Virginia Loperena

I met Virginia Loperena in typical small town fashion. Norma Watkins belongs to the Writers of the Mendocino Coast. Norma and I belong to the same writers group where we often talk of the quirkiness of Fort Bragg. Norma suggests I contact Virginia about a poem she wrote about our town and presented to the writers club.

In a roundabout way, I already know Virginia. She is linked to Jasper Henderson, a young man who went to school with my daughter. My daughter is friends with Virginia on Facebook.

I contact Virginia through Facebook and she is delighted to share her poem. I meet with her the day before she is scheduled to leave Fort Bragg for an adventure that will start by returning to her hometown of Coney Island, New York.

Virginia went to Harvard where, among other things, she met Jasper. After graduation, they ventured to Anchor Bay where his father lives. A few months later, they decided that area was too isolated and moved to Fort Bragg. In her two years here, she worked as the Marketing and Development Director of the Noyo Food Forest and as an Administrative Assistant and Data Base Manager for the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County.

It took time for her to adjust to life on the Mendocino Coast. “I was surprised that so many people know one another. When I was out with Jasper, he’d always run into someone he knew. At first, I’d stand aside, feeling like a Martian envoy. But it didn’t take long before I became known. I like going to places like Headlands and running into people I know.”

Virginia loves the natural beauty of the area and the preponderance of what she calls “Hippy Stuff”—organic food, Fair Trade, non-GMO food. She recognizes that we’re a passionate community. People rally for protection of the ocean and the whales, and rail against devastating forestry practices. “People having a pet cause makes for an engaged community.”

Virginia also found things that she doesn’t like about living on the Mendocino Coast. It’s very isolated—at least three hours from the bustling urban city of San Francisco. She is also disheartened by the recent rise of a small vocal group of negative people. “They can sap the energy and joy out of living here. In a large city, these voices are like white noise. Here they’re hard to drown out. The rumor mill can quickly get out of hand. It’s not based on fact and becomes a scary thing for those who are targets of rumors.”

I wish Virginia well in her future endeavors and thank her for her contributions to our community and, of course, my blog.

Ode to Fort Bragg in Autumn
By Virginia Loperena
It’s six-thirty and the world has ended.
No, really. The sky has darkened to
Black, like ink, or strong coffee.
Speaking of coffee, at the coffeeshop
(We’re taking Headlands)
They play live music nightly.
The waiting list is a moon’s turn.
The moon is not risen
But will be a waxing gibbous
Tonight. The artist is a local man
Who plays jazz while I drink
Local! Port! Wine!
O, Fort Bragg, land of Laurel Street,
Of Locavores,
Of loquacious signage!
Tonight, the musician will begin his set at seven.
The sun begun its set
Over an hour ago.
We patrons are all tired and reading books.
Talking local politics,
A character we call Karl Marx discusses
A local County Supervisor
“He’s a phony. A phony!
Gladhanding around town,
Calling himself an Avatar.”
The coffeeshop, at this hour,
In this month
(November, just past Daylight
Savings, when the cold begins to set in,
But the leaves and rain remain
Indifferent to the season’s turn),
Is dead.
The night is so black.
Who would take their coffee
Or their reasonably priced port
At this dark hour?
There are no tourists left
To marvel at this quaint coastal town,
And gawk at the glassy beaches,
And kick back trendy microbrew.
Even the locals evaporate
Burnt out like afternoon fog.
My lover, a poet, says,
“They’ve all gone home
To put their animals away.”
O, Fort Bragg!
This lunacy, this love affair
Is delicious. O Karl Marx!
The universe is, indeed, “full of things.”
I do believe in gravity, in energy fields,
In the consciousness of Redwoods.
I believe,
In syncing my menstrual cycle with the moon-mother!
I believe,
In Mercury, in retrograde,
In November,
In the magick of this early falling night.

Mother of the Groom

wedding2I sat in the front row, Mother of the Groom, and watched our son’s face as his bride Kasi walked down the aisle. I had never seen him so happy. He radiated pure joy. Through tears, I marveled at how we arrived at this place.

If you’re a mother, you know how it is—you give birth to a kid who transforms your life by infusing it with an intensity of love you never thought possible. After a couple of years, he starts bossing you around and this pretty much continues for the next 16 years until you happen upon a socially acceptable way to kick him out of the house—borrow a million dollars and send him to a faraway college. Through it all, you continue to love him, but secretly admit there are times you really don’t like him.

