Me and my cat

I have a work iPhone, have had it for almost 2 months, but for some reason I could not make actual calls with it. After many visits to my work helpdesk I finally got my third SIM card last Friday and lo and behold, third time lucky, I now have a phone I can use for more than the internet; I can actually make calls now! So, I have now finally started using the thing (will only use it for work, to keep work and private life separate), getting apps installed and such. My daughter is a little jealous, she wants an iPhone, but we never got her one because, well, it’s not that cheap. I, on the other hand, could care less about having an iPhone. I have a Samsung Galaxy phone privately, way cheaper, and I love it. Anyway, my daughter confiscated my now properly functioning iPhone to check out the fun new smileys on it and choose backgrounds for me and stuff. She also played with the camera and took this picture just as one of our cats walked over to me to say hi and head-rub me…

Cat and me

I normally am not fond at all of how I look in pictures, but this picture I like – it’s an image to treasure. 🙂

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Glück

I’m just in time for the latest ‘Mach Was’ (‘Do Something’) challenge. The theme of the challenge this time around is “Glück”,  which translates to “luck” or “happiness”.  What to do with Glück, I thought, and then I let myself be inspired by all the joy and love in Hugh Jackman’s show. So, for me, for this challenge, I interpret Glück as what makes me most joyful in life, what I love most. You’d think when you read this blog that what makes me happy is fangirling and, while that is very true, what makes me happiest of all is without a doubt my family.

To me happiness is meeting Mr Esther and becoming a couple

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Mr Esther & I, one week into our relationship

…. and marrying him on our 7.5 year anniversary

Happiness is becoming a mother after the birth of my son in the summer of 2001…

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… and our first holiday together to France when he was 2 months old…

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Happiness is my daughter being born at the end of 2003…

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… and the first picture of me as a mother of two when my daughter was one day young..

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… and of us as a family of 4 when she was two days old…

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Happiness is still loving my family and them being the most important thing in my life, even now that the kids are growing up…

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Happiness is also my family I grew up with: my parents and my siblings…

… and the many memories I share with them, like a family trip I once described for another Mach Was challenge.

Last but not least, happiness is our two cats, they too are very much a part of our family. Here they are in pictures taken last week with a flower crown and a flower necklace, made by my son’s lovely girlfirend from little wildflowers growing in our garden…

It may be sappy but yes, I am lucky to have this happiness in my life and it’s nice to be reminded of that with this challenge. 🙂

The power of love

Just before our summer holiday, my older sister moved to the same town I live in. She got herself a gorgeous apartment and decided a few weeks ago that the time had finally come for a new cat. She had cats before, but the last one died a few years ago and as she lived too far from work at the time, she didn’t want a new cat just yet. Now that she lives closer to her work, she felt the time was ripe and my mother, daughter and I accompanied her to a shelter a few weeks ago, where she adopted a 2,5 year old male cat.

The kittycat had been dumped there after the former owners decided they liked their new second kitty better than this cat. This cat had been stressed in his old house, couldn’t deal with having another cat around and wasn’t so very happy in the shelter either. He was very shy but at some point we were able to pet him, which he seemed to enjoy after all. My sister took him home where he first disappeared underneath a couch before carefully starting to explore after we had left them alone…

Within a few hours the cat was purring in my sister’s lap. I have visited a few times over the past 3,5 weeks and the shyness is all gone! Kittycat comes up to anyone entering the house, stranger or not, weaves his way around your legs and when you sit down, he gladly comes to pay a visit. I had my first cat-sitting duty last night and this morning because my sister was sleeping over at my mom’s to be closer to the synagogue for Yom Kippur. The cat has turned into a social animal! He sat on me for most of the 90 minutes I was there with him yesterday evening and sat on me again for most of the 20 minutes this morning (I don’t work Wednesdays, so had a little time).  Picture proof:

It’s so amazing what a little love and attention has done for this kittycat! I can’t believe someone would want to give him up, he is so sweet and playful and loves to purr! Luckily for my sister, they did give him up and he has now found a great home with her.

As for my second ‘power of love’ story – I hesitated to share it as it is quite personal but I don’t want to hide it either, as it is a reality in my family’s life. I’m sure we’re not the only ones living with such a reality. So, I decided to share, while still trying to avoid going into too much personal detail.

This story of love is for a girl I have seen grow up alongside my daughter. My daughter, I’ll call her Sec here, has a best friend, whom I shall call Tem. They met in class when they were little girls, Sec was 5 and Tem was 6. Both girls are not very girly, Sec did judo, Tem did karate, and they bonded over their tomboyish ways almost instantly. Tem has had some problems, though, that became more pronounced as she grew older. She has been diagnosed with ADHD (like both my kids, by the way) and some more other stuff. Tem’s ADHD and other issues have always been much more complex than Sec’s issues but this has never gotten in the way of their friendship. These girls share everything with each other and have always been able to support each other through thick and thin. The girls have gone on to different classes and different schools, but through it all and the challenges they have faced both separately and together, they have always remained very close.

A few months ago things came to a head when Tem (now 15) tried to commit suicide and Sec, acting on great instinct, manged to save her in the nick of time. Needless to say, it’s all been quite traumatic and difficult and despite the hurt and anger Sec has felt over what happened, she has steadfastly stood by her friend. We support Sec to the best of our ability to help her deal with all this, talks and hugs and tears have passed, and she has also been seeing a pyschologist on and off to help her cope. It breaks my heart that she is confronted with all this but, depite the lows she’s been through over this, I find that she is level-headed and strong for her friend when she needs to be. Through all of this she never wavered in her support for Tem.

