Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy New Year from the Brainards

Happy New Year - I'll be adding pictures, but in the mean time click on the YouTube link to hear the worst rendition of  "Santa Baby" - and here are some pictures taken over the holiday season - more to come!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa and Holy Family Cartoon

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

PRINCE-OF-PEACE.' Isaiah 9:5 (The New Jerusalem Bible)

(photo and bible quote, courtesy of Louie Nacorda) 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

End of the World

End of the World
(from Pinoy Laugh Page, Facebook)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eleven Days Before Christmas, by Cameo Smith

Eleven Days Before Christmas
Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 a.m.
 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate
 Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air,
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
 They were filled wit
h such joy, they didn't know what to say,
 they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
 "Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
 "This is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
 but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
 He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
 Then He opened His arms and He called them by name,
 and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring.
 Those children all flew into the arms of their King
 and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
 one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
 And as if He could read all the questions she had
 He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
 Then He looked down on earth, the world far below,
 He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
 Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
 "Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
 "may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
 "I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
 Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
 "Come now my children, let me show you around."
 Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
 all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
 And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
 "In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kiki, a story about our Cat - Cecilia Brainard

By Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
"Kiki" is  part of Brainard’s collection, Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose, available from the University of San Carlos Press in Cebu City, Philippines; it is also available in Ebook from Kindle and Nook. A version of “Kiki” appeared in the anthology Cherished: 21 Writers Celebrate Animals They Loved and Lost, edited by Barbara Abercrombie, New World Library;

Facebook Profile of Kiki D’Rose: I'm 10 inches tall, slender with hazel eyes, and black hair with red highlights. I have nice long whiskers and a bushy tail. I generally have a pleasing personality unless you cross me. I like tuna, steak, chicken, salmon, and the canned cat food (the small cans)
Relationship Status: It's Complicated
Birthday: January 15, 1990 

Kiki D’Rose’s letter to a bulldog named Mack Nificent, Facebook Entry - June 8, 2009:

Dear Mack,

Glad to see that your Feeder finally got your Facebook Account going. I can’t believe she put you down as one year old in the first place. Anyway, I understand I hurt your feelings by saying I couldn’t tell your front from your behind. I’m sorry about that. Sometimes I say things that others misunderstand. I know this sounds like I’m excusing myself, but it’s because I was the runt of the litter and didn’t get enough breastfeeding from my mother. My Feeder had to bottle feed me.  Mother was—for lack of a better word—a slut. She was barely a year when she had us. Imagine, not even a year! She blamed her Feeder, a flighty student who forgot to bring her to the vet to have her fixed but the truth is that my mother was a gad-about who enjoyed staying up late in back alleys. I do not know my father, but I assume he was one of those late-night encounters behind some garbage cans under the moonlight. He was no doubt a tuxedo cat like me and two of my siblings. The other three had white fur, like Mother.
            That time of my life wasn’t the best:  six of us, vying to be close to Mother to suckle. The rivalry between the white ones versus the tuxedo ones was very intense. Unprovoked the white ones drove us from Mother’s teats. The two males fought back, and got their share of milk, but not me. Mother should have nipped those wicked siblings. But no, she lay there, licking herself―that was the only thing she knew, grooming herself―while hellish fighting went on right under her nose.
            This memory is making me wheeze and I will stop now. I just wanted to say, sorry, if I hurt your feelings. But seriously, you may want to take a look at your profile picture again.

