El Gato Diablo. Or, The Devil Cat.

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

After having a particularly bad week with our four-month old cat, Chance, I requested that our blog group write about something they really love that others can’t relate to.

They used to be buddies. What happened?
They used to be buddies. What happened?

I’m fairly certain I’m the only one on Team Chance. My husband barely tolerates him. The guinea pig is frightened of him, and the dog? The dog emits a warning growl at Chance whenever he gets too close. The boys love him, but even they have their limits.

My friends say Chance is “evil”. Even the friend of mine who entrusted me with Chance when he was just a tiny little guy, no bigger than the palm of my hand, wonders what the hell happened to the sweet boy she remembers from just a few short months ago.

I don’t have an easy answer, because I don’t know.

I have deep-tissue pain in my left thumb, due to the constant syringe feedings when Chance was tiny. With every feeding, I held him a ton. So did the rest of my family. We cuddled up with him, he burrowed into our t-shirts or blankets. He was never neglected. I wanted to make sure I’d have a friendly, cuddly, wants-to-be-held kind of cat, you know?

And Chance was like that, for a while. Then he started to grow. Everything became an instant toy for him. Our feet. Our hands. I’ve read the online articles regarding training. We have plenty of toys to use as a substitute for our body parts, but Chance doesn’t care. My husband jokes that Chance has had his first taste for blood, and there’s no turning back!

When he was sweet.
When he was sweet.

Of course, I have a million excuses for him. I believe some of them to be true. He was an orphan, found at two days old. Most kittens have a momma cat to show them the ropes on how to behave when they are tiny, and who has Chance had? Well, me, sure. But he also has two rambunctious, rowdy boys who love to chase and play, and Chance gives back just as much as he gets! In some respects, he behaves more like a puppy than a kitten. He gives us “love nips”. Yes, that’s what I call them. Laugh if you must. The bites are playful, and nothing is safe. Ears. Noses. Chins.

He’s also a farm cat. There’s a strong domineering personality that surrounds Chance. Men and boys are adversaries. He attacks my husband’s feet and will keep coming back for more, even when we’ve told him NO firmly and he walks away. Yes, he listens, believe it or not, but a few seconds later he’s right back where he started. If my youngest sits at the table with his legs dangling around, Chance sees this as an opportunity for play. My youngest does not. It’s hard to explain to my kids how play fighting with Chance when it’s convenient for them using hands and feet is asking for trouble down the road. It’s cute now, but it won’t be cute when Chance is a 15-lb full-grown cat! I re-direct them into using cat toys, but it’s not the same for them, or for Chance. I swear, I feel like I’m raising three children!

The dog adored Chance, before Chance started to pounce and bite and behave obnoxiously, and the dog is no spring chicken. He’s 13-years old and wants none of it. He’s turned into a grumpy old man and can’t deal with any young whippersnappers.

I love Chance, despite the troubles. I see the good in him. He uses his litter box. He listens to me, for the most part, as much as any cat listens to their owners. He is very affectionate and loves to cuddle (primarily with me). He allows us to pick him up and hold him. The vet office doesn’t refer to him as “the little shit”, like they used to with my other cat, Tank. Chance behaves well and even takes his shots like a pro. And when the dog gives that warning growl, Chance will either walk away or lie down with his tummy front and center, showcasing his submissiveness to the situation. He’s no fool.

I really wish others could see what I see. Chance isn’t evil. He’s a baby who is still learning. I truly believe he will be an awesome cat when his kitten years are said and done, we just need to be more patient with him. If all else fails, though, don’t be surprised if you see me and my family on the next My Cat From Hell episode. We may need to get Jackson Galaxy up in here.

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Book Review: Sue Watson’s Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake

My book review for Chick Lit Central:

The Angel sisters are as different as night and day. Sam is down-to-earth and believes in working hard to achieve her dreams. Tamsin has a maid for that. Sam owns her own bakery and puts in long hours. Tamsin has top-notch chefs on speed-dial. While one wouldn’t be caught dead in anything without a designer label, the other wears overalls and prefers to walk in flip flops, even in the winter. It’s truly bizarre that these two come from the same gene pool, let alone had the same upbringing.

