Personal, Pets, Uncategorized

Here kitty, kitty…

I’m dedicating this post to my cousin Becky.

When my mom and I arrived at the beach a couple of weeks ago, we filled our arms full of all the supplies we hauled down there and headed up the stairs. When I peeked over the Costco-sized packages of toilet paper and paper towels to unlock the door, I noticed a cat sitting on the cover of the hot tub.

“I think we have a visitor,” Mom said, standing behind me with her arms full of new mattress pads.

“Oh great! I wonder how long it’s been here. Lew and Brian will die,” I said, as I fumbled to get the key in the lock.

Lew and Brian and Doug bought the house before Doug and I married and we’ve all vacationed there nearly every summer since. We rent it out the rest of the time.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call these men “particular” or “fastidious” owners. Every time we go down, they expect a report on the house — what’s broken, worn-out or needs to be replaced, for example. In fact, it’s because they are so meticulous about the house being in good shape and well-stocked that Mom and I packed the back of my car with all those rolls of paper towels and toilet paper, only to discover the shelves and closets were already filled with those basic supplies.

So when I noticed a cat living there, I thought they would want it removed from the premises ASAP. I imagined them worrying about the cat having some nasty disease or scratching or hissing at some little beach-going toddler or people writing in the guest book that a feral cat ruined their beach vacation by hanging around the house making people sneeze or by holding the hot tub hostage.

As a dutiful wife of an owner (I know my place in this beach house triumvirate), I fired off an e-mail telling them about the cat. Then I said, “Should I call animal control?” I told them that when I woke up the first morning we were there, I opened the blinds in the kitchen window and the cat’s face was staring in at me.

“It loves sitting on the hot tub and stretching out across the door so that you have to step over it when you go out. I almost fell down the steps trying to avoid it as it wrapped around my legs.”

Then, I received this e-mail from Lew: “I didn’t know you liked cats so much. I have a new name for your new cat –“Rascal, the Raccoon Cat” or it could be “Rascal Turner” for short? Actually, there are many feral cats down there. Many of the residents feed them and certainly the tourists feed them because they are so cute. I doubt there is an animal control down there.”

So I overreacted about the cat. Then Brian replied and said, “How about writing a play about the Cat on the Hot Tub Roof? Have the setting in the south (oops, Hatteras is the south), then we can get some celebrity cats to play the keys roles.”

Doug just wrote back and said, “Send pictures!”

Clearly I was the only one with the cat problem.

The boys didn’t care about a cat taking up residence at their beach house.

And, no animal control?

I found a little story about “Basket Lid Wisdom.” It said, “Before you reach to pet a cat on Hatteras Island we suggest you exercise caution. Many of the cats roaming the Island are descendants of a breed of cats that date back to the first settlers of the island…The cats came with the ships…As the years have progressed many of the wild cats have become domesticated, but you will still occasionally run across one that has that wild look in his eye…”

This cat didn’t have a “wild” look in his eyes and he must have feasted on food at someone else’s door because I didn’t feed it or pet it. And every time I tried to take a picture of it, it eluded me.

I’m not much of a cat person. When I was in high school, we had a family cat and it loved to sleep on the top of the front wheel of my car. When I turned the car on, it jumped off and ran away. Except one day it didn’t jump off…and, well…

“Mom, remember the cat that got hurt when it didn’t get off my tire and you said it ran away?” I asked.

“Oh, well, I might have told you that so you wouldn’t feel bad,” she said, not looking up from her embroidery project. “You actually killed the cat.”

“Now you tell me!” I said. “No wonder I don’t like cats.”

And of course the beach cat liked to wrap itself around my feet every time I went outside. It never loved up to my mom like that. And it liked to rest pressed up to the storm door, staring at me while I worked at my computer. Mom looked in the guest book and saw that several renters wrote about the cat. “It was weird because a cat was here and we loved it. You will too! We found out that it’s notched ear means it’s a Kinnakeet cat descended from shipwrecks.”

“The notched ear means it was captured, spayed or neutered, and then released,” someone wrote.

I checked that out and discovered they were right. There are about 1,000 wild cats living on Hatteras Island.

“The cat was so friendly,” another person wrote. “My kids called her Mrs. Raccoon because of her striped tail. With the broken porch screen, she jumped in through the window and slept on the hot tub at night.”

Well so much for the renters hating the cat. Still, I thought the owner boys would want me to drive the darn cat to the end of the island to live at somebody else’s house.

