It Takes a Long Time To Say Good Bye.

Hello Vivian Swift,
You sent a payment of $100.00 USD to Muttnation Foundation, Inc.

Muttnation is the animal rescue organization headed up by the wonderful country singer Miranda Lambert. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on Friday, Aug. 25, Miranda was in Ireland. She got home to Nashville at 9 p.m. Monday night (Aug. 28) and was on an 11:30 a.m. American Airlines flight headed to Texas the next morning.

In Texas she met up with the rigs that Muttnation  had sent from their home base in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in three days she and Muttnation took 230 dogs, cats, and “other” domestic animals out of Houston shelters and drove them back to OK. This frees up local animal welfare resources so that they can deal with housing and re-homing flood victims’ lost pets.

These relocated animals will be adopted out in OK or sent to shelters elsewhere (near you?) in America…but either way, these dear cats and dogs and “others” are safe and will find forever homes.

You can read about the operation here.

Miranda Lambert. I don’t own, or know, a single one of her records, but she’s my kind of hero. She and Muttnation deserve my money.

To keep you interested in reading Part Two of my Harvey story (because aren’t we worn out from hearing about Harvey Harvey Harvey?), here’s a pic of Lickety’s butt in his new favorite spot on the dining room table:

Yes, I keep a paper cutter on my dining room table. I also use my dining room table as a laundry folding site, and when I made the mistake of leaving some towels unsupervised, Lickety laid claim to them.

I took these pix two weeks ago. He and the towels are still there.

Getting back to my godless philanthropy:

I also sent money to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. You can read about them here.

Donation to CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund $100.00
You have covered the transaction fee, so 100% of your donation goes to the organization. Thank you! $3.00
Total $103.00

I refuse to send money to The Red Cross.

My personal beef with the Red Cross started when Super Storm Sandy hit Long Island in 2012 and the Red Cross showed up in the most devastated area, called the Far Rockaways, with grocery store cookies and flash lights that didn’t have batteries, and you, Dear Readers, know how I hold grudges. But if you want a less Vivian reason for never giving money to the Red Cross, you can read this.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 6, the US House of Representatives voted for 7.9 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid. This bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to be confirmed by the end of the week. So let’s say that, all in all, relief for victims of the Harvey disaster will arrive about 15 days since the hurricane hit Texas. By comparison, when my neck of the woods was devastated by Super Storm Sandy in 2012, do you know how long it took for aid to be approved by Congress?

66 days.


The senior Senator from Texas, Fuck Face Cornyn.

The junior Senator from Texas, Fuck Face Cruz.

Thanks to the objections of Southern Republican “fiscal conservatives”,  led by the two senators from Texas Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, victims of Super Storm Sandy, people who were homeless, lost, hurt, broke, and suffering — people who happened to be New Yorkers who were, help me Jesus, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats — had to wait over two months for relief.

So, yeah. I will send money to help those poor souls, animal and human, in and around Houston. Houston took in 250,000 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, more than any other city in Texas, and tens of thousands of Katrina survivors still live in Houston. That’s a lot of love. I have a lot of love for Houston. I do.

If you don’t think this is funny, find someone from New Orleans to explain it to you.

But the rest of Texas can still go fuck itself.

One last Harvey note:

Our friend from New Orleans, Karen — whose rose garden was one of the memorable and thought-provoking gardens that I wrote about in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly  says that if Harvey had veered east and hit NOLA instead of Houston, she (Karen) (a veteran of Hurricane Katrina) was prepared to evacuate herself, her cat, her dog, and the thousand bees in her backyard bee hive. In her car. Because that’s how they roll in the Crescent City.

As you read this, my sister, her husband, my mother, and their cats are evacuated from the west coast of Florida. They are holing up in a high-rise hotel inland, with three days supply of water, cross word puzzles, and Johnny Walker. (The cats are borderline alcoholics. Tiger is usually OK, in general; but Snowball is a mean drunk.) Hurricane Irma, as you probably know, is the biggest storm ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean and it is headed straight for the Sunshine State.

Speaking of beer, last Thursday was the final day of August and like you, Dear Readers, I waved My First Farewell to the Summer of ’17 with an appropriate refreshment. I viewed my final August sun set from — where else? — my yacht on the Long Island sound:

Actually I was on the totally empty deck of a waterside cafe on Manhasset Bay, but the view was just as splendid as if I’d been starboard on a 70-meter Fincantieri. Top Cat and I toasted the last day of August (me, Long Island Iced Tea; TC with a craft beer because he’s fancy) and then we moseyed out to the end of the dock.

Naming a boat poses a serious mental challenge.

