Patsy Cline’s voice reverberated in my head, as I embarked on my very first vampire hunt, just after midnight. I whistled the tune, softly, reassuringly. Repeatedly.
Okay, it wasn’t a vampire hunt. But I got to use a blacklight flashlight in the pitch dark – pretty cool, yes?
What I found was horrifying. Shocking. Disgusting. And there were no wooden stakes or silver bullets to save me.
Caution, the following tale is not for the faint of heart.
I discovered the hidden locations of the mysterious, invisible pee-pee puddles - much to my dismay.
Apparently, while the hubby and I were on vacay; the cats decided to launch a literal pissing war. While we’re fortunate enough to have a fabulous pet sitter; he can’t spend all day at our house tracking down invisible scents.
So, once we returned home, we took a 4 pronged approach to cleaning the rug: curse, wash; repeat.
After several unsuccessful attempts to dissuade our cats from their potty peevishness by dousing gallons of store brand pee-pee-be-gone around the room, I phoned the sitter.
“Try white vinegar and salt. That works for us.”
We did. Soon our living room smelled happily like pickles.
We bought a Bissell. The cats waited patiently for me to clean the entire back wall of the living room, so that they could proceed to demonstrate the exact spots in which they preferred to urinate. Sometimes.
Curse, wash; repeat.
I soon succumbed to PTSD: post traumatic stinky disorder.
“I still smell it!”
“You’re just imagining it now,” he said, flipping the remote.
I paced back and forth in front of the television like Lady Macbeth; sniffing the air and wringing my hands. “I want those damn spots out now! They have a secret pee pee place! I know it! It smells right here. Do you think they can actually pee under the sofa?”
My husband responded by gently moving me out of the way to focus the remote.
I sniffed some more. I looked at him. I took the remote.
“What do you want me to do? Get down on my hands and knees and sniff?”
After subsequent discussions involving therapy and long-term marriage counseling; I called the vet’s office the next day.
“It certainly sounds like you have a behavioral issue. It may have something to do with marking and territory. Unfortunately, even if you can’t smell it, the cats can. They’ll keep going back and urinating as long as they smell it.”
“Of course they smell it! Everyone smells it! There’s a blue haze in front of our door! It smells like we live in an Amish outhouse for Crissakes.”
The vet drew a long breath of air. “We have a product that may help you. When would you like to pick it up?”
After racing across town and breaking several sound barriers, I ran up to the front desk to claim the miracle cure.
“That’ll be $18.99.”
Cheap at twice the price. A gust of air toppled stacks of files off the counter, as I whipped out my credit card.
“And here. Doctor thought you might want this, too.” The gal behind the counter handed me a large, hypodermic needle. You know - the kind you use to put down whales.
Dimly, I understood. “Well, I guess if the stuff doesn’t work on the rug, I can inject myself and be out of my misery.”
The gal running my credit card looked at me funny. “The syringe isn’t for you. It’s for your carpet.”
Oh. Well. That was considerate. I guess if I’d been peed on for weeks, I’d want to shoot up, too. Poor carpet has no fingers.
She clarified. “You inject the worst areas with the enzyme, to get under the pad.”
“Right. I knew that.”
That’s why my husband found me on my hands and knees, shooting up the carpet with a hypodermic needle.
“What are you doing?” He stayed far, far away from me and my needle.
I explained, calmly. While waving the needle and using the word, “pee-pee” about 50 times.
He crept cautiously into the room, and sniffed. “It does smell better. What is this stuff?” he asked, picking up the spray bottle to examine its label. “You’re kidding me, right?”
I shook my head vehemently. “I’m a believer.”
“This is the best name they could come up with?”
“I don’t care. It works.”
“Anti-Icky Poo? For real?”
For real. It is a real product. And it does work – to a point: you have to find out where all the spots are. Even the little splashes. Yick.
Hence, the blacklight flashlight. Which sure beats making Chef Hubby crawling around on his hands and knees, sniffing the carpet ala bloodhound. Our marriage is on the mend now; we even have new pet names: “Mr.” and “Mrs.”
Lo! Into the midnight I troddeth! Armed with trusty blacklight! I spray-eth the horrid hideouts and smote thy pee-pee down!
