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#TBT: The Thing That Ate My Brothers (1988)

April 24th, 2014 1 comment
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This installment of #TBT showcases two of my biggest inspirations for my childhood writings – my brothers.  Whether it was a character named after one of them, or a story featuring an epic sibling adventure (like this one you’re about to read), my brothers somehow imprinted themselves into the stories in my imagination.  Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise because siblings are the first friends most of us make.  They are also likely to be our closest allies and our biggest rivals.  As the eldest, I’m sure I also felt a sense of duty to protect my younger brothers.  I think this story, if read between the lines, speaks quite eloquently to sibling bonds (oh, and my secret desire to be the ‘Pro’). This one’s for my ‘baby’ brothers…

The Thing That Ate My Brothers (1988)

One day, long ago, Peter, Ben and myself were walking through the forest next to our house. Suddenly, a big, black, hairy Thing jumped out of the bushes. With one great big gulp the Thing ate both of my brothers. The Thing charged after me, but I was too fast for it.  I ran as fast as my feet would carry me. I jumped over broken pieces of wood and old car parts. It was more like a dump than a forest.  I finally made it out into the open.  There were cars buzzing up and down the street. I figured I was north of my house. I had ran all the way to the other side of the forest.  Now it was hopeless! The only thing to do was see the Wise One.  The Wise One was an old hermit who lived at the Great Swamp.  I started my long journey.  I felt like turning back, but I was afraid the Thing would try and eat me too.  I thought about my brothers. Maybe there was still hope! Maybe I could rescue my brothers! I quickened my pace.  I reached the Wise One’s house just before sundown.  I knocked on the door three times before I entered.  The old hermit greeted me with a smile.

“Ah! Melissa. Welcome,” the hermit said.

“Hello, Wise One.  I have come to seek help.” I explained the whole horrible story to him. 

“Hmmmm. Very interesting. You say this Thing is big, black and hairy? Well that can only mean one thing!”

“What?!” I yelled horrified. 

“One of my dogs has gotten into my spider-growth potion,” the Wise One said.

“Well, what can I do to get my brothers back?” I asked hopefully.

“Take this needle and stick it in his arm.”

“Well that sounds easy enough. Bye and thanks!” I said.

“Wait!  There is one more important thing,” but it was too late.  I was off to rescue my brothers. 

I walked through bushes and thorn patches. I came upon a dark cave. I could hear the Thing snoring. This was my big chance! I tiptoed in quietly.

“Wait, wait!” a voice yelled.

I turned around. It was the hermit! The Thing awoke. It jumped up and chased after me. I ran into a hole. The hermit followed me. 

“Why did you do that?” I yelled.

“You must stick the needle in a certain spot. Otherwise you may end up killing your brothers. Stick the needle as close as possible to the shoulder,” said the Wise One. 

I thanked the Wise One and dodged past him and out into the open. The Thing glared at me with his big red eyes. Without even thinking I jumped on his arm and stabbed the Thing right under his left shoulder.  It let out one last terrifying roar! It then fell on the floor and changed into a black dog, Peter and Ben. The dog sat on its haunches.

When we arrived home Mom was hysterical. 

“Where have you been?” she asked sternly.

“Oh… we just had an amazing adventure where for once I was the Pro!” 

We all laughed, except for Mom who just stood there wondering. She would never know of the terror and fright our adventure had caused. 

M. xo

P.S. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know how completely unbelievable this story is because there’s no way I would have ever “figured I was north of my house” given how ‘navigationally-challenged’ I am. 😉

P.P.S. The ‘Pro’ was a family nickname given to the elder of my youngest brothers, Pete.

P.P.P.S. It’s interesting how impressionable the young mind is.  I see influences of some of my favourite books and movies in this story.  Stand by Me was one of the first movies I ever saw in a theatre and the idea of scary things lurking in the forest has always stuck with me.  I was a big horror fan and read a lot of Stephen King books as a kid – probably more than I should have for my age at the time.  I see a lot of influences from the horror genre in my childhood writing. Maybe all those sleepless nights I spent afraid of Gremlins under the bed were worth it after all. :)

‘Things’ that Go Bump in the Night

 

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New Year; New Nest

January 7th, 2014 No comments
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Happy New Year!  I had hoped to return to the nest sooner, but I spent the better part of the last two weeks cursing myself for not getting a flu shot. Yeah, it was unpleasant.  The only thing that made this holiday bearable was the fact that hubby and I were finally home.  It was a long and stressful six months to get here, but we did it and we couldn’t be happier.