I didn’t catch the name of this beautiful craft gliding upon the cool surface of high tide . . .

. . . but I’m pretty sure it was the S. S. Guppy:

Speaking of yachts, I feel stinking rich every time I open my back door and I see this:

It’s morning and this is the crew waiting to come in side the kitchen for breakfast. Notice how they have all turned away from me — they saw the camera and are being CATS. From left to right (starting with the Holstein) they are: Lickety, Bibs, Taffy, his mama Candy (wearing her Maryland colors), and that’s Dennis at the top, who lives next door and who shows up for breakfast every day. They are all house cats except in Summer, when they answer the call of the wild and spend 90% of their days and nights in the back yard.  But the minute it gets slightly chilly, they will all be back inside, napping their lives away.

On Labor Day I had a visitor to my back yard:

It’s a red-spotted purple admiral. I’ve never seen one before. It was a good omen that he showed up when he did, because an hour later Top Cat and I were on our way to a five-mile walk Labor Day/Second Farewell to the Sumer of ’17 in a nature reserve here on Long Island called Caumsett . . .

. . . which is very special because it is the only New York habitat of a very rare butterfly that I was hoping to see:

As Dear Reader Tucson Tana knows, this is Baltimore Checkerspot, the Maryland State Insect, which is very hard to distinguish from a player on the University of Maryland football team:

You’re so right, Tana. This college football team uniform is AWESOME.

Although I didn’t catch a glimpse of the rare and beautiful Checkerspot, I did catch sight of one of these:

I don’t know if this is a Monarch or a Viceroy butterfly, and I don’t want to eat one to be sure. (The Viceroy is OK to chow down on, but Monarch is toxic.)

Being that it’s the last three-day holiday of the season, we Americans think that Labor Day is the sentimental end of Summer, hence it’s #2 place on my roster of Summer Farewells. Summer holds such a huge place in my  psyche, and probably yours too, that it is the one season that deserves a real send off. That’s why I take my time in saying Good Bye to it. I always hope that each Summer will be contained in a very specific memory of achievement, dreams, changes, travel, etc…but not this year.

However, upon a path in yonder woods within the Isle of Long, Lo I think I found A Sign from the Universe that my Summer of ’17 hasn’t been as regretful and lackluster as I might be thinking:

A Blue Jay Feather, nature’s way of reminding you that the world is still a pretty wonderful place, if you keep your eyes open for miracles.

Top Cat and I sat above the beach at Caumsett and pondered the crashing waves coming in from the Long Island Sound. That’s only Connecticut in the distance, so it’s not like I got any Big Ideas inspired by the view.

But I’m getting there. Thinking Big is my mission in life. Spacious thoughts are my destiny.

We have two weeks until the official, calendrical end of Summer, at which time I will indeed wrap up the roses and thorns of ’17. In the meantime, when we were all talking about Thinking Big the other week I had a small echo of a memory of something I’d once read on the subject.

I looked it up. In June 1979 I copied these words from a book I had just read, called Henderson the Rain King (great title) by Saul Bellow. Bellow wrote it in 1959 and part of it is set in Africa, a place Bellow had never been. I rather liked it when I first read it, but then I went to Africa and I re-read it in Africa, and Bellow’s lack of first hand experience of Africans shows. Anyway.

This is for you, my fellow Big Thinkers:

They say, Think Big. Well, that’s just another business slogan. But greatness! That’s another thing all together! Oh, greatness! I don’t mean inflated, swollen, false greatness. I don’t mean pride or throwing your weight around. But the universe itself being put into us, it calls out for scope. The eternal is bonded into us. It calls out for its share. And I have to do something about it.

So that’s how we do it, Dear Readers.

Have a great weekend. You are all part of the Greatness. You all have the universe within you. You are stardust (in the most literal sense), you are golden.


25 Comments, RSS

  1. jeanie September 8, 2017 @ 10:02 am

    Oh, I love THINK GREAT! That is just so smart, makes so much sense. Thank you for that.

    And thanks for the links to the two sites. I believe in getting the dollars straight to where it will be useful and not tied up in administration and such. You’ve done your research well!

    Sad to see summer go. The light is changing here, days markedly shorter and yes, even the trees are beginning to show their colors. We of the north all know what happens after that. I want to cling to the last trailing thread of summer. Don’t be taken in by that pretty old fall stuff. It’s just a cruel but beautiful hoax to remind us that a white world lies behind… speaking of which, leaf painting again this year?

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:13 am

      If I paint a leaf, will you paint one with me? Peak foliage here comes in about a month, but probably earlier for you. If you find a perfect Fall leaf, let me know!

