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December 8, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Sometimes answers are giraffes

Seeing from here to there is difficult sometimes.

Some seek heart, some seek coincidences, and some hold tightly to giraffes.

4 x 16 foot Giraffe Clinic Mural. O'

Neck in neck is pretty common there.(Giraffe Clinic Mural.O’Dwyer/

Does the Hallmark Channel prowl the web for potential movie plots? If so, one small Italian girl should be expecting a call.

Annamaria Di Tonto of Naples, Italy hasn’t had a typical childhood.

Born with a defective heart valve, she had her first surgery when one month old, and another when she was three. Without those open heart surgeries, blood wouldn’t flow to her lungs properly.

Tricky stuff as the body doesn’t have zippers and a “pause while parts are replaced” switch.

Last June, her doctors determined she was outgrowing her heart valve and needed a replacement. Each time she goes under the knife, it makes the next one more risky. And Annamaria will probably be facing at least two more upgrades before she is an adult.

Her parents desperately searched for alternatives.

Her grandfather, being like any grandfather, sought help in any place no matter how unlikely.

Mauritzio Di Tonto managed to arrange an audience with the Pope.

During the meeting, Pope Francis gave the eight year old girl a rosary he had blessed for protection and bestowed a kiss.

Great emotional story, but didn’t fix the heart valve.

But oddly things began to happen.

Like a child’s train track snapping together, events clicked quickly.

Giraffe mural. Children's Memorial Herman Hospital. Crafted with Italian Glass Mosaic tiles

In step with you. (Italian glass floor tile design by O’Dwyer/DearwaterDesigns)

Her grandfather reached out to an old friend who was now a long way from home.

This man, Mario Ferrari, turned out to be currently the CEO of Methodist Research Institute in the Medical Center, Houston, Texas.

Through the magic of Skype, there were conferences with parents.

Then Ferrari contacted Dr. Hule Lin (Specialist treats adult with congenital heart defect) who then talked with Dr. John P. Breinholt (Pediatric cardiology chief, Children’s Memorial Herman Hospital and UT Health Medical School).

More video conferences.

Dr. Breinholt felt Annamaria didn’t need open heart surgery.

He spotted a narrowing of the blood vessels to her lungs that could easily be fixed by minimally invasive surgery.

The Doctor shuffled and cleared a spot on his calendar, in Houston.

Stunned, the family found themselves on a plane within two days. (Medical emergencies have their own visa rules.)

Rushed, Annamaria brought two important possessions: the rosary and a stuffed giraffe she’d had forever.

Her nervous mom, Francesca, felt more settled by the “warmth and support and great humanity” of those who gathered around the family upon arrival.

Then another quick intake of breath in surprise upon arriving at the hospital.

Annamaria was handed a stuffed mascot for the hospital: a giraffe.

While both stuffed giraffes had to wait in her room as doctors worked on Annamaria last Monday, she did carry that rosary for protection.

The surgery went perfectly – and it was kinda like when you remodel a house, while you’re there you might as well fix….

From a catheter threaded through vessels in her leg, Breinholt used balloon angioplasty to open the pulmonary artery, and also fixed a problem with a stent already in place.

Her prognosis is excellent and future valve replacements should be done with a catheter.

She’s already up running around.

Annamaria Di Tonto and her 2 giraffes. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle

If one giraffe is good, then 2 is twice as nice. (Annamaria Di Tonto. J.Nielsen/HouChron)

Hallmark movie material, right?

Oh, wait.

Annamaria left a gift for other children: the rosary.

“I asked them to keep it so that it might also bless and protect the other children who are treated here.”

The rosary is being framed along with a picture of a small girl being kissed by the Pope and will be placed on one of the walls in the cath lab as she asked.

It’s nice to share.

all rights reserved. Copy righted. No permissions granted

Muddling along.This looks Christmas-y, right? ©

And now leaping over muddles and puddles, time for more sharing and answers from last Friday’s contest.

