How We Got Roc

November 24, 2015

By Adele and Karen

Cole died one day before Karen left us for 3 weeks to travel, leaving her sister to housesit with me and Max. We didn’t need “babysitting,” but Karen had hoped Cole would be alive and he needed intensive care, and it was too late for Plan B.

So we mourned Cole and the disruption of our normal routine without Karen. I’ve lost brothers before, so I was pretty, “C’est la vie, now I get the bed to myself,” while Max brooded like a Goth kid in his man cave.


Upon returning, it took Karen exactly a week to reject our new upstairs-downstairs cat arrangement. Max needed a friend — and it was never going to be me.

Now I’ll let Karen pick up the story…

Cole was the buffer between Adele and Max, but it took years. I needed a different approach, and pleasing Adele was Job One.

After Fred died, I adopted 3-year-old Cole. It took Adele 5 years to tolerate him.

After Yul died, I adopt 4-month-old Max. Four years later, Adele and he live on separate floors.

So I had to go even younger — staying male — because Adele’s only had brothers, even in her birth litter.

Last week, I found a 3-month-old orange/white kitten named Champagne on the Richmond Animal League website, off-site being fostered.

Here’s some background on no-kill RAL. In 1996, Yul was my first adoption, then Adele in 2000, Cole in 2009, and Max in 2011.

The process has become increasingly convoluted. The application is 4 pages, requires 2 personal references minimum, and vet verification that current pets get care.

RAL is open only 4 hours a day (closed Mondays) and most animals are being fostered off-site, so meeting them can be tricky.

Except for the limited accessibility, this is all OK if it keeps irresponsible dipshits from taking animals. But all these hoops are pretty annoying when you’re a regular.

Now, back to the story…

Champagne was great, but I spotted 4 black kittens even smaller — 3 females and a male named Ham. I’m a sucker for black cats, so I asked for Ham.

RAL identifies cats by their microchips. The kitten they handed me had a white triangle on its chest and had been reaching for everyone passing the cage with a purposeful gleam in its eyes. It was as if my Yul had sent me his replacement. Ham was the cat for me.

They said, “OK, make an appointment to come back and go through your application.”

WTF!!?? I’d given them my app the previous day, along with vet documents on Adele’s and Max’s shots, which they’d refused because they prefer to phone (yeah, weekends when vets are closed).

I put the kitten back and could see its hurt and confusion, as if it were asking, “Why? How did I screw this up?”

Fortunately, they had an opening an hour later, so I had to go kill time and think of a name. To honor Yul, I picked Roc, after human Yul Brynner’s son Rock. I dropped the K for style and social media brevity, and because my cats aren’t named after inanimate objects.

Then back to RAL with my cat carrier. (Did I mention I’d redone Max’s man cave into a nursery?)

After more paperwork, I got a kitten. Eager to escape the bureaucrats and all the pleading little faces I couldn’t take home, I put the kitten in the carrier and left.

At home, the first thing the kitten did was throw itself against my leg, kneading and purring. After it took a long drink, had a nosh, and began exploring, I picked it up for a cuddle. To my horror, he had NO WHITE TRIANGLE. They’d given me the WRONG KITTEN!

Thinking it was female, I put it back in the carrier and dashed back to RAL. It kneaded a blankie while staring fixedly at me the whole ride.

But RAL had misread the chip the FIRST time and had me meet the wrong kitten. Ham the male was all-black. So I did have the right cat, but essentially adopted him sight-unseen.

I was so crushed not to get a cat with Yul’s looks, yet so relieved not to reject the sweet all-black kitten, yet worried that I knew squat about him, on top of still choking up over Cole, I almost had a melt-down. The people who witnessed this climactic scene must have thought I was bonkers.

The one thing I do know about Ham is that he comes from a litter with a strong streak of Yul-ness, so he’s taking the name Roc.


Max will fill you in on how Roc’s adjusting to his new life and siblings and how his personality is unfolding.

Cats Working Gains a Roc

November 23, 2015

By Karen

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Adele and Max welcomed their new brother Roc (the kitten formerly known as Ham) into the family, courtesy of the same joint that once saved them, the Richmond Animal League.


Adoption was a 2-day ordeal involving some highly frustrating bureaucracy and a bizarre case of mistaken identity that almost sent me over the edge. Stay tuned. Details to follow…


Cats Working Loses Cole

November 17, 2015

By Karen

Apologies for taking so long to report that we have suffered another death in the family. In the months leading up to it, none of us have had the heart to post as we’ve been helpless witnesses to Cole’s brave battle with kidney failure, which took his life at only 9 years old.

