TWO CENTS OR TWENTY

Today is Chinese New Year in Bandung. It’s not much of a big holiday here in Indonesia compared to Singapore, or Hong Kong, or Vietnam or Taiwan, much less Mainland China. I have heard proud Sundanese deliberately whispering out loud in the bus so I can hear them wish how the holiday shouldn’t exist because “it removes people’s right to work and get money” and that “it makes people overspent” and of course the classic “We own this country, those China(s) shouldn’t be such a show off”

Since it’s Monday, however, Bandung is once again horribly jammed with vacationers enjoying the long weekend, and some even take paid leave until Wednesday. They don’t really care what holiday it is, and I know that a lot of businesses rake substantial increase in profits in the past few days. While they are here, they mingle with locals and enjoy traditional Chinese New Year dragon dance, the customary food (if you think there’s dog or cat meat in there, you are wrong. Customary Chinese new year foods are mainly fruit, vegetables, noodles, and mushrooms), the customary drinks (no blood, just rice wine, almond pudding, plum, and tea). They enjoy all the culture and traditions that are kept tight behind China(s) door otherwise, they wear red (customary new year color).

I shrug the new year whisperer off. They are not Chinese, they don’t know what it’s like to be a Chinese immigrant during the new order (and prior) in Indonesia, they don’t know what Chinese are like, so they do not have the right to offer their judgement, two cents or twenty.

One of the tradition is that we clean the house spotless the day before, and hide the brooms, mops and whatever cleaning tools on new year day. We are not allowed to sweep the floor, or mop the house, or clean whatever. If you sweep anything, it will be sweeping good fortune out of your abode. We only have to prepare sweet foods, and open our house to friends and family and guests. We worry about cleaning and the bill tomorrow.

For that tradition, I am also being ridiculed. Some with the tinge of racism, and some other bash using their holy Qoran (Indonesia is a muslim dominated country, but the nation itself is secular). I have no idea whether what they quote is real or not, but Chinese New Year has nothing to do with the Qoran. They have no idea what the tradition means, they don’t know where it come from, and we never made them do that tradition and the tradition didn’t hurt anyone, and so they have no right to offer their judgement, two cents or twenty.

But I did wonder about that particular, amusing tradition, and I seek answer in my fondness of history. The rest is theoretical logic.

On New Year day, we don’t get ourselves busy. We cleaned up all the dust and clean everything from dawn to dusk. We throw away all the garbage of the last year, so that when the new year come, we are clean as new.

On New Year day, we provide sweet food, and welcome everyone, friends, family, and enemy in between. We open our house and welcome everyone, anyone as a gesture that we open our heart to everyone, anyone. We offer whoever come the same sweet food regardless. We forget all the bitterness and welcome the sweet promises of better health, better relationship, better life, better luck.

On New Year Day, we give. We give money (fortune) to small children in appreciation, hope and cultivation of better future generation. We say thank you and exchange well wishes in appreciation of what others give, whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whatever history they have with us.

On New Year Day, we appreciate and celebrate whatever that comes and be grateful. Grateful for the air we breathe, grateful for the life full of adventure and many more that comes starting today, grateful for the beauty of the flowers, the sweetness of the fruits. Grateful of the living tree that needs to let some leaves die and dirtied our front yard so it can bless us more when it blooms in spring and bear fruit in summer. Grateful for the speck of dust on top of that drawer because it means today we have riches while many others don’t.

On New Year Day, I appreciate all the lives that comes cross my path. Some just for few hours, some longer. Some through a packet of cat food, some stays in my house.

On New Year Day, I celebrate the chance and opportunity to extend service and compassion to the specks of dust discarded and mopped by the world. Some comes with three legs, some with swollen head, some lost their eyes, the other with FIP, but all have fur, or feather, or scales.

