Facebook is Killing Me…Not with Kindness

And it’s killing you, too.

Back in the day, when someone was a known criminal or evil doer, the townspeople would get together and hunt them down. There always seemed to be a surplus of pitchforks, so everyone could carry one as they ran. (Not very safe, people of yesteryear.) Some folks with very good balance and short hair could carry both a pitchfork AND a torch.  Yeah, an open flame. This angry mob would get themselves riled up at Farmer Jenkins barn and then run through the streets screaming and crying out for the mischief maker. Getting the hell outta Dodge was probably the best idea for the troublemaker if he wanted to avoid the tarring and feathering that came next.  Ouch.

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Luckily, tar and feathers aren’t used as much anymore, but that angry mob mentality is still very much alive in our society. Even in polite society, if there is still such a thing.  Our standards for others are so high that we are instantly outraged with any mistake, large or small. No one is allowed an error anymore. Especially if you have any sort of celebrity status. Yes, of course I have examples.

The Oscars 2017

If you are a follower of this blog, you will know that I’m not a fan of the Oscars™.  (I put the TM in there to be funny.) I am an avid movie watcher and I appreciate each and every person who is involved in the making of a film from best boy to starring actor. (What does a best boy do anyway?) That being said, I don’t like a group of elite rich folks telling me what movie is the best. The whole process is fixed and ridiculous. Here’s Adam to tell us why:

Should filmmakers be recognized and awarded? Certainly!  How about we let movie fans vote or let professionals be judged by their peers in a non-televised event?  They can tell us about it afterwards. We can write them letters and tell them they’re great. (Thanks Joe Walsh!)

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But I’m straying from the point here. If you were awake on Oscar night or the next morning, you heard about the Best Movie announcement “epic disaster.” No, there wasn’t an earthquake or violence of any kind, but Warren Beatty was involved. Mr. Beatty and Faye Dunaway were tasked with presenting the award for Best Picture. They were given the wrong envelope and subsequently announced the wrong movie as the winner. A few minutes later, the mistake was realized and the correct film was announced. People were disappointed, I have no doubt, but everyone is okay. No one was taken to the hospital, the roof didn’t collapse and no one’s “goodie bag” was taken away. Later that evening, it was announced that the two accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers handed Mr. Beatty the wrong envelope.

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These two people were instantly vilified in the media. As per usual, folks who were unaffected by the accountants’ actions were crying for the accountants to be fired immediately and banned from the Oscars for the rest of their lives. And we should all get to throw an egg at them. Brian Culllinan and Martha Ruiz apologized many times and said they were “devastated” by their error. It was revealed that Mr. Cullinan was engaging in social media right before this fateful error, so that makes it even worse for some reason. If he had just been standing there picking his nose, would that make it okay? In an admirable twist of fate, PriceWaterhouseCoopers did not fire the two accountants. They are quoted as saying it was an “honest mistake.” The two accountants lost their gig at the Oscars, but their company kept them on.  An honest mistake.

Ryan Lochte

Remember that guy? Ryan Lochte is an Olympic swimmer. He has won 12 Olympic medals and currently holds four world records. That’s pretty fantastic and he did it all before he was 31 years old. This guy knows what he’s doing in the pool.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 4

Then the 2016 Olympics in Rio happened. Ryan was finished with his events and went out on the town with a couple of his teammates.  Four young men at the top of their games partying in Rio. They got drunk, they did dumb stuff. Lochte was accused of vandalizing a gas station bathroom. A security guard pulled a gun on him and the others to make them stop. Lochte handed over some money to pay for the damages and the story got way out of hand from there. So, Ryan was probably upset about the incident and told his Mom about it over the phone, but he didn’t tell anyone else. Somehow, a FoxNews reporter heard about the incident and reported it. The International Olympic Committee and Ryan both denied the allegations, but then there was the video footage.  Whoops. So now Ryan was caught lying to his Mom and possibly the Olympic Committee and now had to save face in front of the media. So, he did some creative storytelling.

