Category Archives: Animals and Pets

Lessons to Learn from Ella

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By Crystal

            Ella, our two-year-old cat, has taught both Ron and me many lessons.  One of them is that you can play with anything.

            I save the green plastic tops from the orange juice bottles so that Ella can push them around the house like a hockey puck.  She’s so cute and funny when she does this.  She stole a pair of my fuzzy socks folded together from my room and drags them all over the house carrying it in her mouth.  Ella will bring them wherever we are and then meow to tell us.  We are now calling them Fred.  She has a stuffed white bunny she also takes around as well as a cloth snowman.

            When I was a child, I liked to use bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, etc. to make things.  The silver bottle caps that came off of milk bottles I made into pots and pans for my Barbie doll.  I used my Dad’s pipe cleaners, after they came out in color, to make a whole zoo full of animals – giraffes, elephants, lions or tigers and more.

            My adopted grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma Kampman sent us small magazines with directions on making things using materials we had in our house – felt, glue, cardboard, paper, buttons and just odds and ends in the house.  Jeannette and I really enjoyed reading them and creating toys and decorations.

            Today I use all kinds of paper including origami paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and cardboard, to make altered books and 3D cards, mobiles, and other crafts. I use felt, fabric, lace, thread, empty spools (which Ella also plays with), buttons, beads, trims, and paper clips to make dolls, doll clothing and accessories, jewelry and other projects.

            Ella finds all of my craft making fascinating and she tries to take my thread, papers, buttons, etc. to play with and push under the TV stand and the couch and even the refrigerator.  From time to time I take a ruler to get her toys out from under places.  She is so surprised to see them.  I think she believes there is a cat on the other side who is taking her toys and playing with them.

            Being empty nesters, Ron and I miss the girls, but having Ella to play with, and pet, helps.  Ella is also very friendly to all of our girls and grandchildren, neighbors, and friends who come to our house.  She has to watch the cable guy when he fixes the computer and the TV, and the plumber, and the gas company guy.  We cherish her and her entertaining ways.

            I think the biggest lesson we have learned from Ella is to live in the moment and be happy.  Worrying about tomorrow (especially these days) doesn’t help anything, and regretting what happened in the past won’t change anything.  Watching the news can make you really depressed, but watching Ella with Fred, or her bunny, or the plastic top makes us laugh.

Ron’s Corner:

            Ella is a daddy’s girl. Oh, she loves Crystal plenty, but she reminds me of our girls when they were young. Then, as now, I am the one always leaving. Somehow, she seems to know when I am ready to leave the house. She plops down on my lap and tries to weigh me down. When I get up, she will out race me to the door and block it with her sturdy eight-pound body. This ploy never works, but I give her props for her persistence.

I let her out of the back room in the morning and she follows me wherever I go. If I don’t periodically pay attention to her, she will try to trip me. In the evening, when I go upstairs to work on the computer, she will follow with Fred and try to distract me. Eventually, she will get bored and lie down on a bed, until I am done, or go back down to Crystal. When I do get back into the living room, Crystal is usually working on some craft project with Ella close by. As soon as I sit down, she (Ella not Crystal) will jump onto my lap and watch TV with me. That’s right she likes TV, especially nature specials.

            Over the years I’ve had several jobs, which required me to be out of town; sometimes for months at a time. When I would come home for weekend visits, the girls would be all over me. They never knew, that I missed them as much as they missed me. When I come home and Ella comes racing from whatever she was playing with, it just reminds me of those times, and the love we still share with our daughters.

            Crystal and I agree, as silly as it might seem, that this is just another example of how God knows what we need. When Ella stuck her head out from the raspberry bushes a couple of summers ago, the last thing we thought we needed, was another cat. I guess we were wrong.

Ella with Fred
Ella watching TV with me
Category: Animals and Pets

Ella’s Christmas Letter

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Hi again, I’m Ella Meinstein. It’s been over a year since I found mom and dad (Crystal and Ron) picking raspberries in my back yard. They are very good to me. I get lots of good food. I have all sorts of toys like empty spools, my stuffed bunny and stuffed snowman; and there is always a nice warm lap to sit on.

