Tag Archives: Life Lessons

I killed a kitten.



Well, I didn’t mean to do it. I would have done anything in the world to avoid it. It just happened.

This is the story………………………………………………………………….

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that a couple of neighborhood thug alley cats had broken into my home during the night. I found them in my house in the morning, but the damage had already been done. Alice was pregnant.

Five weeks ago, Alice gave birth to four kittens, two light orange kitties and two all grey little guys.

I had prepared a box and a blanket in my closet for Alice and she gave birth, ironically, while I was in my office writing a column for this blog. At first all was well. Alice was a good Mama Cat and she took good care of her little ones. I put a bowl of water and a dish of food in the closet with her and she and her offspring were doing quite well.

I didn’t notice that anything was amiss until a week ago this past Wednesday, when I found one of the little grey ones dead. I was shocked and confused, because I thought everything was okay, and the little ones were progressing quite nicely.

Alice is a tiny cat, often mistaken for being a kitten herself. I hadn’t noticed that she, herself, was getting skinny, postpartum.

And I didn’t notice the fleas.

All summer, I have been battling fleas. The damp spring and warm days recently have made it prime season for fleas. The dogs have been treated four times for fleas, but the cats, who live inside, seemed to be immune from the menace.

Abruptly, I had a fight on my hands – anemic kittens and a mother cat that was suffering. I bought Advantage kitty flea medicine for the kittens and adult cat medicine for the cats. I also purchased “kitty milk” to help the kittens with nutrition, since Mama was unable to give enough to them.

Thursday and Friday were a struggle to give the “milk” to the kittens. The two orange ones did well, but the little grey guy fought it. He wouldn’t nurse and seemed to want to be alone. His mother, however, still cared for him as best she could.

First thing Saturday morning, I tried again to feed him the “kitty milk.” He fought for a moment, then went into convulsions, cried and then died as I was holding him.

My heart was broken.

There is no point to this column – just a sad story. There is nothing that I can say, nothing that I can do to give that little guy another chance at life. His tiny cries as his short life ended will be with me forever. One day, he and I will meet again, across that Rainbow Bridge.

I hope that he can forgive me. I hope he knows that I loved him.

Our little creatures look to us to give them love and care, and sometimes all we can give them is love.



William Stephenson Clark


Postscript: On Friday, I took the two remaining orange kitties out of their “home” to let them move around and play. To my horror, one of the kittens was not walking on her hind legs, rather, she was dragging them behind her. I do not know if she has been injured or if this is a congenital defect. She will be going to the Vet shortly, but I don’t know how she is going to be able to survive. More than likely, she will have to be put down.

10 Comments

Filed under Pets

PERSONAL OBSERVATION ON A PERSONAL MATTER.

 

Tobacco being an expense and not having gotten any unemployment for the last five weeks.

This morning I was reduced to digging out a relic, my dad’s pipe and a bag of tobacco.

Fortunate for me my son-in-law has better taste in pipe tobacco then dad did and the bag was left by my son-in-law.

The pipe really is a relic, twenty years ago my dad had broken his pipe and I was smoking a pipe then.

So I had given him one of mine, since I had about ten different pipes I was really into smoking a pipe!

Well this morning I load the pipe and started to light it when I noticed I was having trouble.

The bowl seemed out of line and turning away from me.

I finally took it from my mouth and looked it over, dad had done his remodel on it!

He liked straight stem and I like to have a downward bend, he had done some craving and then taped it to suit him. The problem was he was right handed and I am left handed.

Being in my right mind often sets me at the mirror image of how everyone else does things.

Left justified instead of right justified, once I moved the pipe to the other side of my mouth everything seem to line up just fine.

Does that ever happen to you, something that once belonged to a parent and it was passed down.

But it brings out a difference between you and them?

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Filed under family, Just Plain Fun, Life Lessons, memories, You know you're getting old when . . .

“I’m in love with her and I feel fine!”

“I’m so glad, that she’s my little girl!

She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world.

That her baby buys her things, you know.

He buys her diamond rings, you know.

She said so!

I’m in love with her and I feel fine!”

The Beatles – “I feel fine” – 1964 – Lennon/McCartney

What could be better than cruisin’ down the road in the summertime, windows down and the wind blowin’ back your hair (if you have any left) and the radio cranked up to blast out one of your favorite tunes.

When you hear one of those songs that you instantly recognize from the opening riff and you just have to reach over and turn up the sound, you just know that a little part of your youth has come back to life.