In his mid-twenties, you witness what has been scientifically proven—his brain fully forms. He makes statements such as, “I can see why you freaked out the night my friends and I snuck out of the hotel in San Jose and you searched for us until two in the morning. We were only 15.” You suspect aliens have turned him into a pod person (ala the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”).

HarrKasi2When Harrison proposed to Kasi, his dad and I couldn’t have been happier. We christened her the girl of “our” dreams. If we could have arranged a marriage, it would be to this girl. She is loving, charming and energetic, and has encouraged the growth of kindness and generosity in our son.

Once the wedding date was set, I searched online for etiquette on how to behave as Mother of the Groom. Basically, I was advised to buy a nice dress and keep my mouth shut. The mouth would be a challenge, but the dress should be easy. I typed Mother of the Groom Dresses into my search engine.







I was surprised by the number of dresses that bordered on skanky and shook my head in judgement at the type of mother would wear such a thing to her son’s wedding.

I chose a simple frock topped with lace.

As the wedding day approached, Kasi said she’d hired professional aestheticians and asked if I’d like to have my hair and makeup done. I was thrilled. It would be like Project Runway when Tim Gunn says, “Send your models down to hair and makeup.” I relished being painted into a thing of beauty. Then I remembered the day I turned 50 and went to a makeup artist. I hoped she could show me some tricks to look younger. An hour later, I emerged from the salon looking like a 50-year old hooker. I cried all the way home where I immediately washed it off.

I wear my hair so short that my own hairdresser can’t style it. I feared what a 20-something aesthetician would attempt to do. I called Kasi and declined the invitation.

Me&LaineThe day of the wedding, our daughter went to the hair and makeup studio and emerged a stunning bridesmaid. I helped my husband Gary put on his handsome tuxedo jacket.

I carefully applied makeup. Did you know there’s this thing called primer, like paint primer, that allows the top coat to go on more smoothly? After watching a YouTube video on how to put makeup on “mature women,” I bought some. I guess it works—I don’t know. I ran a man comb through my hair, sprayed down stray wisps, and put on my non-skanky dress and heels.

KateGaryWe were blessed to be surrounded by loved ones—our older son and daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters, sisters, a niece, brother-in-law, and my mother—family who had not been all together in years.

After the guests were seated, Gary and I walked down the aisle and took our places in the front row. Harrison stood about five feet in front of us.

BB4Here was the baby I had held close and twirled in my arms as we danced to “More than a Feeling;” the kindergartner who exited his classroom on the first day and exclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”; the child who interpreted “No” as the start of the negotiation process; the eighth grader who wouldn’t allow me to chaperone a school dance until I paid him twenty bucks; the teenager who loved to cook and would make four-course dinners for his friends; the sports enthusiast who enticed us to share his passion; the boy who made us proud over and over again.

I looked at our little boy, all grown up, and felt the same intensity of love as the day he was born, a feeling so powerful no other existed. I watched his smile, his beaming face, and knew that this was how he felt towards his beautiful bride.

All the years we’d traveled together had led us to this perfect time, this perfect place.


5 Tips for Mothers of Graduating Seniors

KatelynChariseI have a couple of friends with kids who graduated from high school and will soon be off to college. Their pride is tempered by gloom mixed with apprehension and rolled like a burrito in a wrapping of grief. Their children will leave them to rattle around the shell of what was once a rich life, clinging to memories of not so long ago.

I know what they’re going through.

KimJamieFor years, outside of my job, I did little except be a mother. I volunteered in classrooms, shuffled kids to and from activities, and enjoyed a house filled with their friends. My children were never far from my thoughts—even when I “ran away” to walk the dog. During those walks I encountered a mysterious woman in our neighborhood.

She was tall and lean with short sandy-blonde hair that wisped about her face and curled against a khaki sun visor. She had excellent posture. Her gait was slow and smooth like a runway model. I marveled at her apparent serenity, her solitude. I remember her as a creamy ivory color. She was older—the age I am now.

Her eye contact avoidance gave the impression she didn’t want to be disturbed. I ignored that desire by hollering “Hi!” which force a whispered, “Hello.”

I knew nothing about her which gave me free rein to imagine her life. Because she was older, I suspected she had no children at home. I envied her tranquility, but pitied her loneliness. Poor thing. How could she possibly be happy when the years of raising children were behind her?

She made me fear my future lonely existence. At the same time, I looked forward to the possibility of long, peaceful walks.

