Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dogs and Cats and Teddy Bears...Oh My!

Today is a mish-mash of various animals, the living and the stuffed.

This is my friend Alessa's dog Scully. She's a doll. Real sweet dog who loves to jump up on you when you walk in the door.

This is Alessa's other dog, Duncan. I took the two of them out to run one day and could not get him to sit still for a photo. So, here he is bringing a tennis ball back for me to throw again...and again...and again...

Today was windy as heck, but Muffin and Tango managed to get a bit of sun. They don't usually sit this close to each other, so I just had to snap a quick photo. This side of the house doesn't get as much wind, so Muffin, who HATES the wind, likes to sit up against the wall in the sunshine. The spot Tango is in is actually one of Muff's many nests..she tends to follow the sun. (Notice the look she's giving him.)

This is my teddy bear, Fudge Brownie. (Even as a kid, my chocoholic side was quite obvious.) I've had her since the age of 2, so she's's about 37-years-old. My mom and dad had a slightly violent relationship during their marriage, and we (mom and us kids) sometimes spent the night at a hotel. On one of those nights, I forgot whatever doll or stuffed animal I usually hung on to and cried like crazy. So, we stopped at some drug store or some such, and they had a shelf full of these teddy bears with little yellow ribbons around their necks.

Well, all these years later and the yellow ribbon is barely hanging on, the "hands" have had to be folded down and sewn due to holes, fur is missing, the nose is actually the end of a sock that was used to replace it (and it's even stitched), the music box that was inside broke at some point and was removed, there are various stitches all over her....and yet I still hold on to her. I don't have a lot of photos or mementos from my childhood, but I still have Fudge Brownie. The hubby thinks she's kind of creepy, but I still love her. Sometimes, when I've had a bad day or just don't feel good, I still grab her and she helps me relax. (Yeah, I know. I'm 39 and should get over it. But I won't.) :-)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha (the book)

A few minutes ago I finished this book, and I felt like I had to sign on and sing its praises. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm sure it probably won't quite do the book justice.

I have read very few books that really "touch" me. This is one. Wow. What a wonderful work. As a writer, I can only dream of writing something this touching and heartfelt. It is absolutely beautiful. The images are so vivid and not once did I feel like skipping passages (unusual for me).

I've been sending books to troops overseas and donating them to the local domestic violence shelter's thrift shop, but I don't' know if I'll part with this one. I think this is one worth reading again later on.

Friday, December 26, 2008

RIP Catwoman

Sultry siren Eartha Kitt died on Christmas day at the age of 81. Besides singing the very best version of Santa Baby, she portrayed Catwoman better than anyone before or since.

When I was a kid, I'd visit my dad in Minnesota over the summer. During those visits, I'd often sit up late watching reruns of various shows, including Batman. The first time I saw Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, I was absolutely blown away. She was perfect; that purr, that kitty cat growl...absolutely purrfect.

And though Madonna did a decent cover of Santa Baby a few years ago, Eartha's will always remain the best. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Purrfect Christmas

Major and his siblings know exactly how they want to spend their Christmas; sleeping on our bed with the sun streaming in the window. Later they will get a small treat of boneless, skinless chicken breast...and maybe even a dose of catnip. Yep, a very purrfect Christmas.

I hope your Christmas, or whatever holiday you observe, is just as perfect and peaceful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sports Fan?

When it comes to sports I reckon I am almost the "typical girl." I say almost because I do know the difference between a touchdown and a home run, etc. But, I really don't know all the basics of how games are played. (Many of the general rules escape me.) For the most part, I don't watch sports, with the exception of a couple Super Bowl games. (The Super Bowl Shuffle had many of us teenagers tuning into Super Bowl XX back in 1986.) That being said, I will admit to "following" a few sports teams via their game scores on the news and getting a bit of a thrill when they win.

Having been born in St. Paul, Minnesota, I of course like to hear about the Twins (baseball) or the Vikings (football) winning a game. (Doesn't seem to happen as often as I'd like, though.) And my high school mascot was a viking as well, which I thought was kind of cool at the time. Living in North Carolina, there's the Panthers to think about. Although, I can't seem to get into them quite as much. Don't know why. Maybe they just haven't impressed me enough yet.