(Staff: Wait, RC Cat. No Paws of Fury! No Paws of Fury! Here – take the microphone.)

It is a ceremonial duty!

In what Realm would Staff make important announcements?

As RC Cat of the Realm, it gives Us great pleasure to applaud all the clever, the brave, the insanely bored and the astute who ventured a guess in Our contest.

And the envelope, please.

The winner of the “Guess how unbelievably destructive the Molly was and still could be if not sternly lectured by Ourselves many Easy Walk Harnesses the Molly test drove before determining just the right one Who does the creature think she is? Goldilocks took less time!

Carrie Rubin with her guess of 6 harnesses.

We are very concerned that this writer/doctor either has a hidden camera located in the Realm, listening devices, or there’s a snitch. We suspect that Sasha cat next door.

While the Molly has redesigned multiple harnesses from multiple manufacturers, she managed to munch only 6 from the Easy Walk Company. We have run out of claws to count the total number of collars, leashes, and harnesses totally deactivated.

We did pen a letter to Easy Walk suggesting that perhaps the Molly should become part of their design staff, but have yet received a response.

We suspect Staff lost the letter on the way to the mailbox. Or they are afraid the company does not have enough high shelves to protect their inventory from Molly’s assistance.

all rights reserved. copy righted. NO permissions granted.

Once you develop a taste for harness, it’s hard to stop. (Snort. joke, right? Don’t tell the cat) ©

Now for the winner who puzzled out the truth of the mystery picture with the rainbow. Oh, that one gave Us such a giggle.

Martha Schaefer guessed: “…looks like a prism set near the litter box”.

Exactly. Obviously a person of great experience and knowledge of the world.

We must admit We were not initially pleased when the Realm relocated. 

But Staff had assured Us that these new accommodations would please even without the Upstairs and Downstairs.

And there was a level of elegance to Our personal quarters previously not offered.

A sunny wall of glass bricks splashes diamonds and rainbows across the walls – even through a narrow door-hinge gap by Our personal facilities (To box it in polite terms.) 

No permission granted. All rights reserved. Copyrighted.

Somewhere over the rainbow…Molly, get out of there! Not food. Not food.©

Yes, Yes. Upon seeing that rainbow, We gave Our Paw of Approval.

Recognition that RCs are special – even the Universe knows.

And that even the most ordinary objects can be elevated with a little effort to fine art.

What? Stop that mouthing. Now what is the problem?

Gold at the end of the rainbow?

Of course the chemical-free, biodegradable, soft to the paws wheat is worth it’s weight in gold, Dunderhead.

Oh. We were just making a little joke! Of course We understood.

no no NO permissions granted. All rights reserved. Copyrighted. Again, no.

A glimpse into Our Inner Realm ©

Yes. Yes. Prizes shall be sent to the winners.

Staff shall send that delightful author Susan Toy necessary information.

And a cheery thanks to all that participated.

Such a delightful group, Our Readers…who always remember their manners.

But We are tiring.

Permission to withdraw, granted.

Our paw has waved.

Do not forget to leave the tribute of an open can of food in the doorway.

That is all. Waving!







I am RC Cat and I approve this message.

New to RC Cat and the Realm?

Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with Staff. Brave enough to venture read one of RC’s other posts? “Dereliction of duty. Usurper”


  1. Carrie Rubin / Dec 8 2014 2:04 pm

    Two wonderful pieces of news from you today! The treatment of the girl’s heart condition and a book win for me. Granted, the girl’s medical treatment is far more important than my win, but hey, they both put a smile on my face. Thank you!! Can’t believe I guessed right. Molly and I must be sharing some canine to human telepathy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 2:44 pm

      No better way to start the week than with a smile. (More miracle than one happen in pediatric hospitals as you know. This one’s coincidences and the girl’s kindness brightens a tumultuous week.)
      Congrats and enjoy.
      Thanks for playing along

      Liked by 1 person

  2. easyweimaraner / Dec 8 2014 2:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful but very touching story about a very brave girl. Maybe you can try a Julius K9 harness for Molly, Easy said the taste is awful and he rather eats his leash :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 2:52 pm

