worrying and getting panicked about missed deadlines would take too time and too much energy, so I'll just skip the panic and peacefully bumble onward. The semester will eventually end, whether I'm ready for it or not. We'll do what we will do. The world will keep turning, and daffodils will bloom.

But I do hope someday soon to get back to visiting all your blogs and having the time to relish your posts and comment again. Until then, know I think about you all.

why do people litter?

I really don't get it. Why do people trash the places where they spend their time? Does it really take that much effort to step a few feet away to the receptacle for cigarettes?

The college goes to substantial effort to create beautiful flower beds--with much of the work done by students themselves--so that students will have a pleasant place to spend their time. Yet the students who spend the most time outdoors (the smokers)
"enjoying" the space, are the ones who are most destructive.

It makes me angry, and makes me want to cry to see this.

My students complain about the negative stereotypes about Appalachians, yet they contribute to those stereotypes by trashing the world around them.

waiting for kittens

Here is tiny Tabitha with her giant belly. Every morning first thing when I get up I check Tabby in her box (in her own private room) to see whether she is still one cat or has become five cats yet.

Eight days ago, the vet could only tell us that she was more than 45 days. 45 days is the point at which there is enough calcification in the bones of the developing kittens for them to show up on the x-ray. Since cat pregnancies are about 66 days in length, we could go as much as two more weeks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

meet Tabitha

This is Tabitha. I just named her one week ago, when I got my first good look at her -- and realized she was a "she" and that she was profoundly pregnant. Before that she was just a flash of white that disappeared as soon as I opened the front door.

I first saw Tabitha last year hanging around a house at the bottom of our lane (we have a neighbor who will feed strays but never gets them spayed or neutered nor provides them shelter). Back in October when it first started to get cold she started taking refuge on occasion in the crawl space under our trailer. I never saw more than the top of her head as she would whisk out of sight under the house, whenever I'd come out.

As the winter wore on and got colder and snowier she started spending all her time under our house -- our dog Rosie would catch her smell coming up through the heating vents and freak out. On the very coldest nights and days we'd hear banging and clanging echoing through the heating vents. My best guess of what was going on was that Tabitha had dug into the insulation up next to the vent.

I started putting dry food out on a table on the porch in late December when I realized that she didn't seem to be going down the hill any more. The food would disappear when I wasn't looking.

Then last week, suddenly, Tabitha, not only didn't disappear when I came out, she came up on the porch and jumped up on the table while I put out the food. Over the last week, I started giving her wet food twice a day, and she became ever more friendly. I stayed awake half the night last night trying to decide what to do.

I'm just not the kind of person who can just ignore things like this, and not just because I realized that the smell and sound of kittens born under the house would turn my poor doggy frantic. This is not an easy decision. We've had as many as 14 cats at one time; that was 13 years ago, the last time a neighborhood tabby had kittens on my front porch and we took them in -- the last of whom, James Tyler, died just a few weeks ago. We still have six very elderly cats several with expensive, and time consuming chronic illnesses. We have given up a very large portion of our family income to care for animals that were all strays or abandoned. Money that might have been spent to fix the occasionally leaking roof, or the floors (which have odd boards cobbled over gaping holes), replace the toilets that have to be flushed with buckets, or save up for the inevitable day that the 30+ year furnace bites the dust. The good news -- we don't have to worry about the animals doing damage to our house, its falling apart all on its own!

But this morning, when I went out to put out a bowl of food for Tabitha, she not only came up on the porch for food as she's been doing for the past six days, she suddenly started rubbing all over me, and let me pick her up and pet her. I stood out on the damp, chilly porch in my nightgown and sweatshirt, holding this hugely pregnant purring cat, and made the decision just like that. She was coming in, becoming part of the family.

For the moment, Tabitha has a nice cozy cage with make-shift litter box, water and food, and a nice cozy nest, in our "junk" room. I had to move a lot of junk this morning to make a place. She seems to like it. I gave her several hours this evening to explore the room both with me present and on her own, before settling her back in the cage. She's extremely affectionate. In the top picture she's sitting in my lap -- her idea.

Tomorrow she pay a brief visit to our vet, to be tested for Feline Leukemia and other diseases before I turn her lose with our other cats. I put in an order with Pet Smart for a new, slightly larger, roomier cage, where she can give birth to her kitties. The cage is more for their protection than anything else, as we are not quite sure how our dog Rosie will react.

So as of today we have seven cats, and within a few days to week we'll have even more. I love kittens and cats. But I sure wish that other people in the world and in my neighborhood in particular would do their part to spay and neuter and provide adequate shelter and proper food for animals. I also wish I'd win the lottery. I probably have about as much chance of getting the latter wish as the former one.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

cloud mountains

I don't think that I'd ever really noticed that I could see the ridge of Pine Mountain from my office window, but there it is, still frozen in the brilliant, brittle sunshine of the day, floating like a low cloud in the blue sky above the town of Whitesburg.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

farewell to James Tyler Cat

James Tyler Cat died early this morning, twenty-four days shy of his 13 birthday. He was born on my front porch on March 27, 1997, with two female siblings who preceded him in death. March 27 is my mother's birthday, so one of the female cats was named Josie T. after her, and James Tyler was named after her father, brother, cousin, and cousin's son -- four generations of James Tyler Crittendens.

James was a very large, pure white, long haired cat with a sweet and gentle disposition. He will be much missed.

spring will come

Funny thing, I started out about an hour ago to write a post bemoaning about all the stuff getting me down. For every complaint I listed, I could think of a dozen or more people within my immediate interaction circle, and thousands of people in the wider world (like Haiti, Iraq, Chile, etc.) who have much bigger problems.

I really hate it when people who like me, are basically healthy and more or less financially secure (if not necessarily affluent), and live in safe communities and societies, make all their conversations and communications about the little problems and adversities of their lives. I'm not talking about the occasional gripe session, but folks who never seem to have anything to say, but a litany of complaints about life.

I especially hate it when people with all these advantages start talking about how depressed they are because of all the bad things happening to other people whether the others are their friends and neighbors or strangers in Haiti. It's one thing to feel empathy for people with problems, and to take action to help others, it's totally a different thing to be so absorbed by the woes of others that one become paralyzed by depression.

So on second thought, my life is good. I have love and friendship, interesting worthwhile work, reasonably good health, and the snow won't last forever -- spring will come.

Photo taken 20 years ago after a late March snow storm.