The Cat in the Blue Baby Onesie

Poor little Rascal.  Since April, he has been licking at a spot on his belly.  It now has a diameter of four inches and is now raw and seeps.  In April, May, and June, he had a visit to the vet, which is no easy task.  Rascal is normally a sweet natured cuddly little gentleman.  Until he needs to go to the vet.  Then he turns into a monster.  His eyes roll back, he wets on himself and poops on himself, bites people, and is generally horrible.  Fearing he might have a heart attack, the vet gave us some “relax” pills.  We give Rascal half a pill an hour before he goes in the carrier.  And he really doesn’t care.

At the vet, he had his wound cleaned and was given a steroid shot, which works about three weeks.  They also gave him a “cone of shame” to wear.  That lasted about two hours of running into things, getting caught on things, and not being able to eat.  He figured out how to get out of it.  And then he’s back to licking himself raw.  Realizing the worst part of this is just getting him to the vet; we asked if they could give me the shot to administer to him.  No!  It is a “controlled” substance so it must be administered at the office.  Seriously friends, do I look like the type that would give myself an animal steroid?

In the midst of all this I managed to break my wrist, which has made giving the cat a half pill and getting him in the carrier much more interesting.

So now it is August and I am beside myself.  The wound is not healed.  He keeps worrying at it.  And I have run out of ideas.  The vets agree with me that too many steroids can not be a good thing.  So what do I do to keep him away from the spot on his tummy?

When in doubt go to Wal-Mart.  (My favorite store… tongue-in-cheek and rolling eyes.)  In the baby section I picked up a set of three 16 to 20 pound baby onesies, in blue of course.  Seriously what I had in mind was already going to bring enough shame to the animal.  I would not put him in pink.

At home we did give him half a “relax” pill.  Really, would you try to put a onesie on a cat that was fully awake?  While Rascal began to relax, I cut out a tail/bodily function hole.  We put some spray medicine on him (which he does not tolerate unless he is relaxed.)  We pulled the onesie over his head, put his arms through the armholes, pulled his tail through its hole, and snapped him in.  We then cuddled him for a while and told him what a good boy he in a onesie1

And we told the other kids not to tease him.  Like they ever listen to anything I say anyway.

Amazingly enough he seemed okay with it.  I may have just invented a new cottage industry.  Or I need to write a picture book entitled “The Cat In The Blue Baby Onesie.”

Well this idea lasted three days.  And I found the onesie on the kitchen floor this morning.  I think what it needs is suspenders.  Cats really don’t have shoulders.  So we are going to try again.  Because he went three days without worrying his tummy.





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Time For Another Book Signing

It’s been almost two years since my last blog and my last book signing. Since then two more books have come out, and I still have not eaten one mouthful of Spam. Robert and I passed a poor little dead mink on the road the other day and had a long discussion about little Spam animals. They are larger than mink, and according to Beth very tasty. I wouldn’t know. See line 2.

Enough about Spam. You can always read my earlier blog.

On April 9th, Studio One, where I work, will host another book signing. Some of the same people will be there and some new ones. I will have five books of the Promises Series available. Pat Beathard will be offering her book on one room schoolhouses. Dale Herron will be there to discuss illustrating books and doing covers. This year we will welcome Gerhard Maroscher and Tom Harker. Mr. Maroscher’s book is about growing up in World War II Europe. Mr. Harker, known as the Ukulele Man, has a book that is a song book for the ukulele.

We are hoping that Christophe Rodriguez will be providing music on his guitar for our listening pleasure. Gary Dean of HER Reality has agreed to provide refreshments. There will be door prizes. (Don’t hold your breath that Spam will be any one of these.)

The event will be at Studio One of Circleville located at 250 East Franklin Street, Circleville, Ohio 43113. Authors will be there from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. There will be readings and Q & A’s and lots of meet and greets. Books will be availiable to buy and get signed by the author.

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The Anti-Spam Crusade

I am absolutely infuriated about the strip mining of Spam animals in remote and secluded areas of Idaho where you will find the most concentration of Spam Ranches. If you are an animal lover at all, as you know I am, you will join me in my protest against this insidious industry.