Yours Truly,


In 1992 we had two cats, a neurotic white female named Fraidy and an old male who used to be the tom of the neighborhood but who at 19 was deaf and had failing kidneys. His name was Chintzy, and he was beloved by all members of the family. When he became blind and in pain, we brought him to the vet to be put to sleep. I felt relief more than sadness over his death because he had been uncomfortable for some time. In fact I tortured myself wondering if perhaps we waited too long to put him to sleep. It’s difficult to make those decisions. In any case, after Chintzy died, I literally and metaphorically opened the windows to air the house and release any darkness and sadness. Fraidy, the white cat settled down to be our only pet. She had always been a dour cat used to being a second-banana all her life, and she was surprised at getting attention that she had never experienced before. She was enjoying her new status and would now jump up our laps when we watched TV and even dared sleep on our bed at night, a privilege that Chintzy had.
My husband, too, made adjustments to our new pet situation. “That’s it! Just one cat, no more.” He knew more about cats than I did. I grew up with German Shepherds for pets; our cats were relegated to catching rats and lizards outside. It was my husband who wanted cats in our home, not dogs. “Cats,” he said, “are more independent and don’t need as much care and attention as dogs do. “For one thing,” he said, “cats know when to stop eating, unlike dogs, who’ll finish all the food you give them.” It was true that we could go away on weekends and leave food and water for our cats and they’d be just fine. But overall, I found our cats to be aloof, demanding, somewhat arrogant creatures, unlike the exuberant dogs of my youth who pounced on me when I returned home from school, and who followed me around, begging for attention.
Soon after my husband’s decision to have only one cat, our eldest son, Chris, showed up holding a kitten just six weeks old. “Can she stay here for a little while?” he asked us. He had broken up with his girlfriend and was moving soon. The kitten was a long-haired tuxedo cat with black fur down her back, and white on her belly; part of her face was white; she had a crooked black mustache, scrawny and a female to boot.
“We’ve decided we only want one cat,” my husband told Chris, “and you know we prefer male cats with short hair. Female cats are bitchy — remember Grandma Dinah’s Siamese that would piss on her clothes when she got mad?  And long haired cats shed, and they have fleas…”
 Chris handed the black and white kitten to his father; it was so small it fit the palm of his hand. “We just got rid of one cat, we don’t want another one.” The kitten crawled up his arm and made her way up to his neck. “And look at this long black fur.” She started to lick his cheek. “Well,” he said in a softer voice, “just until you get settled up there and then you can pick her up.”
That never happened, of course. Kiki (a name given by the girlfriend) entered our lives when my husband and I were in our middle age and Chris was leaving for law school, our middle son was in college, and the youngest was in high school. It was a busy household with a very upset white cat who probably had hoped she would be the only cat, and who now looked at the black-and-white kitten as an unwelcome interloper.
Kiki, on the other hand perked up when she saw Fraidy and quickly headed for her belly, wanting to suckle. Fraidy, a virgin cat without an ounce of maternal instinct in her, hissed and swiped her with a paw. Kiki tried again and again, and the white cat became hysterical, growling and carrying on until finally the kitten got the message and left her alone. For a couple of days the two cats avoided each other. But later on I saw Kiki sneak up on Fraidy, who was sunning herself on the fourth step of the spiral staircase.  Kiki reached up and grabbed her tail, setting off another cat fight. Kiki took to waiting behind doors and pouncing on Fraidy, which left her even more frazzled, more nervous.
Kiki learned to be the perfect pet. When you picked her up, she purred loudly and snuggled up against you, thoroughly content. She would even bat your face with her paw, a friendly tap, as if to say, “Hi, there…”
She slept on our bed and, on cold nights, would crawl under the blanket to lie right next to me. She never resisted when I held her tight, and I did this often because I hated cold nights and Kiki was warm like a furry hot-water bag. She would wait a few minutes until she thought I was asleep, and then she would carefully disentangle herself and return to the exact spot I had picked her up from.
In the early morning, she would jump off our bed and run downstairs and out the cat door to do her business. Then her day began. She had breakfast; outside she would sit in the sun and groom herself―on what used to be Fraidy’s favorite sunning spot, the fourth step of the spiral staircase. In the spring, when there were many sparrows about, she’d catch birds and drag them into the house. She never killed them, and despite my hysterics over the flapping birds, she would continue to do this until the last spring of her life. In the afternoon, she moved back into the house to nap on the couch in the den or on our bed. In between all these activities, she’d search out Fraidy to bat her tail or whack her behind. In the evening, when we were watching TV in the den, she would climb up on my husband’s lap to sleep or play. They could sit quietly on the chair for hours, my husband doing the crossword puzzle or Sudoku and Kiki napping. “She loves you,” I would tell him. He’d shrug and say, “She’s a cat, she uses people.”
Meanwhile. Fraidy took to spending most of her time in our neighbor’s yard. One day, our neighbor called to ask if our white cat was depressed, because she spent most of her time sunning herself on their dog’s marked grave.

Fraidy developed cancer on her ears, and the vet explained that this often happened to white cats, since they had no melanin to protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun―just like humans. Fraidy developed black spots on her ears that turned into ugly sores. The vet lopped off most of her ears. “You must put sunblock on her ears and nose if she goes outside. In fact it would be better if you kept her indoors.”
We decided to turn our master’s bedroom upstairs into Fraidy’s room, and put her litter box and food and water in the bathroom. She had a sleeping pad on the bedroom floor, and her sleeping blanket on our bed. We left the bedroom door closed to keep her in and Kiki out. I nursed Fraidy in our bedroom for the next four years. She thrived on this arrangement.

