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Tabitha, in her natural environment

January 13, 2013
Naturally, cats make nests in sweatshirts that don't belong to them.

Naturally, cats make nests in sweatshirts that don’t belong to them.

Tabitha is reclining on a sweatshirt that reads “I’m here. Now what are your other two wishes.” I thought the saying hilarious, especially considering my natural temperament.  It fits her personality so much more than mine, however. Whereas I leaned towards the ironic, Tabitha means every word of it!

I’m about to have lunch – leftover chicken from dinner last night, although that makes no difference. She will come running if I’m having lettuce. I wonder how long it will take her to get downstairs.


Fitting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together

December 17, 2012

This morning, around 6 AM, both my dogs joined me in bed. The way they lined up alongside me, one curled from knee to feet and the others stretching from knee to shoulder, reminded me of the trick where the magician saws the lady in half. If you looked quickly, there appeared to be only one dog.

As we all jockeyed for position, I noticed that I was holding my arm at an unnatural position so I wouldn’t encroach on the personal space of one of the dogs. As my arm began to cramp, I thought “THIS IS MY BED!!”

Then I turned on my side so we could all fit together comfortably.

I Really Need to Get Better at This Blogging Thing ….

April 12, 2012

I keep meaning to come back to this blog and I have started posts over and over and then life keeps intruding. Which equals a bazillion draft posts and nothing posted. So, I have promised myself that this post will be published come hell or high-water. Therefore, if I break off mid-sentence, you will understand.

The past year has been busy for our family. Helen and I opened our store.

My brother eloped.

(Photo courtesy of the wedding photographer – link to follow)

My sister got married.

I gained a cat.

We lost a cat.

My brother had a baby! (Well, technically, my sister in law had the baby, but we give him credit anyway!)

(Picture courtesy of my brother)

I became one of those crazy aunts that whip their phones out at the slightest provocation to show off pictures of my nephew.

Really, how can you not?

(Picture courtesy of my brother)

Helen and I moved house, which was stressful.

We’re finally getting to the end of unpacking and everyone’s starting to settle in.

Spike and Drusilla are adjusting well. They don’t have a backyard anymore but they do get to spend a lot more time with us. And there are lots of walks and visits to the dog park and games of tennis ball, so I think they’ll survive.

In August, we had a minor earthquake and a hurricane hit New Jersey within a week of each other. Earthquakes are practically unheard of here on the east coast and I didn’t realize what had happened until I checked Twitter. I just got a little dizzy. Hurricanes are more prevalent and this one brought quite a bit of flooding, including putting our entire first floor under water.

And through it all, I’ve read a few books

(a portion of the books I’ve finished over the past year)

It’s going to be interesting to see what the next year brings!

How many cats before I become the crazy cat lady?

July 29, 2011

Do you remember that routine Rodney Dangerfield used to do about not getting any respect? My cats give me no respect what-so-ever! They wait until I am done cleaning out their box before they use it and then, they don’t have the decency to cover up their messes, as “the help” is there to do it for them.

And if four weren’t enough, we’ve gone and added a fifth to the family!

Tabitha at 3 weeks

Meet Tabitha Stanley (we’re still not 100% sure if she’s a male or a female yet, but we’re going with female for now). She was abandoned by her mother in the garden and we heard her screaming in the rain. She’s had a healthy set of lungs on her since the moment we met her.

Tabitha at 4 weeks

Since we had to bottle feed her, she has been spending days at the store with us. Not surprisingly, she has collected quite a following, especially with the people who work in the stores around us.

Tabitha at 4 weeks

We have daily visitors who open the door, inform us that they are not here to buy anything, and then ask whether the queen is receiving.

Tabitha at 5 weeks

She is now on kitten food and has been proclaimed healthy by the vet. She will have her tests for Feline Aids & Feline Leukemia done at 12 weeks, however everything else is going splendidly!

Tabitha at 6 weeks

The dogs love her and act as her knight errants, coming to get us if she starts crying. Very often, she will lose us and meow. Once she catches sight of us, she comes running and pats our feet to make sure we know where she is.

Tabitha at 7 weeks

Andrew & Dudley (2 of the other cats) are so good with her, playing and teaching her all manner of things. George puts up with her like the crusty old gentleman he is. And Gretel wants nothing to do with her. She was the same way with Dudley when he was that age. It’s almost as if she’s letting us know that when we had her spayed, we took out the maternal instinct as well.

Tabitha at 8 weeks

Tabitha is now 8 weeks old and she loves to play among the stuffed animals in the store. When she gets really tired, she will crash behind them and it’s always fun to see how terrified we can get before we find her.