Twenty years later, my children grown and living far away, I view her differently. She was neither sad nor in need of pity, which doesn’t mean she might not have missed the hectic life she once had. Time gave her the ability to appreciate that tranquility I witnessed. She was probably grateful—as I am—for her life, then and now.

For those with kids poised to leave home, let me share a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. You get kicked out of the “Parents Club.” It’s a horrible feeling of abandonment and betrayal. Scratch and claw all you want—you will never get back in.

2. You will be depressed. For months after our younger child went to college, I could barely vocalize more than a grunt. Whenever someone asked—and always with a smile—“How does it feel to have an empty nest?” I’d snap, “It feels like crap,” offended by their insensitivity and bitter to be forced to articulate actual speech.

During this period, it helps to connect with people whose lives are more depressing than yours. Watching Judge Judy did wonders for my husband Gary and me. I was also nurtured by episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Breaking Bonaduce.

3. You get 100% of your adult life back. The problem is you’ve forgotten how to live that life. Raising children is like drinking just enough coffee to get a little hand tremor going. Their youthful energy, the company of their friends, and bonds forged with other mothers is addictive. Over the years, those little buggers turn you into a mother junkie. For six months after they leave, you will detox by sitting in rooms lit only by the glow of a television, rocking back and forth. You will cry—a lot.

DSC024954. You’ll have lots of spare time for self-reflection. Ugh—nip that in the bud! After our younger child left, I was so desperate to avoid reflection that I volunteered in a first grade classroom. I quit a few years later when my teacher transferred to the middle school, and I decided I’d rather suffer reflection than deal with that age group.

5. Six years into the new deal, after you finally have a handle on adult living, your kids will take pity on what they perceive as your boring life and give you a puppy. You will not immediately realize the merits of this gift, but after enrolling in a half dozen doggie classes, you’ll be welcomed into a new group—the Dog Owners Club! The wounds of being thrown out of the Parents Club will finally heal. You will become addicted to puppy excitement which will, thankfully, take away any time for self-reflection.

Yes, that's me on the far left with Lucy-puppy who interprets the command "Sit."

Yes, that’s me on the far left with Lucy-puppy who interprets the command “Sit.”

Any fantasies I once held about morphing into that ethereal woman from long ago have not materialized. When I finally had no one at home to run away from and could stroll at my leisure, a puppy arrived and put me back into the demanding feeling of caring for children.

I suppose I could run away from Lucy-puppy by taking walks by myself, but I’ve discovered that tranquility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I prefer the hullabaloo.



My family often accuses me of being a control freak. This makes me feel bad. Not because it’s true, but because I’m obviously a failure at controlling their thoughts.

Recently, my husband Gary and I planned a large party to celebrate the engagement of our son Harrison and his fiancé Kasi. It wasn’t enough just to plan the party. Oh no. I decided to also embark on an ambitious landscape and patio project.



A few weeks before the event, Harrison called to ask if Gabe (a puppy belonging to Kasi’s sister) could stay with us while they were in town. “Sure,” I said. He and our dog Lucy would have fun together. The following morning, I woke at zero dark thirty in a panic. I had visions of the puppy and Lucy racing around the new landscaping, ripping it to shreds and ruining everything. No, no, no, Gabe could not come.

I sent Harrison a text telling him to have Kasi’s sister make other arrangements for her dog. He called to negotiate, and offered to erect a temporary fence around the new landscaping. I told him that determined dogs can easily knock over such a thing. He said Kasi’s family looked forward to being able to enjoy Gabe and Lucy.

I fancy myself as easy going and cool. I hate it when I’m revealed as uptight and neurotic.

“Okay.” Sigh. “Gabe can come, but the dogs will not be allowed outside unless one or both are on a leash. And I will not be responsible for supervising them.”



The only reason Bethany does Spartan races is because they allow her to climb tall things and yell Cheesecake!

The next day at the gym, I whined to my trainer Bethany and friend Kathleen: “I can see it now—the puppy and Lucy will tear around the house and break things. They’ll get out and destroy the yard. Even though I say I won’t get involved, I’ll end up supervising them.”

“Do you think you can work at giving up control?” Bethany asked.

I couldn’t imagine. Like base jumping, ice climbing and crewel embroidery, I’ve never tried it. (Sometimes I really don’t like Bethany.)

I took a deep breath. “It’s going to be hard.” Another deep breath. “But yes, I think I can give up control.”

“Good,” Bethany smiled. “What will your reward be if you’re successful?”

“I think success will be reward enough, don’t you?” (I am such a perfect liar.)