Toward the end of the week, Mom said, “Do you think I could get that cat home? I could just sit it on my lap on the airplane. It’s so friendly, and it’s really quite pretty. What would you think about me taking it home?”

“No way are you taking that cat home. You have the worst possible history with pets! You should call Becky and see what she thinks of you taking home a cat,” I said.

Many years ago, my mom adopted a cat that made itself at home at her house. She fed it and took good care of it. Then one day she decided she’d had enough of the cat, so that night she decided to give it to my cousin Becky.

Even though Mom was in her pajamas and ready for bed, she scooped up the cat, climbed in the car, and off she went to Becky’s house.

She knocked on the door with the cat in her arms and when Becky opened the door, Mom said, “Here! I can’t stand this cat for one more minute. You have to keep it.”

Becky liked cats so she agreed to keep it.

I recently asked her if she remembered this incident. She said, “I’ll say I remember! That damn cat had three litters of kittens and then one of the kittens had a litter at the same time she did. I had 11 cats in my garage at one point!”

And the real problem? Mom found out the cat she adopted and then gave away belonged to her neighbor!

“You cannot take that cat home. Becky will not want an Outer Banks cat even if it does have a notched ear, a raccoon-like tail and a pirate or shipwreck pedigree,” I told her.

With animal control and adoption out of the question, we said goodbye to the kitty. Then as we packed the car, it followed us up and down the stairs… until I accidentally stepped on its tail, and it decided to go back to the hot tub.

“I think you like that cat,” Mom said. “Maybe you should take it home with you.”

“No way. I am not swayed by its distinguished pirate ship pedigree. And, you certainly can’t take it home and end up giving it to Becky.”

“True,” she said. So we told Mrs. Raccoon goodbye and drove back to Virginia.

But I have to admit I’m curious about whether the cat is still there, whether the renters are feeding it, loving and petting it or if they’re searching the phone book for animal control…

Family, Relationships

Marital persnickety-ness follow-up

I love the responses I get from all of you on my blog.

My last story on “Marital Persnickety-ness” generated several interesting comments.

One of my favorites was from my friend Sara, who I’ve always admired

because she and her husband consistently work on strengthening their marriage.

She said, “Just wait until your 40th anniversary and you have been empty nesters for years. All those little habits become more and more evident and yet our capacity to ignore the trivia and love the person continues to increase.”

I love the idea that the longer we’re married our capacity to overlook each other’s habits and our ability to love each other increases.

Inspiring news from a woman who knows.

Now, about the pillows — ‘Mr. Right, and Mrs. Always Right.”

Some of you wanted to know how to buy them.

I found the photo on my favorite website, and should apologize for not crediting it!

Just remember the rule if you go to pinterest:

Get in, Get out.

I’ve warned you before that if you don’t, you’ll be lost in pinterest land forever.

Then when you finally look up from your computer

you’ll wonder where your life went.

I did a little searching for how to buy the pillows and made a couple of discoveries.

First, you can buy the linen pillows that I pictured on my last blog at in the “yellowbugboutique.”

A couple other good ones from the yellow bug folks:

probably not the best Valentine present...

My second pillow discovery was pillowcases embroidered with “Mr. Right/Mrs. Always Right.”

 So there you have my shopping tips for the day… not my usual type of blog post but since a few of you asked, you got it.

And while I’m plugging websites, I have one more for all of you who love food/and or cooking.

It is my go-to site for awesome recipes.

I just made Barbara’s yummy Breakfast Hashbrown Casserole this morning.

(Barb, I used all egg whites — not as pretty and tasty but a bit healthier.)

Warning:  You will get hungry and want to make (or at least eat) everything you see on this site.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I must confess the blogger is my awesome, talented cousin.

Trust me, you’ll love her recipes.

I’m craving her PB&J cookies now…

And I really want the donuts for breakfast instead of the healthy casserole.

Unfortunately, the cookies and donuts won’t move me toward that New Year’s weight loss resolution I publicly shared…

Darn. Why did I share that anyway?

Happy pillow and recipe shopping!


Marital Persnickety-ness

Last Saturday I called my mom and told her I wanted to go to the beach to finish some writing projects.

She said, “Oh, that sounds fun.  I want to come!”

“I could probably make that happen,” I told her.

She hung up and called my brother and said, “I won’t be surprised if she calls me in five minutes with plans for me to fly to Washington.”

She knows me well.