Admittedly, I was (and am) a bit nervous about this transition.  I mean it’s been almost two decades since I called this small city home.  A lot has changed.  I have changed.  Despite any doubts, it just feels right.  Once we made the decision to move, it was as if the path was laid out for us.  Sure there were bumps along the way, but they were few and far between.  In fact, it seemed that when something emerged to cause chaos and stress, that it was immediately counter-balanced with good fortune and ‘that was easy’ moments.   I’m sure some of you will get it when I say that it just felt like the universe was working to move us forward.  Of course, the universe does seemingly work that way when you really want something badly.

We left our old home with very little fanfare.  There were no dramatic good-byes, or celebratory bon voyage gatherings.  Instead, we said hurried adieus over the phone and via social-networking channels.  My guess is that most of our friends didn’t really think that we’d be gone that quickly either.  We certainly hadn’t.  The universe had other plans for us though.

The first couple weeks here were spent in a strange state of limbo.  Both hubby and I experienced a sensation as if we were merely visiting my hometown.  It took us a bit to feel settled with the idea that we weren’t returning to our old home.  It wasn’t that either of us desired to go back, but the feeling that we had to return just couldn’t be stopped.  After all, we had spent the last twelve years travelling back and forth regularly.  It was only natural that our minds still lingered in this state.  It seemed as if our consciousness hadn’t quite caught up to our physical reality.

After our minds and bodies recalibrated to more symbiotic states, we found ourselves in full holiday mode – and saddled by an early onset of a particularly virulent flu virus.  Despite feeling terrible for most of the important events during the holidays, I was overjoyed that we didn’t have to travel any great distance to be with the family.  My Dad hosted his first Christmas dinner in his new place, and thus did most of the heavy prepping and cooking.  Overall, we had a lovely Christmas.

Since I was so sick, I had ample time to reflect on this move.  When I abandoned this sleepy city almost 20 years ago, it was because I thought there was nothing left here for me.  Returning now, I realize that it isn’t places that bring you bliss, but rather what people bring to those places that make them truly blissful.  I went out there in search of my bliss, only to find it back here.

I’m looking forward to rediscovering this city that raised me.  I hope to share some of my more interesting excursions with you here.  Of course, I’ll also be bringing back to the coop my trademark hen-pecking and squawking.  Until then, keep chirp-chirp-chirpin’ away.

M. xo

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Why I Don’t Have Children… Yet.

July 22nd, 2013 10 comments
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Since some of my previous posts dealing with my personal life seemed to have been a hit, I figured it was about time I wrote this one.  Apparently, the Interweb is full of voyeurs. This is yet another topic that I’d wanted to write for quite some time, but due to its sensitive nature I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it.  I’ve been asked about this a lot.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that it might make other people uncomfortable – so, consider yourself warned.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m in my thirties and just a few short years from over the hill.  My hubby has already climbed that hill and will soon be exhibiting mysterious new superpowers known as grey power (we’re both curious as to what this much lauded power will bring, but that’s another post for another year).  We’ve been life partners for well over a decade now and do not have children.  Now anyone who knows anything about the female reproductive system knows that I am well past my prime child-bearing years.  I am now officially considered high-risk by the medical community.

Wedding Day

Wedding Day

Shortly after hubby and I officially tied the knot, we were besieged with questions from family and friends about the “pitter-patter of little feet”.  I found it strange considering hubby and I had already been together for eight years and our marriage was merely a formality (and a great excuse for an awesome party).  We actually had no intention of ever getting married, but decided it might be fun to get our families together – particularly since they had never met.  Hubby and I were committed to each other with or without a piece of paper.  We also felt strongly that we didn’t need to be married to have children.  I mean, we were both raised in some pretty eclectic family situations and we turned out alright.  I’ve also met more than my fair share of people who came from traditional family homes – and some of those people have a lot of issues.  So, clearly traditional marriage doesn’t always equate to the well-being of children.

