Sunday, February 27, 2011

Today's fortune: February 27, 2011

Today's fortune: This year your highest priority will be your family.

I was fortunate to spend nearly the entire weekend with extended family on my mother's side, including cousins and aunts and uncles I see frequently and others I haven't seen in years. On this particular weekend, today's fortune couldn't have been more true.

But the fortune gives a specific time frame of "this year." And that's interesting, because up to this point my highest priorities in 2011 have been writing about fortune cookies and holding down a new job.

Really, though, the reason I have the job in the first place is to make money. And the reason I wish to make money is to be able to support my family. If I didn't have to work - if I were independently wealthy, let's say - there's no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't. But judging from the results of recent lottery drawings, I don't think a major windfall is on its way.

So I will continue to work. And, as long as Acme Co. sees fit to employ me, I will continue to support my immediate family, which consists of my wife and our three cats: JoJo, Short Round and Philip.

Allow me to introduce them.

JoJo was our very first cat, and before she came into our lives I didn't particularly care for cats. Just over four years ago, I was working as the editor of a local newspaper, and most of the time I worked late into the night putting the paper to bed. Jamie worked a regular day job, and she was lonely in the evenings without me. So for her birthday, I adopted this cat from a rescue organization. It seems that the little cat had gotten pregnant, and its original owners, instead of taking responsibility, dumped her in the woods. She was found living in a small cave, where she had birthed her litter (four of the kittens survived), protected them and fed them for several days.

We named her JoJo after Joe Frazier, the boxer. She has little white paws that look sort of like boxing gloves, and there's no doubt in my mind she's a fighter. Enough of a fighter to protect her kittens in the wild.

From that point on, I was smitten with cats, and a whole new fur-covered phase of our life began. Eventually we found that one wasn't enough.

JoJo is Jamie's cat, and her personal lap warmer; this little beauty is mine.

We found this eight-year-old Calico at a local shelter, and I knew we had to take her home. We had watched the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" the night before, so I named her Short Round. Now we call her Shorty, which is also Indiana's nickname for his diminuitive sidekick.

Shorty's back story is no less inspiring than JoJo's. She belonged to an old man all her life, until the old man passed away. After that, she was taken to a shelter, where she promptly stopped eating. The shelter nursed her back to health and adopted her out to a family of monsters, apparently - she stopped eating again at their house, but they didn't do anything about it for over a month. They returned her to the shelter emaciated and on the verge of certain death.

But the shelter spent thousands to save her life and make her healthy again. We were warned when we took her in that she might stop eating again. And that's exactly what happened. Each day I would put fresh food in her bowl and level it out with my hand so I could see if she'd made a dent. The first few days, nothing. But then we saw a tiny, barely noticeable divot in the food. The next day, an even larger indentation. Eventually, she was eating normally, and she never ever stopped eating again.

Shorty is also the most athletic animal I've ever been around. Once I saw her jump, free standing, from the floor to the top shelf of a closet over six feet high.

After Shorty, we considered becoming foster parents for the same shelter. One of the first cats we thought about bringing home on a temporary basis was this big fella:

His name was Philip. At the shelter, they kept him in a back room with a couple other cats. When we first met him, I sat down on a chair in the room and patted my lap. Almost instantly, he jumped up and made himself comfortable.

That was a memorable experience, not only because it was sweet but also because Philip weighs in at 17 pounds (JoJo and Shorty weigh about 11 pounds each).

After we met him, we knew a temporary stewardship wouldn't work. We had to have him permanently, so we adopted him into our family.

Here's the thing about Philip. He's our third cat, and I personally believe three cats is too many for one household. But... I love Philip, and I love that he's here. I would never consider giving him up, and I would fight to protect him just like I would for JoJo and Shorty. It's a riddle I can't break. And I always feel bad for feeling that way. But it's the truth, and I promised myself and you that I would be truthful on this blog.

But Philip is my boy, and he's the only other male in the house. So we share a special connection amongst all this estrogen.

If you read this blog, you all know the final member of the family. This is my Jamie.

But what does she see in that guy?

Everything I've ever written since the day I met Jamie is a love letter to her.

That's my family. They are my highest priority, and at the heart of it, they're my only priority.