It’s your turn now: for this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue. What do they say to each other?

Trail and Vet 006Trail and Vet 002

A conversation ensues between bike and board…

“I’m here, can you feel me?”

Why, yes, I can.


The board engages the trail…

“Will you hold us together for this bike?”

Why, yes, I will.


The trail talks to the tree…

“Are you able to show the way?”

No doubt, able I am.

 Flattery is like chewing gum. Enjoy it but don’t swallow it.

~Hank Ketcham~

I do believe Gibbs has swallowed his gum several times. He’s the attention-seeking one…the social butterfly…the one who always hears, “He’s such a beautiful cat.” He knows flattery. And, at times, it’s gone to his little gray cranium.

Not today, though.

It was the Annual Trip to the Vet Day(or Two Howling Cats Day)

Trail and Vet 016

There was no flattery in this. Only humility and a veterinarian who said he needs to play more and eat less.

Ziva thought it funny until he said the same about her.

She was not amused on the way home.

Trail and Vet 017


Ziva doesn’t care about flattery or gum.

A basket, food, a face rub and sleep count as necessities for a queen.

Gibbs, on the other hand…his chewing gum will be on the bed post until the next person says, “He’s such a beautiful cat!”

He lays quiet, waiting…

In my dreams, I envision a place.


This is the place of my dreams, but it is not

I do not want to be here, in the countryside

Green pastures are of no use to me

My dreams

they are of family

Wanting to be with family

Walking barefoot through the garden

Watching the men spread asphalt in the alley

The smell of wine coming from the basement

The smell of a German mother’s cooking

emanating from the kitchen

My brothers and sisters are there

Are you my sister Jean?

I miss you

I miss my family

That is where my dreams long to be

How did I get in this green pasture?

I don’t understand

Take me home

to the city

to the family dwelling

a set of steep stairs lead to the second floor

next to the railroad tracks

My brother and sisters are there

Why am I in this green pasture?

I want to go home

This nice young lady will take me home

What is your name?

Who are you?

Are you my sister Jean?

I miss you

I miss my family

Green pastures, they are of no use to me

Much like my eyes and ears

They do not bring me life

They do not bring solace

I search for my family, in my dreams

and when I wake

I find them

They are here

Green pastures are gone

If you are an artist, an art lover, enamored with cows, don’t care about art or cry over Van Gogh, you may want to check out artist Louise Fletcher’s most recent blog post, “What is Art?”


After living in the U.S. for many years, Louise is now living in the Yorkshire Dales. It has inspired this talented artist to draw the surrounding landscape and the most wonderful, emotive cows.

Take a few minutes to visit her blog or Facebook page. You won’t regret it.

  1. fray2/frā/

  1. a situation of intense activity, typically one incorporating an element of aggression or competition.


Natasha Weather

Every time the mountain bike has come out of the garage this summer, it’s been an adventure – new trails found; a battle with mosquitoes and soft sand; searching for the trail head; pedaling more miles than thought possible; enjoying views of blue water and majestic oak; hurting in places one would rather not hurt.

None of the adventures, though, compare in intensity to the evening this photo was taken. Natasha and I left in sun, enjoying the warm weather and wooded trail to Arrowhead Park. Unfortunately, the stormy skies appeared when we were furthest from home. It looked ugly, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees and the wind was on the verge of wickedness.

Time to burn rubber.

Fortunately, we made it home without significant drenching, a lightning strike, or a wind-blown trip to Kansas. In the last stretch toward home, I picked up speed, put my head down and let the bike fly (as much as my legs would let it fly). First one home! Eat my dust spray Natasha!

Natasha tells me I’m a bit competitive.

Really? I was simply trying to stay dry…


Between the effects of going back to work (which equals nine hours away from home each day), putting in a few volunteer hours, and a couple of evenings filled with things to do, there has been no time to write a post. Tonight is no exception as I head to an appointment with the “this-is-not-your-little-sister’s-feel-good” massage therapist.

So, with the use of a forgotten photo from a few weeks ago, I simply pose a question…

What does this sign say to you?

(Help me with this. I am drawing a blank.)

No, it’s not the end of MJM or cat pictures or mom stories.

It’s the end of vacation. Boo.

I have not set foot in my office since August 7th. I will be returning tomorrow, August 18th. Boo.

During this time away, I spent time with family, baked bread, stole away for bike rides, hit the pool at the gym, visited with a few friends, went to the Michigan State Fair and tried to relax.

On Monday, relaxation is over. Boo.