Right now, she is trading pats for little bites of chicken. She will pat Helen’s hand, ever so gently, and then wait for Helen to share her salad.

Tabitha now

She is an absolute love and perfect for our store!

It takes all kinds, I guess.

June 8, 2011

A patron and her friend come into the store, pushing  infants in  strollers, comparing their children’s diseases. Evidently, if your child is completely healthy, you did it wrong. Nothing says chic & “in-the-now” more than a hard to pronounce, even harder to understand illness. And if your doctor can’t figure out what’s wrong with your child, then you’ve really made it.

Anyway, this woman comes in and says “Tell me what I’m looking at!”

Me: Ha Ha … oh wait – you’re serious.

Customer: What’s your gimmick? Your catch? And I mean that in the  best way.

Me: Of course you do.

So I explained about our stuffed animals, the organic lines and the non-organic ones, the jewelry and ceramics, etc. She nodded knowingly, and left without buying anything.

Helen says I should have told her that they were all sleeping and we had to be very careful not to wake them because you DO NOT want to mess with a cranky stuffed animal. I just wanted to ban them for stupidity.


What’s new with you?

April 28, 2011

A lot has happened here since I last posted.  I quit my boring but steady office job for the uncertain life of self-employment. My sister Helen and I made the decision to open a retail store, found and rejected several locations before settling on the right one, and then did all the work (mostly painting) getting it ready to open without hiring any outside help. Oh, and we opened the doors two weeks after we quit our jobs. We could never have done it so quickly without the help of my parents and my brothers, especially my mother who was there with us until 11:00 the night before we opened, getting everything on the shelves. You can see before and after pictures at our store blog. As a matter of fact, since my life now mostly revolves around Fragile Earth Stuffed Animals, I will be spending the majority of my time writing there. Please check in and see what we are doing. It won’t only be about inventory, etc. Why, today alone, I recount the exciting tale of an intrepid computer, a bottle of diet coke, and a flailing elbow. I assure you, while there are twists and turns, it ends well.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

January 19, 2011

My sister got The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton for Christmas. Since I’ve already read all my Christmas books, I snagged hers because she’s in the middle of another book and won’t get to this one for a while. I had read about this on a blog (I’m sorry, I would link but I’ve forgotten which blog it was) and thought the story sounded interesting. Having read The Secret Garden at an impressionable age, I have an affinity for walled in gardens.

The premise of the story is that a four year old girl is put on a ship traveling from England to Australia in 1913, and told to hide by her traveling companion, The Authoress, until the woman gets back. The little girl waits and waits, but the lady doesn’t return and she is forced to travel to Australia by herself. She plays with the other children on the boat, below-decks, and everyone thinks she belongs to one of the families in steerage. Until they arrive the their destination, that is, and there is no one to claim her. The harbor master finds her after everyone else has left, just sitting on the dock, waiting. He takes her home and eventually raises her as his own.

The little girl doesn’t remember her name so the harbor master and his wife call her Nell. But who is she? And why did she have to make the voyage by herself? Criss-crossing through time and countries, Kate Morton tells the tale of  a well-to-do English family and the secrets they are hiding. There is a mystery involved but it’s not the who-dunnit kind. It’s more trying to figure out why one person did this which caused another to do that.

I love this book! Kate Morton’s style is rich and full, and her characters are so real that you can imagine yourself in the book at any point. I am at the most delicious part – almost to the end – where everything is starting to make sense. Some things I guessed and others caught me by surprise. I am intrigued to find out how it all winds up in the end. This is the part of the book where time is not on my side. I am like an addict sneaking away to get my fix when I should be doing other things (like getting to work) and yet I can’t help myself. I NEED to know what happens next.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

August 2, 2010
This was a 10 minute writing exercise. Other than fixing punctuation and capitalization, I’ve left it as is. Dangling participle and all. I apologize for that.

I have been disenchanted with my job for a little while now. My responsibilities changed last September to include more construction related documents and less accounting. I’m comfortable with numbers, I understand them. I do not understand furring and what the difference is between batt and thermal insulation. I’m not stupid, I just don’t care. In a big way! I’ve slowly become more unhappy as the months pass and there doesn’t seem to be anything else for me to do.

This feeling is now beginning to carry over into my “at home” life. Before I was okay at work (not thrilled, but not unhappy) but I got to go home to my business where I could do things I liked doing and do them my way. And it was okay. Now, I’m not as happy at home either because I’m stressing about what’s happening at work.