On New Year Day, I am grateful for all the blessings that these little God and Goddesses share with me when we roll the ball and chase them together. I am grateful for the laughter they give me in exchange of a handful of kibbles. I am grateful for the joys and sadness when their lives come and go.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful I didn’t brush that white crumpled ball I thought was plastic bag and moved on. I am grateful I am curious enough to ask the taxi to stop and let me second check on it and found out that it was a white kitten; curling and crumpling itself under a garbage cart in the cold and damp of the morning after the rain and thunderstorm. I am grateful that I picked it up though I have to argue with the taxi driver who complained that the little kitten, just as big as the palm of my hand will make his brand new car dirty.

I am grateful I forgive him. Pay him minimum fare, and let him go. From the look in his eyes, I can bet that the incident will haunt him for the rest of the day.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful that I am given the chance to extend my service and compassion; from the day the small kitten came into my house, to the day I found out she contracted FCV to the day I have to let her go.

I was so busy cleaning yesterday, and she kept twisting and turning on my ankles that I tripped so many times. When I was finally done hiding my broom, she followed me into my room, something she never done, and as I lay myself on the bed, near the midnight, she climbed up my chest, curl up and sleep.

I have things to do still, but I appreciate her will and read instead.

Early this morning I had to sent out some order so I told her I will be back in just half an hour. It was nine a.m. She looked at me with her blue round eyes and sit on the door mat right in front of my room.

I was trapped under a fierce rain and thunderstorm on my way home and had to stop because I can’t see anything in front of me and got back home after lunch.

She was gone by then. Still on top of the mat, curling up, in peace.

On this particular New Year Day I am grateful for the honor of sending one of the Goddesses back to her heaven, where there be no cold and damp in the cold morning after the rain.

On this particular New Year Day I celebrate the short life that we spent together.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful that I am given the chance to offer service and appreciation to one of the tiniest speck of dust that everyone mopped away, and more grateful because I didn’t miss that one in a lifetime opportunity.

On this particular New Year Day, I give. I give my heart, I give my tears, I give my love. It won’t be the same, ever.

But on this particular New Year day, I forget all the bitterness and welcome the sweet promises of better service, more expertise, better luck, with the next that comes through my door.

~ Josie T Liem

We missed the last weekly fundraiser by USD 70; but at the start of new week today, the first day of the year of the monkey, I am grateful for all your help, all your support, all your prayers, all your wishes. I am grateful for the chance to exchange life experiences, love, compassion, filial piety and connection with all of you. I appreciate the ties that just getting stronger, and I am sending you my best wishes for better days, better health, better life, better luck, better fortune, better future.

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate‘s Facebook page

2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori) or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)

3. Follow this link to make a donation: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

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Just like everyone else on earth, there are times when I was lured to the imagination of the luxuries I will get if I know the future.

Then, life will be boring. Of course, people with lack of management skill like me will find life easier, and that’s another lure that makes the potentially boring life more bearable.

It’s only after I went into animal rescue full time, I start to appreciate, and then prefer the way it is now. Renoir, who has hernia and very bad URI that we don’t know whether or not he will make it, Rain, a small kitten who ran toward me under the rain just to sit under my umbrella (and get himself picked up), Koge Pan, Kaitou, Dusty, Goldie. Had I know when they will pass, I was probably already a resident of a mental institution by now; making the tragic headline like “Psychologist suffered from depression, dragged to mental hospital with her dead cats”

Had I know the future, I’d probably hunker up in some basement without window or light, sitting on my own excrement. I won’t be able to handle that luxury of passing a street cat, or dog, or bird knowing that they would die slow death, or starving, or being abused, or hit by car, or abandoned or…

Had I know the future, Mousy and I wouldn’t have so much good time that we never thought possible. We had hoped that his first surgery that you all helped me paid for will get rid of that growth on his nose. All the vets involved in his surgery did every single thing they possibly could and employ the best technology available. They even borrow equipment from other vet. It’s just that his nose grow back and it’s getting bigger.

We have a long, heartbreaking discussion, but ultimately, I decided not to pursue another surgery only to give him third round of growing nose. I will take it that his clock is ticking, give him quality life, and when the time comes, drop him off the station by that rainbow bridge, and turn back home. Alone.