Everyone turned on Ryan in a heartbeat. He was a beloved American athlete the day before, but now he is the scum of the earth. He finally admitted his wrongdoings and was quite severely punished.  He was banned from professional swimming for 10 months, he would miss the 2017 World Championships, he was not allowed to visit the White House with Team USA and he had to forfeit $100,000 dollars in bonuses.  He also lost most of his endorsements, including Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron Candela. ESPN estimated he lost a total of 1 million dollars.  But I’m sure it was way more than that.

Did you ever lie to your Mom when you were in your 30s? Did you ever get drunk with your friends and do something really, really stupid? Well, I did. (Sorry Mom.) Thank God there wasn’t social media during my public drinking days. So glad I don’t have to relive those moments with the world looking on. I get it, lying is terrible, especially when acting as an ambassador for your country, but I feel the punishment did not fit the crime. He didn’t tell everyone what happened, his mom did and then he was forced into a precarious situation.  Now instead of being remembered for being one of the best and most decorated swimmers in the world, he’s that swimmer who lied in Rio. Everyone on social media ganged up on Ryan, judging him harshly for making a choice we might have made in that situation. It’s hard to know what you would have done until you’re in that exact situation.

It’s so easy to be anonymous on Facebook. Just yesterday I was scrolling through my newsfeed and I saw a news article about a celebrity speaking out against Trump. A person I know personally and love commented on the article in a very startling and vulgar way. It made me very sad. I know my friend would never speak to someone like that in person. Not in a million years, but on Facebook, it’s okay. I have other friends, people I love mind you, who constantly pummel Facebook with political posts that judge the current administration harshly. Although I don’t agree with most anything Trump says or does, he’s not even being given a chance to say or do anything. He is constantly met with a mob of folks ready to burn his house down. And then there’s an equally angry mob of Trump supporters who will burn everyone else’s houses down. It’s a constant ping pong match on social media that I’m tired of looking at.

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You may be thinking that I should just stop logging onto to Facebook. You’re probably right, but like you I am addicted to it. It’s something to do while I’m bored. I like hearing from my friends that they like my writing or my band’s video. I like seeing pics of people’s dogs and cats doing silly things. I try to scan past the negative and rejoice in the positive. I’ll listen to the news in my car and watch on TV when I get home. I’m not looking to be totally ignorant of the world’s events, but I can’t rely on Facebook as my sole and correct news source. I can’t join that angry mob. I want to hear every side of the story and make my own conclusions. I’m not going to demand that accountants resign from their jobs for making a mistake. I’m not going to sign a petition to ban Ryan Lochte from swimming for the rest of his life. I’m not going to take on your political crusades because you think I should.

What I’m getting at here is that you should think for yourself. I certainly encourage you to share your thoughts and views with others and then listen to their thoughts and views. But do it in person. Go to a town hall in your neighborhood and speak your mind. Let your voice be heard by the people who need to hear it.  But, before you speak, take some time to carefully consider your position. Did you gather all of the facts about the story? Did you put yourself in the same situation and think about what you would have done?  Can you forgive another human person? Does this issue greatly affect the outcome of your life? How about a little less judging and yelling and a little more compassion and thoughtfulness? Also, please do some research and check your facts BEFORE you share and rant.

And some pictures of your cat would be appreciated.

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And the Home of the Brave

Happy Independence Day, Everybody!

When you think of the Fourth of July, you may think of John Hancock putting his well, John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence. You may think of freedom for all people. Or maybe you’re just glad to have a day off work and eat a hot dog or two.

Is this song playing in your head? Yeah, me too. (Soup Dragons, I’m Free)

Usually for the 4th of July Steve and I stay home. We can easily see fireworks from our front or back yard and we’d just rather not deal with a huge crowd on a holiday weekend. You may think we’re old, but I’d prefer to think we are content. So there.

In the past few years, new neighbors have moved into our area. We live on a cul-de-sac and there is a huge retention pond area behind our house. Apparently, these are both perfect areas to stage an amateur fireworks show. Some folks like to start the festivities a couple of days before just to test out the potency of their stash. Hopefully, you won’t be carrying a hot bowl of soup when this happens, because I promise you will soon be cleaning that hot soup off of your shirt and the floor.  In our neighborhood, we like to set off one or two really loud boom-booms randomly throughout the day. We don’t want anyone relaxing or becoming complacent in their freedom celebrations.