      Will definitely check out those harnesses. Thank for the suggestion, Easy. It may be Molly is upset and has bad memories about anything tightly wrapped around her. The rescue group’s vet had to cut out wire that the skin had grown over – just past her arm pits. She had to get exercise. Had to be on leash until better socialized (and leash laws most places we walk or hike) But now she does get to run with a pack of friends in fenced fields…even if muddy. It’s only fair and she is pretty agreeable if she can ride in the car and go, too.
      Little girls of all sorts can be so brave and kind despite everything handed to them.
      Thanks for bouncing along, Easy


      • katecrimmins / Dec 8 2014 2:56 pm

        OMG! Poor Molly! My friend rescued a kitten that was getting pulled by a bunch of kids with a rope around her neck. She was terrified of rope her entire life. She was playing in a paper bag and got the handle around her neck and totally freaked out. Bad trauma lasts forever.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 3:23 pm

          She was drugged when we got her. They didn’t tell, but we were wondering about how nervous the rescue group was about her when we saw her….and why they were discouraging a family with young kids who walked off to think about it. Once they found out we had a tall fence and worked from home so there would always be someone there (and we had experience with several abused rescued large dogs) They rushed the adoption paperwork. (And apologized to the family when they returned). Molly’s come a long way and has decided she is finally home…but is hurt that the cat won’t play. We are still puzzling over her hatred of skateboard wheel sounds….working on that. Thanks for trotting by to chat


          • katecrimmins / Dec 8 2014 3:27 pm

            Perhaps a dog buddy? You have never posted that she is destructive (except for harnesses and we all can understand that). So glad it’s working out.

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 4:09 pm

            She was pretty close to feral when we got her and a nervous wreck after being in 3-4 homes before this one…they all wanted to keep her, but she kept eating everything – including walls if she saw her person’s car back out and leave her. Total panic. We think she was also locked in small dark bathrooms as she refused to get near one. And there’s was the wild behavior running full sped then trying to jump into your arms. No wonder the first elderly couple who got her off the streets eventually handed her to the rescue group ( plus all her medical bills) Trying to be friendly and hang onto friends, she also would run with open mouth and grab onto limbs tightly…with teeth. We’ve had basket cases before, but this one nearly did us in – It’s was a matter of trying to understand what triggered behavior and redirect/relearn acceptable behavior…and patience. We do consider a buddy, but the yard is too small and we still shelter the German from time to time as needed. Those two dogs love each other and do get to play – we’ll just deal with the mud in the backyard. they know to get their feet wiped. Molly needs a lot of attention and sharing 24-7 might wear on her. Luckily there’s some large fenced fields that she can run with friends a couple times a week – socializing with other big dog friends seems to be a big part of the solution for stress… Funny how much like people dogs are? Hope your day is sunny, too!


          • katecrimmins / Dec 8 2014 4:23 pm

            As with my semi-feral cat, you always wonder what their life was before you. Peace and hugs to your whole gang!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. katecrimmins / Dec 8 2014 2:54 pm

    Heartwarming story (pun not intended) for the holidays along with a touch of RC humor (oh, it wasn’t supposed to be funny. My apologies to RC!)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 3:16 pm

      If a writer had written that little girl’s story, some would say contrived plot – too many coincidences…but it’s real life. Nice to know little miracles do happen. Pediatric medical centers see more than we realize – and deservedly so. Nice to have smile and see that good is still around.
      RC is sending a perky little paw wave – she’s in a humorous mood these days. Santa may not be a myth…
      Thanks for stretching over with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres / Dec 8 2014 3:16 pm

    What a wonderful story about the little girl. Things can get done, when people are determined. When they’re caring and determined, it gets much better, fast.

    Now I need to go back and re-read. Speaking of dunderheads, I still haven’t figured out what the photo shows. I think I’m one of those kids of whom the teachers say, “She couldn’t have cheated. She’s not smart enough to cheat.”

