Rose in Camouflage

Fall foliage ablaze
Calico cat camouflage
Oak leaf feather bed

 

 

Photo and Poem by Linda A. Mohr
Originally Published in Fall laJoie 2016

Blessings!
Linda

Advertisements

All Dressed Up…and Somewhere To Go

How exciting to attend High Table after the first day of class! A small group gathered with some of our tutors and staff at a sherry reception prior to dinner. Fascinating students included the Amsterdam couple who have participated eight years. A Texas grandmother brought her 16-year-old granddaughter to Exeter College for two weeks of pre-law while she took two courses at Christ Church. As the rest of the people entered the Great Hall, they followed tradition and stood until the High Table guests sat at their nameplate.

After we were seated, the director of studies David Beard (who started The Oxford Experience 27 years ago) delivered the grace in Latin. Here is translation: In the neediness of our human condition, which invites your compassion, almighty God and heavenly Father, we give you reverent thanks for the food which, in your kindness, you have lavished on us for the sustenance of our bodies; and we also beg that we may use it without greed or excess and with enjoyment. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

High Table on Dais

High Table is just what the words imply. The table sits on a platform or dais above the main floor. It is at the top of the Great Hall furthest from the screen passage. During the Middle Ages, the lord of the castle could indeed “look down” on his household. His servants or subjects had designated seating in vertical rows of perpendicular tables according to status. Nobility and high ranking guests sat at High Table. They were served first and had the best quality food and drink. In 2017 at Christ Church, everyone in the hall enjoyed the same delectable food with turkey saltimbocca as the main course. Harry Potter or the Hogwarts teachers were not there! However, the Harry Potter films built a replica of the Great Hall in their London studio.

William Murray Over Door, Student 1723, First Earl of Mansfield

Many members of Christ Church were there in spirit. Ninety-two portraits grace the four walls of the Great Hall. Henry VIII oversees all as he is positioned on the High Table end of room in the middle. He founded Christ Church in 1546 as a dual foundation of college and cathedral. Cardinal Wolsey established Cardinal College in 1525 and his foundation is the original of Christ Church. His portrait is hung to the right of Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth who united Christ Church and Westminster in 1561 is to the left of Henry VIII. The bust of the Queen Elizabeth II is below Henry VIII. I sat facing these formidable characters and felt their presence.

Other famous scholars of the college include Thomas Locke philosopher, John Wesley theologian, William Gladstone statesman and Lewis Carroll writer. Thirteen prime ministers studied at Christ Church.

Evening End Revelation

For me, the evening was steeped in great history, tradition, friendship and conversation. As shadows flirted with the exquisite stained glass windows, the ambiance of the Great Hall changed. A new reflection here, a new reflection there. For me, that is what education is all about. Members of Christ Church have sat at High Table in centuries past conversing and debating the challenging issues of the era. I know 2017 is no different. Later this year a second female portrait will keep company with Queen Elizabeth in the Great Hall, Professor Judith Pallot who joined the college in 1979.

As I leave High Table and meander through the hall (not wanting this to end), I follow a row of portraits. In my mind’s eye one causes me to pause. I see the sixteen year old pre-law student all grown up, and she is gazing at me with a faint smile. I return her smile, but I am beaming!

Next Travelogue Post: Class Time Free Time

Blessings!
Linda

Christ Church College

As the Chinese proverb goes, a journey of a thousand steps starts with a single step. Sometimes, a journey starts at the train station as my trip to Oxford did. London Paddington is a bustling station and Sundays are no exception. I like to ride trains and have done so on other trips using a BritRail pass. It is an easy and efficient way to travel. The scene at Paddington is hectic and fast paced. Travelers stand in mass staring up at time table boards that will eventually indicate a platform number from one to fourteen. An inbound train may only be in the station minutes before departure. So a stampede follows the instant the platform is known. I dashed off to platform 1 and a kind, observant man offered to lift my suitcase onto train. Oh, the perks of being a senior!

