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.







Hashtag Anipal


Rocket (grandcat) helping me blog


When I first started blogging I vowed I would never write about animals.  It just seemed way too easy to put up cute pictures of cats and dogs and blabber away about their antics instead of seriously blogging.  Besides, there are probably a zillion people who blog daily about animals much more competently than me.  They’ve even created the hashtag “anipals” in order to find other pet lovers in the Twitterverse.


From “Man Training 1.0”


Patriotic dogs from “Dog Daze”

It didn’t take long before I broke my vow.  In total, I’ve blogged about animals over ten times.  It all began when my husband’s attempts to train squirrels backfired, leading to  Man Training 1.0.  After that, well – I fell off the wagon.  Soon I was blogging about the pooches at our small town Fourth of July parade, the mourning dove who sits on a branch of the tree next to me waiting for the return its dead mate, a chickadee suspected of eating the ears off my chocolate bunny, and, finally, cats.

Well, not all cats.  Just the stray we dragged into the house one rainy afternoon covered in mud, its long fur tangled into dreadlocks. Upon capture, first it yowled, then it ran downstairs to hide under a bed in the basement for two weeks.  We set out food, water and a kitty litter box (we had taken care of cats in the past) which he would only visit if we were nowhere in sight. But at least, thank God, he knew how to use the litter box.


Pretty Kitty pre-capture. The poor thing only weighed 7 pounds despite all that fur.

The first time we took him to the vet, we had to shut the door to the room where he hid, turn over the bed and chase him around till finally cornering him, again with the pathetic yowl of defeat.  At the vet’s we warned the doctor he was not a nice kitty but Pretty Kitty, as we then called him, turned out to be the perfect patient.  Evidently he has a split personality.


Trying to type one handed.

He was such a fetching cat that we were certain someone was looking for him and did the usual posting at the Animal Shelter, etc.  We heard tragic stories about people who’d been looking for their cats for years but alas, Pretty matched none of the descriptions, nor did anyone come forward and recognize his picture. So, now he’s become my writing companion.


King and cat from Bing images

Stephen King once said “… it might be that the biggest division in the world isn’t men and women but folks who like cats and folks who like dogs.”  Plenty of people have both cats and dogs and seem to love them equally but it sounds like he’s not one of them.

I was surprised to learn how many writers I wouldn’t have pegged as cat folks actually were.  Here are a few quotes from renowned cat loving writers.  See if you can match the quote to the writer:

  1. “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
  2. “There are no ordinary cats.”
  3. “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
  4. I’m going to have a much harder time one day, months or even years from now, explaining why I miss the meanest, grumpiest and most dangerous cat I’ve ever encountered.”
  5. “Holding up my purring cat to the moon, I sighed.”
  6. “Books. Cats. Life is good.”
  7. “Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years. Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.”
  8. “Cats can be very funny, and have the oddest ways of showing they’re glad to see you. Rudimace always peed in our shoes.”
  9.  “I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don’t want to get up. She’s so much more calming than my husband.”
  10. The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll live ten times longer than if you have ten. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.”
  11. “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”

Hemingway and cat from Bing images

Your choices, in random order: a. Ernest Hemingway b. Mark Twain c. Edgar Allen Poe d. Colette e. Jack Kerouac f. Jean Cocteau g. W.H. Auden h. Joyce Carol Oates i. Edward Gorey  j. Neil Gaiman k. Charles Bukowski

Course, if you visit this post: Renowned Authors Inspired by Cats – you’ll know the answers but I bet you’ll be surprised. (well, maybe not by Hemingway)

GAston pensive_0960ps

Gaston, my dog crush.

I was surprised that so many writers were cat lovers because a dog will lay wrapped up at your feet while you write.  A dog won’t climb on your lap, shove its butt in your face and knead your breasts with its claws.  Maybe it’s because dogs have a tendency to worship their owners whereas cats can sense our frailty, our insecurities and self-doubt. Cats also know when you must take a break from your all too serious attempts to write, a profession they rightly view as a life threatening disease.

Stoned Kitty Blues


Hiding his face in shame.


Apparently my cat has a substance abuse problem but before I tell that sad tale, here are the answers to the quiz on my previous post – The League of Vile though Witty Literary Reviewers.

