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Hermitage Letters

Still No Washing Machine!

Well, as you might have heard our washing machine still isn’t repaired! Lowe’s sent the wrong papers to the repair shop. Just think: a big company can’t do an easy little job – terrible, don’t you think? Mom only said, “Oh, well . . .,” but I know she wasn’t happy. Wednesday (today) was the new repair day. Mom told Lowe’s and the repair shop that the washing machine just needed a new belt.
When the repairman came he checked many things on the computer part of the washing machine – he even had to call the main Maytag office – his report said a lot of things were wrong. Mom said, “You should look under the machine, the belt is broken.” Mom handed the repairman a flashlight and helped lean the machine back so he could see.
“Yeah, the belt is broken,” he said, “that could be the cause of the other problems too.”
“So can you fix it now?” Mom asked.
“Oh, no, I have to order a new belt – that will come in two or three days, and then we can schedule another appointment.”
Fortunately for the repair shop, their receptionist gave Mom an appointment for Monday – even before the new belt has come in. Just think – two weeks without laundry . . . Mom is not happy, especially since they didn’t listen to her in the first place! Sometimes the easiest solution is the right one.
It has rained for two nights and two days and now our yard is all mud . . .I’m glad that we cats don’t go outside! Most of the doggies hate the mud and rain too, but I think the geese and Jack (our horse) and even the chickens like the rain. The chickens can go into their coop anytime, but they choose to stand under the tree even in the rain. That saying, “mad as a wet hen” must not be true – at least Fredell, Faith, and Frances don’t get mad when they are wet!
Mom says it’s time to feed the cats supper, so we have to say good-bye and turn off the computer.
I’ll write again soon,
Gus
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End of Summer?

Finally our weather is not so hot! The leaves and walnuts are falling from the black walnut trees, and the wild clematis is blooming, and school buses go past our house in the mornings and afternoons, and the wild geese are flying south. But Meg, our goose, is laying eggs – Meg had a Spring nest, but none of her eggs hatched, so maybe she thinks this will be a better time. Mom and I think she is wrong about that, but she is very determined to sit on her nest.

Guess what?! Our washing machine stopped washing – Mom says the cord that makes the drum agitate and spin is broken. Our washing machine is almost new, still under factory warranty, so a repairman is coming tomorrow to make it wash again. A week without a washing machine has made Mom very impatient . . . she loves to do the laundry. I like really clean towels too – better than these hung-on-the-fence-washed-with-the-hose ones. I asked Mom why she likes doing laundry so much, and she said, “It’s in my genes, Gus.” That seems like a funny thing to inherit – she could have played the piano or had a better singing voice or been a better archer or painter or a sailor – but she likes to do laundry! Life is funny like that . . . you just have to take it as it comes. Anyway, Mom will be a lot happier when our washing machine is repaired!

As of yesterday we have a new online wish list – just in case anyone wants to send us treats, toys, or Fancy Feast – please, please, please! To find the list go to amazon.com and click on lists, then type in Mom’s name: Sister Mary Winifred – the Sanctuary House Wish List will be right there. There are a few non-cat items too: dog biscuits and toys, and tarps that we need before winter, but mostly the list is for cats – I guess that means we’re the most important, right?

Stay safe, and enjoy these early days of Autumn . . . and be sure to look at the moon tonight – it’s fully bright and beautiful!

Gus
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Already September

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that we’re already into September – today is windy and rainy because we are just on the edge of Hurricane Hermine! A few days ago Aidan and I caught a mouse in the bathroom – a tiny mouse – and were just playing with him, but Mom took him away from us, and then she let him go outdoors. She told us that the mouse really didn’t want to be our toy, and then she gave us a green toy mouse and two ping pong balls, so we are glad we traded with her – and I guess the mouse is too!

We are reading three books all at once again:
A Complete Guide to Bird Feeding by John Dennis
The Sabbath by Abraham Heschel
Praying with Icons by Jim Forest

Mom has been reading the icon book for weeks, but she explained to me that it is a book to read and ponder, not rush right through, so I guess we may be reading it for many more weeks.

