Pirate's 6 Day Ordeal Aloft In The Tree

**The following is a true story. I advice you to NOT attempt these measures at home! Please leave it to the insane non professionals! No humans or animal were harmed in this event.**

Dec 31,2009- Pirate called to us from the top of the pecan tree Thursday morning. Little did we know of the chaotic rescue mission we were about to embark on. I had been highly successful in the past of talking my own cats down from trees
as well as neighbors and friends. Pirate became a bit more challenging.
As the sun began to set, and the moon began to rise, Pirate's cries became louder. In the cold of the night, she sat wedged in between the "V" shaped branches. She watched fireworks in the sky, getting an up close and personal view of the multitude
of colored sparks in the air. Shivering with no coat, I began to call her name. I tried coaxing her from the tree, but she remained.

Jan 1, 2010- Friday morning, a new day, a new year, Pirate remained in the same spot. As the day went by, she meowed loudly each time she heard the back door shut to the house, knowing we were coming to her rescue. I spent most of my New Year's day trying to talk to her and persuade her to come down from the high elevations. Her already large eyes, were widened to the max, she looked as if she was a cat on crack. I rummaged through the cabinets for a can of tuna, thinking the foul aroma would bring her down, but she only cried louder. As the day turned to night, my family and I gathered at the dinner table to eat our traditional New Year dinner of
collard greens, black eyed peas, and baked chicken. I set a piece aside just for Pirate. After dinner Billy climbed to the top of the ladder, and placed the chicken not even half way up the tree, along with the left over now frozen tuna that awaited her. The dogs began to circle the tree like little black sambo trying to figure out where the pleasant smell of the human delicacy was coming from. I knew then, Pirate was in the tree because of the dogs. The cold air sent chill bumps through out my body and I shivered against the cold breeze. Calling her name over and over again that night, her food would freeze as the temperatures would drop to the teens.

Jan 2, 2010- Saturday morning we started on a different approach of getting Pirate from the tree. Billy climbed the top of the ladder to the middle of the tree, where then he proceeded to climb the brittle pecan limbs. When he came to a spot that was straight up, no other branches to set his feet on, he wrapped his arms and legs around the big branch and began to shimmy up the branch. I couldn't bare to watch, thinking if he fell, he would surely break his back if it wasn't a fatal fall. Halfway to Pirate, he began to complain of his head hurting and he slid
back down the branch. He said she was too high, the higher he got, the more nervous he became which made his head pound.
Pirate remained in the "V" of highest biggest branch. We gathered around the fireplace to warm our hands and feet and come up with our next plan of action. I searched the internet for ideas, but none were very useful. When we went back outside, our other cat Eugina ran up the tree, jumping branch to branch, till he reached Pirate. (yes i know Eugina is a girl name, but he's kinda gay and prefers to be called Eugina) He ran directly to Pirate and touched her nose with his. Then in a flash, he ran down the tree,jumping branches with only the grace and style of a cat, then jumping 15 feet to the ground. He turned and looked back up at Pirate as if to say "That's how its done idiot".
Pirate watched wide eyed, but still remained.

Jan.3, 2010- Sunday morning, Pirate was still alive, cold and hungry,enduring the 16 degree temperature,yet she was becoming distraught. Her cries were becoming frantic, yet she was showing signs of movement. Every so often she would groom her tabby fur, and look down at us with hatred, wondering why we ha vent gotten her down yet.Billy thought he had a brilliant plan. He ran to his man cave in which most people call a shed, and brought out his remote control helicopter. His brilliant plan was to fly it above her and scare her down. His plan failed. Pirate remained.
Neighbors from up and down the street started gathering at the house. Unfortunately they were all men, and when you put the minds of men together, God only knows what
brain storms will occur. I went in the house for coffee and to get warm as the temps were only in the 30s. Later my 14 year old daughter Julie came in crying. She said the men were outside trying to shoot the cat out of the tree. "What the hell !" I screamed and ran out the back door. The men were gathered near the tree laughing. "I don't find it too freaking funny" I yelled as I ran down the steps, feeling
the arthritis scream in my knee, this made me even more mad. The frigid cold hours I had spent with this cat in the tree had taken its toll on my knee consumed with arthritis. Grumpy, ill, tired, cold, and in pain I began to yell at the men with words no lady should ever speak...but no one has ever really called me a lady. Billy said "We only are shooting bbs, we are not even shooting her, just
shooting around her, to scare her down".
"Well thats enough! What if one hits her?" I asked furiously. Billy turned and pointed the bb gun at my leg "lemme shoot you,it don't hurt,plus I'm not even aiming at her" He said jokingly. Hell if I was stuck in a tree and 3 grown men were shooting at me, I sure as hell wouldn't come down!
That night I sent Billy as high as he could go with a warm mixture of salmon and tuna heated in the microwave. I thought the steam would travel to her delicate nostrils...heat rises right?? so wouldn't the smell rise as well? Suddenly Billy started screaming "shes peeing on me, shes peeing on me!" Despite it all
I laughed till I hurt. Served him right for them shooting AROUND her with bb's. I went back in the house..the stench of microwaved salmon and tuna consumed my house, it smelled like a rotten fish yard.

