Please save our healthcare!

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The GOP is at it again.  Like Michael Myers, it just keeps rising from the dead.

Yes, they’re trying to ram through a new version of Trumpcare — and this one’s even crueler than the previous two  — an estimated 32 million people would lose healthcare.  Insurers would be allowed to refuse to insure you for pre-existing conditions (a previous pregnancy would be considered a pre-existing condition, meaning most women would be affected).  Like the first bill, premiums would go up exponentially for older people.   It also eliminates the Medicaid expansion.   And Planned Parenthood.   It discriminates against women, especially older women like myself who are not old enough for Medicare.  It punishes the poor and middle class.  If you’re not wealthy and develop a serious illness like cancer, it will be your death sentence.

This is the worst bill yet, and they are very close to passing it.  All so Trump can have his WIN and they can get their tax breaks.  At our expense.  They are relentless.  They must be stopped.

They have until September 30th to pass it, but if it passes, the ACA (Obamacare) will be gone forever.   If they lose, the ACA stays indefinitely (until something better, like single payer, comes along).

I HATE that we have to beg our own government not to kill us, but unfortunately this is what we must do.    Jam the phone lines!  Please!   It’s literally a matter of life and death for millions of people.

We need all hands on deck over the next few days. Call your reps & tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy bill: (202) 224–3121.

Also, please share this post.

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10 things that terrify me about Trump’s America.

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I realize my last couple of posts have been dark and depressing, but there’s no sugarcoating the fact that what Trump is doing to Americans is abuse.

I began this blog three years ago as a way to talk about the narcissistic abuse I was forced to undergo at the hands of my parents (mostly my mother) and my ex-husband, after I finally found the wherewithal to leave him for good.

Starting this blog gave me an outlet to write about my abuse, and doing so proved extremely therapeutic for me.  In time, I was able to purge all the anger and rage, and the person I was meant to be was slowly revealed to me.  I also found out that I was not such a loser and a bad person after all, and that what happened to me was not my fault.    I realize that I had been lied to for years.   I grieved those wasted years, but at the same time felt grateful that I still had some left to grow into the person God meant for me to be.

With a boost in self esteem, I gained the courage to look inside myself — at the ways I was holding myself back because I was so afraid of everything.   I entered therapy.  I became much more spiritual and developed a real faith in God for the first time.   I began to take small risks and make better choices.   I can honestly say that had I not been able to start this blog, I doubt I would have come as far as I have.  God gave me the ability to write so that I could tell my story, and in the process, heal not only myself, but also help others who had suffered similar experiences.

Until Trump became president, I shied away from writing about politics or religion, because they are such divisive topics and I didn’t want to run off anyone who might have different politics or religious beliefs than I do.   But Trump’s presidency has infected my peace of mind and threatened my recovery, because he is so triggering and toxic, especially to those of us who are already familiar with the destructive effects malignant narcissists and sociopaths have on our souls.

So just like I did with the abusers in my personal life, I also need to write about Trump and the insidious and dangerous ways he threatens my (and many others’) mental and spiritual health.

The truth is, the man absolutely terrifies me. His vision for America terrifies me even more, since in his dystopian vision, I’m an expendable “loser”:  a financially challenged (I don’t want to say poor) older woman without a husband, who is also an intellectual and a dissenter (he hates both), morally and in every other way opposed to everything he and the powerful people who surround him stand for.

So here are ten ways Trump’s policies and his vision for America shake me to my core with terror and dread.

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Child labor during the Gilded Age.

 

1. Repealing the ACA.  This is #1 for me because it directly affects me and could cause me to die early and suffer horribly.    I have been unable to obtain healthcare through a job, and certainly can’t afford to buy it on my own, so I am dependent upon the ACA in order to have health insurance.  And at my age — closing in on 60 — the prospect of losing my only access to healthcare is absolutely terrifying, especially if I should develop a chronic illness that an emergency room can’t treat, such a cancer.

