The Race Of Gentlemen 2016

Summer has officially arrived, and with the season comes all sorts of outdoor get togethers and events to attend – have some fun and score some vitamin d while your at it, right?

I’ll get looks (not good ones!) for the admission but…I’m not a huge beach person.  What I mean but that is, I won’t spend the day there doing zero no matter how much fun it is to everyone else.  Slathering myself in oils to lay there and cook like a chicken doesn’t work for me…  But! . . . I do love being outside, being active, and doing something exciting.  

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This year, I had to good fortune to attend the Race Of Gentlemen in Wildwood, New Jersey, as part of the American Hot Rod Foundation crew.  One of the best parts was that my fiancé came along with me – how awesome to have him be a part of something my family is passionate about, and to have him meet the gang. ❤

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“AHRF” began back in 2002 in the hopes of preserving and promoting hot rod history. The founders recognized the dire need to document the pioneers of the hot rod movement, as many of them (at that time) were approaching (if not already in) their 80s and older.  The risk of losing the precious history and first-hand stories was far to great to do nothing about it – and so the Foundation was born.

We have sadly lost many of these pioneers in the last decade, but with over 100,000 photos (most of them also digitized by AHRF), 350 hours of original footage, and countless hours of audio, AHRF hopes to keep them – and their incredible contributions – alive.  

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The word “history” may seem dry – I can’t say that I loved most “history” as a student back in the day either.  But then the reality is that many of the kids today – generations removed from the pioneers in some cases – are endeavoring to be exactly what those guys were.  So learning the history gets them that much closer – it explains not only the birth of certain ideas, but the inspirations and innovations that may have led to them via, of course, the words from the men themselves.

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There are TONS of events each year, but we always try to hit the larger ones – Grand National Roadster Show, L.A. Roadster Show, and Hot Rod Reunion, for example.  We love having a presence when we are able – it gives us a nice landing spot to set up, talk to the awesome crowd, and (hopefully) infect a few more with the history of it all!

The Race Of Gentlemen was holding its fifth event in Wildwood this year, so while it definitely has amped up, it isn’t as overwhelming or enormous as others.  The benefit is that you can catch up with the people you are hoping to see, and have enough face to face with those who might have questions.  You can also get much closer to the races than you can at other shindigs (at the Roadster Show, you are often higher up in the stands – here, you were atop a mound of sand in a crowd, but pretty darn close.)

One of the key reasons TROG stands out is that it is run on the beach.  Literally.  The racers gear up and blast down the sand dragway, adding a whole other element to the (incredibly friendly) competition.  Of course, sand isn’t quite as quick and slick, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.

The community is one of the reasons I love hot rod events – super down to earth, interested, enthusiastic…respectful.  How about this trash can at the parking lot party the night before?!  Nary a bottle or can on the ground.  🙂

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It’s a great group to be around, and of course there is ALL sorts of amazing eye candy.  The innovations and creativity that go into the vehicles – bikes and autos alike – is something to behold, and always cool to hear about.

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I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to attend, but also to have been introduced to this crowd some years ago by my father.  It’s always a good time, and being outside on a breezy summer day made it especially awesome.  The rain held off the second day too – knowing, I think, that everyone was having so much fun.

 

Visiting Avalo

I recently took a much-needed trip to my best friend’s farm – what a departure from the nuttiness around here! Avalo Cat Sanctuary is an official non-Profit (501c3) created to “make the world a better place for Cats through Care , Compassion and Companionship.” Animal lovers of any ilk will appreciate that foundation. ❤

Avalo’s goal is simple:

To be the best guardians possible for domesticated hybrids and small
exotic felines that have particular needs, require medical attention or
can not stay with their human guardian for whatever reason.

I’ve mentioned Avalo before...a few times…and I no doubt will again – it is, always has been, and always will be my second home.  The one place I can actually sleep better than when I AM home (which, for me, is incredibly noteworthy!)  

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Kemisi’s enclosure (outdoor portion)

My friend Michelle is hands down one of the most amazing people I have ever met – she would feed any of her 114 cats, or 13 horses, before feeding herself…and, minus her husband a student or two, she does this by herself!  (She also teaches Parelli Natural Horsemanship, at which she naturally excels, hence the horses!)  