            Recently they gave me a new game, which they love to play with me. One day Dad went to the garage and got a whole bunch of boxes and bags. Then he assembled this big green triangular thing which kind of looks like a tree. I’ll call it a tree. It doesn’t smell like a tree, more like the shower curtain. But that’s not the best part. After Dad put it up, Mom put gloves on and fluffed out the tree to make is look bigger, covered it with lights and little stuffed animals like Peter Rabbit and Woodstock, red balls, wooden stars, beaded candy canes and more toys. I didn’t tell mom, but I see really well and don’t need the lights. I love the toys though and jumping into the boxes that Dad brought in the house.

The super best part is that the game comes with the toys. The rules are simple. I just wait until no-one is looking and I steal one of the toys especially the soft ones and carry it off. When Mom sees me she chases me and yells. Dad usually, just sits in his chair and laughs. I would laugh too, but it’s hard with a toy in my mouth.

            I also think this game has levels of difficulty. Lately the toys have been getting higher in the tree. It makes them harder to get. Pretty soon I’m just going to have to jump or climb the tree to get them. I can’t wait. I love to jump and climb. And won’t Dad laugh then.

            And then there’s the mail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many letters.  I watch mom write on cards and put bright red and green stickers on the envelopes. I sit on the cards, push the pen around and knock some of them on the floor until Mom pushes me away.  And when one “accidentally” gets dropped behind the couch, that’s when the fun really starts.  Mom has to push the couch out and reach over the back to retrieve the card.  She looks so funny but she makes the mad face so I run under the dining room table and wait until she forgets all about it.

            Mom and Dad talk about this fellow Jesus. I think he may be coming to play with me. They said if you let him, he could maybe come to your house too. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Well until next time, be good (whatever that means), and maybe you will get some toys too. Merry Plastic Toy Tree Day to All and to All a Good Night!

Isn’t this the best time of the year?

Love and Peace and Cats Rule


I love the soft ones.
Got It!
Who Me?
Category: Animals and Pets

Ella’s Blog March 2019

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            This was my first winter. I discovered snow! Dad took me outside and put me in it. I didn’t like that. It looks nice, all white and fluffy, but it’s too cold and wet.  It has been a confusing winter here in Warsaw, Ohio. I noticed that sometimes it snows and is cold, other times it rains and is warmer.  Fortunately, we have a nice heater in our living room.  I sit under it on the couch when it is cold.  I also like to look out the window on my seat and watch the birds eating at our bird feeders.  Mom got a bird feeder for Christmas.   All kinds of bird come to the feeder: cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, doves, and other small birds, woodpeckers, and lately starlings.  It is exciting to see all of this birds coming and going to our hanging bird feeder, hanging planter and porch feeders. The redheaded woodpecker is so large he has to do acrobatics, hanging on the edge of the feeder in order to eat.  As many as 7 or 8 little birds can hover on the four feeder sides.  Sometimes they just perch there to get out of the rain or snow.  The bushes, pine trees and other trees near the porch offer shelter to the birds.

On warm sunny days Mom takes me out on the porch swing.  The birds scatter when they see us, but we can hear their songs.  There is this big screen in the living room and sometimes we watch birds, tigers, whales and other wildlife on it in color.  I go up to the screen sometimes and try to touch the birds and the animals, but mom pulls me back.  Sometimes when mom pushes buttons on this rectangular black box the screen changes from color to black and white.  That’s when Dad and I go upstairs to Dad’s room with a big chair and a smaller screen.  He likes to watch shows where people bounce balls and throw them around.  Occasionally I go down to see what Mom is doing.  She plays with thread, yarn, fabric, and papers which I try to take from her.  I love to push pens, pins, spools of thread, plastic forks and spoons and mom’s glasses around the floor.  I lose my cat toys, bottle caps, and other small objects under the bookcase and shelves holding the big screen.  I think there is a cat hiding behind the furniture that takes them and plays with them.  Sometimes Mom takes a wooden ruler and pokes it under the bookcase and TV shelves to fight with the other cat for my toys.  The problem is, they seem to end up there again and again.  Sometimes they fall into mom’s shoes or slippers.  Someday, I know I will be able to reach under the TV table and push all of those great toys out.  I keep trying.

             You may notice that I have a photo with my typewriter.  One of my hobbies is pushing the keys on this typewriter.  I have tried to take it apart with my mitten paws and my teeth, but so far I haven’t had any success.  Like many items in the house, it is a mystery.

