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5 Reasons Cats Rule (My House)

August 3, 2014

Last week, my blogging friend, Debbie wrote of some abhorrent cat behavior that led her to write a post entitled “5 Reasons I Hate Cats.” While I don’t think I can change anyone’s mind about felines, I thought it would be fun to share some reasons why I adore cats.

Their “purrs” relax me. 

Some people listen to CDs that play sounds of nature- waves crashing onto the shore, birds chirping, rainfall- you get the idea.  Me?  Nothing is more soothing that a cat snuggled up to me purring.  Some nights, Cybil chooses to sleep on my face head which isn’t the most comfortable.  After some push and pull on positioning, she often ends up curled against my neck and shoulder purring.  This is how I like to fall asleep.

They can grow on non-cat-people (like a fungus)

I first saw this with my mom.  I’ve always been drawn to cats and she was never a fan, but after I adopted every stray cat in the neighborhood, she relented and I got my first kitty.  How disappointed I was to find that cat liked her better than me.  Misty was an indoor/outdoor cat and disappeared.  I was heartbroken.  We got another kitty and that one loved me- she was my cat.  Abby also wormed her way into my mom’s heart.

My husband is a self-proclaimed dog person.  He makes this known regularly.  I smile when he grabs a cat when he goes to bed, but I don’t say anything.  One morning last week, I walked into the bedroom and found Lizzy wrapped around his foot.

No one told Lizzy he's a dog person!

No one told Lizzy he’s a dog person!

Of course, I had to snap this blackmail adorable photo as evidence that he may be just a little bit of a cat person :)

They like company, but they don’t need constant attention

Some say cats are aloof.  Maybe they are; but I think they just need less assurance of my love for them than a dog.  Our dogs need constant ear scratches and head rubs- if we’re sitting on the couch, we must be petting them.  The cats curl up next to me and snooze- they are content just being near me.  I “get” them… I like to have my space, too.

While my son is at school, Sammy is my "desk cat"

While my son is at school, Sammy is my “desk cat”

Oh, and they keep me company while I work, curled up on the other side of my desk.  So cute!

Even when they don’t feel good, cats can strike a pose

Kitties hide their illnesses well, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Often, by the time we pick up on something being off, they are really sick.  When Bulwinquel (our Yorkie-Poo dog) was around two years old, we took her to the vet because she wouldn’t walk on one of her legs- she kept lifting it up like it was hurt.  After the second visit for the problem, the vet did an x-ray and confirmed there was no injury.  He told us that if we babied her, she may never walk on it again!

Cybil is sick, but always ready to be admired.

Cybil is sick, but always ready to be admired.

And finally:  they know how to relax!

I don’t think I really need to explain this one – I have so many snoozing cat pics because they sleep… a lot!

Relaxing 101... take notes, and practice!

Relaxing 101… take notes, and practice!

I can sure take come cues from them :)

Here it is – your chance to share your thoughts (nicely.)  Let me know why you like or dislike cats!

Rite of Passage (Fiction)

July 31, 2014
Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness

Photo by JF @ Pursuit of Happiness

The two boys crouched behind overgrown shrubs.

“This is stupid,” Turner whispered to his best friend.  “I can’t feel my legs anymore.”

“If it’s so stupid, why are you here?” Seth kept his gaze on the old house.

Turner didn’t say anything.  Instead, he shifted his weight to his other knee and stifled a groan when an ankle popped.  He thought about why he was there.  Mostly, he wanted to keep Seth from trumpeting down the school hallways that he was chicken.  “Maybe we should head back home.  It’s getting late.”  He glanced up at the moon, wishing the sun hadn’t surrendered to the shadows.

Seth snorted.  “You’re still afraid of the dark!”

“Am not!”

“Just like camp last year when you couldn’t sleep without a nightlight.”

“Shut up.  I was twelve.”

“If it’s not the dark, then you must be afraid of ghosts, or vampires.  Or whatever it is.”

Turner hesitated.  “That stuff’s not for real.”  He didn’t know if he believed in the existence of spirits or vampires, but he didn’t really want to find out.  “How do you know the house is abandoned?”

“Duh.  Have you ever seen anyone around?”

“Well, no, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Hey, is the video going?”

Turner glanced at his phone.  “Yeah, but I don’t see why.”

Seth rolled his eyes.  “I’m telling you, something funny is going on.”  He pointed to the railing, a patchwork of peeling sea foam colored paint and rust.  “She glides down the hill toward the lake almost every night.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Turner scrunched up his face in confusion.