Kiki, however, was furious she had been driven away from our/her bedroom. One didn’t have to be a pet psychologist to know that Kiki was angry and jealous that her nemesis had the most important room in the house. She must have blamed me for her exile from the bedroom, because she turned cool toward me, preferring my husband instead. She didn’t hiss at me or resist when I picked her up, but for the longest time she wouldn’t purr. And she made no eye contact with me. When my husband held her, her purring could be heard throughout the house―as if she were saying, “I love him, I love him . . . but not you.” 


Kiki D’Rose’s letter to a kitten named Sundance; Facebook Entry, June 10, 2009:

Dear Sundance,

I've decided to mentor you. You are young and innocent and there is much to learn to be able to survive in this world. 
Perhaps the most important advice I can give you is TO BE CUTE AT ALL TIMES. This is vital to your existence. By "cute" I am referring to both external and internal cuteness.
 The external is obvious. When we cats are born, we are normally cute: small, furry, fluffy, with heart-rending cries that tug at the Feeders' hearts. But that kittenish cuteness does not last. Do not think that for a moment, otherwise you will be doomed! 
 No, we cats have to learn to groom ourselves constantly. My mother taught me that. Lick your fur, wipe your face, especially around your eyes and mouth. I do not have to mention your privates―that is obvious. And chew some grass to clean your teeth and sweeten your breath. Fleas can be a problem, especially in the summer, but hopefully your Feeder uses Adantage or Frontline once a month. It's a bummer getting treated; I myself feel queasy for a couple of days afterwards, but in the long run, it's worth it. You don't want fleas on you. Fleas can cause worms, and that's a whole other problem altogether, very un-cute to say the least, to have wiggly worms in your poop. Your Feeder will NOT find that endearing. 
 Don't forget to clean your ears, otherwise you might get ear mites, and Feeders also find that disgusting. 
The other kind of cuteness I want to address has to do with making a real effort to win the heart of your Feeder―totally and completely so that he or she belongs to you for the rest of your life. Even when you become old like me, he/she will still think you are a delightful kitten. 
Look at me, I'm 17, very old for a cat, but the Woman-who-opens-cans thinks I'm incredibly cute. She takes pictures of me, checks on me constantly, makes sure I have my favorite food (including people tuna, salmon, and bits of steak―really, anything I want). She is at my beck and call. This is because I won her heart completely when I was young.
I saw the picture of you on the shoulder of your Feeder. That's good. That's a start. You have to learn to climb on her lap or get into bed with her and snuggle up close. You have to purr, even when you're not in the mood. For some reason Feeders think purring is very cute. You should also bat their faces with your paws. And don't forget to lick their faces; they also think that's cute. You have to be constantly visible to them. When they walk into the room, there you are laying on the bed, softly snoring; when they walk into the kitchen, there you are looking straight into their eyes, meowing; when they are working at the desk or in the garden, there you are sidling up against their legs; when they are watching TV, there you are on their laps. It is the constant contact that makes you become so much a part of their lives that they come to believe they could never exist without you.
Once this happens, you can have anything you want. You can just about do anything you desire. I say "anything" not "everything" in this case because while Feeders can forgive occasional outbursts of temper from us cats (I myself have scratched the Woman-who-opens-cats when she pissed me off), they will NOT tolerate peeing or pooping around their house. That can get you in serious trouble; in fact, that could be a death sentence.
I will close for now, Sundance, because I have to run to the rose garden while the sun is still up. It was cloudy this morning but now the sun is out and I adore lying around our rose garden.
I am attaching a picture of me on a bed, to prove my point about getting what you want when you play it right.

