Friday, December 11, 2015

Mutts, Murder Plots and Mayhem

This dog is trying to kill me.

Here’s what happened:

This afternoon, while I was attempting to take a shower, Bubba flung himself against the bathroom door and burst in like a fur-covered barking, crying bomb.

I, of course, assumed there was something horrifying occurring so jumped from the shower and grabbed my pepper spray like a soap-covered, naked Ninja, preparing to face the peril.

“It’s too perilous!” Bubba barked and attempted to run around me in a circle (difficult in the close confines of our bathroom) then sat in front of the door, crying, and trying to prevent my departure.

Nonetheless, determined to protect our other pets, our Christmas presents, and our home in general from whatever danger drove Bubba to this desperate course of action, I threw on a towel and snuck out of the bathroom, pepper spray in hand.

(Side note: yes, as a matter of fact, I do take my pepper spray into the bathroom when I shower. Why? FOR JUST SUCH AN OCCASION, THAT'S WHY!!)

Anyway, as soon as I had the pepper spray cocked and ready to go, I began sneaking through the house, looking for intruders. Meanwhile, Bubba trailed me from room to room, circling me and letting out the occasional whine.

And you know what the problem was?

The cat was sleeping in the middle of the dog bed.

The fact that I did not, in that moment, pepper spray Bubba is a testament to my strength of character

I would like to explain WHY a sleeping cat is cause for such a frantic response but I have no idea. And I can’t ask Bubba because we are currently not speaking. However, my theory is that this had nothing to do with the cat and is instead part of some nefarious plot to scare me into a heart attack..

So, in sum, dogs are clearly uncomfortable letting sleeping cats lie, nudity seems to impair my Ninja skills, and Bubba is either trying to kill me or punish me for dressing him in Christmas clothing or both.

If I wake up dead tomorrow, you all know who to blame.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Cards and other Catastrophes

I don’t know how everyone else greets the holiday season but around here we like to do a little thing I call “prepping for the Christmas card.”

Well, to be perfectly fair, one of us really likes to prep for the Christmas card, one of us likes to drink heavily in preparation of prepping for the Christmas card, two of us like to gobble up dog treats in anticipation of being forced into outfits for the Christmas card, and one of us spends a lot of the evening meowing angrily and trying to disrupt the preparation of the Christmas card.

I’ll let the pictures help you all figure which is which.

This year’s card idea actually came about last Christmas when my brother's family got Opie a “make your own ugly Christmas sweater kit.” I put it away until this year then got myself one because, honestly, perfect theme for a Christmas card.

In any case, the creative process started off calmly:  just a couple of crazy kids cutting felt and gluing puffballs.

Then, as the alcohol and dog treats flowed, our conversations went a little something like this:

“Is that my green puff?  You can’t have my green puff!  I need the puff! Wait, where did we get pipe cleaner snowflakes?”

“I can’t work like this, I can’t work with a cat in my face!”

“How come we only have one string of horrible gold beads?”

“How cute is that?  Prince is helping…"

"Wait! Stop him! Get him off the table right now!” followed by “Instead of taking pictures and yelling at me to get the cat off the table why don’t you just get him of the table?!” (Which just goes to show you that Opie has no clue about the importance of photographic documentation of big life events).

“Are we seriously out of beer?” followed by “Oh crap, I think I put some in the freezer for you so they'd be really cold…like 3 hours ago.” followed by “Well, that’s a disgusting mess…yes, we’re out of beer.” soon followed by “Don’t be ridiculous, we’re never out of vodka.”

“You did NOT get Bubba another sweater….stop saying he loves it, look at him, he clearly doesn’t love it!”  (Which just goes to show you that Opie doesn’t understand that Bubba limping around, pretending to have a sore paw is just his canine way of saying “clothes are so awesome!”)

“How many treats have you given those animals…oh my gosh, that cat wants to kill you right now.”

“A Cyclops snowman? What the hell is a Cyclops snowman? Did you do that on purpose or did you aim for one side and miss?”

“I can’t believe they call this sweater a medium—in what universe is this thing a medium?  I look enormous.  Don’t you think I look enormous?” followed by “I look FINE?  Is that what you just said?  For future reference, when I say ‘don’t you think I look enormous?’ the correct answer is ‘no, you’re as skinny as a supermodel—did you just LAUGH?"

