Post 1441: Mary has 41 cats…

…but first, the kitty boys (Andy, left; Dougy, right) thank you for your birthday greetings! They had the water off a can of albacore, their favorite birthday treat. Below, they clean up after their treat.

Then, I got a mail package with new sandals inside. There was a box within a box, so both birthday boys got a box for himself! Unfortunately, they ran off as soon as I went for my smart phone to take a photo.


But what about Mary and her 41 cats? Yesterday my old friend Craig and I followed up on an invitation from Mary to come for a visit and to see her “cat house” and the camp for disabled she and her late husband created. I hadn’t seen Mary in 51 years, so that was a bonus to the visit!


That’s Craig at the wheel. He’s normal, and we’ve been friends since we were babies in the 1st Presbyterian Church nursery in Alliance. That’s more or less 69 years! 

(I had to put on my “crazy old bearded coot” face to chase deer off the highway on the road to Mary’s.)

It was a beautiful day to travel in a unique part of America. The Black Hills of South Dakota are near where I live in Nebraska. They are heavily infested with tourists this time of year, for good reason. (And deer all the time….)

Where Mary lives (in an old tin mining camp her late husband and she repurposed and expanded on) has the benefit of the beauty of the Black Hills with isolation from the crowds. We knew we’d have a great time at Mary’s!

It was  safe ride down to Keystone from Rapid City, thanks to Craig’s expert driving skills. (No deer jumped in front of us, thanks to me!)

Craig and I arrived at Mary’s and had a happy reunion! She still is as sweet as I remember and is one of the coolest people I know. (Craig wants you to know he isn’t Joe Cool with the sunglasses. He had cataract surgery recently, and the sun still bothers his eyes.)

The house cats (as compared with the feral cats and those Mary has rescued, the most of the 41 cats she houses or helps) quickly introduced themselves to me since I am a cat person and know how not to scare them off. Also, they enjoyed smelling kitty boy scents on my hands, clothes, and legs! I should note that the kitty boys had a great time sniffing me over when I returned home, catching up on what their South Dakota kitty boys and kitty girls had to “say” back.

The cats Mary’s rescued have deluxe accommodations in three rooms in Mary’s home that have significant additions for the comfort of the kitties. We didn’t spend a lot of time in these rooms since these are abused, abandoned cats largely, and they are working through their issues with Mary’s kind care. Some were far enough along to come right up to me, however, since I come bearing important kitty messages on my hands, clothes, and legs. I felt honored!


By far the coolest cat of all is Barnaby! When Mary, Craig and I went to see what she and her husband created for disabled campers she hosts at her place in the Hills, Barnaby lead the way. (Again, no deer leaped in front of us, thanks to my “crazy old bearded coot” face!)

The cabins are compact, have themes, and are handicap-accessible. People ranging from those with Down’s syndrome, are wheel-chair bound, or have other disabilities come for a week in this beautiful setting in the Hills. It is a major challenge for Mary to run, but she gets by with volunteer help and donations.  

She also has two rescue horses and a momma skunk with three kits that eat cat food on her porch and live under it. Did I mention Mary is one incredibly good and decent person? Craig and I agree we are blessed to have such a positive person in our lives.

Some days, the political news dismays and suggests the end of goodness and decency in America. There is hope, however, because goodness and decency exist in the hearts and compassionate actions of people like dear Mary.

We ended our visit by enjoying talk and a restaurant meal in Keystone. Craig then took me up to Rapid City where I left my VW Sportwagen in his driveway. We made plans for Craig to visit me in Alliance on August 21st, where we will watch the total eclipse of the sun in comfort on my patio. (My “crazy bearded old coot” face won’t be needed.)

Yes, life is good!