And that time seems to be drawing near. In the past few weeks, Mousy had gradually lost his appetite. As of today he no longer interested in dry food. He only eat soft food and kitty milk. He loves those gel supplements and I let him have all of those as much as he likes. I take him to the empty lot near the sanctuary and we roll on the grass together, we chase butterfly together, and when people ask me what is it about his nose, I would proudly, yes, proudly, explain that Mousy has tumor on his nose and he put up with it like a champion.

Mousy is gaunt now. I can see his big, sturdy bone protruding from his body. My once very handsome, Chris Hemsworth looking guy looks ghastly, but just like old kings, he walks with grace, looks with charisma, wave his tail like a lion ready for its pride.

Mousy needs subcutaneous fluid everyday, although he drinks enough. He still get his medicine, he still get his favorite chicken sausage, cut up, then mashed, now blendered. Mousy got nose bleed often.

And one day, when he lost his will to live completely, then I know it’s time to make the call and drop him off. Better so, than letting him die naturally out of oxygen and starving.

It’s a hard call. You all know. But not knowing when to make the call makes all the time that remains even more precious. Not knowing when that time will come give me the chance to appreciate another day, appreciate the time given to process this and stay sane for the both of us, appreciate the chance to handle and accept the inevitable the way it should be: with grace, with open heart, with love.

Not knowing when the day will come give me the chance to focus on what can I do to make today better, instead of feeling sorry and depressed about Mousy’s weight loss, lack of appetite, nose bleed, gauntness, death. Make all moments last.

So that when it’s time to high five for the last time, we both can turn our back against each other with no regret.

~ Josie

Our Godmother Christine had offered to double the next USD 100 in donation; in celebration of Mousy’s valiant fight, and for good luck on the coming year of the monkey (February 8, 2016). If you missed the chance on doubling your gift with special guardian angel Ginger, you can join us today.

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate‘s Facebook page

2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori) or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)

3. Follow this link to make a donation: www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED FUNDRAISING

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Thanks to all of you, I believe we came close to raising the $150 Josie needs for Torbie’s surgery. I know Josie will let you all know how it goes.

Before a rupture of Torbie’s hernia became an emergency, we had raised $280 so far for the week. Now we need to make sure the Mobsters have food, litter and medicine for the rest of next week.

It is Thursday morning, Josie’s time and she had numerous errands to run today and needed to head out of the house early so I’m jumping on to post this evening.

There are around 80 Mobsters that live at The Whiskers’ Syndicate. There are young cats and mature cats. There are blind cats and cats missing legs. There are cats who don’t like other cats. Each one has his or her story and special concerns. That means there are at least 80 chances every day for an emergency to happen with the Mobsters.

There are even more chances for emergencies when an unexpected “package” is delivered to Josie’s front door. Then when you think of the colonies Josie cares for and the strays she feeds on her daily errands and it is almost inevitable that an emergency will come about on a daily basis.

Please help Josie meet the weekly needs of the cats of Bandung with a donation now. Here how to donate:

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s Facebook page

2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori)
or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)

3. www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

 

 

HAPPY #CATURDAY EVERYONE

It’s a special day today; it’s the first Caturday in 2016.

When our friend Karen coined and suggested The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s $5 Caturday two years ago, we have more skepticism than optimism.

The idea is simple and very very very doable: ask everyone to donate 5 Dollars every Saturday. How hard that can be? Five Dollars means nothing for the average middle class in most part of the world, not only Americans; but it means the world for us because the exchange rate to Indonesian Rupiah is always ten thousand times lower. Meaning, 5 Dollars in US or UK or European currency, means at least 50 thousand Indonesian Rupiahs. That’s one day meal for five cats.

The skepticism is because there’s not much people coming online on Saturday and the rest of weekends to read our message. So what is the point of shouting into the Sahara?

But Karen did it anyway. She write, and she use her photography and image rendering magical skill into use in that only day when she is off work.