Tom Gate Christ Church 

Sixty-three minutes later I arrived in Oxford and taxied to Christ Church, one of thirty-eight constituent colleges in the University of Oxford system. I was about to embark on The Oxford Experience where I would be a student for six days. The impressive point of entry is known as Tom Gate. After being greeted and given a welcome packet, a scout (member of domestic staff) escorted me to the Meadows building. My private suite was on first floor which is second floor by American standards. The view looked out over a meadow, and I thought I was in the country. The exquisite blue sky was a beautiful backdrop for my photo shoot of architecture.

Later in the day following a short orientation meeting and wine reception, we had our first meal in the Great Hall of Christ Church. As I entered the hall, I was mesmerized. I commented later to a dinner companion, that if The Oxford Experience had ended at that moment, it would have been worth it. I am still at loss for the right words to describe my feelings. Being in a room where Henry the VIII and countless other historic figures have dined, was a pinch me I’m not dreaming moment!

Great Hall Christ Church Founded 1546

 

Great Hall Christ Church

A little background on great halls….They can be found in palaces, castles and large manor homes in the Middle Ages and in country homes in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Colleges at Durham, Cambridge, St. Andrews and Oxford also have great halls for dining. In the Middle Ages, the hall was a living space where the household of family and servants ate and slept together. The hall was typically a long rectangle room, roofed in timber and entered at a screen end with a high table at opposite end.

After dinner, we were escorted to our classroom by our tutor Nick Doggett (which is what the professor is called) for a short get acquainted meeting. The aerial photo at top of this post gives you an idea of the massive space Christ Church covers. We were hopeful we would find our way the next morning for the official start of class. The eclectic class of twelve students included three married couples from California. The rest of us gals represented New York, Ohio, Florida, California again, Germany and New Zealand. Many of us have had (or still have) education careers. Two are architects, and I suspect they will add an interesting perspective to the Country Homes course. Class dismissed!

Entrance from Quad & Christ Church Cathedral

Next Travelogue: My High Table Dining Experience

Blessings!
Linda

Sacha commented to me in 2016: “Of course you will write and speak about it, because to do anything else is not you.” So here I am writing poetry, but I am shocked the “it” is Sacha. Hurricane Irma altered my plans to attend her Celebration of Life in Buffalo where I hoped to share my poem Tribute to Sacha…A Glimpse of the Divine. Thank you for reading. I appreciate you sharing with her family and friends.

Linda Sacha’s Artwork

 

Tribute to Sacha
A Glimpse of the Divine

By Linda A. Mohr

She left in a flash
Sudden, unexpected, shocking
A powerhouse jolt to my being
Stomach swirling
Soul numbing
Heart cracking
Pain scale to infinity
Avalanche of tears forming
A pool of radiant memories

She left in a flash
Causing me to ponder
Why her
An extraordinary woman
Who mattered
A visionary
Love personified
Living her calling
With zest and joy
A gifted life coach, mentor,
guide, teacher, adviser,
cheerleader, author and artist
An angel in my midst

Sacha’s Book Changes Lives

Her laser beam thinking
Insightful questions
Intuitive spirit
Compassionate heart
Limitless confidence
Boundless love
Enlightened me to stop pushing
a noodle up a mountain
To creating my path of passion

Finding Sacha Anthology Story

She left in a flash
Causing me to wonder
Why now
When there are
Books to write
Poems to pen
Music to score
Portraits to paint
Photos to snap
Plays to direct
Degrees to earn
Companies to launch
Products to market
Obstacles to remove
Commotions to calm
Health to heal
Lives to live

Sacha Coaching Result
Book Published 2007

Like a grad student
searching primary sources for a thesis
I dove into seven years of coaching notes
Twelve years of correspondence
Markers of moments
Looking for answers
Looking to solace my cracked heart

Historical Sacha References
2005-2017

A memorable name—Sacha
She had a unique conversing style
A greeting—Hey Toots or
Linda, Linda, Linda Mohr
A closing X & O
How many a surprise
Upper and lower case a mystery
In between—juicy conversation
Oh what magic

Birthday Note in her Artist Card 2017

Her stamp of approval
Ooh this sounds so you—how divine
So luv how you keep history alive and love it so well
Yikes, they are lucky to have you as a guide
You are doing a critical piece of your life’s work
You are something
Of course you are going to speak and write about all this
because to do anything else is not you

