Attention, please.  Ahem!  May I have your attention, please?  Thank you.  Didn’t mean to pull out the Mom Voice there, but wanted to make sure those in the back of the room could hear me, because this is exciting stuff.

If you’ve been hanging around here any length of time, you know we do Halloween in a big way, with an extensive display in the yard and also a big book giveaway for All Hallows Read. These things take time and planning and sometimes a little bit of magic to make a small budget stretch to cover everything. We usually start planning in mid-to-late summer, which would be (looks at watch), about now. So I met with the planning committee (aka, Fakefish), and we did some brainstorming. 


There wasn’t a white board and dry erase markers involved, but there was some pretty emphatic gesturing and maybe a sketch or two on the back of an envelope.  We took a vote, and this year’s Halloween Theme has been decided upon. (So Say We All.)

Hang onto your hats, folks, because this year we’re going multicultural.  Our Halloween Theme for 2014 is:


Technically, Dia de los Muertos, or Days of the Dead, is Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, so we can leave the decorations up a couple extra days. But I can tell you right now, I am going to have fuuuuuuuuun with this one!  Sugar skulls and smiling skeletons and marigolds and bright colors and banners… *pant,pant* There’s a Pinterest board for planning purposes chock full of ideas.   I’m scouring the Crafty Chica website for ideas and slinking around the image banks on Google for further inspiration. 


This year’s theme also ties in nicely with an upcoming movie, The Book of LIfe, which will hopefully generate even more interest in my ulterior motive of getting books into the hands of kids and getting them excited about reading. If I have to piggyback that interest on candy and wild Halloween displays, all the better!

The Book of Life

The Book of Life


Live Action!

live action


I’m in the market for a Super Soaker water gun, as we’re having a bit of a wildlife situation in our suburban backyard.  

As our dog has aged and slowed down, the neighborhood cats have figured out that our backyard is no longer a death trap.  I can totally excuse Shadow for letting her yard patrol slide, since she’s 15 years old.  That’s 105 in people years. Who really expects great-grandma to get out do security sweeps, right?  

I haven’t given the random cats much thought as they saunter through the yard, sunning themselves on the back patio. But recently, one of the cats has gotten VERY bold, staring me down if I shoo it away and coming quite close to the screen doors. This stranger cat has seriously upset one of my house cats, Monkey.  


Exhibit A:  Monkey

Exhibit A: Monkey

Monkey is a 14 pound, female Siamese.  She’s a giant.  Not Maine Coon big, but still, a sizable cat, and she is the master of all she surveys.  Unfortunately, she surveys quite a lot out the front door that she can’t get to, and Stranger Cat has seriously been pissing her off.  A few weeks back, Stranger Cat made an appearance after dark and Monkey lept from the couch to make a menacing gesture, hit the laminate wood floor, slid, and slammed nose first into the steel security screen door.  It knocked her for a loop.  I’m sure she blames Stranger Cat. 

Stranger Cats visits have become so frequent, I should be charging him rent.  

Shortly after banging her nose on the front door, Monkey’s least favorite holiday occurred: Independence Day.  From a cat’s viewpoint, the world is EXPLODING.  She spent the better part of two days hiding under the couch.  Combined with Stranger Cat, having the world explode was more than she could handle, and she developed a nervous condition.  (No, I’m not kidding.  There’s a vet bill to prove it.  But I’ll get to that.)

At first, I thought she had a UTI.  I’ve got a lot of experience with cat UTIs.  Fakefish has nicknamed my male cat “The Million Dollar Cat” because he’s has to be hospitalized so many times for UTIs.  Not just vet visits, fullon hospitalization with IVs and catheters and sedation and ultrasounds and urinalysis and medication.  Lots of pee expertise right here.  With a huge sigh and a heart full of dread, I called the vet.  (We have a great vet.  She’s a mobile vet and comes to the house.  How awesome is that?  No panicky car rides in a shower of nervous shedding and panting.  If you’re looking for a vet in Solano County, I can totally recommend Dr. Murray. )

Dr. Murray & her assistant, Debbie, came out the next day, and something was totally up with Monkey.  She hissed at them and scratched.  Whoa.  She has NEVER done that before.

As best they could tell (Monkey was a lousy patient), it probably wasn’t a UTI, but it was a problem.  Monkey now has a prescription for Prozac.  