I really don’t know about feeding birds – Poirot and I have thought of catching birds, but I suspect Mom will never let us do that! Every day we watch pigeons and grackles and black birds eating and drinking in the yard with the geese, and sometimes there are blue jays and cardinals and crows, too. I like to see the birds fly, but Poirot mostly watches for the smaller birds – sparrows, titmice, and wrens that come into the tree near the window. Sometimes we hear woodpeckers and flickers. “Don’t even think about them,” I said to Poirot, “those birds have beaks that could really hurt a cat!” I think the same thing about blue jay beaks – we are lucky cats to be indoors!

Today is sad for us because our kitty Darlie died this morning. We don’t know how old Darlie was because she was all grown up when she came to Sanctuary House, but she had cancer and there was no way to make her well. Mom told her to wait at the Rainbow Bridge and we’d catch up with her there one day. Darlie was a dark gray cat with light gray fur on her tummy and nose, with a dark spot right on the middle of her nose – I think that’s where God kissed her before she came to earth . . . her blessing spot!

We’ll write again soon – in the meantime, have a safe Labor Day weekend!
Gus

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Saturday after a very long week . . .

So much sadness, so many people being killed – this is very hard for cats to understand . . . we don’t forgive as easily as do the dogs, but we would never kill so many of our own. I don’t understand people at all. I asked Mom, but she doesn’t understand it either. I am trying to think about it, but even that makes me sad.

The weather is so hot here this week that Mom has moved all of the upstairs cats into the two air conditioned rooms – mostly they are fine with that, except Aubrey and Robin keep growling, just quiet growling so Mom knows how they feel about moving; but I know they all feel better being cool.

We also were sad to hear that Bishop Ed Browning died last Monday – we didn’t know him of course, but Mom had met him and she said he was a very kind, holy man. Many people have written wonderful things about him, but we remember especially that he said “there will be no outcasts in the Episcopal Church.” He was welcoming to everyone, even people who were feared and hated by others. He was the 24th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church here in the United States. Tomorrow, when Mom leads Morning Prayer at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Princess Anne, she will say this prayer: O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servant Edmond, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the followship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [BCP, p. 493] I bet Bishop Browning is already in the land of light and joy, and hope he is praying for all of us in the world, too – we need his wisdom and his love now.

I think I need to help Mom find a good book to read – last night she was reading about dogs with atopic dermatitis – we don’t even have any dogs with that problem! But when Mom is between good books she’ll read almost anything. I hope she’ll find a good book about wonderful, wise, brave, intelligent cats – I would love to read that book over her shoulder!

Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Gus

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July 4th

July 4

I, Liberty the tuxedo cat, am writing today because this is my birthday! Of course, we know July 4th is Independence Day too, but at Sanctuary House it is now and forever Liberty’s Day – and it kind of means the same thing anyway, don’t you think? Mom always says that with Liberty there is freedom, but responsibility as well. . . and I’m very glad she remembers that because it is her responsibility to take care of me. I had a very bad injury when I was a kitten – at first no one wanted me because they said I was too much trouble to care for, but Mom said, “He can come home with me – we choose to have Liberty!” Right then she saved and defended me!

To celebrate Liberty’s Day we have a United States flag flying from one of our windows and all of the cats are having Friskies’ Party Mix treats! – well, not quite all of the cats – our sister Chaelie has been sick, so she has to be on a very careful diet with no extra treats. Poor Chaelie, but she is getting better and that matters more than treats, even delicious treats.

Here is a prayer for our country from the Book of Common Prayer: Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP, p. 820]


Remember,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch. . . and defend Liberty!
Love always,
Liberty
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Many, many updates!

So many things have happened since we last wrote that it’s hard to know where to start. First of all the feral orange cat and her six kittens were safely caught. The mom and two very wild kittens have gone to live at Good Shepherd Cat Sanctuary where they will be fed, but can avoid people if that is their choice. The other four kittens were sweet and will be adopted.

And then two kittens, Flynn and Simon, came to live with us! Their mom is feral too, but did not have enough milk for her kittens. . . . all of Flynn and Simon’s siblings died. When she is spayed their mom will stay on the farm where she lives, but we are very glad to have Flynn and Simon with us. Flynn is mostly orange with white on his chest and tummy; Simon is almost all white with a few swirls of orange and orange ears. They love each other very much – and they really love kitten milk and Fancy Feast for kittens! And I think they are very smart kittens, because they have already shredded a roll of paper towels and they are only about six weeks old!