Let’s begin with information and a short history about the Spam animal. Spam animals, for those of you who don’t know, are a tad larger than rats and smaller than Guinea pigs. Spam animals prefer to raise their litters of about three to six Spamlets as a family. Both the mother (a pam) and the father (a sam) contribute to the raising of the baby Spamlets. The gestation period for the mother is almost precisely 23 days. During this time the sam will hardly leave her side except to bring her food. Spam are strict Vegans as their teeth are not equipped to rend and tear. A litter of Spamlets may come in a variety of colors not necessarily the same as the pam and the sam. Spam are one of the few known animals where genetic markings do not necessarily follow through from the parents. The most popular Spam animal colors would be black, orange, gray, brown, red, and bi-colors and tri-colors. A tri-color Spam animal is never called a calico. They are considered quilt Spam animals. Spam animals have no known predators except now man. Most other animals think the Spam animal too cute to eat. Most would-be predators are distracted by their beguiling little faces with large eyes.

Spam animals in the wilds of Idaho do travel in clutters. A clutter is usually six to eight adult pams and sams and the group’s offspring. Most Spamlets are born in late spring although it is not unusual for more Spamlets to be born in early fall. It is their benign and gentle nature that first drew man to them as pets until it was discovered that they could be used as a food source. It was then that strip mining of Spam animals began on Spam Ranches.

For those of us that love Spam animals the horror of Spam Ranches is too great to even imagine. Spam animals are kept fenced in with electrified knee-high fences. These “feed lots” are often divided into small individual sections. The Spam animals, whose normal existence is in family groups, are forced to live alone divided by these electric fences. Spam animals tend to be more nocturnal, but Spam Ranches often leave them in the bright sunshine with only a small pile of hay to burrow in. In the wild this burrowing would be done in their clutters for warmth and safety.

Although some Spam animals are raised “free range” they are not as tasty, much harder to capture, and therefore much more expensive. Dachshunds are trained to flush the Spam animal but not to eat it. If Dachshunds were able to talk they would tell you they would never eat one of these beguiling little Spam animals. On the Spam Ranches, Spamlets are removed from the mother pams at an extremely young and vulnerable age and they may scream for days for the warmth of their litter mates and their pams. (If you have ever heard a baby kitten call for its mother, you know what sound it makes.) Because of this shrieking some kinder ranchers will leave the Spamlets with their mothers most of the six months that it takes for them to be full-grown. Spam animals are considered adult at six months and are usually harvested before the sams go into rut. But unscrupulous ranchers remove the Spamlets from the pams earlier to force them on a diet they believe makes better meat. Spam animal ranchers can buy ear protection designed specifically to block out the plaintive cries of the baby Spamlets.

Spam animals are harvested at pretty close to six months. Detailed records are maintained on each litter of Spamlets so they can be spamharvested at the most opportune moment. My apologies to the faint of heart, but Spam animals are gassed with carbon monoxide because it does not taint the meat nor damage the pelt. (Do you see why I have such ire concerning Spam animals ranchers?) It takes approximately four to five Spam animals for a can of Spam. Except for the pelt and bones every part of the Spam animal is used in the processing of Spam. The fur pelt is not discarded. Because of the beautifully exotic colors of Spam animals their pelts are used on those little papier-mache animals found in novelty stores. So the buying of Spam products fuels a multi-national industry and causes the death of these gentle creatures.

All of this is why I am outraged at the treatment of little Spam animals. I would rather pledge my life to being a Vegan than to ever let Spam cross my lips. My husband, however, is not so particular. The only thing I can think of that I do not like about my friend, Beth, is that she prefers Spam fried. Blasphemy! Infidels both! If I had the time would look up the Scriptural basis for my beliefs about Spam.

Perhaps someday, when I have the time, I will tell you about the Norwegian explorer Loof Lirpa who was the first to identify Spam animals. Some believe it was he who originally brought them to American soil.

