Homicidal thoughts on a lovely Spring day

Ah spring.  Warm temperatures, gardens in bloom, nests filled with robin’s eggs . . .

Every day the chance to glory in the return of foliage to bare trees, seedlings popping through the moist soil, apple blossoms in the orchards and …

… poison ivy

Woe to those who do not see
your evil coven in the tree

Such a wicked curse
made by itching even worse.
cured not by the ablest nurse
Or any amount of purse
woe to who’er conjured thee
from my wrath you shall not flee.

My salvation, hopefully …

I wish I could say my homicidal instincts ended with poison ivy extermination but

Who invited these dudes to my yard?  And who gave them permission to pig out on my cyclamen?  I have asked them nicely to party elsewhere.  I have threatened to fatten them up and sell them to the French restaurant but no.  And so regretfully, slimy dudes, eat shit and die! 

But this spring, winter has arrived. Bloodsuckers have breached the walls of Castle Kitty and forced King Kitty into the crypt. He thinks he can escape the final, prolonged agony of itching but Bloodsuckers, well they can smell warm blood.  Duh. (apologies to Game of Thrones – which has become a soap opera don’t you think?)

Can you see him?  We couldn’t as the doors to the cabinet were almost shut.


Those of you who are pet owners have probably guessed who is after the cat.

Mister Flea who bears a stunning resemblance to Beetlejuice in both character and elusiveness.

And so this year, Die Mr. Flea!

It’s really not fair because the cat never goes outside and probably picked up the infestation during his last stay at the Kitty Motel.  It will be his last stay there.







The Girl with the Flag in her Hair


Family waiting for the parade.


I live in a town only large enough to support one grocery store but we do have a  library and a community center and on the Fourth of July everyone comes out to play.  In the past our parades have consisted primarily of the boy scouts and brownies, swim and football teams, the city council and anyone running for office, every classic car in town, kids on tricycles, local war heroes, high school marching bands and lots of dogs, hot and otherwise.

But things are a-changing…


Cast from Seussical

This year we had the characters from the musical Seussical grooving in brightly colored costumes to raga tunes.

And a horse drawn carriage…Horse

I think they were sponsored by one of the banks and not Coors but just seeing them made me crave a beer.


Member of the cast of Dracula


The tiny theatrical group in town, which puts on mostly murder mysteries in an outdoor theater also marched – in costume, of course.

Not new, but always entertaining, was the juggler who rode a unicycle in the parade and then entertained the children at the local park while their parents drank beer and listened to a jazz band.

Having as much fun as the kids he's entertaining!

The Juggler


He appeared to be having as much fun as the kids.

New, and probably the most unusual of the participants, was the Stilt Lady, dancing a Brazilian rumba.  StiltLady


I’m afraid of heights so she terrified me.

When I first moved to this area over twenty years ago there weren’t that many “people of color” in the parade, however, as my neighbor noted, that is changing as is the town. It’s a good thing to see.


Girl with the Flag in her braid and hubby

On the way home Hubby and I stopped at the local Mexican restaurant for margaritas and to watch the World Cup.  Our waitress had an American flag sticking out of her French braid and spoke with a such a strong accent naturally we had to start up a conversation with her.  It happened to be her very first Fourth of July as an American citizen, having migrated from Northern Ireland.  Now, I don’t like what’s happening in this country – all the hatred and division.  Some days I’m so fearful of the future I’m tempted to migrate elsewhere but she had such a glow about her that I decided not to ruin the day with politics.  Even my hubby held his tongue.  It was, after all, the Fourth.


The Mourning Dove Hopes

This week I’m going through the edits of book two, tentatively called The Graduation Present

I traveled all over Europe in this ancient VW bug… Only broke down once!

The story is very, very, very loosely based on the year I spent in Europe back in 1970, a time when two wars waged – the Cold War and the Vietnam War.  However it was a different war that still cast a dark cloud over the continent.  World War II.  The heroine/narrator suffers from overactive imagination syndrome thus when she is thrust into perplexing situations, she overreacts. It doesn’t help that her guardian is a paradox.  On one hand he is a hopeless romantic, a sappy sentimentalist and gregariously generous.   On the other, he has a bawdy sense of humor that borders on lewd, cannot be pried from Happy Hour, and he may work for dark forces of evil lurking within the CIA.

"Jan at fifteen"  by Connemoira
“Jan at fifteen” by Connemoira

What results is a comic romp through Europe to solve a mystery which may not exist as our heroine, Miss Riley Ann O’Tannen, learns that wars cast long shadows but somehow people survive.  They might not survive with the same hopes and aspirations as privileged Americans, but they do survive and usually with a realization of what is really important.  Pub date is in May 2014.