“Supernatural phenomena rarely make sense.”

Turner burst into laughter.  “You’re a doof!”

“Shhhh!”  Seth frowned.  “You’ll scare her away.”

“I think she’d scare us more than–” Turner stopped talking when he felt something grip his shoulder.  He turned to Seth and saw the same wide-eyed look he imagined he wore.

Read more…

Bits of “Wisdom” I’ve Gained In Last 7 Days

July 29, 2014

Doing laundry *can* help settle the mind – but I still don’t recommend it

I wanted to write a post on Sunday to publish on Monday, but my thoughts bounced around like caffeinated squirrels.  (Judging by the activity level of ‘normal’ squirrels, I can only imagine ones on caffeine would be hard to follow.)

Writing didn’t happen because of many things:  anxiety over Monday’s dental appointment, not feeling good (after two weeks of tonsillitis), remembering things I have to do since school has started, and deadlines at work that put me on the computer for a couple hours Sunday night.  As I folded laundry, though, the idea came to me to write a post as scattered as what I feel – with the common thread of “wisdom” I encountered this past week.

Thank goodness I didn’t have to iron clothes to find peace!  (I don’t iron.  Ever.)

There has to be better therapy... like chocolate!

There has to be better therapy… like chocolate!

Sometimes it’s best not to try to understand

Conversation on the first day of school:

Me:  “Why don’t you just wear your sweat shorts and t-shirt to school since you have P.E. first hour?”

Older son:  “I’m not going to school looking like a slob.” (said with his ‘are-you-an-idiot?’ tone)

Me:  “You’d only have to change once, and you’d just have to wear gym clothes on the bus ride.”

Older son:  “And recess, too.”

I didn’t say anything else, but did laugh when he came out of his room wearing a different t-shirt and sweat shorts, which he planned to wear all day.  I do not claim to know what made these clothes not “slobby”.

Risk is Relative

Or is that, ‘relatives are risky’?  Oh, never mind.  Conversation with my dad after he spent many hours cursing at working on my computer:

Dad:  “I think your network card is bad.  A new one is $179, or they have a refurbished one for $22.”

Me:  “I’m not spending $179 on a 4-year-old computer.  But refurbished?  I don’t know… seems risky.”

Dad:  “You take a risk buying a new one, but the refurbished is only a $22 risk.”

Perhaps these principles of risk apply to other areas of life; something this risk-avoidant person needs to keep in mind.

My kids can be empathetic (if you’re covered in fur)

My older son put his cat on my lap while I worked at my desk.  Sammy didn’t want to be there so she headed toward the desk top.  She slipped and dug her claws into my thigh as she slid toward the floor.  I shrieked in pain and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck to pull her back onto my lap.

My son ran back into the room.  “What happened?”

“She slid down my thigh,” I said between clenched teeth.

“Oh, Sammy!  Are you okay?” He asked as he bent down to kiss the kitty.

Don’t worry about me.  The blood dries quickly and maybe scars aren’t forever.

Maybe they'd care if I "meowed"?

Maybe I’d get empathy (or sympathy) if I “meowed”?

What about you – what unexpected things have your discovered recently?

Oh, if you came here looking for some fiction, I’ve got a couple of ideas for a story to post later in the week.  I know, ideas aren’t the same as written stories, but I’ll work on that the next couple days :)

Making History (Fiction) – Emilio Pasquale Photo

July 24, 2014

The challenge:  write a story inspired by the photo below, provided by Emilio Pasquale.   If you didn’t read our first team-up, click here to read it!  And, if you haven’t checked out his photography site yet, you really should :)

An Emilio Pasquale Photo

An Emilio Pasquale Photo – click it to check out his wonderful photography site!

Marianne Sutter stoked the fire with a long broken branch she’d foraged in the woods surrounding camp.  The logs, moistened by last night’s rain, had been slow to burn, but finally rewarded her with meager warmth stifled by billowing smoke.  One of the few women in camp, she kept to herself.

“Well, well, Ms. Sutter.  How ‘about you warm yerself by my fire?”  The man gave an exaggerated wink.

“No thank you, Mr. Muehlling.” Her revulsion at his advances culminated in a deep shiver that she hoped had been concealed by her wool overcoat.

“If you change yer mind…”  He nodded toward his tent.

Marianne’s husband, Cortland, had led her to this God-forsaken land four months ago.  Enticed by adventure and gold, he moved them west.  When he first shared his plan to leave Virginia, she insisted he take her with him.  She’d thought being alone at home would be much worse than being with him on the frontier.  How wrong she was.  California turned out to be a fickle host.  Although Cortland had found a small amount of gold, months later, he succumbed to fever, leaving Marianne to fend for herself.