  2. Bunny September 8, 2017 @ 11:27 am

    Very well spoken, as usual. If I could write, it would be like you. Nice pics of your herd, as usual, loved the Lickety pic on the table: and the butterflies are just lovely.

    I always think, that if I had time, I would think big. But I’m way too busy working, and just getting by, I find I never have time to think big. With the passing of summer, you’re right, its time! Going to work on that, immediately, if not sooner.
    Thanks for keeping us abreast of the real news of the world.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:10 am

      If you put it on your To Do List, I’m sure you can find a great thought here and there during your busy day. And you do, come here immediately and tell me all about it!

  3. Casey September 8, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

    I pray that everyone who is praying for the victims of Harvey and soon to be Irma will stop with the praying and SEND MONEY. For a godless person, Vivian, your actions are pretty Christian.

    Lickety’s bed on top of the paper cutter can not possible be comfortable. Maybe he’s doing performance art.

    I think you have a crush on Maryland.

    I will need to exercise my brain to get it into condition for great thinking. I’m used to thinking about little small things. This morning I was thinking a lot about whether I should go to Costco and then go to the library, or go to the library and then go to Costco. Lives hung in the balance of making the wrong decision.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:08 am

      Ha! Most of life is about thinking about going to Costco, and that’s a fact. I just hope that while I’m on the check out line there that a Great Thought might occur to me and make the Big Box experience worth more than getting an excellent deal on Boursin.

  4. Casey September 8, 2017 @ 12:28 pm

    P.S. “That’s only Connecticut in the distance.” Hey. I live in Connecticut. But I get it. How exciting can it be, when you call yourself The Nutmeg State.

    If I’d been on the other side looking at you I’d be staring at The Empire State. That’s what I call Thinking Big.

    • Kirra September 14, 2017 @ 7:48 am

      I didn’t know there was a ‘nutmeg state’ in the US. I think that’s pretty cool 😉

  5. Vicki Abbott September 8, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

    Ah, yes, Joni Mitchell. A deep connection to my younger self.

    A lot of ash, a little rain is what we’re experiencing here in Portland, O.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:04 am

      Isn’t it crazy? The south is drowning and the Pacific North West is on fire. Crazy. I really hope you get a monsoon in the next week, put out some fires and quench all those beautiful rose gardens.

  6. Megan September 8, 2017 @ 7:42 pm

    Oh how wonderful to see all the cats lining up for breakfast, was it kippers? I love Taffy. I do hope your family fares well in the storm, named after my partners mother btw. If the Johnny Walker runs out I had a cat that loved Sherry so all is not lost. I was shocked to read about the Red Cross. I hate people, really they are quite despicable. So nice to hear about the good works of some fabulous people… I am not familiar with Miranda Lambert, but good for her. Gotta love Lickety, you have to create great opportunities when they present themselves.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:03 am

      Breakfast is just Kirkland dry food (my vet says it’s actually rather good stuff) but they all act as if they are perishing of hunger, after spending a night out in the yard. Actually, they always act this way, even when it’s the cold months and they hunker down 24/7 inside, in their cubbies.

      I keep meaning to find a Miranda Lambert YouTube so I can see what she’s up to. I’m sure I’ll like whatever she does, because she is obviously quality people.

  7. Marilyn September 8, 2017 @ 11:26 pm

    You do make me smile.
    Football uniforms are nice, but not Nike! I didn’t know other companies made them too. Ha!
    Loved the butterflies and cats.
    No way would I donate to the Red Cross since I heard 45 had donated to them. I am sure he is getting a cut somewhere there. Or is the just my warped thinking?
    Loved seeing the boats from your yacht.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 11:00 am

      I just read in today’s New York Times (Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017) that the Red Cross gave Joef Mengele the papers he needed to slither out of Germany at the end of WWII and high tail it to Argentina. So no, it would not surprise me at all if the Red Cross were in some kind of you-wash-my-back-I-wash-yours arrangement with der Drumpf.

      Ah, yes, the yacht; my favorite kind, the kind that is an open air deck attached to 1,401 square miles of solid ground (in this case, Long Island).

  8. Becky September 9, 2017 @ 6:57 am

    i worry about the furry loves who are caught in these catastrophes. Monies well spent sent to Muttnation. In Pgh we have an organization PART (Pittsburgh aviation animal rescue team) with the same goal. thanks for showing the charities that you like. It is disgusting that people or agencies will take advantage of those in need. ( I for one would NEVER leave my furry sweetheart behind. Katie is terrified of storms so something of this magnitude would freak her out.)
    Hope your family is safe, and that the drunken cats aren’t too rowdy. 😊I also have relatives that are on the run to safer ground.
    I love pictures of the herd, but my favorites are of Lickety…..who always seems to be in the Zen mode. He looks absolutely comfy and zoned out. I say don’t move the towels and disrupt him.
    The butterflies were beautiful. There are gorgeous black with blue markings that seem to be prevalent now. I don’t know the names of any, only the Monarchs. These beauties seem to follow Katie and I on our walk….she is oblivious…..on the search for squirrels.

