Fostering kittens for the DSPCA is always interesting but the kitten we took delivery of on last Wednesday has a particularly special story.

Last Monday (13th August), a woman left Edenderry, Co Offaly and drove (without stopping) to Dublin.  On arrival and when she got out of her car she was very surprised to hear a cat’s cries seeming to come from inside the engine.  She lifted the bonnet and sure enough there was a white and black, quite terrified kitten looking back at her.  The kitten had hung on and survived the journey the entire way.  Thankfully the driver contacted the DSPCA who took the kitten back to their HQ in Rathfarnham where they checked him out.

This is Scooter when he arrived at the DSPCA after his epic journey in a car engine

Miraculously the three month old kitty survived without injury.  When we met him on Wednesday, he was still a bit dishevelled and grimy looking.  We took him home for some rest and recuperation.

Although the DSPCA had called him Eden, he was immediately rechristened Scooter in our house and we think this name suits him perfectly. He didn’t take too long to relax and soon was relishing the comforts of a cosy blanket and a safe place to sleep. In the last few days he is regaining his looks as he grooms away the dirt and grime from his engine journey.

Scooter at home!

Scooter brings with him such a great story of survival, of the kindness of strangers and of hope in the face of the seemingly insurmountable odds.  And the amazing thing is that he seems to know how lucky he is and he is so grateful for a second chance.  He is the most affectionate cat you could meet.

We are due to return him to the DSPCA for rehoming on Friday!  Mmmmmmm… I think this is one kitty foster we may just fail on!

Kittens and adult cats can have a dangerous habit of climbing onto car engines because they (foolishly) consider them warm and safe places to sleep.  Most cats would not be as lucky as Scooter was.  If you have cats in the vicinity of where your car is parked it is a good habit just to bang the bonnet with your hand before you get into the car.  This should help dislodge a sleeping cat.  Cats in car engines can be a particular habit of farmyard cats!

Leading the way to Gratitude

Just as I was savouring the last minutes of peace and quiet, my phone rang. It was Mia, our youngest, suggesting that I collect them from school as she needed to go to the Orthodontist.

“We don’t have an appointment today Mia”, I said.

“No but I need to go. I broke my brace eating my apple at lunchtime and now there is a sharp bit sticking out”.

Great, I thought, there goes the afternoon. I was already in a Monday mood which had been added to by the continuing gloom and doom in the news about Bond Markets and other things I do not understand. But I picked up the phone and without any difficulty got an emergency appointment for Mia.

At this point let me say that I cannot compliment the Orthodontic Unit at Loughlinstown enough. Run by the HSE (state health service) they have provided Mia was a superb, efficient and caring service in the search for her elusive front tooth which is still residing somewhere up near her nose. However it has been located and a gold chain attached which is in turn attached to a brace. It is tightened at regular intervals and is slowly pulling the tooth down into its position in the front of her mouth.

So we are regular visitors to the unit which is located behind St Colmcille’s Hospital. Like other hospitals in Ireland, Loughlinstown was originally a Workhouse, opened in 1841 for the poor and destitute of the area. The famine arrived a few years later and so the building was flooded with the starving and the dying. Both my younger girls are fascinated by the story of The Famine and each time we attend the hospital we talk about all those who must have suffered so terribly during the 1840’s and wonder what it must have been like for the unfortunates who arrived to this place.

The Orthodontic unit, being at the back of the hospital complex is surrounded by what looks like waste ground, overgrown and uncared for. Yesterday as we left, we noticed a worn pathway through the long grass and Mia suggested we check it out and see where it went. So we stolled away from the buildings and towards some trees.

Beyond the line of trees we stepped into a clearing. The foliage shaded the light and dappled shadows played on the ground which was covered in a carpet of beechnut shells. As we softly crunched our way into this church like space, we noticed, in one sunlit corner of the site, a large gravestone. It was marking the ‘Holy Angels’ plot* – where tiny babies were buried. As we stood and read the stone, our eyes were drawn to a small white cross a couple of feet away. It marked the grave of baby Natasha Sherwood who died in 1978 and poignantly ‘missed by her mum and dad and brothers’. Mia and I stood for a few minutes in silence. Sherwood is my husband’s name and so is also Mia’s and Roisin’s surname. My husband is English and it is a rare enough name in Ireland. This baby Sherwood seemed very real to us both. The fact that she was clearly a longed for daughter and sister, struck us as hugely sad. “She would be 32 now mom,” Mia said. As her words floated around this place I thought back to her own birth exactly ten years ago. Mia was premature and very sick for the first few weeks of her life. In her first 48 hours of life, we feared we would lose her. I have a small insight into how traumatic this other baby Sherwood’s death must have been.