Truthfully, for the first half of our relationship, having children wasn’t a priority.  In fact, we weren’t even sure we wanted to have children.  We would often talk about how we weren’t grown up enough yet to even consider it.  Then other conversations would revolve around just how much we enjoyed our life, the way it was.  We were both very career-oriented.  We were also having a lot of fun hanging out with friends, throwing dinner parties (or any party, just for the sake of having a party), going to concerts, and spending our money on things/experiences we could finally afford.  Yep, we were DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) and we were perfectly fine with that.  So for many years, the prospect of children wasn’t even on our radar.   We weren’t alone either.  Many of our friends also fell into this category.

Of course, there is something about babies and marriage that is rather contagious.  As wedding invitations began arriving like a landslide and newborns started gracing our extended family and friend network, hubby and I began having a more serious discussion about both.  Getting married seemed like a no-brainer.  So long as the wedding was conducted how we wanted, we couldn’t see a downside (except to the bank account, but it was well worth it).

Babies, however, that was a bit more complicated.  Neither of us believed that we needed children to start a family.  Hubby and I were a family – with or without children.  There were also a myriad of reasons not to have children.  This became particularly evident to us as we listened to many parents complain about lack of sleep, privacy, energy, money, time, etc., etc.  Of course, these complaints were always followed by “but, I wouldn’t change a thing.”  After a lot of discussion, hubby and I decided that if children blessed our life then we’d happily embrace it, however, we were both realistic.  We knew that given our ages, it might be difficult.  So, we also decided that if we couldn’t have children then we’d embrace that too.   That was seven years ago and the journey between then and now has been interesting.

Being a middle-aged couple without children often elicits some rather interesting behaviour, particularly from people who do have children.  The most common approaches are advice-giving, avoidance, and misconception (no pun intended on that last one).  The prospect of children seemed to elate our parents.  It began with my mother sprinkling magic fairy dust (i.e. glitter) on hubby at our wedding and reciting a blessed grand-babies chant.

Mom perform Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

Mom performs Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

If you’ve ever met my mother, this would not surprise you.  She’s a bit of free-spirit, to put it mildly.   In the months that followed, both of our mothers tag-teamed hubby and I with weekly phone calls to ask if there was “any news?”  Friends also got in on the action with similar questions.  Those who had had children offered up their tried and true methods to conceive.  These varied from various positions during sexual intercourse to certain rituals post-coitus (i.e. not peeing for an hour, lying for half an hour with feet propped up toward ceiling, climaxing immediately following ejaculation, etc, etc).  We were advised to have as much sex as possible – and told to save it up for our most fertile times.  I’m pretty sure we were given almost every possible piece of advice – and it was all a bit daunting to say the least.  Hubby and I graciously accepted their advice, but refused to become slaves to conceiving.  Part of the fun of having a baby is in making the baby, right?  So, why make it stressful with rules?  We carried on, in our usual fashion, while our family and friends overzealously offered advice.

It was probably a year or two after our wedding that we noticed the advice-giving began to subside.  Babies were rarely mentioned to us, and when news of a friends’ pregnancy was delivered to us, it was done so gently and decidedly unenthusiastically (I’m guessing this was so as to not offend us with such joyful news).  Whenever we were asked about babies, it was very cautiously and often followed by queries as to what kind of fertility assistance we had sought out.  We had not and for very good reasons.

As I previously mentioned, we did not want to become slaves to conceiving.  We had seen far too many people go to great extremes to have a child – which is commendable – but it was not an avenue we wanted to take.  Hearing stories of husbands carrying around pagers so as to be beckoned when the oven was hot, or wives injecting themselves with various hormones daily was not something either of us wanted to do.  Nope, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen the good old-fashioned way.  Others suggested that we simply get tested to see if it was something easy that could be fixed.  That was also not an option because testing also meant that we might find out that one of us was biologically responsible for our inability to conceive and neither of us wanted that guilt or potential resentment clouding our perfectly blissful relationship.  We decided we’d rather not know and just leave it be.  We even had friends offer to be surrogates or donate sperm (bless their hearts), but that wasn’t an option either.  Hubby and I hadn’t become a couple because we wanted to have babies; we became a couple because we loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  In the end that’s all that mattered.

