August 17


Maureen O'Hara (17 August 1920 – 24 October 2015) :’(

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storm on range road 14 (august 17)  / alberta / i.m. ruzz

I drove out to meet this storm and sat on a hill full of bailed hay making a time-lapse while it tried to organize itself. storms are funny things. like that emo part of you which just can’t get it together, then suddenly you can’t stop it.

it actually got a fair bit ahead of me while i made the time-lapse and when i caught up to it showed some real beauty, and a fair amount of lightning too. we call these august blessings. 

it’s such a strange thing to be hoping a storm will come together, only to know if does in any real way you’ll have to run (away) to stay ahead of it. to stay in the spot where it’s violent and beautiful, but not dangerous and wet. 

storm chasing can be a lot like love. 


The Roles Of A Lifetime
Robert De Niro (August 17, 1943) has starred in over 100 films throughout his career. His very first role came at the age of 20 in 1963 when he appeared in Brian De Palma’s The Wedding Party but the film wasn’t released until 1969. He has won two Academy Awards for The Godfather Part II (1974) and Raging Bull (1980) and was nominated for his roles in Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Awakenings (1990), Cape Fear (1991) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). Happy 73rd birthday to the greatest actor of all time!

Black Cat Appreciation Day

It’s August 17th, which is Black Cat Appreciation Day! Though it may seem a silly sort of holiday to have, there is good cause behind it. And to prove it, I’d like to share my story. Well, not my story, but Patriot’s.

You see, when I was in high school, my family decided that I needed to get a pet, a sort of unofficial therapy animal, to help me deal with some mental and emotional health issues I was having at the time. Though I was reluctant at first - it was only a few months before I would leave for university after all - I went to a local pet adoption organization to pick out a cat to bring home.

I almost left empty-handed. Yes, there were a lot of very cute kittens at the shelter, but they were all dead fast asleep, and I was interested in having a cat with a little more oomph. Or so I told myself. But taking a last look, I saw a small cage in the corner with two kittens inside, one of which had climbed as high on the bars as he could and was crying for attention. And, as stupid as it sounds, I knew. And the conversation I had with the associate while I held him only made me more adamant.

I was told not to adopt him; she politely informed me that he was going to die. And soon. Now, I admit, I can be very stubborn and have a severe soft spot for lost-cause animals, so naturally I didn’t listen. I named him Patriot, and I took him home. And my family, expecting an adorable, soft little kitten, were more than a little shocked to see this:

(Please excuse the bad quality of the pictures; I had a shit camera phone back then.)

Yeah, looking back on it, he looked pretty bad, to say the least. His face, as you can see, was gaunt, nothing but eyes and ears. He was so malnourished that you could easily see and feel every rib; so thin that within an hour of it being inserted, the shelter’s mandatory tracking chip simply fell out. Covered in fleas, ears filled with mites, a skin infection, a sore on his shoulder so bad it was open to the muscle, a bacteria in his gut plus worms. And though the shelter associate had assured me that he was three months old (the minimum age, as I’ve been told, for a cat to be neutered/spayed - which he was), the veterinarian determined that he was far younger than that.

Needless to say, we went through a lot of medications and were at the vet a lot. Some of my friends upon seeing him for the first time refused to touch him at all, let alone pet him. My parents were secretly worried that he wouldn’t make it and were even more worried about the effect that that would have on me. I was invested - wholeheartedly.

After a year, I was finally able to say that Patriot was healthy.

I won’t lie: it was difficult. But it was so much more than the work it took to get him healthy. Looking back, I don’t remember the times I woke up extra early to make sure he got his meds before my carpool, all the vet visits, or even how many pitying stares we got both from family and friends and strangers at the clinic. But I do remember a kitten who would perch on my shoulder as I walked around the house, cuddled close against my neck even as we slept at night. I remember a tiny black kitten who was afraid of the dark and would cry until either a light was turned on or he found someone to snuggle with. I remember a growing, healthier kitten who would meet me at the door when I came home from school every day in high school and every weekend in university.

And now it’s August 17th, 2015. Patriot is six years old now, six years older than he would have lived if I had listened to that associate. Which brings me to the reason why I’m posting his story: Black cats, of any age, are the least adopted and the most euthanized in American shelters, simply because of their color and the superstitions, stereotypes, and stigma surrounding it. Which is, needless to say, fucking stupid. I’ve had numerous animals, of all kinds and colors, throughout the years, and Patriot is by far the most loving, loyal animal that I have ever had - dogs included. At six years old, he still sleeps snuggled as close as he can get into my neck, still excitedly meets me at the door every time I come home, whether it’s from work or grocery shopping or whatever. As I’m typing this, he’s curled up dozing at my feet.

I know that there are a lot of more pressing issues going on in the world right now, causes more important than how people look at and behave toward black cats. But that doesn’t mean that the issue of how we look at and behave toward black cats isn’t important. That any person should reject another creature solely because of a social stigma or because someone with any measure of authority or influence does so themselves is difficult for me to understand, let alone condone, especially when that creature, much like Patriot, would thrive from steady, constant compassion.

If you are looking to adopt an animal, please consider giving a home to a black cat. (I promise you, the vast majority are, unlike Patriot, healthy.) If you know someone else who is looking to adopt an animal, please encourage them to consider adopting a black cat. And if neither of these apply to you, please tell someone about Black Cat Appreciation Day and why it’s not such a silly holiday to have.

As much as I love all of the things in my new home office space, I think Lucky is my favorite accessory. 🐶💙 Our place is finally almost finished, and I saved perhaps the biggest beast of them all for last - our closet/bathroom. 😳 Wish me luck! #newhouse #homedecor #homeoffice #vandiloveslucky #NFM by laurenavandiver


August 17th 1887: Marcus Garvey born

On this day in 1887, black activist Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica. The youngest of eleven children, the young Garvey was a keen reader, but left school aged fourteen to begin working as an apprentice. In his early twenties, Garvey traveled extensively around Central and Southern America, writing about the exploitation of migrant labour, and attended university in the United Kingdom. In 1914, once back in Jamaica, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and, after corresponding with Booker T. Washington, moved to New York City to promote the movement. Marcus Garvey was a passionate and electrifying speaker, touring the United States eloquently arguing for pride in African-American heritage and promoting black nationalism. He is best known as an advocate of the ‘Back to Africa’ movement, which urged African-Americans to return to their ancestral homeland to strive for economic and social freedom, facilitated by Garvey’s Black Star Line company. He was also a proponent of pan-Africanism, a movement which calls for the unity of the African diaspora to empower and uplift people of African descent. By 1920, the UNIA claimed four million members from around the world. Garvey’s actions provoked the ire of white Americans and the United States government, and in 1922 he was arrested for alleged mail fraud. In what was likely a politically-motivated case, Garvey was imprisoned and later deported to Jamaica. Marcus Garvey died in London in 1940, aged fifty-two, but is remembered today as the inspiration for the Nation of Islam and Rastafari movements, and as a major black civil rights leader.

“We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world”