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Gwin Paden: Toby was no ordinary cat

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 12:00 am

I’m back! Sorry to be so long, but there has been illness in the family and my time went to nursing — and my strength. Besides, I won’t saddle my readers with a column that is dull and lifeless as long as I can help it.

The backyard has a new denizen — a young possum. He is not a problem except that he eats from the squirrels’ peanut feeder and leaves a mess that has to be scooped out before a refill. The squirrels always drop the shells over the edge. He also makes a mess of the water bowls — lots of fine peanut bits. More housekeeping! He also gets into the bird feeder in the dogwood tree.

This morning we had a drunken dove sounding off: “Coo, coo, hic!” Must have been a wild Friday night! And the washing machine has changed its message. Now it says, “Second hand, second hand.” This is not so; this machine and its brother dryer have been with me about 25 years. Now that I’ve praised them, watch them give up the ghost!

In the middle of everything else, I lost my beloved Toby cat, who has been with us for 14 years. His arthritis got the better of him, even with all the meds, so it was the right thing to do. I realized I did not have a picture of him, even after all that time, so Oakwood Vet’s Amanda took one with her phone just before he left us, and now it is on the little wooden box of his ashes.

Among other reasons, I miss Toby because he was a fellow caretaker, just by his presence. When any of the other cats was out, Toby would lie on the porch steps until they came in, no how late it was. All the cats miss him; they don’t have a leader. Oliver is the most confused; Uncle Toby kind of raised him from kittenhood.

Speaking of Oakwood Veterinary Hospital, I can’t say enough to thank them for all the care of my cats and their kindness toward me for the past 26 years or so. They have gone out their way often to help me in many ways. Bless you all.

This seems to be a very personal column! One more item before I move on. About a month ago, I was reading a new library book at the big round table in the House of Coffees. When I got home, I couldn’t find it. The staff and I couldn’t find it anywhere in HofC, either. My hope was that some kind soul found it and turned it in, but the library doesn’t have it. Anyone who knows where “Murder in City Hall” by Ed Koch is, please email me at I really don’t want to have to buy a new copy.

Some good times coming up in September. First, there is the Labor Day Lodi event at Hutchins Street Square put on as a fundraiser by the Square’s Foundation. The all-day event will echo the Field and Fair days of the past, including hot air balloons.

There will also be carnival games, a kids zone, food truck alley, wine and art, and a local entertainment stage.

The balloons will launch at 7 a.m. weather permitting. Rides will be raffled off at $20. Other events will run for 10 a.m. to 4 pm. For more information, to purchase tickets ($5, kids 2 and under free), or to volunteer, please call Suzanne at 209-366-1222. Date is Sept. 2, if a reminder is needed!

Then there is the tri-tip dinner to raise funds for items and postage for the annual Holiday Cheer packages for all troops in Middle East combat areas. This will be on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the American Legion Hall. No-host bar at 5 p.m., dinner at 6:30, followed by a DJ and dancing. Also a 50-50 raffle, door prize and silent auction. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for kids under 12.

For tickets, call Bill Selling at 209-602-2703 or email him at Checks should be sent to Bill at 715 York St., Lodi, CA 95240, and made out to the American Legion with “HCB” on legend line. This is a good cause. Last year, 2,600 cheer packages were mailed.

There is one date in September I consider the most important, and that is Sept. 11, Patriot Day. For the last two years, we have marked this day with most of Lodi’s churches participating in a gathering for ecumenical prayer in remembrance of the attacks.

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor, proposing such an event this year as prayers for guidance and protection, which this country needs badly, and asking for a local pastor — or church — to take the lead in organizing a third annual occasion. To date, no one has contacted me, and I am concerned. Time is flying, and many people said they did not know about last year’s meeting because thee was not enough advance notice.

Is there no church in Lodi which will take the lead? I would like to let Gov. Huckabee know about this and inspire other communities.

And one to end with: Thank you, William Van Amber Fields, for calling me brilliant. I wish it were so, but I am just passing on good ideas from various sources.

Gwin Paden has lived in Lodi since 1957. She served in the Women’s Army Corps, worked for local newspapers, and taught English at Lodi High School and San Joaquin Delta College.

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