Our cat friend Lemon came to stay for two weeks while her family was on vacation – Lemon stayed with us last summer too, and we were very happy to see her again.

And the Diocese of Easton, where we live, has elected a new bishop – actually he is already a bishop, the Rt. Rev. Santosh Marray. Mom just prays, she didn’t help elect him, but she will be glad to meet him when he comes to our diocese. I hope he likes cats – and other animals too, of course!

But into all of that happiness two sad things happened – our cat brother Ethan died suddenly. Ethan just stopped eating one day and died in the night. We all miss him, especially his brother Orion and his best cat friend John. . . . and one of our chickens, Felicity, died too. Mom thought Felicity was egg bound, but that wasn’t the case – so we don’t know why she died. Some things are just a mystery forever.

Mom is reading In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy Sayers – but she’s reading it on her Kindle . . . I like it better when she reads paper books, because it’s easier to read over her shoulder. She’s also reading Praying with Icons by Jim Forest – she read this book a long time ago, before I was even born, but this is a revised edition. I think I will be reading it over her shoulder. Cats already know a lot about prayer, you know, but we can always learn something new.

Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Gus

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Mourning Tom, elections . . . and rain again!

Today is a sad day for Sanctuary House because our cat Tom died this morning. Tom got sick all of a sudden and even though Mom had medicine for him, he didn’t get better. Last night he went to sleep surrounded by his cat friends – Mom kissed him goodnight and he purred back to her, but early this morning he died. Tom was a big tuxedo cat – mostly black with white toes. I think kitties Fluffy and Belinda will miss him most of all because they were his very good friends – and of course, Mom misses him too.

Politics, politics – that’s almost all that’s on the radio! I don’t know why the humans have to elect a President . . . cats don’t have to hold elections, we have other ways of choosing leaders. Mom isn’t happy about any of the candidates who are trying to get elected – she said she would never, never vote for Donald Trump. Even before he started saying creepy things about women and Muslims and border fences and torture, Mom said “No, never!” When I asked her why she said, “Two words, Gus, Bonwit Teller.” I’m not sure what Bonwit Teller means, but I might Google it later. [http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/realestate/fifth-avenue-bonwit-teller-opulence-lost.html?_r=0]

If we have to have a President and Mom takes me with her when she goes to vote we might write in Morris, the 9-Lives cat – he’s good at business; or Opie from Rikki’s Refuge [http://rikkisrefuge.org/] – if Opie can run Rikki’s Refuge, I bet he could run the world! Cats rule, you know!

It’s raining again today – the beagles aren’t too happy about that and neither is our horse, Jackie. Jackie is especially unhappy because Mom put up a web gate to keep him away from the muddiest part of the pasture – of course, that is exactly where he wants to stand. Jackie weighs 1000+ so he can certainly pull the gate down . . . right now he’s thinking about it. Mom has tried to distract him with carrots and treats, but he’s still thinking about that flimsy gate.

Did you know that our Book of Common Prayer has a prayer for rain? Here is a little of that prayer: O God, heavenly Father . . . send us we entreat you . . . moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to our comform and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [p. 828] . . . maybe we have been forgetting the word “moderate” – what do you think??


Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Gus

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Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Pentecost!