Jan.4 2010- Monday morning, with Pirate close to starvation and dehydration, I began calling on the phone to vets, animal shelters, humane society, and
fire departments. The vet stated that cats normally come down after 3-5 days, and then stated what every other non animal lover said "you don't see cat skeletons in trees". He then went on to explain a cats strength and resilience, and assured me she would eventually come down. I wondered how she was going to withstand another night of 16 degrees with no fat, no food for the natural fuel that would keep her warm. I called he humane society who offered no assistance. I called the animal shelter who is with the humane society, who transferred me back to the humane society...I hung up the phone.
I called the fire department.."its too much danger, its too much a liability" the voice on the end said... same story I had already heard from another fire department. Billy came home from work with a coworker who claimed he would climb the tree and bring the cat down. Half way up the tree, he stated he couldn't go
any further, it wasn't his cat and he wasn't going to risk his life for the dumb ass cat. However, He and Billy took two pieces of 20 feet pvc pipe and attached them together to make a 40 foot pole. They were going to try and knock her down. Pirate had eased out on a much smaller brittle branch, it could have broke at any given time, but she clung to life on that small branch.
The pvc pipe might have been good idea instead, it was too flimsy and not sturdy and she only got smacked in the head and rear a few times. This too proved useless!

Jan 5,2010- Tuesday morning when I returned home from taking the girls to school, I informed Billy it was the 6th day. She couldn't last much longer. He realized he knew someone with a bucket truck. The owner of the truck with mercy and malice in his heart, let Billy borrow the truck to get her down. The bucket truck would only go up about 45 feet, still nowhere near the cat at all. The brainstorm of two men came crashing like lightening..they would try the pvc pipe while in the bucket truck. Pirate clung to the branch with all she had, out on a limb, she held for deal life. She wasn't budging. Billy finally gave up. This had been our last hope. With tears in my eyes, feeling the huge knot in my throat I simply said "she will die tonight, she just cant go on."
Billy looked at me with angry eyes and threw his hands in the air "what else can I do? You want me to shoot her with a 22 so she wont suffer any longer? he yelled. I just shook my head, and turned so no one could see the tears begin to fall.
After we had taken the bucket truck back to its owner, and after I had taken Libby to church, Julie and I got out of the car. Accustomed to calling Pirate's name every time we were outside, we automatically called her. She did not answer. My first thought: well we are going to be the first in history to have a cat skeleton in a tree. I searched the tree high and low calling her name, calling "kitty kitty" effortlessly, she was no where. I mean nowhere. Cats are funny but they don't play Houdini and just disappear. I called her name again over and over, I then heard the faintest of meows.
Julie screamed "there she is" pointing to the edge of the wooded lot. Sitting on the edge of the woods, directly under the branch she had made a home for 6 days, sat Pirate grooming herself. She didn't look the same. She looked like a small fragile kitten, she had lost just about all her weight, she seemed to weigh only ounces. I picked her up and cuddled her close to me. She could barely meow. She looked me in the eyes with such another hatred look, I almost expected to get slapped. I could almost read her thoughts.."you humans are complete idiots"

Pirate has not asked to go outside since her ordeal. She eats and sleeps, and is totally soaking up all the attention. This just proves, we don't own cats, cats own us! She made a fool out of us all!


Cat Still Clings to Life In The Tree

Day 5, Night 4
It is going on night number 4 that my cat Pirate will probably once again sleep in the frigid cold temperatures, nestled and snuggled in the crook of a pecan tree branch. At the very top of the pecan tree, Pirate still remains in the same crook. She meows desperately out of cold, hunger and fear.

Earlier today, she climbed out on one of the skinnier limbs and I thought for sure the limb would break. I was almost hoping it would and we could run under and catch her. She lost her balance on the limb, and suddenly was suspending upside down from about 60 feet above ground. We stood ready to catch, when she suddenly turned upright and balanced herself on the thin limb once again. She then sought refuge back in the small crook of the tree.

If I had a dollar every time someone said "you don't see cat skeletons in a tree" I would be rich by now. True, I have never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, however, I have seen buzzards and vulchers perched high among the tallest trees. The thought of that sickens me. I feel helpless as she cries through out the day and night. I cannot process the thought of Pirate dying so high up,her carcass becoming a gourmet for the buzzards. South Carolina temperatures are not suppose to get below freezing this early in the year, but with temps dipping 14-18 degrees, I cant help but worry about hypothermia.

I have tried to entice her with salmon, tuna, and cat food, she remains in the tree. Several had tried to climb the tree, but its too high and too much of a liability risk. The fire departments no longer come out to rescue cats from trees. Their theory is "It will come down eventually. You never see a cat skeleton in a tree. Its just too much of a danger and we can not put ourselves in
the danger of risking our lives" Wait! What?? "cannot put ourselves to the danger of risking our lives?" Yea ok, like you don't do that when you are rescuing people from fires. That's beside the point, I understand they are trying to save humans not felines. But filled with desperation and anxiety I was rather put off by that statement. Tree services refuse to come rescue her..again, it too is a liability issue. One tree service agreed to do it for a fee of $500. I don't even know how to pronounce $500.