As the years have passed and we have gotten older (and less likely to conceive), hope has diminished for those who have prayed, chanted, or wished that we would have had children.  While we are still faced with the odd bit of advice-giving or avoidance, we also saw a new behaviour emerge.  Given our age and the fact that hubby and I seemed quite content; people (usually those that we didn’t have a history with) made some interesting misconceptions about us.

Perhaps the most disturbing was that hubby and I didn’t like children.  Admittedly, there’s been a couple occasions that I’ve been a bit insulted by such an assumption, particularly given that I spent more than half my academic career studying child development and behaviour (which incidentally, no matter your academic/professional background, if you don’t actually have children – you have very little credibility with parents).  The other rather disturbing misconception revolves around adoption.  Adoption had always been on the table for us – even before we thought about having our own children.  I was raised by a man who is not my biological father, but he’s my Dad in every sense of the word.  I wouldn’t trade one second with him to have been raised by my “genetic donor”.  Hubby is an adopted child and his parents are his Mom and Dad.  There is absolutely no question about that.  There have been a few occasions when we have mentioned our intention to adopt that the response has been incredibly ignorant.  I once had someone say to me “you could never love an adopted child as much as you could your own flesh and blood.”  I challenge that person to say that to my Dad or hubby’s folks.  I also challenge that person to take a long hard look at the countless deadbeat parents who abandon their own flesh and blood.  Puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

Hubby and I have even been questioned with our desire to adopt older children, perhaps even siblings.  We’re told about the baggage they carry and that they wouldn’t integrate well into a new family, etc., etc.  No wonder these are the children that are considered unadoptable, if these are the kinds of things that are thought about them.  That would be our biggest reason for wanting to adopt though.  Shouldn’t these children have just as much of a chance to be happy?  For me, I can’t think of a greater gift than offering a stable home, love, and support to siblings that have had that uprooted – particularly given that siblings may be separated.  Why shouldn’t they have the chance to grow up together in a happy environment?

Whether hubby and I ever have natural or adopted children is a mystery.  I’m often reminded that I still have time to get pregnant, and while that may be true, my body isn’t what it was ten years ago.  Without a doubt, pregnancy at this point would be difficult.  That said, it’s still on the table, but there’s a lot more anxiety around that prospect now.

And what if we don’t have children?  Well, we’ll be spending a lot of time travelling and enjoying the company of family, friends and their children.  We’ve discovered that kids really enjoy spending time with us.  I think it’s probably because hubby and I feel blessed whenever we are in the company of children and this resonates with them.  They know that someone is paying them undivided attention and is enjoying their endless banter about nothing in particular and everything all at once.

So, there you have it.  That’s why I don’t have children… yet.  I certainly can’t speak for the experiences of many, many couples who deal with infertility.  Some do so quite tragically, while others rise above it and find a different purpose in life.  I’m not saying either is right or wrong, I’m just saying that we each can choose how to accept the cards that are dealt to us.  For hubby and me, that choice is to live in the here and now, to enjoy and be grateful for what we have, and to look forward to the possibilities of tomorrow.

Bliss

Bliss

M. xo

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Categories: Society and Culture Tags: ,

Marriage Equality

June 26th, 2011 No comments
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New York state recently passed a marriage equality bill giving way for same-sex couples to legally tie the knot.  So, how could this affect the tens of thousands practicing polygamy which is currently illegal?  Plural marriage has been coming out of the proverbial closet with recent news headlines, television shows and reality programming putting it in the mainstream sphere of discussion.  There are compelling arguments on both sides; however, a closer examination suggests that some of those arguments aren’t mutually exclusive to this discussion.