In any case, we finished the sweaters without killing each other, the Christmas cards are created and ordered, and if you think Prince hated his sweater, check out his reaction to his new hat:

Brace yourselves, folks, I have the feeling it's going to be a loooonnnnggg holiday season!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday -- Princeton P. Kitty

So, the stars have aligned making today National Cat Day AND Throwback Thursday AND the day I have to take Princeton P. Kitty to the cardiologist for his annual visit. He is, as you can see from the picture below, thrilled to pieces.

So, in honor of these three celebrations, I thought I'd share a little blast from the past -- a little overview of how the first couple of visits to the cardiologist went. That way everyone can imagine how my day is going to go.

And pity me.

From 2014 --Princeton P. Kitty Visits The Vet

I’m not going to lie, I find this warning label a little disturbing.

Now, I know some of you all are shaking your heads in disbelief, “Seriously?” You are saying to yourselves, “You haven’t posted a freaking blog entry for over a month and all you have to talk about is the standard warning label on some medicine?”
The thing is, this medicine is for MY CAT.

And we almost never let him drive.

But the real point of this is that we have yet another animal with heart disease, aka A Million Dollar Cat.  The drama all started a few months ago when I took Princeton P. Kitty  to the vet for his annual checkup. The vet said his little heart was beating so fast, he couldn’t make out the individual sounds and suggested that we take Prince to a heart specialist and kitty cardiologist at an animal hospital about an hour and a half way from here.

That’s right a kitty cardiologist.
And don’t feel bad if you didn’t even realize such a thing existed, both my brothers said “A what?!” about 5 times before they believed me.

I have a feeling that Opie would have had the same reaction except for the fact that our appointment was 2 days after we lost my 13-year-old Chihuahua, Peek-A-Boo, to congestive heart disease and I was pretty emotional.

And by “emotional” I , of course, mean borderline psychotic.

So he just nodded and said ok and away we went. And the highlights from that first trip include:

1.      Prince got car sick as we were pulling into the clinic parking lot—all over me, my new purse, and –most importantly—the referral form from our vet that we needed to provide the receptionist when we walked in the door.  “Wow,” Opie said. “What were you doing? I mean, it looked like you wanted him to puke on the form, like you shoved it under his mouth on purpose.”

“Do you really want to critique my cat puke catching skills right now?” I countered.  “DO YOU REALLY?!”
               He didn’t.

2.      Prince decided he wasn’t into this doctor business and started running around the exam room like he’d been shot from a gun. He tore under the chairs, slid underneath a little table, dashed behind the trashcan...flying around at top speed exactly like a cat with no visible signs of heart trouble. Then, when one of the vet residents squatted down to coax him out from under the exam table, he sprinted under her lab coat and clawed his way up her back.
She didn’t say so but I suspect she has new respect for the declawing process.

3.      After the initial exam, they told us they needed to do an ultrasound and EKG. “We’ll go over the costs with you.” The nurse said. “Then you can decide—“
“Just start the tests!” I insisted. “We don’t care about cost!”

Meanwhile poor Opie was motioning the nurse over to a corner of the room. “We care a little,” he mumbled.

But we had the tests and the long and the short of it is that Prince has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and supraventricular tachycardia which is apparently common in Sphynx cats. It’s manageable with medication but he has to be carefully monitored.
Which is why,  just before Christmas, I got to take my little darling back to the clinic for a recheck. This time sans Opie (who apparently feels “family sick days”  don’t apply to cats). The problem with this is that it meant I had to put Prince in his travel crate. Not because I wanted to but because if I don’t, he spends the entire car ride seeing if he can balance on my head.

Which is a little distracting on the highway.
Almost as distracting as listening to an irate and incredibly vocal cat SCREAM IN RAGE for an hour and a half.

Well, to be fair, for an hour and fifteen minutes because that’s when he got so angry that he threw up all over the crate and I had to pull over.

I cleaned him up as best I could and he insisted that putting him back in a crate that smelled of cat puke was tantamount to torture.  Fine, I said to myself, I can keep the ridiculous creature off my head for 15 minutes.
We made that part of that trip with limited disturbance and I decided that I would just park as close to the clinic door as possible and then I would run in with him in my arms and beg the nurse to put us in an empty exam room.

So, I grabbed him in one arm the crate in the other and ran for it.

And I almost made it.
But then the fire alarm went off.