My husband took a remote control helicopter above tree level, to try and scare her down, it did not work. My husband and a friend climbed half the tree with a long pole to try and persuade her..it didn't work. They tried hosing her down with the water hose, but the water wouldn't spray high enough. Only thing we have managed to do is scare her more.

Just as I was about to lose hope, calling her down, she looked at me with those big beautiful eyes she possesses, and I thought to myself, she has not eaten in 5 days. She has not felt the warmth of the fireplace, nor the comfort she often seeks on the back of the couch. She has not given up, she has not lost hope...why should I ?

My husband does alot of work for a car rental company who does have a bucket truck. He is going to call them tomorrow and ask is there any way we can rent the truck. The thought hit my husband like a lightening bolt at supper, but it was already too late in the evening, the business had already closed for the day. I will be calling others I can think for help as well.
My only hope now is prayer!

Path to Peace..proud owner of such a wonderful basket

It has been said that Rwanda was one of the most intensive killing campaigns ever in human history! Mainly an overwhelming amount of Tutsi men and just a moderate amount of Hutu men were the targets of the mass slaughter that occurred in 1994. In a space of just 100 days between April and June of 1994 it is estimated that 800,000 Rwandans were killed.

The genocide was started by the death of Hutu native Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana when his plane was shot down April 6,1994. It was never confirmed who was responsible for the assassination of Habyarimana but Hutu extremists are believed to be responsible. Within 24 hours of the assassination, roadblocks were set up around Kigali by Interahmwe militia...the name means "those who attack together".
Tutis were separated from Hutus and were inhumanly hacked to death with machetes on the side of the road. Death squads went from neighborhood to neighborhood in Kigali, murdering not only Tutis but also some Hutus as well. They even murdered the Prime Minister who was being guarded by Belgian soldiers. The soldiers were disarmed, tortured and murdered prompting Belgian to withdraw the remainder of its UN troops.
The genocide expanded from Kigali to the country side. The Government radio encouraged the Tutis to congregate and meet at churches, schools and stadiums promising that these places would be safe and a place to seek refuge. Helpless civilians started to gather at these places, only to be easy targets and exterminated with machine guns and grenades. By April 21 a quarter million Tutis and some Hutus had been violently murdered..slaughtered.

This was the worst act of genocide in human history, the dead of Rwanda accumulated to nearly three times that of the the Jewish Holocaust. The killing rate was atleast five times that of Nazi death camps. By the end of April according to Human Right Watch, this was the worst massacre ever in human history finishing off half of the population of Tutsis. This genocide is one of the greatest ever, the worst ever in human history, yet its the least known and least investigated.
The Tutsi men were the primary target, yet were not just confined to adults but to young boys as well. Large numbers of women also lost their lives. Another large number of women were victims of such horrific acts such as rape and mutilation. Those women who survived, many were left with AIDS. Some women were raped individually or gang raped after witnessing the killing of their relatives and destruction of their homes. Many that were allowed to live were told they were allowed to live so could die of sadness. The horrific acts some women had to endure are way to graphic for me to type and even more way too graphic for me to imagine.
One woman who lived said "I was raped by so many interahamwe and soldiers that i lost count."
It is said that 25,000 Tutsi women are widows of the genocide and two thirds of them are HIV positive. It is believed there will be tens of thousands of children who have lost their fathers to machetes will one day lose their mothers to AIDS.

800,000 violently murdered, slaughtered, mutilated because of the chaotic nature of genocide, 750,00 Tutis and 50,000 Hutus who did not support the genocide.
Needless to say the scars of the genocide will remain with Rwandans for many years!
In the aftermath of this brutal genocide the population of Rwanda is around 70 percent women. The majority of women shared homes made out of mud with each other and often sharing with several orphans along with their own children. They had no income. No cash to buy clothes, none to pay for schooling, none to survive off of.

Willa Shalit became involved with Rwanda during 2002 during a United Nations Development Fund for Women. She saw the conditions these women and children were living in. She saw a way for the women to earn a living for themselves rather than charity. She helped them import their amazingly beautiful baskets and founded the Path to Peace Baskets.
Path to Peace baskets are hand woven by Rwandan women in the village. Woven out of sweet grass and sisal in many different designs and patterns. It normally takes these women between 1 to 3 days to make these beautiful hand crafted baskets.
In 2003 the baskets were first imported and within a year they became Rwandas largest non agriculture export. The lives of these Rwandan women were changed forever, this time in a more positive way. They now live in clean homes with tin roofs. They now have livestock, and gardens, and the children now attend school.
In 2008, 40,000 baskets were imported to the United States.
Currently 4,000 women now make these awesome baskets.
My mother gave me an after Christmas gift...a unique, one of a kind, handwoven basket, from the Path of Peace project which sparked my interest in the Rwanda genocide.
I feel honored to have such a beautiful peace of art hanging in my kitchen, especially knowing how it originated!
If you are interested in one of the baskets, you can purchase them through Macy's or go to this website for more baskets made by these women!
Not only do I admire my basket, but each time I look it, I'm honored to have a basket made from one strong individual who endured such a hell we could never possibly imagine!