While I have no knowledge of the goings on (regarding horsemanship) myself, I am a former competitive figure skater, a competitive ballroom dancer, classically trained / performing ballerina, and a current martial artist and lifter – so I can see the difference(s) a mile away.  I see her with her students, and I see her with her horses – it is like watching a dance. 

She has no idea that I’m writing about her, by the way…she would never ask.  Michelle and I are the kind of people who don’t like pushy individuals – neither of us can stand proselytizing, imposition, or sycophants.  But I like to share what she is doing because it is truly, sincerely, AMAZING.  And I just had the fortune to be there – at a time when I REALLY needed a break.  

Avalo is home to my beautiful F1 Chausie, Kemisi – as mentioned in other posts, I had to rehome her (to my great devastation) along with my male, Khonsu, some years ago.  My career in Fashion was soaring…but the more-and-more frequent trips to China were frankly painful for my felines – they wouldn’t eat, they’d get depressed and lethargic…it was awful.

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The process of finding the RIGHT guardian(s) was arduous, felt nigh impossible, and is far too complicated to get into here… But let’s just say, Michelle was the light at the end of my tunnel!  

Khonsu and Kemisi have an indoor and outdoor enclosure that Michelle and her wonderful husband, Steve, put together.  We worked on the outside, which was emotional and fulfilling at the same time – it is a perfect space for them and, minus a few large Southern spiders, I LOVE hanging out in there! 😀

My little man would have been ten and a half – he passed in September last year.  Kemisi is also ten and a half, and I was overjoyed to see her – she looks as beautiful as ever.  The wonderful thing about the outdoor portion – at Avalo – is that there aren’t just snazzy little bugs flying about, or varying weather to sniff at… There are tons of cats running about!  While she is never particularly thrilled – Kemisi always was a bit territorial! – she loves to see who’s running by, and what antics are taking place in neighboring enclosures (with other Chausies and Jungle Cats), or with the outdoor “kids” as they fly by.  

I managed to hose down my iPhone while filling Kemisi’s fish pond (fear not, she never troubles the fish, but rather prefers to drink from a pond than a bowl! 😉 ) But in a way, having less connection and down time was a GREAT thing! I have always been a believer that time in Nature is one of the most rejuvenating things a person can do for him or herself – no devices, no social media…just good friends, quiet time, animals…and the natural world around us.  It isn’t only for us Empaths and energy people either – I sincerely believe ALL human beings need that “down time.”

I scheduled a bunch a posts prior to leaving…enough to carry me a day or two after I got back.  Technology allows us to stay on top of the more hectic Life of 2015, if absolutely necessary…but we can do that without taking away from our recharge time.

Owning and maintaining a farm is HARD work, but for Michelle, taking care of all those animals is her “peaceful time.”  Cats are sent to her because they have behavioral issues, injuries that others would euthanize over (I’m sorry, but the handful of three-legged cats around?  They are having a BALL – loving Life, enjoying their surroundings, and managing just as well as the others!!)  

She also has more hybrids, like my babies, some of whom are larger and unhandleable (There are Asian Leopard Cats, a Serval, a Caraval, Bengals, and other Chausies, as well as a feral cat or two.) But for her, it is a joy – to know she has touched the lives of those animals, and been a guardian to them for whatever time they have, is the biggest gift in the world.  

Avalo is a Sanctuary not only for the animals there…but for her…for me…for anyone blessed to spend time there.  

And blessed is exactly how I feel when I am there.  ❤

 

 

My Ninjas and My Samurai…

So I was going through a LOT last year.  A. LOT.  It tore me apart and broke me down and I was, frankly, a total mess.  Couldn’t leave my apartment without having a total, bawling-mess meltdown!  In somewhat a desperation, I went to visit a dear friend of mine – truly, like a sister – who I hadn’t seen in FAR, FAR too long.  Her home was, and always will be, a home-away-from-home…something I’ve never found elsewhere in my Life.  I get there and it is instantaneous PEACE.