“You’ve got to give yourself something, like nachos or cheesecake.”

cheesecakeYum, I remembered the nacho challenge. The reward was delicious. I love cheesecake, but rarely eat it because I can consume vast quantities in one sitting. While thoroughly enjoyable, my stomach regrets it later.

“Cheesecake! Yes, I can do this!”

withgabeThe following day, Gabe and Lucy met and became instant friends. Harrison and Kasi took them to the field behind our house and supervised while they ran and played.


Inside the house, their play was subdued and nothing got broken.


Whenever Gabe went to the door to signal he had to go outside to potty, I summoned Harrison. Not my dog, not my responsibility to take him outside.


When I discovered poop in the living room—Cheesecake!

withgabe2Puddles of pee in the hallway—Cheesecake!

When Kasi’s family arrived on Saturday and wanted to go to the beach, I declined because the party was a mere two hours away. Harrison put on his therapist tone and convinced me that everything was in order and we’d be back in plenty of time.


At the beach, I let Harrison run with Lucy while she jerked and tugged on the leash and went wild with delight.


The dogs were locked up during most of the party and when they emerged, Harrison and Kasi kept them on leashes.


Sunday morning, Kasi’s family came over for brunch. Harrison took the lead in preparing the meal.


Late Sunday afternoon, after everyone left, I sat in a chair on our new patio feeling proud. I’d spent two and a half days relinquishing control. At times it was difficult—like on our Coastal Trail walk when I wanted to take Lucy from Harrison and make her heel. But most of the time it was freeing.

I learned a valuable lesson: giving up control is a lot easier than wrestling for it.

On Monday, Kathleen and I went to lunch.

For dessert—Cheesecake!cheesecake2

Braxton Bragg

i sent this to The fort bragg advocate-news where it appeared in the july 23 edition. the publisher gave permission to reprint it.

braxton1Recent talk about changing the name of Fort Bragg, California, made me curious about my town’s namesake. For years, I’d assumed that Confederate General Braxton Bragg had a hand in setting up the fort. But that’s not true—he never stepped foot in Northern California. Furthermore, the place was given its name four years before Bragg served in the Confederate Army.

In the summer of 1857, First Lieutenant Horatio Gibson was dispatched to the California hinterlands to build a military post near the Noyo River. Ten years earlier, Braxton Bragg had been his commanding officer in the Mexican War. Horatio was one of the few soldiers who claimed to admire him.

horatioI’d like to offer an opposing theory for how our town got the name. Before global warming, the weather was not kind to the Mendocino Coast. For decades, residents had to choose which weather pattern—fog, rain or wind—they hated the least.

I imagine Horatio and his crew struggling to build shelters with subpar tools. When the winter rains began, someone probably said, “Hey, why don’t we name this Godforsaken place after that nut ball Braxton Bragg?”

Despite growing up in a poor family, Bragg attended West Point and finished fifth in a class of 50 cadets. In 1856, after nearly 20 years of military service, he retired to farm his Louisiana sugar plantation. Shortly before retirement, he was given two crappy assignments—Fort Gibson in Oklahoma Indian territory and Fort Washita near the Texas border. This may have been the Army’s way of “encouraging” him to retire.

braxton3In his early years, Braxton proved to be a brave soldier, saving the life of future Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the Mexican War. Over time, his behavior became increasingly kooky.

Ulysses S. Grant wrote that Bragg had an obsessive need for proper procedure that bordered on mental illness. At one time, Bragg had been both a company commander and quartermaster (the officer in charge of approving the disbursement of provisions).

As company commander, Bragg made a request to the company quartermaster— himself—for something he wanted.

As quartermaster, he wrote an official reason for denying it.

As company commander, he argued that he was entitled to it.

As quartermaster, he continued to persist in denying himself what he needed.

Bragg finally requested the intervention of the post commander who said, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”

Initially, Bragg opposed the idea of secession. However, when civil war became imminent he emerged from retirement and returned to the military in 1861. His years away had not improved his mental state. His men were often mystified by his orders on the battlefield. He would command reckless, aggressive offensive attacks or become bizarrely hesitant to move forward, sometimes in the same battle.

braxton2After a victory at Chickamauga, Bragg passed up a chance to thrash Union forces by letting them retreat to Chattanooga, Tennessee. After this debacle, Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Forrest said to him: “You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it. You may as well not issue any orders to me, for I will not obey them. I say to you that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life.”

