Love and Joy and Joy and Love (on and on and on)

Last May we said goodbye to our cat, Jerome. He was 18. We'd had him since he was a tiny kitten. He was supposed to be Matthias' cat, but when we went to look at the litter of kittens, he climbed on my lap and that was that.

It was hard for me. Very hard.

siamese cats, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

His health deteriorated at the same time that Matthias was so sick. I remember thinking, I can't handle this. But I handled it. I didn't do a good job at it, but I got through it. What other choice did I have?

It was painful and I had a lot of guilt. I still have a lot of guilt. And although I'd lived my whole life with cats, I wasn't ready for another.

I don't know what changed, or if anything did change. Maybe it was just the passing of time. It wasn't that the house felt empty the way it had after we lost Holden. Charlie and Jude made sure of that.

rescue greyhounds, retired racing greyhounds, greyhounds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Even so, in the beginning of winter I started thinking about the possibility of rescuing a cat. I said, I'm not ready yet, but...

In truth, I was paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake.

In late December we visited a cat adoption lounge in the next town over. It was a cat foster home located in an antique and second hand store. I figured it would be a low-key, no pressure way to meet some cats in need of homes. I could pretend that I was there to shop and just happened to stop in and pet some cats (who was a fooling?).

There were two cats that immediately struck a chord with me. They were hard to miss. The biggest cats in the lounge, they were beautiful and friendly and when I learned that they were good with dogs and that they were brothers who had been together their whole lives (just like our two rescued greyhounds), it just seemed right. 

But they were 10 years old. And did I really want two cats?

For nearly two months I waffled. I didn't trust that initial instinct. I didn't trust my heart.

rescue cats, black and white cats, adopt don't shop, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My head provided excuse after excuse. Every worry, every "what if?" that it could possibly create, it did. And then some.

Eventually my heart gained control of the situation (helped, in part, by the fact that the city was shutting down the cat adoption lounge because of zoning laws and all the cats needed to find homes ASAP).

A week ago we brought them home.

rescue cat, black and white cat, adopt don't shop, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Pepper (and every variation of it that you can imagine, from Sergeant to Dr. to Sweet to Bell to Chili...)

And Harlequin, Quincy, Quin.

rescue cat, black and white cat, adopt don't shop, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I am so glad that we did.

They are sweet. Affectionate (even with the dogs). Funny. Well behaved (for cats). They settled in quickly. And just like little Jerome when we first moved into this house, they immediately gravitated to my studio.

rescue cats, black and white cats, adopt don't shop, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

They've claimed this chair, the comfy spot that I never get around to sitting in.

And I couldn't be happier.

I'm grateful that I didn't wait too long, that my hesitancy didn't cause me to lose them (it almost did).

But oh, it sure took me a long time to get here.

Life is short. Love. Joy. Beauty. They are all so important. They can be so fleeting. We need to make sure we don't let them slip away. We need to keep our hearts open, not let fear and guilt and worry close them off.

We're constantly faced with situations where we need to choose.

Choose love.

Choose joy.

Choose beauty.

Each and every time.

Yes, this is just a story of two cats, but I think its lessons are more far-reaching than that. Listen to your heart. Follow the path that will bring more love, more beauty, more joy. No matter what that path may be, no matter where it might lead.

I don't know about you, but I need the reminder.

And although it would be easy to fill up today's Joy List with kitties, kitties, kitties, I won't do it.

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

  • A winter thunderstorm that didn't bring as much snow (and ice and hail) as predicted, but which covered the mud with a blanket of clean whiteness
  • More flowers arriving on my plants
  • Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine following some grey (making me appreciate it all the more)
  • Closing this year's Handmade Joy Exchange with a total of 40 participants from 16 US states and 7 other countries!!
  • Days that last longer and longer
  • Beautiful sunsets
  • Green tea
  • Finishing a special custom print for a sweet customer
  • A Sunday Chinese food lunch with my parents
  • Soup
  • Finishing an old sketchbook and starting a new one
  • This week's Sketchbook Conversation and Artist Interview (stay tuned!)

houseplants, amaryllis, flowering houseplants, orchids, studio, artist studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What's on your list today?


  1. So lovely to see these boys in their new home! And what a wonderful reminder to always trust your heart.

    1. Hi, Ellie, thanks for stopping by!

      I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my boys and that my reminder to trust your heart struck a chord with you.

      Have a lovely rest of your week!

  2. I am so pleased for you Anne! The cats look so well fed and contented! Did you choose the names for them or were they already named? It is so lovely to see them curled up together in the chair. It is cold, grey and miserable here today but I will try to focus on joy and do some sketchbook preparation later. Have a lovely week with all your boys!!! :)

    1. Thank you, Simone! "Well fed"! Ha! They are that. A bit on the chubby side, actually.

      They came with different names. I had a whole long list of potential cat names, none of which they ended up with. Matthias named Pepper and eventually I named Quin, though I occasionally stumble on his name and want to call him other things.

      I hope your weather improved there. Today, March is coming in a like a Lion. Out the window is a whirl of snow. Winter's not through with us yet!

      Enjoy the rest of your week!

