A Canadian Perspective – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident.  I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed.  Thank you, John!


Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective

By John Fioravanti

 

For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is ideologically in line with American Democrats. I voted for our local Liberal candidate and was overjoyed to see Justin Trudeau win a majority government in the House of Commons in October of 2015 – despite the smear campaign launched by the Conservative Party (like the American GOP) that featured many attack ads that belittled Trudeau personally. Trudeau ignored those attacks and ran his campaign on the issues.

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

It is fair to say that many Canadians were in shock and somewhat uneasy when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. His campaign attacks on the NAFTA accord have been unsettling. Free trade has been an economic boon to all three countries involved. Two facts that are irrefutable about our bilateral trade history: one, the USA buys more goods from Canada than from any other country in the world; and two, Canada buys more American goods than from any other country in the world. To say that the collapse of NAFTA would not hurt the US economy is preposterous. However, it would hurt Canada more.

Thinking about our historical relationship with America, I’m reminded of a quote by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984.

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

No country in the world has impacted Canada more than the United States. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries, annexationist American troops invaded Canadian territory during the Revolutionary War and then three times during the War of 1812. After the Civil War, American negotiators demanded that Britain hand over the Canadian colonies in compensation for damages incurred when the British helped the Confederate government. These occurrences bred feelings of unease, suspicion, and outright fear of the United States among Canadians.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, the relationship changed to a close friendship as we became more than business partners, but also military allies through two world wars, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the War on Terrorism. On 9/11, Canadian airports accepted flights unable to land in the United States. Gander, Newfoundland, a town of just 10,000, residents took almost 7,000 passengers into their homes for five days and treated them like family. The Broadway play “Come From Away” immortalizes this extraordinary act of kindness to total strangers. Canadians and Americans have a shared history in North America and now we have a shared popular culture – it is no wonder that Europeans cannot distinguish us from each other.

I have been a student of history my entire life and in my adult years, my focus has been on Canadian and American history. My second academic passion is the study of politics, so I am fairly familiar with the constitutions of both of our countries. In my lifetime, I witnessed nothing but deference and respect between our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Sometimes friendships sprang up between our leaders when they were ideologically in tune – like Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, and Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. On the international stage, we have always had each other’s backs.

It is for these reasons that I am shocked and dismayed by Donald Trump’s abysmal behavior towards Justin Trudeau. Yes, I felt personally offended by Trump’s outright lies and insults. At the same time, I felt extremely proud that Trudeau did not respond, in kind, to Trump’s remarks nor to the vile remarks made by Trump’s minions in the aftermath.

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM's remarks at the G7 Summit

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM’s remarks at the G7 Summit

As an aside, my wife, Anne, and I had the good fortune to meet and chat briefly with our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He was PM for three brief years before being defeated by Conservative Stephen Harper. Since then, Martin has remained active within the Liberal Party and was a guest advisor at the G7 Summit. When I shared my views about Trudeau’s handling of the G7 fallout from Trump, he nodded sagely and assured me that he would pass that along to Justin Trudeau. It was such a thrill to spend a few moments alone with this kind and generous former prime minister!

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

My anger and disgust are not aimed at the American people. I understand how Trump operates. I followed the presidential election campaign very closely and I’ve seen how many Americans are also angry and disgusted with him and his abominable tactics. I also understand that Trump was defeated in the popular vote and that he has the approval of a scant 40% according to polls. By the way, Trudeau has the approval of 80% of Canadians according to recent polls for his stand against Trump’s tariffs. I can’t remember the last time a Canadian PM got an 80% approval rating for anything!

Many of my American friends have apologized and are concerned that this trade debacle will do irreparable damage to Canada/US relations. My response is that no apology is necessary – most of the American people did not behave badly. Trudeau and our Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have continued to work towards a resolution of the tariffs and the NAFTA accord. It is our hope that our American cousins will lobby their Representatives and Senators to dissuade Trump from the path of a trade war with Canada and the other G7 countries.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Donald Trump will not change. He will continue to behave as he sees fit until the American electorate takes away his majorities in Congress and then removes him as President. I’m losing faith that the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down. I do not think Congress would impeach Trump no matter what Mueller reports. The remedy to the problem of Trump is to be found with the voters of America.