Although Steve and I very much look forward to the professional city spectacle, we dread the DIY pyromaniac show. It goes on for days. Starts at 11am and goes until midnight or later. Yes, you’re right fireworks are illegal in Illinois, that’s very astute of you. But they are legal in Indiana which is very close by. In Indiana, there are dozens of fireworks-only shops that sell stuff  with a “buy one, get 8 free” theme. I can assure you, no one bought just one.

The afternoon started off with Steve having to give the evil eye to our neighbors because they were lighting off their firecrackers (yeah, I said firecrackers) directly over our house. One does not enjoy a holiday when fearing the house will burn down.  I’m talking full-on fireworks here.  Not the snakes and snaps of my youth.  And it wasn’t even dark outside! Steve must be very intimidating because our friendly neighbors aimed their arsenal at someone else’s house.

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Once it got dark all bets were off.  It was like everyone was vying for the “Champion Badass” title. We walked to the park at the end of our block to watch the city show and saw several “shows” all around us. Steve brought a can of beer with him and I was nervous about him getting caught with it. “Are you kidding?” he said, “there are obviously no cops around here.”  Good point.

After the professional show, we ran for cover back to our abode. Our drunk neighbors were just getting started and we didn’t want to take any shrapnel. The conversation continued…we live with a cat. Her name is Sadie. She is afraid of many things, loud booms being one of them. She’s not the only one. Raise your hand or your eyebrow if your pooch or kitty freaks out every Fourth of July. Okay, Amanda, Linda, Susan, Donna…you get it, I’m not going to actually count you all. Maybe you’ve seen  that compression vest you can buy for a dog to calm him down. Or maybe your pet just flips out either way. Poor Sadie recently suffered a stroke. That’s the bad news. The good news is she’s lost a good portion of her hearing. This was the first year she didn’t hide under the bed for 2 days. As we were congratulating Sadie for being so brave, we started thinking about others who may not like fireworks…like veterans who suffer with PTSD. I did a little research.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 there were 19.3 million veterans living in the United States. Here’s the breakdown:

7 million vets from the Vietnam War – 15 out of 100 suffer from PTSD, but up to 30 out of 100 have suffered from PTSD in their lifetime.

5.5 million vets from Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom  — 11-20 out of 100 suffer from PTSD

It’s harder to gather how many older veterans suffer from PTSD. The culture was very different then. Men didn’t talk about such things, but here’s how many vets there are from other wars.

1.1 million vets from World War II

2.0 million vets from the Korean War

4.4 million vets who served during peace time.

This is a quote from an article I found on this very topic:

‘An estimated 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan wars were diagnosed with PTSD, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. While fireworks don’t trigger PTSD for all soldiers or veterans, it seems to be a more common occurrence in recent years. Cindy Ramminger, coordinator of the PTSD clinical team at Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, said fireworks were an issue for veterans from as far back as the Vietnam and Gulf wars.’

What I’m trying to tell you is that there are a lot of veterans among us. I can’t image the men and women from our armed forces take joy or comfort in hearing loud explosions that sound like bombs in their own neighborhoods. Isn’t the Fourth of July supposed to be another day to honor them?  Don’t we always say they are fighting for our freedoms? I wonder if anyone has ever considered their feelings.

Cindy Ramminger, what do you think?

‘It can remind them of what might sound like an incoming rocket or mortars or gunfire, which can cause them to get on alert and it can cause them to be frightened,” Ramminger said. “It can push them into a flashback (and) can cause intrusive thoughts, so they’ll start remembering a traumatic event like when they got blown up in an IED attack or lost a friend to some kind of explosion.’

I decided to ask a couple of veterans I know for their thoughts. One man I spoke to was a Navy SEAL in combat. He said he doesn’t mind the fireworks and is able to distinguish the noise of fireworks from actual combat sounds. I found it interesting that he does not like to discuss his time as a SEAL at all.  I know it’s not because he’s not proud or a patriot. Maybe he has figured out how to separate that part of his life from his civilian life. I am genuinely happy for him that he has been able to find peace in his civilian life.