On the upside, I have a few photos from the week, most of them from the area bike trails. I may have mentioned this before: We really have very scenic walking/bike trails locally and statewide. Natasha, the neighbor and I have been discovering a few this summer and Saturday was no exception. Natasha and I took a 90 minute drive to go biking and buy bacon from a well-known business in northern Wisconsin. Score on both accounts.

For your viewing pleasure and as a way for me to relive this past week, here are a few photos that tell the vacation story.

Family Etc 033 Family Etc 046

August 9th. Newport Beach State Park, Door County Peninsula – A lovely five and half mile hike with brother and his girlfriend. Beautiful day!

Family Etc 049

One of the relaxation moments of the week. Wine. Nectar of the relaxation gods.

Trail 007 (1) Trail 007 (4)

August 13th. Wiouwash State Trail. It was me, a few other bikers, a few horses, horse apples and a nice view.

Bo BST Escanaba 081414 060 Bo BST Escanaba 081414 084

August 14th. Upper Michigan State Fair. Cows, pigs, deep-fried Oreos, rides that make me sick, and Blood, Sweat & Tears (feat. Bo Bice).

Mountain Bay Trail 003 Mountain Bay Trail 011

August 16th. Mountain Bay State Trail, near Wausau, WI.  A leisurely afternoon of biking and bacon procurement. Mountain Bay is a trail worth a return trip to view leaf colors in the fall and extend biking season just a bit longer.

The End.

Readers, have you had a good season thus far? Any fun vacations to report?


No, no, no. Not again. Hasn’t she received enough publicity lately?

Click here if you have had enough of this creature and want to view other silhouettes.

The Manifesto of a Queen

ziva 001

I bear the burden of being a cat. And a Queen no less.

The human calls me Diva.

My soul stirs, it longs to be free. Free from the confines of this dwelling. Free from the darkness. Free from dry kibble. I have never understood the dry kibble. It is so…dry. I only crunch this hard tack to stay strong. Where is the moistness of the food that humans eat or the moistness of the treats that humans use to taunt? I love those treats and, yet, the human gives them out as if they were nuggets of gold, obtained from the cache of royal assets. Human shares pieces of smelly bird with the gray hunter, but I demand better.

I demand moistness, I demand treats.

Yes, as usual, the human ignores me…another part of this dark life I do not understand. Why does human get to choose when she pays attention to the Queen? Most days, she runs out the door very early while barely remembering to feed me and the gray one. Human says goodbye to the other human, but rarely to me. Could human at least bow to me before she leaves? No, she cannot. Human stays away until late afternoon, leaving me with the other human who makes me follow stupid rules and dangles string and fake mice (I know they are fake, I’m not stupid) in front of my nose.

Get that away from me! I’m going to keep batting that string away until you go away!

The human returns to the dwelling and still refuses to bow. Instead, she coos at me and the gray hunter. “Hi babies! How are my babies? Are you hungry? Did you miss me?” Well, yes, yes and maybe. I’m as good as a Queen can be when her servant abandons her all day. I’ve had a hard day of dangling string, long naps, bird watching, long naps, pooping, and long naps. I may have even puked a little on the carpet. Yes, I am hungry. Yes, I missed you but only because you were not here to serve me.

Serve my supper or I shall have you beheaded.

Good help is hard to find. Why did I not end up at the rich couple’s dwelling? A place where I would be eternally pampered and wear a crown? Where I would have my own room, my own fluffy bed, and eat moist food from a crystal bowl? Where no one would dangle string and allow me to sleep my life away? Instead, I am the last thought of this human as she scrutinizes all of the wenches at the shelter before she picks me. How did she not know I am the Queen?

I live a life of darkness and hardship with the gray hunter, human. Thank you very much.

She ignores me again and refuses to bow. I’m not sure I can bear this.

Human ends the day with the nail clippers. She knows that I do not like to be clipped, but today she paid no mind. I am yelling at human. Yelling! Human pays no mind. I do not like anyone touching my feet or clipping my sharp needle claws. I love the needles. They dig better into the cardboard object that human has placed on the floor and that, in turn, elicits “good girl” from her mouth. Why do I not get a “good girl” when I have the same positive results from the gold-colored chair? It’s gold…the color of a Queen! Why am I not allowed to make my mark upon it? I do not get it. More stupid, nonsensical human rules.

Just wait, human, I am going to regrow my sharp needles and stick them in your thigh.

I pray to be rescued from this dark place of a Diva. All of human’s belly rubs, cuddles and cooing will not change this angst. The incessant purring and talking is done merely to keep human off guard. I lay next to her to give human a false sense of security. She knows not of my plan to escape…to be free. I shall find the rich couple and eat from the crystal bowl. I shall be Queen of my domain. I shall rule the earth.

Yes, human, some day you will be my servant. You will bow to me.

As soon as I take another long nap.



I’m expecting the ghost of Marlin Perkins to show up, standing in the open field, sharing his knowledge on the migratory path of Canadian geese.

For those of you who do not know Marlin Perkins, he was the host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for 22 years, through 1985. This television show was Animal Planet before Animal Planet existed. Every week, Marlin would be holding a baby tiger, wrestling a snake, or discussing the reeducation of once-captive chimpanzees.

Yes, Marlin was quite the zoologist.

A little over a week ago, I published a post about Gibbs the cat and his fixation over the birds outside the windows of the apartment. Gibbs and his sister have been quite entertained, to say the least, by the Aves and Neornithes. I have found a very temporary solution to keep Gibbs from breaking through the screen of the window, but nothing to end the consistent stare and readied stance of the great gray hunter.

It’s no wonder, really. We are surrounded by a cageless aviary.

Case in point: This past Friday morning, Natasha and I were both awakened by the crow alarm. Caw, caw, caw! Two crows communicating with one another very early in the morning. Caw, caw, caw! Shut up, will you? Caw, caw, caw! Excuse me, but I am on vacation and trying to sleep. Caw, caw, caw! Grrrrr. Okay, okay, I’m up. Are you happy now? Silence. Dang crows. Oh never mind, I’ll pour a cup of coffee and watch Natasha make her green smoothie while Marlin tells us all about the crows.

Crows are members of a widely distributed genus of birds, Corvus, in the family Corvidae. Crows are believed to have evolved in central Asia and radiated out into North America, Africa, Europe and Australia. Corvus species are all black or black with little white or grey plumage. They are stout with strong bills and legs. There is limited sexual dimorphism

Okay Marlin (a/k/a Wikipedia), time to move on. This is a clean blog page.

Back to the cageless aviary and the call of the Sandhill Crane. Natasha and I hear the sound every day and Friday was no exception. When I first moved into my current digs, I thought Toucan Sam or a species of Amazonian jungle bird had escaped and was sitting in a tree, calling to their lost world. Close your eyes and take a listen. For those readers who have not heard this call, let me know what it sounds like, in your opinion.

I have seen Sandhill Cranes out in the fields, but had never heard their call this close or this often. Marlin Wikipedia, what does it sound like to you?

These cranes frequently give a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style “r” rolled in the throat, and they can be heard from a long distance. Mated pairs of cranes engage in “unison calling.” The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every one from the male.

Trumpets? I think it sounds like the jungle. I wonder what the various robins, blue jays, sparrows, wrens, cardinals and other assorted birds from the surrounding trees think of the trumpets in the field. Or are they too busy to care, partaking instead in an evil harassment of Gibbs from outside the bedroom window? Natasha tells me, “Just wait. Wait until the geese start to migrate south.” Yes, we also have geese in the field across from our apartment. A flock of Canadians flew low between the buildings on Friday, a descent into their wayside, to join up with the trumpets.

That’s the sound of two geese. Natasha tells me that in the fall, there are hundreds of geese in the field. Natasha says the noise can be deafening.

Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn.

Oh shut up, Marlin Wikipedia. I know autumn is right around the bend. I know the geese will be here soon. They will come to the field to eat, poop and rest, and then be on their way to the Horicon Marsh to join their brothers and sisters in a journey to where I want to be in the middle of January.

For here and now, this is the torment of Gibbs and Ziva – the cageless aviary. This is the 5:30 am alarm clock. This is the shadow that dances off the bedroom window. This is the songbird musical. This is the jungle, the sounding trumpets, the honk of changing seasons.

This is Wild Birdom.

One can find texture in many places.

While contemplating a nap before dinner with family, I found it in a sleeping cat’s belly.


Soft, silky, furry, going-every-which-way textural shades of gray.

Move over, Ziva darling, I want to nap too.


Upward Facing Dog

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


On the eve of a visit from the brother and girlfriend, before I take a respite from blogging for a few days, let’s all relax and practice a little yoga. I’m wondering if I can teach Gibbs how to do this…

Originally posted on The End:

This is just something I cannot resist sharing with you, Gentle Reader. OK, so we all remember when I fell for that watch-what-happens-when-two-strangers-meet-and-kiss video that turned out to be a slick production for an ad campaign. (If you are the one earthling who missed that viral outbreak, click here.)

And it may well be that the following is yet more slickness. But I don’t care. It made my day and if you haven’t yet seen this then I hope it makes your day, too. So without any further ado, I give you Nic & Pancho!

Nic + Pancho have their own YouTube channel (with more yoga vids) here.

And Nic Bello (whom you may already have suspected of living in Los Angeles) can be found at

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