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My Opinion and You’re Entitled to It

You’ve heard the phrase, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Well I have my opinions and you are all entitled to them. So stick your tongue in your cheek, we’re in for a ride.

My father came to America with his parents and siblings in 1911. ellisThis was just before the Great War. He was 6 at the time, the youngest of 4. When I knew his two brothers and his sister, they spoke perfect English. They had no German accents. They were all naturalized as a family. They had jobs, they paid taxes, and my father served in WWII. (That was the one and only time he returned to Germany.) So what’s my opinion on immigration? COME. But come legally. Learn the language, which by the by is English not Spanish. Become naturalized. Get a job. Pay taxes. When my dad came here, the signs were not in two to three languages, the food on store shelves were labeled in English. They managed just fine.

Sidebar: Back in the ’90’s we were in the Czech Republic. I walked to the “potriveny” — the grocery store all by myself. I bought everything I needed by looking at the jars. I pointed to the meat at the deli counter I needed. And watched the register for the amount of sale. I did not expect anything to be in English, and it wasn’t. I was doing fine until the clerk at checkout asked me something in Czech. I gave her a stupid I have no idea what you are saying grin. Thankfully two ladies back in line translated for me. She was just asking if I found everything.

My dad was an American period.

So have you heard there’s overcrowding in prisons? A few years ago the red-neck Billy Ray Something came up with a solution. Give all the prisoners big knives and go away for a weekend. Paul, my brother-in-law (may he rest in peace), had a really great idea. He called it the Crime Debit Card. At birth (Hi Henry. Hi Graham.) each person would be issued a crime debit card. It would have a certain number of points loaded on it. At each infraction of the law, felony, misdemeanor, or traffic mishaps, a certain number of pre-decided points would be deducted from your card. Until zero, and then you’re done. trooperScenario: A man is stopped for a traffic violation. He gives his card to the officer. The officer swipes his card. The officer keys in the appropriate points. The officer says, “Sir you have two crime debit points left.” He touches his hat, “Have a nice day.” Gets in his car and drives away.

Next Scenario: Another man is caught leaving a bank with a sackful of money that is obviously not his. His crime debit card is also swiped. He is at a minus ten. The arresting officer administers a high-speed lead injection. As you can see no need for choked court systems or overcrowded prison systems. Oh and not to mention annoying lawyers. Watch for the new novel Crime Debit Card coming much later.

Do you know that you must have a license to get married, own a dog, sell real estate, drive a car, do hair and nails, sell liquor, or to sell anything in a store? BUT anybody can have a baby. What if people had to get a license to have a baby? You would have to go to class, take a test, prove you were married, and had an income. Seriously, do you have any idea what people go through to adopt? Shouldn’t there be some standards for having children?

Sidebar: Seriously, shouldn’t looking in the mirror be one criteria? Of course there’s the delightful little song in Cabaretcabaret called “Meeskite” — a Yiddish work for ugly. Two meeskites get married and everyone worries what their child will look like. But, “Gorgeous, gorgeous they produced a baby that was gorgeous….”

I haven’t worked out all the details on this one yet, but in an increasingly overpopulated world do we really need “19 and Counting”?

Ok you can take your tongue out of your cheek. I hope you didn’t bite it.

And don’t get me started on elections and politics.

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Things are not Always What They Seem

Robert, my husband, and I were chatting waiting for our dinner at a restaurant. Somehow we got on our military experiences. chaplainI did my chaplaincy training at Maxwell Airforce Base. For one long weekend we bussed down to Eglin AFB in Florida. They put us all in one tent. I was the only girl in the group. We worked out a deal. I dressed under the covers of my cot and when the guys needed to dress they said, “Susan, face the wall.” I would roll over and read while they dressed. (Back then I could actually dress under a blanket.)

I was telling Robert about the night we did triage with the doctors and nurses at Eglin. The moulage team came to our tent and made us the victims of a bombing. After the bombs went off the doctors and nurses were to treat our “injuries”. There were two things the doctors and nurses weren’t prepared for. They were told we were a tent of chaplains. Which of course meant we were all men. The second thing was I was hanging out in the tent in my civies.