After I’d finished, I re-examined the spots I’d sprayed with Anti-Icky Poo with the blacklight. Son of a gun, it works. Seriously, no more glowing pee-pee.
Yep, we love our cats. But before we go on vacation next year, I’m buying a Patsy Cline CD. That way, I won’t be whistling just one tune in the dark.
So, finished first draft; and first edit of sequel novel, Confection Connection. The problem is, I returned back to the Christmas "novella" this morning. It's something I noodled with way back when... and now suddenly realize that THIS should probably be the sequel; and Confection Connection the 3rd in the series.
To accomplish this, means finishing the Christmas-time novel (okay); and postponing release until probably next Fall.
I'm not exactly thrilled about this; while I'm great at procrastinating housework; book releases are different. I really did hold myself to a goal (pretty much met) with the first novel. With the second... well, let's just say my advice is this: do not move/buy a new house while you are trying to finish a novel. Especially when it takes you weeks to put computers back together again.
So, I'm thinking it would make good sense to release these stories sequentially (and not ala Star Wars, where the back story comes last, right?). It would afford me a chunk of time to develop covers (yep; I did the cover for Kitchen Addiction! myself) and work on the recipes to be included with my husband, Chef Andrew, with a minimum of throwing pots and pans at each other.
It would also give me some time to find an editor who wants to be my editor, which I hope will provide a better measure of continuity (am seriously bummed that my editor for Kitchen Addiction! is moving on to being an author himself. I wish him the best of luck and do feel a void in this process now. Rats.)
Oh, and the blog thing. Really; for awhile the pressure just froze me up. I really felt it had to be a short story fest. My bad.
So, for 2013 (and to celebrate Groundhog's Day) I will NOT look at my shadow; but look forward to giving some aspect of a "progress report" on a weekly basis. Or at least a Central PEE-ay weather report.
Well, it's my own darn fault - I asked for it. My last blog entry I fumed and fussed because I couldn't find a domestic challenge to write about it. Luckily, my prayers were answered.
I've had a pretty interesting week, what with my being partiallly paralyzed and all. And, I got to meet a whole set of new characters in my life: chiropractors.
Dr. A is a very nice man who kindly slipped my disc back into place after much weeping and gnashing of teeth (and that was just
him; I apologized and passed the Kleenex). His office assured me that why, yes, they did accept Red Rose City health insurance. Approaching the third visit, they clarified, explaining they did accept Red Rose City health insurance, but not Red-Dot
Red Rose City health insurance.
I called the Red-Dot Red Rose City health insurance 800 number, where I wasted a portion of my lifetime that will never be reclaimed. They confirmed; Dr. A's office is correct but if I went onto the www.MyRedRoseCity.com
website, I would find a
listing of covered chiropractors in my area.
I live in Lancaster, PA – and while I love it, it is not exactly Mecca insofar as some health practices are concerned (ie. if you're into acupuncture or Reiki; be prepared to travel.)
I came upon my listings – all two of them. The first of which I recognized from having driven past; it lies between what portends to be a sports bar and what pretends to be a massage salon. Uh; pass thanks.
The remaining practice is just up the road from me. Oh, goodie!
I limp into the office with a gait that would make Quasimoto eligible for Swan Lake. I fill out the 700-page questionnaire (why does this doctor feel it necessary to inquire as to whether or not I've had a happy childhood? Has anyone?)
I look about and realize somewhat acutely – along with my back pain – that yessiree Bob, I do
live in Lancaster. WWJD posters, books, magazined, pamphlets, Bibles abound. This is not too unusual because Lancaster is well known as the Eastern Bible
(thumping) Belt. It's a lot like driving through our bucolic countryside only to find it reeks of Amish fertilizer – at first, it's offensive. After awhile, you get used to it.
However, I was not prepared for the Musak station to be tuned into the Rush Limbaugh of Bible Thumpers. The nerve pinch my character Mina Kitchen feels at acute moments of crisis has NOTHING on this. I worried – am I turning into my character? Am I becoming Brundle-Fly?