For me, “I feel fine!” is a song that I know the moment that I hear John Lennon’s familiar feedback guitar. It is a signature riff – the first recorded use of feedback on a record. The song is credited to “Lennon/McCartney” but it was written by John. With Beatles songs, you can pretty much tell who wrote it by who sings lead vocals.

The Beatles are gone. John and George are dead, Ringo recently turned Seventy and Sir Paul buys “Just for Men” in 55 gallon drums. The music that they left us, however, will live on forever.

And so life goes on. As each day passes, we creep a moment closer to our date with fate. Life goes on, with you or without you. No matter how hard we mash our foot on the brake pedal of life, we cannot slow down or turn back time.

But we can turn up the radio for our  old favorite songs and blast out the tunes that helped define our lives.

When I am feeling down, nothing brings my mood back faster than listening to that good old rock ‘n’ roll music that I loved in days gone by. It truly doesn’t matter what it is – Stones, Beatles, Detroit rock music, the British Invasion or Motown – my blood flows again with renewed vigor and my foot starts tapping out the beat.

For each of us, there is that song, one that brings back memories of the “good old days” or that lost love.

What is yours?


William Stephenson Clark

36 Comments

Filed under American Society, Music

Are Wichita drivers really the worst?

It has been said, many times, sometimes at great volume, that Wichita drivers are the worst on the planet. There are days that I tend to agree.

I took a short trip down Seneca to 31st Street a short time ago, within the last hour or so. During that two mile drive, I twice had to slam on my brakes to avoid vehicles pulling out in from of me, one of which was a large truck. On two more occasions during the same drive, I observed people putting on their turn signals – in the middle of the turn they were making. I once watched a man texting as he drove. He was riding a motorcycle.

If it isn’t the high speed lunatics, it’s the “how slow can you go” morons.

Obviously, there are tragic results to bad driving, but I would rather not dwell on that, nor the obvious problem of impaired drivers. We have enough simpletons on the roads to make a simple trip to the grocery store into an adventure, with throwing those topics into the mix.

As many of you know, I rode motorcycles for many a year. As a confirmed biker, I rapidly learn from the beginning that a cyclist’s only friend on the road is himself. The “other guy” ain’t gonna look out for you, so you damned well better look out for yourself.

Many long-term bikers, myself included, develop a sixth sense of self-preservation and to use a motorcycle’s inherent superior braking, acceleration and maneuverability to keep themselves alive with the shiny side up.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t drive like a seasoned motorcyclist, they drive with little understanding of “defensive driving” and awareness of the potential consequences of even a momentary lack of attention.

If I could just teach Wichita drivers a few things they would be:

Traffic signs and signals are not “suggestions.”

It really isn’t a crime to use your turn signals.

The speed limit is the “maximum” allowed, not the “minimum.”

Store parking lots are not the place to practice your bumper car skills.

Wichita drivers may not truly be the worst on the planet – Chicago drivers hold that “honor” – but they are truly bad.

So what is it with Wichita drivers?


William Stephenson Clark

36 Comments

Filed under Kansas, Psychological Disorders

Brendan Marrocco

“I cried because I had no shoes; until I met a man who had no legs”.

Brendan Marrocco has no legs. He has no arms, either.

He left them in Iraq.

A little over a year ago, Specialist Brendan Marrocco, then PFC, was driving an armored Hum Vee in a convoy near Baiji in northern Iraq, when a IED blew up, ripping the vehicle apart, killing his best friend and seriously wounding another soldier. A fourth soldier walked away, unharmed.

When Brendan was taken to the hospital, he also had a severed carotid artery. Doctors didn’t notice it at first, because it wasn’t bleeding. It wasn’t bleeding because Specialist Marrocco had no blood left to speak of, having lost 80% of his blood supply in the field.

Brendan Marrocco now lives at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center complex. His older brother quit his high paying job to serve as a caretaker for Brendan. They share a small apartment near where Specialist Marrocco receives physical therapy.

Amazingly, he did not suffer any brain damage from the bomb blast or the subsequent loss of blood. He was the first soldier to survive the loss of all four limbs in the Wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the attack on Specialist Marrocco, a second soldier has suffered a similar fate, and he too lives at Walter Reed.

The amazing and inspiring part of this story is not that Brendan Marrocco survived. It is that rather than lose himself to his war wounds, Specialist Marrocco has become an inspiration to all those around him, maintaining a positive attitude and even a sense of humor about his situation. At the Walter Reed complex, he is seen as a hero to other amputees, including the Marine that also lost all four limbs.