2. Losing my savings.   I have a very small nest egg that if I should become seriously ill and need hospitalization, I will lose (and it still won’t even make a dent in the astronomical medical bills I no doubt will receive).   Unless I publish a book and it becomes a bestseller, or win the lottery (which I don’t play), I have very little chance at my age of ever being able to earn enough to invest in any meaningful way.

3. No Social Security and Medicare.   I am getting close to retirement age, but it’s still some years away, and by the way things are going, I don’t expect that either social security or Medicare will still be around in my old age.    Being a fairly low wage earner (I’m not at poverty level but I don’t qualify as middle class either),  I have not been able to save for retirement (except for the small nest egg I mentioned above).  I don’t work for an employer who offers a 401K or any retirement benefits.  And forget about a pension.  Hardly anyone gets those anymore.   Since I am a single woman, it looks like my only option when I can no longer work is to move in with one of my children, and with all the financial struggles they have been having (Millennials have inherited an economy that forces many of them to live at home until well into their 20s and 30s), I’m not at all sure they will be able to support me in my old age (and it would kill me to place that burden on them anyway).  As for medical care, if the ACA is gone,  it looks like I will have to go without healthcare altogether if Medicare is gone too.    Since more states are legalizing pot though, maybe it will be legal in my state by then and I can just smoke weed all day to ward off any physical pain.

4. A dystopian future for my children.  Much progress has been made in the past fifty years — civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, New Deal policies, the EPA and other environmental protections, and many other things that make life bearable and have made America the lively and vibrant place that so many people from other countries (until recently) have wanted to make their permanent home in.   Trump is trying to roll back all these things, and the hardliners in Congress are making progress in removing laws and protections that have made life in America the envy of most of the civilized world.

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 A coal miner and his son.

5. Corporate tyranny and authoritarianism.   Trump’s America promises a scary future of corporate tyranny or modern-day feudalism, in which insanely wealthy corporate rulers (freed of having to pay any taxes at all) dictate to the hordes of impoverished, sick, beaten down and broken people enslaved to the “system” and forced to work for almost nothing (the hardliners want to eliminate the minimum wage too) until death takes them, usually at an early age.   I see a future much like the Gilded Age, in which people were treated as disposable chattel by rich robber barons until they finally died of some preventable disease or work injury,  a time when there was no middle class or any hope of escaping a life of poverty and endless toil, when there was no social safety net, no public education, and poor children (which were most of them) were forced to work as soon as they reached the age of 6 or 7 (what we call school age today.

6. The rollback of women’s health. While women’s reproductive rights may not affect me anymore, they do affect my daughter.  I’m afraid she will not have access to healthcare, and given that she has medical problems that might affect her ability to bear children safely or at all (Crohn’s Disease and back problems stemming from an accident she had at 16), that is a problem.   She may need surgery before she can safely have a child, but if she loses her healthcare, she will not be able to have that surgery.  Should she become pregnant, she could die.   If she loses access to healthcare and isn’t married to someone who can provide it for her, she could also go bankrupt from constant uncovered trips to the emergency room to treat the intermittent Crohn’s attacks that plague her periodically.  In addition, she suffers from mental health issues (caused by her father’s abuse) and she takes medication to control bouts of almost suicidal depression.   Should she lose her access to mental health care, who knows what could happen?     If the Christian dominionists have their way, most forms of birth control or medical abortion could be outlawed or made almost impossible to obtain.

7. Increased intolerance toward the “different.”   My son came out as gay at age 17, and in this climate of growing hatred and intolerance toward people that don’t fit the “white, straight, Christian” ideal, coupled with Trump’s empowerment of hate groups and the rise of The Christian Taliban,  I’m afraid he could be attacked by members of a hate group for just being who he is, forced to undergo some sort of traumatic “conversion therapy” that Mike Pence is proposing for gay people, shunned from employment opportunities, or just made to feel like he is “less” for being the person he is.

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White supremacists and neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville.