I also talked with another man who was in the Air Force  for 5 years. Three of them were served in the U.S. and 2 in Europe.  Fortunately, he did not see any combat. He let me know that he does not suffer from PTSD, but acknowledges that amateur fireworks could be a potential trigger for a veteran that is afflicted. I asked him if we should be more mindful of the meaning of the holiday and other national holidays. He said yes and pointed out that fireworks should not be the sole focus of Independence Day. (The holiday, not the Bill Pullman movie about aliens.)

And what about people from war-torn countries who lived with these horrible noises for years? People who came to the United States to escape bombs and explosions? It must be awful for them to endure such a loud holiday. I don’t personally know anyone who is a refugee so I can’t ask them, but it would be an interesting question to ask them.

It seems a weird tradition to me anyway. We celebrate our independence from England by making loud noises with boom-booms from China. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely beautiful and I love watching a professional show. In fact, I got engaged with watching fireworks at Navy Pier. Fireworks have a special place in my heart…when done by professionals at an appointed time and place.

I would think the answer here is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Seems like every town has a spectacular display for you to enjoy. That way everyone can enjoy the holiday.  Veterans and other people who are affected will know the time and place of fireworks and can plan accordingly. I suppose it all goes back to being mindful of others. There certainly seems to be a lack of that going around lately.  I think we have become a selfish society. Kind of a “screw you, I’m gonna do what I want” mentality. “It’s my right, I don’t care.” It makes me sad.  I see it while driving, while standing in line at the store and especially on Facebook.

Here’s my final thought…say there’s a veteran in your neighborhood. She’s a good woman. She may be a Mom and work a civilian job just like you.  She served her county and loves her country, but she saw some pretty hard shit. It’s tough for her to talk about. Her holiday isn’t a pleasant one because of the loud, random booms coming from your house. Perhaps she has to completely leave the area and go somewhere more secluded. Would you still keep lighting off all those huge rockets and M80’s if you knew that?  If you knew it really upset a veteran in your neck of the woods, would you do it? Let’s all try to be nice to each other. It will make everyone feel better.

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A Dog with a Belly Button

Enjoy a magical Christmas story from my past. I wonder what holiday miracles have happened in your life. Feel free to share. Happy Holidays!

Jeanne's Blog Cabin

typewriterIf you’re like me at the start of springtime, you’ve got your mind on Christmas. Okay, maybe you’re not like me, but today I’d like to share a story with you that is both inspired by and brought to you by, you guessed it, Christmas.

Oh boy, do kids love Christmas. Am I right? Even as an adult, it’s still kind of exciting. I don’t take part in many Christmas traditions, but I do look forward to seeing the big tree downtown at Daley Plaza with Steve. Then we walk to Macy’s and pick out some funny ornaments for our own Christmas tree. It’s not a Christmas vacation, but it’s always a day I treasure.

Enough about Steve, for Pete’s sake! Let’s talk about someone jolly who wears a velvet red suit. No, not Steve…it’s Santa Claus. If you’re a little kid, please skip the rest of this paragraph. Seriously…

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Give Yourself a Break…Election 2016

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to write you all a quick letter because I have something to say that I feel might help one or a few of you. I tend to stay away from politics. As you know it’s a very hot topic right now and it stirs passion and high emotions for a lot of us.  That being said…

Scrolling through my Facebook page today I see a lot of people who are angry, sad, confused and scared. Not everyone feels this way, certainly, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own choice. I am comforted by the words of Barack Obama as he speaks of tolerance and acceptance and unity. He is so eloquent and I will miss him come January. I hope he will continue to lead with dignity and hope.

Here is what I want to tell you. Are you paying attention?

You need to disengage for awhile.  Look away.

I spent a long time this morning pouring through Facebook reading article after article about the election. I was consumed and couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t even focus on the work I was supposed to be doing.

I’m not saying you can’t feel sad or angry. You sure can, but you need to take a break. Pull yourself away from the computer or the TV just for a short time. 30 minutes. Go outside, look at the sun. Watch a bird fly. Take your dog for a walk.

I decided to listen to some music. I picked a song that reminded me how much I love music and how much I love my husband. Then I got to thinking about how much I love my family. No election can take those things away from me.  While listening and writing this to you, I feel like a person again. I’m breathing.  I’m celebrating creativity and love.  My heart is full and I am grateful.

Please, take a break today.