Black History In Ontario – The 19th Century – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Today is 28 February … the last day of February and the final day of Black History Month in both the U.S. and Canada.  I have let the ball drop this month, for reasons at least partly beyond my control, but our friend John Fioravanti has helped by sharing with us so much of Canada’s black history!  Last week, I published Part I of John’s guest post, and we thought it fitting to save Part II for the final day of February, to wrap up the month.  I would like to thank John for all the hard work he put into these wonderfully informative posts!  Hey John … what say we do it again next year?

Text dividersPrologue

Upper Canada did not flourish, and Loyalist settlements remained scattered and isolated. Simcoe’s vision of a prosperous, English-speaking province was not shared in London. Britain viewed the fledgling colony as a mere appendage of Lower Canada (Quebec). Simcoe was succeeded by several ineffective British governors in the ensuing years who did little to foster growth in Upper Canada.

In 1812, America declared war on Britain while she was embroiled in a life and death struggle against Napoleon in Europe. For President Madison, Canada looked like easy pickings. Most of the settlers of Upper Canada were former American citizens, and the French in Lower Canada had no great love for their British rulers. America underestimated the determination of the Loyalists and Indigenous Loyalists led by Joseph Brant, and most of the French decided to remain neutral.

The War of 1812-1814 featured many cross-border skirmishes between U.S. Regulars & Militia and British Regulars and Loyalist militia. It eventually ended in a stalemate punctuated by the burning of the government buildings in Toronto by American invaders and the retaliatory burning of the White House in Washington by the British.

Black Volunteers Fight For Britain

In the summer of 1812, Black Loyalist Richard Pierpoint petitioned the government of Upper Canada to raise a company of Black troops to help protect the Niagara frontier. After some debate, the government agreed. A company of Blacks was formed under the command of a White officer, Captain Robert Runchey Sr.

Thousands of Black volunteers fought for the British during the War of 1812. Fearing American conquest (and the return to slavery), many Blacks in Upper Canada served heroically in colored and regular regiments. The British promise of freedom and land united many escaped slaves under the British flag. (See the story of Richard Pierpoint)

In 1813, British Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s offer of transportation for anyone wanting to leave the United States was widely circulated among the Black population. Four thousand former slaves deserted to the British side and were transported to the British colonies. About 2000 refugees set sail for Nova Scotia from September 1813- August 1816. Canada’s reputation as a haven for Blacks grew substantially during and after the War of 1812. 

Post-War Upper Canada

Between 1815 and 1865, tens of thousands of Blacks in America sought safety and freedom in Upper Canada by way of the Underground Railway. It isn’t easy to find documentation about the Underground Railway because out of necessity it operated under strict secrecy in America – and even in Canada where they wished to avoid border incidents. One notable exception to this in Canada was a contemporary newspaper, the Voice of the Fugitive, which was the first black-owned and -operated newspaper in Upper Canada. It was founded and published in Sandwich / Windsor by Henry Bibb, who escaped, first to Detroit and then to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The newspaper first appeared on January 1, 1851, and ceased publication in 1854.

Underground RailroadThis excerpt from Daniel Hill’s publication, The Freedom Seekers, outlines the main areas of settlement of Black refugees in Upper Canada (renamed Canada West in 1841).

Daniel Hill, in the “Freedom Seekers,” wrote:

“Before the middle of 19th Century small Black communities were firmly rooted in six areas of Canada West: along the Detroit frontier, that is at Windsor, Sandwich, Amherstburg and their environs; in Chatham and its surrounding area, where the all- Black settlements of Dawn and Elgin were established; in what was then the central section of the province particularly London, the Queen’s Bush, Brantford, and the Black settlement of Wilberforce (now Lucan); along the Niagara Peninsula at St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Newark (Niagara on the Lake)and Fort Erie; in the larger urban centres on Lake Ontario, that is Hamilton and Toronto; at the northern perimeter of Simcoe and Grey Counties, especially in Oro, Collingwood and Owen Sound. Besides these centres of Black population, small clusters of Blacks, as well as individual Black Families, were settled throughout Canada West.”