8. An unhealthy and ugly environment.   In Trump’s dystopia, all public lands and national parks would be sold off to huge corporate entities, where they would be destroyed  and pillaged through oil drilling, fracking, coal mining, and built up with even more gated communities for the wealthy ruling class.   The rivers and air would be polluted, and people would die early of preventable illnesses caused by contamination, without even access to healthcare that could treat their symptoms.    The very wealthy have built underground bunkers where they could escape the worst of the environmental ravages.  Roads too would be privatized.  Imagine living in a country where most people are hobbled from free road travel because all roads have become inefficient and expensive toll roads. And I don’t even want to think about the horrors of privatizing air traffic control.

9. Ignorance.  Besides the abolishment of public schools, in Trump’s America there would not be any public libraries or museums either, because all those things are “socialism.”   Everything would be privatized and cost the people money.   The intent is not only to get rid of anything that allows everyone to take part in public life and educate and enrich themselves, it’s also to keep people stupid and ignorant, so they can no longer ask questions or think for themselves.

10. Nuclear war.  All of the above dystopian scenarios may be a moot point should we get into nuclear war with North Korea.  I read one statistic that said there is a 20% probability the entire west coast may be nuked.  Trump probably would love that too, since the states that line the Pacific Ocean are also the bluest of states and we all know how he feels about liberals.

I can only keep hoping and praying none of this happens, and we don’t have to suffer Trumpism too much longer — because it won’t be long before it’s too late to turn back.

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Trump hates anything beautiful, truthful, or good.

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“Destruction” by Binouse49/Deviantart

 

In the 1987 Cohn Brothers movie “Raising Arizona,” there was a mysterious character ironically named Leonard Smalls, a/k/a “Lone Biker of the Apocalypse. ” Smalls was a bounty hunter hired to look for a kidnapped baby, but he seemed like the worst possible choice to be put in charge of returning a child to its rightful parents:  he was hardened, violent, silent, and sadistic, and probably psychopathic.  In keeping with that, he despised anything small or vulnerable. Throughout the film, the lead character (played by Nicholas Cage) narrates several semi-prophetic dreams — including one in which Smalls tears through the desert on his Harley, shooting at rabbits, small lizards, and even struggling flowers growing along the lonely highway with grenades and huge assault weapons.

While the Smalls character was played up for humor (the movie was uproariously funny), there are actually people like him in the world.   People without a conscience, without empathy, sadistic people who will gleefully and deliberately hurt and destroy “the small, vulnerable things,” as Cage put it in the film.   There are people who live to destroy, and love every minute of it.

At first, like many people, I wanted to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt.  I wanted him to prove himself to be a good guy after all, or at least have a few redeeming qualities.  Like many, in the beginning of his presidency, I kept telling myself to give him a chance.    But knowing about his malignant narcissism and probable psychopathy, I knew in my bones that his heart, if he had one, was as black as coal.  He is an abuser and destroyer.

In the eight months since Trump became president, he has done nothing but destroy.  As I put in an earlier post, he brings out the worst in everyone, including his own staff and supporters.    He’s a toxic presence who smears his predecessor, his opponents, and even his own staff.  He tells lies about people that are intended to undermine them, destroy them, or ruin their careers.

Not only is he toxic to individuals, he is toxic to the nation and even the world.   Not one thing he has said or done has been life-affirming, empathetic, positive, encouraging, diplomatic, gentle, intelligent, or inspiring.   The people who still support him tend to be people who are much like he is — authoritarians, racists and other haters without empathy — or fearful and ignorant people who feel most comfortable with a strongman dictator who tells them exactly what to do.   He admires and encourages the most base and vile qualities of humanity and openly praises and curries the favor of cruel dictators.  He makes fun of the most vulnerable:  a disabled reporter, women, productive and ambitious young immigrants who came here as children, Muslims, Mexicans, the poor, and people who show any empathy or vulnerability.   He threatens and bullies reporters, politicians, and entertainers who tell the truth about him.

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He passes bills that threaten to take things away from people that make their lives better.  He has gutted any funding for climate science or research and grows angry at any discussion about climate change, even after two devastating hurricanes and wildfires spreading through the western states.    He seems to like to pillage and plunder our environment, supporting fracking and selling off our public lands to huge corporations for oil drilling.   He has plans to blast off the tops of mountains for coal mining, an industry which the rest of the civilized world knows is unsustainable and practically obsolete.   He has removed laws that protect our water, air and food.