Sending my love to all of you…pass it on.

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You Gonna Eat That? Workplace Fail/ Try Not Being Gross.

While I am in the process of writing a more developed essay about serious stuff, I’m going to lighten the mood here with some workplace fun facts. As I’m sure you know, we spend a large quantity of our time with our co-workers. Inevitably, things they do will get on our nerves. As you are a perfect human being like me, you are always courteous and cool. You never walk through the entire office whistling “Oh Susanna” for days on end. And I’m sure you don’t even know what *crop dusting is.

I’ve been keeping a list of ways the people I work with make me nuts. More nuts. While going through my list, I noticed a lot of these complaints were food related. Being the flexible and talented writer I am, I decided to revise and edit. My friends, I give you:

 Food For Thought: Top 5 Reasons Food Should Be Banned from My Office

 1. Stealing Food from the Refrigerator

Stacy walks to the office kitchen with a spring in her step. She made a wonderful salad for lunch and she’s been looking forward to it all morning. She even marked her container with her name and a smiley face. She opens the fridge and screams in terror. Most of her salad is gone and the happy little lid from her container is sitting in the garbage can under a poopy diaper.  Okay, there wasn’t really a poopy diaper in the kitchen garbage, but typing poopy diaper three times  really made me laugh.

Stacy doesn’t have time to run out for food, so her day is ruined. Every person she deals with this afternoon will incur the wrath of hangry Stacy. Poor Stacy will be chewing on her arm by 2 o’clock.

Don’t eat someone else’s lunch! It’s quite disgusting. What if they spit in their own food? What if it has curry in it?  Plus, it’s more than rude. It’s just mean. You don’t want to be mean, do you?

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2. Potluck Abuse

Tammy was up all night piping fluffy, flavored yolks into hard-boiled eggs for the office potluck. She was sure to make enough so that everyone could eat two deviled eggs. The paprika was sprinkled on top with artistic care.  Tammy pushes store bought cookies and 2-liters of soda aside to display her culinary masterpiece. There are only 8 food items on the banquet table, but they all look delicious. She turns around to see that there are 25 people in line for food.

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Wait, wha??  My friends, it is so uncool to show up at the office potluck only to dip your filthy head in the trough. In the spirit of “pay-to-play,” you must, MUST bring something to share, otherwise you cannot eat. It’s bad karma, folks. Society has made it so easy for us to find food. Even gas stations have offerings. Buy a bunch of candybars. How ‘bout a case of soda pop? For pete’s sake, grab the jar of queso dip and some Tostitos!  Brighten up, Lollipop!  It’s time to be an adult person at work.

3. Microwave Assault

I’m just going to be frank with you. It’s tough love, but I say these things to help you.

 Everyone thinks you’re an asshole when you heat up fish in the microwave. Everyone thinks you’re an asshole when you burn popcorn in the microwave. Everyone.

Okay, I know you like to eat fish. Guess what? You can eat it cold. Or microwave it for just a few seconds, 15 tops, so it’s not ice cold. That’s it. 15 seconds is all we can take before we develop a very real and very deep hatred for you personally.  Tell you what, save your fish for dinner…at your house.

If you burn the popcorn, I’m sorry, you’re fired. You must leave immediately.

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4. Stinky Food at Your Desk

Fish is not the only offensive smell at the office. Just because you left your fish at home, don’t think you’re off the hook. Arnold has had a busy day, so he has to catch up on Walking Dead…ahem, I mean emails during lunch. That’s cool, Arnold. Enjoy your meal.

Arnold brought a whole onion for lunch. He’s slicing it up at his desk and chewing every bite with animated, audible delight. Oh, he’s got a container of feta cheese, too!  Here I thought someone was merely farting, but it’s actually Arnold’s broccoli casserole. Dude, we’re trying to work here. We don’t care to breathe your food odors for your hour-long lunch break. It’s peanut butter and jelly for you tomorrow. If you bring in an onion again, I’ll give you something to cry about.

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5. For the Love of God, Shut Your Mouth When You Eat!!!

Margaret has found some leftover fish in the fridge. It’s marked with the name “Holly,” but that’s okay, Margaret doesn’t mind. She then heats up the Holly fish in the microwave everyone shares and brings it back to her desk, so we can all enjoy Holly’s lunch.