“False alarm,” I assured Prince, still running up to the door.  “It’s a false alarm.”

It wasn’t.
The vets were leaving the building in a huge group. And, not only could we not go in the clinic, we couldn’t get back in the car because it was in “the fire danger zone.”

And since I couldn’t hold one squirming cat in my arms indefinitely, I had to put him back in the crate. The dirty, pukey crate.
As soon as I shut the door, he began screaming like I’d just set him on fire.

“He’s really happy to be here,” I assured all the assembled  vets.

I’m pretty sure they didn’t believe me—possibly because he screamed the entire 20 minutes we were in the parking lot waiting out the fire alarm.
Then, when we finally did get inside, the first thing they were supposed to check was his blood pressure. “I have a feeling it’s pretty high!” I shouted above the screaming. So, before we could even begin the exam, I had to spend 30 minutes calming him down.

Which, if the picture below is any indication, was only marginally successful.
In any case, we repeated all the tests, he seems to be doing better, and I thought that we’d get out of there without further incident…except the cardiologist thought it was important to talk about his stress level.
“You can’t let him get so stressed out,” he said. “It could put strain on his heart.”

Considering this is how Princeton P. Kitty spends most of his days,

I’m pretty sure his overall stress level is low.
But I thought I better reassure the cardiologist. “He only gets that way when I make him ride in the crate.”  I said. And then made my big mistake--tried to joke. “Trust me, if he made noises like that any other time, I’d totally give in and let him have his way.”

“That just enables his behavior,” the vet said.
And I had a brief—though terribly satisfying—image of punching him right in the face. I mean, COME ON. It’s not like spoiling him a little is going to damage his moral welfare. He’s a cat.  And he’s LOUD. And tenacious.  The last time we had a battle of wills was when I decided that, instead of sleeping between Opie and I, I should sleep next to Opie and Prince should sleep on either side of us. He stomped up and down my entire body for 30 minutes before I caved.

(Those of you who have never met Princeton P. Kitty are probably asking yourselves why we didn’t just lock him out of the bedroom…you obviously aren’t reading carefully.  HE’S LOUD, PEOPLE! He would have no problem sitting outside the door, crying at the top of his lungs—which gets both dogs barking—and flinging himself against the door at random intervals—which puts both dogs into hysterics.)

But I digress..

Anyway, I didn’t resort to physical violence against the vet and I didn’t even say something nasty…largely because it’s harder to find a good feline cardiologist than you might think.   

I agreed to try tranquilizing him before the next car ride and took him on home.
Which should be the end of it…but, as luck would have it, we had to take the dogs to the regular vet for their shots the next day and I mentioned that we’d been back to the cardiologist. “Prince wasn’t too happy about the trip,” I said.

“I heard,” the vet said. “They faxed over a report this morning…they said he’s pretty high strung.”
I think it’s a testament to the to my strength and maturity that I waited until we got back into the car to address that particular slur on my cat’s character.

“HIGH STRUNG?!” I screamed when we got in the car, “Can you believe they said my cat is HIGH STRUNG? He just doesn’t like the flipping crate, that doesn’t make him HIGH STRUNG.”
He’s no more high strung than you are,” Opie agreed.

Anyway, the beauty of this story is that after ALL OF THIS, we had to increase Prince’s heart medicine which means that we (and by we I mean I) have to take him back to the clinic in  2 weeks…and the cardiologist only prescribed enough Xanax for one of us.

If you're wondering how the other visits to the cardiologist have panned out, you can read about them here  and here.  If you're wondering how today's visit went, I'll try to update after we get home...and after I've had several calming alcoholic beverages.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

I found a rock in the garden.

And, if you don't know me and/or have never read this blog before, you are probably thinking "Wow! That has to be the most inane blog beginning of all time. What's next, a discussion of her grocery list?"

But if you know me at all, you know that this seemingly boring announcement was really the catalyst for drama that only a complete neurotic can appreciate.

Here's what happened:

I went out to the garden to pull out the last of the broccoli and Brussels Sprout plants. Then, because that section of the garden hasn't done very well this summer, I decided to dig a compost trench and spend the winter enriching the soil.

Except I hit a rock.

And not just any rock, but a Flintstones style, mammoth sized boulder that I couldn’t even lift and had to instead roll out of the hole.