And people give. Only one or two at first, then more. And then she jumped out of our bandwagon to channel her own vision and use her skills to help countless of shelter cats and dogs where she lives and to respect and appreciate her legacy, I come online on the only day I can get off work (I work at Sundays too).

People still not come online during Saturdays, except for a few, but the magic is that we have a lot more special cases on Caturdays than any other day. There’s the flood disaster befell on our sanctuary two years ago and in at least six Caturdays, we have to raise emergency funds for drowned kittens. Two survived until adulthood, There’s the case of Estebel, who was dumped in front of the office building where I work and need to be whisked out of sight and transported home before the small dilapidated security post where she lives were bulldozed, and an unlikely errand boy (usually he never help me, nor care about animals) would call me and tip me off the event. And then there’s Chiko, a 12 years old grandma cat living on the street in a small village between Bogor and Jakarta carrying mammary gland tumor until her stomach burst out.

Her story is one of the most magical caturday ever. The plea of a villager home maker mother who doesn’t know what is going on, asking around what to give the street cat she used to feed, picked up by an office worker on her way back to Jakarta, posted on her facebook, picked up by a university student who copied and pasted Chiko’s sad condition to all of her friends’ facebook page, picked up by another student who forwarded the note to The Whiskers’ Syndicate.

And instead of fund raising for The Whiskers’ Syndicate, I deleted all my post and write about Chiko.

We; you and me, shocked everyone by raising USD 250 in ten minutes, the words buzzed and the worker drove back to the small village and Chiko got her life saving surgery. 250 is nothing, looking at how charities raise tens of thousands of Dollars in a matter of days, but it’s a precedence never before happened in the whole history of charity in Indonesia; and the fact that that amount of money raised for a street cat is even more of a shock. We swept everyone off their feet when they found out it was done by middle class commoner instead of celebrities.

Chiko live well and pampered, free from tumor, away from the street she has been living on for 12 years, until she died of old age 6 months later.

But that’s Indonesia. We have little room for charity, we have little room for compassion, we have little room for everything other than the profanity with which we clothed, we eat, we drive, and we sleep in. We have years of corrupted order governing us, and it will take us probably another century to cut off the chain of rottenness in our heart if our current president succeeded in getting us out of this hell.

And this is The Whiskers’ Syndicate, still trying to do our best for gazillion more of the street cats like Chiko, and Mona, and Ellie, and Monday, and Jack, and Samson, and Liam. We have little room for luxury, much less room for hope, but just like Karen’s faith open the path to many miracles for unfortunate animals when she first started our 5 Dollars Caturday, we are casting our faith upon you to come through for the better days many other.

We only have 400 something followers when Karen started; we have a wee bit over one thousand now, if only 10 percent of our supporter donate 5 Dollars, we can ensure the safety and fulfillment of the rest of The Whiskers’ Syndicate for another week. We hope you are one of those few good men.

~ Josie

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate‘s Facebook page

2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori) or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)

3. Follow this link to make a donation: www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR ANGELS

After the last couple of weeks, I can without a doubt say, I do believe in angels and those angels are all of you that helped ensure the Mobsters had what they needed during the holidays…even while spending time with your families. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, because of all of your hard work, our Josie actually got a full 8 hours of sleep one night. She wasn’t worrying about having funds to feed cats or provide medical care or help the street cats. It’s been years that she has actually slept for a full 8 hours.

So, yes, the last few weeks of 2015 were a success in fundraising and Josie is going to hold on to some of what was raised for emergencies, but she can only do that is we stay on track this week and next and the week after that and so on.

More good news. The rains have finally started so Bandung is finally cooling down. Unfortunately, that is a mixed blessing for with the rain and cooler weather coming on the heals of the oven temperatures, it will mean sick cats and emergency visits to the vet and subcu fluids. It won’t be long before the first kittens of 2016 emerge from the dens their mothers made for them, which will mean sick kittens all over the city. We know our Josie. This will mean days of bringing home babies. Some will make is and some won’t despite Josie spending sleepless nights to care for them. Then there will also be the current babies that will be old enough by Easter time to be spayed/neutered.