My husband was born and raised in Georgia, and I lived there off and on for quite a few years growing up. I've actually sat through most of a World Series game when the Atlanta Braves were playing, and I do like to hear about those underdogs winning...when they actually do. Of course, there's a bit of pride when it comes to the University of Georgia's football team, the Bulldogs (the Dawgs) and their bulldog mascot, Uga. Part of that pride is because every Uga since 1956 has come from a line owned by an attorney in Savannah, where my husband was born.

I think I may try to learn more about the why's and how-to's of football and baseball games (mostly football). I do know I would like to expand my limited sports repertoire to include hockey. That one looks exciting, if not brutal as heck. And of course my pick of teams comes about in a kind of "girly" way. I like penguins, so I'm kind of partial to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I guess it could be worse. I could have said I like them for the color of their uniforms or something.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ode to My Ginsu

Remember this little item? The original Ginsu knife? I have one and I love it. It was given to me in the late 80's by a friend's dad when I got my first place. He gave me a lot of various items for my kitchen and this was among them. (Didn't even know it was an actual Ginsu until just a couple years ago when I read the tiny writing on the blade.) This knife cuts through anything. It's great. (Although I haven't tried the beer can or wood chopping test.)

I picked my trusty knife up the other day and was dismayed to find the handle is broken at the base of the blade. It's still usable, but now every time I use it, my thumb gets scratched up. The duct tape may be coming out soon as I really HATE to toss this thing. I have decided to write a poem about it. (Don't expect much. I'm working fast here.)

Ode To My Ginsu

Oh marvelous sharp blade, how do I
part with you? How do I toss you away
after so many years? State to state, trailers
to houses, single life to marriage; you have
traveled with me every step of the way.

Oh shiny serrated edge, how do I cut
anything without you? No other knife in
the drawer will cut through a beer can,
then slice a tomato. No other knife in my
kitchen will chop wood with such ease.

Oh beautiful Ginsu, will anything ever
replace you? My utensil drawer will
forever feel empty without you.


Friday, December 19, 2008

More Cuteness

I will be pet sitting Gacie and Emma again for the next few days, and I am really looking forward to it. Mind you, getting up early during the weekend is not one of my favorite things, but when I get to their house, they are just so adorable I can't help but feel happy to be there.

Here are a few more photos of the cuties...

I love that little "look" Gracie gives you. She really knows how to use her cuteness.

This was on the first night of sitting with them. Looks like Emma is wondering where Mom and Dad are.

Emma and her "shoe."

Emma has the prettiest eyes. This picture just doesn't quite do them justice.

"OK, we're tired of pictures now. We're leaving."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Business is Off the Ground

OK, first of all, a dad update. He went to see the oncologist and they are now talking months to years instead of just weeks. He starts treatment this week, and I plan on going up to Minnesota to see him after the holidays. (Maybe I can find some good deals and stay a bit longer that way.)

So...on to the new business...

This is Emma and Gracie. (Sorry the photo is so dark.) They are the very first clients for Tri-County Critter Sitters, and how adorable they are. Emma is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Gracie is a Beagle. They are the fur babies of Stephanie and Scott Poling. (Met Steph when she joined our writers group a while back.) As soon as I brought out my camera, these two came running up and sat right down like they were posing or something. They are obviously no strangers to having their photo taken.

Emma has a couple favorite chew toys. Here she is with one that looks like a woman's high heel shoe. She carries it around, plays fetch....and takes it outside where she uses it as an excuse not to come back in. (She seems to forget where she puts it and has to run around the yard looking until she finds it.)

And Gracie is just a little bundle of cuteness. Look at those ears. What a doll. Although she does have a sneaky side. She kept trying to jump up on the couch and snuggle up with me. I have since found out they aren't allowed on the upstairs furniture. Yep, sneaky little thing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Updates and Such

My dad was released from the hospital yesterday and is now at home. They are going to do a biopsy on Wednesday. He does have a brain tumor but it's not entirely clear if it's cancer or not. For now, it's a waiting game.

So, here I am in a holding pattern basically. When we know something definite, I'll start planning a trip to Minnesota. Cancer or not, Dad will have to undergo surgery to have the tumor removed so a trip is still called for. Until then, I have a few distractions. My writers group Christmas party is tonight. We are also saying goodbye to a member/friend who is moving to Virginia, so it's kind of a bitter-sweet event. And I still have some paperwork to fill out at the bank for my business accounts. (I have my first pet-sitting job this coming weekend.)

