In Memory of Spooky

First I have to give the official definition of spooky from dictionary.com:

World English Dictionary

spooky  (ˈspuːkɪ)
— adj  , spookier spookiest
1. ghostly or eerie: a spooky house
2. resembling or appropriate to a ghost
3. US ) easily frightened; highly strung
     Spooky passed unexpectedly on July 23, 2012. He was Holly’s cat so I didn’t know him that well but I what I did know, I liked. He was a sweetie. No, he wasn’t a black cat and yes, I’m going there.
     Holly got the six-year-old Spooky from the pound in N.C. long before Rex came into the picture. He had health problems. He wasn’t cute and cuddly. All strikes were against him when competing against healthy cats and darling kittens. But my daughter wasn’t looking for those things. She was looking for character. An animal that would get a long with her then boyfriend, soon to be husband, who never had a pet. Spooky turned out to be perfect.
     She posted this on Facebook:
My first kitty as an adult, Mr. Spookybutt passed away today. I remember when I went to the animal shelter to find a cat-he was laying on his back with his paw out the cage purring. I took him out of the cage and he nudged my cheek with his head and I fell in love. He kept me warm in bed when John was not home, he kept me entertained with his cuteness, he stayed off counter tops and loved being brushed. He was my first baby and I will miss him.
          However, please review the definition above, in particular number three. He was easily frightened and hid a lot in the first weeks, hence the name. I never saw the cat, except for once, even though I often took care of him while Holly and John were out-of-town. The one time I did see him was when Tracey saw the bump under the covers on their bed. I carefully lifted the covers and beheld Spooky for the first time in the months Holly had got him. It was also the last time for a long while. He hid every time I visited.
      Why the fuss over the name? It’s not my fuss but evidently others have taken a perfectly good word and used it with racist overtones. Holly had no clue and neither did I when she named him. I raised my kids to look at people’s hearts not their outsides. Sure, we know there are differences in culture, etc., but so what? I try to understand those differences and expect the same courtesy in return. I’ve tried to teach my kids this and I think I’ve succeeded.
     When Holly started talking about her new cat the soon to be inevitable question came. Is he black? Holly was bewildered so her friend Jill, who is black, explained to her the connotations. Well. To say we were surprised was putting it mildly.
     Holly was at a loss because she’d been calling her cat Spooky and had him registered at the vet with this name. She took to calling him Spookybutt or Mr. Kitty. Really? She had every right to name him Spooky but she also wanted to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. I’m not sure who I’m calling out here…the idiots who started using the word in a negative or racist way and maybe everyone else who lets the idiots dictate the use of a word in a way that was never intended.
     So here I’m taking the word ‘spooky’ back. It means what the dictionary says it does and nothing else as far as I’m concerned. I vote Spooky’s picture should be put beside the definition just to remind everyone spooky is a beautiful word that could quite possibly be a cat…a slightly ragged, grey cat. Who’s with me?
     Over the years Holly shared stories with me about her kitty. Once when I asked how John and Spooky were getting along she described John and Spooky sleeping together. John at the top of the bed and Spooky sleeping at the bottom. Both with their paws, er hands, er arms? over their faces and snoring in harmony. I love that story, it’s a great one.
     Since Faith was born I have been in Maryland quite a bit. I guess Spooky got resigned to my presence and started making his known. Although he was still easy to spook, he let me feed him chicken, pet him and even tolerated my Belle Amie. While I was cuddling Faith, he cuddled with his mama. When Faith was put down to sleep he curled up beside her on the rug in front of the crib.
     When he died Holly felt guilty because she hadn’t spent a lot of time with him since Faith’s birth. I told her not to feel guilty because he never felt neglected. Not once. All he cared about was that he had one more person to love.
     RIP, Spooky. You are missed. Spooky was fourteen when he passed.
Holly used a great poem on her Facebook page I want to share here:
The Gift of Animal
The animals that share our lives
enrich them beyond measure.
They show us that there is joy in
simplicity and that love can be
communicated without words.
They help us understand that life is to
be lived in the moment without regrets
over the past or worries about the future.
They teach us about companionship
and trust and about giving of ourselves:
our time, our attention, our affection.
Animals bring out our humanity and
help us become better people.
All we need do is open our hearts
to what we can learn from them.~ Mary Montgomery
Peace.

References used in this post:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spooky?s=t

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About Writing on Wednesdays: Writing Prompts and Memories

Writing prompts are fun and they get those creative juices flowing that sometimes lead to a great story. To Touch a Unicorn was created from a writing prompt Chuck Wendig gave on his blog. He has writing challenges every Friday I enjoy reading even if I don’t always participate.

This week Tracey and I decided we wanted to begin using writing prompts. We each picked a sentence from Daily Writing Tips last Monday. The goal is a minimum of 500 words and we have from Monday to Sunday to complete. On Sunday we’ll share our stories with each other for review. It should be fun.

Tracey chose ‘They came back every year to lay flowers at the spot’ for this week.  This is an interesting sentence because it can be creepy or sad. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. Maybe Tracey will let me put up what she writes. She should because she is a talented writer.