Underground RR MapIn Upper Canada, the Underground Railroad fugitives tended to concentrate in settlements, not because of government policy but for the sake of mutual support and protection against white Canadian prejudice and discrimination and American kidnappers – looking for rewards for returning fugitive slaves to their American owners. The fugitive blacks who had arrived in Upper Canada via the Underground Railroad typically arrived destitute, and without government land grants were usually forced to become laborers on the lands of others, although some farmed their own land successfully, and some worked for the Great Western Railway.

In their concentrated settlements, the early Blacks had the opportunity to retain cultural characteristics and create a distinct community. Styles of worship, music and speech, family structures and group traditions developed in response to the conditions of life in Canada. The chief institutional support was the separate church, usually Baptist or Methodist, created when white congregations refused to admit blacks as equal members.

The churches’ spiritual influence pervaded daily life and affected the vocabulary, routines, and ambitions of their members. Inevitably, they assumed a major social and political role and the clergy became the natural community leaders. The many fraternal organizations, mutual-assistance bands, temperance societies and antislavery groups formed by 19th-century Blacks were almost always associated with one of the churches. In the 20th century, the churches led the movement for greater educational opportunity and civil rights.

In slavery, Black women were forced to work to support themselves, and economic circumstances perpetuated this tradition in Canada. Black women have always played an important economic role in family life and have experienced considerable independence as a result. Raised in a communal fashion, frequently by their grandparents or older neighbors, Black children developed family-like relationships throughout the local community. A strong sense of group identity and mutual reliance, combined with the unique identity provided by the churches, produced an intimate community life and a refuge against white discrimination.

Buxton School.jpg

Buxton School

During the 19th century, British and American societies established schools for blacks throughout Ontario. In addition, the governments of both Nova Scotia and Ontario created legally segregated public schools. Although almost every black community had access to either a charity or a public school, funding was inadequate, and education tended to be inferior. When combined with residential isolation and economic deprivation, poor schooling helped to perpetuate a situation of limited opportunity and restricted mobility. In 1965 the last segregated school in Ontario closed.

My hope is that this overview of Black history in Upper Canada during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries will serve to illustrate that this has been a story of desperate circumstances punctuated by great accomplishments by heroes who bravely struggled to survive and thrive in an often, less than hospitable environment. I’ve heard it said by a Black Canadian who has lived both in Canada and the United States that Black Canadians and Black Americans are quite different. They live in their respective countries for different reasons. As well, American Blacks are approximately 13% of their country’s population, but Canadian Blacks are just 4% of Canada’s population – a visible minority and an almost invisible minority.

The plight of Black Canadians was aided by urbanization – which led to desegregated opportunities – and the influx of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean. I wish I could report that racism and discrimination aimed at Black Canadians is a thing of the past but that is simply not true. Happily, segregation of the races was not entrenched in Canadian law as it was in America. Tragically, many Caucasian Canadians suffer from the same cultural White supremacy tendencies that presently exist in other predominantly White countries.

A  million thanks, John, for these guest posts, and for the ones you have so generously allowed me to share throughout the month!  

 

Black History in Ontario – Part I – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Friend, author and fellow-blogger John Fioravanti  graciously accepted my request to do a guest post to wrap up Black History Month! It quickly became apparent that one post was inadequate, so John has agreed to do a series of two posts about the history of African-Canadians.  Today I share with you John’s excellent and informative Part I.  I hope you enjoy and I know you will learn something new, for I certainly did!Text dividers

Black History In Ontario – Early Years

Prologue

This series of articles is inspired by the revelations of my research into Black history in Canada for Black History Month. I am impressed beyond words by the courage and resourcefulness of so many people of African ancestry that escaped to Canada as slaves or freely chose Canada as their new home. Ontario is my home province, hence the focus of this series. It is my hope that this effort to summarize the early history of Black Canadians in Ontario will give readers a helpful perspective for today’s realities.