    ADD: OK! Got it! And congrats to the winner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 3:57 pm

      That Med. Center is miracle central for so many. You know TX Children is building a special pediatric Infectious Disease stand alone ward/unit? Kids need different care and no one has stepped up. Will accept patients world wide as well as across the country. If doctors ran the governments and world…..
      That picture was an odd treasure…angles of everything had to be just right – it does add cheer on sunny days.
      Speaking of sun – it’s finally out! Go! Play! We may be in for a dreary winter.
      Thanks for wandering over.


  5. Littlesundog / Dec 8 2014 5:25 pm

    Wonderful story about the little girl. I love stories like this around the holidays…. restores my faith in the human race. Like shoreacres, I’m one of those people that sometimes just doesn’t get it. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has to explain a joke to me and I STILL don’t get it or think it’s funny. Oh well, congrats to the winners!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 8 2014 6:32 pm

      RC Cat. (Patting your hand reassuringly…but don’t brag about it) “Don’t worry, my dear. Some of Us are just born to a more gentle life. Tsk-tsk. The whole idiotic idea of a company naming it “litter” – as if We would ever consider stepping in refuge. Yes Yes, boxed golden path rest area. Thank goodness the sun appreciates Our trials and tribualtions. Cheery wave! ( and the little fawns are doing well)


  6. robstroud / Dec 8 2014 5:46 pm

    I prefer the giraffe on the left. …wait, on the right. …no, I think I was right the first time, going with the one of the left.

    Reminds me of our recent difficulty choosing which puppy out of the litter would be coming home with us. (I wanted to adopt them all!)

    Thank you for another uplifting story.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 3:35 pm

      That’s why you have 2 hands…one for each. (There’s that other cute one….and how much more problem can 2 be than 1?….RC Cat is snarling “Don’t fall for it! It’s an illusion…ignore those big eyes….Staff is fretting over dogs in a shelter being forced to close. We are keeping Staff busy until it is all settled and all taken care of.”)
      While some tantrum and only complain, others are quietly making the world a better place. Focus would be better spent with those, I decided. Thanks for soaring along


  7. Robin / Dec 8 2014 10:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing Annamaria’s story. It’s so nice to read good news. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 3:40 pm

      Tired of the foolish noise, too? Too much time given to childish tantrums and destructive behavior. Better to focus on people actively doing things to make the world a better place. Thanks for wandering these paths


  8. EllaDee / Dec 8 2014 11:12 pm

    What a wonderful story. Reading it I wondered about the giraffe’s spiritual meaning. When I read the following I got shivers…

    “… Giraffe has a huge heart, and with all her being, she perceives heart’s dimension, seeing and feeling the heart connections between herself and the entire web of life. In leading you on this journey, she gives you an opportunity to ask for help and cooperation. She knows that there are only loving relationships in the realm of the heart, relationships in which each being nurtures the flame of every other being.

    Although related to the dimension of words and actions, the dimension of the heart is completely independent. Giraffe reminds us to make regular trips to the heart dimension to honor and affirm this network of loving light. The more we practice viewing our everyday communications and interactions within the context of this loving web, the more accessible, and clearly manifest the network becomes.

    Giraffe also bestows this gift: the knowledge that your heart is a place in which only truth can reside. Whenever you speak to another being, a simultaneous conversation takes place in the heart dimension. It is a conversation of truth, and this, from the perspective of your soul, is what truly matters…”

    Pats for RC & Molly and all the best to you and yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 3:48 pm

      This was absolutely beautiful.
      I knew from the real giraffes here that their hearts and biological/neuro systems are very unique.Giraffes are such gentle creatures.
      When I saw the mosaic tiles came from Italy, it seemed like Annamaria had a bit of her home with her even here.
      Thanks so much for adding the spiritual connection and the link! (Paw waves!)