The story prompt I chose for this week is ‘It was the first snowfall of the year.’  This sentence is haunting but the why of it didn’t strike me at first. It was when I was going over my beginning sentences that I realized I was using childhood memories. Here are my first several sentences:

It was the first snowfall of the year but the shivers racking Scarlett Miller wasn’t from the cold, it was the tracks in the snow leading up the stairs to her back door. The same back door that was partly open when she got up that morning. She knew two things had stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books sitting in front of the door and Ginger.

A good start I think. I was eleven when the incident I’m drawing from occurred. Yes there was snow and yes there were tracks leading up stairs to our back door. Instead of a trunk of books there was an empty trunk with a large wooden cage on it that had two gerbils inside. I truly believe Ginger saved us that night. Her and her alone. It was just my mom, me and my brother because my dad drove a truck over the road and they knew it.  Ginger was a hero and deserves to be remembered for her love and loyalty. Ginger is why I always feel safer with dogs in the house to at least alert me they hear something.

Children are so naive and trusting. I was no exception. Looking back I realize I must have worked my guardian angel a lot during those years. Sometimes I want to cry for that girl because no child should see or hear some of the things I did but then I remember I am blessed because many of those things could have turned out so much worse.

One day as I walked home from school one of the new neighbors, an older woman, from across the street called to me from her front door, I walked over, she invited me to come in and I did. Inside there was another woman and two men. They were so friendly and when they asked questions about me and my family I answered them.

They said they wanted me to do chores for them to earn a little money, ironing and such. Excited I ran home to ask my mother if I could work for our nice neighbors. To their credit they did tell my mom about themselves, turns out the guys were just out of prison for rape and murder. Her answer was a resounding ‘no’ to me with a stay away from them added for good measure.

Not too long after that the incident with the back door occurred. Not too long after that the murderer killed the rapist. Yes, I saw that. Not the actual killing but the aftermath. I could see the police car and ambulance from the top of the hill where the school bus dropped me off. The paramedics rolled the rapist out of the house and just as I walked by they got to the ambulance on the road. The bullet hole between his eyes could be clearly seen. The murderer went back to jail and the wives moved away. So did we.

Do we know for certain who it was trying to break in our back door? No. But I’d say the odds were pretty good it was one or both from across the street, don’t you? I think I’ve mentioned how beautiful my mother was as a young woman. I think I’ve also mentioned how men stared and occasionally followed her around. My mother did not encourage them that I can recall nor did she dress inappropriately but something made men stop and look and then look again. Whatever ‘it’ was it also made a few of them act inappropriately.

There were at least five incidents that were truly creepy and scary that I remember. One in Maryland involving one of our neighbors stalking her (I don’t remember much except my mother talking with a friend about contacting the police, I  remember being afraid), an incident in California where my mother got money from a company because the man who worked for them actually caused her physical harm, two in Georgia (including the incident I’ve talked about) and one in North Carolina.  There’s more, I’m sure, but they didn’t go that high on the creepy/scary scale so I don’t remember them.

What I find interesting is that I didn’t consciously pick that sentence because of those memories. It kept going round and round in my head; I started putting together sentences before I remembered, “Oh, yeah. That actually happened.” It’s not like every time it snows I freak out or anything but it has always been in the back of my mind like a bug crawling around the kitchen floor. You try to stomp it but the thing is too fast and gets in a crack between the wall and floor before you can kill it. Well now the memory has some use as I draw on it to write an awesome story, I hope.

Peace.

Just Call Me Nonna

If you haven’t seen the photos of Faith I put up on Friday and you want to then please click here.

So we had the baby shower March 31. I will share a few photos from the shower on Friday because I think they’re worth sharing. We had a great time; John and Holly got a lot of gifts they were thrilled with for Faith.

After the shower it was time to recover. Holly and John went to scout out some job offers leaving Rex with me. The plan being that Paul and I would take Rex to Maryland in about two weeks, stay a couple of days to help Holly get the nursery ready then come home. After about a week I would go back to stay with them until Faith was born and a bit afterwards to help out.

The best laid plans never happen.

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Hurricane Irene Is Arriving

It will not affect us here in the Triad unless something changes drastically. Chances are extremely high that nothing will. About half the state will be affected to some degree, we’re about two counties away from where the least amount of rainfall is expected. No rain for us although we do need it.

I did check with Holly and as of this afternoon they did not expect to be affected by the storm where they are in Frederick, MD either.

My thoughts and prayers are with those, both animal and human, who are in the path of this nasty storm all along the eastern seaboard.

Map of NC, red dot is Randleman:

File:NCMap-doton-Randleman.PNG

Irene’s projected path is here.

Peace.

Earthquake!

I didn’t even realize it a first.

The bed started to shake and our fan bounced around. Initially I wondered if it was an earthquake then decided it had to be the washer. We don’t have earthquakes that big in North Carolina. I yelled at Tracey to check the washer and went back to reading my book.

