Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rain is the Name of the Game

It rained. And rained. And rained.

My first experience at the extravaganza better known as opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals, was certainly, well, damp. Yet despite heavy gray clouds, chilly temperatures, and pelting rain, you could still sense the energy. Fans were decked out in soggy Cardinal-printed gear ready to welcome a new season. And the weather didn't slow anyone down a bit. The party started at 10 a.m. and went on until game time at 3:15. Music played while beer flowed fast as a raging river. Grilled hot dogs could be found just about anywhere.

The biggest bummer was the weather canceled the annual appearance of the beautiful Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses. Those horses are smart...way too smart to come out in the rain. Here's a picture of what they would have looked like had the sun been shining. Biggify the picture to see a handsome dalmatian sitting next to the driver.

We certainly love our baseball in St. Louis. Where else can you find people circulating petitions to make opening day a national holiday? Even the fountains are dyed to mimic Cardinal red.

I spent opening day stuffing myself on popcorn and washing down brats with delicious $1 Hurricanes. The vendor was closing up shop and sold leftover drinks at rock bottom prices...an unexpected rainy day perk.

By the time the game began, we were shivering and soaked through. We folded our ponchos and splashed to the car. With all that pre-game excitement, who can stay and watch a ball game? Especially one played in the rain. So we found a nice warm place to sit, dry out, and enjoy the game on a big screen tv.

Would I ever go to opening day again? Absolutely. It's definitely an experience...sort of like the Woodstock of baseball. Truly far out.

P.S. The Cardinals won.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Back at the Keyboard Again!

Ta-da! We're back again! My computer has had it's brain washed, guts colonoscopied, and programs neatly reloaded. Looks like I won't have to break out the old typewriter after all. Am I ever dependent on this little old keyboard and tower. Hopefully they won't go all wonky on me again anytime soon.

Meanwhile, while I was down and out, my writing friend and critique partner, Mary Horner, tagged me in a quickie blog chain, after she was tagged by another writing buddy, Donna Volkennant. I've been asked to answer 4 questions about my writing process, then tag two other writers to do the same. I promise to make this quick and painless. After all, I only have a kabillion emails to catch up on. : )

   1.  What am I  working on?

Nothing. My computer has been on life support. I hope to get back on track after answering all those emails.

   2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I typically write personal essays and fiction. I'm not sure my work is exceptionally different from other essayists or fiction writers. I simply focus on trying to write something I think a reader would enjoy.

   3.  Why do I write what I do?

I like the digging down into the dirt of writing an essay. It's a lot like self analysis, and I always learn something. On the other hand, writing fiction is fun. You can create any world, character, or situation you want. Sort of like being God with a keyboard.

   4.  How does your writing process work?

I nearly always start with a broad outline. I need the structure, although straying in other directions if the story takes me there is okay, too. 

Done! Now I'm tagging two wonderful writer friends to carry on the chain. First, I'm tagging Becky Povich, author of From Pigtails to Chin Hairs. Her funny and poignant memoir will definitely make you smile. So will her blog.

My second tag is the incomparable Molly the Wally. I don't know any other four-footer who can write an entertaining and delightful blog post every day, not to mention all her numerous other writing credits. She's pawsitively prolific.

Here's hoping both Becky and Molly will have time to fill us in on their writing process, too.

And with that, it's off to my inbox. I'm not complaining one bit. At least now it's possible to get there.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Woe is My Computer

It seems we've inherited the insidious problem I've heard is rumbling throughout computer-land. My computer is sick. Not blue-screen-of-death sick, but definitely sick. I have a computer paramedic coming to check things out, but unfortunately not until Wednesday. Apparently my computer's need for life-support is not considered an emergency. Here's hoping all my documents and programs survive (drat my tendency to procrastinate about backing things up...grrrr!) For now I'm limping along using my old laptop and/or my iPhone to stay connected. Neither lend themselves to posts filled with pictures or heavy content. On the bright side, I do have one happy thing to report. My little guy, Indy, celebrated his 14th birthday on Sunday, March 23. He's a tough little man who's happy, loves his homemade meals, and will even play (if we don't play too hard) when I bring out the tennis ball. True he doesn't hear well and his eyes are clouded with cataracts, but Indy still enjoys life. As many of you know, when Indy was 10, the vet predicted he'd only live a few more months due to liver failure. Guess we showed her. The vet is speechless with amazement every time I call to re-fill his meds. Sometimes research, determination, and a double dose of faith are all you need to work a small miracle. My Indy boy is living proof that no matter how big a problem is, we should never give up. Happy birthday to Indy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014