In another post, we will turn our attention to the people who escaped slavery from the American South in the 19th Century by way of the Underground Railway. Four of the five ‘stations’ or destinations were in Ontario, and the fifth was in Nova Scotia. I will explore their life experiences as they struggled to create meaningful and happy lives among an often-hostile White majority.NewFrance1750From 1608-1763, today’s Ontario was part of the colony of New France. After the British conquered New France in 1763, it was renamed Quebec. Ontario finally emerged as a separate territory called Upper Canada in 1791. The French part of the old Quebec colony was renamed Lower Canada. The two Canadas were politically reunited into a single colony, the Province of Canada in 1841. The part that used to be Upper Canada was referred to as Canada West. In 1867 the separate Canadian colonies united into a political federation called The Dominion of Canada. The former Province of Canada divided again at the Ottawa River into the modern provinces of Ontario and Quebec.UpperCanada1791Although slavery was abolished in the Canadian colonies well before this was accomplished in the United States, make no mistake, the attitude of white superiority was just as prevalent in Canada as it was anywhere in America or the white nations of Europe at that time. This attitude was not born in North America, it was transplanted here from Europe. So the Blacks who escaped or freely migrated north from the States beginning in the late 18th Century were not welcomed warmly with open arms by the Whites in Canada. They were not considered equal citizens and most often faced disdain and discrimination at the hands of white Canadians.

Early Upper Canada History

Originally part of the colony of New France, Upper Canada was home to French fur traders and Jesuit Missionaries who came to the area east and south of Georgian Bay to convert the Indigenous people they named as Huron. The French did not focus on the Upper Canada area to create large settlements – that came after the British took over.

As a result of the Seven Years War (The French and Indian War), New France passed into British Possession in 1763. There are records about the existence of Black slaves in the settled areas of New France around Montreal and Quebec City. Many of them were brought by transient officials from France and often resold in the colony. Most of the slaves were used as domestic servants and as farm laborers.

After 1763, Upper Canada became home to Loyalists and newly freed slaves from the Thirteen Colonies as a direct result of the American Revolution. Some British officials in the American colonies from 1775 onwards promised freedom to any Black slaves willing to escape and join the British army. Over 300 Blacks responded to this offer by British Governor Lord John Dunsmore of Virginia in 1775. In 1779 Sir Henry Clinton, commander-in-chief of all British forces in the Thirteen Colonies promised slaves who escaped protection in territory under their control.

Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Loyalists left the United States for Upper Canada during and after the war ended in 1783. About 10 percent of this number were Black Loyalists – and most of them went on to settle in Nova Scotia. Some arrived as freed men while most came as slaves with their Loyalist owners. Blacks who had escaped from their owners to fight in the British army and arrived as free men were called Black Loyalists. According to records, only a few dozen Black Loyalists settled in Upper Canada between Cornwall and Windsor.

Under British law, the slaves of White Loyalists were to remain slaves. There were slaves in most if not all the Loyalist settlements in Upper Canada. By 1791 the veterans of Butler’s Rangers had 300 slaves in the Niagara area – designated as domestic servants.

Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves SimcoeSimcoeSlavery-600x331

Before the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement was making inroads in the Canadas as Britain had outlawed the slave trade in the British Isles in 1772. By 1791 Loyalist slave owners in Upper Canada began to worry about losing their property and began to sell their slaves to Americans across the border. One such incident, involving a slave named Chloe Cooley was so brutal that Simcoe decided to free all the province’s slaves.