Many years ago I was suffering through something almost as painful – a situation that resulted in two eating disorders and severe PTSD – ugly, painful, TERRIFYING…nearly lethal.  Fortunately, through some serious determination, discipline, support around me, and a silver “brass knuckle” that I wore around my neck every day…I fought through it, and came out stronger and healthy. ❤

But I am still firm in that the two cats I adopted were my truest Life-savers…because there was nothing easy about it, and they gave me one more reason to Live and love.  They weren’t “typical” in ANY way, and definitely not for the faint of heart – they were melanistic F1 Chausies…and the most beautiful animals in the World to me (saying a lot because I am a HUGGGE animal lover.) ❤  They also happened to be NINJAS on the HIGHEST level…not just in spying, but doing “ninja things!”  I’d catch glowing eyes in the dark often! 😀

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They grew up with me as “mom”…and it was a love story from day one.  

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But then my Fashion career picked up, and Life got crazier and crazier… Trips to China were longer and more frequent…and my “babies” just weren’t doing well…at ALL.  Deciding to find them a new and permanent home…at 5 years old…was EXTREMELY painful…but I couldn’t bear to leave them for those trips – no one could replace me while I was away on business, and I knew I had to do the best thing…for THEM. Loving an animal is the most extreme exercise in selflessness.

Between searching, and interviewing, and corresponding, and MORE researching…I was beside myself.  I prayed every Night to find them a good and loving home.  I didn’t want money.  I didn’t want ANYTHING.  I wanted them safe and happy.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy…for any of us.

By some great fortune, for which I am still so utterly grateful (there are NO words!), a woman named Michelle caught wind of my scenario.  I was adamant that the new owners had NO pets and NO children.  She sent me an e-mail to say she DID have many pets…  In fact…MANY.  But she took the time to write one of the most loving and thorough and THOUGHTFUL e-mails I have ever gotten. ❤  This was about 4 years ago and I am getting goosebumps as I write this now.  The moment I read her first e-mail, I knew.  I connected with her all that time ago and have loved her, and her husband, and her “family” of animals since.

Michelle manages her farm, teaches Natural Horesmanship, and runs a formal non-profit Cat SanctuaryAvalo Cat Sanctuary – in Wagener, South Carolina.  https://www.facebook.com/AvaloCatSanctuary http://www.avalocatsanctuary.com.  She has about 100 cats, a dozen or so horses, chickens, hens, and about four German Shepards.  The woman is AMAZING.

So she made a beautiful enclosure – indoor and outdoor – for my babies…and they have lived their since.  My male passed away in September of last year – we were both devastated – but my female is there, and as gorgeous as ever.  Going down there gave me time with her, and time to try to pull myself together.

In the meantime…a beautiful black male was rescued – he was as sweet as could be but…as a melanistic feline, everyone assumed he was “bad luck.”  Fortunately a friend of Michelle’s kept him safe!  He was adopted…and then returned…because he was melanistic (can you even IMAGINE?!)  

MY fortune, because Michelle said…amid my tears…“why don’t you get a KITTEN!?!”  I hadn’t even PONDERED it because I was such a wreck over rehoming my babies year before… But I thought about it… And I decided it was a GREAT IDEA.  

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I went home, bought some supplies and was ready to bring home a new baby boy.  In the meantime, a SECOND melanistic domestic male was rescued!  He and the one I was bringing home got along FAMOUSLY.  It was FATE!

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A few short weeks later, I came home with two baby boys – six and seven months old.  I’m not entirely sure what I would do without them – they make me giggle, and bring such joy to my home.  They are the sweetest, most wonderful boys…and they also happen to LOVE Martial Arts.  Musashi (my Samurai) likes to Aikido roll over all the toys, his brother, and even the laser dot.  And Keku (my Ninja) is as sweet as can be, and SUPER stealthy with food.

I feel so blessed.  I would never be where I am had I not brought them home.  Animals are such amazing treasures and I cannot imagine Life without them – everything seems so much brighter when they are around.  EVEN when causing trouble!