Trump cares nothing about wildlife or beauty.  In fact, it seems that he wants to destroy our national treasures and replace them with the base and the ugly.    On one of the revamped government websites having to do with environmental issues, former photographs of beautiful natural vistas have been replaced with pictures showing heavy mining equipment, people fracking, and oil rigs.

Trump’s budget cuts funding for anything that help people live better or contribute to the greater good, including organizations that combat hatred and domestic terror, while he has increased funding for for the military, the Mexican border wall, ICE agents that arrest and detain undocumented immigrants without probable cause and for indefinite periods of time and that separate children from their parents, and anything else that potentially oppresses and makes our country more dangerous, scary, or ugly.

Now he is militarizing police departments, allowing them to purchase military equipment, and removing laws that prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons.  He tacitly encourages police brutality by pardoning a sheriff known to use torture to keep prisoners in line and even referred to one of his prisons as a concentration camp.

Trump is a warmonger, and seems to be chomping at the bit to start nuclear war with North Korea.   Rather than making us safer, he has made us more vulnerable to attack from both without and within.  His rallies are hate fests in which he emboldens white supremacists, Nazis, and hatred in general.   He has turned Americans against each other.

He has hired people who are dead set on destroying from within the departments they were hired to oversee:  education, the EPA, the Justice Department, and health and welfare.   Obamacare, which has helped many vulnerable people get health insurance for the first time, is now back on the chopping block.  Yes, again.     Trump and the more hardline members of the GOP are relentless in their cruelty and seem to like tormenting people with the constant threat of taking away their access to healthcare, not caring one iota how traumatizing the threat is.

After he was criticized for his cold response to the victims of Harvey, telling the people of Texas “Good luck,”  he made a lame attempt to show a little more fake empathy than usual after Irma.    He was probably ordered to do so, because it was obvious his “empathy” was forced.   Maddeningly, the mainstream media ate this up, speculating and theorizing that perhaps Trump was changing and he was capable of empathy after all.

But they are wrong.   Trump is not capable of empathy.  I wish the mainstream media would stop making excuses for him, because it’s a form of enabling.   Those of us who are familiar with his form of narcissism know that the more he is enabled, the worse he will become.   Trump is a malignant narcissist, and not only can’t he change, he will only grow worse over time.   The only remedy is for him (and the equally toxic people he has appointed) is to be removed as soon as possible.   What he has destroyed in eight months will take years to recover, if we can ever recover it.   Our beautiful country is already beginning to resemble a third world country or a dystopian nightmare.  Soon, people will begin to die of preventable diseases caused by contaminants that those pesky and “oppressive” regulations have helped keep at bay — and that’s just for starters.

Perhaps most heartbreaking of all, Trump has destroyed our unity as a country and our trust in each other.   That’s his intention, because a people who have been divided can be more easily conquered.  This is standard practice in all authoritarian regimes and dictatorships.

Donald Trump only knows how to do one thing well, and that is to destroy.  He despises anything beautiful, truthful, or good.

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12 reasons why I don’t like autumn.

Welp, it’s almost that time of year again. Admittedly, it’s not bothering me as much this year. But please, shut up already about Pumpkin Spice, which ought to be illegal.

Lucky Otters Haven

ugly_autumnIn my neck of the woods, this is what Autumn looks like.

Yesterday was the first cool-ish day we’ve had since May.   While the lower temperature felt nice, I also noticed for the first time that some of the trees are beginning to change colors.  It was also overcast and gloomy, and I realized that my SAD symptoms have kicked in full bore.   I just felt like crawling into bed to escape from the sadness I felt.   After winter, fall is my least favorite season.   Here are 12 reasons why I hate it.

1.  Around here, the “changing colors” just means the trees change from green to brown to bare.  A few turn this unattractive shade of deep maroon or this dirty looking yellow, but unless you go up to the Parkway, we really don’t get the brilliant fall colors you see in places further north…

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A Trump supporter wakes up.