In 1793, Adam Vrooman, a former sergeant with Butler’s Rangers, owned Chloe Cooley and decided to sell her to an American across the Niagara River in March. Chloe was upset by the impending sale, so Vrooman beat her, tied her up and forced her into a boat with the help of two other men. She screamed as they rowed her across the river.Chloe CooleyThe entire incident was witnessed by another Butler’s Rangers veteran, Black Loyalist Peter Martin. Along with another witness, he reported the incident to Simcoe’s Executive Council (Cabinet) who decided to charge Vrooman with disturbing the peace. Eventually, the charge was dropped because Cooley was considered property under the law.

Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was outraged by the incident and moved swiftly to bring in the Act Against Slavery by July of 1793. It provided for the eventual abolition of slavery in Upper Canada by prohibiting the importation of slaves and freeing the children of slaves when they turned 21. By 1819 there were no more slaves in Upper Canada.

Thank you, John!  We are looking forward to Part II!

Saturday Surprise — Guest Post by Colette!!!

Happy Saturday Surprise, Friends!!!  Last week, I asked (shamelessly begged) readers to volunteer to do a guest post this week, as several of the suggestions when I first started this feature included making it a more interactive feature.  Friend Colette generously offered to write a true and funny story for our enjoyment today.  It is a win-win … I am getting a bit of a break, and we are all getting a great story!!!  Many thanks, Colette, for your contribution!


‘Animal Magic’

A visit to Cat Hell 😾

The ad was innocent: ‘Mad Cat Lady,’ requires house sitter for one dog, one indoor cat and approximately nineteen outdoor cats and a few strays. And the email to my husband and me asked if we were available? The house looked nice enough on photos and although we didn’t know the location, it was only about 40 minute drive from Malaga Airport. We said ‘yes.’

We got stopped by La Guardia just outside the nearest village and the two officers demanded all our papers and passports and then grilled us for 20 minutes about where we lived in Spain (so they could charge us with incorrect documentation) and eventually asked where we were going? As soon as we mentioned the destination, they decided that we were indeed, as claimed, British tourists. They had rolled their eyes at the mention of the address…Mad Cat lady also ran a B&B. But it was not a successful one…it was remote (more so than advertised) and a long way from any tourist area.

Arriving twenty minutes late, and just a little harried, our host opened up the gates for us and then closed them behind us.

As my husband got out of the car, three cats immediately jumped in and started rummaging through our stuff, causing him to duck back in again to root them out. His bum greeted our host, Mad Cat Lady.

A muscular Spanish Water dog bounded up as I exited the car, and growled. Looking at me with wild eyes, he jumped up and caught my free bare arm in his mouth, and chomped away excitedly on his new toy (me). I pushed him away with a hand up “Off!” My command had no effect…he just launched himself at my other bare arm. Our host said, (laughing nervously), “he’ll be alright in a minute, he just gets over excited.” My arms sprouted capillaries of minuscule blood flow. I frowned “I’d rather you called him off now!”

I should have known at this point that we were entering into pet sitting hell, but I have a real soft spot for all animals and so I smiled at Mad Cat Lady.

“I can’t,” she said apologetically. “I’ve had three different trainers, and no one can do anything with Badger.” Her eyes sparkled, “but he was rescued and he is such a charmer…he speaks you know?” Mad Cat Lady had a wistful adoration in her eyes, as her monster dog chewed his way through what was left of my skin.

Badger.JPG

Badger

I later found out that Badger’s conversations (usually initiated by him) occurred when he would jump on to the table where one sat to drink tea. He would stare at you face to face, growling and generally showing his superiority as he tried to make you ‘blink first. Then, mission accomplished, he’d lay down and proceed to chew his paws, his wagging tail threatening to remove your teacup from the table! The Mad Cat Lady always laughed adoringly!

My husband soon banned Badger from our separate  accommodation in a Casita, after Badger had upset all the contents on a coffee table and smashed my husband’s phone to the floor, breaking the back off it. Mad Cat Lady had said, “but Badger must have company,” so now I had to stay in the main house on my own for much of the day with Badger.

It was only day one, and my husband didn’t want anything more to do with the ‘pets.’ He couldn’t abide going into the house. Only 29 days to go then!