“Holy crap, I told the dogs as I took a picture of the boulder. "That's the biggest freaking rock I've ever seen!"

The dogs, I'm pleased to report, were suitably impressed and immediately suggested that we celebrate by toasting the rock with dog treats and then peeing on it.

Unfortunately for them, I don’t like dog treats and I almost never urinate in public. Besides, I was already asking myself the fatal question:

“I wonder how many other massive rocks are down there?!”

Which means that THIS is the pit that Opie came home to at the end of the day:

Not to mention a knee-high pile of massive rocks.

“The question is NOT how come things sometimes didn't grow well in our garden,” I told him.  “The question is how did ANYTHING grow in our garden?!”

And he mentioned that he thought the real question was “What are you going to do with all these rocks now?”

But my friend Eric had recently clued me in to the environmental importance of native landscaping so I already had a plan. “I’m going to put in a rock garden.”  I said.

It is interesting to note that, years ago, Eric was also the one who opened my eyes to the environmental importance of composting so, essentially, this is all his fault.

But I digress…suffice it to say that Operation Clean Up the Garden has turned into Operation Obsessively Dig For Rocks.

“You’re not going to dig up the entire yard, are you?” Opie asked.

“Our grass grows back really fast,” I said noncommittally.

So now, I go out almost every day, shovel in hand, and just start digging away…stopping only to treat Opie to texts like:

“I found a roller!” (which is a rock so big it has be be rolled instead of carried).


“Don’t walk too close to the garden tonight.  We may have a little landslide situation and I don’t want you falling in a hole.”

Or, once

“Holy crap, I just found a smashed pair of child’s glasses.  What if there’s A KID buried in the yard?  I think I need to go lie down.”

Opie—who probably spends most of his days wondering how he got so lucky to snag me—tends not to respond but even he has to admit that the amount of rocks I have excavated is mind-boggling.

In just 2 months, I have put in 2 rock gardens AND I’ve started to landscape the entire perimeter of our yard with the rocks.

Seriously, check this out:



I mean, not to toot my own horn but I think it’s kind of amazing.

The only problem is this:

I have an obsessive personality AND I just hit a shelf of rock.

About 3 feet down, so far it’s over 4 feet long and I still haven’t found the sides of it. And it has been suggested to me that perhaps it would be best to leave well enough alone, that perhaps if I could actually remove this shelf of rock it would affect the structural integrity of the yard…and I certainly don’t want a sink hole…

But I can’t help myself.  I can just feel the rock down there, mocking me, and I smell a challenge. I can't bring myself to fill in the hole because, you never know, I might be able to break through.

I admit it, I might need to go to Rock Diggers Anonymous.

In any case, this is why I've been so bad at updating my blog this summer: I've had rocks in my head.

To summarize: I found a rock in the garden, obsession is a scary thing, and if our house somehow falls into a sink hole I'm totally blaming Eric.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The View From Here

I'm not going to lie, there are MANY reasons that I like my job but the view from my "office" window is definitely one of the big ones.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All The Things I Would Have Said

Opie and I went hiking in Arkansas this weekend and it was AWESOME.

The only downside was that we were completely cut-off from technology--no internet, no cell phones, no way to get on social media.

That part was excruciating.

Especially since share-worthy photo opportunities just flung themselves at my feet every time I turned around.

A couple of times we hiked high enough on the mountain to catch a weak signal but eventually I decided that the only sensible thing to do was keep a list of all the things I would have said and share them when I got home.

So, here it is, 4 days of tweets, instagrams, and posts all jammed into one.


Call me a cynic but when the camp catches on fire an hour after I arrive, I consider it a bad sign.

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My vacation hair would like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to 1985...and, for anyone who has ever complained about how long it takes me to get ready, I defy you to straighten all this mess in less than forty-five minutes.

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Nothing says "Camping with Kimbo" like grilled pineapple margaritas.

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Ok, you're a BUTTERFLY, what do you have to look so serious about?

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Please note I wasn't the only one who wanted to hike to the top of the mountain for internet-related issues...although Opie maintains that checking the hockey boards is significantly more important than random selfies.

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I'm not going to lie, I feel like Hershey's should sponsor me to post s'more related blogs.

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As a matter of fact, I do consider this roughing it...I mean, we're drinking champagne out of red solo cups like a couple of SAVAGES.

