Shhh… listen… what’s that noise?

It’s about 9pm and I’m watching American Idol with my 12 year old. The commercials are so loud, we mute the volume when they come on. And that’s when we heard it. The pitter-patter of tiny feet.  There haven’t been tiny feet in my house since I adopted my cats almost a year ago.

I held my breath. Listened…

Sure ‘nuf, there they were. Scratchy little spine-tingling sounds. Over head. In the attic crawl-space. Mice? But with mice, you can’t hear the crunch of each step, like someone walking on the roof. Hmm. What could be so large it would make the sound of adult footsteps and yet be so small that it could fit through a tiny vent in the roof that leads into the crawl-space?

I live in a row of attached houses (in the city, mind you) and I called a neighbor. Yes, indeedy, she’s heard the same crunchy-scratchy sounds and has no doubt that it’s a raccoon. A raccoon? How could a raccoon get into the attic? Unless there’s a hole in each of our roofs, how could they get in? But, what else could it be?

I told DH that I believed it could indeed be a raccoon. He gave me THAT look. You know the look. It’s the same look Archie used to give Edith. It’s the look that says, “HUH?!”

He ‘patiently’ explains there’s no room for a raccoon in the crawl space. There isn’t an opening large enough for one to get in, but only a 4×6 inch grated vent. Besides, IF they were up in the crawl-space, they’d have to balance on beams or risk falling through the ceiling.

I didn’t care about the specifics, I just wanted them gone. “I don’t know how they’re up there, but they are.”

He nodded in that way.

“Seriously,” I said. “You have to do something about it.”

He all but patted me on the head. “Yes, dear.”

Two nights ago, around midnight, we hear screeching, chirping and thumping outside my daughter’s window. There’s a steel porch off her bedroom and the sound of a physical fight of some sort was boinging through the chilly night silence. I rush to her room and pull up the shade. Right there, not 18 inches away, are two raccoons tumbling and clawing at each other, making these horrible squeals as they flip each other head over heels onto the metal porch. I opened the window and shouted through the screen, “Get! Off! My! Porch!”

They stopped fighting with each other and, in a show of unity, froze in place, their fists tight in each other’s fur, and stared me down. I closed the window slowly. Locked it, drew the shade and backed away. After calming Daughter and telling her, no, there was no reason for her to come sleep in my room, I heard another odd sound from outside. I peek and lo and behold… those little masked bandits were climbing up my drain pipe and onto the roof! Seconds later, there it was, that scratching and heavy footstep above my head – they’d gotten into my attic again! There had to be a hole in the roof, there had to be!

In the morning, hubby went onto the roof to find the hole and found that the grates over the tiny vents on all of our attached roofs were bent upward. He pushed them all down and back into place. Well… yesterday evening, he went back up and guess what? All the grates were bent up yet again. These furry buggers have been squeezing themselves through those small openings and setting up house among the insulation and crossbeams!

“So…” I said, “We have raccoons in the crawl space… don’t we.”

He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Yes, dear.”

Not only did he have to acknowlege it to me, but he had to convince all the neighbors that this is indeed what’s been happening. It seems everyone in our row – about 10 families – have heard the noises at some point over the past few weeks. I guess no one could believe animals that large could get through openings that small. They’re all believers now.

Someone is coming this week to trap them before they have their kits. Yes… they’re pregnant. It’s mating season and their kits will be born in less than two months. These are the mama’s and they’re looking for safe, warm dens where they can have and keep their young. They’ll be trapped and relocated to a large, local park and then the vents on our roofs will be bolted into place.

Future squatters will have to find another place to live.

Wait! There’s a baby in the toilet!

How on earth can a woman not only go into labor, but deliver without knowing? How? And how on earth could it happen while she’s using the loo…  on a train… in India… where the loo empties directly onto the tracks…

According to the Associated Press, an Indian woman who was seven months pregnant, had to use the facilities while riding the train through an area in India. This tiny preemie of hers is an adventure seeker, I’d say, because he slipped right out of her, through the chute and onto the tracks where rail workers soon found him – with barely a scratch.

Now, tell me truthfully, don’t you want to know what kind of life this little daredevil is going to have? The writer in me wants to use his entrance into the world as a leap-off point for a book. The layman in me wants to see Steven Spielberg, George Lucas or Steven King’s take on it. How cool. Talk about inspiration. I couldn’t write a backstory like that for my characters. Who would believe it?

What anecdotes have you heard that seem too far out there to be real… but are?

It’s not for everyone, but…

I’m a writer. I sit with my computer for hours a day and you know what? I love it.