               I know that I am lucky to live in this house with mom and dad when I see another tabby cat walking across our porch on a regular basis.  Sometimes I make a trilling sound when I see that cat.  It is my way of laughing at him.  He should realize that this is my house and he is not coming in while I am in charge.  I have to try to get some of the toys from under the TV table now, so this is the end of my report. Until next time, “meow”.

Category: Animals and Pets

The Cat Report by Ella Meinstein

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Hi!  My name is Ella.  I am six months old.  I am a tabby mix with mitten paws. I am the new cat at the Meinstein house.  I am very happy to be living here.  I receive food, water and lots of affection and attention.

My life wasn’t always so good. I was living outside, hiding wherever I could. It was scary. There were all sorts of animals including some big dogs. The weather went from hot to rainy and cold. I caught a bad cold and still cough periodically. Food was hard to come by. I finally found a relatively safe place to hide under the Meinstein’s raspberry bushes.

Now I don’t care for raspberries, but fortunately the Meinsteins do. One day, late this summer, they were out picking along with their neighbor Susan. I was hiding and listening. They worked their way methodically around to my hiding place. They were smiling and laughing as they picked. Finally, I got up my nerve. Anything had to be better than my raspberry home. I stuck my nose out. They seemed friendly. I walked boldly right up to Mrs. Meinstein and rubbed her legs. She started petting me immediately. Then I went to Mr. Meinstein and he petted me. Then he left and brought back some food and water. I was very hungry.

Soon they were done picking and went back into their house. I went back under the raspberries. The next day however Mr. Meinstein was back. I came out immediately. He picked me up and asked if I would like to come into their house and be their kitty. I purred yes, yes, please. And that’s how I found my new mom and dad.

I’ve been here a few months now and couldn’t be happier. I eat when I want, sleep when I want, get all of the loving and snuggling any cat could want. And I play a lot. The house is full of toys. However, mom and dad get upset sometimes. I am still trying to get a handle on what toys I can play with and what toys I can’t. I am pretty sure mom’s glasses are off limits.

Mom talks a lot and apparently speaks some cat. She offered to help me write my very own blog. She is so nice. I will try to write at least monthly. I hope you enjoy it.

As far as what is new, this strange funny smelling tree showed up yesterday. Mom put on colorful lights and covered it with an assortment of exciting toys. So far I haven’t found the ones I am allowed to play with. Well that’s about it. Hope you have a purrfect day!

Hi I’m Ella as in Cinderella.

Category: Animals and Pets

Let’s Talk Cats: Crystal’s Corner

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When I was growing up in Chicago, I really wanted a pet.  I always liked cats and dogs.  My parents would not let us have a pet, especially a cat, even though we had field mice in our house.  After Ron and I bought our townhouse in Alsip, we got two kittens.  Samantha was a gray long hair, very intelligent female and Peter a black and gray tabby, affectionate, but not very smart.  I constantly talked to Samantha and Peter even before I became a stay at home mom and worked part time.  They always looked as though they knew what I was saying. Although, strangely enough, they never obeyed a single command. I did, however, teach Peter to walk on a leash outside, which amazed our neighbors in Chicago. They were my babies until we had Elizabeth.  These cats both loved the baby.  When she would cry, they would look at me and meow.  When Elizabeth was about two years old and she would cry, Samantha would lick her tears.  As a toddler, Liz would fall on them or grab them, but they wouldn’t hurt her. Instead they would look at Ron or me for help.

Peter and Samantha were sibling strays, living outside with their mother under some bushes between two houses, when a friend of ours at church found them and sought homes for them.  Since then, every cat we have taken in has come to us.  We didn’t go looking for them.  Friendly, a black and gray tabby stray, who looked a lot like Peter, was in a bush across the street from us in Indiana.  Elizabeth was 6 years old when she rescued him.  It was love at first sight.  He was her cat.  The older cats (Peter and Samantha), now 8 years old, didn’t want a new cat in their house, but after a time, learned to love and cuddle with Friendly.  Friendly was very persistent in making friends with them.

