Month: January 2013

Kitty Capers

I thought it was high time to write a little story about one of my fabulous felines. Some of you will recognize this story, but it may be new to others. Read on to find out more.
The room was plunged into complete darkness other than the street lamp outside which was tucked behind the curtain, eeking a small amount of light into the room. My husband and I were nearly asleep when we heard a strange sound like scrabbling claws on the wall. Was a cat actually bouncing off the walls? We always noted that they wanted to play when we wanted to fall asleep. I rolled onto my side and closed my eyes, ready for sleep to overtake me. I heard the sound again as light from the hallway flooded through the open door of the bedroom. A scrambling pitter-pat, then nothing. I sat up slowly, allowing my eyes to adjust to the sudden light. I stood, ambled to the doorway, and peered into the silent hall. I couldn’t find a single cat, not even one displaying the innocence of a toddler next to a puddle of spilt milk. Who had turned on the light? I knew it wasn’t my husband as he was still in bed and knew better than to interfere with my sleep.
It didn’t happen every night. It was, in fact, just as sporadic as other can behaviors because cats never want to be accused of being predictable. Whichever cat it was always waited until all the rooms were dark and I couldn’t figure out why a cat would want to turn on a light, particularly since they are considered nocturnal. Once again, cats don’t want us to presume anything about them, and this was just one of the many ways one of them was telling us this. Then one day, the cat either got sloppy or decided to reveal itself. Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows they always try to convince humans that they know exactly what they are doing. It was a cloudy day in late February and the light slipping through the windows was minimal at best. The darkness was already beginning to set in that afternoon as the days weren’t longer quite yet. I was on the phone with my mother, passing time until my husband returned from a meeting 1 ½ hours away. I heard the sound again: a light thud with scrabbling claws on painted drywall. It was coming from the hallway. I glanced to my left and from my position on the couch I saw the kitchen light come on as a small, light grey blur tore down the hall, hoping I hadn’t seen her. The sound of stampeding paws stopped as she got to the end of the hall, more than likely slipping under the bed.
Iris is a slip of a cat and barely weighed 6 pounds or so at the time of this incident. She was barely 9 months old and we had just gotten her the previous July. I had no idea she could even jump that high. I couldn’t believe she’d been the culprit the whole time. Mom was trying to figure out why I had suddenly burst into laughter in the middle of our conversation. In between giggles, I relayed what I had just seen. I’m not sure she believed it either, truth be told.
When I had Iris in for her annual checkup (she now weighs 8 pounds and still looks like a kitten), I told Dr. Kim about her little capers. She, too, thought it was humorous, not to mention unusual. She said most cats that turn on lights do so from a table or other horizontal surface, but what really challenged the vet’s knowledge of felines was this: Iris later figured out how to also turn the lights off. I would be working in the kitchen and suddenly be left in darkness with only those scrabbling claws as proof of Iris’s hand in it. But then, just seconds later, the lights would come back on and I would hear her stampeding down the hallway. Dr. Kim said she’d never heard of a cat jumping for the light switch, let alone one that could turn them on and off. Iris got so good at it she could hit the switch on the first try.
Now Iris jumps for them, but doesn’t switch them on or off as if to say, “I could still do it if I wanted to.” I don’t take my chances, though. I still work in the kitchen with the range hood light on just in case she ever decides to plunge me into darkness again. The threat still lingers each time we hear those scrabbling claws. As I mentioned earlier, cats don’t like to be predictable and I sometimes wonder if she is just waiting for the right moment, waiting for a time when I forget to turn on another light. But I’m not taking my chances.
Has something your pet does ever caught you off guard? Is there a hilarious story about your pet you would like to share? Please leave a comment below!


The Dough is Risen!