Yes, sometimes I sit there cursing under my breath because the words just won’t come. But, other times I sit there thinking up ways to put my characters through the ringer. It’s my job to be their analyst. It’s my job to determine what it is these ‘people’ want. What caused them to want or need this so badly and how far will they go to get it? Once that is determined, my job is to take that need with all of the emotional salvation or closure they see in it, and dangle it just out of reach. The harder they stretch for it, the higher I place it. The further they vow to climb, the more treacherous I make the terrain.

If they want it badly enough, they’ll keep fighting to get it. If I have to work that hard to come up with the tortures, then they have to suffer. I’m sorry, but that’s how you create fiction with all its nail-biting tension.

In all honesty, it’s tons of fun.

Great Shelter News!

What an excellent week last week was for our shelter cats! We had three new adoptions! 😀 The best part is that of the three adoptions, two were of adult cats. ::sigh:: That makes me teary. Is so rare for the older cats to find homes. Like babies in an orphanage, kittens are more likely to be adopted and older cats are likely to spend their lives without a loving home.

This week, however, one very vocal adult male was adopted. He’d been adopted two years ago, but the adoptive parents felt he was too noisy and they brought him back. He was with us again for about four months, and I was worried he’d never have another chance. Well! A couple came in during the week, fell in love with him and his voice and took him home. I’m tearing up now… but from happiness for him.

The kitten was a tiny one. Only about two months old. He’ll be happy in his new home and has not yet developed the bad habits that sometimes get these little ones returned to us… like talking too much.

And finally, the greatest news is that Charlie has been adopted, too. Well… fostered. It’s a trial arrangement. If he and the foster parents are compatible, they’ll make it permanent. Charlie is a lover. Handsome, charming, and just a tad distant. On his terms, you can pet and cuddle him. On his terms, you’ll be sorry for doing so. Think, Mr. Darcy.

In case you’re wondering… Yes. The Charlie I’m speaking of is the same Charlie in the photo from my Whiskers on Kittens post. Isn’t he handsome?

Articles

…on Writing

If you love to write but have a few nagging questions about different aspects of writing, perhaps you can find an answer or two in my articles. If there’s a writing topic you’d like to see covered in an article that isn’t here, let me know! I just might run with your suggestion.  

Either way, check back often for new articles! And check my website for a fellow author’s Article of the Month.

Click on a title to view the article –

Play Little Muse

Finding Mr. Right

Background Check

“I am,” I said. ~ Dialogue Tags

Thinking IS Work

C is for Critique not Conciliate

Layering

 

WHAT… “about me”?

“About me” The heading is everywhere. In all the blog templates, in all the web-site building templates. “About me.” Does anyone really care about me besides my mom? Because, you know, she’s invested quite a lot of time and energy into me. Or my cats? Because, lets be honest, who would feed them in the wee hours of the morning if not me? Ha. No one in this house. And what about DH? Does he want to read ‘about me’? Nah. He knows enough, too much, probably. However, there is Darling Daughter. And, truth be told, at 12, she’s still my biggest fan. ::sigh::

But really… what ‘about me’ is interesting enough to blast to the cyber world? I’m unpublished so I can’t chat about my writing career. I can, of course, talk about my decade-long career as an unpublished author. Hmmm…. nah. Not exactly inspiring. I suppose I can chat about my cats, the music I enjoy, my love of baking, my… wow. I can highlight some of the thoughts I’ll eventually expand upon in my blog.

🙂

Cool.

But… if I put all that in an ‘about me’ section… what on earth will I put in my bio? I mean… who on earth would want to read ‘about me’ TWICE? :-O

Debora Dale

Snuggle up with a romance tonight…

              Danger Rages.
                   Passions Burn.
                       And newfound trust turns into love.
                          ~Debora Dale author of Romantic Suspense

                                                                       www.deboradale.com

Whiskers on kittens…


A few of our charming shelter cats
Clockwise from top left – Minnie and Ginger, Ava, Charlie, Max

For a few hours a week, my daughter and I volunteer at an animal shelter. It’s not funded by large donors and no one works there for pay. Although, as an animal lover, I’d have to say the pay is in the kisses and full body rubs these kitties often give. Of course, a couple of our shelter cats would sooner dice you like a cross shredder than rub against or kiss you, but they’ve had difficult lives, so we… give them their space.

There are so many different personalities among cats. Getting to know them all is like getting to know a whole group of people. They have different desires and different needs. In the end, however, they all just want the basics – security and love. Teddy is one of the tougher cats. Don’t pet Teddy. Don’t talk to Teddy. Come to think of it… don’t even LOOK at Teddy. 🙂 Actually, he’s just a big boy who wants to be left alone. Then there’s his polar opposite – Twister. He’s a big boy, too. Solid and heavy. But he’s got the squeakiest meow you’ll ever hear. His big size makes him appear intimidating, but manly Twister wants only to be held like a baby, with his paws resting on your shoulders, his head nestled into your neck, and your arms supporting his furry little butt.