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Saw this deer early this morning, shortly before encountering the most savage of beasts: children whose parents have no problem with them running and screaming at the top of their lungs at 6:00 am. In related news, these same children were very surprised that they didn't come across any wildlife.

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Heading home and realizing that packing to go on vacation is much more fun than packing to go home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hypothetical Question

Let's imagine for a minute a completely fictitious woman who has an equally fictitious dog.  And let's say that this imaginary dog looks a little something like this:

And, just for fun, let's say that this woman and her dog not only live adjacent to a Bull Mastiff but also to a Doberman Pinscher.

And let's say the tiny dog above has no idea how small she is and continually tries to dig under the woman's brand new fence in order to show the Doberman that she's not going to put up with sass and back-barking and other doggy shenanigans. Which, in our completely hypothetical scenario, might make the Doberman look a little something like this:

And let's say that one day the woman, ever the responsible dog owner, went outside, shovel in hand, in order to fill in the gaps along her fence line, thus protecting hearth, home, and hound from the dastardly Doberman.

And, because she was so intent on her life-saving mission, let's say that she may or may not have dug right through an AT&T cable that was buried remarkably close to a little orange flag the woman hadn't noticed but upon closer inspection said "Caution buried cable."

Would this woman be financially liable for any alleged damage to this cable? Would it be wise for her to remain hidden in the house all day and  pray for rain to eradicate any signs of digging? Should the woman spend the intervening hours training her larger dog to attack anyone in a cable company uniform? Is it wrong that after checking her own internet and cable, the woman decided to pretend that nothing was amiss?

Asking for a friend....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days when you're rushing to get to the hairdresser on time, only to be blocked from getting on the highway by a big rig

who has somehow gotten stuck as he is hauling something that's bigger than your house

causing such a traffic snarl that some bearded, redneck-looking old guy is inspired to jump out of his truck and scream angry instructions at the driver

then attempt to help by YANKING THE STOP SIGN OUT OF THE GROUND?! I mean, I get that he was just trying to help, but isn't removing a stop sign a little bit completely illegal?

Anyway,  ever have one of THOSE days?  No?  All right, I'll be honest, it was a first for me too.  But thanks goodness I got pictures or my hair stylist would never have believed that was why I was late.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Mouse In the House

I'd like to start by saying we have a cat.

Not a very cat-like cat, to be sure, considering he's hairless and partially blind. But still, we have a cat.

We also have two dogs, one of which hunts squirrels and moles and birds in the yard with reckless abandon.

So I can't figure out how in the world we got another stinking mouse in the house!!!

It all started early last week when I got in one of the lower cabinets to grab a couple of dog treats and I noticed that the bag had been completely chewed open, dog treats were scattered willy-nilly, and there was trace evidence of mouse excrement.

I freaked.

The dogs, it is interesting to note, also freaked…but only because I had gone to the treat cabinet, retrieved the treats, then refused to give them so much as a crumb. “We’re throwing the whole bag away,” I told the dogs firmly. “You don’t want a bunch of vermin-ridden, mouse-chewed treats. That’s disgusting.”

The dogs allowed as how they saw nothing at all disgusting in mouse-chewed treats. What they thought was disgusting was throwing away perfectly good treats when there are dogs starving all over the world.

Seriously, these dogs are a little over-dramatic.

In any case, the next step was, of course, to eradicate any evidence that any mouse had ever been in residence.

“Don’t!” Opie insisted. “You shouldn’t clean until after we catch the mouse.  Cleaning will eradicate his scent and he might not come back to the same place.”

“Maybe it will make him move out,” I suggested. “But it doesn’t really matter because I can’t live here knowing we have mouse poop in the cabinet.  I have to clean it or we might have to move out.”

So, I cleaned and then we set the traps and for 3 whole days they were undisturbed.

I considered this a screaming success—mouse gone, house clean, everything was right with the world.

“We’ll give it one more night,” I told Opie. “Then I think we can trust that he’s moved on.”

“I don’t think mice just move on,” he said skeptically.

Which just goes to show you that he hasn’t seen The Rescuers.  Because mice do move on. Heck, sometimes they fly to Australia, fighting crocodiles and cliff diving.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a cartoon mouse.

Or, if we do, we have a mouse that is more like one of the Rats of Nimh—a super smart, mutant freak of a mouse that can skillfully remove every bit of bait from every mouse trap in the house and the garage without setting a single one of them off.