St. Helen’s Book Fair 2011
Linda Sacha and Linda Mohr

Her applause
Yea for you
Fab, fab and more fab
So darn exciting
Wow, what an honor
I celebrate you
I am beyond thrilled
I had a wonderful cry
reading your note and beautiful Omega poem

Powerhouse Dining, Linda Sacha, Linda Mohr, Nikki Sweet at Season’s 52 in 2010

Her treasure trove
Profound soul stirring nuggets
I dubbed
Sacha…isms
Bound to jazz her

Her Treasure Trove of
Sacha…isms are Magic

Imagine a little more
Act a little less
Let mind and heart go nutty for 2 to 7 seconds
What are the possibilities

You are an event waiting to happen
You have to allow it to happen, not force it
You don’t have to know the how
Universe is cooking something up

You + God + Universe = magic in motion
Yippee feeling is where something
sits in your heart twinkling
Oh you want more
The better it gets, the better it gets

Surrendering is important
Ask God to take over this piece for now
Guardian angel is always with you
just waiting for an assignment
When stuck, ask your angel to reveal

Through gratitude your cup is filled
Through gratitude your vibration is raised

Meditation is a daily vacation from your mind
Meditation is a pause from the wackiness of life
taking you to source energy

Death serves a purpose
Throws living into reflection
Every tear is a tribute
Intensity of grieving is equal to intensity of love
All is in divine order—even sadness
Everything happens for the evolution of the soul
Everything happens for the expansion of the soul

And finally her signature request
We are grateful for anyone past or present
who can show up to help

A Glimpse of the Divine

And show up for me, they have
Higher consciousness messages
of protection, wisdom and nurturing
I am here and always have been
When you think you feel him, you do
When you feel his presence, you do
It was my time to journey on
I can help you more from this place
I can be with all of you at the same time
All can feel my presence

More of Sacha’s Joyful Artwork

As the sacred work
of her soul expands exponentially
I embrace my next assignment
with gratitude
Like an exquisite web of strands
We remain eternally connected
Her heart to my heart
My heart to her heart

Once in a while like magic
I sense a tiny tug
followed by an unforgettable voice
“Well, aren’t you something”
That’s my Sacha shot
And all is as it should be
In all ways and always

Blessings!
Linda

 

Adopt Black Cats
By Linda A. Mohr

All black cats deserve
Endless favorable guardians

Hated, idolized, jinxed, killed
Loving, mysterious

Now overlooked pets
Query rescue shelters today

Unlucky
Vocalize worthiness
XOXO
Yearlong zeal

 

Family Portrait

 

All images © Bernadette E. Kazmarski on The Creative Cat

To view more black cats or see the multiple takes of Family Portrait to get this “all eyes on camera” shot,  visit this link

Bernadette has been a professional commercial artist and graphic designer for 35 years. She has rescued and fostered cats for three decades. Her muses (as pictured above) are an incredible family of five black cats she rescued from a neglectful neighbor. Meet Mewesette, Mr. Sunshine, Giuseppe, Jelly Bean and Mimi.

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

Please take a few moments to visit Bernadette’s site. I promise you will be in awe with her beautiful work.

Blessings!
Linda

 

British Reception at The Chesterfield Hotel Mayfair

As my British Airways flight touched down 6:30 a.m. at London Heathrow, I said to anyone awake, “I’m home.” I have always experienced this feeling in my favorite city in the world. As the taxi cab driver made his way to The Chesterfield Hotel with me ogling over all the familiar sights and sounds, my happy soul acknowledged again, “I am really home!”

In a few days I will head to Oxford for the primary focus of this 2017 jaunt. But I simply could not bypass the opportunity to return to London for the eleventh blessed time. So for now I will stay at The Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair for several reasons. I have a history with The Chesterfield Palm Beach as that is where I held my book signing party in 2007 for Tatianna-Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend. Chesterfield Mayfair is located in one of most beautiful areas of London, is within walking distance of Gray’s Antiques and is authentic British.

I luckily arrived without jetlag and spent Friday morning having a wonderful English breakfast in the hotel, exploring the area on foot and getting access to my room around noon. My little cozy bedroom was a joy.