I won’t get into the great joy of trying to pill a cat.  It’s right up there with teaching a pig to sing, only with claws.  Thank heavens for Pill Pockets.  They smell like a disemboweled camel and cost almost as much as the Prozac, but were totally worth it. 

In addition the medicine, the vet advised me to try to chase off the offending cats.  She suggested a water hose or Super Soaker water gun.  It doesn’t hurt the animal and it gets the point across. 

I decided to stick with the water hose, and yesterday was the first day I managed to catch Stranger Cat in the backyard.  I tried stealth, but the cat skedaddled before I could get the water hose turned on.  So, I went back inside and resumed what I was doing.  A few minutes, Stranger Cat was back.  Forget stealth, this time my tactic was speed. 

I jumped up, ran through the house, out through the side door of the garage, which caught Shadow’s attention (old dog – it takes a lot to catch her attention, she half deaf and losing her sight).  In typical dog enthusiasm, her ears went up, tongue hanging out, and was at my heels with the up-for-anything dog attitude.  I grabbed the hose, which had the dog even more excited.  She LOVES water.  About the time I got the hose turned on, the cat spotted us.  

The cat froze in its tracks when it saw the dog.  The dog, being 105 and eager to play with the water hose, didn’t see the cat.  I aimed the hose toward the invading enemy and the cat ran.  I lost sight of it, but knew it was still in the yard because it hadn’t topped the fence.  So I began spraying in its general direction, flushed it out, and got off one good blast as it tried to mount the top of the fence. 

My actions even alarmed the dog.  She shied away from me, sending me the message of, “That is NOT how we play with the water hose!”

Seriously, it was like an episode of Call of the Wildman.  My old dog is even missing some teeth, so she makes a perfect Neal.  I accomplished virtually nothing, but there was lots of running around, and I can’t be entirely sure, but there may have been a war cry.  “Live action!” is now the catch phrase for “Michele is going into the backyard to act like a weirdo.”

I’ve nearly gotten a good soak on Stranger Cat twice since then, but the water hose method seriously slows me down.  I am definitely getting a Super Soaker, to give me an edge. Stranger Cat is in trouble now.

Monkey has mostly recovered from her ordeal.  I had to separate her from the other cats because she was so wigged out and refusing to join them at night. She moved into The Hobbit’s room.  He doesn’t like to sleep in there, so Monkey may as well use it.

What I’ve learned through this whole experience is that a.) I haven’t lost touch with my inner redneck, and b.) my cat may be on Prozac, but I’m the one that’s crazy. Live action!

Put On Your Thinking Caps: Ideas Wanted

keep calm

I turn 40 in a few weeks, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but probably not in the ways you’d expect.   The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 81 years old, and turning 40 puts me firmly into being Middle Aged.  I don’t mind that.  It gives you a free pass to do things that don’t seem to be socially acceptable in your teens, 20s and 30s.  There’s a grand feeling of Not Giving a Crap that accompanies 40, and I’ve been cultivating that for a while.  I’m really quite looking forward to it, turning 40 that is.  There should be some sort of Scouting badge to go with it.  I’d proudly wear that on a sash.

My mind doesn’t roam the hall of horrors that some people consider aging to be.  Gray hair?  I’ve been working on those since I was 28.  Wrinkles?  I have carefully cultivated a quality layer of fat to keep things plumped up.  And even if the wrinkles run rampant over my face (and other body parts), I don’t really care, mainly because I don’t have time to stand around gazing in a mirror.  There’s too many things I’d rather be doing that comparing what I’ve got with the airbrushed perfection presented in print ads. These days, I look into it to make sure there’s nothing on my face that shouldn’t be there (like chocolate syrup) and that my hair is combed.  Shoot, I don’t even have the time and patience to blow dry my hair any more.  If it’s clean and combed, I’m good.

No, what I’ve been thinking about is growth.  Not just physical growth, but continuing to live a life that expands beyond known horizons and presents new challenges. In the first two years of a child’s life, they achieve 50% of their physical growth and 70% of their brain growth.  If you ever doubted the importance of exposing a baby to new experiences, foods, language, and physical challenges, that right there is reason enough to give them a richer world.  And think about how many people you know whose relationships, and their relationship to the world at large, never progresses past that of the average 16 year old.  You know the type I’m talking about:  perpetual teenagers, thriving on turmoil.  Being a teenager was AWFUL, I can’t imagine willingly choosing to keep that high school dynamic alive for the rest of one’s life. *Shudder* Growing and stretching and rising to new challenges is a choice.  It’s rarely easy (that’s why they’re challenges), but it’s there if we choose to take advantage of it.