***

Marianne’s eyelids grew heavy as her fire dwindled to pulsing orange coals.  In the periphery, she caught sight of a movement to her left. She leaned forward and squinted, branch clenched tightly in her hands.

“Who’s there?”  She asked in a hoarse whisper so she wouldn’t disturb the panners who’d already retired for the night.  The bushes rustled and Marianne raised the stick over her head.

A young child stepped into the clearing.

She gasped and relaxed her arms.  “How old are you?”

“Six.”

“Where are your parents?”

“Dead.”

The matter-of-fact tone caught Marianne off-guard.  “What’s your name?”

“Carrie Benton.”

Marianne leaned forward so her eyes were at the girl’s level.  “Carrie, can you take me to your family?”

They walked a circuitous route in between tents before Carrie stopped and pointed.  Marianne moved forward and saw two rigid men in sleeping bags beneath a make-shift tent.

“They been sick,” Carrie said.  “Daddy and my uncle.”

A breeze slid through the campsite, flapping canvas and fanning the stench of death.  Marianne leaned against a battered supply wagon and heaved, supper barely missing her boots.  Shaky and weak, she grabbed a wool blanket.  She kneeled down and said a prayer for their souls’ safe-keeping and covered the men.

Marianne smoothed her skirts and took the girl’s hand.  “You can stay with me.”

***

Read more…

Covert Operations

July 21, 2014

My older son and I are going through a thing right now:  I don’t like to be lied to, and he likes to lie to see what he can get away with.  Lately, it’s been a game for him.  A tiring, ridiculous game that I began to think I might not “win.”

An anonymous tip (okay, my mother-in-law) may have turned the tide.

Last night, my husband got a cryptic text from his mom ssuggesting he raid my son’s room.  We don’t allow food upstairs, for one good reason.  Here… a picture’s worth a thousand words:

Room

Can you imagine food thrown into that mess? Or the pests that such slobbery would attract? {shivers}

I digress.

While my son was outside playing basketball with a neighbor, my husband bagged up the hidden treasures; enough sugar to rot the teeth of eight children.

Stash

What to do next…

1)      We could ask him about the candy and give him an opportunity to lie to our faces

2)      We could hide the candy without saying anything (yet) and wait.

Of course, he won’t come right out and ask where his candy is – that would be admitting guilt.  But one day, it will come up in conversation.  It will be subtle (maybe a photo of the confiscated sugar left on his pillow?) but he will have no question that we know.

However we proceed, it will be clear that we trust until trust is broken.  And trust has been broken. He will know that his room isn’t off limits from the rules of our house.

This may seem a bit overboard for a bag of sugar, but there’s more at stake here.  Next month, he will be twelve and I know there are things much worse than sugar that he could choose to hide.

He needs to know that we look because we care.

I’m not kidding myself; I know he won’t appreciate us caring.  He will be furious that we assert our right to search and seizure.  He will likely resent our infringement upon his “rights.”  I’m aware he likely won’t gain understanding until years later.

Possibly when he’s checking the room of his own child.

At least we’ll know we didn’t trust blindly.

So, what do you think we should do with the “evidence”?  We might was well have some fun with this!

The Morrow House (Unprompted Fiction)

July 17, 2014
This photo has nothing to do with the story, except that to me, rays of sun streaming through clouds IS "Hope"

This photo has nothing to do with the story, except that to me, rays of sun streaming through clouds IS “Hope”…and hope is a theme of this story.

Ashley stared at the red numbers projected onto her wall by her bedside alarm clock:  11:58.  For two nights now, the phone rang at precisely 12:15.  Each time she answered, there had been a pause and then the connection broke. Intrigued by the timing (not many people call after midnight) and the origin of the call (The Morrow House, an assisted living facility) she anticipated the shrill staccato that would disturb the gentle snoring of her beagle, Elvis.

As if sensing the internal restlessness of his motionless companion, Elvis, curled at her feet, raised his head and gave her a tilted head glance.

“Come here, boy,” she whispered.  That was enough to convince him to bathe her face in slobbery kisses before collapsing in her arms; his exposed underside the not-so-subtle invitation to rub his belly.  She didn’t know the precise moment when she became lonely enough to look forward to a late-night hang up call, but she suspected it may have been when the door clicked behind Brent as he carried the last of his belongings to his Chevy Blazer. The thought had crossed her mind to beg him to stay, but as much as she wanted to, she could sense he wanted to leave more.  So she let him go.