Cole’s condition was diagnosed nearly two years ago, but he didn’t miss a beat in all that time. He cheerfully compensated by drinking copious amounts of water until that wasn’t enough. His traitorous kidneys began to get the best of him in late summer and he his usual joie de vivre began to slip.

I then gave Cole subcutaneous fluid at home. He was a model patient, sitting quietly and purring as a needle dripped saline solution into him. He even took his meds twice a day with no fuss.

While his appetite held up, it appeared he still had many good months ahead of him.

In late October I was preparing for a trip to Barcelona and an extended transatlantic crossing that would take me out of the picture for nearly 3 weeks. Optimistically, I stocked up on everything Cole needed during my absence and enlisted my sister to housesit and take care of him.

But the weekend before my departure, Cole’s appetite flagged and it became apparent that my shy boy wouldn’t do well in the hands of a relative stranger while I was gone. When kidney failure gets to this point, no rebounds are left. So Cole and I reached the understanding that his end should come while I could help him through it. I was the only human he ever trusted, and he counted on me.

Cole died peacefully at noon on Monday, October 26. Adele, Max, and I keenly feel the void his gentle little soul has left in our hearts.

Cole was probably a feral kitten, extremely wary, and he went unadopted for 3 years in a shelter. His big break came when I chose him to join our family, and he assigned himself the mission of learning how to be the best pet ever. He was always sensitive and eager to please, even gaining confidence to be a tentative lap cat. Cole was Max’s champion in Max’s skirmishes with Adele, and he never took having a home for granted.

I’ll always regret that I didn’t have the power to give my sweet Cole all his nine lives. My only consolation is that I know he has Fred and Yul guiding him on the other side, and he couldn’t be in wiser paws than theirs.


Bob McDonnell, Just Go to Jail

August 12, 2015

By Adele

Virginia’s former Republican governor Bob McDonnell reminds me of a cat who hates going to the vet (that is, all cats), flailing his arms and legs to keep the justice system from cramming him into his carrier.

In January, McDonnell was sentenced to serve two years in prison on 11 felony corruption convictions for accepting six-figure largesse from a sleazy businessman who fostered a questionable relationship with McDonnell’s wife. Bob has remained free on bond pending appeal.

So far, Bob’s attempts to overturn the convictions, get a new trial, yada, yada, yada, have been rejected.

If Bob had simply accepted his punishment, he’d be about one-third through his sentence by now — and richer by months of wasted attorneys’ fees.

Bob’s latest pitch for a rehearing was unanimously rejected by Virginia’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Now he vows to take it to the Supreme Court.

What sticks in my craw is McDonnell’s inability to complete a thought, a habit he shares with many Republicans on many issues, but that’s for another post.

To give just one example, he responded to his latest appeal rejection by saying…

“In my 38 years of public service to my country and the commonwealth, I have never misused my office nor ever promised anyone anything in exchange for money.”

Failing to finish with…

“No, instead I took cash, trips, and merchandise valued at $167,000 from a virtual stranger and gave him nothing in return. This behavior has been well-documented; it’s usually called stealing and punished with jail time. I’m pursuing these appeals to avoid paying for my crimes.”

McDonnell’s lawyers summed up the bigger issue with this gem…

“The facts of this case and the court ruling have serious negative consequences for nearly every public official in America. We will not cease our legal fight until Gov. McDonnell is fully vindicated.”

The “serious negative consequences” are that politicians will have to stop being crooks, seeking office only for personal enrichment.

Instead of fighting to keep corruption in government, if Bob McDonnell really had a shred of integrity, he’d stop kvetching and do his jail time — and thank God every day he only got two years.

Someone, Please, Explain “Debate” to Fox

August 7, 2015

By Adele

UVA’s political wonk Larry Sabato theorized to Rachel Maddow, and I paraphrase, that the Republican National Committee wants fewer than 17 candidates, but doesn’t have the cojones to dissuade anybody, so it’s letting Fox’s asinine debates do the job.

To get the “right” top 10 candidates, a number Fox pulled out of its ass, Fox probably cherry-picked the polls it used to get Chris Christie and John Kasich included.

I watched the 7 rejects in the 5 p.m. session (including Ricks Perry and Santorum), and no way was it a “debate.” The moderators simply lobbed cues to each candidate to regurgitate stump speech chunks. They didn’t face off at all.