Tamsin didn’t start out pampered and pristine. Both women saw the same dark childhood and dealt with skeletons in their family’s closet, although Tamsin bore the brunt of it. For most of her life, she’s been trying to run away from the past. When her husband suddenly disappears without a trace, leaving her thousands in debt and without a penny to her name, she turns to Sam for help. Sam has her own heartache, having lost her husband too young and raising a son alone. She has a hard time letting go of what was and embracing the future. The Angel sisters hold onto one another for dear life, weathering the storms and finding their way through tragedy, and healing.

I’ve read nearly all of Sue Watson’s books, and Snow Angels, Secrets, and Christmas Cake is by far the most touching and engrossing I’ve had the privilege to review. It wouldn’t be a Watson book without her signature humor, and you get that in spades. New, though, are the deeper elements, the story line that really humanizes the characters. Sam and Tamsin are very flawed and very real, each dealing with their own conflicts and painful pasts, and each showcasing the ability to grow. Towards the end of the book, there is a surprise, and I won’t lie; I got a little teary-eyed, which isn’t like me. I’m not one to get sentimental while reading a book, but I did with this one.

Don’t let the wet eyes fool you, though. There are a lot of funny scenes, especially with Tamsin and a potential love interest. Lots of zany, interesting characters who provide the comic relief, balancing the emotion in this book to perfection. When I said you’d get Watson’s signature humor, I wasn’t kidding. A must-read for the holidays!

Confessions of the Sausage Queen: Book Review

My review for Chick Lit Central:

I wasn’t sure what I’d find when delving into Confessions of the Sausage Queen. It’s hard to fathom a story that centers around meat products. From page one, however, I discovered a storyline that offers up kitschy small-town ambiance with big time laughs! It’s told from Mandy Minhouser’s perspective, a woman who is blunt and holds nothing back. You feel as though she’s sitting right next to you, filling you in on all the latest gossip and scandal in her little town of Kassenburg. It’s all about dishing the dirt and taking names!

When Big BIll Ludowski dies from a sudden heart attack, the town is in an uproar. Big Bill and Mandy’s grandmother, Gran Lila, had been as Mandy puts it, “doing their best Adam and Eve imitation” under hydrangea bushes, which led to his demise. Gran was Big Bill’s mistress and had been for many years. It’s no big secret to Kassenburg about the affair, but when Big Bill leaves his sausage factory the Big and Tasty in the hands of Mandy and Gran, all hell breaks loose, especially for Big Bill’s estranged overbearing widow and emotionally stunted grandson, Hughes. Hughes is currently running the sausage factory and doesn’t take kindly to having to take orders from anyone, especially from newly appointed CEO Mandy.

What happens next is a roller coaster ride of drama, chaos, kidnappings and debauchery. Hughes will stop at nothing to keep Mandy and Gran from touching his sausage (no pun intended), and although Mandy has no clue how to run a factory, she’s won’t allow Hughes to run the Big and Tasty into the ground.

What I liked most of all are the characters Ute Carbone has created, allowing them to weave their way in and become unforgettable. Mandy’s sister Mindy reminds me a lot of my own sister. There’s sibling rivalry and an “if she can do it, I can do it too” mentality. Randy, Mandy’s husband is down-home and organic, throwing her chocolate pie looks (code for bedroom eyes) which had undoubtedly led to their son, Sammy, who they’ve nicknamed Hammy. You’ve got Mindy’s cop husband who knows how to pick locks because he hadn’t always started out on the straight and narrow, and Mandy’s office manager at the Big and Tasty paints murals on walls that replicate the Sistine Chapel, all while wearing extravagant outfits fit for a queen. He’s pretty that way. They are all lending comic relief and support to Mandy while she’s working hard at being the best CEO of a sausage plant that she can be, besting Hughes and taking him down one metaphoric punch at a time.

If you’re looking for fun, do like Gran Lila would: drink some margaritas, eat a few cookies, and settle in with this book. Get acquainted with Kassenburg and the Big and Tasty crew!