Some weeks ago, after more fears for Tem’s own safety and the safety of family and other people around her (but no fears for Sec), she was committed to a closed institution which is about a 35 minute drive away from where we live. Needless to say, that has been rough, not only on Tem but on us and especially Sec as well. Again, through it all, Sec has been there for her friend with gifts and letters and we have been visiting Tem weekly (Tem is the smaller of the two in these pictures, wearing track suit bottoms).

We are the only non-family who visit Tem and when we come on Friday evenings, Tem’s face just lights up and she flies into Sec’s and my arms for a hug. Now, 5 or 6 weeks on, Tem seems to be adjusting, making friends and I hope will finally allow herself to be helped (she has always been very resistant to any help before). It is beautiful to see how strong the bond is between these two young girls. Tem still has a very long way to go, but I hope the support that we try to give and the power of love will also help a little with Tem’s healing so that one day she can function in the ‘normal’ world again.

Rhodos cats

Before we even went to Rhodos, I knew we’d be seeing a lot of stray cats. As a cat lover, my cat radar is always active and naturally I noticed the street cats everywhere we went. Every town had them. What struck me is that I never really saw stray dogs even though I was told that they would be there as well. It was all about the stray cats on Rhodos for us. Some didn’t look great, many had scratched noses or other scars, but there were also cats that looked alright and seemed to be fed. From the start, my camera was pointed towards the cats we came across.

The first cats we noticed were the cats living opposite our hotel. There were about 6 to 8 cats there. There was food for them and water and there was one mum with her baby. The baby cat loved a cuddle, mum cat appreciated strokes as well…

We saw a lot of cats on Rhodos. There were black and white cats…

… and ginger (and white) cats…

… and black cats…

… and white cats…

… and white with other colours cats…

… and several more cats of other colours…

We had several personal encounters with cats. In Rhodos city, my daughter approached a mum and kittens. The mum wasn’t too keen on being touched, but especially the one kitten really wanted contact and proceeded to weave around my daughter’s legs…

Mr Esther, my daughter and I were at a Rhodos city park one afternoon and came across a mum and her kittens. They looked well and there was food and water for them. The kittens were keen on cuddling, one even spontaneously climbed into my daughter’s lap and tried to play with her earphones…

At one of the monasteries we went to, we came across a well-looking cat who was very eager to be touched, she followed us around everywhere…

I was curious to find out whether there were any charities on Rhodos that looked after the cats. I found one charity called ‘Kalithea Cats’. They operate locally in the town of Kalithea, and are mostly a charity that feeds and cares for local cats that come to them. People know to find them and regularly, when they arrive at the shelter in the mornings, they’ll find cats and kittens that have been left outside the enclosure. Cats are also brought to them from all over the island. My daughter and I were very curious to see this shelter, so we made a point of visiting it one morning, bringing some cat food with us to donate to them. The shelter is situated in a shady spot right outside Kalithea’s main tourist attraction, the Kalithea springs. As we approached, we saw cats lying around outside the enclosure (which is only used for cats that need special care)…

The enclosure is not so large…

… and the volunteers told us about their work, while also going about their business. The two main people seemed to be the English lady who also answers messages on their Facebook page (and replied to my request to come and vist) and a German lady. They both have been living on Rhodos for quite a few years.

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In the summer they care for a lot of kittens, either without mums or where mums and/or kittens are ill. In the fall, at the end of tourist season when hotels and resorts close in neighbouring tourist hotspot Faliraki, many cats come to the shelter for food. They care for sick animals (there are regular disease outbreaks and eye diseases are quite common) and they care for animals that have been abused. They also try to have as many cats neutered as possible. Occasionally cats get adopted, sometimes even internationally, but they don’t have the resources to organize international adoption. They will allow cats to go if people can arrange all formalities themselves, but arranging all that takes some time. Some cats are also adopted to Germany through an organization called ‘Flying Cats’ who comes to collect some adoptable cats twice a year.

We helped out a bit with feeding the cats. I stood guard over the food of one spooked cat (who had been abused in the past and had a scrappy, half tail because it had been set on fire once) so that she could eat in peace without fear of her food being eaten by others. Spooky cat had been gone for a long time, the staff had feared she had died, and she’d only resurfaced recently so they were determined to have her eat as well as possible. My daughter alerted one of the volunteers to a wound in one of the cat’s neck. Not a deep wound, but it did need a little attention. And there was also time for cuddling the cats and giving them a little attention…

When we left again, we promised to donate some money (mentioning Kalithea cats in the donation) to help them buy food and other necessities for the cats…

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So, for #InternationalCatDay I made my donation…

I always knew I loved cats but now I have the suspicion that it could easily turn into something more, that one day I may turn into an old cat-lady caring for tons of cats myself…

Spring is here!

It’s only partially sunny here today and even a tad chilly when the sun disappears behind the clouds, but it is warm enough for me to be sitting outside in our garden for the first time this year! One of our cats has joined me as well…

When I got back from my weekend in Newcastle two weeks ago, Mr Esther had already gone spring-happy, buying potted flowers for in our garden. Now our little pink blossom tree has started to bloom as well! I have mostly enjoyed these flowers (and the beginning of the pink blossoms) from through the window, I love that I can now sit and enjoy them while relaxing outside! 🙂

MTA: Now my other cat has joined me as well, she is fascinated by a bumble bee flying around here. She could catch it too, if she tried…

Her nickname in this house is ‘mass murderer’ as she is very effective at killing mice, birds and frogs