The True Meaning of Christmas - Muttley's Story

I have been involved in animal rescue since I was a kid (although I didn't know it at the time) when I would bring home stray dogs and cats and beg to keep them. In a chaotic household of 5 kids (at least 3 of whom undoubtedly had ADHD, present company included), only one pet at a time was manageable, so off they would go to the pound. I was innocent of their probable fates at the time, and naively believed they would all find good homes.

Bitsy BonTon

So when it was time for me to go out on my own, and I was able to have my own pets, I always wanted the homeless ones. Even if I couldn't ultimately keep them, I would work hard and find them a loving home. Everyone of my pets has been either rescued off the streets or adopted from a shelter and they have each filled up my heart with their unconditional love. But that's not the only thing they have done for me. They have each and everyone taught me lessons that have shaped me into a better person, because I have learned to give unconditional love in return. What a blessing they have been, because otherwise I would not know how to reach beyond my natural selfishness and self-centeredness.


So what does this have to do with Christmas? It has everything to do with it. In the Christian faith, we believe that God came to earth as an infant whose job was to teach us what it means to love fully and unconditionally without judgment, to take care of those who are in need, and to dedicate our own lives to this purpose.
So I do my little part to take care of fellow humans who are in need, but I really feel like I have been called to take part in caring for God's angels on earth - those furry, daily reminders of unconditional and grace. I am so fortunate to have gotten involved with Animal Haven, a small organization crammed into an old ranch house. I started off as a member of the Advisory Board and stayed on as a volunteer and more recently a foster parent. In the time I have been part of this great organization, we have set our mission to become not just a no-kill shelter, but to model how other kill-shelters can evolve to becoming no-kill.


The shelter director just sent out our year-end numbers. We have broken all of our previous adoption records this year. In January, they jokingly set a goal of adopting out 2008 animals, not really expecting it to happen. Not only did they reach the goal this year, they have exceeded it and now think they can reach their new goal of "2080 for 2008"! With this joyful news came the following video about Muttley, a miracle dog. His story has touched me so much - as badly as he had been neglected, and then so badly injured, this wonderful creature is so full of love and joy. I haven't heard if he has a forever home for Christmas yet, but he is in foster care and being spoiled rotten!

So I believe that everytime one of God's angels is rescued, Christmas - the true meaning - happens all over again. I love each and everyone of you who show your support for animal rescue, in any way at all. When we help them to find them find loving homes, we are giving them the opportunity to make us all better people through the love and grace they bring in touching our lives.

Criquette Anne

Best wishes for the warmest and most loving holidays ever!
From me and my angels


(New Orleans) Snow Dogs on Thursday

Every New Orleanian I know desperately wishes for snow each winter. Or anything remotely resembling frozen stuff falling from the sky. I have experienced 4 snow events in New Orleans during the thirty-something years I lived there, and one of those lasted only about 10 minutes. But I remember them in great detail (except the big snowfall when I was 1 year old, but I have all of the pictures my parents took) because they were such wonderful and rare events. None of my nieces and nephews have experienced a snowfall in New Orleans in their lifetimes, until last week. I had exuberant phone calls from most of them to spread the good news. Sadly, it started melting later that day.

As I was reading the Times-Picayune (the New Orleans newspaper) online, I found some pictures of some residents who probably never saw snow before and will likely never see it again in their short lifetimes. But did they make the most of it while it lasted! These pictures made me feel so good, I had to share them with everyone today (although I realize that those of you who have spent the past several days without power may not feel in a frolicky mood when you see these).

And it wasn't just the dogs loving the change of weather...

Mike the Tiger (LSU'S mascot), wishing he could be traded to MU or points further north)

Here is one of the naturalized monk parrots that obviously wished to return to captivity - at least for the day.

But, before you start feeling sorry for the little guy's fate, rest assured that there are growing colonies of these urbanized parakeets thriving in such diverse places as Nashville, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, and Montreal. New Orleans' guys may be the toughest of all, since they survived Katrina. So what's a bit of snow?


Criquette Is Back In the Building...

....in case you didn't realize she had left.

I have been persona non grata since Thanksgiving because I ate way too many pumpkin desserts. Not really. I can never get enough pumpkin.

But I have been very busy doing the elf thing around here since I decided to make as many hand-crafted gifts as I could this year. Unfortunately, not much in the way of knitted goods, but wait until you see what I've been up to. I'll post pictures in a few days. As well as doing some decorating. And of course, working like a maniac, since this time of year raises everyone's stress levels, kids included. I'm seeing lots of social anxiety and perfectionism (the obsessive-compulsive having meltdowns kind) in kids the past few weeks, not sure why so many cases of these 2 types of anxiety.

And I had to have some minor surgery to my jaw last week in preparation for some dental work. Did I ever mention my dental phobia? Even 15mg of valium and nitrous didn't keep me from having a panic attack in the middle of the procedure. I wish I could bop every medical professional upside the head for each time they have said I would feel "a little discomfort". But, aside from looking like a one-cheeked chipmunk, mumbling instead of talking, drinking my meals and feeling very loopy for a couple of days, I'm feeling fine.

I hope to catch up with everyone's blogs over the next week and I can't wait to see what all of you have been up to. Especially all of my poor Northeastern buddies - hope you're all safe and warm and enjoying electric power! And if not, at least I know you'll stay warm in your beautiful wooly handknits. We're having a little preview of the nastiness that's heading your way later in the week. Our temps plunged from 63 to 26 in just 1 hour on Sunday (!!!), on Monday we had a high of 10 with wind chills at 16 below. Yesterday we got about 3" of snow (most of it during rush hour, of course) and tomorrow we are scheduled to be hit with a freezing rain/ice thingie, also during rush hour. The biggest problem tis week has been the very gusty winds, but the prairie without wind is like New Orleans without the humidity. You just learn to suck it up.

However, I'm getting lots of usage out of my thick alpaca scarfies and Hurricane hat, although I need a thick alpaca hat for cold days like we're having this week. I have a wonderful alpaca scarf that I made out of some gorgeous extra-super-bulky yarn that I received from Sonya in one of first swaps I joined. It is so thick and warm I can only wear it in arctic-like temps. It gets so hot that I have to immediately remove it when I get inside.

Thanks, Sonya, I always send good thoughts your way when I wrap it around my neck. And if Nichole doesn't get her power back on soon, I may need to send it to her so she and her pack can stay warm at night.

Of course, you know things are really bad when it snows in New Orleans (first time since 1988). Ironically, I sent a Christmas mix to my spoilee in the Mix swap that has the track "The Day It Snows on Christmas". It's a song by Allan Toussaint (famous for the hoochie-song "Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi"). It's about all of these bizarre things that would happen if it ever snowed in New Orleans on Christmas, that's how rare snow is in NOLA. He was almost right. And you can listen to the song for free here.

I've actually started writing my DoT blog for tomorrow, featuring some special guests. See you then, and stay warm!