On the cat-front, Muffin disappeared on Saturday afternoon. One minute she was in the yard, the next she was gone. Now, I know cats tend to wander sometimes, but truth is, she doesn't usually. When Sunday morning rolled around and she wasn't waiting for her breakfast, I got really worried. And as the day wore on and still no sign of her....well, my heart was breaking to say the least.

Then, Sunday evening, I decided to go check out my neighbor's basement. Chris had mentioned something about that possibility that morning, but as far as I knew she had never gone down there. Well, what the heck do I know? I walked over there, flashlight in hand, and called her name...and did the usual "kitty, kitty, kitty" thing. And sure enough, I heard a meow from the basement. I opened the door and here she came, looking at me as if I was a crazy monkey for taking so long to find her. She followed me home, ate like crazy, then proceeded to run back and forth across the porch for a good bit of the evening. I think she had a lot of pent up energy to get rid of.

Cats. Gotta love 'em.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The day started out great...

...then hit a wall.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I went to the local Register of Deeds and filed a Certificate of Assumed Name for my pet sitting business. Then, I went to the bank and opened a business account. Tri-County Critter Sitters is now up and running. (Just need to find an artist to make some changes to my logo.) I am now working for myself, and I'm thrilled and nervous as heck all at the same time.

Don't think it will be too bad. Got a pretty good boss, doesn't yell too much. ;-)

Then last night, the wall I mentioned earlier showed up. It seems my dad is in the hospital ICU. They're saying he has a brain tumor. Couldn't get too much info from my step-mom last night as she was pretty tired and distraught. Should learn more this morning. Either way, looks like I will be heading for Minnesota at some point soon.

Dad and I aren't extrememely close, but he is my dad. Over the past few years, with email and all, we've managed to keep in touch a lot more than when I was a kid. We even have some pretty good phone conversations once in a while. And he's the only parent I have left.

Right now, it's a sit and wait thing. I'm sitting and waiting for the phone to ring with some sort of news. Until then, keep good thoughts for my dad.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poem For Today

Trying to read a poem a day, along with Kathryn Stripling-Byer. I like to search for poems on the internet. There is so much poetry posted out there, and not all of it from famous poets. I'm often surprised by the gems I find.

I found this one today. It's by well-known if not famous poet Eleanor Lerman, and I really like it.


This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who say, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Little Help Here

OK, I am asking for a bit of help.

I am starting my own pet sitting business. I have found that the hardest part of the whole process is coming up with a good name. I have a few in mind, and would like your opinions.

House Paws Pet Care (or House Paws Pet Sitters or House Paws Critter Sitters)
Helping Paws Critter Sitters (or any combo like above)
Mountain Critter Sitters
Taking Care of Baby
Tri-County Critter Sitters (leaning toward this one since I will be covering 3 counties)

At one point I was thinking of Crazy Cat Lady Critter Sitters since the hubs calls me the crazy cat lady. But, I thought that might make people think I only take care of cats. Boy, would that limit my clientele.

Well, if you have an opinion, leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Time to Smile

I could use a few good laughs. How about you?

After taking a look at Vicki Lane's blog today, I decided to post some of my faves from and Enjoy.

And in honor of the upcoming holiday...

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm not a cake decorator...

...but, I do have fun. :-)

For Thanksgiving dessert, I made a cake...from a box mind you. I don't do scratch very often. Then I took some tubes of writing icing and some leftover autumn candy and went to town. (Picture's a bit dark, but at the top of the cake it says "Happy.") It's not professional by a long shot, but it made us laugh.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A Turkey Speaks

I have never understood
why anyone would
roast the turkey
and shuck the clams
and crisp the croutons
and shell the peas
and candy the sweets
and compote the cranberries
and bake the pies
and clear the table
and wash the dishes
and fall into bed
when they could sit back
and enjoy a hamburger.

~Author Unknown

I hope your thanksgiving is filled with love, good food, great friends and a whole lot of laughter.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Piano In The Woods

OK, check out this story at A perfectly good piano was found out in the woods in Massachusetts. Interesting.

When I read this report, I had more than one story idea pop into my head. What a great writing prompt to send out to my group.

It just goes to show you, no piece of fiction is ever quite as interesting or quirky as real life can sometimes be.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yet More Snow Photos and a Poem

I was trying to be all "artsy" and take a photo of my watering can (sign of spring) sitting in the snow (sign of winter), when Tango decided he needed to be in the picture. I think he just looked at the pristine patch of snow, with not a single footprint in it, and figured he needed to "fix" that.