Ideally, I would love it if I could just walk out and work for myself. The store traffic is picking up a bit because the Christmas season is coming (I know, scary right?) but it’s not nearly enough to replace my salary. I keep playing the lottery, but that’s not working either. So what do I do?

I have a job, which, in this economy, says a lot. I have an okay paying job that gives me two weeks vacation and a bonus, which, even though it’s gotten smaller every year, is still something extra every december. We didn’t get raises last year, actually, we had to take a pay cut but that way the owners could keep more people on the payroll. And it wasn’t enough to make a huge difference. I’m sure if I got paid more, it would hurt more, but not for my paycheck. The owners and the people in my office, for the most part, are very nice. It’s just the subject matter of the work I can’t get into.

I’m a creative person. I have really cool ideas. I can’t always carry them out because the creativity doesn’t seem to extend to my hands. It’s all in my mind. But where I’m at now, I’m not using any of it. And I miss that.

There is an opening at the local college. It’s for an entry level position in today’s version of the typing pool. You’d fill in for people going on vacation. There would be a lot of answering phones and filing. But there’s always the possibility of another, better job opening, and I’m pretty sure they try to hire from within first. So, do I chuck everything I’ve done for the past five years to go back to the beginning, with the chance of a better job on the horizon? Or do I stick it out and see whether anything opens here that suits me better? I’m not sure there is anything in construction that I am well suited for.

July 20, 2010

Have you ever wanted to enjoy doing something, only to find out you really hate it once you try it? I wanted to run. I see people running, usually men, who make it look so easy and almost beautiful. In an aside – why is it that men run so easily? Women tend to look like they’re in pain most of the time while the men are just floating along. It’s really not fair! Anyway, where was I? See runners, blah blah blah. Oh, right! I’ve also read about a blogger’s quest to become a runner, and subsequent arrival at fitness and better health. And I’ve cheered for her, not always vocally since I tend to be something of a lurker, but deep down I’ve wished her well and kind of  wanted to be her.

I researched Couch to 5K and downloaded the app to my phone. I planned out my play lists. I was READY! And then I started running …. sorry, had to take a moment to compose myself. I didn’t run – I basically walked, jogged a few steps, breathed very, very heavily, walked a little more, let my dog pull me along for a bit. I was so miserable! By the time I was done, my hips hurt, my knees were killing me, and my ankle was wobbling along saying it was about to fold if I tried this torture one more time. But I did try it several times. And it never got better.

This is not the first time I’ve tried to spark a love affair with running. Back in high-school, as Helen and I were going to the theater to see The Outsiders just one more time, we would run part way. In college, I had a friend who was a runner. I thought that it looked like an easy way to stay in shape. Every time, I wound up hurt in one way or another.

You would think I’ve gotten to the point where common sense kicks in. I get hurt walking – why would I want to invite more pain into my life? There are so many other ways to get exercise without hating it. The wedding looms over me (in 304 days) and I want to do more than hobble down the aisle in front of my sister. So, what to do? Helen and I have started walking the dogs at night just before we go to bed. What I envisioned as a quick jaunt around the block to tire the hellbeasts out has actually blossomed into a 45-60 minute walk. We move enough to get the heart pumping and it’s given us time to plan out what we’re doing for the business and discuss strategies to bring more people to our store.

We’ve also started exercising first thing in the morning. Although I hate waking up any earlier, trying to fit in any kind of structured exercise after work just doesn’t work for us. So we’re interchanging yoga and Zumba. I may not enjoy myself completely while performing the yoga poses, but my body feels so much better. However, I’ve found that what I really love to do is to dance. I don’t do it well, since I’m a bit of a klutz. Every now and then I glance over and I swear the dogs are just laughing their heads off at our “moves.” I don’t even want to know what the cats are doing – probably vomiting in disgust. But I’m having a ball.

So,  I won’t be running a 5K anytime soon. But maybe I’ll enter a dance marathon instead. *Thunk* That was me falling out of my chair, I’m laughing so hard! But hey, at least I’m working my stomach muscles, right?


February 12, 2010

I decided to treat the gulls to some goldfish this weekend, cause who doesn’t like goldfish? The crackers, that is.

After tossing a few on the ice, I stood back and waited. It took approximately 3.2 seconds.

One or two at first, but then the news spread like wildfire, and everyone came to the party!

Be careful how you land! That ice is very slippery!

Is it worth the effort?

It is goldfish after all!

A fish in the beak is worth two in the bush? No, that’s not right.