  1. “Each adventure is tedious, repititious and inane… and there’s over 500 pages of it.” Don Quixote
  2. “But let’s be honest:  It’s as fun as reading the telephone book.” Ulysses by James Joyce
  3. “I ended up throwing this book away after reading about 5 chapters.  If you enjoy reading pedophilic ramblings of a perv, go for it! Yuk!” Lolita 
  4. “This book in my opinion should get the “Turkey of the Century” award.  A big book B-B-Q should be devoted to all the copies in print.” Huckleberry Finn
  5. So if you see *** at your neighbor’s garage sale, go ahead and buy it, hallow it out and put a handgun in it.  Or leave it next to your toilet if you have unwanted guests. Beat your disobedient child with it.  Put it in your fireplace and have a nice glass of vodka.  Just don’t read it.  You have been warned.” Anna Karenina 

Banished to the tower for re-hab!


Kitty’s indoor garden – before the destruction

On to tragic case of Das Kat. In order to alleviate kitty’s hairball problem, hubby bought enough kitty grass and catnip to fill a three foot by three foot planter, not realizing, of course, that we had a cat with a problem. In his defense, kitty was a stray we adopted.  For all we know, he could be the great grandcat of the infamous Vlad Kat, cat “mule” for Russia’s most notorious drug cartel.  Thus, he might not be able to control his addiction.

Anyway, the cat nip plant lasted three minutes.


Unable to control himself, kitty chews the head off Mr. Mole to get even more catnip!

Stoned kitty then took off skidding down the floor, leaping on the furniture and bouncing off the walls.  When scolded with a “Bad Kitty,” off he ran to attack any toy stuffed with cat nip, snapping the heads off two, a lovely yellow parakeet and goofy looking thing we call Mr. Mole.

In attempt to help him control his addiction, hubby came up with an idea:  cover the planter with an old plastic clothes hamper.


Very attractive centerpiece for our living room coffee table, don’t you think?

This contraption allowed kitty only little nibbles of grass though the slats.  Did I mention that hubby considers himself an efficiency expert?

However, approximately one o’clock in the morning we awoke to a loud crash and the skittle of claws across the wood floor.  Kitty had figured out how to tip the whole dang thing over.

I’m afraid it’s cold turkey for Das Kat!




I just sent my third book off to the editor so I guess I can be forgiven for a little silliness, can’t I?






Das Kat, the Literary Critic


“Try to tweet now, why don’t you?”


I have a writing problem and it involves a certain cat originally called Pretty Kitty until we found out he was a boy. Now we call him Das Kat.  Das Kat likes to find secret places to hide so that he can sleep all day and terrorize us all night. This he does by running up and down the hall outside our bedroom as if being chased by a pack of rapid dogs and then pouncing on the bed with an innocent chirp. There he makes himself at home on my calves after kneading the blanket with his claws. Hubby claims he does this because he was weaned too soon. I don’t get it. I was never breast fed and I don’t shred blankets!


Living the Penthouse life


Das Kat has a six foot kitty condo with plenty of rope to scratch so the shredding is firmly discouraged, however waking at 2:30 am to scold a cat doesn’t make for a pleasant night’s sleep. I prefer to be woken by the sun and not by kitty whiskers ticking my nose or a tail lashing my face.


“I think I’ll take my place on your lap now!”

Das Kat doesn’t approve of my writing. Every time I sit down to write, magically he appears next to my chair, looking plaintively up at me with a little meh, sometimes reaching a furry white paw up in warning “I’m about to pounce,” other times pouncing directly onto the keyboard without invitation, mangling forever whatever paragraph or email I’d been working on.


“Here’s what I think of this story!”


Then he circles my lap, swatting my face with his tail until he finds a comfortable position. Sometimes he will turn and stare into the computer screen giving me a full view of his anus as he ponders what could possibly be more fascinating than him.

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.

A Bunny Tale

Oh dear, someone has eaten my chocolate bunny’s ears…IMG_2674

She didn’t even make it to Easter. Who would commit such a dastardly deed?



Was it the laughing wolf?   He looks bad. Wipe that smile off your face, you heartless cad!

“Not me, you fool.  I’m Mister Cool.”



Then perhaps it was Pretty Kitty, hiding on the deck.prettykitty

“Look at me.  Can’t you see.  I just need a warm place to be.”

“Don’t look at me!”  Says the chickadee. “Every year it’s the same old thing!  You can’t be a good girl and wait for Easter to eat your bunny.  Oh no, not you!” Spring2012_040

Yikes, I’ve been busted yet again.  Happy Easter everyone!