Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Katniss, the feral cat

Katniss, the feral cat

I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers (that’s said in my best Southern belle accent). None of you are strangers, of course, you know more about me than most. One of my dear friends was concerned that I was revealing too much of my soul when I started being really honest on my blog but I think it is good for me and for any one person that may be helped by my revelation and insight.

I hoped today might be almost back to normal but Zhenny the crazy cat had one of her occasional pancreatic attacks with blood in her urine. They happen dramatically quickly so we rushed her to the vet this afternoon. Both the new veterinarian and the assistant were AMAZING. They listened to me (treat her like a wild raccoon and pump her full of injections), the assistant who had lived in third world countries held her like a baby so she did not have to be tranquilized and then rocked her like a baby. In 12 years I have never been able to rock her like a baby. If she does not recover quickly (she probably will) or has another attack soon then we have all made the sad decision to send her to meet Grandma Kathleen in heaven. One of my mum’s many saving graces was that she adored animals.

We are back at home now and I thought you might like to meet Katniss (above). She left for about a week but has been coming every day (and now twice or three times a day) for dinner. Our weather has switched from too hot to freezing so she needs a little extra food although she is a perfectly good hunter. As you know, I am trying to tame her a little so that I can neuter and release her. Then I will cut back on the feeding as there is plenty of prey just in my back yard…

Katniss is the daintiest little girl with a tail longer than her body. We previously called her the slut (kittens, many kittens) but she sits like a lovely little lady with her tiny toes tucked in. Sometimes I imagine she is wearing a black satin dress with some white pumps. It worried me when my husband named her because we only ever have three cats and it felt ominous. Right at this happy moment we have three indoor cats, one on massive pain relief, and a contented Katniss.

You have all been so wonderfully uplifting in your comments about my illness and husband being laid off that I thought you might like this hilarious tale. He has applied for endless jobs which will not be looked at until after the holiday period. One in particular was in Saudi Arabia. We are doubtful about this because their retirement age is 60 (how civilized?) and they rarely take anyone over 55 unless they have specific skills. He certainly has the skillset and some Arabic but there are plenty of contenders in this slump. Two nights ago he noticed a missed call from Saudi Arabia on his cell phone. He waited until it was morning and then called the number back, with some excitement. Can you believe it was a wrong number? What are the chances of getting a wrong number from the exact town in Saudi that you applied to? With our current luck he was phoning the local branch of Al Qaeda and we will get even more strange clicks and cut-offs on our phone line!

Thank you all so much.

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Please don’t hate Muslims

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As soon as the attacks in Paris occurred, I knew there would be a backlash not just against ISIS but all Muslims. Surely the world must realize that the majority of Muslims are peaceful with no wish to harm anyone? As one Parisian Muslim said yesterday on CNN, “These people are not Muslims – they are going to hell”. You can misinterpret any ancient religious text – from the Old Testament to the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament reflected the violence of the times – an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. In biblical times it was common for men to take more than one wife to protect a widowed sister-in-law because so many men died in battles. I did not meet one polygamist in Egypt despite the law allowing you to have four wives that must be treated equally. Some of the Koran’s texts are archaic but it is still just a general moral code, like the Bible and the Torah.

To get some perspective, if you ever, even unwittingly, supported one of the ‘Irish’ groups in the US who were funneling money to the IRA, in the 70s and 80s, then you may have unintentionally reduced the quality of my and my family’s life. One time when I was staying in a relative’s home in southern Ireland, the house shook to when a bomb went off in Northern Ireland more than 50 miles away. I know that the IRA, and likely the Loyalist Protestant faction, were smuggling drugs, guns and other illicit substances across the border to fund their terrorism. I have to share some guilt in this. When I was a teenager, a neighbor’s son, who was at school with me, was rumored to have joined the IRA. He was probably disenfranchised, lived in over-crowded public housing and was the minority religion in a Protestant city. That said, he was streamed, like me, to study medicine or law so the world was his oyster with public funding available for university study. Perhaps I should have told a teacher or someone else in authority but I was too frightened to say anything. In any case, I had no evidence of his activities other than the information was from a very reliable source. His parents used to play Irish rebel songs at full blast in the back yard just to annoy the Protestant neighbors – we felt horribly stuck in the middle.

I suppose what I am saying is – did you hate all Irish Catholics or Irish Protestants when the IRA/Loyalist terrorism was at its height? What about the Kennedys? When terrorism rears its ugly head, we need to be vigilant, sensible but keep perspective. One decade it was Christians, the other Muslims and yet another, people of no faith. Bottom line – you have to be a bad person to take the life of an innocent for whatever cause you believe in.

My Katana is on the mantel…

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I aspire to be Michonne. When she first appeared with her Walker minions, I was blown away. It took subsequent series for us to see that she was a normal loving mother in pre-apocalypse days. How smart she was to figure out that if you masked yourself in the smell of the undead then you could wander among them unnoticed. Her tragedy made her both fierce and traumatized. When I finally discovered that her trapped walkers were her boyfriend and his buddy I was shocked. Did she do it out of love or pragmatism, or both?

When she saved Andrea, her true character started to slip out. Every episode I love her more as we see her compassion for children and society. (I don’t think she could kill even bunny psychopaths…) When she killed the Governor’s undead child she did it both to free her and break his spirit. At first I wondered if she was in love with Andrea but I realized like many of us, it was the desire not to be alone. As expats or immigrants it can be very lonely out there and we grasp at friendships no matter how unsuitable they are.