The energy of this sacred place was beautiful. The only sound was the breeze rustling the tops of the ancient trees that stood guard all around us. As we continued to explore we came across another large stone memorial under the shade of overhanging trees. The inscription says it all. It read:

“The noble ones of other times sleep here,
Quiet be their voice.
They would not be disturbed.
Pain and hunger gone,
They feel not winter’s cold.
The Shepard has them now
Safe within his fold.”

St Colmcille’s Hospital. 1841 – 1991. 150 Anniversary

We had indeed found our famine graveyard. Here is this peaceful copse of trees on high ground behind the hospital. Sheltered by trees and in mother nature’s embrace, lie many hundreds of Irish people, who just over 150 years ago, died from hunger and disease.

As we left this beautiful place, we felt not sad, but very grateful that history has placed us here in Ireland at this time. Recession? We are wealthy beyond the dreams of our forefathers. Sometimes we forget to be grateful. And sometimes our children show us how or where to find such gratitude.

*Many hospitals in Ireland have a Holy Angels plot were in the past stillborn and new babies who were not baptised were buried routinely in an unmarked plot.

Filled with Gratitude

Hello, hello, hello.

It seems like ages since I have been posting on Seeking Serenity, due to the fact that I had two wonderful Guest Writers posting their wit, wisdom and words here for the last two weeks. So before I go any further can I thank both Susannah Bec (Joy Frequencies among others) and Niamh Griffin (Writer On The Way Home) for their beautiful and inspiring and uplifting posts. I enjoyed both and know, from the comments, that they went down well with you too!

So, its almost Christmas and we are getting ready to welcome the return of the light (methaphorically and physically). We are also in the last days of this year of 2009. I am sure that many of you, like me, have mixed feelings about 2009. It has been a difficult and challenging year but thankfully punctuated with good things and high spots too. So as we cruise towards it’s end, it might be a good idea to remind ourselves of what was good about this year. And you know even, the trauma of recession and church scandals are fulfilling an important purpose in allowing a cleansing and detox take place. Our world may be moving towards getting rid of inequality of wealth, greed and injustice during this period of collapse of banking and financial institutions. And I am not for one moment trivialising the loss of other jobs, collateral damage as it were, in this painful process. But I am merely making the point that at the end of this process we may all be better off in ways it is hard to imagine now.

The church is also going to continue its painful period of being cleansed of bullying, secrecy, abuse and rigid control. I am proud that Ireland may well turn out to be the country that leads this re-examination of the Catholic Church. In my heart I hope that we can all return to the values that Jesus taught and leave the bullshit behind us. Then the thousands of children who suffered at the hands of these men of God, will not have suffered in vain. At the moment I am constantly reminded of Jesus’s words “suffer little children, forbid them not to come unto me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It may well be that these children are going to be remembered and honoured, as through their bravery as adults they began this important process of change.

So it is with optimism that I head gladly towards the end of this year. 2010 will be better, I am sure.

Finally, I want to thank you! I set up this blog in March, on a wave of enthusiasm after attending a brilliant Inkwell Writers workshop led by the wonderful Beth Morrissey. Since then I have posted all sorts of bits and pieces and more recently have set up my second blog, My Word Songs, which is dedicated to my writing. I have discovered a whole new virtual world, made some new friends (whom I have never met) and have so enjoyed reading your comments. So thank you – for checking in, for leaving comments, and for being new friends.

Nollaig Shona go leir agus here’s to 2010 – lets hope it brings us all an abundance of all that is good!

SUMMER SOLSTICE 21/22 June 2009

And so we have reached one of the two turning points of the natural year.
The Summer Solstice.
Longest day.
High Summer.

I am pretty sure that in a previous life I was a witch or a Pagan Priestess as the Solstices (and indeed Halloween) in particular resonate with some very deep place within my soul.

I am greatly comforted by the reminder of the turning of The Wheel of the Year.
A marker in time that at Summer Solstice reminds us of all we have to celebrate and to be grateful for.

Nature is at its busiest.
Flowers in full bloom.
Vegetables growing and ripening.
The sun reaching it’s zenith.

The Summer Solstice reminds us to take this time to enjoy all of nature in its abundance.
And to be grateful for all the bounty that Mother Earth provides for us!

And so today make sure you in some small way, capture the spirit of this magical day.
Run wildly through the garden
And then give a big, loud exuberant thanks for all that is given to you.

Enjoy, Enjoy….

Photos of Dylan getting into the wild and exuberant spirit of the Summer Solstice by practicing his newest trick!!!