I was led into an exam room where, in keeping with tradition, I waited for half my lifetime. This at least was normal, so it soothed me. Things were looking up. So I looked up. There, plastered across the ceiling above the exam table were WWJD posters, cards, and other sentiments, along with a dried up Palm Sunday Cross made from, ummm, dried up Palm Sunday palms.
A nurse eventually came in (presumably after she gave birth to her third child) and took my blood pressure: it was 189 over something else ludicrous.
The only time my blood pressure reaches this elevation is during dental visits (which I find odd because I LOVE my
dentist – she grows fabuilous orchids and is a cat lover; what's not to like?) But somewhere back in my brain's developmental stages things got hardwired to interpret dentist = RUN.
So, I chalk up my elevated BP with my loathing of Bible thumping during non-Bible thumping hours. Like when my vertebrae is about to be snapped inbetween someone else's fingers.
Don't get me wrong – I'm a card carrying Episocopalean (really; once I transitioned from Reformed Dutch Protestant to
Episcopalean, they gave me a card. It's on a magnet on our refrigerator – honest.) So, ostensibly I share the same basic faith as Dr. B.
However, I'm not so much for cross-pollinization of sins. Example: when I go to church, I don't expect to find dental floss and a packet reviling me of all my dental flaws in the pew. In short – I don't want one-stop-shopping for my dental/spiritual
At this point I realize there will be many who will be jumping up and shouting, “Yes, but if you address your spiritual issues,
your teeth will be whiter!” That may very well be. However, I'd like a little forewarning – and a choice, thank you very
“Come to Dr. Snap N Crack – When Your Spirit Ails You, We'll Bring You Back (and so will Jesus upon the Second Coming)” Now, that would be honest advertising.
WWID? (that is, What Will I Do?) We'll see. I have an appointment with Dr. B. later in the week. If my head spins around and I spit pea soup across the room, I'll be a little concerned. Of course, that could
unspiral my spine - so there's an upside.
I woke up to another perfect day – and all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head.
Since we returned from vacation; everything at home has hummed along happily – groceries in supply; meals made without rushing; cat’s behaving and even telephone conversations with my own mother have been calm and tranquil. In short – I’ve
had nothing to blog about.
“Even the cat hasn’t yacked,” I whimper, blowing my nose into an Aloe coated tissue. Crap; we even have the perfect tissues lately. When did I go Stepford shopping? “I have no conflicts or complications whatsoever. I feel like I’m being jinxed.”
“It’s not so bad. Something will come up,” husband assures me, continuing to wash the dishes. Wash the dishes? WTH did this start?
“You’re not even making a mess in the kitchen anymore.”
“And you even made the bed.”
“Well, it is our second anniversary and I wanted to make you happy.”
“Thanks a lot. At this rate, I'll be editing dictionaries.” (Insert more blowing of nose into horrifyingly clean/soft tissue here.)
“Look, if it’s any consolation – we could move, right? Haven’t we been going to all those open houses?”
I dabbed my eyes. “That’s true.”
“And I’m a terrible packer. I’ll probably shove our tax papers in with your bras and the ketchup, right?”
“Oh yes!” I brightened a bit.
“And the movers could break things – or even take our stuff to the completely wrong house! Or – not even show!”
I hugged him. “I love you. You’re the best.”
Husband hugs me back, then saunters down the basement, exceedingly pleased with self.
“You’re not doing any laundry, are you?” I call after him, dreading more good things flung my way.
“Only my chef clothes. But if you want, I’ll make sure to pour bleach on something of yours and ruin it.”
I sigh with relief, and finally enjoy a sip of - albeit perfect - Pacific Blend. But what the heck.
“Hey, honey!” he calls up from the basement.
“Yeah?” I shriek back down; wondering how much more of our laundry has aired through the neighbor’s walls.
“You’re in luck – the washer’s broken!”
"Yep. Looks like we'll have to buy a new one. It could take days to deliver, too."
Oh happy days!
My husband and I returned from vacation rested and relaxed. The cat, not so much.
We came home and discovered we’d suffered a power outage. Which the security system does not like.
I attempt to reset the alarm while my better half gently peels the cat off the ceiling. (How long was the alarm beeping? Days? All week? Naw, the pet sitter would have called us, right? Is that fur on the ceiling?)