IMG_20171015_135854_773.jpg

Clary

Badger was only the tip of a big iceberg…Clary, was the owners tiny black house cat. Tiny, yes, pretty? No. She was slightly cross-eyed, covered in scabs and looked suspiciously like a vampire with a temperament that went with the image. The rest of the cats were feral…and untrained, but they didn’t stay outside at all! Nineteen feral cats came and went in the house that always had an open door. They did exactly as they pleased twenty four hours a day. The house was a nightmare.

Clary_2.JPGEverything inside the house had the strange mixed odour of  cat pee and something resembling cockroach spray. Diatomaceous earth filled the air when ever I sat on the couch, or walked over the living room carpet (supposedly controlling ticks and fleas). Mad Cat Lady lived holistically, organically, and without any apparent need to clean. Cats roamed in dark corners and glared at me with glowing green eyes before raising hackles and backing into cupboards.

It was an interesting mix of The Adams Family meets The Fockers!

The worst room was without question, the kitchen. I almost gagged at the awful odour when I walked in to a small room full of mewling cats to learn from our host, what I needed to know about feeding her brood who now sat atop of the counters, shelves, and the wooden table in the centre of the kitchen. The table legs looked in danger of collapse as they had become favourite scratching posts and were perilously worn away.

Badger’s food was easy (except that I was warned he might refuse to eat), the rest of the gang had a complicated schedule. I had to know each and every one of the cats by name, so that I didn’t get their diet mixed up. Most of them ate two different special meals (as well as dry food that was put down in the kitchen, an ensuite bathroom and a disgusting laundry room filled with ants and pillows infused with the dainty aroma of cat pee and hair balls).

The refrigerator and freezer were filled with containers full of liquidized raw liver (a gut-wrenching smell), gazillions of prawns, and a range of weird meaty bits for Badger.IMG_20171015_140037_628.jpgI was given a menu for each kitty and strict instructions on how to feed “this one liver, and a bit of packet meat n’ gray, and that one prawns only, and stop that one coming back for seconds (this particular Ginger, was identical to her two sisters and a brother looked very similar – so impossible to know if I’d fed her or a sibling). This little girl, ‘Blondie,’ needs extras, as of course does Clary. And the latest addition, six-month old Dora, will eat everything but liver and will usually throw it up again. Be careful of George (the blonde son of an old Siamese called Maisie) he will steal prawns,”…I learned quickly that he has sharp claws indeed. He was a beautiful cat though.

The instructions went on for an hour as we tracked down each cat to feed them ….”Throw Dek a prawn… he won’t come near enough to take it. Cuckoo will have two prawns, don’t give him the heads…he’ll choke. Fez has double helpings of liver, and Maisy has one plus half a packet of moist cat food…” I scribbled notes furiously on a piece of paper next to each name and tried (in vain) to memorise the appearance of each feline menace who either tried to snatch the food from me or run like hell for cover. It was a bit like trying to pet piranha fish! And just as frantic. ‘Chaos’ doesn’t really describe it!IMG_20171015_140230_930.jpgAs I placed two prawns (shelled and cut up) in front of a fiesty male Siamese called ‘Majesty,’ I noticed a ragged ear and a firmly attached tick. ‘Majesty’ indeed. He looked like an ancient warrior king of a feline dominion; ‘Planet of the Cats.’

We drove Mad Cat Lady, and her sister, to the airport in her car (ours was much too small). I inadvertently sat on a warm wet patch… fresh cat pee. I squirmed! The whole car stank. On our return, my husband opened the five doors on her vehicle, vacuumed out all the filth, removed everything loose and then turned a water hose on and blasted all the upholstery, the floor, the ceiling…everything…. It really was that bad! It took a week to dry out (windows cracked open so that the cats couldn’t get in).