Many opponents to plural marriage point to the exploitation of women and children as just cause to continue outlawing the practice.  High profile cases such as the Warren Jeffs case have made sensational headlines claiming arranged under-aged marriages and various other abuses perpetrated on young girls.  Clearly, any proven abuses should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, especially in cases where children are involved.  These sensational headlines fail to discuss the fact that abuses against women and children are not mutually exclusive to polygamy.  There are plenty of documented cases of monogamous relationships in which children and women are abused.  There are also many documented cases of polygamous spouses and children who live productive, happy and healthy lives in their plural families.  Why then are prosecutors focusing on the abuses occurring within some plural relationships as inherently part of the lifestyle?  Regardless of the lifestyle, the focus should be on the abuses perpetrated.  Let’s be clear, not all polygamists commit these acts – just like not all teenagers who dress in black trench coats and listen to Marilyn Manson are going to plot to shoot their classmates.

There are also arguments that suggest that polygamy is amoral and that legislation is required to provide a social and moral compass to citizens.  Again, I question that line of thinking.  Sure, it may be immoral from a certain religious standpoint – however, there are plenty of religions that believe plural marriage is mandated by a higher authority.  Since I live in a society that was founded on Christian values I get why so many may find the idea of plural marriage a bit distasteful – but let’s also remember that we live in a secular society in which our religious ideology is supposed to be separated from the law.  And it would serve many Christians well to recall that there are numerous instances in the Bible in which various characters take more than one wife.  So, again I think this argument falls flat.  Let’s leave religion out of it – and that includes the arguments from some Fundamental Mormons that it falls under the realm of religious freedom.  Arguments that are founded on religious ideology invariably lead to a slippery slope.

Let’s look at this from a logical standpoint.  What’s inherently wrong with polygamy?  If two or more consenting adults want to commit a lifetime to one another – why not?  How can more love be a bad thing – especially where children are concerned?  I agree that the children of plural marriages aren’t given a choice in the matter, but the same is true of children who are born into a broken marriage, a single-parent home, a fundamental religious home, an impoverished home, etc.  We can’t start legislating who gets to have a family based on these ideas.  For all the abuses uncovered in these marginalized or unconventional families there are many more success stories.

Personally I think we are doing the spouses and children of plural marriages a huge disservice by not making it legal.  The non-legal spouses and children of these marriages have no recourse in cases of separation, death of one of their spouses or reporting abuse to the authorities.  I suggest the last point because I’m willing to bet that a spouse of an abusive polygamous relationship may be unwilling to go to the authorities for fear of being prosecuted themselves, simply because of their lifestyle.

There’s something clearly wrong when it’s illegal for more than two consenting adults to enter into a relationship committed to family,  love and honour – yet, a spouse of a monogamous relationship can legally step outside their commitment without fear of prosecution.  Sure, some hefty divorce bills might follow, but the cheating monogamous spouse still is afforded rights, such as still having access to their children.  The same isn’t true for plural families who face the prospect of being separated from their spouses and children or being imprisoned simply because their love extended beyond the traditional notion of family.

I think it’s time that polygamy in the Western world was brought out of hiding.  It’s the only way that society will be able to really understand it and provide adequate protections for those who choose to practice it.  By keeping it hidden, society is driving it further underground, where those who prey on the unprotected and marginalized will exploit the lifestyle for their own gain.  Let’s start having an intelligent and informed dialogue about the subject.  One that doesn’t revolve around religious ideology and sensationalized media headlines.

I believe that the foundation for any intimate relationship is based on love, mutual respect and trust.  These should be the measurements of a marriage – regardless of how many spouses you have.