On to Pretty Kitty news:

Rice flavored with garlic? You gotta be kidding.

Despite all manner of wooing, Pretty Kitty has not been convinced to come inside and join the family.  She’s getting treats, Friskies and rice flavored with garlic (hubby assures me that cats can’t resist rice flavored with garlic but I have my doubts.)  However, she still runs when we try to pet her.  Sigh.  Hubby is about to give up hope.

You’re feeding the fuzz ball? Well, good luck chump!

The squirrels continue to be pissed that hubby is cavorting with Pretty Kitty.  They’ve taken to chattering angrily at us from tree limbs.

The mourning dove waits for his mate to return.

I end with the sad story of this mourning dove.  He used to have a mate (mourning doves mate for life) however then the hawk came along and now the one sits in the cherry tree near where his mate was killed and waits.  Apparently hope knows no end for the mourning dove.

Write about cats instead!

The following is a repost in honor of Cat Day! 

We call this little sweetie Pretty Kitty.  IMG_3254She shows up at our back door every morning looking hungry.  At first we shooed her away


“What do I look like? Cat food?”

because of this little guy and his friends who aren’t particularly fond of kitties whether they’re pretty or not.

But she would retreat only as far as the hill above us and look down, sometimes sneaking onto the deck when she thought we weren’t watching to gain a prime perch from which to hunt.  As far as we know, she’s not a very good birder.  We haven’t found piles of feathers or half-eaten carcasses.  We did however catch a rat.  Darn, I guess she’s not a ratter either.

Before Christmas hubby began to worry that she might be an abandoned cat so he decided to put out a bowl of Friskies leftover from our cat sitting days to see what she did.


“Delete, delete, delete – will you ever learn how to use a semi-colon?!”

(here’s a pic of Rocket Kitty, our grandcat.

Like many cats associated with writers.  Rocket Kitty provides free editing services whenever he visits.)

Hubby set Pretty Kitty’s  bowl far away from the railing where his other pets (the birds, quail and squirrels) expect their treats but near enough so that we could watch what she did.  Sure enough, she gobbled everything we set out.  Still her coat appears well-groomed, her eyes bright. Maybe she just likes Friskies better than what she’s getting at home.  She still runs when we get too close but gradually she’s let us near enough to snap a few pics so I could go on line and figure out what kind of cat she is.  The closest breed seems to be this one:  http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/ragdoll.htm

A ragdoll cat is so named because of their propensity to go limp when picked up.  They’re also called “puppy cats” because they like to follow their owners around, particularly when young.  They’ve got big bones, silky fur and bright blue eyes. They are also one of the largest cat breeds. You can see in this pic just how big Pretty Kitty is…


Anyway, six days into the New Year and I’ve already broken my resolution to write only about dogs. Worse yet, I am falling in love with a kitty who probably has a home somewhere and alas my poor heart will be broken once again.  My, my.  2014 does not portent well for the Twissel so far.  Last year at this time, I’d just a signed a contract with Booktrope and expected the sky to open.  It did not.  Now another book’s going through the process.  Will it set the world on fire?  Probably not.  Will Pretty Kitty eventually go limp in my arms?  Who knows.  Each new year comes with a question mark and no promises.  Just hopes and dreams and schemes which may go broke.  That’s why God gave us friends.  Okay, God didn’t give us friends. If you want friends, you’ve gotta work for them which is a better New Year’s resolution than not writing about dogs, don’t you think?


Neither a mountain lion nor a teenage driver but a bird.

Now that all the holiday folderol is over, we should post a flyer about Pretty Kitty around the neighborhood.  Hubby will undoubtedly give a thorough tongue lashing to her owners, if indeed they come forward.  Ours is a dangerous neighborhood for kitties – mountain lions, raccoons and big dogs. Not to mention, teen drivers.

Sigh. I’ll let you know how it goes and again, sorry about the dog thing.  Resolutions are meant to be broken.


Kitty luxuriating in his kitty condo.

Update Oct. 29:  Well, as those of you who’ve followed the blog all year know, Pretty Kitty turned out to be a boy and because of his green eyes, he cannot be a ragdoll. However he doesn’t seem to care.  He’s now in possession of two humans who buy him all sort of treats and cater to his every need.