System battery low.
Well, that stinks but it’s not the end of the world. It’s a battery, right? No big deal. We then proceed to set and reset the microwave, stove, coffee pot, and all the other gadgets that insist on containing clocks that don’t need clocks, along with finally, our clocks.
Then begins the fun part of unpacking the car and putting away cartons and bins of all the stuff we “needed” on vacation. My husband commences the Herculean task of carting down the bazillion loads of dirty laundry into the basement (Did we really take this much stuff with us? Who wore it and how did they get it so dirty?) and soon enough we are churning enough loads of laundry to compete with the cleaners down the corner.
I put all the other non-clothes stuff away, while making dinner and reassuring the aforementioned shaking scaredy cat.
Husband returns from the basement – smelling oddly of bleach– whereupon I hand him a beer and we plotz together on the sofa, literally crying in our beer. Just one more vacation day – tomorrow, Sunday – left. We dab our eyes and no sooner have our noses in our Kindles when I hear my dearest snoring peacefully alongside me. This looked like a pretty good idea, so I joined him.
We jolt awake, knocking the beer over on the cat as he flees from the alien sounds (although curiously he has grown accustomed to our tandem snoring).
Apparently the dishwasher, microwave, dryer, oven timer and refrigerator warning chimes all went off at once (well one of these
was my bad; I hadn’t closed the door all the way while getting our beer). Either that or they had figured out how
to talk to each other while we were away.
I rouse myself and pull out our dinner. My husband gets up and pries the cat’s nails out of the ceiling.
Later, dinner over, we’re falling asleep on the sofa again and all is right with the world. We wake up to put our jammies on and hop in bed. The last night of no alarm clocks. The last morning to sleep in.
I look at the clock – no power outage here. And wow, it really is 3:00 a.m.
“It’s the alarm. I’ll get it,” I say and shuffle downstairs.
I hit the disarm button.
System disarmed. System battery low.
I give the alarm the evil eye, and trudge back upstairs. A furry, black shadow flies past me. Well, at least the cat got down from the ceiling by himself this time.
I shove the cat over from my spot in bed, and we all lie down. Just the three of us.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
By six o’clock I’d walked enough laps up and down the stairs to have worked off all my vacation Margaritas. I’d also finished reading the novel I’d began last night.
By seven o’clock I was on the phone with the security company, while my husband was making coffee with the cat on his
head. While I stare at my husband and wonder if I have stumbled upon a happier cure for balding men, the
security company cheerfully informs me they can have a man out to replace the battery first thing Monday morning.
I promise the person on the other end of the wire all sorts of things including sending the chef husband to cook for her if she will
for-the-love-of-God-and-my-sanity please send someone today?
“I’m sorry Ma’am but our technicians’ hours are Monday through Friday.”
I sorrowfully agree to their first appointment Monday morning and hang up the phone, as my husband and cat turn to me, looking
exhausted. Well, the cat looked exhausted; he hadn’t had any coffee.
“What’s the story?”
I tell him.
My husband strides down the hall to – again – reset the stupid alarm, muttering something about napping and sheds.
The cat had other plans and fled to the basement.
Miraculously, for the rest of Sunday, not a peep. I mean, a beep. That didn’t start until about 4:00 a.m. Monday. Which was good because we had to get up at 6:00 a.m., anyway.
This was probably why we badly overslept and wound up hurling ourselves in and out of the shower and clothes
and making coffee and lunches like athletes training for a bizarre commuter’s relay race. I was just thankful I
wound up using my own toothbrush. Although I think the husband did, too.
Husband leaves, and I realize it’s the first of the month. We’ve got bills to pay. Lots of them. Before tonight. I launch into accountant mode upstairs at the computer, when the phone rings. I look at the useless phone on the desk next to me (well, it’s not entirely useless, it does have voicemail, and it holds down my filing pretty well) because its battery is shot, too (maybe the security guy will have an extra?) and race downstairs for the kitchen phone (which is an actual phone, with an actual cord, attached to an actual wall –insert Luddite comments here). I answer just as the message machine is picking up. I hear my own canned voice and swear softly under my breath, just as the message ends and the man on the other end chuckles.
