Monday, May 20, 2019

May birthdays and other happenings

More pictures from Pittsburgh and New Orleans need to be downloaded for my posts.  But I am back in Georgia now and my main camera is in Nashville.  Today I'll write an eclectic post.   Before I left Nashville we celebrated my little granddaughter's 6th birthday.  She is growing so fast and is almost as tall as her brother, who is about 2 years older.  Below are some photos taken last month while she was on holiday with her mother visiting friends in Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo - am not sure where each of the photo was taken.

Her May birthday was on the 10th.  Her father, my son-in-law's birthday is May 25th.  My own father-in-law's birthday was May 9th and my sister-in-law's birthday is May 30th.  My late mother's birthday was on May 12th and I wrote a post on it in 2009: "Mother's Birthday, l'anniversaire de maman" (birthday in French is anniversaire.) Click on title to read it.  Mother loved hydrangeas, so I'd always give her one, a different color every year.  Now I have hydrangeas growing in the front yard in Georgia.  I'll need to move them to Nashville.

My birthday was last March, on the 26th.  In my post of February 2nd, Books in the Mountains, I mentioned that Nancy Pelosi was born on March 26 as well.  Then strange things started to happen.  I am not making them up, because what would be the use.  Since I am going through my late husband's books to give away, I usually pick up one or two to read while in Georgia.  That one evening I found 3 books by an author I did not know.  Her name is Amy Blackmarr.  The three books were: "Going to ground: a simple life on a Georgia pond," "House of Steps" and "Dahlonega Haunts: Ghostly Adventures in a Georgia Mountain Town."  I started to read the ghost book on Dahlonega as my husband and I went often to that little town in the mountains, then decided it might be too spooky for that evening.  Instead I started Going to Ground.  In it, Amy Blackmarr was recounting how she went back to live in her grandparent's cabin, far away from people.  I checked to see how old she was when she moved there and found out she was born, as me, on March 26, but in 1958.  Coincidence.

I took all three books back with me to Nashville.  As I remember, I was tired that evening after the long drive, February 10th, and decided to watch the 61st Grammy celebration which was in progress on television.  Diana Ross, the American singer, record producer and actress, came to perform.  They mentioned that they were celebrating her 75th birthday, one month early.  I wondered what day she was born in March.  I looked it up - she was born March 26, 1944.  Another coincidence.  Pictures below are hazy, taken from my television.

I returned to Georgia in March.  That first evening I was ready to read some new books from my husband's collection on the long bookshelf in the upstairs hall.  I picked up 2 at first:  "Collected Poems" by Robert Frost and "Memoirs" by Tennessee Williams.  Then I saw a book on the floor with a shiny cover, "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.  As I picked it up I saw an old candy bar stuck behind the shelf, a Stuckey's Pecan Log Roll, certainly ancient.  I started the Robert Frost book and it opened on the poem Ghost House ...

I dwell in a lonely house I know,
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow....
...I dwell with a strangely aching heart,
In that vanished abode there far apart,
On that disused and forgotten road ...

OK, enough I thought.  I am back here in my old house in Georgia and don't need to become even more gloomy.  Instead I picked up Tennessee Williams's Memoirs and started to read it.  I wondered where in Tennessee he was born, because of his name.  I looked it up - he was not born in Tennessee, his father was.  Then I saw when he was born: March 26, 1911.  Another coincidence again, thought I?  So I checked Robert Frost, why not - he was born March 26, 1874 (the plot thickens?) Just to make sure I also checked Richard Dawkins - he was born March 26, 1941.  I was apprehensive when I checked when the pecan log merchant, Stuckey, was born.  I found out that Williamson Sylvester Stuckey, Sr., was born on March 26, 1909.  Too weird.  All right, enough, I decided not to read but to listen to music.  I went to bed and played music on my cell phone.  It was Beethoven's Romance No. 2 - so beautiful and soothing.  At least I knew Beethoven was not born on my birthday, I thought he was born in December.  To make sure I checked - yes, Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on December 17,1770.  But then I saw it ... WHAT? and I got goose pimples.  Beethoven died on March 26, 1827.  Am I going crazy? Is someone playing with my head?  What is this?