Yours truly,


Years later, long after Fraidy was gone, I would look at Kiki and think, You and I are getting old. She started having difficulty jumping on our bed; sometimes she limped; she spent more time napping; and she would nip your hand if you touched her lower back the wrong way. But she always remained playful.
Chris had become a lawyer by now, and he moved near us with his new girlfriend, who wanted a cat. My husband, who constantly dreamed of simplifying our lives, volunteered to return Kiki, and they took her to their two-bedroom apartment. Kiki peed inside their shoes and on their clothes, including the leather jacket of the girlfriend, who, fortunately, laughed it off. Our son was not so good-natured, and one day he burst into our kitchen holding Kiki. Hands shaking, he handed her to us and said, “Take her or else I’ll take her to the pound!” Unfazed Kiki sauntered to the den, jumped up on the couch and began grooming herself.  She looked smug, as if thinking, This is where I want to live. Don’t ever try to change my life again.  
But changes did come. Kiki’s life revolved around our house and garden and a bit of the neighborhood—a small planet. The neighbors’ cats came and went; she had one cat friend who was also a tuxedo cat, but older; one day he stopped coming around. She watched Fraidy take the last trip to the vet. Kiki saw our house evolve: a bedroom becoming an office, the front yard acquiring a gate. She watched my husband and me gain weight, begin moving more slowly, and start talking about doctors and dentists more. She watched our three sons grow taller, and saw them come and go as they went to college, returned home, found work, lost a job, fell in love, fell out of love, or got married. And throughout all this, Kiki was a fixture for all of us, the one thing permanent in our lives.
She disliked the grandchildren; she did not like children touching her. The sudden uncontrolled movements of the young ones made her nervous. When she saw them coming, she would shudder with disgust and run off to hide in the garden or upstairs in our bedroom. This did not discourage the grandchildren’s awe, and they would shout excitedly when they saw her: “Look, Kiki’s here!” as if she were a unicorn, a rare and beautiful creature.
At one point, our ages were the same, mine in human years, hers in cat years. Her black fur had faded and picked up a reddish tint; my dyed black hair had done the same. I felt there was a bond between us, and it was a bond that went deeper than the color of our hair or fur. One night the bed was too high for her, and she fell when she jumped up. We found a footstool to help her. She had gum and tooth problems, and I ignored the vet’s suggestion to have all her teeth pulled out. She healed, and still had enough teeth to bite you with if you stroked her the wrong way.
She still preferred my husband’s lap to mine until the very end, but she knew she could rely on me. I was the one who took her to the veterinarian, who Googled her illnesses, who popped pills into her mouth, who brushed her thick black fur, who cleaned her remaining little teeth with a finger contraption, who gave her mercury-free people tuna or bits of steak, who cajoled her into drinking water when she was very ill. It was difficult to watch her grow old, like watching myself heading down the same path. And the fact of it was that Kiki had become so much a part of my life and myself that I couldn’t imagine not having her around. Even her naughtiness and arrogance had become loveable.  I realized I loved this cat.
Sometime during the 17 years we had her, a reversal of roles took place. Kiki ceased being our pet who tried to please us; she became the master, and we her servants who tried hard to please her, or at least I did. Until the end I was her nurse and secretary, jotting down her imagined missives in a blog, as if giving her voice would make her live a little bit longer, just a bit longer, even when she would look at me pleadingly as if to say, “Let me go. Stop forcing me to drink water, and eat. I’m tired.

Facebook Entry, June 12, 2009.
Dear Woman-who-opens-cans,

I understand you have been writing about me and posting my pictures in cyberspace. I trust you realize you have done so without my permission. Is it true that you ridiculed a recent hunting expedition of mine? And I also understand you have been talking about my recent illness, bandying it about for the entire world to know. I do not mind so much when you say I've lost weight, but I take offense when you describe my fur as being "three-toned." I don't know if you've looked in the mirror carefully, at your own hair―"three-toned" suits you better. I have long-forgotten the original color of your hair. And talk of weight, I wish I could say that you've lost weight. Au contraire I detect some puffiness around the middle, probably from all the lokum sweets you stuffed yourself with in Turkey. Shame on you.
 I will, for now, let this matter go, but I give you fair warning that I may not be so patient the next time you malign my character so publicly, and I will take proper legal action.

Truly Yours,


She would spend hours in the rose garden under the bougainvillea bush, where she could watch and listen to the birds and squirrels. She stopped sleeping on our bed, preferring the den couch.  Perhaps climbing up on the bed became a nuisance; perhaps being close to us, being touched by us became an annoyance. She retreated from us and communed with nature.
One gorgeous spring day, Kiki was out in the rose garden—a black-and-white cat lying contentedly under the bougainvillea covered with brilliant red flowers. The rose bushes displayed huge blooms of red, yellow, and pink. I could hear the birds twittering in the bougainvillea. I had done all I could for her, including carrying her in my arms and whispering affirmations: You can do it. You’ll be well again. You have to eat. You have to drink so you’ll live. That day, Kiki was comfortable and happy in her rose garden.  I went to my office to work. Then suddenly I heard a meow, and when I looked up I saw Kiki enter my office. She had something in her mouth―a baby bird, which she dropped in front of me. I jumped up; the fluttering of the birds always upset me. Kiki looked straight at me; she had an expression, something in her eyes. I realized the baby bird was her gift to me. I picked her up, hugged her tight. “Thank you,” I said.