“Don’t worry; mine does that all the time.”
“It’s Mike, I’m your security tech. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I hang up and dance a jig and run back upstairs to finish the bills. The phone rings.
I grab the receiver downstairs on the fourth ring (hey, I’m getting faster!)
“I’m sorry, honey.”
“I’m just cranky. I really didn’t get any sleep.”
I yawn. “It’s okay. What did you mean about a shed? We don’t have a shed...”
I go back upstairs and turn back to the numbers which unfortunately have decided to paint themselves red.
Let’s see; if we pay this company now, but that service a few days later…
The phone rings.
I retrace my rut down the stairs, wondering if I weigh myself now, how much less I’ll weigh in the next
“Hi, it’s Mike again, I’m just outside your front door.”
I throw down the receiver to let Our Savior of the Security System in to do his techie voodoo. Insert mental
Genuflect with Phillip’s head, here.
Mike no sooner has the panel open and the battery replaced than the cat is wriggling on his back at the guy’s feet.
Correction; on the guy’s feet. Which is weird because our cat doesn’t come out for anyone, except
But our cat’s no dummy. He knows which side his beep beep’sbuttered on.
“Hey, you must smell my kitty.”
Sure, I think. What he smells is the sound of silence.
It’s an hour until our company arrives and as usual I’m running around like a lunatic making sure the menu’s prepped and ready to serve; drinks are made; ice is cold and pillows fluffed just before I jump in the shower. Then the phone rings.
It’s my husband informing me that our guest of honor – along with his troop of ravenous teenage boys – won’t be coming.
“What? Is someone bleeding?”
I hold my breath, count to ten, tell my husband I love him and hang up. Then I drum my feet on the floor and scream like Rumpelstiltskin. Not so much for the last minute cancellation of a rather large party (dinner for 6 is slightly larger than dinner for 2, yes?) but it’s now obvious that this is the guy’s MO. He’s become one of those people. And it stinks.
I understand that my husband’s co-worker is depressed –going through a divorce, custodial parent of 3 teenage boys, topped with mortgage issues and car problems – hence the dinner invitation for him and his family. And the shopping expedition to make sure that we not only had plenty for dinner, but for leftovers: being a single parent on a single budget with four mouths ain’t easy. What can I say? Some folks hand out party bags - we send you home with roast beef and pasta salad.
But this isn't the first time he’s done this to us. On the up side, at least this time there was a phone call.
It would be easy to cross this guy off the guest list – permanently - but his kids are fond enough of us to call us Auntie and Uncle. And we know the guy’s going through a mess – really, we get it.
But honestly I just can’t wrap my head around how anyone could be so rude? I don’t know what it looks like from his side of the net, but from ours – it was hurtful. Is it his generation? Does he think cancelling a party invitation to someone’s home is the same as cancelling a dinner reservation at a restaurant?
I spent the bulk of my Saturday cleaning and preparing a very large roast. Which we will now eat forever. (By the end of the week I should be able to say, “mooo” with some authenticity.) Friday night, I boiled and marinated salads until midnight. Thursday evening was my (extra) shopping trip which got me home at half past eight with $200 less to my name.
At least Saturday’s cancellation wasn’t as embarrassing as last month’s fiasco. The guy just stood us up. A no show.
Catastrophes happen to the best of us – I get it. And so does a sense of ennui; depression; boredom, cocooning and the plain old I-don’t-wannas. However – IMHO – if you’ve already accepted an invitation, you pull up your big boy/girl pants and go.
If you don’t want to hang with someone, make a polite excuse and do NOT accept the invitation - don’t run your would-be hostess into the ground preparing for a party that's not happening.
So, what are we gonna do?
Except the next time my husband extends an invitation to this guy, I’m going to suggest telling him it’s pot luck – his.
So, last weekend I tried out 2 of my 5 “$0 Kindle promotion”days – and over 15,000 of you downloaded a copy of Kitchen
I mean that – wow.