My Serenity Retreat

Later I explored Gray’s Antiques where multiple dealers have their wares. I’ve joked that my car automatically stops for garage sales, thrift stores and antique shops in the states. When I am in London, the vintage markets call to me and off I go on foot.

Scottie Dog Buttons & Brooch

 

I found some sweet little Scottie dog buttons for my eBay customers and I added a brooch to my personal collection. Love brooches with faces! I appreciate how the “hustle and bustle” in London is offset by peaceful parks and wide open spaces like my favorite St. James Park. This trip I sat in a park at Trafalgar Square a few minutes from the hotel.

 

Antique Treasure Hunt Begins at Notting Hill

I would not be in London and not go to Portobello Market on Saturday. It is billed as the largest street market in the world. My feet agree! The eclectic one mile market includes antiques, vintage stuff, collectibles, food, clothing, flea market items and more. As my cabbie dropped me off at 9 a.m., my heart is racing and I can’t wait to begin the hunt. What will I find? I walked miles and ate at a little Italian café where one cook prepared all the food just a few feet from patrons. So entertaining! I bought lots of buttons (but sadly no cats available) for resale from a lovely British couple that have had a button booth for 21 years at Portobello. They take a bus and train every Saturday morning for an hour to get to their shop. They have attended National Button Conventions in America—yes, there are such meetings! And yes, some collectors specialize in cat buttons, myself included!

Little Art Pictures

I arrived back at The Chesterfield after an exhilarating market day, welcomed an impressive room service dinner, repacked my suitcase cubes and prepared for my next adventure.

Next Up: Arriving at Christ Church in Oxford

Blessings!

IMG_0986

Lexie Lee 2004–2014

I need a happy ending. I need a break from hurricane talk! Hurricane Irma, eye wall, devastation, Cat 5, path, hurricane force winds, evacuation, animals, storm shutters, batteries, canned food, water, gasoline shortage, price gouging…………… As Hurricane Irma comes closer to Florida, I am reminded of the impact of previous hurricanes on a cat and me. Is it possible to have a happy ending? So into the archives I went.

In September of 2004, a stray cat hung around my tropical backyard after back to back Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. Sometimes the cat drank out of the pool or slept on a patio chair. I suspected she was displaced by one of the hurricanes, and I wondered what the beautiful Maine Coon mix had endured. Besides missing her bushy tail, her left ear was tipped. I asked around, but no one knew anything about the most likely feral animal. Whenever the cat heard me, she ran. Months passed, but I only caught glimpses.

Then in the summer of 2005, the cat appeared on my property daily. First, I set out a bowl of water.  Water led to leaving food out. Then I sat quietly by the pool and talked to her. After several weeks, the cat jumped into my lap and let me pet her. She was on a mission, and she had captivated me. One night I coaxed the stray into the house. The first attempts were nothing more than the cat coming in and running outside quickly. Gradually, the house visits were extended to a few minutes before departing.  When I moved the food inside, the cat stayed longer. The cat cautiously explored the three levels of the house over several weeks. We were slowly bonding. What I didn’t expect was that our bond was going to be tested by another hurricane.

In October of 2005, I had to make storm preparations for Hurricane Wilma’s visit. While the cat was in the kitchen finishing her breakfast, I ran up the lower level stairs. When she heard me hit the top step and saw my black shoes, I frightened her. She bolted out a weakly latched back door and vanished!

The neighborhood was buzzing with sounds of power tools installing hurricane protection. She was highly sensitive to noises. I was frantic and could not believe she had escaped the day before the storm. My efforts to find her were futile. She did not come back to the house in the evening at the usual feeding time. The unrecognizable patio had been stripped of every table, chair, pot, and plant, and the house was shuttered.

Hurricane Wilma hammered us the following day. I could not stop thinking about the cat and wondering where she was. I prayed for her safety. My neighbors saw her clinging to a tree during the storm, but they had not seen her in the aftermath. I could not imagine her hanging onto a limb during the powerful winds and surviving. Two days later, as I cleaned leaves out of the pool, my dear sweet kitty emerged from the landscaping. I was stunned. I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the house. Thankfully, she was unharmed.