Carly Fiorina gave the only noteworthy performance. Or, as mod Megyn Kelly later said, Carly “unleashed a can.”

You can’t not compare Carly to Sarah Palin’s witless garblings, and Carly was a veritable Demosthenes. Had she not run Hewlett Packard so deeply into a ditch that they gave her $40 million to get permanently lost, you might think she had a shot.

Lindsey Graham provided comic relief with his Donald Trump imitation, trying to evoke terror by claiming ISIS is invading the U.S. any minute now.

You had to feel sorry for them all.

The main event began at 8:50, as if Fox has never scheduled TV programming before. The moderators explained, “Since viewers think it starts at 9, we’ll wait,” and then wasted 10 minutes on inane banter.

Speaking of moderators, they were that nonentity Chris Wallace, over-processed Megyn Kelly, and Eddie Munster.

They marched the candidates on stage into a lineup and then ordered them to applaud the audience. In confusion, a few half-heartedly did.

Once behind the podiums, it was “Face the Mods” again. Gratuitous attempts at actual debate consisted of throwing one candidate’s cracks about another candidate back in the wisecracking candidate’s face and asking if he still believed them to be true.

Rand Paul proved feisty, bless his curls, and got into one good little tangle with Chris Christie that almost got ugly.

Donald Trump was dickish as always, but basically well-behaved. I don’t think he called anybody weak or stupid to their face. However, Megyn, as sternly as a vacuous but bitchy blonde can, reminded him that he’s called women “fat pigs” and “dogs” before.

Like Palin, I guess Megyn prefers her men to show their misogyny through legislation, not name-calling.

They tried to get Trump on the ropes for being friends with the Clintons and formerly having some liberal positions. He blew them off, claiming his ideas have “evolved, just like Reagan’s.”

And we saw lots of the usual mean Fox-baiting to elicit hatred of immigrants, gays, and the Fox-generated delusion that U.S. Christians are being persecuted.

But the candidates largely stuck to the high road. Jeb Bush was so reasonable, he came off as the only Bush who probably ever should have run for office.

John Kasich shined as a kind and moderate voice of reason.

Ben Carson got in some zingers and complained about not being given enough time, to which Megyn purred that she fully intended to personally give him more time, so much more time.

And then didn’t.

I learned Ted Cruz is Canadian. So, Republicans are good with Cruz for president even though he was born in another country to a U.S. citizen. But Obama, who was born in a U.S. state (Hawaii) also to a U.S. citizen, is NOT an American.

How do they keep all that crazy straight? Oh, right. They don’t even try.

Will this Fox farce be enough to sink some candidates? Only time will tell.

Donald Trump, the GOP’s Face – and Hairball

August 4, 2015

By Cole

Last week, the Quinnipiac poll showed Donald Trump ahead of the GOP pack by 7 points. He polled at 20%, with his next closest rival, Scott Walker, at 13%.

This week, CBS’ poll put Trump in the lead with 24%, followed by Jeb Bush at 13%.

When Trump calls Mexican criminals and rapists, conservatives are eating it up, now that their bigotry toward blacks became un-PC since the Charleston massacre and weekly unjustifiable shootings by white police officers.

And then the Supreme Court took away another target of their hatred by legalizing same-sex marriage across the board. What to do, what to do?

Thank God for Trump. He came along and told them who it’s OK to hate now.

Trump, who has never held office, insults and belittles his fellow contenders, many duly elected senators and governors. Trump calls them weak and stupid, and the Republicans who love it ELECTED these politicians Trump now disses.

There’s no such thing as hypocrisy in the GOP playbook.

In the CBS poll, 79% of Republican voters think Trump isn’t afraid to speak his mind, the highest by far of any candidate.

True, Donald Trump will fill anyone’s ears with the mental diarrhea that continually dribbles from his pie hole. He and Rush Limp Paw have that in common.

If there’s one good thing to say about Trump, it’s that he can self-finance his campaign, if he does it. He won’t owe hand jobs to any fat cats, as his fan-boy Ted Cruz would after his PAC raked in $15 million from just two brothers in Texas, Farris and Dan Wilks.

Most of the others, on both sides, are just as bad. Campaigning has become so outrageously expensive, it’s next to impossible NOT to sell your soul.

The most unfortunate thing about Donald Trump is not his arrogance and egotism. It’s that his obnoxious persona probably masks a very little man. He bullies and retaliates against anyone who dares to criticize him to divert attention from what a pathetic, empty shell he really is.