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Trump supporters have been burning their MAGA hats lately, but not exactly for laudable reasons.  To them, Trump has betrayed them by saying he will work with Democrats (even though I doubt he’ll actually do this since he lies about everything).   If Trump has been losing his allure to some white supremacists and other members of the alt-right, it’s not because they are finally seeing him as the dangerous authoritarian despot he actually is, but because to them, by agreeing to work with Democrats,  Trump has proven himself to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and therefore a traitor to their nationalist, anti-immigration sentiments.

But here and there, some people who voted for Trump are beginning to realize they made a mistake.   Most of them seem embarrassed by this.  They don’t like to talk about it, which gives the initial impression that Trump supporters have not changed their minds.  But have you noticed how few Trump/Pence bumper stickers you see these days? How few people are publicly wearing MAGA hats?   That’s because lots of people have been quietly removing the stickers from the backs of their Chevies and Ford SUVs and hiding the red ballcaps in the backs of dark closets.  FOX News is now only the third most popular cable channel.  MSNBC is now in first place.  It wasn’t that way in November or January.

My daughter’s boyfriend, Zach, is a good example of one of these bashful Trump defectors.   True, he was never very political to begin with.  He wasn’t all that gung-ho about Trump even back in November and he would never attend a white supremacist rally, but he does come from a working class rural southern background where everyone votes Republican, no matter what.   So when voting day arrived,  Trump got his vote too.   My daughter voted for Hillary, and I remember her saying that she couldn’t talk about politics with Zach even though they get along really well otherwise.   He was annoyed that she voted for Clinton even though he was kind enough to not say anything to her about it.  She said she could tell he didn’t like it one bit though.   They went to the polls together, and he wouldn’t talk to her for several hours after that.

But lately, Zach has been having second thoughts.

The first sign that he was beginning to think he made a mistake was after the Trumpcare debacle.    He admitted that his mother, who voted for Trump, but was covered under the ACA (Obamacare) was worried she was going to lose her health insurance.  Unlike some Trump supporters, both Zach and his mom realized the ACA and Obamacare were the exact same thing.   Zach adores his mother and does not want her to lose her healthcare, and admitted as much.   He said he hoped Trump would stop trying to repeal and replace the ACA and just move onto other things.

A few weeks later, over grilled burgers, Zach said he thought that perhaps Hillary should have won the election.  He said that, even though he still preferred Trump over Hillary,  it really wasn’t fair that the popular vote didn’t count and the right thing would have been for Hillary to be president.

I almost choked on my cheeseburger.

Right after Harvey hit a few weeks ago (and Irma was gaining strength in the Atlantic and looking to be headed for the continental US), climate change came up in conversation.   But it wasn’t me or my daughter who brought it up (since both of us know Zach doesn’t like to talk about politics with us) — it was Zach:

“You know, the past couple of summers have been much hotter than I ever remember.   And now these hurricanes.   I don’t know…maybe climate change is really a thing.  Do you think maybe Trump is lying about that?”

Knowing that I studied science in college, and read a lot, he was ready for answers.  So I had the opportunity to tell him what I knew about climate change, and that, yes, the man he voted for was lying.

He listened and then was quiet for a few minutes, thinking.  Finally he spoke.  “I don’t know.  Maybe Hillary would have made a better president.”

I could have ran over and hugged him, but I just smiled.

 

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I’ll be crossing this off my bucket list in 2018.

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I have two weeks vacation coming up in Summer 2018, but I’m pretty certain my boss will allow me to take it in mid-May.

It’s the perfect time to visit my son in Florida again — not too hot yet, but warmer than it was last April (it was a bit chilly!).  However, this time we’re doing something different.  We’ll spend about 5 or 6 days in the Tampa area like we did last year, and visit places like Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, but then I’m planning planning to take everyone to Key West for a few days.   It’s not expensive if we pool our resources and drive there from central Florida rather than flying and then worrying about car rentals.

3 reasons visiting why Key West is on my bucket list:

1.  The beaches.

2. The six toed cats.

3. It might not be around much longer.

I just talked to my son and he’s eager to do this too.

