The temperature was dropping, the water in the bowl had turned into a block of ice, and Midnight-the-Barn-Cat was looking skinnier than usual despite being fed twice a day. So, just like in my post “Cat and Mouse and Chipmunk,” I played cat and mouse–I became the cat and the cat became the mouse. Caught!
Outside, Midnight wants to be seen and acknowledged, but not picked up and pet. He’s like a tiny jaguar: prowling, pouncing, hiding and hunting. He’s a very good hunter! Inside, Midnight turns into a mush, lifting his chin for scratches, cuddling contentedly on my lap, and squeaking when he’s had enough. Purr and squeak!
Insert the mouse.
Living in an historic house, you get used to mice in the winter and insects year-round. Good thing I’m not afraid of little animals and won’t kill a spider. If the lifespan of a field mouse is a few years, then the mouse in our house should get a world record because it’s been wintering here for about eight years. When Lucy spots the mouse, she does nothing! Her nonchalance says, “Oh, it’s you again. Please, help yourself to my food,” which is why I thought bringing Midnight inside would accomplish two things: he’d warm up and the mouse would high-tail it out of here. Wrong!
I started composing a poem in my head about the dog, cat, mouse situation. I got as far as “Dog peeks, cat squeaks, and mouse sneaks.” “Can’t resist” and “coexist” were floating around along with “warm house” and “cheeky mouse,” but then…
…there was the mouse being watched over by Midnight! Caught!
Upon inspection, I couldn’t tell if the mouse was immobile because it was in shock or because it had internal injuries. There were no bite marks or scratches. My guess? Midnight thought it was a toy. Then again, he is a good hunter. I picked up the mouse, warmed it, pet it, talked to it–eyes so shiny eyes and paws so tiny–and set it free outside. Poor thing!
I thought the mouse matter was put to rest, but then…
…A DIFFERENT mouse was rooting around in Lucy’s food bowl!
The November issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine is out!
While I was doing research on classic clothes, guess what I found? Clothes that were designed for British and French militaries which became popular when soldiers returned home. Truly functional to fashionable! Camouflage is certainly a print that’s worn by U.S. soldiers and also stocked in stores. The most interesting info was how men’s watches transformed from pocket watches to wristwatches (future post for sure).
The only time I can get Midnight in the house is when I play cat and mouse with him! One of the times (there have been several) he toyed with a fledgling, I left a door open, he wandered inside and blam! I shut the door, trapping him inside. This way, when I returned the baby bird to the brush under its nest, it had a fighting chance. Hon, don’t cry, “Poor Midnight” since the cat has a dog-free zone filled with a comfy bed, scratching post, a couch, and lots of cuddles and kisses. Now, if only Midnight would get the message…
The staring contest between Lucy in Midnight is funny! I love the pics above, which show them concentrating, but with roles reversed. Lucy has accepted Midnight, chasing all other cats off the property. Isn’t that nice of her? Now, if only Midnight would get the message…
This has not been a good summer for small animals!
It seems like every few days, we come across a deceased bird or small animal! What the heck is going on?! I don’t think it’s all Midnight’s doing. I wrote this tribute to one of those sad creatures.
Do you finish one book before starting another? Clean one room before heading to the next? Eat dinner before dessert? Apparently, I’m the opposite of all that. I was picking out yarn for patterns and also looking at needlepoint canvases when someone in the yarn shop looked over her glasses and said, “You’re a work-on-a–bunch-of-projects-person.” Is that a bad thing?
It’s not just knitting and needlepoint. I work on several writing projects at a time: one manuscript might be up for review by my critique group; one manuscript might be in its infancy; one manuscript might be ready to query. And, of course, I like adding new posts to Bmore Energy.
I wasn’t always like this. Then I had triplets! If this was one of my picture book manuscripts and I had to identify the moment when the change occurred, it would have to be the day all three triplets shared a bassinet together for the first time.
Baby B left the hospital at 10 days, Baby C was released at 12 days, and Baby A stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. When Baby C came home, she was on a completely different feeding schedule than her siblings, and the first two babies weren’t thrilled about the new face. (The sisters could not be placed next to each other! Think head to toe.)
Three babies who needed to eat eight times a day meant preparing twenty-four bottles while doing constant laundry while changing countless diapers. Dinner for me and Hubby? Lots of pasta. Gifts? Piled up unopened for a long time. Sleep? Very little. There was no learning curve–it was a lion’s den!
I wasn’t multi-tasking; I was MEGA-tasking!
So, to the person who called me a WOABOPP…yes, yes I am. And I’m off to revise a manuscript, pick up a kid, try a new recipe, finish knitting a market bag, read one book, listen to another, bathe the dog…
Which camp do you fall in? One-Project-Person or WOABOPP!?
Back when I was wondering what the heck I was doing as a department store manager that included a) a divisional marketing manager who gleefully chose one of us to humiliate daily, b) being in charge of two multi-million dollar departments on two floors with two buyers and two staffs without an assistant, c) no time to eat, and d) hair falling out in clumps, I decided to re-look at my priorities. Not only did I read What Color is Your Parachute?, I took a career-assessment test at New York University. There was one glaring characteristic missing in my life–creativity! Hon, I should have known.
I recently came across one of my very first picture books complete with illustrations and an author photo in which I’m missing my front teeth. I wrapped some of my books in plastic wrap so they’d look like they came from the library. Cute!