I cobbled together some frequent flyer miles and booked her on a flight for the following day.

On Monday morning we packed up and got ready to head to the Outer Banks.

my awesome mama

Before we left, I whipped up a protein shake for the road.

“Sorry about the noise,” I warned her in advance.  “Doug hates it when I turn on my blender.”

love my protein shakes!

With just a few sips left to drink, I said, “Mom, I’m warning you that I’m going to slurp up this last bit of shake with my straw.  Doug hates when I slurp up this last little bit. And he really hates it when I leave the dirty cup in the car.  I always take it into the house as soon as possible and wash it.  But he can’t stand having the dirty cup in the car for even a few minutes.”

Later as we discussed stopping for lunch, I said, “I try not to drink too much water when I go with Doug to the beach because he hates stopping for bathroom breaks.”

We decided to listen to a book on tape I had on my iPhone.  I asked Mom to get my phone out of my purse.

“Doug hates getting things out of my purse.  He always complains and says, ‘I hate women’s purses! Why do women carry all this stuff anyway? It’s impossible to find anything in here!”

After telling my mom about how Doug hates women’s purses, I remembered another one of his purse-related pet peeves.

One of the things he really hates is when he’s standing behind a woman at the grocery store and she waits until the very last-minute to start digging in her junky purse for her wallet.

He complains, “Then, she takes her time getting out her debit card, cash or check book.  She never does this while her groceries are being scanned.  She waits until the last-minute when everybody is lined up behind her.  Then, she decides to rifle through her purse.  And of course after she pays, she has to find her sunglasses, her car keys or whatever before she even moves her cart out of the way!”

Finally my mom says, “Well aren’t you quite a pair! I think you sound like a persnickety old couple!”

notice the purse...

I never realized our persnickety-ness.

As the week went on, I lost count of how many times I commented on Doug’s likes and dislikes.

My mom was thoroughly amused.

I told her he does things that make me crazy too like wear his shoes in the house.

If I suggest he take them off, he wears them longer.

Really, he does.

He’s stubborn like that.

She just smiled and said we were like old an old fuddy-duddy married couple.

One night Mom and I decided to watch a movie on television.

I said, “It’s fun to be able to choose a movie we both want to watch.  If Doug were here he would be switching every two minutes between the History channel, Funniest Home Videos, National Geographic TV, and some weird cop show that follows policeman around as they arrest drunk people.”

After Mom pointed out the frequency of my comments about Doug’s idiosyncrasies, I started wondering about the meaning behind them.

Am I a critical wife? Or is he a critical husband?

Or are we just acutely aware of each other’s odd little preferences because we are so comfortable with each other?

I asked Doug these questions and he just gave me a quizzical look and kept watching the National Geographic channel and eating his popcorn.

A few seconds later he said, “Maybe we just love each other so we’ve made it our business to be aware of each other’s ways.”

I was thinking along the same lines.

It’s not a bad thing to be aware of each other’s oddities.

It’s only bad if we let them become negatives.

If I lose my ability to be amused by the silly little things like him hating my purse, then we have a problem.

When I let his TV choices matter more than just being with him in the same room, we probably need to reassess what really matters to us.

Since I know he hates the sound of my hair dryer, I try to close the bathroom door to muffle the noise.

Since he knows I hate to come home to a cluttered house when I’ve been away, he tidies it up.

These are the small accommodations in life that add up to making a marriage work.

We can’t let the petty things carry too much weight in our relationship.

If we do, we lose sight of what is most important.

The “us” is what’s important, not the noisy blender or wearing shoes in the house.

If we start noticing who puts up with more or who is more nitpicky in the relationship, we both lose.

Our marriage becomes a Trivial Pursuit game with tiny, unimportant bits of behavior scoring big, negative points.

A healthy, successful marriage often lives in a bastion of imperfect humanity where there is a wide zone of tolerance.

If I let Doug’s complaints about my protein shakes become personal or if I assign deep meaning to his criticism about my purse, I create a problem that more than likely doesn’t exist.

If we let the small, insignificant things define our relationship, the fun is over and our day-to-day lives become ridiculous contests over who is more inconsiderate, thoughtless or intolerant.

As an “empty nest” couple without kids between and around us all the time, we probably notice more about each other than we did before.

The family buffer is gone and now we’re face-to-face with each other in new, probably more personal ways.

My approach is to smile at Doug’s funny “ways.”

I hope he can continue to smile and be amused by mine.