Is this what is called synchronicity?  Wikipedia says: "Synchronicity (German:Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related."  I checked several sites on the Internet.  Judy Orloff, MD, says "Synchronicity is a sign that we are intuitively attuned, not only to our immediate friends and family, but also to the greater collective."  Another site indicates: "Synchronicity is an unconscious awareness of life.  It is a set of messages.  Synchronicity is an unlikely or impossible coincidence that cannot be explained by luck and chance."  Another site says "Often mistaken as coincidences, these amazing synchronicities are actually universal nods, confirming that you are on the right track.  Synchronicities, when recognized, are meant to be road signs to help steer you in the best direction.  Quite helpful at times when you are feeling confused or lost in some way."  In an article on synchronicity in Psychology Today it said "When you're on the right path, the universe winks and nods at you from time to time, to let you know."  I like this, the universe nodding at me :-)  I searched for a photo symbolizing the universe - but I don't have one in my collection.  May be one of the secret paintings of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, Children's books author and cartoonist, American 1904-1991) can give some feeling about it?

This time, back in Georgia, I am reading one of my books, in French - the childhood memoirs of Marcel Pagnol (French novelist, playwright and film maker, 1895-1974.)  It was a magical time for him in Provence and a delight to read.  The Kidney Foundation called saying they would come by this week to pick up any clothes, books, etc.  During the days I have been busy collecting some of my husband's clothes.  There is so much of it as he kept everything.  I found a bag full of socks, at least 200+ pairs, some old, some brand new with tags.  I even found two uniform work shirts from when, as a teenager, he worked for a Coca-Cola bottling plant.  They are from 1955 at least.  They are in pretty good shape for being so old.  Here they are below.

Looking at some of the shirts or sweaters given to him for birthdays or Christmas was kind of sad.  I tried not to think about it.  But again, something happened.  I was not going to mention it, but since I told you about the happenings around my birth date I'll tell you what happened yesterday.  I had already filled 3 large black plastic bags with his clothes and shoes.  The 4th bag was almost full.  In the back of the closet was a green pair of slacks.  I knew them well, as he wore  them often on trips, usually with a plaid shirt.  Should I give them away?  I could not decide.  I cannot wear them and both of my sons-in-law wear different sizes.  With a heavy heart I placed the slacks in the bag.  Then I saw the plaid shirt.  I started feeling tears coming up.  No, can't do that.  I placed the shirt in the bag, then I took it out again.  Placed it in the bag once more, and finally took it out thinking I'll think about it tomorrow.  Moving the bags through the hall filled with books is not easy.  As I pulled this heavy bag, some books fell; I walked on a paper sack.  When I came back upstairs I stopped in the hall to pick up the books and the sack.  Several pennies had fallen out of the sack, a pencil and a piece of paper.  I turned the paper over - it was a photograph.  When I saw it I was completely bewildered.  I looked around, no other photographs anywhere.  I don't know how it got there in that sack.  I went downstairs with the plaid shirt and took the green slacks out of the bag to take a photo so I would not think I imagined it all.  The picture was of my husband wearing that exact pair of slacks with the shirt in front of an angel statue somewhere by the sea, I think in Mexico.  How in the world this happened, I don't know.  I took most of our old photos to Nashville and they never were in the hall anyway.  Another strange happening, or synchronicity?  What do you think?  Here is the picture below.  As I write this I still can't believe it.

I guess I should take this as a sign that it's OK to give away the clothes since I can see them in the photograph, and not be sad.  Actually my son-in-law, whose family is from India, has invited me to come to his cousin's wedding in Atlanta next weekend.  This will be a fun occasion - weddings from Indian families are big events, all the women wearing colorful saris, good food, dancing and more.  I have some Indian clothes but they have long sleeves and the weather predicts 97 F (36.1 C.) in the shade.  I bought an Indian made tunic with tie-die indigo stripes and will wear white linen slacks with it.  Most of my shoes now are sneakers because of my bad ankle.  I found a pair of white lacy Mary Jane style shoes and will wear them this week while dancing with some music so they become comfortable, like boogie shoes!  I used to have great red leather flat shoes for dancing, but they are long gone.  Here they are below with a white pantsuit, photo taken in San Francisco decades ago.  Also shown is the tunic from the catalog, and future boogie shoes.