This was my first creative free write in nearly 10 years and I wrote it last fall. The topic was touch—the squish of kneading dough between your fingers, the smooth texture of it when you pat it and roll it out.
There was nothing like making bread dough to satisfy her. While most people longed for the toasty smell of it baking in the oven, she longed to relieve her stress and take all of her frustration out on the risen dough. Unlike many forms of stress relief, using risen dough requires a certain amount of patience and time since it takes over an hour to make the dough and allow it to rise. Having already done these things, she was at long last able to punish the dough before her. First, she thrust her fist heavily into the bowl, feeling the dough collapse around her hand and hearing the satisfying hiss of air rushing out. But that was just the beginning. As she took in the scent of risen yeast, she mercilessly punched and punched to release every air pocket and every ounce of anger she could find. She dipped her hand into the silky flour and sprinkled it onto the table in a wide circle. Next, she forced the dough out of the bowl and into the snowy surface. She worked and worked, turning the dough and putting her soul into its kneading, adding flour when it became too sticky until finally she could run her hand over it, feeling its smooth elasticity. She viciously tore a chunk off, grabbed her rolling pin and began working the dough into an oblong shape. Placing the dough onto a pizza pan, she tugged at its stubborn edges, willing it into shape. The corners were always the trickiest part. She tore holes in the dough as she tugged in frustration, having to repair them by squishing the edges of each hole together into one piece. She carefully popped any remaining air bubbles taking in the floury scent. She could breathe again. She felt like herself again. She took the remaining chunk, this time less viciously, and began to roll it gently in the flour. This piece was not as challenging. This piece was more lovable and pliable. There were no holes torn in frustration as she worked the dough into the corners of the pan. Once finished, she slowly ran her hands under the faucet, watching the drops leave patterns on her pasty white skin as she worked to rid her hands of tenacious dough remnants.
This entry made me think of my experiences baking pizzas. I’ve sort of gotten out of baking, but my mom still loves to make pizza and bread. I don’t know if she vents to the dough as much as I used to, but it really felt great to beat the living daylights out of some dough once in a while. Perhaps, I need to make some pizza again. Are there any activities that allow you to vent frustration in unusual ways? What are they? How do you get rid of that heavy anger we all experience at times? Please leave a comment down below and tell me your stories.

Never Empty

Rather than use a prompt, I used part of a verse from scripture to write this after church one Sunday.  It is more of a devotional than a story, but it is based on the story of Elijah asking a widow for food.  She and her son are desperately poor and she was planning to take the last of her oil and flour, make a final meal, lie down and die.  Elijah speaks to her and gives her the following assurance.  Read on.

The jar will never be empty; the jug will never fail.

We seemed to be destined to live on hard times.  We were at poverty level according to state guidelines due to the fact that I couldn’t work and Allen was in a low paying job.  It was not payday yet, and the cupboards were getting bare.  I was desperate for ingredients to fix a meal.  I opened the pantry, scanning its contents carefully.  Was there more flour in my container than there was yesterday?  I couldn’t remember, but it seemed like there was.  I looked for other ingredients and found I could at least make pancakes, which was about all I had the energy for anyway.  Wait a minute—here are some canned vegetables.  I don’t remember having those in here.  Where did they come from?  Were they expired?  Nope.  They were still perfectly good.  That gave me a start for the next meal and then at long last it would be payday.  I wasn’t sure how my pantry still had these things in it.  I scratched my head, wondering if this was the work of my in-laws.  Then I remembered an Old Testament lesson: The jar will never be empty; the jug will never fail.

This lesson always speaks to me.  There have been several other times in my life when I have sworn my cupboard only had food in it due to a miracle on God’s part.  He always makes sure I have enough.  I know that fearing to lose something earthly is like tempting God to take it, but if he does, it is returned tenfold.  This doesn’t just apply to food in our cupboards.  It applies to everything he gives us.  Even the greatest loss of a life dear to you leaves something or someone in its wake.  But I digress.  Allen and I suffered a significant financial loss in October that had us pinching pennies for two months.  Though I was more worried before the loss than after, this lesson was a comfort.  Even if all I had to cook was pancakes, it was food and it was more than some others have.  But I don’t just have to have faith.  I remember that my jar has never been empty and my jug has never failed.  I have had evidence that this is true in my life.

God gave me a wonderful partner to get through these times with.  I used to live in terror of losing him, able to visualize the whole thing.  I would spend afternoons in tears over the loss I felt sure was coming.  I know that day may still come, but I am comforted by Elijah’s words to this widow.  I just need to continue to believe that the same will always be true no matter what.  God always gets me out of places where I feel I will make my last meal, lay down and die.  But I am reminded by this passage that I will always have plenty, whether I see it as plenty or not.

Have you ever wondered how you were going to get your next meal or make ends meet?  Has God rescued you in these times with a full jar and jug?  Talk about your story in the comments section.