Thursday
Well to follow up on our last post, we did catch the orange kitty . . . and she is nursing kittens, so of course we let her go. The good news is that she is pretty much tame and let Mom pet her and even put Advantage on her so she won’t have fleas; and we know she will come to eat. The scary thing is that she is outside in an unsafe place – I know that from first paw experience! – and we really have no idea where her kittens are. Mom tried to look under building where Kitty hides, but she couldn’t see any kittens; probably the kittens are in another location because Kitty crosses the street and also goes into the woods and down the street to other houses and buildings. We hope she will bring the kittens to us when they are old enough and pray that they will be stay safe in the meantime.
It rained so much in the night that there are puddles everywhere, but there was a little blue in the sky, so I thought maybe, just maybe we would have a sunny day – but just an hour later and the sky is all gray again! We are on day 15 of rain, but no complaints from me because I am safe inside. There is a warbler in the tree just outside our window – I would rather watch him than eat or play. Of course, I would never catch a bird, but I do love to watch them!
Friday
That was yesterday – and yet more rain today. All of this rain is great for growing grass and vines and for raising mosquitoes and ticks! This morning Mom “rescued” a tree from a Virginia creeper vine. . . she would stay outside all day if we let her, but you know we need her inside to feed us and clean up.
Robin and Hemingway caught a mouse – they really wanted to keep it as a mouse toy or mouse trophy, but Mom said “No!” She just doesn’t understand the reasons we want to keep the mice we catch, and she’s not open to discussion about it either, although she seems glad that we catch the mice in the first place. Sometimes humans are inexplicable!
Saturday
And today, the sun is back! Brilliant light is filtering through the trees and the fence posts are steaming in the warming morning air.
Sunday
Another sunny day – even chilly! Today is Pentecost – 50 days after Easter. This is one of our mother’s very favorite days of the liturgical year. Even though red is the color to wear today, Mom doesn’t have any red clothes – she just wears basic black whenever she goes out. Jackie’s field is full of yellow buttercups and we still have purple and lavender irises at the end of the driveway, but we do have our many red hummingbird feeders and two pots of bright red Gerbera daisies, so we are sort of decorated for Pentecost!
And now that it’s sunny and more like Spring, Mom is starting her spring-cleaning routine. We were surprised to find that mice had made winter beds in two of the china cabinets . . . so all of the plates and bowls are now washed, and the dishwasher is full of glasses and coffee cups. “Just a downside of country life,” Mom said to Zed and Chaelie as they watched her wash and dry the china. Mom always tries to block spaces where mice can come in, but mice are very smart and very tiny! I say that Alice Jeanne, the Eskie, should be helping on mouse patrol in the kitchen, but she would rather play with her stuffed toys, and then she sleeps all night so she is no help at all. We have to give this some thought . . .
In the meantime, here is a prayer for Pentecost:
O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [BCP, p. 227]

Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Poirot

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Another rainy day . . .

I, Poirot, am writing today because Gus and Aidan are too busy playing. . . . they are young and love to hide and then jump out to surprise each other. I can tell you that the older kitties who live with us – Dru, Bobette, Lily, and Marla – do not appreciate these games! Bobette is 17, almost 18 years old, and sometimes she just says, “Oh boys, play that game far away from me,” and then she jumps up onto the table out of their way.

I don’t think there is any hope that Mom will write soon, because she is now reading three books at once!
The Tail of the Tip-Off – a novel for fun
The Story of Monasticism – a book she is reviewing for NEHA (NEHAHQS@aol.com)
A New Pentecost? – an old book, now in it’s second reading
I don’t know how she keeps them from running together, but when I asked her she said, “No worries, Monsieur, the characters and plots are all quite different.”

Mom just came in from feeding the outside animals – she is all wet, even her hair is dripping. Right in the middle of her outdoor chores it started to rain, very heavy rain! Breakfast must be good though because Jackie the horse is standing in the rain as he eats breakfast. Mom always puts carrots and an apple on top of his food, and the apple is usually his favorite treat.

Lucy Lu and Maisie, two silly beagle girls, wanted to go out, but they came right back inside when they felt the rain! Now Goldie is barking – Mom will open the door even though we both know that Goldie will not go out in the rain for anything or anybody.

And a sad thing happened this morning – our duck Lewis flew to the Rainbow Bridge. Lewis was a very old Rouen duck; Mom had moved him to a special pen so no one else would eat his food, but he only lived a few days after that. Now we only have one duck, a brown and white duck named Clark. Clark and Neville the goose live in a pen right beside the gate, and Neville calls out when anyone comes into the driveway. Mom calls him the “watch goose,” and most people who come near the gate are afraid of him, which is silly because he cannot get out of his pen – he just makes a lot of goose noises and they are afraid he will bite them!