I could go on and on about our beautiful shelter cats, and I probably will one day. But for today, I’ll let them speak for themselves… (check your volume, some videos have music)

Nutmeg

Clyde

If you’re interested, and how could you not be… 😉 …here’s a link to more short videos of these precious babies (including Twister!)…

More Videos!

When I first started volunteering there, I thought it would be sad. All those big, bright eyes looking into mine, hoping for a home. But you know what? They’re content. They play, eat, sleep and are safely indoors. The only thing they’re missing is a warm human to snuggle up to in the wee hours of the night and to nudge awake just before dawn. They each need a home of their own, but we give them all we can while they’re in the place they, temporarily, call home.

Check out more of these beauties…

Bios and pictures!

Don’t forget to click the ‘back’ button so you can return to me and tell me what you think… and which cat or kitten you’d like to adopt! 🙂

Jazzy Joe at the Blue Note


One of the perks of being a homeschooling family is the ability to enjoy a late night out without the worry of an early morning alarm ringing out. We took advantage of that the other night.

For the first time in several years, we went to the Blue Note. In case you’re unfamiliar with the place, the Blue Note is a historical New York jazz club. Many of the greats have performed there, and the other night was no different.

We saw Joe Sample and the Crusaders. What a fantastic performance. Everyone was bopping in their seat – the music was that engaging. And so was Mr. Sample. Funny man.

Now you have to picture the venue – intimate (read that – small) and dark. Low ceiling, painted black. Fabric walls with V’d mirror strips. Tiny cobalt votives on each table, and family style seating. The only thing missing from this jazz club that I associate with jazz clubs was the smoky atmosphere. Though I’m not complaining. The family-style seating can be a little rough because the seats and tables are so close together that you become oddly familiar with strangers rather quickly. :-/

It’s okay though, because everyone is there for the music, and the stage is within stretching distance.

Joe started talking about music ‘in the day’ and how he’d hit the scene at an early age. I believe he said he was only 22 when he made his first recording – in 1961. Soon after that, he was a well-known entity and the ladies all but threw themselves at his feet. He started talking about the ladies, how much he enjoyed them and the attention they bestowed on him. The mention of it seemed to sidetrack him. He became quiet and had this wistful expression on his face. Dreamy, like he’d let his mind travel back in time. It was an odd moment, because everyone was so into what he was saying, that they also had dreamy, wistful expressions on their faces. I’m sure I did, too. It was as if he’d taken us all back in time. I felt it. I felt free and light as if at that time, everything was bliss. I suppose that’s what happens when the mind sifts reality into memories.

After lulling us into the moment with him, he drew in a quick breath, shook off some apparently exciting memories and said, in this husky soulful tone, “Ah, if only I was young again…”

“Calm down, Joe!”

Those words came from someone in the audience. You couldn’t help but laugh. And then this sexy symphony began and once again, the crowd was completely engrossed. He’d drawn us all into a dream with just a few words and kept us there with his music.

Homeschool and School Holidays

Tomorrow is President’s Day and public schools will be closed for the entire week. As a new-ish homeschooling family, we’re in a peculiar place. Do we continue our lessons, since they’re simply an extension of our day? Or do we put it all on hold until the public school classes are back in session?Interestingly, people seem surprised when we take off for public school holidays. I often wonder if we’re thought of as inferior since trained and licensed teachers are not involved in our lessons. Perhaps the thought is that we need every day there is to cover the subjects other children cover for 6 hours each school day plus another few hours for homework.

I suppose, before we started homeschooling, I felt that way, too. Fortunately, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how little time is truly necessary to cover the subjects in a way that is engaging and thorough. When you strip away the busywork so often supplied by schools, you find the time to enjoy life. Children have time to be… children. Families have family time. And the children are still learning. In fact, they’re learning through real life experiences, not solely through textbooks, worksheets and dioramas.

The best decision we could have made for our family was to take our daughter out of public school and begin homeschooling her. The tough part was dealing with the worry over whether our method would be right. The wonderful part was realizing there’s no wrong way to do it.

Homeschooling is an extension of home-life. We’re learning every minute of every day. Sometimes it’s in a structured way, sometimes it’s not. The greatest joy of homeschooling is the option to play outside when it starts to snow, to take our bikes to the park when the sun warms the day, or to watch a scary movie when it’s stormy outside. Most of all, it’s the wonder of watching new awareness bloom on our child’s face because of something she learned while in our presence.

When public schools are closed for a holiday, our child might not sit with a workbook and pen, but she will still be learning. She’ll still be living the life a child should live, and we’ll all be enjoying the process.

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