On Michelle’s 13th birthday, at her slumber party, “Minnie”, a beautiful gold and white stray cat, had her kittens on our back porch.  We had to take her to the vet to get two more kittens out.  The kittens were premature and did not survive.  But of course, after such a traumatic experience, Minnie would have to live with us.  She would sit on top of a dresser by the window overlooking our porch.  We had been feeding her as an outside stray.  Now another stray, “Asia”, was visiting on our porch.  Minnie was talking to Asia like they knew each other on the outside.  We fed Asia and petted her outside.  Then one day, we noticed she was limping.  We took her to the Vet and saved her life.  Asia was a little cat with brown, black, gold, and white colors.  When we let her in, Minnie, who seemed fond of her on the porch, didn’t want her in our house. However, she soon got over it as did our other three. That’s right, we were up to five. God help us!

After we moved to Ohio with all of these cats except Peter, who died in Indiana, we found a kitten in our driveway.  Ashes, a gray longhaired tailless cat, was injured and had to see the Vet.  He attached himself to Samantha, who looked like him, but didn’t want to be near him.  We lost Samantha soon after we moved.  She was 20 years old and had been with us through five moves and four states.  Maybe about a year after that we got Seal, another stray with problems. This rather small gray tailless cat soon grew a real affinity for our youngest daughter Lisa.

Now in 2016, we only have Seal.  Ron, however, is trying to become friends with a little, not so friendly, black cat who comes onto our front porch from time to time.  We do get stray cats in our driveway and hiding in our raspberry bushes.  This cat likes living outside and is not warming up to him.

Since Lisa moved out, Seal who has always been very affectionate and has become my lap cat.  When Lisa visits from time to time, he seems very happy splitting time between us. I am used to lap cats. All of the cats with the exception of Minnie have been on my lap. When we had Asia and Ashes, they would take turns.  Asia, the female, would dominate, but Ashes and Seal would sometimes climb on top of her on top of me, especially when I am working on crafts or reading or writing.  They would have to be a part of it.  Asia would take pins out of my pin cushion and just drop them next to it.  They all loved chasing a spool of thread around the room.  Asia was a bit of a tease. She would also find a small toy somewhere and then take it in the living room.  She would get the other cats to play with it and then just take it away and hide it.

As much trouble as cats can be with their hair everywhere, knocking things off tables, sitting on my knitting, crocheting, and quilting projects, fleas (at times) and illnesses, I never regretted having any of them.  The bottom line is; I guess I’m a cat person. I don’t even want to imagine living without one in our house.  These days I run many of my ideas past Seal.  He always approves and looks at me with loving eyes.  Since Lisa moved out, Seal even sits on Ron sometimes, if I am not around.  He meows when I come back as if to say “Where were you?”  Then he plants himself on me to keep me from leaving again.  I just pet him as if to say, “I’m here.”  I think, in his own way, he smiles as he cuddles with me.

P.S.  I don’t think Seal wants the black porch cat to come in here.  Asia sometimes comes back as a ghost and rubs my leg.  I think she is enjoying cat heaven, but just misses me.

Ron’s Two Cents

Unlike Crystal, I have had many pets growing up, including a couple of very loving cats. When I suggested to my new bride that we could have a cat I thought she would explode. She was so very happy. Originally, when we went to look at the litter living in our friend’s bushes we agreed to pick one. Samantha came right to me as if to say I choose you. The lady told us it would be a good idea to take another, ‘at least for a couple of days’, so Samantha wouldn’t get lonely. Boy, were we saps. I reached into the bush and pulled out Peter.

We loved them both. Their first toy was an empty Kleenex box. They both fit in very easily. Peter loved being a family cat and just liked people in general. Samantha, while a people cat, was particularly fond of me. I called her my daddy’s girl. I have been fortunate enough to have three more daddy’s girls since, but none of them had four legs.

There was no doubt that while, as Crystal said, both cats adapted to our girls, Samantha was obviously jealous. She didn’t like sharing me or our attention. I still remember the day that our one year old was crying and we were desperately searching for her pacifier. We were ready to give up. As I got ready to go to the store to buy a new one, there was Samantha bounding energetically up from the basement. She almost looked proud as she showed off her new chew toy. Crystal and I both laughed hysterically at the site. Of course this find didn’t keep me from my trip to the store. There were just a few too many holes in that pacifier by the time we managed to wrestle it away from our girl cat.

I think every married couple needs pets. It’s probably what kept Crystal and me together all of these years. If we broke up, who would get the cats?

Note: I’ve had the unenviable task of burying four cats since we’ve been in Ohio. The first three are in our back yard in unmarked graves. The fourth (and any subsequent cats) I buried in some local woods. Unfortunately, since I didn’t mark the three graves, I don’t remember exactly where they are and don’t want to disturb them.

