A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kitties And Fiddlers

Three weeks ago, a woman heard some faint crying coming from a dumpster on the Embarcadero in Oakland.
She looked inside and found tiny four kittens in a plastic bag that was sealed with duct tape. If she hadn't come along when she did, they would have suffocated.
The kittens were so young - only three or four days old - their umbilical cords were still attached.
One was already dead, and another died soon after. She took the two survivors home, but she soon realized they required more care than she knew how to provide. So she called Island Cat Resources and Adoption (formerly known as Island Cat Rescue) in Alameda.
ICRA volunteers bottle-fed the little kittens every two hours around the clock, and they thrived. In a few weeks they'll be old enough to be placed in new homes. And you couldn't ask for nicer, sweeter, more affectionate kitties because all that bottle-feeding has made them extremely people-oriented.
And ICRA has more than 350 success stories like that every year. Its mission is to reduce the feral cat population of Alameda, Oakland and Emeryville by humanely trapping them and taking them to local veterinarians for spay/neuter surgery and whatever other medical attention is needed.
Those that are tame enough to be adopted are put in temporary foster homes, where they learn to trust humans, then placed in permanent homes.
Those that are too wild to be adopted are returned to their feral cat colonies, where they live out their lives under the watchful eyes of ICRA volunteers, who feed them and monitor their wellbeing. And, most importantly, they don't produce any more kittens.
ICRA is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and it's celebrating with a gala fund-raiser April 25 at the Elks Lodge in Alameda. Gift certificates, art, fine jewelry, overnight trips, pet goodies, sports memorabilia and more will be auctioned; and all proceeds will go to the kitties.
For more information about ICRA and the auction, call 510-869-2584 or visit www.icraeastbay.org.
Meanwhile, do you know the difference between a violin and a fiddle?
"Violin music is for listening; fiddle music is for dancing," says Pate Thomson of Berkeley. And he ought to know because he plays some of the most danceable music there is: Scottish fiddle tunes, with titles like "Miss Grace Hay's Delight" and "Miss Oswald of Auchincruive's Favorite Reel."
By day, Thomson is a cardiologist. But at night he puts down his stethoscope and picks up his fiddle, and he and his wife Judy make music with other members of the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers. In large groups and small, they get together and fiddle to their hearts' delight until the wee small hours.
Once a year, the Scottish Fiddlers don their formal kilts and present a series of boisterous public concerts when, as the group's leader, Alisdair Fraser, puts it, "spontaneous things break out and anything's likely to happen."
This year they will appear locally on April 24 at the Valley Center for the Performing Arts at Holy Names University in Oakland. For more information or tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.
Dancing in the aisles is not only permitted, it's practically mandatory. Periodically, Fraser will turn to the audience and proclaim in a thick Scottish burr, "Get up and fling yourselves about in an ethnic manner!"
I can't think of anything that's more fun. Enjoy!

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