Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Clyde's Happy Tails: The Adventures Of Clyde The Rescue Cat"

Chicoan Sarah Downs is a cat rescuer, co-founder of the Neighborhood Cat Advocates (catadvocatestnr.org) which focuses on trapping, neutering, and returning feral cats or cats with no owner (with a caretaker assigned to feed them). 

Her children's book, begun as a tribute to her father, is now part of a fundraising effort to make it possible for her to relocate sixteen or seventeen feral cats living on the Marigold side of the Pleasant Valley High School campus (see @pvcatrelocationproject on Facebook for details).

"Clyde's Happy Tails: The Adventures Of Clyde The Rescue Cat" ($15.99 in paperback, self-published; also for Amazon Kindle) is a sweet story with full-color illustrations by the inimitable Steve Ferchaud. (Search for "Clyde's Happy Tails by Sarah Downs" on Amazon to avoid being directed to books with "happy trails" in their titles.)

Clyde, we are told, "was found as a wee little kitten, lost and alone in a field." But a caring family brought him home, and when the tuxedo cat was old enough "he started his life full of adventure." That means he went outside.

"One day, Clyde was patrolling the neighborhood, you know, to make sure there was no riff-raff going on. Clyde hopped a fence a found he had a new neighbor. A dog!! But, the dog was tied up to a tree."

Ever inquisitive, Clyde wants to know the dog's name, but all he gets in return is a gruff "leave me alone!" He adds, menacingly, "Can't you see I'm a bad dog?" After all, he tells Clyde, he barks at strangers and was taken outside and tied to a tree. He must be bad, right?

"Clyde replied, 'Well, I don't think you're a Bad Dog. You didn't bark at me, and I'm a stranger!" That sets the dog (whose name is Petey) to thinking he's not so bad after all, and sets Clyde to thinking of a way to free Petey. It involves all the neighborhood cats working together, but they get the job done.

Clyde isn't finished. He introduces Petey to Joey, a neighborhood boy, who in turn takes Petey to meet Grandpa Tom. 

It's a perfect match.


Tuesday, June 01, 2021

"Able To Be Otherwise"

"Now, when I drive through Paradise with my family nearly two years after the fire," Anna Lenaker writes in her compelling memoir, "I see the charred marks the fire left in its wake all around. But I also see the frames of new houses being built...." Yes, "life is returning ... but it is a slow and painful effort--just as it is with grieving."

Lenaker faces great grief in her own life, enough almost to still her breath permanently. Yet through others' compassion, especially from her older brother Jay and his wife Teressa, girded with an inner tenacity, she is not only the homeless kid who sold her toys on the streets of Tijuana, which helped her mom buy drugs, but the adult who graduated from Brown University by way of Chico's Inspire School of Arts and Sciences and Chico State. Mind-blowing.

"Able To Be Otherwise" ($17.99 in paperback from New Degree Press; also for Amazon Kindle) weaves Lenaker's personal story with a vision of a world better addressing the triple crises of poverty, opioid addiction and climate change. "Each time we dare to acknowledge that things are able to be otherwise," she writes, "we move toward a world where everyone can breathe deeper." 

Haunted by "imposter syndrome" at Brown ("what am I doing here among all these smart people?"), her interest in philosophy, theology and public policy blossoms. After a year abroad in England studying at Pembroke College in Oxford, she graduates with a BA in Religious Studies and a Master's in Public Affairs. 

Her love of learning hearkens back to fifth grade as she settles in with Jay and Teressa (eventually moving to Magalia).

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard's notion of a "leap of faith" shapes her life's mission of removing the stigmas around what seem to be intractable challenges, "to be willing to imagine radical alternatives to the present moment.... Believing in the possibility of change is sufficient justification for continuing to take on problems as daunting as poverty, addiction, and climate change." 

Lenaker invites the reader to "take the leap" as well; one day it will enable the world to breathe, even as her story takes your breath away.