A minute later Tracey comes in and asks if I felt that. After verifying the washer wasn’t on I informed her she had just experienced her first earthquake. Even then I kept thinking it couldn’t have been that. We called my mother who didn’t feel a thing then turned on the news and sure enough. Earthquake!

The animals didn’t react either. It woke the lab up but she just went back to sleep. The cats didn’t seem to notice it at all. Daygan could have been reacting or it could be one of those crickets she likes to suck up was giving her indigestion. As a baby frilled dragon it could have been anything making him/her antsy, they’re nervous about everything with good reason I suppose.

It really wasn’t all that bad considering. Fox News seemed concerned that people were overreacting and California was laughing at us but hey, we southerners are used to people laughing at us. If it’s not the accent it’s the joy we take in the rare snowfalls we get.

I wanted to tell Shephard Smith from Fox news to stop stomping on our excitement and let us enjoy this little quake. Heaven knows from April to October we don’t have any excitement because there’s no chance of snow at all.

Now God goes and shakes our world and killjoy Fox wants us to ignore it? Hel-lo. We are happy because we just got us a real honest to God earthquake on the East Coast. We’ve got something else to talk about besides how frigging hot it is and Fox wants us to calm down, not use our cells and watch Libya who’s across the world. Hah! Not happening.

And really Fox? It seems they felt New Yorkers and other northern states didn’t react well to the quake and I can really understand that but we don’t all live in New York. I did call my daughter who was at school in Baltimore, Maryland but she didn’t feel anything. In fact didn’t know what was going on til she was on her way home.

 I don’t know if John felt the quake or not. He works in D.C. so he may have felt more than Holly did. I’ll ask Holly later cause I didn’t talk to her but a minute. I do have the right to check with her and make sure she’s ok even if I know she probably is. Sorry Fox. I did use the phone to call my daughter’s cell. Get over it.

Besides that I’m not sure if Fox was concerned so much about the people’s reaction to the quake so much as they were concerned about people on the West Coast laughing at us. I believe we can handle a few snickers.

The only thing Fox said right, as far as I’m concerned, is people should be worried about Irene heading our way. That’s true but it’s not gonna stop us from enjoying our own little earthquake for about a day. Irene isn’t due til this weekend and most of us can multi task.

I went to the convenience store to meet my heart sister, Ruth, who was in town. The clerk asked me if I felt the quake. I said I sure did and she was like I did, too. Then she says I thought it was the washer. Instant kinship. I love southerners. We bond over the dumbest things.

Ruth and her husband, Howard also felt the quake in Kannapolis, they live near Charlotte. She thought it was her grandson shaking the table til Howard told her otherwise.

What kills me is she and I should have known better cause we both lived in California. Hell, she was born there. I feel her blood or something should have recognized an earthquake was happening. Since it didn’t I felt better about thinking it was the washer.

We lived in El Monte and had some damage to our home when an earthquake hit. I can remember my mom grabbing me and my brother and shoving us under the kitchen table then going to find my dad. I really have no idea how she did all that with the world trying to turn upside down.

Think of a furnished doll house. Pick that doll house up, shake it hard, shake it up, down, and sideways. Hear the furniture and dolls crashing into one another? Hear the walls of the doll house cracking as they buckle?

Now think of that happening to a real house with real people and their things inside and you might have an idea of how a 7.2 earthquake feels. That was the magnitude that hit L.A. and the surrounding areas when I lived there in 1971.

We moved to California in about 1968? 1969? We weren’t there five minutes when we felt our first quake. After that it was fires so close we had ashes floating down on us, floods then finally the 1971 quake. My mom said she’d had enough and after a brief stay in Arizona we moved on to Tennessee, Maryland, Georgia and last North Carolina. My mom should have been born a gypsy. God knows she had wandering feet.

What about you? Any earthquakes, fires or hurricanes you want to discuss? Am I being too hard on Fox? I don’t think so.They were buttheads because while New York might have been nervous about the quake they weren’t out of control. I think it was more a case of Fox overreacting rather than New York. Or at least Shepherd Smith. He actually said turn the channel if you want more news about the earthquake. So I did.

Here’s an article about the 1971 earthquake if you’re interested:

http://www3.gendisasters.com/california/8191/los-angeles-vicinity-ca-earthquake-feb-1971

 

 

Freaky On Fridays: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Isn’t so bitsy. 

In general I try to ignore spiders. The occasional spider does come in and I, Paul or Tracey will catch them and put them back outside.

They don’t make me happy and when I really think about them and the way they kill and eat their prey, it kind of freaks me out. However, I recognize they are good for the environment and if they leave me alone; I leave them alone.

We’ve even had the occasional pet spiders. Years ago some black widows set up webs in my book shed so Paul caught them in a small pet habitat. Tracey fed them and kept them under the porch for a while before I made her set them free. Out in woods. Far, far away.

Last week I let the dogs out on the back porch. They stopped long enough to greet Shades, one of our indoor/outdoor kitties, and then ran on out into the backyard.  

As I closed the sliding the doors I saw a humongous spider running at me along its web. While I was sick a Carolina Wolf spider set up shop there beside my doors. Yikes!

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Curio’s Past, Shhh.