Bragg’s subordinates threatened mutiny and called upon President Davis to remove him. But Davis stood by the man who had once saved his life and, instead, transferred the generals under Bragg’s command.

After the Civil War, Bragg returned to Louisiana to find that the Union Army had seized his plantation. He eventually found work as the superintendent of the New Orleans Waterworks and then as chief engineer of Alabama. He moved to Texas in 1874 to become the chief engineer of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad and later served as the chief railroad inspector for the state.

Bragg died in Galveston, Texas, on August 27, 1876 while walking down the street with a friend.

Given Braxton’s history, it’s hard to imagine any place named after him, let alone four. In addition to our little town, the Army base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and a ghost town in Hardin County Texas share his name. There’s also a company in Knoxville, Tennessee, called Braxton-Bragg, which specializes in “Tools for Granite, Marble, Tile, Polished Concrete & Stone Restoration.”

California State Senator Steve Glazer claims the name of our town pays tribute to the Confederacy and has introduced SB 539 to persuade us to change it. This is absurd. Braxton Bragg was an inept Confederate and holds the distinction of being one of the most hated military men of all time. Our town’s name does not honor him. Over the last century and a half, the name Fort Bragg honors the generations of people who lived, worked and died here. It belongs to us and we aim to keep it.

Photo courtesy of that fabulous guy Tony of Tony Argüelles Photography

What’s in a Name?

sglazerRecently, California State Senator Steve Glazer revealed he has a great deal of spare time on his hands. I believe he must have been lounging in a chaise next to his pool in Orinda when he had this ah-ha moment: “I’ll propose a bill that will remove names associated with the Confederacy from all public places in our fair state!”

He composed Senate Bill 539 and introduced it to the State Legislature.

Dan Walters, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, picked up on this and wrote an article questioning whether the bill might affect our little town of Fort Bragg, which is named after—uh-oh—the Confederate General Braxton Bragg.

This hit the internet and unleashed a torrent of comments.

Reactions in the mainstream media are, for the most part, carefully worded. For example:
I was born and raised in the Deep South. I certainly agree that confederate flags should not be flown over government building but that is where I stop…most of the people things and places are named after did more than just fight in the war on the losing side. In one way or another they helped shape our nation. I gripe all the time about the far right wingers who jump over the cliff about their issues and now the far left wingers are jumping over that same cliff…the bodies at the bottom are really piling up.

Comments on the Facebook pages of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, Mendocinosportsplus and You Know You’re From the Mendocino Coast if…. are more raw. I must say I most admire these comments because these people are unafraid to say what they really think (no grammatical errors have been corrected):

This is why I say liberals SUCK

WTH…I’m about to leave this God forsaken state…

Lunacy at it’s best! My biggest concern is we may have to change our dog’s name to be in accordance to the law, his name is Braxton. I could say he was named after Toni Braxton. But I will probably say he was named after Braxton Hicks.

It’s going to suck for all of you anti-gun liberals when the next civil war happens which is a lot closer to happening than many would like to think what’s going to happen is a lot different from the civil war that has already happened and that you criticize so much. You won’t have any way to protect you because “all cops are bad” “all guns are bad” you all have got another thing coming your way and honestly when the next civil war happens I’m going to enjoy taking part in the winning side (I’ll give you a hint: its the side that will actually have weapons)

Really?? This is what is on Sacramento’s agenda? With ALL the REAL problems out there, these numbnuts have to after something with no bearing on anything. This state gets more communistic every day, all these bleeding hearts, “oooo, someone’s feelings are hurt”. Grow up this is the real world, if any of these bleeding hearts go anywhere else in the world, it will chew them up and spit them out.

Fortbragg focus on giving us a Taco Bell or even a Mall, Not something that’s part of our History

lol – Bunch of rebels there in Ft. Bragg I was one –

The Dems . Won’t be happy till it’s called Jose’s Rainbow Bay !!!!!!

So if it applies to schools would Fort Bragg High School have to change its name?

I need to start a “WTF” page so people can really say what they feel.

We should probably rename it to “Fluffy Kittens” that way nobody is offended

It won’t happen anyway so I’m not worried about it. However I am curious as to what the natives called this area before it was Fort Bragg.
Response: Maybe they called it “the beach”….but that may have been offensive to someone.