Badger_Majesty.JPG

Badger & Majesty

Our month turned into a steady routine of me doing all the pet work and my husband doing the gardening. He cleared drainpipes, dug out clogged outside shower trays and repaired broken stuff. We both cleaned vigorously. He transformed the laundry room while I bleached the kitchen into a sanitised condition (only to have an anonymous cat redecorate the kitchen counters when I wasn’t looking)!Badger on table.jpgBadger soon got used to the new routine. A steady use of training treats (never leave home without them), stopped him attacking and biting my feet on stairwells (a particularly aggressive act), and aided in the abolition of ‘growling’ conversations. He began to behave normally and trotted after me happily as I made my rounds of the feral brood. I became quite fond of him. I could not touch his feet though…he would really go for me. However, I was able to brush him (something that Mad Cat Lady said he didn’t like). And he ate his meals. When Mad Cat Lady’s ex showed up to make sure that we hadn’t run off with the family silver, he was amazed that Badger stuck to my side and wouldn’t engage in the ‘growling’ conversation of old nor jump up at him. In fact, Badger ignored him altogether. This man was Badger’s rescuer??? But Badger came and put his head in my lap and then lay at my feet ignoring his former buddy!

Badger’s walks were quite short by necessity. We were positioned between two farms, both with aggressive packs of dogs. The mangy dogs in each pack outnumbered Badger at least 6 to one. He would have been torn to pieces (as might I). However, there was enough space for a short 20 minute constitutional, and yes, more feeding of other ferals along the way. One of them, a shy grey Tabby, was pregnant. She would come when I called,  and then gobble the food madly so that she could run when the other, territorial moggies showed up! Mad Cat Lady went through at least two 20kg sacks of dry kibble a week.IMG_20171015_135453_305.jpgI got used to days filled with removing ticks, coaxing, feeding and playing with the brood. They were not the healthiest animals though, and would eat all wildlife that moved (despite the spoiling by Mad Cat Lady). I came across lots of dismembered bodies everywhere. One morning, I found Dora with a huge gash in her side…claws had made four neat holes where blood oozed. I patched her up and put her on a clean blanket to sleep. I guessed that one of the Gingers had caught her…they were always chasing her. She was a quick getaway, but obviously one of them had outwitted her and taught her a lesson. I nursed her back to health and she started to attach herself to me… I felt bad that I would leave and it wouldn’t be fair, but it was unavoidable. She needed to heal up, and I had to protect her from the Gingers. She became my shadow. She and a few of the others would be waiting by the Casita door first thing. Badger would be waiting too on the other side of the terrace gate and he no longer jumped or growled. He would sit happily waiting for his morning treat and then follow me and all the others into the kitchen for breakfast.

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Dora

When Mad Cat Lady came home, all the old behaviours came back in the brood (including, alas Badger) except for one. Tiny Dora had lost her heart to me. She ate properly now, no longer threw up everywhere and as we packed our car, she tried to get in with us. As we drove through the open gates, that one lone little cat watched us go and tried to follow. I felt such a lump in my throat as we watched her figure fade in the rear view mirror.

Cat Hell was gone…or was it Cat Heaven? I felt a real pang at having to leave tiny Dora. Poor little bullied girl! 😿

Brought to you by …

  • Badger (Spanish Water Dog)
  • Dora (a tiny calico)
  • Clary (a tiny black vampire)
  • Ant & Dek (wild Tiger cats)
  • Fez (black with a white feather)
  • Maisie (long hair Siamese)
  • Majesty (Medium hair Siamese)
  • George (Blond mix Siamese)

FAMILY …

  • Cuckoo (Large Black)
  • Sharon, Sherri, Sharma, Sugar (The Four Gingers) SIBLINGS
  • Blonde (Blonde, Ginger mix)
  • Big Tom (Large Tabby)
  • Little Tom (Small Tabby)
  • Milo (Ginger and White)
  • Micky (Black & White)
  • Monkey (Black & White)

BROTHERS

  • Grey Ghost (Light Grey Tabby)

Many thanks, Colette, for sharing this story!  And congratulations for surviving you Cat Hell or Heaven … a little bit of both, I think!

I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend doing fun things!  Happy Saturday!!!