My record player is still here with all my albums.  I found some old disco LPs so I can exercise a bit with my new shoes.  Here is a video of one of the tunes, from the 1970s - "Boogie Shoes" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.  Might as well wink at the universe and end this post with a song!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Last week I spent five days in Pittsburgh visiting Celine, my eldest daughter, and her family.  Attending her wedding in California in 2016 was the last trip my late husband and I took, and I wrote a post on it at the time.  Click on "A challenging round-trip to Orange County, California."  Celine invited us several times to visit her in Pittsburgh but my husband's illness was too advanced for a trip, then last winter, it was too cold to fly north ... About a month ago she tempted me to come by sending me a link to the Pittsburgh's Frick Museum that is having an exhibit on 1940s photographs of Paris.  The flight only took about 1 1/2 hour.  I had thought of Pittsburgh as a northeastern city, flat, grey with many factories.  As the aircraft circled the downtown center I was surprised to see an interesting group of buildings, rivers, bridges and hills.

On Saturday the weather was sunny, not too warm.  My son-in-law drove us to Mount Washington, where he used to live when he first moved to Pittsburgh.  It is a 600-foot mountain, on the south side of downtown Pittsburgh, with woods, trails, stairs and inclines.  It used to be barren when several coal mines operated near its base; rock was also quarried from its hills.  Actually, until 1876, it was called Coal Hill.  I found several vintage photographs showing Mt Washington when the coal mines were in operation.  (Courtesy Wikipedia.)

The cliffs of Mt Washington border the Monongahela River. "Monongahela" is an American Indian name from the Unami tribe meaning "falling, or sliding banks."  Early on Mt Washington was covered with trees.  But by the late 1800s coal production, extracted from the mountain, amounted to 13 million tons, and the trees disappeared.  A mile-long set of wooden stairs had been built along the ancient American Indian trails.  Workers in the coal plants, mostly German immigrants, as well as horses, had difficulty getting around the mountain on the winding trails and steep stairs.  They suggested that some "standseilbahns" (inclines) as they had in Germany should be constructed.  Starting in 1869 twenty-three inclines (we call them funiculaire in French) were built.  It made it easier to carry freight on the steep hills, and more convenient for workers to reach their housing on top of the bluff.  They were popular and averaged 2000 riders a day.  But by the mid-1960s when the coal plants were closed the inclines also stopped working.  Two old inclines, now restored, are left, the Monongahela and the Duquesne inclines.  Below are some vintage postcards of the inclines then and now (in center.)

The Duquesne incline, opened on May 20, 1877, and costing 5 cents for the ride, was in operation until 1962.  Since 1964 the incline has been operated by a local preservation society after they restored it in 1963; they retained its original ornate wooden cable cars.  In December 2006 the incline celebrated its 20th million rider since 1964.  Below are more views of the Duquesne incline.

I knew the name Duquesne was French and researched on its connection to Pittsburgh.  This led me to the history of the city.  In the 1740s the French started setting up forts and outposts on the Allegheny and Ohio River valleys.  The French called the Ohio River La Belle Riviere (beautiful riviere) althought it comes from the Seneca language Ohi:yo or Good River.  To consolidate their holdings on the river the French built a fort at the junction where the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers meet.  This fort was named Fort Duquesne after the Governor of Canada, the Marquis Du Quesne de Mennville.  From then on the French and their native Indian allies fought the British to retain control of the area.  This lead to the Seven Years War, known as The French and Indian War.  By 1758 the fort was in terrible shape with few and starving soldiers and no supplies.  The British took advantage of this, fighting and taking the fort.  The site was re-named "Pittsborough" after British statesman and Prime Minister William Pitt, then Fort Pitt was built.  The site of both forts is now on Point State Park.