You get the idea. It’s a never ending cycle in rescue. Rescue, care for, provide medical care, provide nutritious food, more vet care, clean litter, more food and supplements, on and on it goes. But the cycle only continues if there is money to provide the food, the support, the litter and the vet care.

We have had no donations since Friday, which doesn’t get this week off to a good start so I am reaching out to you, The Whiskers’ Syndicate Angels, and asking you to please continue your support and help us with our weekly goal of at least $500.

It’s easy to donate, just choose your favorite method:

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate‘s Facebook page
2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori) or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)
3. Follow this link to make a donation: www.paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Lori

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BLOODY MARY

Everybody knows this taboo: never look at the mirror at certain time of the day at certain day of the year and say “Bloody Mary” three times. Well, some people even say just once can set a certain tragedy to happen.

But not everyone listens to a good advice.

Everybody knows tuna is big. It’s a heavy haul to nail them out of the ocean; and no pan nor wok nor pot will fit that size of a fish. Well, some people said the meat’s taste so great it’s worth the trouble.

But not everyone listen to a good advice.

Everybody knows cats like tuna. Mobsters at The Whiskers’ Syndicate would claw each other to get a piece more than they are allowed to. Well, some people said fish is bad for cats because of the possible mercury contamination

And the price. People told me buy it just once can set a certain tragedy to happen.

But not everyone listen to a good advice.

I am not everyone, I guess, so I lined up on a certain fish seller, one of only two in the market nearby who sell fresh tuna. I always choose the chubbiest, longest, healthiest tuna and make people next in line grumpy because it will take so long to clean it out, cut it up to fit my 24 inches pot, and when the seller is done with my share, he himself will turn grumpy because his waste bucket will be full.

So he pick it up, haul it to his shoulder and dump it to the sewer behind him.

Don’t give me that look. I told you Bandung is two centuries behind everything.

And not everyone listen to a good advice.

I heard a hack sound when all those guts and skulls hit the sewer, but I thought it was just me; besides, the view is gross and the smell is unbearable.

But then I heard another hack and a sort of a muffled sneeze.

And the skulls are moving; as if the tuna came back to life.

The other buyers were intrigued by my horrified face looking at the moving fish skull and some women started to scream when a bloody creature with hair made of fish intestine crawl out from the sewer like that girl in Hollywood’s “The Ring” and scramble its way toward us.

Some customers ran away in terror

That was when I lost it. I looked at the terrified fish seller and said “Bloody Creep! You dump the whole bucket of filth on a kitten?”

It snapped the seller out of his horror. “Huh? What? Kitten?” and he look again, and deliver his defense “I didn’t see that kitten in there. How should I know. Why would a kitten be in the sewer?”

I was helpless thinking that I will have to throw away yet another shirt picking up that blood dripping, intestine draped wee little hacking thing. It doesn’t even look halfway like a kitten.

The wife of the fish seller read my mind (or my look) and pulled some plastic bag and give it to me. “Use this, if you are going to pick it up. Yuck.”

It cost me gallons of water, whole bottle of shampoo, a liter of tomato juice and half a pound of lemon to get rid of her halloween eau de parfum.

And her name is Bloody Mary.

Not everyone listens to a good advice.

~ Josie

Despite her look, Bloody Mary is a sweet kitty. She is always ready for a many headbutts and plenty of purrs and she runs like wind across the valley when she zwoosh from one end of the cattery to the other for extra tuna; or whenever the door is opened. Once she almost fell off 3 feet down onto solid concrete when she zipped out of the front door and forgot to pull the brake.

She never listens to a good advice.

#HappyCaturday , the first in 2016

1. Click the donate button on The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s Facebook page

2. Go to PayPal and send a donation to JBaskia@aol.com (Lori) or whiscraft@gmail.com (Miguel/Josie)

3. Follow this link to make a donation: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate