This week’s writing challenge revolves around my favorite inspiration: eavesdropping.

Following is a fictional, but somewhat true, account of eavesdropping by two felines. Names have not been changed, but liberties have been taken with the content.

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Ziva: They are talking about us again.

Gibbs: What else is new?


Ziva: Don’t you want to know what they are saying?

Gibbs: If you hear “naughty boy,” it’s not about me, I swear.


Ziva: Shush! I’m trying to listen!

Gibbs: *seemingly uninterested*


Ziva: Mom is telling the other human about how they took brandy away from another human…I think it’s HER mom…and, anyhow, mom’s mom is “madder than a wet hen!”

Gibbs: What the heck is a wet hen?


Ziva: Wet chicken.

Gibbs: *eyes dilate, ears perk, mouth drools*


Gibbs: I thought you said they were talking about us? Why didn’t you tell me they were talking about chicken?

Ziva: Ohfercryinoutloud.


Ziva: NOW they are talking about you…”He’s such a naughty boy!”

Gibbs: I swear I didn’t do it.


Ziva: Mom and the other human are talking about you getting up on the counters. “How do we keep him off?” they said. Were you up on the counters again? I told you not to go up there, it’s forbidden.

Gibbs: But there’s cool stuff up there!


Ziva: Well, naughty boy, you just made it bad for the both of us. Mom said, “They can stay in the bedroom at night, with me. Then neither one will be able to prowl and get into trouble.”

Gibbs: I swear I didn’t do anything.


Ziva: Whatever. Why can’t you be nice like me?

Gibbs: *rolls eyes*


Ziva: I AM nice. I don’t jump on the counters or forget to cover up my poop or yowl like I’m looking for a hot date at 3:00 am.

Gibbs: Whatever. Just because you feign injury to get attention.


Ziva: I am not feigning. I am limping. I can’t help it, I sprained something when you were chasing me last week.

Gibbs: Yeah, I heard the humans. “Oh, poor Ziva. What’s the matter with Ziva? Maybe she should go to the vet. Maybe we should chop off the leg.”


Ziva: They did not say that last part. You made that up.

Gibbs: So, what did the vet say? You never told me.


Ziva: I don’t remember it all, you know the car ride always upsets my cat chi.

Gibbs: God bless you.

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Ziva: You’re an idiot. Anyhow, the vet grabbed hold of my leg and pushed it this way and that, looked at my paw, and declared, “The good news is that nothing is broken. It must be a sprain. I’ll give you three days’ dose of a kitty Advil. That will help with any inflammation.” Then the human thanked her for not giving her liquid and a syringe. I don’t know what that was all about, but I’m pretty sure it was a good thing for both of us.

Gibbs: So, you’re okay?


Ziva: I still have a limp. I’m going to play it up for all it’s worth.

Gibbs: Shhhhhh…the human is walking toward the couch.


Other Human: “Oh, you  poor thing, Ziva. Poor baby.” *O.H. pets the Queen*

Ziva: Purrpurrpurrpurrpurrpurrpurrpurrpurrpurr…

Gibbs: She’s faking it.


*other human forgot to turn on her intergalactic cat translator* (tm Natasha)


Ziva: Ha! Other human doesn’t understand. Too bad for you, excellent for me.

Gibbs: Did you hear what she just said?


Ziva: No, I was reveling in my glory.

Gibbs: Mom is talking to the other human. She said, “If Ziva’s leg doesn’t improve after the pills, I might have to take her back to the vet.” Ha! So put that in your pipe and smoke it!


Ziva: You are such a juvenile. No wonder they called you Fruit Loop at the rescue shelter. Mom should have kept that name for you.

Gibbs: Okay Lady Gaga.


Ziva: At least that name has a bit of class.

Gibbs: Bizarre class. Whatever.


Ziva: Hey! I think mom is going to the kibble closet!

Gibbs: I think you are right!


Mom: “C’mon babies, it’s time to eat. Time to feed the wild beasts.”

Other Human: “So, Ziva lost some weight?”


Mom: “Yeah, two pounds.”

Other Human: “The diet must be working.”


Gibbs: Did you hear that?

Ziva: What?


Gibbs: I don’t think they can call you a 14 pound bowling ball anymore.

Ziva: Whatever.


Gibbs: Let’s cry like we’re starving!

Ziva: Like? I AM starving. Hungry as a goat.


Gibbs: You cry like a goat.

Ziva: Yeah, well your poop smells like burnt toast.


Mom to Other Human: “The kids sure are talkative tonight. What do you think they are saying?”

Gibbs and Ziva: *we will never tell*


At age 95 years and three months,

she is still breathing and enjoying a daily cocktail,

outliving her husband and

wondering why the heck I’m taking her picture with my phone.

That’s quite the achievement.

For more “mom,” check out Busted!


I received a phone call on Wednesday evening from a second shift aide at the place where mom lives. The conversation went something like this:

Hello, is this Mary?

“Yes it is.”

This is Linda from EB, where your mom lives.

“Yes? What’s up?”

I thought I should call and let you know what happened.

(Thoughts of mom falling and hurting herself immediately entered my head.)

“What happened?”

Well, I went into your mom’s room to get her ready for bed and make her nightly brandy manhattan.


Then I left her room to help other residents.


For some reason, I don’t know why, I went back to your mom’s room. There was no reason for me to do it, but I found myself back in her room. When I opened the door, I saw your mom in the other bedroom, pouring more brandy into the drink I made for her.

“Really? Ohmigosh! Mom!”

(As an aside, the “other bedroom” used to be occupied by my dad. Now, only the refrigerator and closet is utilized and the room itself stores excess furniture belonging to the owner. The door to this room is usually kept shut and only opens when it’s cocktail time. Mom is supposed to pull the call light string when she gets up to go anywhere because she is unsteady and has fallen in the past.)

Back to the conversation…

The other aide and I wondered why, on occasion, we go into your mother’s room and the door to the bedroom is ajar. We usually keep it shut. We were also recently commenting that the brandy seemed to be going down in the bottle a little too fast. Apparently, your mom likes her drinks stronger than we make them.

“So now what? How do you keep her out of the brandy?”

I took the brandy and vermouth out of the refrigerator and put it in the med room. We will continue to make her a nightly brandy manhattan and we can monitor her consumption. I’m afraid she’ll get up to walk after having a drink and fall because of too much brandy.

“Oh, I totally understand. Thank you for catching the little rapscallion watching out for mom.”

You’re welcome.

Mom was so busted.

Most likely, I will hear from her on Saturday that this aide had no right to take her brandy away. How dare she? She should bring it back!

Well, mom…when you commit the crime, you pay with time…waiting for your nightly cocktail.

(For more “mom,” see Age of Achievement.)


Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. ~Victor Hugo~

This winter, I choose to follow Victor’s words. I choose to laugh. I choose to smile through the cold, the snow, and the shortened, dark December days…to drive the blasted winter from my face.

Sunday morning brought the first signs of winter to the area.

winter Blur

Outside the apartment, a light dusting of snow covered the farmer’s field. The first snow event is always welcomed, along with the wished-for fluffy white Christmas Eve snow. The rest of the winter snow events are met with varying degrees of excitement and loathing. I love a blizzard when I can stay home from work, drink hot beverages, and watch TV all day. In contrast, I loathe a one-inch snow that greases the road and sends vehicles sliding through stop signs and into ditches.

We have had on and off snow, and parts of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin have been hammered with up to 18” of snow since Monday. It is still snowing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it appears this snow event is headed to Canada. Cold and wind will follow this storm, with highs expected in the 20’s F (or -4 to -5 Celsius) for the rest of this week and into the next. Lows will be….frigid.

The ends of my mouth are starting to turn toward the dirt. Quick! Someone tell me a joke!

How many of you had first-hand experience with the polar vortex of 2013-2014? That was fun, wasn’t it? I consistently wore long underwear under my clothes from the 1st of December to the end of March. Weeks went by with highs never making it past 20. Days went by with wind chills that even a polar bear would not enjoy. Last winter was bone-freezing, to say the least. I attempted to whine about the cold a few times until Natasha told me to stop. “For God’s sake, it’s winter in Wisconsin!” she would say. (Yeah, but THIS is like winter in Antarctica.) Nevertheless, I tried to keep my mouth shut and continued to dress in warm layers. That’s all one could do because no one could change the weather. It was out of our hands.

I think it was early fall when I first heard predictions for this winter – as cold or colder than last year, as much snow as last year, another possible polar vortex. I put my hands to my ears and sang, “La, la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you!”  (I am not a fan of the Farmer’s Almanac.) A later prediction intimated we might have a normal winter, one which I wrapped with love around my psyche for a few weeks.

Oddly enough, I don’t feel dread about the 2014-2015 winter. I am taking a positive stance this year – determined not to whine, determined not to hibernate all weekend under the blue tones of an afghan that my mother knitted years ago. I am telling myself to buck up and smile broadly. I am anxious to continue my walks outside and breathe in the crisp winter air. It IS a choice, one that I can make for myself, to stay emotionally un-battered from the season’s grumpiness.

And, really, it’s not officially winter yet. What if we have a frigid fall and a warm winter? That would make the Northern Hemisphere laugh, right?

I plan to laugh regardless.

For Victor.

For my vegan friends and followers…cover your eyes.

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Natasha and I love BACON.

Not just any kind of BACON.

It has to be Neuske’s Wild Cherrywood Uncured BACON. We are hooked on said bacon like a hungry perch on a fat and tasty nightcrawler. Oscar Mayer and other lesser brands cannot compete. It is simply the best.

In a little town called Wittenberg, about 63 miles north of the Fox Valley, there is a well-known place called Neuske’s that you can find by following the small red meat trucks that sit in various parts of town and off the interstate. Within Neuske’s, you can find various varieties of smoked meats, cheeses, condiments, candy and more smoked meats. One does not have to open the front door to smell the odor of BACON…it wafts out onto the porch and dances up the nose of its carnivorous visitors. There is no resistance as the smell encircles and pulls hard. Come inside the door!

This addiction of sorts can be blamed on Blondie, the neighbor. She started it with her “Oh-hi-I’m-your-nice-neighbor-with-a-few-strips-of-Neuske’s-BACON-for-you-to-try” evil scheme. I’m certain Blondie laughed a villain’s laugh as she strolled back to her apartment across the hall. She knew what the result would be for Natasha and I.

When the few pieces were gone, we immediately drove to the store and paid a pretty penny for a 12 ounce package of the Nectar of the Meat Gods.

When that was gone, we bought more. The BACON went well with a Saturday morning eggs-and-toast breakfast.

Back in July, when Natasha, Red and I spent a few days camping a few miles north of Wittenberg, we attempted to stop at the Neuske’s store on a Sunday afternoon to purchase more BACON. We thought it might be cheaper at the Neuske’s store than it was in the supermarket. To our dismay, the BACON store was closed. BooHoo!  Natasha and I made a pact to return on a future Saturday for a hike on the Ice Age Trail and to buy BACON. I don’t believe a month passed before we kept true to our BACON pact and we were so glad we did.


The cherrywood BACON was on sale. For cheap. Like $3.00 per pound cheap. We were paying $6.99 for 12 ounces in the supermarket, which caused us to stretch out the rations as long as possible. That is a gold pig’s price, so Natasha and I were jumping up and down over the cost of this treasure. We bought 10 pounds. Yes, 10 pounds.

We are BACON whores.

And, believe it or not, the 10 pounds of bacon ran out today, after three months, two weeks. That’s .75 pounds of bacon per week, over a 14-week period.

Stop judging. We shared the substance with Natasha’s daughter and a few worthy visitors. We had Saturday morning BACON and Sunday morning BACON and biscuit/tomato/honey BACON sandwiches and anything that tasted good with Neuske’s BACON. This morning, we made another trip to Wittenberg, for the BACON that is the object of our desire was on sale. We could not resist. BACON resistance is futile. We loaded up our baskets once again, filling an order for Red this time, and adding an extra five pounds to our stash (I told you, BACON whores). Natasha found liver pate (blech!) and, somehow, a couple of bars of coconut, salted dark chocolate also made their way out of the store.

We now have plenty of Neuske’s BACON. By my calculations, we are set until Spring of 2015.

So, bring on the winter’s cold and snow. Natasha and I won’t care as we will be nestled in our apartment for the next four months, hot beverage in hand, eating our BACON.


What does a minimalist eat for an afternoon snack?

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Would he or she eat the crunchy peanut butter?

Or just the apple?

Glorious in the sky, the moon appeared.

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The winds from earlier in the day had softened.

After a tiring day at the office, the rectangular track around the apartment complex summoned a pair of sneakers.

Saucony, size 9.


Around the buildings I walked.

While the sun set.

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I’m really not fond of the “buy this piece of property” sign that adorns the field.

This would have been a prettier photo without it.


The nostrils tingle from the cold. It’s about 47 degrees.

I attempt to clear my mind.

Lap 1 is done and the neighbor says “hello.”

He had a cold day at work, outside, in the wind.

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The moon shines bright, not quite full.

Sky begins to darken around me.

Silence hides with the sound of passing cars and a bum knee crunching.

I hit the home stretch of lap 2.

I would keep going, except I see the door to dinner and warmth.

I wonder what’s for supper.

Chicken and roasted brussel sprouts sound good.



Yes, I was Batbird for Halloween. The illegitimate daughter of Batman and an exotic, purple Amazonian bird.

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Natasha and Red were part of the bird family, although their genetic heritage is unknown. Perhaps Elvira and a cardinal had something to do with their physiques and the red feathers growing from their foreheads.

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The Halloween party was a blast, as usual. A local establishment, Waverly Beach, puts on this soiree every year, the Friday before Halloween. This year, that Friday fell on October 31st. Vic Ferrari, a well-known area band and owner of said establishment, always plays rockin’ cover songs for the crowd of dancers and for the benefit of Children’s Hospital. Waverly was filled with ghouls and goblins, cops and robbers, a case of beer (24 bottles), go-go girls, a pink dish scrubbie, scary clowns and other bird people (not from our village), to mention a few.

It’s always fun to attend for the purpose of costume watch. People can be so clever.

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They are creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky. Right Herman?

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I think the Peacock Lady and Redneck Tooth Fairy would have made a cute couple. Don’t you? (As an aside, it takes a fearless man to wear a white tutu and tights.)

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Liar, liar, pants on fire!

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23 bottles of beer on the wall, 23 bottles of beer. Take one down and pass it around…22 bottles of beer on the wall.

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Birdman and Malificent. I rubbed his feathers. She didn’t kill me.

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Why do people hate clowns? I think they’re cute.

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Throw toast! Throw toast! Miss Scrubbie will clean up later. (Obviously, the dude next to her scrubbed her the wrong way.)

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Even though Natasha and I frightened Gibbs the cat upon our return home, one of the scariest and scream-inducing sights all night had to be my hair.


It’s been a busy week.

It’s been a long Thursday.

But soon, my fellow ghouls, the fun will begin.

One more day…

and the mask goes on,

the costume goes on,

and special, sparkly, feathery shoes provide adornment to the feet.

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Scary Halloween photos to follow,

perhaps one of the scary snow that is forecast,

or the wind blowing the skirt up around my ears.

Wouldn’t THAT be frightening!?

This past Friday was pumpkin carving day. The neighbors invited us over for supper, wine, and “a go” at the big, round, orange fruit. It was a contest of who can carve better than a 5th grader. With little or no recent experience at this venture, I would say we fared pretty well. Wouldn’t you?

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The mad minion bids you hello!

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A knife and an imagination brings a frightful sight.

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The owl’s eyes glow in the night, ready to kill.

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The evil Cheshire cat welcomes you into his lair.

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The happy pumpkin wishes you a Happy Halloween.

For this week’s Photo Challenge, stimulate your creative process and imagine which of your images you would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine.


I give you an extremely non-serious novel devoted to my daily lunch. Enjoy!


Halloween 2012 

She was far too cute to stand next to the Viking Warrior Princess.

How dare she?

The little vixen fairy had to be chopped.

The Viking Warrior Princess rules.

That is all.