I haven't a drop of Irish blood in me, yet like millions of others, that doesn't keep me from enjoying the St Patrick's Day celebration each year.

I suppose everyone's a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day, even critters. I give you Exhibits 1-5.

Top hat and tail

Rolling in clover

It ain't easy being green.

Lucky charmer

Don't tread on me

Hard hat zone

We hope the leprechauns have granted you a most delightful day. And may you find your own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It's a Little Spring Thing

Ahhhh! What feels better than napping in your very own patch of sun after months of snow, sleet, ice and sub-zero temperatures?

Today I've seen people on bicycles, jogging, or just taking a walk. We've all been housebound far too long and itching to get out and enjoy a dance with a glorious day. This one certainly fits the bill. Tomorrow we may even hit 70 degrees. H'mmm. Maybe I need to take a psychological sick day from work. After all, I am totally sick of winter.

Yet I must admit I love the seasons we have in Missouri. Christmas wouldn't be the same without (a little) snow and chilly temperatures. But just as gray begins to completely permeate my world, I start to long for the green grass and yellow tulips of spring. Then when spring gives way to the warm temperatures of summer, what fun it is to wear flip flops and shorts while sitting by the water. As the last days of summer brown both people and plants until we're brittle and dry, I dream about the crisp air and brilliant red-gold colors of fall. And of course, once those leaves have drifted to the ground, reading a good book by the fire while snowflakes swirl outside sounds like heaven. And so we begin all over again.

I'm lucky. I know I wouldn't appreciate the warmth of spring nearly as much if I hadn't spent time shivering in the frosty cold first. Guess that makes me a true "four-season" person. Or someone with multiple personality disorder. You pick.

We hope you've found your patch of sun today. Enjoy it!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Moms, Snakes, and Creativity

Yesterday I received notification that my story, An Open Minded Mom, will appear in NYBM on Being a Mom, due for release April 8. It's about what happens at our house when my son asks to get a python (yikes!) as a pet. Several of my writer gal pals' stories will also be included. How cool is that?

The NYMB series of books are sassy, funny, and highly entertaining. If you've never read them, I encourage you to check out the Publishing Syndicate for information on what titles are available for purchase. As a bonus, they're always looking for new stories. Click on the Submit Stories for Not Your Mother's Book tab to find out submission requirements and how to send them your story.

I've been thinking lately that I really need to do more things that nurture my creative side. Scrubbing toilets while contemplating new story ideas just isn't cutting it anymore. I considered my interests and wrote out a wish list which I politely handed to Hubby. What would he select? Painting? Photography? Wood carving?

Ta-da! Hubby gave me a keyboard for Christmas! It does all sorts of nifty things, but mostly I keep it on "piano" mode trying to learn what notes correspond to what keys. It's slow going as I practice, practice, practice. No one even has to nag me to do it (so far anyway).

Unfortunately, this has led to a demand request from Indy and Bogey. They've put together a wish list, too:

Thanks for the support, guys.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bogey's New Talent

Bogey has many talents.

He has the dexterity of a cat burglar and is able to open nearly any cabinet, drawer, or door. Why just yesterday, Hubby caught him standing on the counter-top microwave using his front paws to push the freezer door handle. Yep. He got it open. And here I only thought we had to worry about him getting into what's in the refrigerator.

Bogey is also a daredevil stunt performer, perfecting jumps, balancing acts, and skywalks that would put the Flying Wallendas to shame. And he doesn't work with a safety net, either. One of his favorite tricks is to leap from the toilet tank to the top of the shower rail. This allows him to easily snoopervise showers, bathroom cleaning, and hair drying.