In Search of Ilithor

The Free Write
This post is based on a free write I did earlier this month. A free write is a writing exercise where you use a pre-written prompt or personal experience and write about it for at least 10-15 minutes. This is a great way to unlock your brain if you feel creatively blocked or just to help generate ideas for whatever you might be writing. There are many websites and blogs and provide such prompts. This writing, however, was taken from a personal experience I will explain further at the end of the post. Enjoy!
The Story
Aaron had the monster in his sights as he breezed through time and space, overcoming every obstacle. He steered the ship easily around stacks of cans and small boxes. He was going to succeed this time. The endgame boss, Ilithor, slipped around the corner, dodging each missile Aaron fired from the control panel. He wasn’t going to be an easy catch. Aaron tried to steer his ship quickly around an asteroid, but the left wing clipped the giant rock. -4,000 hit points=fail. Aaron restarted his ship, again in pursuit of the scaled green, slimy Ilithor, determined this time to reduce him to mere particles among the stars. Carefully yet swiftly, he maneuvered the ship around obstacles with Ilithor locked in his sights. He fired the first missile—success! Ilithor was -1,000 hit points. Only 4,000 left to go and he still had 5 missiles. That left a little room for error but not much. Aaron locked Ilithor in his sights once again and fired. Ilithor slipped around the side of an asteroid. Epic fail! Now he only had 4 missiles. He sped his ship forward, gaining on Ilithor. He fired again. Boom! Ilithor lost another 1,000 hit points. Aaron was getting tired of messing around with this boss. He pulled out his super missile, the SP1000. He was trying to take aim, but Ilithor was moving quickly, veering from left to right and back again at a rapid pace. He whipped around the side of another asteroid and Aaron followed, setting the SP1000’s sights on Ilithor. Aaron saw his moment as the target locked and fired. The missile soared through space and blew Ilithor into millions of tiny particles. Achievement unlocked: Slimer—defeat Ilithor. Suddenly, Aaron felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked up at his mother. “Time to go, hon.” He steered the cart out to the parking lot, knowing he’d be back next week.
The Experience
While I was doing my regular grocery shopping once I saw a young man in the store who made shopping with his mother at age 10 or 11 (a ghastly thing to many boys that age) into a game. The mother would instruct him to put something in the cart and he would do so, giving himself achievement points quietly. At one point he took a corner too fast and bruised his leg, which was a loss of hit points in his words. I was so amused since I have a gamer hubby that I just had to share this story. I hope you enjoyed it! Have you ever overheard anything interesting that inspired you to write something or document the story in a journal or scrapbook? It could be your children at play or a conversation you heard in a public place. Please tell me about it in the comments section.

One Proud Auntie

Happy New Year all! My humblest apologies for not posting last week, but between the holidays and the stomach flu, the odds were against me. Here is my first post of the New Year. Enjoy!

The eldest of my niece and nephews, Garrett, is six years old and enrolled in a parochial kindergarten. As part of their Christmas program, the kids did the Christmas song from Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know the one—Christmas, Christmas time is here; Time for joy and time for cheer–in those cute little high pitched voices. My nephew got to be Alvin, the lead chipmunk, and what a darling little chipmunk he is! He had 2 speaking lines and 2 solo singing lines. Living 1 ½ hours away, I was unable to attend, but shortly after the program, I got word from my brother that it was a success. A few days later, I was finally able to see the video of his performance at our family Christmas. The house was noisy and I was watching this on a phone, so I missed quite a bit of it, but I have heard him sing the Johnny Appleseed prayer for God and family when we have family gatherings. I was curious as to how he did in front of a crowd since he’s always a willing little singer for just us. It was rather difficult to hear since the recording was made with the phone I was using to view it. It was also a distance from the performers, not to mention there were 20 or so of us gathered for Christmas and the kids were running around. Still through all that, loud, proud, and very much on pitch, I heard a voice sing, “And I still want a hula hoop!” He wasn’t quiet or bashful in the least. In fact, he was all smiles each time it was his turn to speak or sing. All I could think was, Someone inherited my genes! There may be another little performer in our midst! Excitedly, I said to my brother, “He gets it from his Auntie Marsha.” My brother lightly scoffed and then replied, “I don’t know where else it would have come from.” Greg and Amanda are not performers and I still love to do solos and duets with my husband in church. I love the accolades from an audience as much now as I did when I was young. Sometimes I feel guilty for loving it the way I do when the praise is supposed to be for God, not me. I developed a love of performing at a fairly young age and once I had more opportunities to try out for choirs and plays, I did so and often obtained a role of some sort. I thought the love of singing and performing would die with me since I don’t have children of my own. I got my interest in the arts from my Grannie. I have never particularly nudged Garrett or encouraged him to sing, but I am proud nonetheless. I was so filled with joy and told him what a great job he did. Not many kids his age are brave enough to do that, much less able to do it well and on pitch. They picked the right kid for the job and I was told that several of the parents there said Garrett stole the show. I think so, too, not that I am biased or anything.

Have any of the kids in your life done something that just made you burst with pride? Please share in the comments section. It can be anything, even their first word or first step. Just share what the kids you love do to make you proud and happy to be a part of their lives.