I did not handle this well.

I also didn’t handle it well the next night when we got this super-sensitive trap that’s supposed to snap if so much as a whisker touches it. And I can attest that it was so sensitive the stupid thing snapped almost every time I tried to move it to 
the appropriate location.

To be fair, the mouse did trigger this trap.  I mean, sure he also got the bait out of it and got away completely unscathed, but he did snap it.

Which was more than I can say for my attempt at humane, catch and release mouse-catching. See, I smeared peanut butter on the end of a strip of cardboard, extended that halfway across an empty bin and waited for the mouse to go after the peanut butter. This would cause the cardboard-and the mouse—to fall into the bin, Opie could take it to a field a few miles away and we all maintain the appropriate karmic balance.

The only thing that we caught with that elaborate setup was a couple of dogs sneaking in and out of the kitchen, irresistibly drawn to the intoxicating scent of peanut butter.

And that’s when I lost it ever so slightly. “That is IT!” I screamed at Opie.  ‘” I can not live like this!  I can’t stand thinking about that thing using our cabinets as an all night diner,  scampering around like an uncontrollable scamper mouse!”
“A scamper mouse?” he asked. “Is that a specific breed of mouse?’

“Don’t start with me!” I shouted.

In any case, we are in take no prisoners mode. I got everything mouse-friendly out of the cabinets and stuffed it in the refrigerator or a huge cooler.  I found these high-tech, super fancy mouse traps:

and I even have the humane trap set up again—except this time, instead of a piece of flat cardboard, I got a leftover paper towel roll, filled it with bait and then balanced it ever so gently on the edge of counter above the bin.  The theory being that the mouse didn’t fall for the other trap because he could see over the edge of the counter and perhaps he is too afraid of heights to risk it for some peanut butter...I just hope he isn't afraid of heights!

Honestly, if I don’t wake up to a trapped mouse, I may have to concede defeat and just move.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Communication Breakdown

You know how people complain that technology is destroying communication, that whenever you go into a public place you don’t see people talking to each other, you just see people tapping away on their phones or plugged into their iPods or the like?

Those complainers forget how awful it is to be trapped next to some moron who assaults you with communication and feels no compunction about sharing all the details of his personal life, whether you asked for them or not.

Like the idiot in line with me on my way to NY last weekend. I was flying Southwest and had committed the ultimate sin: I didn’t check in at the first possible second I could so I got C boarding.

Suckage major.

But I got in line and this guy next to me immediately announced angrily, “This is perfect. We're probably going to be stuck with an aisle seat!"

Which was odd because "we" weren't sharing a seat plus I doubted there'd be anything but middle seats left and I was just hoping to get a spot between 2 people of reasonable size and regular bathing habits.

But I didn't say that, because he was already full into a rant about 9-11.

“I just hate to fly since 9-11. All the security and crap.  It’s ridiculous. And it’s not going to help. It makes me nervous just thinking about everything that could happen.”

I should mention that I am a skittish passenger at the best of times. The last thing I need is some other paranoid freak show getting me amped up before a flight.

“You know what I mean?” He said. “Anyone could take a plane down—“

“I'm going to need you to stop talking,” I told him.

At least that’s what I thought I said, apparently what he heard was “While your current subject matter is making me ever so slightly uncomfortable, please don’t pass up this opportunity to hit on me as I find your particular brand of crazy oddly appealing.”

“You know,” he said, leaning closer. “I don’t mind flying when I’m in control. I used to be a pilot in the Navy. But these commercial flights are so, so…” he shook his head, briefly at a loss for words.  Sadly, the silence didn’t last. “We should just drive.” He said a few seconds later.

“I’m good,” I assured him and scurried onto the plane as fast as I could.  And I was so focused on getting away from this freak show idiot that I didn’t even go through my whole obsessive-compulsive pre-flight rituals.

He sat right behind me.

Actually, that’s not completely true. He was supposed to sit on the middle seat behind me. But he made a big fuss about needing to sit by the window, had to sit by the window, wouldn't the woman in the window seat be a decent sort and sit in the middle seat so he could have the window seat?!

And she did!

That woman is waaasyyyy nicer than I am.

She didn't even punch him in the face when he spent the next forty minutes sharing with her, me, and basically the whole front half of the plane the excruciating details of his itinerary, the problems he had encountered on the way to the airport, why his wife doesn’t understand him, his favorite television shows, his contempt for the TSA’s screening procedures and of course, how much better the flight would be if he were in control of it.