This is one of my little garden art thingies. It's solar powered and glows at night. And, it's a cat, so of course I had to have it.

This is another one of my garden art objects. I love how peaceful this statue/bird feeder looks...even more so with the snow covering it.

Dust of Snow
By Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

(I love snow and Robert Frost poems.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

And Yet More Snow!!!

We have a bit over two inches of snow on the ground right now. I think I mentioned earlier in the week how much I love snow. If I didn't...well, I really LOVE snow. :-)

The cat I have taken to calling Drifter on the other hand doesn't look too happy about this whole snow thing. (BTW: She's letting me get a bit closer, but still not quite close enough to touch.)

And my neighbor's cat Tango doesn't look too thrilled either. Note the scratch on his nose. He and Drifter tend to get into fights that I have to go out and stop, and his nose is the spot that usually takes the brunt of it. (The fights are getting fewer. Maybe they're finally getting used to each other.)

The yard is covered...

The driveway is covered...

And since the cover to my swing was destroyed by high winds a couple months ago, the swing is covered as well.

I still love snow......

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Snow! YIPPEE!!

I love snow! I LOVE snow!! I LOVE SNOW!!!

Did I mention that I love snow?!?!

I got up at 4am as usual, and there was a very, very light dusting of snow on the ground. A little more snow has been added here and there, so there is just a bit more on the ground now.

Would love to see more snow on the ground, but I'm happy with what we have. I love snow. (Did I say that already?) :-)

Muffin, on the other hand, was not a very happy camper. She followed me out into the yard and then sat staring at me with that wonderful glare of hers, alternately lifting each front paw from the cold ground. Told her it was her own fault for following me, but you know how cats are.

The not quite 30 degree weather plus the snow plus the wonderful smell coming from my neighbor's wood stove...What a beautiful day it is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We've come a long way, Baby.

And it's about darn time.

In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that long ago when signs like this were a common thing in the south. My mother was born and raised in this type of environment, and many members of her family are still of this mindset, but thankfully Mom never was. She and I may not have gotten along at times, but because of her I have never felt this type of thing was right. Thanks Mom.

And now we have elected our first African-American president. Yes, we have come a long way, and hopefully the future will remain as bright as it looks right now.

Another good thing...the political phone calls are now over.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No Election Talk

"I'm Susan Bell and I approve this blog."

I am TIRED of election talk, so even though today is election day, we're steering clear of that.

This is the latest addition to my zoo. I think it's a girl. She(?) doesn't get close enough for me to check. Tango, my neighbor's cat, is constantly fussing with her. You can often hear them on my porch "talking" in loud voices.

Drifter, as I have taken to calling her for lack of a better name, used to be so beautiful. But, numerous fights have taken their toll. One day, Tango showed up with a few small scratches, including one across his nose that has left a scar. The same day, Drifter appeared in my yard with the tip of one of her ears missing. Since a lot of their contact with each other happens when she comes up on my porch to "steal" food from Tango and Muffin, I try to put food out for her in the little window of our shed. Works most of the time.

And Muffin continues to do such odd and interesting things. We had placed these boxes on the porch to throw away. She adopted them. When she wanted to get away from Tango, she'd run into one of the boxes. One day when it was a bit windy and cold, I put one box on top of the other, and Chris pulled a blanket we had on the porch for her part way into it. Viola!! She loves to sneak in there and hide.

Ah, cats. They help keep my life interesting.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I love Halloween. I love to read scary stories and watch them on TV. (Not gory...scary. There is a difference.) As I write this, I am watching a marathon of Ghost Hunters on SciFi. Love that show. My ultimate dream is to one day go on an actual ghost hunt myself. There's a house down the road from me I'd like to spend the night in, with digital voice recorder and video camera handy. (If I ever manage to arrange this, I'll definitely post about it here.)

And not everything Halloween is scary. Take Jack-O-Lanterns for instance. People come up with the craziest designs.

You can go to any search engine and run a search for jack-o-lanterns, and you'd be surprised what you find. There are some people out there with a lot of talent...and a lot of time on their hands obviously.

And all time favorite ghost photo. I saw this one in a book when I was a kid and have been hooked on ghost stories and such ever since.

This is the 'Brown Lady' who haunts Raynham Hall in England, taken in 1936.