A 2006 landmark 750 pounds bronze sculpture, by James A. West, named "Point of View" sits at the edge of Mt Washington.  In 1770 George Washington stopped by Fort Pitt looking for investment in real estate as well as for "bounty lands" - land grants to give away to colonists and soldiers of earlier wars.  George Washington was a large land speculator and held 52,000 acres of land in the colonies.  He met Guyasuta, a member of the Seneca-Mingo tribe, for friendly campfire talks about the land.  The sculpture is based on that meeting.

There are stunning views of Pittsburgh on Mount Washington, indeed.  Looking to the Golden Triangle where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers meet, or the landmark skyscrapers, or to the left or right, the panorama is breathtaking.  In fact, USA Weekend Travel Report ranked it America's second beautiful place in the country.  Overlook platform decks are located along the well named Grandview Avenue.  Graduates were taking photos there and also a couple of weddings.

After a tornado touched down on Mt Washington in 1998, the community rallied to form "Green is Good" to preserve the land.  They feared developers would start building ugly houses and condominiums all over.  The park was officially created on Earth Day 2007 as the 280 acres (1.1 km2) Emerald View Park.  A plaque gives the history of the park.  There are 10 miles of trails wrapping around Mt Washington, and 10 more miles are planned.  The park is free to the public.  (Be sure to click on collage twice to enlarge writing.)

We had parked along Grandview Avenue and I noticed a library sign.  We walked inside and the librarian told me that the building was going to be renovated as it had been built in 1900 as a Carnegie Library.  Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) had been once the richest man in the USA.  A Scottish immigrant he later formed the Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company that he sold to J. P. Morgan for $303,450,000 in 1901.  The company became the U. S. Steel Corporation.  With his fortune Carnegie became a philanthropist and built 1689 libraries in the US, and 660 more in other countries.  At this branch a telephone booth had been kept.  The librarian told me they used it for storage or when someone needed to make a cell phone call in private.

We walked along the avenue and drove through the neighborhood.  There are many styles of lodging, apartments, condos, cute Queen Ann houses, new and old houses and churches.  The Shiloh Street business area offers restaurants, bars, banks, shops and a post office.  I was surprised at how steep some of the streets were, reminiscent of San Francisco's streets.  I can understand why Pittsburgh is proud of Mount Washington and its community and cherish it.

I'll share more of my visit to Pittsburgh in forthcoming posts.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

10 year blog anniversary, its history and more

Ten years! A very long time when you are a child, but as a senior with a different perception of time, it seems the years went by quickly.  I have enjoyed writing for this blog and visiting my friends' blogs as well.  It has provided me with many hours of fun, creativity and gave me support during my late husband's long illness.  I am back in Georgia right now where spring is exploding with more color than in Tennessee, maybe because azaleas and dogwood trees thrive better here.  Some of the pictures below have already been shown in earlier posts.  The pink azalea bush on the top left of collage was taken yesterday in my backyard.  Click on collage to see better.

Now, let me explain how I started and kept this blog.  I owe the beginning of my blog to three persons, actually.  Ten years or so ago my husband's cousin Lyle who is a physician retired now from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta wrote some of his memoirs for the family.  He constantly urged me to write my remembrance of growing up in Paris so that my grandchildren would know about it.  I did not think my memoirs would be that interesting, certainly not like his memoirs.  When I talked to him on my last visit to Atlanta he gave me so much information on his career in the medical detection field that it would take a full post to explain it.  I'll have a post on him later as he is writing a biographical book and promised to give me an early copy.  He started his career as part of the first Peace Corps medical staff sent to Nigeria in the late 1960s.  He cared for patients during the Nigerian-Biafran civil war, from both sides of the conflict.  He became the staff physician for the Peace Corps in Africa at that time.  Then he pursued a long career as a public health hero at the CDC.  He traveled widely and constantly investigating disease outbreaks and finding ways to stop them, such as the Ebola virus.  He was deployed in many parts of the world and in the US as well.  Through a lifelong dedication to public health, Jim's cousin Lyle is certainly one of the main godfathers of epidemiology.  Below are some photos from Lyle's files.