And the irony is, if I had given in to my impulses and shrieked "Stop talking! Stop talking RIGHT NOW OR ILL KILL YOU!" like I wanted to, I would probably be the one in jail for disrupting the flight.

But it was awful…almost as bad as the drunk guy I sat next to when we flew to Florida for Thanksgiving last year. That’s a story for another time but seriously, I could write a book based on my fellow passengers alone.

The point is, if this interaction is the kind of communication that technology has replaced, bring on the tech!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Big News

Guess who has a story featured in this book?

Me, that's who!

It's about one of my nieces, Haley, and the nurse who saved her life.

Fingers crossed that this is just the first of many big publishing announcements!

It's available tomorrow online and in can see it here.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Ashmore Estate...Poltergeists, Punks and People Who Should Be Punched in the Face

Well, it’s early summer and that means one thing here : The Eric and Kimberly annual vacation.  For the past 15 years we have taken a trip together every summer, focusing our attention on attractions somewhat off the beaten path, places where most people don’t venture.  Places like the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, the Annual SupermanFestival, Psychic Boot Camp and the Villisca, Iowa Axe Murder House.

It’s been fifteen years of full on awesome!

The annual selfie featuring our brand new EMF meter!
It is interesting to note that a lot of people still worry that Opie might be upset about the fact that, once a year, I gallivant around the country without him.

Which is why it’s important to mention that for the past few years Eric and I have strategically planned our vacation the same weekend as the NHL draft. This is perfect timing because Opie really likes to spend the draft on the couch, drinking beer, unencumbered by questions like "Who's that guy?" and “What kind of name is that?” and "Don't you think those jerseys are ugly?"

In fact, Opie was so excited about his bachelor hockey weekend that when it looked like the trip might be off, because Eric was sick, he was quietly horrified and immediately began suggesting alternative plans--ostensibly to make up for my disappointment--that would still get me out of the house for the weekend.

Besides, he also has zero interest in traveling to places like the Ashmore Estate for a night of ghost hunting, even if the building has been featured on Ghost Adventurers, Ghost Hunter and Children of the Grave.

The Ashmore Estate, for those of you who don’t have your finger on the pulse of the paranormal community, was formerly a really horrifyingly filthy county poor house, then an equally disturbing hospital for the mentally ill. Over 200 people are rumored to have died there and it is supposedly a hotbed of ghostly activity.

The Ashmore Estate is located in Ashmore, Illinois—and if you haven’t ever heard of it, don’t feel bad; there’s only about 800 people in the entire town. However, it is part of the slightly more famous Coles County, Illinois…which is where Abraham Lincoln’s father and stepmother lived and which is home to an enormous collection of Lincoln paraphernalia—like the fabulous Lincoln in a log:

And, even better, the largest Lincoln statue in the WORLD.

And I don’t know about the rest of you, but when Eric and I realize we are somewhere near such an epic landmark, we stop in our tracks to find it.  Even if the attraction in question is closed.  Even if getting a glimpse of this landmark involves a little something some people call trespassing and we prefer to call exploring and can only be photographed through the fence of the Charleston, Illinois Raceway.

I hate to say it, but doesn't it look
like the tallest Lincoln statue in the
world is flipping us off?
Seriously, these might be the two worst representatives of Lincoln I have ever seen in my life. Could they look any creepier? To be fair, it’s possible that the residents of Coles County have no familiarity with Lincoln’s appearance because he never actually lived there.  His dad and step-mom did but he was already grown up and out of the house but the time they moved to Cole County.

Which kind of makes all of the Lincoln paraphernalia completely inappropriate.

But I digress…suffice it to say that this whole Lincoln landmark disappointment was somewhat representative of our ghost hunt this year.

The house definitely had some spirit activity but our personal ghostly encounters were very limited.  In addition, we were hindered by 2 very important things:

This was the type of ultra serious ghost hunt that 2 goofy amateurs have NO BUSINESS participating in. Particularly if the aforementioned amateurs think they're practically professionals because they ghost hunt once a year and had recently procured a EMF

First of all, a measley little EMF meter (even if it did receive killer reviews on all the ghost hunting websites) looked pretty pathetic next to all the other hunters’ equipment.  There were about a dozen other people exploring the house and EVERYONE had an EMF. The only other clear amateurs were these 3 college kids who were half-drunk and even they had a video camera and some sort of voice recorder.  The others had video cameras strapped to their heads, they had EVP recorders, they had spirit boxes, they had infrared cameras, someone had this weird laser light box, and two other guys were walking around with huge headphones and some equally weird wand thing.