Last weekend he stood on the shower railing and then jumped to the floor of the bathtub. He sat down in the tub and stared at me (through the frosted glass shower doors), waiting for me to open them. I decided not to obey him and see what happened. 

I watched him and he watched me with an expression that revealed nothing. We both waited. I wondered which one of us would give in first as a thin sheen of perspiration formed on my face. Perhaps I had misjudged him. Maybe Bogey really was trapped. Maybe he needed me to open that door. But then the phone rang. I ran from the bathroom to pick it up. 

Immediately, I could hear the sounds of paws banging against the shower door. No less than 10 seconds later, my tiger-striped cat zipped past me down the stairs. 

I think Bogey has added a new dimension to his repertoire. 

A talent for poker playing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Go Anywhere with Your Dog

Last month we took a long family weekend in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale was warm and inviting, a lovely respite from Missouri's brutal polar temperatures and unending snow. Spending time with family was pretty awesome, too.

Above is one of the outdoor shots I took of the famous Barrett-Jackson auction. It's the one you've probably seen on television where people who live a totally different lifestyle from mine, think nothing of bidding 1.5 million to pick up a nice vintage vehicle. We spent a lot of time checking things out.

I could go on forever describing what we saw...amazing cars, celebrities, television moments, and vendors who arrived on scene to sell anything you can imagine...yes, even pianos.

But I want to focus on something else that interested me. I've never seen so many people with dogs wearing service vests in any place I've ever been. There must have been dozens and dozens of them, each with a vest displaying tags that looked very official. Some of the dogs even wore cute little outfits along with the vest.

I asked a few different handlers whether their dogs were in training or working. Each one smiled and said their dogs were working. Several mentioned that their dog did pet therapy.

Let me tell you, no one is more a fan of making dogs welcome in all places than me, but this was a no-dogs-allowed event EXCEPT for service dogs. I didn't notice anyone checking credentials, nor did I notice any millionaires lining up for pet therapy.

Later I went on-line and discovered something. Several companies will be happy to sell service vests to anyone along with patches, ID tags that include federal regulations mandating service dog entry into any building/area, and instructions on how one can travel by air with a service dog. (The service dog apparently flies free)

The websites selling the products have a disclaimer saying they aren't a certifying agency and they do not accept responsibility for any false information supplied to get the products. They add it's fraudulent to misrepresent a dog as a service animal, yet no certifying paperwork is required to make a purchase.

I know there are plenty of folks with highly trained service dogs for a specific and necessary purpose, but Barrett-Jackson made me wonder. Could it be that some people order vests and tags just so they can take their pup wherever they go?

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of dogs and people spending time together, but something seemed a bit odd. Is it my imagination or is this a new way to travel anywhere with your dog?

Mom, I expect you to order a service vest for me immediately!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Open Letter

Dear Whomever Is Still Singing and/or Dreaming About a White Christmas,

It is now February. Please stop.

Thank you,

The Critter Alley Crew

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This Means War!

I am a peaceful person. I don't like reading or watching even fictional stories about war. But sometimes things occur and you simply have to say enough is enough.

Well, Blogger Buddies, on Saturday that's exactly what happened for me.

While making the bed I heard a faint scratching noise from outside. I couldn't see a thing through the window, so I stepped out the back door. On the corner of the rooftop I saw something hideous.

I went into the yard and found this...

and this on the other side...

Once again, some really rotten rodents (aka squirrels) have decided it would be a great idea to remodel my house for themselves. We went through this three years ago when squirrels chewed a huge hole in our soffit to build a cozy nest. This act of war resulted in the Great Squirrel Relocation Project of 2011. Looks like we're the victims of another attack, so we're on to the second World War.

As far as squirrels go, I've been live and let live. I don't care how many hang out in the yard. But taking over my house is more hospitality than I'm willing to offer.

The trap has been set and baited. I hope that dratted squirrel will be chewing on something far, far away from me and my house.

This is war, Squirrels. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Hey Mom, there's a tree rat in the back yard pointing at us and laughing.