 

Being A Grown-Up

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs out there. I’ve heard mostly all of my parental unit friends tell me this. I read about it through various blogs online, and there are a plethora of books written on the subject, but I’ve decided there’s something even harder than being a parent.

Being a grown-up.

I’m sitting in the Charleston, SC airport. A large group of travelers gone, it’s just me and one of my son’s spiral pad notebooks, and a pen I confiscated from my financial institution back home in Omaha, NE.  I could grab a drink. I am seated in the booze section, blocked off by iron bars and beer stains on the carpet, but I don’t want to. Not even with the cool new $40 that burns a hole in my coat pocket. I need the tables the booze section provides, and the solitude. I feel like writing.

I’m not here for leisure. I’ve heard how phenomenal Charleston is, but I won’t know of it. I flew into town with my son at my side, and now he’s no longer with me. His dad picked him up. My ex-husband. He met us here at the airport, and after a quick bite to eat they both waved goodbye and went on their way. Meanwhile, I have more than two hours here in Charleston, and after flying to Charlotte, NC I will have a three hour layover before I can fly home.

Why am I doing this? Well, for this guy, right here:

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His dad is getting married this weekend, and the kid is the ringbearer for the big day. A pretty important job in a wedding, if you ask me, but of course there’s always the bigger picture. My kid, or should I say our kid, wants to be a part of his dad’s special day. Which is why I escorted him. There were other plans on how to get him out to Charleston, plans that originally never included me. But for various reasons that I’ve had to come to terms with and deal with, it’s me who flew him out.

The thing is, while having lunch with the kid and his father, I realized something. Yeah, it sucks. Having to fly four flights after waking up at 3:30am and having an arrival time of 10pm back home, well, it plain old sucks. There was a mad dash in Charlotte to even make the connecting flight to get the kid in Charleston on time, because a flight attendant back in Omaha never showed up, leaving our flight crew one member short and delaying the whole operation nearly an hour. We had to run from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other and just barely made the flight.

But what I realize is, my son, our son, is so happy. He’s happy to be here, and spending time with his dad. His face was practically beaming the whole morning and I got to be a part of that. I helped to make that happen. I got to ride on the plane with the kid, and have some great conversations with him. We spent quality time together, laughing a lot and sharing inside jokes. Those moments are priceless to me! On top of all of that, I made sure he got to Charleston safely, and that was my primary objective.

Maybe he won’t think much of me while he’s spending time with his dad or understands what I did for him, and that’s okay. He’s reveling in time he normally doesn’t have with his father. But I bet he’ll remember this when he’s older. How kick-ass his mom was, flying him out for his dad’s nuptials. Who does that?

This kick-ass mom, right here:

kick a

Being a grown-up is hard, man. Sometimes you have to do crazy things you really don’t want to do, or you are put in a situation where the only options available to you are the ones where you have to rise above the chaos. I’m trying to be a grown-up. For my kids. For myself. Making tough choices and finding the silver lining. It’s what life is all about.

Time for me to head to the gate… best wishes to my ex this weekend (and thanks again for the $40). And to my son (our son): I hope you have a great time with your dad over the holidays, Bug. You deserve it!

 

There Goes My Hero

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week’s topic, Denise chose: Is there a celebrity scandal that would really upset you, simply because you love that celebrity/hold him or her in high esteem? Has it already happened? If there’s no celebrity, is there a person in your real life like that?

Her pick was inspired by the recent developments surrounding Bill Cosby.

Usually, I don’t glamorize or hold celebrities in high regard. This stems from an encounter with someone famous, who was not very gracious but very drunk and obnoxious instead. I was fourteen at the time and saw right through him. I figured out at a young age that other than fame, fortune and entourages, celebrities are still like the rest of us, and in some cases, bigger assholes.

Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the occasional crush or that I don’t look up to a celebrity. I’m only human, after all. Although not laminated, I still have my celebrity list (you know the one) and I also hold plenty of athletes in high regard. They are my celebrities.