Where does someone faced with such adversity summon the courage to not only deal with the loss, but to become a role model for others dealing with severe war wounds?

This is the face of war. It is not the caskets lined up in the cargo bay of a transport. It is not pictures of presidents and generals. It is not the cold statistics on the page of the newspaper. It is not Senators and Congressmen debating the funding and strategies of the Wars.

The face of war is a 23 year old Army Specialist that is broken, but not defeated.

Specialist Brendan Marrocco is the face of war.


(The thread photo is of Specialist Brendan Marrocco outside Walter Reed.)


William Stephenson Clark

9 Comments

Filed under WAR

Where have all the jobs gone?

This is quite the tricky subject. Employment is a lagging indicator of the health of the economy. Most all other economic indicators return to normal before the employment statistics do. It’s pretty simple, employers do not invest in hiring until they are sure that their investment will pay off.

Further, it has been my experience, that some employers find that they can make do with smaller staffs, even after the economy recovers.

So, more than two full years after the Great Recession began, millions of American workers are still actively looking for work. Many more, especially older workers, have simply given up. Charitable organizations  around the country have seen their resources go beyond the breaking point.

In the past month, Senate Republicans have blocked efforts to extend unemployment benefits once again. Personally, that is the ultimate act of hypocrisy. And this is why……………

On one hand, there are those on the Right that say “there are jobs out there” and extending unemployment benefits is a deincentification for the unemployed to look for work. Yet, those same people on the Right also blame President Obama for not creating jobs!

Which is it?

Are there jobs out there? Very few, and most are quite low paying jobs. Did President Obama do enough to create jobs? Probably not. This Great Recession is unprecedented, far deeper than most could have imagined. The answers to all the questions do not come easily.

You know that times are bad when illegal immigrants are going back to Mexico to find work. Maybe NAFTA is finally working.

While there are some signs, however weak, that the economy is improving, there are also signs of a “double-dip” recession. Nationwide, housing prices have increased for the first time in forever, but the Consumer Confidence index has dropped dramatically.

I would like to think that I am intelligent enough to know some answers, but realistically, there are no answers.

Time will heal this wound, but time has a way of taking it’s sweet time.

Your take?


William Stephenson Clark

29 Comments

Filed under Economics

When we used to listen to the radio.

“Hey hey mama said the way you move,
Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove. “

Led Zeppelin – “Black Dog” – Page/Plant/Jones – 1971

It was late spring of 1971 and I had just finished up my first year of college. My parents had sold my ’65 Pontiac Catalina coupe when I left, so now I needed a car. A friend of a friend had an old ’63 Volkswagen Beetle that wasn’t running. I handed over $150 in cash and paid the man to tow her home.

After a few days, I had her cleaned up and running pretty well. She was red with white interior and a sliding canvas sunroof. Most of my friends, probably twelve or fifteen in total, also had Vee-Dubs. We would all gather ’round when someone needed work done, pitching in to help.

We would all mount our tires “backwards” so they looked wider and we took off the narrow “running boards.” I painted my rims red to match the body color. Most of our cars had rusty bumpers, so we trimmed them off, too. I put a “hot rod” freeflow muffler on mine and it sounded all so cool.

We had an eclectic group of Vee-Dubs. They ranged from ’59 to ’70, a couple of convertibles, a Squareback and colors from grey primer to black to red to yellow. One guy filled all the body seams on his with Bondo and painted her green – with spray cans.

Down at the corner, there was a huge old oak tree in front of the bank parking lot. That’s where we would all hang out after work. By then, most of the guys had shoulder length hair and the girls wore skin-tight hip-hugger bell bottoms. Someone always had a bottle of Southern Comfort and inevitably there would be a few “cigarettes” passed around.

And then we would go crusin’. Sometimes it was to one of the local Metro Parks for swimming and other activities. Sometimes it was just down to the pool hall. If we had the cash, it would be off to the Grande or East Town for a concert.

Regardless of where we went, it was always in a line – ten, twelve, fifteen – Vee-Dubs in a row, windows down, hair streaming and the radios on, all tuned to WRIF-FM and blasting out the latest rock ‘n’ roll. We were a rolling, stoned band of gypsies and WRIF played the soundtrack of our youth.

What was the soundtrack of your youth?


William Stephenson Clark

57 Comments

Filed under Just Plain Fun, Music