The moulage team made one of our team a burn victim. Several had broken limbs and concussions. I had a non-compound fracture in my arm and I was to act as crazy as I could possibly act. Then we waited for the bombs to go off.

Then the bombs started going off. I kicked into high acting gear. I came out of the tent shrieking and running. The medics were running everywhere. (I’m not sure they knew where the strike was to be either.) Eventually I was tackled by a medic. I was not going to make it easy on him. I got up and continued to run and shriek. He finally got both arms around me and kept shouting at me, “It’s just a drill, honey, just a drill.” That’s when I realized he didn’t know I was one of the chaplains. He dragged me into a tent.

When medics are doing triage there are three categories that they divide their wounded into. One category is Yes, you are wounded, but you can wait it’s not life-threatening. The second is You are in serious danger but if we can get to you right now we can fix you. And the last category is You are going to die anyway, so we will keep you comfortable but we are not going to waste time or resources to keep you alive. Perhaps this sounds heartless but it actually saves more lives. I think I was put in tent number 1 with the you can wait group. And just because I was in a tent did not mean my acting stopped.

In the tent they had me on a cot and I was holding my arm and crying and every new ordinances went off I would shriek and go nutsy. A supervisor came to the tent to check on their choices of triage division. He leaned over to me and whispered, “Try to get out of here.” He left the tent, I waited a few beats, then made a run for the door screaming. I was tackled by three big medics. (The bruises all over my body the next day were amazing.) They got me back on the cot and the nurse looked me in the eye and said,”I have just tied you to this cot.” So I dutifully struggled against the invisible ties.

When they called a halt to the activities, all three people in my tent turned their heads slowly in my direction to see what I would do. I gave it a few beats just for the drama of it. Then sat up and said,”Can I go now?” There was a collective sigh of relief in the tent.

We did another drill beginning at the commissary that evening. This time I had a compound fracture and another chaplain joined me in the nutcase department. By this exercise they had figured out I was one of the chaplains.

After we were done I went and took a shower. (It was summer in Florida after all.) As I was drying off I heard two nurses talking on the other side of the shower curtain. The basic drift of the conversation was that the nurses and medics did not know there was a girl in the chaplain’s tent. They thought I had wandered onto the compound somehow and did not realize it was a drill. I scared them pretty bad. They had no idea what to do with me. Civilians are really not supposed to be at these events. And if I had turned the crazy corner, what do we do now? That’s when I came out of the shower. Their faces showed they knew who I was. I thanked them for their strange compliments on my acting abilities.

Robert told me his favorite moulage/triage story. He had been similarly moulaged with a head injury…blood everywhere. He stopped at a McDonalds on the way home and the clerk almost fainted when she saw him.

Thank goodness this was nearly 30 years ago. Seriously, can you see me moulaged today? On a walker screaming and creak, creak, help me, creak, creak, what’s happening, creak, creak.

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It Must be Spring: New Life is Everywhere

adamhenryHave I told you I have a new great-nephew? He was born the day after his due date of January 10th. He weighed in a few ounces under seven pounds. He is named Henry after his great-grandfather and Adam after his dad. He has all the appropriate pieces and parts. And seems to be a healthy little mutt. We got to meet him a few weeks after he was born. And I could tell he loved his Aunt Susie right away. He seems to be  a very good baby. And I personally believe that he will not want rice cereal for his first “real” meal but rather  macaroni and cheese.

His mother is the aficionado of all things macaroni and cheese. So it wouldn’t surprise me if that became his favorite food too.

Little Henry is my brother Bill’s first male grandchild. Bill has three sisters, and then, three daughters, and then the oldest daughter gave him three granddaughters. Little Henry is not the first Hischke family male grandchild, but the first for Bill. My younger sister’s daughter has a son. So Matt was my parents’ first male grandchild.

I have seen a lot of new daddies react to their new children, but Adam is so engaged with his child. I am surprised that Adam hasn’t kissed this child’s face right off of his head. It seems like he’s gob-smacked over the miracle of this tiny life as if it were the first child born anywhere. (Well his dad is Adam after all.) And mother Alison, so beautiful, nursing, patting, rocking, loving this new little child.