We have too much going for us to let the little things become the big things that can ruin a good marriage.

But I still wish Doug would take off his shoes in the house…


Fly Away Angry Birds

I’m so embarrassed to admit this.

But I am coming clean.

I only tried it once, and I was hooked.





I blame it on a four-year-old boy named Ethan.

His mom recently had a new baby and with three other children, she needed help keeping Ethan occupied during church.

Doug, Kenna, Baby Cole, and Ethan










“Do you want to sit with us?” I asked.

He checked out my husband and I carefully.

We had nothing fun to offer a little boy.

He looked for a tote bag of toys or treats, and found nothing.

Then, he spotted my phone sitting on the top of my purse.

“Can I play ‘Angry Birds’?” he asked.

“Sorry Ethan, “I don’t have ‘Angry Birds’,” I said, sensing I might have lost my only chance at convincing him to sit with us.

He turned up his hands shrugged his shoulders and said, “Too bad.”

Then he turned around to go sit with his mother who was trying to keep a newborn baby and two other kids calm.

Eager to help and to please, I said, “Ethan, wait…I could download it!”

He tipped his head and smiled like he was saying, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”

He came and sat next to me and we downloaded “Angry Birds” while we tried to listen to talks about churchy topics like love and serving our fellowmen.

Doug shook his head at me like he thought I was crazy…and irreverent.

“Hey, what else have I got to bargain with?” I asked.

The game downloaded and Ethan proceeded to drag his little finger back on the screen to fling a red bird at some fat little green pigs.

What a waste of time, I thought as I watched him play.

Who would want to sit there forever and pull back that slingshot to kill those silly pigs?






It seemed so mindless.

“Yes!” Ethan cheered as he pumped his arm in the air when he killed all the pigs.

“Oh, no arm pumping and cheering for dead pigs in church,” I whispered.

“Why?” he asked looking at me like I was crazy.

“Because we need to be quiet, and we don’t want the Bishop to get mad at us,” I said.

He rolled his eyes and said, “My dad’s the bishop.  We’re not going to get in trouble!”

“Oh, yeah, right.  Still, no cheering and arm pumping in church when we’re supposed to be listening and pondering holy things.”

How do adults get hooked on this game?  I wondered.

They should be embarrassed.

Later I learned there’s actually a story behind the game.  I guess those green pigs stole the red birds’ eggs so they are trying to get revenge but hurling themselves at them from a slingshot.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Maybe it teaches us that if we’re mad, we should throw ourselves forcefully at our enemies.  Then, even if we both explode and die, we die happy because we got revenge?

Sure, that’s a great life lesson.

And this game is played two hundred million times a day?

What is wrong with people?

“Angry Birds” has become a phenomenon.







There was an “Angry Birds” confab in New York in 2010 complete with costumes and a protest in London over all the “Angry Birds” addicts, according to an article by Greg Wayland on He said there was even an Israeli comedy show that tried to work out a pig-bird peace agreement.

“The peace parley failed, so the birds are still angry,” Wayland wrote.

So one night after taking my turn in my ongoing “Words with Friends” game with my sister, I decided to try “Angry Birds.”

I considered it research.

I wanted to know what made people so crazy about this game.

How does it keep a little boy’s attention for so long?

Why is it Apple’s most popular app?

After hurling a few birds, I learned there was some strategy and physics involved.

There was more to it than blindly hurling mad little birds at pigs.

I kept catapulting birds until Doug turned out the lights and went to bed.

After awhile I realized I was sitting alone in the dark playing “Angry Birds” and saying things like:

Just one more time.

 I just need to finish this level.

Really, this is the last one. 

Okay, only 10 more minutes and I’ll go to bed.









This fascination with bird hurling started just before the holidays.

So I told myself I would only play it until New Year’s day.

So for about two weeks, after I took my turn at Words with my sister, I played “Angry Birds.”

And Ethan continued to sit by us at church.

New Year’s Day came and went and I still found excuses to play.

One Sunday I paid attention to Ethan’s bird-killing skills, and I felt like I needed to step up my game.

I didn’t know I could pinch the screen and get a better perspective.

And I thought I had to tap the birds to release their special powers.

Turns out, I only need to tap the screen at just the right time.

I learned a lot from observing Ethan.

He progressed to a new level and out came the arm and the loud, “Yes!”

I surprised myself by subtly pumping my arm and saying “Yes!” too.