Facebook Status of Kiki D’Rose – July 6, 2009: It's just too hot to lie around the rose garden today! 

Facebook Status of Kiki D’Rose – July 7, 2009: When it's hot like today, the birds are quiet.

Comment by Chris: Kiki, you the best.
Comment by Kiki: Didn’t you dump me on the Woman-Who-Opens-Cans when you went to law school?

Facebook Status by Kiki D’Rose – July 8, 2009: A bird in mouth is worth more than two in the bush. 

Facebook Status by Kiki D’Rose – July 9, 2009: The sun's up, the birds are out, time to go to the rose garden!

Facebook Status by Kiki D’RoseJuly 10, 2009: The baby birds have learned to fly. No catching birds until next spring.

Facebook Status by Kiki D’Rose – July 11, 2009: I’m not enjoying the TV programs tonight.

Facebook Status of Kiki D’ Rose - July 22, 2009: I’ve been feeling under the weather. Must be the heat.

Facebook Status of Kiki D’Rose – July 29, 2009: Kiki D'Rose passed away July 28, 2009. She was 17 years old. Her health had been fragile for a few years now, and she'd almost died two or three times, but managed to survive, but this time she didn't make it. She stopped eating and became weaker and weaker for a week. Her Family did all they could to cajole her to eat... but she wouldn't. Most members of the family were able to hug her and say goodbye to her the night before she died. She was purring. She was found dead on the kitchen floor at 5 a.m. and later she was buried in her beloved rose garden. 
Her family is very sad but grateful to have enjoyed her company for 17 years. She was a bit naughty but a lot of fun. We are very sad and will miss her a lot. 

tags: pet, pets, cat, cats, kitten, pet grief, animals

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Connecticut Roadside Memorial

Connecticut Roadside Memorial - Angels, Deborah Angell Gedney's photo

I'm sharing this from Facebook:

"This was a beautiful yet sad roadside memorial seen along Main Street in Sandy Hook (a Newtown neighborhood) on Sunday 12/16. I just had to stop the car and cry. And bless the huge heart of the person that made such a simple yet lovely tribute so quickly. One of the comments below said it was made by the school art teacher, so I emailed our thanks let them know this photo had over 1,600 shares as of 10 am on 12/18."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Re Connecticut Shootings

Top Ten Attractions in Cebu City

Per TripAdvisor, here are the Top Ten Attractions in Cebu City, Philippines:

1. Santo Nino Basilica
2. Yap Sandiego Ancestral Home
3. Sky Adventure at Crown Regency Cebu
4. 1730 Jesuit House'
5. Bugoy Bikers
6. Ayala Center Cebu Cinemas
7. Tops
8. Museo Sugbo
9. Taoist Temple
10. Mountain View Nature's Park

Photo taken in the Yap Sandiego House

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cleaning up the Rivers of Cebu can be Done - by Cecilia Brainard


Cleaning up the rivers of Cebu can be done

 Published in
 (The Freeman) |

CEBU, Philippines - Whenever I travel, I pay close attention to the condition of the rivers and lakes of the places I visit. This obsession stems from the fact that the rivers in Cebu have become polluted and silted as to become lifeless. It is not just the cosmetic aspect of dirty creeks and foul smell that concerns me. It is the realization that unhealthy rivers and creeks destroy our environment. Rivers and creeks are like arteries of life and when these arteries are destroyed, life in general is threatened. I put it this way: the garbage you dump in rivers, end up in the sea, and the fish eat the garbage, and we in turn eat the fish, so indirectly what you throw in the river ends up in our bodies.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lamentations 1:20 - Children are Put to the Sword

Lamentations 1:20:

See, O Lord, for I am in trouble; the inmost parts of my body are deeply moved; my heart is turned in me; for I have been uncontrolled: outside the children are put to the sword, and in the house there is death.

Cat and Christmas Decoration

"I Promise not to Touch it!"
Cat and Christmas Decoration - (I didn't take this photo but it reminds me of my cats and their obssession with the Christmas tree.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland - photo by Cecilia Brainard

I was flabbergasted when I saw these rock formations; they are very regular as to look man made, but they are all natural. Here is the writeup in Wikipedia about it:

"The Giant's Causeway (known as Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach in Irish[1] and tha Giant's Causey in Ulster-Scots)[2] is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.[3] The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.
The Giant's Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.[4]"