I also came across songs I wrote. I’d play around on the piano and then plot the notes in a music book.
When my parents said they wouldn’t buy me a dollhouse, I made my own out of cardboard. (It actually had a couple of floors!) When I wanted a summer dress, Pappagallo handbags with changeable covers, and an Esprit drawstring bag, I sewed my own.
I learned how to needlepoint, embroider, and knit when I was elementary-school-age. Another creative outlet opened up, and I designed my own canvases and wrote my own patterns.
My first jobs, aside from babysitting and being a camp counselor, were working in stores. I liked retail, but especially merchandising the selling floor and doing the windows.
So, when I left that miserable, weight-loss-inducing department store job, I started my own business. A couple of years later, I became pregnant with triplets. That was the end of the business and time to re-assessment priorities again.
Back to the magic of children’s books, which I was trying to create as a ten year-old. Guess what? I’m still trying.
I was ready to write. Pen and paper? Check. Computer? Check. Manuscript to revise? Check. But how could I concentrate with a bird bustling back and forth yards away? The answer? I couldn’t!
Every year, House Wrens make a nest in one of my birdhouses. If you think the Wrens are busy as they gather twigs and grass, you should see them once their babies hatch! The flit and fly all day long, handing off juicy bugs to hungry beaks. The babies trill insistently when a parent returns. I imagine they’re saying, “Feed me! Feed me! It’s been ten minutes since my last meal.”
If I so much as go outside to look at the birdhouse, the daddy (I think it’s the daddy) perches atop our outdoor table umbrella and, literally, gives me the stink eye. Really!
When a chickadee or starling comes close and cocks its head to hear the chirping babies, one of the parents hops and squawks, chasing the intruder away. Interestingly, my dog Lucy isn’t perceived as a threat, which she isn’t…unless you’re a chipmunk or a mailman.
Dawn and dusk are full of activity and, when night falls, the family quiets down and gets ready for bed. Last night, when I retrieved something from the back porch, under the birdhouse, a little head popped out and tiredly looked at me.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’m not going to hurt your babies.”
Click here to watch a video of a House Wren singing.
Click here to watch a video (with funny commentary) of House Wrens leaving their nest for the first time.
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, after deciding what to change (exercise more/ eat less desserts), I try to accomplish those goals. Sometimes I’m successful. Oftentimes I’m not. But, I’ve been itching to make a Story Time Resolution this year. Hopefully, saying my goal “out loud” isn’t like blowing out birthday candles and then revealing a wish. Stories, characters, voice and plot fill my head. Can I put on paper what I see in my head? Most importantly, how will I get my stories in the hands of children?
“It is clear that reading and being exposed to books early in life are critical factors in student success,” Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, said.
Frank Bruni writes,
The list of what a child needs in order to flourish is short but nonnegotiable.
Food. Shelter. Play. Love.
Something else, too, and it’s meted out in even less equal measure.
Words. A child needs a forest of words to wander through, a sea of words to splash in. A child needs to be read to, and a child needs to read.
Reading fuels the fires of intelligence and imagination.
“Reading follows an upward spiral,” said Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the author of “Raising Kids Who Read,” which was published earlier this year. “Kids who read more get better at reading, and because they are better at reading, it’s easier and more pleasurable so they read still more,” he said. “And kids who read well don’t just do better in English class — it helps them in math, science and every other class, too.”
I’d go even further. Reading tugs them outside of themselves, connecting them to a wider world and filling it with wonder. It’s more than fundamental. It’s transformative.
Amen, Mr. Bruni. Amen.
Hon, if you are a “New-Year’s-Resolution-Person,” what are your goals this year?
On our first night in Rome, we visited the Pantheon, an Ancient Roman temple “of all the gods.” I was awed and humbled by the Corinthian columns, marble floor, tomb of Raphael,enormous coffered ceiling and Occulus.
Gazing up and into the eye-like opening to the sky was other-wordly, mystical, magical. It felt like I was being watched, maybe even seen. My writer’s mind entered another dimension where characters whisper in my ear and scenes play in my imagination.
The concrete domed ceiling is a wonder unto itself. My guide book says “the dome was cast by pouring concrete mixed with tufa and pumice over a temporary framework” and the ceiling’s weight is reduced by the hollow decorative coffers.
Next stop was the Spanish Steps, a “combination of straight sections, curves and terraces.” If they’re this crowded in February, imagine how many people would hang out in the summer!
We had already spent some time in Piazza di Spagna, but in an “umm, we may be lost” way.
We took taxi from the airport to the city, and when our driver dropped us off in the middle of an intersection saying our hotel was right down the street, we said, “Sounds good.” BUT, we walked up and down and couldn’t find our hotel. Picture extremely narrow, cobblestone streets packed with people and toy-sized cars. There we were, wheeling our luggage behind us, and getting worried (slightly panicky) when the street ended at address #50 and our hotel’s address was #93.
Yes, we asked shop owners and passersby if they knew the hotel (They didn’t.) and we couldn’t call the hotel without an international phone plan. So, we parked ourselves in Piazza di Spagna and tried to make sense of our map.
Hubby found a policeman and guess what? We were on the correct street! Unlike in the United States, where odd numbered addresses are on one side of the street and even numbers on the other, in Italy, numbers go up one side of the street and continue on the other side! If we had just looked on the other side of the street, we would have figured it out!
Have you been to the Pantheon? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!