  9. jannatwrites / Dec 9 2014 4:30 am

    That little girl’s story is great – so nice to read something with a positive outcome… most of the news can be quite depressing. Six harnesses? Wow, she’s a busy chewer 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 3:56 pm

      Molly was so ful of anxiety from all the uncertainty in her early life and she had tender healing wounds from being tied with wire around her (chewed through – good plan.). She couldn’t have collars except for identification due to damaged trachea from abuse…so we tried all styles and forms of harnesses. She sometimes will slip her jaw through and mouth the chest piece of this one in the car, but we know to watch and tell her to stop. She smiles and realizes the bad times are over …and if she wants to go, she has to wear her “jewelry”. Or maybe we found a color she likes.
      Tired of all the ugly noise and destructive temper tantrums the media seems fascinated by. There are actually people quietly making the world a better place. What if we all ignored and shunned the ones with bad behavior…isn’t that what noted psychologists say to do with children? Hmmm. Glad you got a smile. Thanks for roaming over here


  10. Jay E. / Dec 9 2014 12:00 pm

    This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    I must admit, I’m a bit envious of your ability to find topics that are interesting all by themselves and then make them even MORE interesting with your unique storytelling.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 4:02 pm

      Glad you got a smile. Really appreciate your kind encouragement. Thanks for strolling over to chat


  11. Paul / Dec 9 2014 4:38 pm

    Great story about the little girl Phil. As you say, it is so nice to see small personal victories in this world that is so frequently without hope. Same with rescues – giving animals some hope again. I’ve seen your pics of Molly relaxed bonelessly on your couch and thought to myslef that she looks so peaceful and accepted and loved- and she knows it/That is a wonderful way for any creature or human to live.

    Loved that the young girl left her rosary for others. i don’t know that I would have that personal strength to give away that which had been a part of a miracle. Such inherent strength and faith in the young.

    Great post Phil. Thanks.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2014 5:28 pm

      While some mindlessly rampage and complain, others are quietly building and making the world a better place. So where should the focus go? Had to shift towards positive. (Don’t they always tell parents to ignore bad behavior? Maybe we should all try that?)
      Spent time in the med center volunteering in one hospital’s pediatric cancer ward. Those kids are quite amazing and offer such insights on life. More than one miracle happens daily in those hospitals…quietly and unseen. Strength and hope always sent to them.
      (I haven’t forgotten your posts – just overwhelmed/overload right now.You are writing some more, right? You’re good.)
      Thanks for driving over! (And Molly sends paw waves…or sort of a limp one as she’s crashed out on the couch right now)


  12. Sun / Dec 10 2014 2:45 am

    you shared a heartwarming story about Annamaria’s journey…so wonderful to see the miraculous power that comes from believing that prayers and blessings from others really work for the good of things. also read your comments on dear Molly…so proud of her achievements and that only comes from a caring and very patient caregiver(s). hugs to all in the Realm. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2014 2:03 pm

      Paw waves to Chuckles! It’s sunny this morning with rain due this afternoon, so Molly’s gone to run wild in the field with friends this morning. It just makes her so happy. Exercise is a real necessity for all creatures.
      You know how trash always seems to float to the top of a body of water? Obscuring the deep calm below. Right now it seems like that’s happening with society thanks to rapid media (who doesn’t care if they tell the facts or not – stirring emotions of viewers is all that matters)
      People used to shun bad behavior and condemn it. Psychologists said that was appropriate and the best way to turn things to desired responses.
      All scandal magazine stuff now. Meanwhile many people are quietly doing things that make the world a better place. And some still can see the miracles pointing the way.
      Little things count. All of them. Hope your holiday season is merry, warm, and bright with hope and joy. Thanks for running by


  13. Spinster / Dec 10 2014 6:08 pm

    Heartwarming story. Glad that all went well. ❤


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2014 11:08 pm

      Sometimes we need a little bright light. Too much focus by media and world on darkness. More miracle than we know happen in pediatric wards – and those kids are little wonders in themselves. (Volunteered in pediatric cancer ward when lived in town. Very humbling.) Thanks for swooping by to chat

      Liked by 1 person

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