No series of comments would be complete without at least one fight breaking out:
Original commentator: forts and braggng….mmmm the north coast deserves a name more fttng
Response: are u even from Fort Bragg?Or live there? I’ve seen u bad mouthin our home’s name on all Fort Bragg sites and our beautiful home is obviously not a place for u.
Original commentator: I live in Jenner and would love to move farther north, (I’l throw a party you’ll never forget when ft bragg changes its name
Responses: Actually why don’t you stay down there in jenner.
No one in Fort Bragg cares about your party you could never do it Fort Bragg style anywAy that’s obvious
Original commentator: keep playing dumb, and being hurtful, it reveals so much.
Responses: Who’s being hurtful. So far you are the one thats approaching that level.
It only hurts because her ego is being deflated.

Finally, my favorites:

Let’s name it Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But we’ll call it Fort Bragg for short.

Enough is enough. Find something else to do. Bake some cookies, do the laundry. Try to keep busy.cookies

Science Diet

thOver the years, I’ve owned five cats. Each lived long lives on a steady diet of Meow Mix. The only exception was when daughter Laine’s cat Figgy went into renal failure at age 13. He was put on a special food that cost a million dollars a day, which he enjoyed for two weeks before he died.

Indy—our son Harrison’s cat—lived to be 150 years old eating Meow Mix and whatever critters she would scavenge.

When Little Mister came into our lives eleven summers ago, I figured what was good for the others was good for him, too. However, for the past year, an increasing number of hairballs have been hacked about the house. Maybe it was time to upgrade his diet.

A month ago, I went to Fort Bragg Feed and Pet to buy Lucy her gourmet dog food. What about Little Mister? asked the voice of my conscience. Lucy’s nuclear Catahoula puppy energy has probably given him an ulcer.

science-diet-senior-age-defying-cat-food_1I wandered the cat food isle and found Science Diet Age Defying cat food for Senior 11+. The writing on the package claims: “Precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition to fight 4 important signs of aging in 30 days.” Maybe my husband Gary and I should also eat it.

I bought the food, eager to help Little Mister defy aging. Returning home, I filled his bowl, and he started gobbling it. (I wish this could be a testimonial to Science Diet, but he also enjoys eating gophers and rats.)

What exactly are the “4 important signs of aging,” I wondered. The writing on the Science Diet Senior 11+ bag isn’t very clear. One bullet point states: “Defends the body and brain against aging.” What does that mean? Will my cat lose his flabby tummy? Will eating this food stop him from hallucinating that my legs are monsters that must be attacked?

LM3The bag also states: “Nutrition to improve skin & coat in 30 days*.” The * makes reference to “vs. previously fed U.S. grocery foods.” Does this mean that European grocery foods might be on par with Science Diet or even superior? Since Little Mister refuses to travel abroad, I won’t be able to contrive an experiment to measure this claim.

“Supports long-term heart & vital organ health.” At the age of 11+, is long-term considered 30 days? And how am I supposed to determine if Little Mister’s heart and vital organ health has improved when I’m not certain it was compromised in the first place?

I searched the back of the bag hoping to gain additional insight.

Under the banner of “The Precisely Balanced Benefits of Age Defying” there’s a claim that I found especially intriguing: “Precisely balanced nutrition…to fight litter box accidents….”

What, pray tell, is a litter box accident? I’ve never been fond of litter boxes, but now that I know they can cause accidents, I’m even less so. Little Mister has never had one. He’s exposed to enough danger fighting off cats who attempt to overthrow his hold on the vacant lot next door. He must also be highly vigilant to avoid Lucy’s attentions. I won’t add the potential of litter box accidents to his already hazardous life.

Thirty days have passed and I’ve discovered:

LilMr1Before starting this diet, Little Mister could barely do one crunch. He’s now up to almost five before viciously attacking me. His brain function also seems to have improved. When he sees me coming at exercise time, he turns and runs like a cheetah. This food has defended him well against his aging body and brain.

As for an improved coat, his fluffiness has always allowed him to be a good-looking, vain creature. (He just told me to say he’s even more gorgeous now.)LilM

The claim Science Diet makes that this food is made of “natural ingredients & high-quality proteins with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in a smaller kibble that is easy to chew & digest” appears to be true.

I’m happy to report that in the past month, I’ve only discovered two hairballs and not one pile of puke. (Those of you with elderly cats know this is a true miracle.)

Since I don’t own a stethoscope or MRI machine, I cannot prove the Science Diet claim that this food “Supports long-term heart & vital organ health.” After 30 days, Little Mister is still alive. We’ll consider that success.

Little Mister likes his Science Diet. If it does little more than lessen my guilt over bringing a puppy into his world, I’ll keep buying it.1441214_10152206094356844_1136025372_n