Six years together disappeared in two carloads.  For the first few months, Ashley expected him to come back, realizing the error in his choice.  Now, going on the fifth month, with divorce papers on her nightstand waiting on her signature, she’d learned that setting one free with the notion he’d return was just foolish hope harbored by the naiveté of a romantic heart.

She’d never make that mistake again.

The sharp ring of the phone cut through the silence, startling Ashley.  Elvis barely raised his head.

“Hello?”

“I know you’re there.  Please talk to me.”  She detected two shallow, raspy breaths that made her question her sanity.  I’m asking for trouble.

“Edith.  Is that you?”  A man asked.

Ashley let out a surprised gasp.  “My middle name is Edith.”  She rarely admitted it because, although she was named after her great-grandmother, she found it too old-fashioned.  “Who is this?”

“David.  They won’t let me come home to you.  They say this is home now.”

She remembered driving by The Morrow House and from the outside, it looked like a warm, well-kept building.

“Do they take good care of you?”

He sighed.  “I suppose.”  He dropped his voice to a whisper.  “But no one took care of the Colonel like you did.”

“What is your favorite meal?”

“Always turkey dumplings.”

“Oh, I love to make those.  Most people use chicken, but turkey adds more flavor.”  Without expecting it, she blurted another question.  “What about dessert?”

“I don’t get sweets much but if I could sneak another bite of lemon meringue pie…”  He paused.  “Someone’s coming.”

Before she could answer, the call disconnected.  In an instant she knew what she’d do.  She had recipes for turkey dumplings and lemon meringue pie, passed down in her family for generations.  “We’re going to give David a taste of home,” she said.

Elvis wasn’t impressed. Drool pooled under his loose lips and his eyes twitched beneath closed lids.

She rolled onto her side ran her fingers down his back.  It wouldn’t be long before his steady snore would lull her to sleep.

Read more…

Haiku Poem & Life (Which Is Not Always Poetic)

July 14, 2014

Wispy clouds streaked orange;

Colorful monsoon display.

Hopes for late-night rain.

Monsoon Sunset

It is monsoon time here in Arizona.  The storms can be swift, with more wind than rain, but for me, it’s always the promise of rain that makes me keep one eye on the radar.  We may not always get rain, but at least we do get some decent photo opportunities :)

Last week, I only managed to do one post, which was a story for Speakeasy.  (That story was voted 3rd place last week, so thanks to all who read it!)  It seems my week of Mondays is still going, haha!  I’ve re-installed the operating system on my computer, but still can’t get to the internet, so my Dad is going to look at it when I visit them at the end of the month.  Until then, I guess I get to buddy up with my old Vista laptop.

I didn’t mention it in my A Week of Mondays post, but that week, I also found out that my kitty, Cybil has kidney issues.  I’ve been taking her to the vet every other day for IV fluids and my husband has tried giving her pills each morning.  All this ‘treatment’ has resulted in her becoming quite suspicious of us and spending more time under our bed.  It made me wonder for whose benefit we were doing it all, and if I’m honest, I think it’s for me.  The last time I took her to the vet, I had to squirt her with water to get her to come out from under the bed.  The last time my husband tried to pill her, he wrapped her in a towel and still ended up getting bitten and she still worked the pills out.  So, as of yesterday, I’ve stopped the madness. I don’t know how long we’ll have with her, but I’d rather not put her through the stress any longer.  Maybe she will quit running under the bed whenever I come into the room.

Okay, so I’d like to move on from the depressing.  I’m working on a story that I hope to post later in the week – probably Thursday.  (Writing is a great way to keep my mind distracted!)  Speakeasy is on a summer break right now, and I don’t have the energy to figure out the combined summer grid, so for the next six weeks, I plan to write a story each week unprompted.  I thought it would be fun to write a few sentences at the end explaining the inspiration for the stories, or how the idea occurred to me.  (If no one cares, it can easily be skipped!)   I hope you’ll come back and read it.

To leave this post another positive note, I’d like to announce that we finally finished a couple of ongoing projects (last update was May 21):  our fencing is essentially complete (we still need to do a proper latch for our double-gate) and our rock trenches are DONE!  We finished them a couple weeks ago, and a recent rain confirms that they seem to be working, so far:

Rock Drainage

I hope you have a beautiful week!  If you have any thoughts on this post, or want to share something you’re looking forward to this week, or have a gripe about Monday, I hope you’ll share a comment.  I’d love to know what’s on your mind :)

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