As we were talking about writing my Paris remembrances then, I happened to read an article on the New York Times about Ronni Bennett, the owner of the popular blog on aging, Time Goes By
(, ) who was saying: "The Internet provides people with a new way to tell their story.  When the grandkids aren't interested in listening anymore, older people can still share their stories and get feedback.  The technology makes it simple."  I went to her blog and saw that one could send a story to her and be published.  I thought I could send her some of my recollections and did send her one about a first kiss which was published.  Later I included this story in my first anniversary post "First anniversary and recollection of a first kiss."  Concurrently my husband and I went to celebrate my birthday in Long Beach, California, where our daughter was living at the time.  I told her about writing some articles for Times Goes By.  She replied that only a few of my stories may be published and it would be better to start my own blog.  Of course I had no idea how to do that, but she did.  She helped me set up the blog after we found a title for it.  So I owe my blog to Ronni Bennett, the second person and to my eldest daughter, the third person.  I spent some time looking at photos I have taken during these last 10 years to include in this post.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge photos.) 

 I thought my blog would include more stories from my past in France, but then we found out that my husband Jim had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  This changed my blog.  I read everything I could find on Alzheimer's as I knew very little.  I found out that each person's disease is unique but that stimulation to the brain (reading, talking, socializing, traveling, etc.) as well as a healthy diet could slow down the disease.  I also realized that as my husband was losing his short-term memory he could, for a long time, remember events if he saw pictures of them.  I started to take many photos of the same subject, with different cameras, and then showing them to him, and asking him to decide which picture to publish.  It slowed down the posts, but I do believe that it helped him.  He patiently waited during our travels while I took picture after picture of buildings, flowers, animals, food and more so he could better recall them later (I did not tell him why I took so many.)  It would take a while for him to check them as he would have to study up to 300 pictures per post!  For stimulation I also asked him to read every paragraph I wrote, telling him to correct my English.

I remember as we would visit historic buildings, castles in Europe or mansions such as Bulloch Hall here in Roswell that has yearly Christmas and spring quilt shows, I took a great number of photos with both my Nikon and another little camera, my Sony or Cannon.  Then it was Jim's turn to decide which ones I should use.  I know it was a good tool for his brain stimulation.  Now of course, I need to go back and delete all these duplicate photos taking my computer memory.

I would spend hours figuring where we could go, far away or close by, so he would have many visual opportunities, and we would write posts on them.  I studied all the offers on the Internet for budget travels such as 2 for 1 price cruises - as those we took to Hawaii and Alaska.  I would also find out if there were any special events or festival close by, as you can see by the 3 top pictures in the collage above - a re-enactment week-end.  I have not had time to write posts on many of these trips and have enough pictures and material to write posts for the next 3 or 4 years, even if I don't step away from home!  Of course we took many photos of animals and visited several zoos to see them, in Atlanta, Columbus, OH, Houston, TX, Brooklyn NY, Paris, France, Memphis, TN, in Hawaii, West Palm Beach, FL, Tampa, FL, the kangaroo Center in North GA, and many other places (in addition to hundreds of cat and tree pictures.)  Or we saw them in the wild, such as the baby alligator in Florida, the lambs in a field in the Louisbourg National Historic Site, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, the reindeer in Norway Arctic Circle, and the bear below while in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

Birds were another favorite.  Toward the end of his illness my husband could not read anymore but he could look at bird books all afternoon as well as each cat in his one-cat-a-day calendar.  It was difficult now to choose which bird photos to include here.

Flowers of course with such an array of colors and shapes were always included in our series of photos and required critical inspection.  My home-made therapy for my husband's disease was quite time consuming.  The trips research, the photos, the posts and decision on photos did not leave much time to take care of the house.  I thought I would do it later - and am doing it now.

As my husband's illness progressed it was difficult for him to remember the beginning of sentences and we would have to read my post paragraphs 6, 7 or more times.  Then when he could not longer read it was the constant reappraisal of the photos.  I did try to be patient but at times it was not easy.  I knew that my blog was our therapy, so we kept at it - for almost ten years!  Even as late as early last year I would ask his opinion on my photos.