Here’s the details of the wow factors:
Saturday evening Kitchen Addiction! jumped from #118 on the Free Kindle Top 100 up to #89! Was very exciting –
Early Sunday morning, it was #8 – in the Top 10 of the Top 100 Free Kindle eBooks. There it stayed until late Sunday night, dropping to #10 and then #13. It hovered neck-and-neck with The Hunger Games.
What, I wondered could this have translated to in terms of downloads? After a couple service help requests with KDP Select; turns out their reporting was not up to the minute (glitch on their end) but even so delayed results are fantastic – settling down today to a nice healthy number of over 15,000+ downloads.
Well! Thank you!
In the meantime, if you are a Kindle Prime Member, you can borrow the novel for $0 anytime. If you'd like a larger sample than the sample pages on Amazon, there is also now a recipe booklet, based on the novel. Recipes are by my husband, Chef Andrew, with various excerpts/passages from the novel. Oh - also have a Cosmo Concoction courtesy of the author :)
Next: back to our regularly scheduled weekly blog comments - more up this weekend.
That's about it for this post; working on a "real" blog post...but in the meantime, hope you enjoy this:
Kitchen Addiction! will be a FREE $0 download for Kindle users tomorrow, Saturday July 7 and Sunday, July 8 - get it while it's hot - and free!
I just microwaved some left-over chili for lunch. I don’t often microwave my meal; and when I do I’m always reminded as to why I don’t: it never heats through evenly. The bowl is too hot; the chili has hot pockets and the rest is kind of tepid until I swirl through the few pockets of molten chili. And even then I’m usually re-microwaving it and burning my fingers on the bowl.
I shake my head at myself. Why do I do this? I much prefer re-heating chili on the stove - it takes about the same amount of time as microwaving - and re-microwaving - my food, although I wind up with an extra pot to wash.
One result is less desirable than the other; so why do I do it? Probably the illusion of speed and ease. In my case, a bit of sloth - no extra pot washing.
As the case would have it, I’m fairly old school, so I usually don’t fall prey to this culinary transgression too often.
But I think there are a lot of microwave managed folks out there - falling prey to the illusion that everything can be cooked, served and consumed in one neat package with a minimum of fuss.
I see a lot of relationships falling into this category. Two grown-ups consult a virtual checklist of wants and needs and come together without doing any real initial ground work (slowly building trust and intimacy), or the constant maintenance work that is necessary for a healthy relationship.
Yes, I said constant - just like stirring the pot, unless you want to wind up with a burnt out mess at the bottom.
Relationships for me, as a new writer, involve a lot of sitting around and looking at a blank screen; turning the laptop off and doing a load of laundry; finishing a chore or errand - thinking. Sometimes the story also involves a lot of needed sifting and pruning, as was case with Kitchen Addiction! - I shudder to tell you the finished 300+ page paperback began its journey at almost double its bulk.
So - here I sit, taking a moment to let you in on my discoveries about my writing process - while I chew and mull over a portion of the story in Confection Connection.
I think you’re going to like it. Because simmering wins hands-down over microwaving, any day.
First, let me tell you where I am not right now - eBook of Kitchen Addiction! is no longer on Smashwords.com.
I've become a KindleTouch user; finally discovering the world of immediate wireless downloads directly to my Kindle - wow; talk about immediate gratification...
But what gave me jungle/Amazon fever was this: the Kindle version of Kitchen Addiction! that's available online now at Amazon.com, is part of their KDP Select - for a period of 90 days, if you belong to Amazon Prime, you can BORROW my book - for free.
AND - on July 7th and 8th you will be able to download Kitchen Addiction! for free. Yes, that's right - for those 2 days it will be a $0.00 Kindle eBook.
I'm still learning, so bear with.
And of course you can download the recipe booklet, based on Kitchen Addiction! on the samples page of this site any time for free.
It's taken me awhile to research and make these decisions - along with a host of daily downers (broken wrist; family stuff; pet problems; car bashes, etc.). But read on my twitter account a quote that I really took to heart; I THINK it was a Mark Twain quote; and I'm paraphrasing here -- but it went along the lines of: if a writer waits to write until she feels like writing; she'll never write.
Hence; my dilemma - that's where I've been.
Nose is fully out of my burrow and I'm trundling along the writer's path now...hope hear from you soon along the way.