When he missed his target, I resisted telling him that if he aimed the bird higher he could attack from above and get through the fortified walls.

That’s when I realized I had gone too far.

I said I’m embarrassed to admit it.

I promised to delete it from my phone after church.

But, then how could I bribe Ethan to sit with us?

It was still on my iPad so I decided to delete it from my phone, and keep it on my iPad for Ethan.

Removing it from my phone was a smart decision.

For some reason, I don’t pick up my iPad to play games.

I confess I still occasionally play it but I am not wasting much time on it anymore because I don’t have time for that kind of silliness.

But, did you know that you should always wait until your previous bird disappears before you hurl your next bird because if you hit your last bird’s dazed body your attack will be significantly dampened?

It’s true.

Really? Now, this is an addiction...












There are websites for “Birds” addicts and they’re full of useful tips like that.

Not that I care because I am no longer playing the game.

But if I am ever bored like if I am going to Australia or China or somewhere really far away and my flight is delayed and I’ve finished all my heavy, literary reading and want a break to study physics, I could possible pick up my iPad and play “Angry Birds.”


Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad.

Today, January 5th, you would be 77 years old.  It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone for 20 years.

Twenty years since I’ve seen you, touched you, heard your voice, and smelled your Old Spice aftershave rubbed over your clean-shaven face.

I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and miss you.

In fact I thought about you constantly over the holidays, remembering your generosity at Christmas and the way you reached out to so many people.

I thought of you stopping at the rest homes to visit your “old gals” and how you always gave them a little Christmas treat like a carton of chocolate milk from your milk truck.

When I stood at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning, I remembered how you always went into the living room first to see whether Santa came and left presents while we were sleeping.

I remembered the many Christmas mornings that we waited a little longer to see our Santa loot because you had to run a few secret errands and drop off some Christmas eggnog and other dairy surprises to some customers you knew needed a little something extra.

 I always try to honor you and your legacy of giving.

This year we helped throw a Christmas party for families living in a homeless shelter.  As we were serving food and watching happy kids play with new toys, I remembered how much fun it was to help you prepare for Santa’s arrival in town.  I remember filling brown paper bags full of treats for Santa to give the kids.  And remember when you had him land in a helicopter right in the middle of town?

So magical.

This year we had Santa come to our Christmas Eve party. We couldn’t arrange for the town fire trucks to bring him or a helicopter, but it was still magical.

(He looked surprisingly like Doug…)

One of my favorite Christmas traditions was when you came home from Jaycee meetings and told us about our “Sub for Santa” family.  You told us their ages and interests and what they wanted for Christmas and then we all bustled around trying to provide them with the best Christmas possible.

There were a few days over the holidays that I ached to see you.  I wanted you to see my beautiful daughters, your granddaughters.  Oh, you would be so proud of them.

Annie told me she’s always felt bad she didn’t get to meet you.  “He’ll be the first person I look for in heaven,” she said.  I told her she wouldn’t be disappointed.

Dad, you have such a beautiful family. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we managed to gather the entire family together for a family photo.  We haven’t had one taken since just after you died.

I framed it and put it on the wall across from my desk so that I could see it all the time.  There are a lot of miracles represented in that photo.  I look at each person and marvel over their story, their life and challenges.

Reluctantly, mom is sitting front and center.  She hates having her picture taken and did it under duress.  In fact, we asked the photographer to trick her and zoom in on her in our group photo to get one of her alone because she refused to pose by herself.

I watched “Parenthood” last night and the dad, Zeke, wanted all of his children and grandchildren to go on a road trip together to celebrate his aging mother’s birthday.  When they all finally arrived, he told his mother why it was so important for him to get his family there to see her.

He said when he heard she hurt her hip, “I suddenly thought, geez I have to get those kids up there. Ma, they are the best thing I have done with my life, and I wanted you to see that.”

Zeke’s eyes filled with tears when he talked about his family, and his mother replied, “They are beautiful.”

 Dad, when I look at this family photo, I think that your family is the best thing you and mom have done with your life.

And, yes, we are beautiful too.

Families are an accomplishment, and we are yours.

In fact, our family is an amazing accomplishment, because we are a family of survivors.

Dad, we have all come so far. I know you know all of this because even though I can’t see you and have a face-to-face conversation, it only makes sense to me that you are still part of our family in a more real way that we know.

Happy Birthday dad.

I miss you.  We all miss you.

I hope we are your greatest achievement because we’re sure trying.