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” Charles Dickens

Write About Dogs

On January 6th, I will have been blogging for a year.  Insane, I know.  I think I have seven followers however, because this is blog number 50,  lack of followers hasn’t stymied my blog vigor.   Well, it’s hardly vigor.  Once a week I sit down at my computer with a blank mind.  I swear, a completely blank mind. Then a crazy idea enters my head and before impulse control can kick in, I’m off and running.  So far, I written about:

to name just a few.


However, my most popular blog was Dog Daze which  included this picture of two canines totally unrelated to me which I think demonstrates that if you want readers, write about dogs or at least include the word “dog” in your title along with a picture of some adorable mutt.
On another though similar note:
Because top ten lists are so blasted popular this time of year, I’ve decided to post a list of my top ten blogs for the year 2013 (based on comments received):
  1. Dog Daze – an ode to small town Fourth of Julys 
  2. Cloud Forests and Capybaras – interview with author Cinda MacKinnon (includes a picture of her adorable dog Gaston)

    Baby Gaston (2)


  3. Moby Jan – golfing in the Mayan Jungle
  4. #rukidding – tweeting from gynecological stirrups


    Sign in OBGYN waiting room

  5. Dem Dam Hippies’ Christmas in Have You Been Saved Missouri – the Hong Kong flu and an ice storm enhance the Xmas experience
  6. Shattered Glass, Shattered Lives – Melody Paris describing her inspiration for the cover of FLIPKA
  7. Black-eyed Susans – memories of a tornado in Michigan
  8. Sigmund Freudicon at Your Service –  the first couple of pages of FLIPKA posted by Twissel’s handler after her breakdown
  9. Release Anxieties – post publication jitters
  10. Man Training 1.0 – Hubby attempts to train squirrels, squirrels instead train man.


    Squirrel trains man

I keep expecting someone to pop up and say “stop this blogging nonsense.  You clearly have nothing to say that makes any sense”  but they haven’t and so I suppose I’ll continue on next year, however, henceforth I’ll include the word “dog” in all my titles.  Then I’ll make it a point to post pictures every doggie and kitty I come across.  prettykitty
Happy New Year, everyone.

Dog Daze

My very first Fourth of July post from 2013

On the Fourth of July we always walk downtown for the parade with our neighbors and their dog.  Our neighbors have the coolest dog in the world.  If he were a human he would be Cary Grant – suave and sexy but with a playful side.  With his golden, slightly curly fur, he charms all the lady dogs and the young studs too but steers clear of German Shepherds.


You can never tell when confronting a German Shepherd – he could be either a Jimmy Stewart or a Mike Tyson.

Like Cary Grant, our neighbor’s dog doesn’t approve of exercising in the heat and often wrapped his silky body at my feet in the shade.

Gaston April '11_035
Gaston aka Cary Grant

Before they fell in love with Cary Grant the neighbors had a black dog, not sure what breed, who they called Toby.  One day Toby came up for a visit.  When I said “Hi Toby!”  he glared at me.  “My name is Jack,” he said.  Well, not in so many words but with that look dogs’ll give you when they think you’re a nitwit. Toby’s human equivalent would have been Humphrey Bogart, mysterious but trustworthy, a hopeless romantic with a cynical shell.

Our July 4th festivities always include a petting zoo.

At the time the neighbors had Toby/Jack I had a dog named Berna, short for Bernadette.  She was a shelty-beagle mix I found on the bottom of a heap of pups at the pound.  Her siblings had more energy and looked much more eager to be rescued but I’ve always cheered the underdog and in this case, the bottom of the heap dog.  She puked and pooped all the way home.  She always stank.  She couldn’t be car trained or trained at all for that matter.  She’d run onto freeways, get her head stuck in Costco sized mayonnaise jars and dig up every living thing I tried to plant in the back yard.  But her crowning achievement was a spot on a Channel 7 news story  exposing the water wasters of the East Bay (this is a long story which illustrates the depths of depravity a film crew will go to get a  scoop). Guard dog, she was not.  Bay at the moon dog, she was.  Escape artist, par excellence.  When I put my house on the market the first agent scowled “get rid of the dog.  You’ll never sell this house with her in it.”  I got rid of the agent.

Who would  Berna’s movie star equivalent be? Angelina Jolie?

Anyway – enough about dogs. When I started blogging I resolved to leave politics, grandchildren and dogs off my list of subjects and here I’ve gone and broken my vows. Nevermore, I swear.

Can’t have a parade without a jazz band on a flat–bed truck!

The next best thing about the Fourth is how it brings out the rebel in all of us.  Who doesn’t love marching down Main Street in a happy riot of fellow citizens, for a few hours, owning the streets.  What a sense of freedom it is.