Let’s reflect on this for a moment. You may notice some rules have been trotted upon here. How does Margaret even have a job? Good question. This is hypothetical; don’t get too bogged down with the details.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Margaret starts digging in with her metal utensils, needlessly scraping them together. Then the real fun starts. Margaret puts the food in her mouth and begins the loud and obnoxious nom-nom process. Everyone around Margaret can hear her every smackety-smackety chew. Marvin was trying to speak to a client on the phone, but he had to hang up. Yeah, it was that loud. People actually do eat like this. Adult people. If you were raised in a barn or raised by wolves, I apologize, that’s terrible. Only people who have been raised by wolves are allowed to eat this way. And just the one time. After that, you will be asked to eat outside.  Margaret, you are foul. Thanks for capping it all off with an enthusiastic burp. (Yeah, this really happens.)

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Bottom line: Use some common sense at work. Wake up and realize that there are other people around you and act accordingly. You can do whatever you want at home, but at work you need to do better.  You’re making all of us want to puke.

*crop dusting – While walking by a group of people, silently fart, leaving them with the foul stench of your butt’s outburst.

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Trend Report: Bananas

This was written a year ago. Kind of weird how the same bananas are relevant.

Jeanne's Blog Cabin

Today I Googled “what is trending now.” I’m trying to “see what the kids are into,” and “learn more about social media and the computer internet machines.” Guess what I found? It’s pretty sad, are you sure you want to know? Okay, I’ll tell you, but you have been warned. First, is the weather. “Be careful out there, everybody!” was the headline. A bit insensitive? Maybe. In case you didn’t know, there is catastrophic flooding happening in South Carolina. People are without drinking water and electricity and most importantly, homes. I even heard that cemeteries were flooding and caskets were floating through the streets. I feel for the people of South Carolina. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. Losing everything and being displaced, or worse yet, being trapped somewhere for days without the basics most of us take for granted.

Oh, wait. What’s this? Cosmopolitan calls the Kardashians “America’s…

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Cats Are Jerks — You Need One

Cat are jerks. Although I can’t dispute that fact, I think cats are funny jerks with weird and very distinct personalities. Most people favor a dog for a pet. They are loyal, fun to play with and they eat their own poo. Nice. My cat Sadie is 13 years old and I have enjoyed every single year of those nine lives. I rescued her from a shelter when she was 2. She had been picked up by the police and it was obvious she had been in a brawl, because part of her ear was missing. I was thinking about adopting a monster of a cat called Moose, but Sadie decided otherwise. She’s my furry pal. Life just wouldn’t be the same without cat fur all over my clothes and usually in my mouth, too. Here are 5 excellent reasons to consider adopting a cat:

Want to go away for the weekend? Guess what? Your cat can stay home alone for a day or two. No kennel needed. And you can eliminate your friends and family going through your stuff while you’re gone. Can you feed my cat and sift through my personal items while you’re at it? That’d be great…thanks.

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Cats LOVE to sleep. Who doesn’t love sleeping? Here’s an activity that you can do together. Maybe you could compete to see who’s better at sleeping. I doubt you’ll win.

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Who let their dog out at 5am? A person who was tired of hearing said dog bark and bark. Now the whole neighborhood can enjoy Fido’s rant. Ever hear a cat barking non-stop? You haven’t, because for the most part indoor cats are pretty quiet. A few meows, but c’mon that’s so cute!

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When it’s freezing cold outside, you still have to walk your dog. Every single day. And probably more than once, I’m told. Cats don’t want to stand in the snow at 7am. See #2.

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One of the best things about a cat is that they want to sit with you and be pet. Dogs want to jump and play, but a cat will calmly sit in your lap and watch a movie with you. They are warm and soft and usually refrain from eating your ice cream when you walk away

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There are so many cats and kittens in shelters. According to the ASPCA, 3.4 cats are put into animal shelters every year. Sadly, 1.4 million are euthanized. Just like dogs, cats have different personalities. You can find a cat that is high energy or more laid-back. Choose a playful kitten and watch them grow or choose a sweet older cat who just wants a chance to love you.

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My Sadie Cat