Even when we went to eat with family or friends or even to restaurants I took photos and included them in posts so he could remember the meals.  I don't think he realized that I used my blog to help his memory - he believed he was helping me write and select photos.

I am so used to taking many photos for my posts that I don't think I'll change now.  Looking at my photos and selecting some for this post has been a walk through his illness in a way.  It has been bittersweet.  I started my blog ten years ago on my birthday.  Now when my birthday comes around I'll always be reminded of the beginning and evolution of my blog, and what it has meant to my husband and me.  It has helped him, has been fulfilling for me and brought me new friends.  I am very grateful for their taking time to visit my posts and commenting.  I brought my cat Mitsouko with me to Georgia this time so she would not be lonely in Nashville now that her companion Cody is gone.  She had not been here in over one year but quickly jumped into their place by the window, looking out at nature and the sun.  I took a picture of her - my latest picture at the bottom of this collage (to be truthful, I took about 8... can't stop myself...)

Mitsouko, my little cat, is right.  Looking forward to the sun and keeping darkness behind is the way to go forward.  (Below photo of the beach at Dana Point, California, taken during our last trip in 2016 to our eldest daughter's wedding.)

 "Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."  - Maori proverb

Monday, March 18, 2019

Little friends

On Friday March 1, 2019, when I arrived in Nashville after that taxing drive through the northwest Georgia mountains I noticed that our golden cat Cody had not been eating his wet cat food.  The cat sitter had come the day before and his food was still there.  Our other cat, the grey Mitsouko, only eats dry cat food.  Seeing that Cody barely ate or moved I took him to the veterinarian for tests.  The tests showed that he was going through acute kidney failure with poor prognostic.  Unfortunately he died on Wednesday 6 March, 2019.  We loved that cat very much.  At the end of my husband's illness he would sit for hours with Cody on his laps.  After my husband's death 5 months ago having Cody also leave has been very hard.

People who do not have pets may not appreciate how particularly difficult it is to lose a cherished pet.  A pet is an integral part of the family, someone we see every day - and for Cody it had been every day for fifteen years.  My husband and I adopted Cody from the Cobb County animal shelter in Georgia in 2004 when he was 2 years old; he passed at 17 years old (about 84 years in human life.)  He was a special and beautiful cat with soft fur and limpid green eyes.  He was very affectionate and would purr constantly.  The first few days after his passing I did not do much, could not do much, did not want to do much but feel sad at the loss of my furry friend.  I have no friends in Nashville yet and after my husband's death my two cats brought me emotional support.  I know Mitsouko misses Cody as well because she meows more and keeps looking for him.  Not long ago there were four of us, two humans and two cats - now there is just Mitsouko and me and the house feels so empty.

Cody has been shown in my posts often.  I even wrote a post about him in 2009 "Cody: my post helper."  Every morning he would meow loudly for his food - I shall miss that.  The bond between Cody and me was deep - he was my little friend.  Last Friday, March 15, it was time again to drive to Georgia.  This time I brought Mitsouko with me.  I was afraid she would be too lonely without Cody in Nashville.  Here I have many old print photos still.  I decided to ease the pain by looking at all the little friends I have had among the years - a way to celebrate them.  As far as I can remember there always was at least a pet close by.  When I was a little girl growing up in Paris, France, we had a dog - here with me when I was four years old, shown below.  Then it was our boxer, who went with me for walks in the forest, below with me when I was eleven years old.  In San Francisco in the apartment I could not have dogs or cats, so I had pet birds.  My parakeet, Dimitri, could talk and flew freely in the rooms.  After I married we had a cockatiel, Diego, seen below on the shoulder of my yellow outfit.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

When we moved near Philadelphia, in Ardmore, for my husband to study for his master's degree in environmental planning at the University of Pennsylvania, we adopted our first cat, Pearl.  She was a chocolate point Siamese.  Our little girl dotted on her.