Peter and Samantha 001

Michelle with Peter and Elizabeth with Samantha circa 1987

Category: Animals and Pets

Pets, Pests and Mimi

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November was a busy month. We celebrated my dad’s 95th birthday (still doing well), saw Crystal’s dad in Cincinnati (not doing great but still inspirational) , and then, of course there was Thanksgiving. With all of that family time it just helps to reinforce all we have to be thankful for. There is nothing like family. When I think of my family, growing up, I can’t help but focus on my mom.

Mimi (my mom) had a rough life as a child growing up in Germany. Her family was extremely poor, her father absurdly abusive, not to mention WW2. I think all of that contributed to how she spoiled me. Oh, there were times when I pushed the limit, and she would get out the little wooden spoon of discipline. I know it hurt her more than me. I tried to not push my freedom for her sake.

For the most part, I had a great amount of freedom as long as she knew where I would be. Most of the time, I was out with friends, playing some type of game or sport. Other times, I would go for a “bike ride” around the neighborhood. To me, that was code for exploring. Occasionally, I would bring back some type of souvenir. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, I found a lot of treasures. I had a storage area in the basement full of them. There were some tools, broken toys, old motors, etc. I liked to take things apart and see how they worked.

Every now and then, something more animated would grab my attention. Mimi never knew that one of my favorite games was knocking down wasp nests with a long stick. The trick is, you have to get them with a single swipe, or they will be all over you. Then, run fast and far!

I also liked to watch bee hives and ant hills. They are fascinating if you don’t get too close. Of course, Mimi never knew about those little adventures. It was the critters I decided to make pets that involved her. She just couldn’t say no to her Ronny; and somehow always wound up taking care of my conquests. She was terrified of snakes, but for almost a year, she would feed my pet garter snake. I could hear her talking to it every day during its milk bath. Don’t ask. One day I was playing with him outside and the rotten thing got away. Sometimes a snake just doesn’t know how good he has it.

I also brought home turtles and Cray fish. I once caught a frog. It tried to escape down a storm drain. When I returned home, Mimi had a fit about both the frog and my clothes. She took care of it for about three months until it escaped into the basement. I couldn’t find it anywhere. About a week later. he came out. Unfortunately, he was too dehydrated and didn’t make it very long. Mimi consoled me, but I could tell she was relieved.

For about half a year (more than double their normal lifespan), I kept a large green grasshopper. We fed it lettuce and apple. When I left the house, I tied a thread around its neck with the other end attached to my shirt button. Unfortunately, my new pet was banned from my school. I never understood that. The other kids had no problem with it. Even some of the girls petted it. For years, every time I went for a haircut, my barber would remind me and the other barbers with a laugh.

I believe it was the summer of 1964 when we went on the ultimate vacation. I was ten years old. After driving forever (about ten hours for a ten year old) we arrived somewhere close to Bemidji, Minnesota. Dad had served inWW2 and was proud of his camping skills. We spent the night at a camp site, in a tent. I was so excited. The next morning dad and I went for an exploratory hike. I think mom was trying to see how much dirt she could sweep until the campsite was clean. All of a sudden, a large black snake (I would guess seven to ten feet), apparently unaware of our presence, slithered across our path. I reacted appropriately. Immediately, with the reflexes of a Ninja, I darted behind my dad and said,” catch it dad!”   He just stood there while my pet got away. I have since gotten over it.

Later that day, I had a chance to make up for our failure with the snake. I came across a stream which was lousy with crayfish. I spent the better part of the afternoon turning over rocks and hunting my quarry. At final count, there were easily a dozen new pets in my bucket. I was so proud. I would not come home from my adventure in the north woods empty handed. That night, however, as I was dreaming of my stories of victory for the neighborhood, we were awakened by a rustling. Mom immediately thought bear, and grabbed me as I rushed toward the tent flap. Dad and I then looked out. It was raccoons, two big ones and three or four little ones. They were heading away from my bucket and back into the woods. You guessed it: instead of pets all I had accomplished that day was to create a dinner buffet for some raccoons. Someday, with God’s help, I will get over that too.

Mom with snake 001

The only picture I could find with mom and a critter. Note the fear in her eyes. She really loved me.

Category: Animals and Pets