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A Guest Post by My Friend Herb …

A little over a year ago, I asked my friend Herb to contribute to this blog on occasion.  At the time, although he considered it fleetingly, he had some things going on in his own life and ultimately declined.  Now he is giving it a second thought, and today I would like to share a piece he wrote back in September of 2014.  Herb is an anthropologist and far less political-minded than me, so he brings a different perspective, which I see as a plus.  He is less a politico, but a far better observer of human nature than I. And he injects humour into his writing far better than I.  Although he gave me permission to edit his words, I made no changes.  Please take a few minutes to read Herb’s work and help me talk him into joining the WordPress community!


More musings on the state of American Culture from the kitchen counter of an Armchair Anthropologistby Herb Brown – 13 September 2014armchair-2.jpg“WE NO POLK, WE NO POLK”, the Chinese dude hostilely barked. Not only did this Chinese restaurant not sell sweet and sour pork, pretty much a staple of Chinese restaurants everywhere, this guy wanted nothing to do with swine flesh of any sort. He resented the fact that I would dare ask for it and was letting me know. ‘Hmmm, Muslim thing?’, I wondered to myself, noticing a star and crescent flag standing near a kitchen counter back near the woks. I perused the menu some more noticing there was no pork of any kind on the menu. I finally ordered some Hunan Beef, extra spicy. Probably be cat, but I don’t care, long as they spice it up enough. The Chinese guy kinda let out a faint grin, nodded, and bellowed out something in Chinese, I assume, to his kitchen staff, “他媽的愚蠢的美國人毒死他”, but he could have been yelling at me with his back turned. Not sure if it was just my order, or something personal. I’ll never know.

 

Now, I really don’t give a rat’s ass if people worship Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha or a freaking golden calf statue. As long as they’re nice. And I certainly don’t give a damn what people will or will not eat because of their religious beliefs. So sorghum based food is the work of Satan? Fine! I’m okay with that! Really! I can certainly understand your not wanting to be turned into a pillar of salt or whatever. But if you own a restaurant…..just sayin’….

But we’ve got a real problem on our hands these days, my dear listeners, all three of you. The world has of late taken a left turn straight to hell in a major way, and the United States seems to be directing traffic…right toward us!

Which brings me to ISIS. Where the F did these guys come from? A couple of months ago nobody’s ever heard of them, and all of a sudden they’re trying to take over the world, beheading innocents left and right and promising to rid the world of infidels (that would be us, my humble pupils). I just don’t get it.

President “I bet they’re really scared now” Obama gave a speech the other night stating, “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIS through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” (whatever the F that is) and “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.” (except maybe in certain Chinese restaurants that don’t have sweet and sour pork…pssst, they’re there Mr. President)

So I guess we are now in the 10th Crusade. Yes, there have been at least nine so far, depending on who’s counting. These Christian versus Muslim wars have been erupting every so often since the middle ages, the first in the year 1095, folks, and apparently we ain’t done yet…cause the first nine just didn’t take.

And we no longer have chivalrous knights with cool names like Godfrey of Bouillon, Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart, or John the Fearless to lead this latest phase of the ongoing struggle between good (us) and evil (everyone else). They used to make saints out of such folk back in good old medieval times. They’re all gone now.

We have a fine military, granted, with many brave men and women who will happily smite the scimitar-swinging dark forces if given the go-ahead…without political protocol and “good manners” style warfare rules getting in the way. Just let’em go in and kick ass is what I say.

I’m just not sure we have the right kind of ruthless leaders we need in charge of our gallant crusaders. We could really use a Ghengis Khan or a Vlad the Impaler or even a Sauron type as Generalissimo in these troubled times. Screw the “oh let’s talk about this” diplomacy crap. We’re past that. These are barbaric heathens that smoke opium and cut off people’s heads…for fun! They’re not gonna join hands and sing “Kumbaya”!

We really need to take off the kid gloves. If they cut off one head of ours, we cut off a thousand of theirs. 1000 to 1 ratio. Simple math. Game over.

Gonna eat my Hunan Cat now, extra spicy…