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Categories: Society and Culture Tags: , ,

Awesome

May 24th, 2011 1 comment
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This past weekend, while some were anticipating the arrival of an ancient prophet to whisk them away to the Kingdom of Heaven, I was engaging in a special rite of my own. I travelled to Cherry Valley, Ontario – a quiet village located just outside of Picton, Ontario near the Sandbanks Provincial Park. I returned with some of my favourite people to the cottage resort where I married the love of my life.
With all the chatter on blogs and social networking sites about judgement day, and having the occasion to spend time in a special place with loved ones, it made me realize how lucky I am. If it was the end times, then I wouldn’t rather be any other place.
This weekend, while I left behind my ordinary and mundane to embark on something extraordinary, I was reminded of just how AWESOME moments like these are. It also had me thinking about just how AWESOME the little things are too. Its times like these, when the larger than life moments become just that much more with the addition of the small things that bring us joy too.
It’s those small things that we too often fail to appreciate and hold on too. Things like seeing your very first female cardinal, or throwing your fishing line out and catching your first fish moments later. Or learning a brand new board game, or creating catchy jingles from the spoils of classic games (ahem, 31 for 8). Maybe these moments don’t become etched into our memories, but they do make a lasting impression on our consciousness. All the little moments of joy accumulate and make life even more AWESOME.
Whether you spent this past weekend with loved ones enjoying the Canadian cottage life, or had some singular solace puttering in your garden, I hope you stopped to take in the AWSOMENESS of life’s small moments – the underrated and underappreciated moments. Those are the ones that we’ll all be truly thankful for when the journey ends.

Red Badger for Captain Chainsaw Highliner, Silver Fox & The Chili Train Conductor – over and out!

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For Mom

May 8th, 2011 1 comment
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Pretty well all Moms are guilty of a bit of pack-ratting when it comes to their child’s artwork. My Mom was no different and recently I had the opportunity to scan in some drawings Mom had from us Kids over the years. Below are two drawings, about a year apart, that I did of my Mom. They’re funny for me to see, and it’s quite touching that Mom has these so many years later. I mean, it’s not like they were works screaming of a budding Picasso (okay, maybe that first one might qualify 😉 ), but to my Mom I’m sure they were THE best. That’s just how Moms are. A child can paint their Mom a picture as questionable as a Jackson Pollack and Mom will see a work as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel. Moms are the best because they inspire us to be better people and uplift our spirits with their unshakable belief in us. Cheers to my Mom who was the inspiration for more than just artistic pursuits and cheers to all the Moms out there who inspire you! Happy Mother’s Day! M. xo

It’s amazing the difference one year can make!

 

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When pets live better than you do…

March 22nd, 2011 No comments
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I’ve always said that if I had to be reincarnated as an animal that I’d want to come back as one of my cats.  Why?  Mostly because I think my cats rock, but also because they are spoiled rotten (which I’m sure has something to do with the fact that we don’t have children and they’ve been relegated to our “fur babies”).

People love their pets and businesses know how to tap into that adoration.  Recently, while spending some time in the pet aisle at our grocery store (because I do spend a lot of time and money in that aisle) I stumbled across this tantalizing tidbit for my felines:

Needless to say I was quite amused, and immediately had to buy the treat for our kitties.  Seems despite having a background in marketing and psychology that I, too, succumb to the messages that my pet deserves the absolute best.

While I agree that we may spoil our kitties, we haven’t gotten to the point of investing in cat spas that boast chauffeur service, private verandas and bird watching or cat cottage retreats offering private suites, adjoining suites for multiple cat families, “extreme bird watching”, and organic catnip.  Maybe our cats do live a bit more of a humble existence than some with wealthier “pet parents”.  Certainly, they live more humbly than those cats and dogs who have the title of being Pet Millionaires.

Pets have steadily become a windfall for businesses capitalizing on our love for our furry family members.  It’s little wonder that in our consumer-driven society that even our pets are keeping up with the the furry Joneses next door.

I’d love to hear what the most extravagant gift was that you ever bought your pet.  Incidentally, ours was a 9 foot cat perch made from bamboo and rattan.  Quite impressive, and quite loved by our three kitties.

A kitty by any other name is still just as cute… cheers to our kitty families!


Osiris aka “Wusser-Si” aka “The Cat from Hell”


Buddy aka “Monkey Boy” aka “Boo Boy” RIP


Bijoux aka “Fluffernut”


Kalifornia aka “Kali” aka “Monkey-Bits”


KatStevens aka “Brat Cat”


Yums aka “Yum Yums” aka “Yummies” RIP


Miss Missy aka “The Real Miss Missy”


Valentine aka “Val” – honourary cat, and because she’s a jealous doggie…

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