PS- There’s a scene in my new book where the character Amos sees a new mother nursing her child. He realizes with great sorrow that not once did he see his own wife nurse any of their three children. How could he have missed something so natural, beautiful, and perfect?

alisonhenryIn two weeks Robert and I will go to Michigan to be there for little Henry Adam’s christening. Little Henry was born of God and of love and now he is being dedicated back to God.

The most interesting part of this story is that shortly after Alison and Adam announced that they were infanticipating, Alison’s twin sister Erica and her husband Matt were also in “the family way.” Their due dates were 40 days apart and they were both expecting little boys. We even had a group shower for the twins.

After I wrote paragraph three of this blog I called my brother to see if there was any activity in Texas concerning the latest grandson. It is after all about 40 days since Henry joined us. And today is the due date for Erica and Matt’s child. William Graham arrived early this morning, right on his due date. Hi new little great-nephew! We are so grateful to God for these new little lives and pray that God will continue to bless them as they grow together as families.

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In Love With a Character

rainmakerWhen I was a Senior in college our theater director, Morris Pike, chose The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash as our fall play. Looking back on this I believe he chose it because he wanted Phil Linerode and I to be in it. Yes, we had to audition. But he knew what he wanted. For many years I considered this the best play out there. The play is set in Nebraska during a drought. But the main character, Lizzie, is also in a drought. She is 27 (an old “old maid”.)

The interesting thing about this play is that everyone wants something. By the end of the play everyone has what they wanted.

The role of Lizzie has always been my favorite stage role. In the key scene in the tackroom the Rainmaker, Starbuck, is telling Lizzie about his dream to make rain. All of Starbuck’s dreams are BIG dreams. Lizzie tries to explain that a woman’s dreams are small quiet ones that come to her as she’s putting moth flakes in a closet. He asks her what kind of dreams. “Like children laughing and teasing and setting up a ruckus. Or a man’s voice saying scratch here between my shoulder blades. Or what it means to say the word husband.”

I think this play appeals to the heart of a woman. Lizzie is strong with inner beauty. But she also knows that only by having her own family will she feel whole.

At the end of the play no rain has come. File, the sheriff’s deputy has come to arrest Starbuck. But the family convinces File to let Starbuck go. Before he leaves he even gives back the $100 he conned them out of to make the rain.

But then the rain comes. Starbuck comes back for his money but then he says to Lizzie, “It’s lonely as dying out there. Come with me.” But before she can decide File says to her, “Lizzie don’t go.”

Lizzie looks to her father, “What’ll I do?”

His response, “Whatever you do Lizzie, you’ve been asked. You don’t have to go through life a woman that ain’t been asked.”

Of all the roles I’ve done this is the one that I sank my teeth into, my heart into, and my soul into. For in many ways I was Lizzie. It would be eight years after that before I finally married.

Until about five years ago I did not think I would find another play that I liked as much as The Rainmaker. Robert and I appeared as grandparents in Over the River and Through the Woods by Joe DiPietro. over the riverIt became my second most favorite play. Again I was playing a strong woman who loved her family deeply. And a character much closer to my present age. The most wonderful part about doing this play was seeing one of our actors turn a corner to be a real actor. The young man playing the grandson was very good at silly characters but one monologue in this play had him talking about the death of his grandfather, my character’s husband. Opening night he just said the words. But Saturday night he felt them. He began to cry and almost couldn’t finish the lines. It was so beautiful seeing him evolve to a real actor that feels. The six of us backstage were quietly delighted. He came off the stage and we were all hugging him. And he said, “What was that? That was so outside my comfort zone!” We all explained to him that he just became real.

There are myriad reasons why these plays appeal to me. Mostly as an actress it is because the women have great depth and feeling. And when I performed them I knew that the audience felt a responsive chord to these women. I know this because I could hear my father crying in the audience when we did The Rainmaker.

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