I am not only happy to be turning 40, I’m embracing it, and have decided to push myself a bit.  If the first two years of our life are spent in unprecedented growth, why not do that with the start of the second half of our lives as well?  That’s the plan.  I’m working on a list of 40 Things to accomplish in my 40th year.  I’ll blog about it and keep track and share the results.  However, what I am asking for from friends and family and complete strangers are some suggestions for the list.  I’ve got the list started and I’ve been scouring the interweb for ideas, to see what other people have done with their milestone birthdays.  I’ve looked at Bucket Lists, Things to Do Before You Die, and 40 Thing Before Turning 40.

In looking at all those lists, it occurred to me what amazing things I’ve already done, things many people put off or are just too scared to do.  Cut off a lot of hair?  Check. Tattoo? Check. Gone to Europe? Multiple checks.  Been on TV? Been on the radio? Been in the newspaper?  Check, check, check.  Stood on the Great Wall of China?  Check.  Karaoke? Done, many times over.  Public speaking?  Check!  Overcome fear of heights?  Every time I stand on the second level of the mall, step on a escalator or walk on a foot bridge. (By the way, the fear never goes away, all I do is smack it around don’t let it win.)  Met celebrities?  Check. It sounds stupid and entitled, but I”m really struggling  to find enough things for my list I can accomplish within a 12-month time period.  Give me your best ideas!  Or perhaps your second best in case you’re saving the best ones for when you turn 40.  I’m putting it out there in the greater community and asking for help in making my 40th year an Annus mirabilis, a year of miracles.  Leave a comment at the bottom of this post or give me a shout-out on Facebook.  Here are a few guidelines to consider:

1.  Nothing really expensive. We live a modest life with a modest income. It isn’t within my means to take a Round the World Cruise or spend $500 on a bottle of champagne or ride on The Orient Express (the train, not the roller coaster).

2. Forget about skydiving, bungee jumping, swinging bridges, or extreme sports. I am not now, nor will I ever be, an adrenaline junkie.  I make my fear of heights submit when  necessary, but I see no point in upping my anxiety by taking it out at random intervals and poking it with a stick.

3. If it’s a one-off suggestion, all the better.  I’m goal oriented and love to tick things off a list. If it can be accomplished in the span of an afternoon, even better.

4. Nothing illegal or immoral. No stealing of traffic signs or taking up Robert Redford on that million dollar deal.

I’m adding a page to this blog site that will detail the list and provide links to blog posts as I accomplish each thing on the list.  I’ll be revealing the final list in August, once the big 4-0 hits my calendar. Stay tuned!

Happy Father’s Day

Father's day

I may not have gushed about this recently, but The Hobbit has a pretty awesome dad. He’s worth celebrating more than once a year, but since Hallmark didn’t know about the fabulous Fakefish at the inception of Father’s Day, we’re stuck with this one-a-year routine.  Here’s to a great dad – I couldn’t do it without you.

There’s Something I Was Supposed To Remember…

Does anyone know what today is?  No?  Gosh… there was something important today, something I was supposed to remember… it had something to do with cake  and… *snaps fingers* I’ve got it!  It’s my wedding anniversary.

I mention this here, because Fakefish and I have been known to forget our anniversary.  Both of us. One year, his supervisor reminded him the day after, and he came home from work with a bouquet of flowers. I was so pleased and surprised to be getting flowers out of the blue like that. Well, when he realized I had also forgotten our anniversary, we were fairly certain that we’d made the right choice marrying each other, because who else would put up with that kind of oversight?

We’re just not big hoopla kind of people.  We got married in the woods with about 30 friends and family around us.  There was food on the grill and squirrels stealing appetizers off the tables and the guests wore blue jeans.  One of the guests brought his dog. There was also a rather fat duck following people around as we set things up, looking for a handout.  It was also the same weekend as the Redwood Run, and we exchanged vows with Harleys thundering up and down the Avenue of the Giants in the background.  The kids went swimming in the  river and we had too much food.  For us, it was perfect.

Our version of wedded bliss may not look picture perfect, but it works for us  I’m thrilled to be renewing Fakefish’s contract for another year, because I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Anniversary...haha i laughed too hard at this!