I was taken aback at how quickly she adapted to Alexandria and ‘society’. She was always so suspicious of the Governor and Woodbury that I sensed that she was correct about Alexandria. She ‘knew’ that most of the inhabitants were safe, if deeply flawed, and that her group needed to settle somewhere or they were going to turn feral like the people with W on their foreheads. Once bad things started happening again she bounced back to support both the original group and the new innocents.

When I started writing this I wondered about whether I would have minions, too. When you love deeply, you really don’t want to let go even when they have changed completely. My mother-in-law has latter stage Alzheimer’s and she really is the walking dead. Fortunately she has no teeth in anymore so can’t bite us… That said, I think I love her even more than I ever did with her sweet, smiling Alzheimer’s demeanor. So, that’s my connection to Michonne – I love very deeply and loyally. I am pretty kick-ass at self-defense too. Our Catholic school taught us self-defense because of all the bomb threats we got during the IRA crisis. My husband was an expert in Karate and probably because I look petite and delicate, when we first married he wanted to make sure I could look after myself. He grabbed me by the throat and without any hesitation I kicked him in the testicles. He went down like a brick groaning, “No, that’s not how you do it, aaagh”. We have no children – I wonder why??? Apologies for the blurry photographs – I am still hungover from mead at the Renaissance festival. More hilarious posts to come.

My future minions?

My future minions?

Look at the flowers…

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Well, I think all we ‘Walking Dead’ fans know who I am today – Carol. She is one of my favorite characters. Worn down, beaten by her husband and then lost her daughter. Out of this tragedy comes a warrior: clever, brave, pragmatic and fearless.  I live in a place exactly like Alexandria and for the most part look like the current persona of Carol. Charming, pleasant lady with a twinset. In a crisis I turn into the other Carol – we need to euthanize the poor little Lizzie who has starting killing bunnies. There is no room in this new world for the dangerous little psychopaths.

I lived through a war zone in Egypt and kept up the superficial Carol persona for the most part. When Hurricane Ike hit our street, I was the voice of reason. We had the generator which we shared with our cul-de-sac, entertained most evenings with as much booze and food as we could gather. Can you believe that police were guarding our supermarkets with guns – what were we going to do, steal all the sardines that were left? There was no ice, no fresh food and I had to speak to the manager about opening the alcohol aisle. I said, “If you don’t let us buy alcohol there really will be a riot”.

We had already experienced Hurricane Katrina and the chaos that ensued from the refugees from Louisiana. Most hotels had to be completely renovated after the guests left and some people just moved here permanently. We sit and enjoy Walking Dead but a natural catastrophe on the scale that recent hurricanes have been, show how quickly society has the capacity to fall apart. Many people in the Houston area had no power for up to 6 weeks – that’s a long time with no air-con, fridge or washing. You could see the blue tarpaulins on the roofs for up to 2 years.

I was in my element while we were all stuck in a crisis – it’s just day-to-day life that I struggle with. Much like Carol.  So far, I haven’t yet had to euthanize any small psychopaths…

I am in love with Pope Francis

Courtesy of Martin Schultz, Flickr

Courtesy of Martin Schultz, Flickr


To quote Donald Trump (and I never thought I would do that), “Look at that face!” but I mean it in a good way. Pope Francis’s goodness just glows from his gently smiling face. I know it is not okay to be ‘in love’ with Pope Francis but I feel a bit like a dizzy teenage fan of a film star. Before he chose Francis as his Papal name – excellent choice, by the way, as St. Francis is my favorite animal loving saint – his name was Jorge and he loved to tango. I don’t know about other ladies but that’s enough for me… Handsome, too. No wonder those nuns adore him.

On a more serious note, I love what he does and says. Telling Congress what they should do was a pretty ballsy move, too (somehow that feels like I just used the wrong word). I think I have mentioned before that I am an Ethnic Catholic to borrow a phrase from Anne Rice, the vampire author. It is so deeply ingrained in my upbringing that, although I angrily left the church as a teenager because I felt it was corrupt and hypocritical, I still feel like a Roman Catholic. I am not sure that I believe in a higher power but in times of sadness I am drawn to prayer. My Mum’s favorite saint was St Jude who is the patron saint of Hopeless Cases – perfect for her and me. I miss the ritual of a mass and the smell of incense but I also miss the Arabic call to prayer so perhaps I am just a spiritual person.

Pope Francis personifies, to me, what a Pope should be. Compassionate, forthright and joyful. It is as though he sprinkles Catholic fairy dust wherever he goes. A colleague said to me today, “He is almost enough to make you become Catholic” which is high praise indeed. I certainly don’t agree with everything he believes in but given his age and the status of the church he is a wonderful breath of fresh air. His message that resonates most with me is that we should not be so greedy. Greed is not good, no matter what Gordon Gekko says. Sharing is beautiful and as the Scots say, “There are no pockets in a shroud”.

Egyptian Puppies

Poochy's Puppies I had the great privilege of guest blogging on Jumbled Writer’s blog. It is entitled ‘The day the war started in Cairo’ and is a memoir from living in Cairo during the second Gulf War. One day I will complete the final version of my book, ‘Letters from Cairo’… Click on the link to read more and find out about the puppies.
http://www.jumbledwriter.com/2015/05/08/guest-post-the-day-the-war-started-in-cairo-by-postcards-from-kerry/