Vacation Fun

A streak of lightning zig-zagged from one end of the sky to the other end. I counted, “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.” A loud boom of thunder rattled our cottage.

My daughter Tammie said, “The storm is three miles from here.” Another streak of lighting was followed by thunder two seconds later.

“I said, “The thunder sounds like it bounces back and forth between all the bluffs around us like a ball in a pin-ball machine.”

While a thunderstorm would ruin some people’s vacation, I went to the cottage hoping that we would have a storm during our stay. It was beautiful and my daughter and I enjoyed it very much!

My daughter and I had decided to spend our vacation in a cottage surrounded by a vineyard on the side of a bluff in the driftless area of Wisconsin when we missed the enrollment date for a pilgrimage to Ireland. Untouched by the last glacier that had scoured most of Wisconsin flat, tall bluffs and deep coulees makes the driftless area seem like a beautiful foreign country. Continue reading

Vegetable Shaming

Waves of moist heat enveloped me the minute I opened the back door of my house and stepped out onto the deck. Purring loudly, my two cats Louie and Jonah wove back and forth, rubbing themselves against my legs. Despite their heavy coats of fur, they appeared to love the sticky July weather.

A pair of barn swallows spotted the felines and began a series of low, kamikaze swoops over the carnivores. They had instinctively recognized the cats as evil, baby-eating predators. Despite the risk to themselves they repeated the attack over and over. The swift birds with gorgeous tail feathers that made me think of an arrow’s fletching, chattered and scolded as they dove. All Louie and Jonah would have had to do was raise a paw to catch one. Instead, they stretched out full length on the sun-heated deck planks. I said, “You two are sadists! You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Louie lifted his head and gave me a happy, slow blink. Continue reading


Anne leaned forward over the minute kitten in her lap. She was trying to get it to open its mouth to suckle on the nipple of a doll-sized bottle. A silky curtain of her blond hair slid forward, obscuring my view. After a moment, my sixteen-year-old granddaughter leaned back and I saw the small calico kitten that she cradled avidly sucking on the nipple.

I asked, “Have you given the kitten a name yet?”

My granddaughter’s blue eyes glanced up at me as she answered, “Ah…no, not yet. We just call it, Baby Kitty.”

I thought, “It’s just as well that they not name it right away. The chance of this small feline surviving is very slim.” Nodding approval, I said to her, “When you do name it, think about ‘Lucky’.” Continue reading

Olive Belly

My family’s black and white tuxedo cat plopped down in the center of the kitchen floor. He sprawled out to his full, magnificent length, strategically between the stove, refrigerator and sink. In a hurry to cook supper and serve it to my hungry children and husband, I looked down at him and questioned, “Flicker…really? Why did you choose this place to stretch out? You know I’m going to accidentally step on you one of these days or else trip and fall over you!”

The beautiful black and white cat looked up at me with love in his large expressive golden eyes, slowly blinking in his adoration. Benevolent love radiated out from the tip of each well defined white whisker on his black muzzle. He rolled over a little more to expose his belly. Unable to resist, I leaned down and pet the soft expanse of his white underside. He purred loudly. My daughter Tammie said, “Cats show their bellies to people they love and trust.” Continue reading

Feral Heaven

When I spotted her car pulling into the driveway, I ran out onto the deck. The minute my daughter got out of the car, I gave her a big hug. She said, “Mama, it’s good to be home.”

A warm spring breeze softly swirled around us like a caress. Giving her another squeeze, I said, “Tammie, it’s good to have you home. Isn’t this a beautiful day? How would you like to go for a walk around the yard? The flowerbeds are waking up. I have daffodils that are about to bloom.”

Golden afternoon sunshine smiled down on us as we walked around arm-in-arm, inspecting bulbs and bushes. The lilac flowers were still in bud stage, right on the brink of bursting forth into a fragrant lavender flood. Glancing at the old red barn next to the lilac bushes, Tami said, “I love the barn, but it’s getting really shabby.” Continue reading

My Cat, Lassie

I leaned back in my chair and took a sip of tea. The warmth and flavor made me feel cozy and content. My daughter Tammie glanced over at me from where she was sitting and said, “I’m beat. How many miles do you think we covered at the Mall?”

Slipping off my shoes and flexing my toes, I answered with a grimace, “Too many.”

Spotting my feet, Tammie’s cat, Carla, sauntered over to rub up against them. Sitting back on her haunches, she looked up at me, and then suddenly leapt onto the arm of my chair. From there, she carefully stepped onto my soft, warm lap. Tammie said, “Wow, Carla-Cat likes you! She doesn’t get this chummy with just anyone.” Continue reading

Bee Nine

In the dining room one-year-old Anne sat quietly in her mother’s arms listening to the song being sung to her. The minute Niki ended with, “B-I-N-G-O…and Bingo was his name OH!” Anne slithered off my daughter’s lap to the floor. She wandered into the kitchen where I stood by the sink washing the cabbage shredder. Continue reading

Blood of a Rabbit

A cold, wicked October wind whistled around the eves of my house. I pulled on a sweater and poured myself a cup of tea. The wind… I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It had been the first thing I heard upon waking. As I lay in the gray dawn half-awake and half-asleep, my inventive mind formed the fanciful notion that it’s high pitched moan was the collective voice of all the women that lived before me. They seemed to be calling, “Clean…clean your house…clean your house now…winter is coming!” Continue reading

Sharing Sunshine

From the kitchen window I watched dirty gray clouds chasing each other across the sky. The muggy day looked dreary, and I didn’t feel like doing anything. Shadows lurking in the dark corners of my kitchen were dispelled when I flipped on the florescent lights. Suddenly my house felt cozy. The day would be a wonderful one to spend making bread, and puttering around the house. Continue reading