  3. What beautiful kitties! They are so lucky to have found a new forever home!

    1. Thank you, Annie! I think we are pretty lucky, too. Matthias and I are totally in love with them! :)

  4. They are so gorgeous Anne. I love their names too. They look so happy to be a part of your family. Awww... This post made me emotional. I think this story and the fact that I'm reading a book that is pulling at me did it. And the whole listen to your heart thing. Thanks for the reminder friend. :)

    1. Thanks, Dana!! They do seem to be happy and to have settled into our daily routines.

      Of course, I want to know what book you're reading. Always on the lookout for a good read. I've been reading too many that are a slog lately!

      Why do we need reminders to listen to our hearts? Shouldn't it be more simple than that? Funny that it's not.

      Hope you're having a good week!

  5. I love this post, Anne. I love that those beautiful cats love those beautiful dogs. I love that you love them all. I'm happy that you moved past all your doubts and grabbed hold of hope and joy. Here's what I think about your precious cats. . .whatever time you have with them, you are bringing joy into their lives. It's a win/win situation. You love them and they love you. I have another blogging friend who adopted a basset hound who was diagnosed with cancer after losing their own basset. The dog had been horribly mistreated by previous owners and left in the humane society for adoption. They didn't hesitate when they met that dog, even though they had no idea how long he would live. Well, Cooper's cancer is in remission and he is doing great in their loving home. He is sweet and gentle and brings so much happiness into their lives. We never know how much time we're given with others, whether others are humans or animals, but we are created to give love and in giving we receive tenfold. You did a brave thing. The right thing. A hopeful thing. Wonderful! Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you, Nancy. You are so right. We never know how much time we have. There is never a sure thing. We need to make the most of each and every day.

      What a beautiful story of your friends and their rescued dog. Love is always the right thing. Always, always, always.

      We're so glad we brought these kitties into our family. Each day with them is a gift!

      Thanks for your encouragement and further reminders!

      Hugs to you, Nancy, too!

  6. Such pretty cats. Although I am allergic to cats I rescued a stray that showed at my door one day. I named her Olivia. For 6 years Olivia, once so small and thin I thought she was a half grown kitten, lived the life of Riley. She gained a lot of weight and ruled the house. Her beautiful green eyes always aware. Then one day, last year, she played in the sun at the foot of the stairs and when my husband came down the stairs he kneeled to pet her like he always did. I had just fed her not 1/2 hour prior. He said she was gone. I was devastated. I still miss Olivia and think about her beautiful green eyes often. I can't get another cat like you did because my allergies will start to act up again, but I will never say never. Loved your post and it's happy ending

    1. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Crystal. I think Olivia needed you and you needed Olivia. She was meant to be with you.

      How hard to lose her so unexpectedly. Such a shock. But she went peacefully. No lingering illness. No difficult decision for you to make.

      I like that you say, never say never. You're right. We never know what's around the corner for us. Keep an open heart.

      Wishing you joy.

  7. Bless you, Anne. I love cats! Always had one or two. We took in a stray in May 2006. We lost her this past September to pancreatic cancer. She was with us for ten wonderful years. Six months later our hearts are still broken, always will be as she took part of our hearts with her; our eyes still get wet at times; we miss her so much! Our Gabby looks just like your Pepper, only the black over their eyes is backwards. My husband thought Pepper was Gabby. My heart bleeds with yours over the loss of our family member. May the warmth of their love live on in our memories and heart.

    1. Hi, Laurie. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your story. Oh, how hard it is to lose a beloved member of our family like that. It hurts for a long time. But mixed in with the loss is all the love and beautiful memories we have. You will always have that. No matter how much time passes, the joy and love remain. And I think the loss helps us to love and cherish all the more.

      Wishing you more joy and love than pain.

  8. When I lost my soulmate dog I didn't think I would survive. After awhile I adopted a rescue. I saw his photo on a rescue site and I knew I would love his sweet personality. He was a very sweet boy who went up to everyone fully expecting to be loved. It was hard to give my total heart to him for all sorts of crazy reasons like I thought I was being disloyal to my first dog and I thought I would literally die if something happened to him. Sadly, it turned out that he was actually very sick (probably why he had been abandoned at the pound) but he was so noble and loving the whole time he was with me. He really taught me not to hold back when offered love. I am so happy you brought these two sweet cats home.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story. My heart goes out to you for your losses.

      It's so hard to lose our beloved animal friends. But you really nailed it with what you said about the rescue dog teaching you not to hold back when offered love. When we lost our sweet first dog it was so terrible, but I learned from him to love, love, love and to savor each day together. Now with our greyhounds, I make sure not to take a single day for granted. (I'm also so much more patient and loving this time around... with the dogs and the cats -- life is too short to get bent out of shape about things or to be too busy to enjoy their company).

      Wishing you joy. I hope you are able to welcome another dog's love into your life.

  9. Hello Friend,
    I enjoyed this post. You are right, I have done the same. I do appreciate the reminder, you wrote it so well.
    I also want to share with you, I have exciting news. In January, I applied to take the UW Madison Master Gardener Course. I have been accepted. I start class on Tuesday.
    I am excited and nervous at the same time. It is been awhile since I have been to school. ;-)
    I will be adjusting my blog schedule until I get use to going back to school.
    In case you do not hear from me, know that I will return and your blog friendship is special to me.

    Love, Carla

    1. Hello, sweet friend!

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post and that you could relate to it.

      Congratulations on being accepted into the UW Madison Master Gardener course!! So very exciting!! I know you'll do great back in school! (Did you go shopping for school supplies? That was always my favorite part of preparing!).

      I'll be looking for updates on your blog and I hope you'll share your experience with us.

      Remember to have fun!

      Big hugs to you!!


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