 

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Porch is (almost) done!

Everything’s finished, except the cement floor, which will be painted in high gloss dark gray paint sometime this or next month.   I love this new, relaxing space!   Here are 3 views.

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Lucky Otters Haven is 3 years old!

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Hard to believe, but it is!   Last year, on its second anniversary, I wrote a big two-part post describing all the ways this blog has changed, and posted photos (taken from Wayback Machine) of its evolution.   I’ve changed its look several times (though never changing the theme).

Maybe tomorrow or over the weekend, I’ll do the same again, but tonight I’m exhausted and all I want to do is eat, shower, and curl up into bed with a good book and go to sleep.

Oh, and it also just passed 2 million hits! 

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Happy ending.

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Waiting for Irma’s eye by candlelight.

 

My son and his friends made it through Irma just fine.  They stayed a friend’s home about 10 miles inland.   By the time Irma barreled into Tampa, it was only a Category 2.      The storm surge was no where near what the forecasters were predicting, probably because the eye turned back inland, away from the coast.

One weird thing that happened was that hours before Irma arrived, the entire Tampa Bay lost all its water.  Photos of it looked like a desert or a moonscape (one is shown below).   It was very strange.   As Irma passed to the north, the water came rushing back in.  This phenomenon also happens before tsunamis but of course this wasn’t a tsunami — the wind literally sucked all the water out of the bay!  Tampa Bay is quite shallow though.  It’s possible to walk for a mile into the water and without it getting any deeper than about 3 feet.

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From the videos my son posted (until the power went out), it seemed like he and his friends were actually having a blast.  He took videos periodically, but the worst of the storm didn’t come until very late at night, so he was unable to take videos of that.  The power went out and they lit oil lamps and candles.

He said it got very hot, because of the lack of power, so it was not possible to run the A/C or even fans, and of course they couldn’t open the windows.

At about 2 AM he texted that he was directly under the eye!  The wind and rain suddenly stopped, and he said he could see a few stars.   A few minutes later the wind picked up again, but it was less intense.   So he went to bed.  It was a long day.

When he woke up this morning, he took another video of the damage, which was mostly just fallen trees and branches.  No structural damage to the houses that I could see.   A tree branch was wedged under his windshield wipers and part of it inexplicably got stuck inside the car door.  But all in all, things didn’t look too bad, and today he returned home.

When he returned to his complex, it was not underwater as he had feared.    However, the power was out and there were trees down and one tree had fallen on top of another apartment in the same complex., crushing its roof!

My son said he feels even closer to his friends now that they’ve been through this experience together, so I think it was a good thing for him and it’s certainly something he will always remember.

We are feeling Irma’s effects here today in western North Carolina.  It’s rainy, windy, and cold.  I think I’m actually going to put on the heat and curl up under the covers with a book and go to sleep.   It’s that kind of weather.

*****

More good news!  All 54 Hemingway cats in Key West (I wrote about them the other day since they were directly in Irma’s path) and their caretakers are safe!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4870610/Caretaker-Ernest-Hemingway-s-FL-home-rides-storm.html

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The famous Hemingway cats are in path of Irma.

hemingwaycatsoutside

On November 1 of last year, I wrote this post about the famous six-toed cats who live at the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida.

Unfortunately, the house and the cats are in the path of the worst of Irma as it passes over the Keys within the next 24 hours.

Although they have not been evacuated,  the loving staff is staying behind to care for the cats (who number about 50) and the home during Irma.   The home is old and very sturdy, so I think they will be okay.

http://www.fox13news.com/news/hemingway-cats-staff-riding-out-irma-in-historic-key-west-home

Please send your thoughts and prayers to all the cats and the staff who are staying behind.

Visiting Key West one day and spending time with the cats (and enjoying the beautiful beaches there) is definitely on my bucket list.

*****

UPDATE (9/11/17):

Good news!  All 54 Hemingway cats are SAFE!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4870610/Caretaker-Ernest-Hemingway-s-FL-home-rides-storm.html

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