a “human” cougar

 

Kami-Daigo in Kyoto, Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Events in Japan have put me in a thoughtful mood of late. Decided to lift my own spirits, and perhaps yours, by reprinting the story of Nashi, an elder statesman, who recently passed away. A long-time resident of a local zoo, he seemed to be viewed as one of them, by his human caretakers. Needless to say they mourned him as they would a member of their families. The following tribute ran in today’s local newspaper.

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Image via Wikipedia

The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors. Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

“He was a fantastic cougar. He had a lot of spunk in him,” she said. “He enjoyed talking with the visitors every day.”

The Nashi Memorial Celebration will be at March 26 at the zoo. Instead of holding its traditional cougar lecture, the zoo will open the stage for people to talk about Nashi. Staff members who raised and worked with him will talk about his life.

Cougar“I used to joke around that he’s a rock star, because he is,” Barfoot said. At the zoo, Nashi would model for product labels, television shows and nature documentaries. “He actually sat in the mayor’s chair when he was a cub,” she said. “He definitely made the rounds and left a mark on many people.”

Volunteers and zoo visitors are also encouraged to share their Nashi stories, talking about how he made them feel when he chirped or purred in their presence.

“His purrs were really unique,” Barfoot said. “He had a low guttural purr and he would stick his tongue out. If you got a purr from Nashi, your day was pretty darn perfect.”

A Blackfoot indian on horseback

Image via Wikipedia

Nashi came to the zoo as a cub after he was found orphaned in Minnesota. His full name, Nashidoita, is Blackfoot Indian for Spirit of the Mountains.

“He was a great cat and everyone who worked at the zoo had a relationship with him, not just the people who worked directly with him,” Barfoot said.

My family and I were fortunate to watch Nashi prowl the confines of his Cougar Mountain Zoo hideaway. He looked every bit the master of all he surveyed. And obviously he was.

hugs for cats…big and small…wild and not-so-wild…hugmamma.

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may be my best year yet

I awoke to a “new” year, my 61st. My husband reminded me, indicating that he’d forgotten until he saw my sleepy head come into the living room. He’s an early riser, unlike me. On the weekend, he enjoys his favorite pastime, reading his e-book. I enjoy mine any day of the week, any time of the day, writing on my blog.

As “empty-nesters” our lives have settled into a comfortable routine. There’s work; there’s play; and there’s the in-between time. Forty years of wedded bliss and 3 years dating prior to that, can make the passing of years a challenge. How do we keep life together interesting? Fun? Getting into a rut happens to the best of us. We’re probably “middle-of-the-road. “We’re not jumping onto roller-coasters (I know I’d throw up my innards.) But we aren’t lying around in hammocks either (We’d never get up.) We enjoy similar interests, like visiting Barnes and Noble Bookstore or Half-Price Books, shopping at Lowes and Home Depot, going to an occasional movie, and spending time with our daughter. As we’ve become more comfortable with each other, however, our individual likes and dislikes have made their way from the “bottom of the heap” to the top. Funny how that happened, without our realizing it.

My husband abhors dancing. When we first met, he had “2 left feet.” He made no secret of it. But I didn’t think it was a permanent flaw; I thought I could fix it, with a tweak here and there. Not until our 38th anniversary, give or take a year or two, did I realize he really DOES have “2 left feet.”

The story of our first date is one my husband loves retelling. I was 17 or 18, he a year older. Living in Honolulu at the time, we headed to Waikiki Beach for some fun in the sun. I was so awestruck by his movie star good looks that I was speechless most of the time. (Can you believe it?) Furthermore, I was sensitive to the fact that he was the oldest of 12 children. With so many mouthes to feed, I didn’t think he had money to feed mine. Visiting the nearby zoo, he asked if I wanted some lunch, perhaps a hot dog, popcorn, soda? Lying, for I was starved for food, I replied that I wasn’t hungry, that I’d had a big breakfast at the dorm’s cafeteria. In disbelief, he pointed out that it was hours since I’d eaten. His protestations fell on deaf ears. Adamant that I didn’t need a morsel, I did give in to his offer of a soft drink. Not until 8 hours had passed, when he drove me home, did I fly down the dining room steps just before it closed. I ate like a truck driver who’d fasted for a week. I scarfed down everything I could lay my hands on. My husband left me that day thinking I was the quietest girl he’d ever met (not that he knew many since he’d been a Catholic seminarian before we met), with the appetite of a bird. Well, it didn’t take too long for him to learn the truth. He’d married Lucille Ball who ate like Ethel Mertz.

I enjoy shopping; my husband waits patiently, e-book in hand. My husband “saws wood” when he sleeps; I use ear plugs and lay a pillow between us, partially covering my head to muffle the sound. I enjoy tuning in to “Bethenny Gettin’ Married?”, “Say Yes To The Dress'” and “The Bachelor;” my husband can’t stomach reality TV, so he leaves me in peace and heads to the lower level family room to watch the History channel. I find pleasure in talking with people, including total strangers; my husband doesn’t interrupt, but he doesn’t hang around either, preferring to wander off.

Laughing over inconsequential, silly, little things at one point today, my husband and I agreed that he rarely speaks a whole paragraph. His reason, “Why should I say a paragraph when a word will do?” I replied that it might make him more approachable socially. Not skipping a beat, he merely smiled back at me. He is a man comfortable in his own skin, never personally needing the approval of others. I have always admired that quality in him. I, on the other hand, am like most who need to know that we are loved. Into my 6th decade, I am finally seeing my husband’s point of view. I am who I am.

We make our marriage work through give and take, neither of us doing all the taking or all the giving. It’s a balance that requires daily effort. It helps to think “Would I really want to start all over again, bringing a total stranger ‘up to speed’ about me and my likes and dislikes?” And more importantly, “Would someone else love me as much for the person I am, and not the person he’d like me to be?” So growing older with my husband of many years is a gift for which I am very, very grateful.

As I advance through this decade of my life I find myself happily reinvigorated. Writing has enabled me to get my creative “juices” flowing once again. I’ve always favored the left side of my brain. For most of my business career I sat behind a desk, watching a clock. I relished my “free time” when I could do cross-stitch or other handiwork, prepare a gourmet meal, decorate and then re-decorate my house. But transitioning from career to motherhood didn’t allow much time for self-fulfillment. Not that I minded for being a mom has always been my favorite job, hands down. But now that I’ve regained use of my own life, figuring out what to do with it has given me pause. There were the “fall back” options, volunteering, part-time work, full-time work, ramping up my exercise regimen, spend more time cleaning house or tending the garden. None of these possibilities caught my fancy, my creative fancy that is. So I bided my time and continued doing whatever it was I was doing, until now.

Fleshing out ideas, thoughts, opinions and feelings in my blog posts has grown new brain cells for sure. Writing has given me a youthful outlook that is couched in the experiences of a 60 year old. I’m rediscovering my past, reflecting upon my present, and pondering my future. With my mind leading the way, I’m sure my body will strive to keep pace. Writing makes me process my thoughts, then attempt to formulate them into words. It’s like going back to school, without having to go there. I’m motivated to live life large, in the moment. It may be that I’ve found my own “fountain of youth.”

hope you find yours…hugmamma