Hi, readers! Looking back, I realize that there have been three distinct phases of my life. I was born in New Jersey, and spent my childhood in a house on a tree-lined street in a suburban neighborhood. A couple of years after graduating from college, I made the very exciting move to my first apartment in New York City, where I settled in to pursue my writing and editorial career. Then, a little over a decade ago, I moved to rural upstate New York, where I'm able to do all of my writing. From the suburbs to the city to the country, each home has been the right place for me at the right time.
After growing up in a family filled with pets (cats, turtles, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish - you name it!), I wanted to have pets as an adult. I was lucky to adopt a cat who easily adapted to my apartment and my busy life in the city. (Long-time readers may remember my cat named Mouse.) But after I adopted a dog, Sadie, I realized that she was definitely not meant for city living. She was nervous with loud noises and crowds, and she was always happiest when we ventured out of the city on the weekends. So she was thrilled when I decided to live full-time in the country, and she has thoroughly enjoyed the years we've been in the Hudson Valley.
One of the best things about living in a house in the country is that it's allowed me to volunteer for a cause that's very important to me ‐ the fostering of stray and abandoned animals. I work with the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UCSPCA), a wonderful organization that helps rescued animals find adoptive homes. Over the years, I've fostered hundreds of kittens and cats, all of whom have been adopted into welcoming homes.
I have a small room in my house that I can use solely for the fostered animals. It's perfect for a pregnant cat, or a mother cat who has just given birth. When the kittens are old enough, families can visit and interact with the litters and decide just which kitty would be perfect for them.
Now, I won't say that I was actually looking to adopt a kitten in the most recent litter I fostered, but there was just something about one of them. I can't remember when I've seen a friendlier, more social kitten! When he could barely hold his head up, he was the first kitten to look around when I came into the room. I soon found myself telling visiting families that this kitten was already spoken for. And that's how Simon came to our household, joining Sadie, my (very old) cat Gussie, and my five-year-old cat Pippin.
Simon is in constant motion ‐ just last week he flew past me while I was working in my office, knocking over my external hard drive and erasing the disk. Everything he does is at top speed, and when he eventually wears himself out, he crawls up next to me and falls fast asleep. (Since his goal is to play with/pester Pippin all day, I think that Pippin would prefer that these naps come a little more frequently and last a little longer!) I love the kitten-phase of pet ownership, though. It's hilarious to see that much energy wrapped up in a five-pound bundle of fur.
Living in the country is the right place for me right now. I can write, take care of my pets, and help the UCSPCA provide comfort and care to animals in need of a permanent home. And I like to think that if Simon could talk he would say, "Thanks for picking me!" But I assure you, the pleasure is all mine.