We also had dogs.  Our first was a Kuvasz, a white sheep style breed from Hungary.  He was not well socialized and bit our youngest daughter, so we gave him away.  We then had a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a hound from South Africa.  He was a sweet dog but destructive.  He tore up all the linoleum floor in our kitchen, the draperies in our den, our daughters coats, shoes and stuffed toys.  He was sent to a farm in Hiawassee in the North Georgia mountains for more open spaces.  Then a Doberman Pinscher adopted us.  She came to our door one winter and did not want to leave.  We tried to find her owners, but no one claimed her.  We kept her for many years and called her Sheba, she is on the bottom right, with our youngest daughter.

When we moved to Cobb County, Georgia, the house had a little barn with chickens - the results of a 4H program worked on by the son of the previous owner.  We knew nothing about chicken and borrowed a book from the library on chicken rearing and breeds.  We added to the flock with some special breed chickens, like bantams.  They became the pets of our daughters.  I had to watch the girls because in winter they would try to sneak the little chickens into their bedrooms so they would not be cold ... We kept the chickens for a long time and distributed surplus eggs to many of our neighbors.

After Pearl we had several other cats.  I don't have all of their photographs.  We had a Manx, a Maine Coon and others.  Our daughter Celine adopted a Himalayan cat, Alphie.  He was offered for sale at a cat show we attended in Montgomery, Alabama, and Celine fell in love with the little ball of fur.  He is below on the roof of my Fuego Renault, then with our youngest in the black dress, and its owner, our eldest daughter in the blue top.

When I flew back home to Paris to visit my mother I also would see her pet cat Minou.  Mother suffered from Parkinson's disease and Minou was a great companion for her.  Although I had to be careful as she was always trying to hide into my suitcase...

Celine adopted a grey Persian, Caj, and our youngest daughter adopted a stray kitten, Miles.  At the time we also had a cat I had rescued from outside a bookstore as a tiny kitten, Miska, then a Burmese, Khali and a Somali, Puma.  I scanned the old print photos but they are not very clear.

Our family loves animals.  On trips my husband and I would often stop to pet animals we would have enjoyed as pets, but could not take home, such as those below.  My late husband is below at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina and at the Berry College farm of Rome, Georgia.  My pictures were taken in Taman Buaya, Indonesia, with a wild little friend.

Our daughters took their pets with them when they moved into an apartment.  Our youngest daughter is more of a dog person though and has had many dogs.  A couple of years ago she sheltered several puppies for a while.  We visited her at the time and my husband was overjoyed to play with the puppies.  My daughter kept the little white puppy, shown in the center bottom photo below.

In 1997 I adopted a little Korat - a breed from Thailand.  They are a living symbol of luck and prosperity there, often given as a wedding present.  I named her Mitsou.  She was a sweetheart.  Here she is as a kitten below with my husband's Somali, Puma and also with me.

The Somali are long haired Abyssinian cats.  Puma came from Baltimore.  His family moved to Atlanta and could not keep him so we adopted him, as an adult.  He formed a special bond with my husband.  When Puma died my husband was grief stricken.  Several months later we visited the Cobb County animal shelter where we saw Cody.  Cody had the same coat color as Puma so my husband was keen on taking him home.  We did so and he lived happily with us for fifteen years until early this month.  When Mitsou died I was also heartbroken and a year later I adopted another Korat from a breeder in Atlanta, who I called Mitsouko after my original Mitsou.  She is six years old now and is here with me in Georgia. (Below Cody and Mitsouko in the Georgia house last year.)

Pets have been great companions for me all those years.  They have added a lot of happiness and love to our family.  Even with the pain of losing them I can't imagine living without a cat - they love you unconditionally.  Each one has its own individuality and is a joy to watch.  My life would have been empty without my cats, such great little friends bringing so much joy.  Here are three quotations on cats -

"Petit à petit, les chats deviennent l'âme de la maison" - Jean Cocteau, French poet, artist, writer, film maker, 1889-1963/ "Little by little cats become the soul of the house."  Below Le Chat, 1959, by Jean Cocteau

"Le temps passé avec un chat n'est jamais perdu"  - Colette, French author, 1873-1954 / "Time spent with a cat is never wasted."

"When I am feeling low, all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns."  - Charles Bukowski, German-born American poet and novelist, 1920-1994.

Cody, 2002-2019
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