ACROSS AMERICA — Many Americans would agree that 2020 hasn’t been worth the investment in champagne for those New Year’s Eve toasts that seem so very long ago. But in the midst of all the heart-crushing stories and incessant political news are 11 stories from Patch editors that will give your heart a boost and make you smile.
A cat in Arizona doesn’t appear to be smiling. But we think you will.
Arizona found its way into cat fandom with Grumpy Cat, but that feline born with a form of dwarfism that made her seem to perpetually frown died last year, leaving a hole in the internet’s heart that just might be filled by another cat from the Grand Canyon state.
"Judgy Rodger" drew attention from sites like Reddit thanks to his official adoption photo from the Arizona Humane Society. In the photo, his disapproving side-eye is filled with "cattitude" even Grumpy Cat would approve of. By Lindsay Walker for Phoenix Patch
Coronavirus Can’t Strike Out This Pitcher
When the coronavirus pandemic stretched its tentacles across America's heartland, 22-year-old Matt McCarty saw his collegiate baseball career cut short. The 22-year-old right-handed pitcher for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther ball team was graduating and didn’t see any way he could come back to the mound. But dreams do come true. By Scott Anderson for Oak Creek Patch
Back From The Ashes
Residents of Joliet, Illinois, stepped up after Cesar Trujillo’s Mexican grocery store went up in flames during civil unrest on May 31, contributing nearly $28,000 to help the family owned Valle’s Produce make a comeback. The store, known for its fresh meat and produce, reopened this week to a steady stream of customers. “Thanks to all the people,” Trujillo told Patch. “I like to see the people back.” By John Ferak for Joliet Patch
Keeping The Conversations Going
When the coronavirus forced two California teens to stop their in-person visits and bilingual education classes with residents of a low-income senior housing facility, they got creative and scheduled Zoom sessions. Carolyn Considine and Isabella Capelli didn’t stop there. They co-founded Meaningful Teens, a youth organization that connects nonprofits in need of bilingual tutors with a growing number of high school students eager to volunteer their time and skills. By Gillian Smith for Lamorinda Patch
In The Right Place At The Right Time
When a Virginia elementary principal Becky Wardlow, The Washington Post’s 2020 “Principal of the Year,” and her husband were involved in a head-on collision, three young people who witnessed the accident jumped out of their cars to assist until emergency responders arrived. Everyone was OK, but Wardlow called them “true heroes” who displayed compassion and maturity beyond their years. “They did it without being asked, which is exactly what we hope will happen as moms,” Wardlow said. By Mark Hand for Fredericksburg Patch
Don’t Fear The ‘Monster,’ Dance With It
Dr. Karen Tsai, a Los Angeles physician who noticed children’s emotional needs are getting lost in the urgent response to the coronavirus, asked Guy Gilchrist, the cartoonist behind “The Muppets” and other childhood favorites, what could be done to allay their fears. They got together with children’s author and publisher Eva Lou, who got in touch with her friend actor Denis O’Hare, and the result is a multi-media book, “Monster Dance,” that reduces the coronavirus from a scary monster to one that can be conquered. By Beth Dalbey for Across America Patch
A Dog’s Bucket List
There’s some bad news in this story: Foster dog Theo (top photo) has cancer and isn’t going to make it. But the 12-year-old golden retriever found abandoned in an Illinois Walmart parking lot will get everything he wants in his final days. Jenny and Steve Leach are checking items off a bucket list they created for Theo: He’s been on a blind date with a German shepherd, complete with a picnic basket backed by a local dog bakery. He went on a tour of the local fire department and took a boat ride. And there’s more to come. By Amie Schaenzer for Crystal Lake-Cary Patch
Second Chance x181 — And Multiplying
And this story started with bad news but has a happy ending: A Georgia animal rescue group’s phone has been “ringing off the hook” with people wanting to adopt 181 Chihuahuas rescued from a hoarding situation. "The dogs were everywhere, literally coming out of kitchen cabinets and mattresses," the Noah’s Ark rescue group said. Although flea ridden when they were rescued, they’re in relatively good health — and several are giving birth to more puppies. They’ll be ready for adoption this fall. By Jim Massara for Douglasville Patch
‘You Might Be A Redneck If …’
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is known for his three-time platinum album “You Might Be A Redneck If …”, but you wouldn’t know it from the collection of items he’s selling at an estate sale at his Johns Creek, Georgia, home. Well, the deer heads could be considered redneck, by his own reckoning, but almost everything else is top shelf. By Kathleen Sturgeon for Johns Creek Patch
Drown Your Sorrows In Cream Puff Drinks
Like so many events and traditions scrapped due to the coronavirus, the Wisconsin State Fair was canceled this year — a disappointment to kids who look forward to showing off their livestock and 4-H projects, but also to everyone else with an appetite for what’s known as “fair food,” often served on a stick and deep fat fried. A bar in the Milwaukee area has some liquid consolation: the “Cream Puff” cocktail with vodka, cream, bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup and vanilla. By Karen Pilarski for Waukesha Patch
Great Balls Of Fire
There’s one thing the coronavirus can’t steal — the magic of gazing into Earth’s celestial canopy in search of meteors. The annual Perseid meteor shower, known as the "fireball champion" of meteor showers, is going on through most August and is about to peak. NASA scientists think the Perseids produce more fireballs than other meteor showers because of the size of the nucleus of its parent comet — about 16 miles in diameter. By Beth Dalbey for Across America Patch