It was disturbing.

Especially when they’d just burst into whatever room Eric and I were exploring, start shooting pictures and blinding us with their flashes, then yelling “Sorry!” before scurrying away and waving their wands and meters in the air with reckless abandon.

It’s a miracle I didn’t punch anyone right in the face.

Which brings me to my second point:

Serious ghost hunters are annoying.

Serious ghost hunters take themselves WAAAAYYYY too seriously.  They don’t appreciate giggling, they don’t appreciate any suggestion of logic, and they definitely don’t appreciate questions like “What is that thing you have strapped to your head?”

Plus, once they decide you’re an amateur, they’re downright rude.

For instance, after exploring several rooms with no success, Eric and I settled down in the 3rd floor lobby, a supposed “hot spot” in the house.  We put the EMF on the chair and began trying to talk to spirits in the room.  And just when things started to get interesting—the EMF started to give tiny flickers and then we heard something fall to the floor--this other guy came in, flopped his disgruntled self down in the chair next to me and muttered "This has been a complete disappointment!" Thus spreading his negative energy all over our hotspot and chasing our ghost away.

This is considered very bad form in the ghost hunting community.

Then the 3 college kids began telling everyone how they had gone into one of the other supposed hot spots and one of them had been briefly taken over by a spirit and was forced to do some Michael Jackson Thriller-esque moves against his will.

Personally, I thought this was the perfect time for the “bullshit” cough but the other hunters were all oohing and aahhing like the kids didn’t reek of beer and cheap liquor that they weren’t even polite enough to share with the group.

Which is considered very bad form in the drinking community.

Then, when Eric and I wanted to return to our 3rd floor hotspot we found that it had been hijacked by the two women with the weird laser light box. The box essentially lit up the entire room and most of that end of the hall with hundreds of tiny green laser lights—kind of like we were at the couples skate at a 1980s roller rink. The theory behind this was that, if you sit very still and somehow manage NOT to have an epileptic seizure, you will be able to see the dark shadows of ghosts as they cross through the lights.

I would love to report how this turned out but Eric (possibly possessed by some evil spirit in the manner of the aforementioned drunk college kids) sarcastically said “Ohhh, pretty!” and we were made to feel unwelcome by the serious hunters in the room.

At this point, Eric and I were forced to resort to plan B: glom onto anyone who was having luck finding ghosts and ride their coat tails to paranormal success.

This is considered genius by the Hadley-Yates community.

In any case, we eased our ghost-affirming, positive energy selves over to the room where two women had seemingly connected to one of the spirits in the house. Their EMF meter was going crazy, lighting up in in response to the questions they asked it. Then, best of all, they had this little stuffed teddy bear night light thing that lit up when you pressed its belly.  They put it on the bed, stepped away from it, and said "Elva, are you still with us?"

And the teddy bear lit up.

I'm not too proud to say I almost wet my pants.

Unfortunately, the women weren't interested in sharing their success.  Once they realized they had an audience, they basically took their toys and went home, flouncing out of the room and saying "good luck." over their shoulders.

Then, as if they already didn't deserve to be punched in the throat, they looked at this guy whose EMF meter started beeping and said "There's an electric outlet above you.  DEBUNKED!" in a snotty tone reminiscent of over-entitled high school girls.

Seriously, this is obnoxious in ANY community.

That poor guy retaliated by getting out his spirit box and trying to convince us all he was hearing the ghosts talk. "Did you hear that?!" He kept asking.

And if he meant earsplitting static that made me feel like my head was about to explode, then yes, I heard tons of that.

At this point it was almost one in the morning so we had a choice: do one final sweep of the house, hoping for a last minute ghost to jump out and scare us to death or go back to the hotel and eat Double Stuff Oreos.

The fact that this decision was made with almost no discussion is a testament to why our friendship has lasted all these years.

So, in summary, the house may be haunted but you couldn't prove it by us, OTHER serious ghost hunters often need to be punched in the face, and Double Stuff Oreos are amazing.