When I received Denise’s topic for this week, I immediately thought of Lance Armstrong. A hero to many, I think the whole world was in shock when it was discovered he had doped up while competing. He lied. He said he’d never done it, he said he’d never do it, yet he did.  It felt as though none of his wins were valid or real and I took it to heart. I am an athlete, and he was someone I looked up to. While I was saddened to discover the truth, it didn’t completely surprise me. Lance was regarded as a god where sports are concerned. That’s a lot for any mere mortal to live up to, and my guess is, he didn’t want to fall from that extremely high pedestal we’d put him on.

What about Oscar Pistorius? He’s a big reason I tuned back in to the Olympics. I blogged about him. The title of my post: “This Man is my Hero”. When his girlfriend was discovered dead, the big question was: Did he do it? Although he was recently acquitted (with an appeal in motion) the verdict is still out in everyone’s mind. Even if this acquittal sticks, this will change his life and the way we see him forever.

Robin William’s death shocked the world. Not only were we in mourning over the loss of someone so fantastic, it opened our eyes more to celebrities dealing with mental illness and depression. No one will ever really know what Robin was thinking in those last moments, or what propelled him to end his own life. Along those same lines was the loss of Joan Rivers. Shortly after her death, I’d gone to the library and checked out a few books, one of them being hers. At the counter, the librarian looked at Joan’s book and sighed heavily. “So sad, what happened to her. You know, everyone knew her. She spanned so many generations! I’m in my 70’s, and I’ve known of her my whole life.” I nodded in agreement while she continued on. “I can’t believe the way the doctors were taking photos of her while she was out on the table, and their negligence.” I didn’t have much to add to that, considering I’d read the same stuff the librarian had. Such a shock and it’s still a bit of a scandal. Will the doctor’s office be liable?

Which leads me to Bill Cosby, the man who inspired the topic choice for this week. At least 26 women have come forward and declared sexual assault.  He’s never been criminally charged for anything, and it’s been years in the making. Why are these women coming forward now, after so long? I’d imagine at least one or two would have come traipsing out of the woodwork to say something, anything within this span of time, but I can’t say for sure one way or another. The truth is, I stopped reading about him. Most of it has become redundant, anyway. I figure if any wrongdoing has been found, he’ll have to pay his dues and atone for that, and maybe more so considering how the public has viewed him for decades. The family man. The lovable comedian. Another fallen celebrity.

In the end, all celebrities are human. They have their faults, their own issues. Beloved or not. Revered or not and they are capable of anything and everything, good or bad. Just like the rest of us.

The Devil’s Coach Horse. God Does Have a Sense of Humor.

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Tracey’s topic: Unimaginable.

You’d think I’d come up with something even remotely philosophical. Deep. Possibly spiritual. With a word like “unimaginable” (which means difficult to imagine or comprehend), the sky’s the limit, am I right?

Well, sure I am. Yet, the first thing that popped into my head was the image of a devil’s coach horse beetle, the nastiest bug that ever lived. It haunts my dreams with a quickness and proficiently that proves to be most alarming.

Seriously. Just posting this photo made me squeamish.

How did I discover one of nature’s little miracles? My son brought home a book from the library, a manual on insects. While he was showing me centipedes and millipedes and all sorts of creepy crawlies (I think that’s what the book was called, Creepy Crawlies) he turned the page and lo and behold, there was the devil’s coach horse. I think I remember closing my eyes and trembling a little when I saw it.

The thing is, I don’t mind bugs. Other than bees and wasps, and gigantic carpenter ants who want to share in your personal space. Seriously, I’m totally cool. But not with that thing.

Thank God I don’t live where they do (Europe). I can’t even imagine anything that looks this creepy living in the same vicinity as me, and I can’t wrap my brain around its existence. Do they really need to look like this?

I’m grimacing right now. I’m truly grimacing.

I need a moment.

 

 

 

Book Review: Waking Up Joy, by Tina Ann Forkner

As described on Goodreads:

Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…
When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.
Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright.

I enjoyed this book and had such a hard time putting it down once I got going! Read my book review and find a little joy this holiday season!

 

A Mom On The Run

Lisa Jakub

A blog about acting. And then not acting.

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