    There is a girl who has an interesting site on YouTube, Leslie the bird nerd, who does very interesting videos on birds. They are short viewings, and I have learned so much about blue jays and chickadees. If you aren’t familiar with her check it out. It is easy watching.
    Thank you for this last post. I loved it from beginning to end…..agree with the pictures and descriptions of the 2 politicians.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 10:57 am

      Leslie the Bird Nerd is a fabulous discovery — thank you Becky! I just tripled what I know about my favorite bird, the Blue Jay.

      I could never leave my herd behind either. What kid of people DO THAT??? That said, Im glad I live on Long Island, where the chances are slim that I’ll ever have to evacuate 8 cats, one of whom can’t stand me and has ever let me touch er in the 10 years I’ve been caring for her and er babies (now big fat middle aged kitties, i.e. L, who is to fat at all).ickety and Taffy

  9. Gigi DeVault September 9, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

    I had a moment of panic and held my breath as I read further. That word “goodbye” in the title…don’t scare me like that! To be short (apparently not, as it turns out), the connection I experience with you through your writing and with your followers who post – candidly and supportively – is immense. Reading your posts is a bright spot in a week filled with small thinking, of the sort described by Bunny and Casey. Oh, I have my moments of big thinking, but too often they are obfuscated by WORK or NATURAL DISASTERS or PETTY PEOPLE (Megan and Becky!).

    So this Saturday morning, I had a window opened to butterflies and birds and boats, sunsets and seashores and spirits (both drinkable and heroic), cats and charity. All this peacefulness was nicely countered by some critical thinking about politicians (who suck!) This experience is like a virtual salon (of the writerly sort): Affirming, exploratory, creative, informative. I truly hope you LOVE writing this post and will make it an avocation well into your advanced years.

    This summer in the PNW has been remarkable. Every day that I sat on the deck pretending I was in CA (which was easy because WA was having months of CA weather, that has since been labeled a drought), I wondered and worried about climate change. Then the wildfires began and we spent literally weeks at a time held hostage by unhealthy smoky air in our stifling hot and stuffy residences. This would make me madder at The Dumpster and his administration — the tip of the iceberg for GOP related handwringing.

    Yet, the universe sent signs of hope: 1) my own growing collection of bluejay feathers, and 2) hurricanes let loose with a vengeance…threatening The Dumpster’s 11-bedroom mansion on St. Martin (which is on the market for $16.9M, reduced just last week from $28M) and headed for Mar-a-Lago (!). It’s hard not to entertain the thought that a direct strike by lightening might be a more economical approach. Are a drought in the Puget Sound area (preceded by record rainfall all winter), and three or four category 5 hurricanes enough to get the attention of climate deniers.

    But for 30 pleasant and relaxing minutes this morning, I could forget all that…because Vivian writes and shares photographs (and sometimes talks truth to power).

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 10:52 am

      Gigi, I’m so sorry to have given you the wrong impression. Writing this blog is exactly the same as writing a weekly article, same dread of deadline, same standards of narrative coherence, same obligation to not waster readers’ time, same gnawing anxiety of hearing the sound of my voice bleating on about something boring and cliche. Thank you for your kind review, and thank you for giving me my reason to live.

  10. Gigi DeVault September 9, 2017 @ 1:35 pm

    Thank you, Becky, for sharing the LesleytheBirdNerd youtubes. The videos are wonderful. And, happily, the first one I viewed was all about my beloved bluejays!

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 10:48 am

      Wow, you’re right, Gigi. That’s a gorgeous mini-documentary about the ever-wondrous Blue Jay.

  11. Leslie September 9, 2017 @ 2:21 pm

    Think Big…religion without the bullshit.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 10:40 am

      This is my new favorite motto. Thank you.

  12. elizabeth September 10, 2017 @ 8:33 am

    If I had a sailboat I’d call it Raison Debt because boat names should be puns and that’s the only pun I can think of.

    • Vivian September 10, 2017 @ 10:39 am

      French pun. Tres classy.

  13. Steve September 15, 2017 @ 1:33 am

    I have never seen a purple admiral before. Even when I lived in NY I don’t remember seeing one. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Anyway — beautiful!

    And hooray for Muttnation. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the Texas politicians. But I do have a soft spot for Austin.

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