As you may know, last Thursday was Ascension Day – that is a very special day for us because we live and Ascension Hermitage and Sanctuary. Here is a prayer for Ascension Day – we hope you will pray it for all of us:
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and even. Amen. [BCP, p. 226]

Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Poirot

PS Please say a prayer, too, for the homeless orange kitty who hides under the vacant building next door. She also walks right into the street and hunts in a very wide territory. At first we thought she had kittens hidden under the building, but now we don’t think so. Mom is trying to catch her so she will be safe, but she would rather be hungry – or eat somewhere else – than go into a trap. She is a very smart kitty on one paw, but not smart at all on the others.

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Welcome to our blog!

As you might guess, if you know our mother, I am named for two famous Augustines – Augusta the second cat of Sanctuary House, and St. Augustine of Hippo . . . I might be a saint one day, but for now I am happy just to be Gus the cat. Sister Mary – she’s our mother – was going to write this blog, but she’s really busy with chores, so I told her we’d write the blog most days and she can clean the litter boxes and feed us and wash our blankets and of course open the door a thousand times a day for the doggies who can’t decide if they want to be indoors or in the play yard. Our mother does other chores too – errands to the store and post office, and other things. We, on the other paw, spend most of our time playing, staring out of the window at birds, and napping . . . it’s so much fun to be a cat! I am writing first, but my brothers Aidan and Poirot will be writing too. Aidan is named after a saint too, and Poirot is named after a famous detective. Sometimes we might invite another cat or even a doggie to write on our blog page – and when Mom has time, she will write.

I am an all gray cat, Aidan is all black and a polydactyl, and Poirot is black and white. We are short haired cats and we all have golden eyes. If you read our mother’s book, More Cats of Sanctuary House, you might remember that Aidan is Anya’s kitten and he has five sisters: Beebe, Chelsea, Chrissy, Mavis, and Nora. Poirot and I are singletons – Poirot was rescued when a dog chased him up a tree (not one of our dogs, of course), and I was starving and caught in a trap. But really we are all brothers and sisters here at Sanctuary House, no matter how we first came here.

It has been cloudy and rainy for days. I keep watching for the sun, but I think Cockburn, our red Wyandotte rooster, is not crowing loud enough – I hear him, but no sun, so something must be wrong. Some of the doggies just spend the rainy days sleeping, but Toby barks to go in and out many times. He doesn’t like the rain, but he wants to keep checking to see if it has stopped. I don’t know why he doesn’t believe Mom when she says, “It’s still raining,” after all she can look out of the windows; I could tell him that too, but he’s not very good about listening to people or cats. I hope she’ll give Toby his Kong toy filled with peanut butter then everyone will be able to rest in quiet!

This morning when Mom went out to gather the eggs in the chicken house she had to wear her tall, black and yellow rain boots because there are so many puddles. The poor chickens were splashing in the rain, and even the ducks and geese are ready for a sunny day. Whenever the rain stops, even for a short time, our horse Jackie goes out to the field to eat grass, but when it starts to rain again he goes right back into the run-in shed. “This is a nice Spring rain,” Mom reminded Jackie, but he doesn’t listen any better than Toby does. But Jackie is funny because rain or no rain he sleeps out in the field at night. . . . even when that means he comes to breakfast half covered in mud.

A few days ago Mom hung our hummingbird feeder in the garden – now, even in the rain, we have many ruby throated hummingbirds coming to visit. And we feed lots of other birds too – downy woodpeckers, red headed flickers, sparrows, many kinds of blackbirds, starlings, blue birds, titmice, wrens, cardinals, and pigeons.

And the garden is growing too! There are dark purple irises right at the end of our driveway, and the lilies are growing and growing, but no blooms yet. Tiny beets and potatoes are sprouting and the turnips should be up soon too. . . as you can probably guess, those are veggies that Mom likes – no cats eat them at all! Dandelions, daffodils, and buttercups are growing in the yard and field, and the zinnias should be up soon too and all of us like to look at those! Plus, the zinnias decorate our chapel all summer.

Here is a great prayer for Spring:
We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may always safeguard them. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP, p. 840, adapted)

Until next time,
Stay safe; pray always; keep in touch.

Gus

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