He claims he’d make Mexico pay to construct our wall along the border. He’ll have Mexicans loving him for creating jobs. He knows how to wipe ISIS out of existence. He can bring China, Putin, and the rest of the world to heel.

All these big promises from a man who can’t face hair loss, even though he’s got plenty of company with men his age and there’s absolutely no shame in it.

Trump would rather have comedians ritually savage him every day of his life than let the world see the real him.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t give a rat’s ass about age or baldness, and he draws crowds that could eat Trump’s audiences for breakfast.

Denial is the real tragedy of Donald Trump. If he presented himself with authentic honesty, balding, straight-talking, and financially self-sustaining, he wouldn’t need to play the bully and might have a shot at being the next president.

But as long as he keeps that matted hairball glued to the top of his head, he’s a buffoon whose poll numbers must only reflect his pure entertainment value because, surely, even Republicans can’t be that dumb.

My Belated Intro to Richmond’s Civil War Past

July 14, 2015

By Karen

Until recently, most of my Civil War knowledge came from Gone With the Wind.

Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1972 and watching this city nurse a chip on its shoulder over the “Lost Cause,” I just assumed Richmond somehow suffered similarly to Atlanta during Sherman’s march to the sea, although I knew Sherman never laid a paw on Richmond.

As it turned out, no Northern army ever invaded Richmond, although it was the capital of the Confederacy and a prime target. However, battles were fought all around it.

My ignorance in this seems incredible, I know, but I went to school up North, and the Civil War was a chapter in American history. Down here, I’m told it’s a whole high school year’s curriculum.

Since 2015 marks 150 years since war’s end, Richmond has reveled in it yet again — until the Charleston massacre and its aftermath brought everybody up short.

The daily Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was in overdrive publishing Civil War dispatches and articles to avoid the real work of covering current events, opened my eyes on Richmond’s past, and it was jaw-dropping in light of the decades of pouty “Yankee Go Home!” attitude I’ve seen.

Picture this

Early April 1865 and the Union Army was attacking Petersburg, south of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, when the Confederate Army faced the fact that it couldn’t defend Richmond.

President Jefferson Davis lammed off to Danville, deserting his mansion for U.S. Major General Godfrey Weitzel to use as HQ when he arrived. During his stay, Weitzel found in a desk a letter to Davis from General Robert E. Lee dated October 1864, containing the news flash that the cause was lost and they should make the best terms they could. But Davis sat on that intel and let the killing continue.

Before abandoning Richmond, Confederate soldiers broke open all the liquor and either poured it into the streets or drank it, then they set fire to warehouses holding munitions and tobacco so the Yankees couldn’t have them, and looting broke out.

The fires quickly raged beyond control and began consuming most of the downtown business district while the rebel soldiers marched away, leaving the civilians defenseless and in utter chaos and confusion.

When Gen. Weitzel and his men rode into Richmond, which no Yankee army had yet laid a finger on, it was being rocked by explosions, burning to the ground, and ransacked — by its own inhabitants.

The Union Army quickly distinguished the blazes, restored order, and began distributing food and tending to those in need.

And here’s the most ironic twist: Robert E. Lee had a brick residence downtown, near the fire zone, where he’d left his daughter and invalid wife. Unable to evacuate, they introduced themselves to the Union soldiers, who posted guards and kept an ambulance on standby for Mrs. Lee. General Lee was able to return to his unburned home after his surrender at Appomattox a week later, thanks to the Yankees.

Gen. Weitzel later wrote his memories of all this, stating that the people of Richmond (especially the blacks) were so thrilled by his army’s arrival that they kissed his soldiers and their horses.

Two days later, Abraham Lincoln himself came to assess the damage. Lincoln showed great compassion and mercy, and the future looked promising. That lasted less than two weeks, when an actor and Southern sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth, who’d spent some time performing in Richmond, assassinated Lincoln.

Resentment, spite, and racism have been allowed to flourish in the South ever since, and statues of defeated Civil War players are everywhere. It took the killing of nine innocent black people by an ignorant little white bigot wrapped in a Confederate flag to get the rest of the country to finally do a double-take at the South’s festering obsession and the latent racism that usually goes with it.

By all reports, many Southerners seem to be accepting that the Cause was wrong, the South lost, it’s part of the United States again, and it’s time to move on. And a good first step is to pull down that divisive flag that has become America’s Swastika.

In Virginia, we’re getting the Confederate flag off a few license plates, but a huge one still proudly waves beside Interstate 95, on private property, to signal that not everyone is welcome here yet.


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