My stray hurricane cat was still nameless. After the cat survived the storm, she had me! Having recently read True Believer by Nicholas Sparks, I was intrigued with the librarian’s name, Lexie. I learned Lexie was of Greek origin and was the feminine form of Alexander. It meant defender or helper of mankind. Well, the cat had certainly been defending my backyard for a long time. She also helped me complete the grieving process for my cat friend Katarina. Maybe I was on to something!

All my previous cats had been named singular names like Noelle, Tatianna, Taittinger, Marnie and Katarina. I wanted a unique two-part name and added Lee. The two names were lively and suited the stray cat’s personality. It was also fun to shorten Lexie Lee to Lex.  So Lexie Lee settled into exclusive indoor living quite naturally after clinging to a tree during ferocious winds and being blown into my yard not once but twice. We were blessed to share an extraordinary bond for ten years.

The above story was published in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University Catnip Newsletter in January 2010, and I adapted it for this blog

Blessings!

On one of my farm vacations, I watched Boots explore a hay field during mid morning. He was hunting for field mice, playing with the other kitties and poking around at the bottom of a hay bale. All of a sudden he leaped on top of it. I was fortunate to snap this action shot. I never knew what captured his attention. Later I created a haiku and discovered the joy of a photograph prompt.

Hang on Boots

Morning mission hunt

Prowling cat in alfalfa—

Hay bale distraction

Photograph and poem originally published in “Summer laJoie 2016”

Blessings!

NationalPoetryMonth_download

In celebration of National Poetry Month, today’s feature “Morning Visitor” is a cat poem I wrote after my beloved Lexie Lee’s passing in 2014. She was a feral who found her way to my home in 2004. She bravely survived hurricanes and fought lymphoma.

Morning Visitor

Unexplained lightness on bed
One week after your passing
Spot where you use to snuggle.

Did you return to your beloved home?
Is this the sign I asked you to send?
A sign that you are safe.

My life is so different without you
My life is so rich because of you
Ten years my fur baby, my muse.

Unexplained lightness on bed again
Ten days after your passing
I whisper Lexie Lee.

I turn over to look at you
Lightness is gone in an instant
But you are forever safe in my heart.

My welcome home greeter
My napping buddy and lap kitty
My kindred spirit.

“Morning Visitor” ©2014 Linda A. Mohr

This poem won Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion in Poetry category in 2016.

IMG_0986

Lexie Lee

Blessings!

Dawnie

Dawnie

 

This month’s Catnip Connection is a four year anniversary tribute to Dawnie who passed over to Rainbow Bridge on January 29, 2013. I got acquainted with Dawnie in the award-winning Catsong book written by my friend T. J. Banks. Dawnie and T. J.’s lives mirrored one another as conveyed in this passage: “We’ve both experienced motherhood, love and loss and struggled our way through that last one. When she comes to me now and walks over my work, demanding a head-scritch, or snuggles under the blankets next to me, purring, I can’t help smiling to myself, no matter what kind of day it has been.”

My experience is some animal bonds are formed deep and strong and touch each other’s soul. T. J. echoes this feeling in Catsong: “Chemistry–kindred spirits, soul mates, call it what you will–is a funny thing. There’s no dictating it. Somehow two souls knit together and stay knitted together, no matter what. Even death cannot undo those ethereal skeins.” I believe she developed such a bond with Dawnie. I love how she recently described their relationship as “titanium steel strong”.

 

Tribute to Dawnie
By Linda A. Mohr

You were my heart
A titanium steel strong soul connection.
You were my Dawnreader, my Dawnstar
My beautiful red Abyssinian.

Twelve and a half years
You graced the circle of my life.
Four thousand five hundred sixty-two days
Blessed scritch and snuggle time.

You taught me about heart matters,
How to take heart and
How to endure my heart
Being broken wide open.

You taught me to trust in time
Good things can root in a broken heart
Like hope, faith and joy.
Especially joy.

My dear Dawnreader
Forever in my heart
Forever my joyful connection
Forever more, my Dawnstar.

 

Credits
Dawnie’s portrait by artist Sally Logue
Catsong by T. J. Banks, stanzas three and four adaptation

Warm Purrs!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

%d bloggers like this: