Author Archives: Luanne

About Luanne

Poet, memoir writer, blogger. Trash memory re-purposer. Mother of cats.

The Kitchener’s Tail: Part 5 of The Caterbuddy Tails

Luanne: Felix, please tell your story to my friends. They have heard from Pear Blossom and Tiger and Sloopy Anne and Perry. But you and Kana have not yet told your stories. I need to coach Kana a bit on how to tell a public story, but you should be fine. Just tell it how you remember it. How you know it.

Felix: Mom! Stop! You tell it. I can’t.

Luanne: Sure you can, Fefe.

Felix: Aw shucks.

Luanne: You’re so big and strong. Why are you afraid to talk about yourself?

Felix: It’s embarrassing. People might look at me.

Luanne: OK, you tell me the story. I’ll write it down and then I’ll share it that way. Nobody will ever see you. We’ll negotiate photos later on.

Felix: Um, ok.

***

From Luanne: What follows is the story that Felix told me about his life. This story was being planned when Felix suddenly became ill last Wednesday. I was out of town for work in California, and when the pet sitter was watching him (thank goodness this happened when she was at the house). After he ate dinner, he threw up ten times, began panting, and made frantic runs to the litter box. She mistakenly thought he was constipated. I have made this mistake myself in the past when Pear started having UTIs. Rather than wait until my daughter could take Felix to the vet, I had the pet sitter drop him off at the vet as she left my house. It was a good thing that I didn’t decide to wait, thinking it was only constipation.

And a good thing that my vet decided to examine him before my daughter could get there. His bladder was the size of a grapefruit. He had a urinary blockage, which is a common emergency in (particularly) male cats, and fatal if not treated in time. It ended up that my daughter took him from the vet to the hospital because after they catheterize him he would need 24 hour care. He was in the hospital for three days. Now he is home, and I am watching him round the clock because there is a high possibility that he could re-obstruct within two weeks after the initial blockage. Felix is never any trouble except when he’s sick. In the past, it’s been parasite issues that stemmed from his life on the streets. This was the biggest emergency I’ve had with my cats, except for Mac’s end of life issues. And I wasn’t even home with Felix. The nurse who checked him out said that he was “famous” at the hospital for being sweet and soooo affectionate.

***

People think I’m scared, but I just don’t like confrontation. When I lived out there, you know, I tried to stay away from cats and other animals that wanted to fight me. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Remember when I ate in your front yard every day, Mom? You knew I didn’t have a home and you and Dad were giving me food so I didn’t starve! Then I started hanging around with your dog Sandy in the backyard because he was a lover, not a fighter, too. He told me all the stories about his good life in your house. So I began to stick close to your yard, hoping you’d bring me inside, but not wanting to make a mistake in case Sandy was wrong. What if you didn’t like cats?

Then I saw Mac in the window. I knew you liked cats, but would Mac like me?

I let you trap me in your garage using that silly “pull the string and the kennel door will shut” so-called trick. It never fooled me, but so be it.

You brought me to your friend, the emergency vet. That’s when we lived in California. Remember, Mom? She told her staff to be careful when they opened my kennel because I might be feral and mean. When she put her hand in my kennel herself (she doesn’t take her own advice), I rubbed against her hand. I’m a sucker for pets and rubs and scratches.

What? Oh, you want to know what my life was life before I came to live with you? It was kind of hard, especially when it was over 100 degrees in the summer. I got dumped by the people who fed my cat mother. There were too many of us, they said.

When you brought me into the house you let me live in the bedroom upstairs with the TV for two months. I didn’t meet my human sister for a couple of months because she had just started college and you and dad were what you called empty nesters. So you two watched TV with me every night while I was in that room. We had fun, and I didn’t have to meet Mac or Pear.

After I met them and moved into the rest of the house, Mac was kind of mean. Sometimes it irritated my good nature, and we would have tussles, even pull out each other’s fur. Pear was fine. She just ignored me. But a few weeks later, we all moved to Arizona. I was so scared. I wouldn’t eat for three days, and you had to give me special medicine because. Remember, Mom?  Huh? Remember? But after that, Mac and I were friends. Mac, Pear, and I were all close from that time on. We slept on 3 beds on the kitchen counter like three little kittens. The ones who lost their mittens. But we hadn’t lost anything. We had found each other. Mac was my hero.

That was the start of my kitchen life. Once I moved into this kitchen with the long counter I never wanted to go anywhere else. The only times I’ve moved into the closet upstairs is when your dad would visit. Remember Mom? He had such a loud voice? I couldn’t listen, so I lived on the shelf in the closet while he was here. He never comes any more, but when Grandma comes now by herself I stay in the kitchen and she calls me “Mr. Big Eyes.”

You and Dad and my human siblings call me Fefe. And, Mom, you call me Feeferelli and Mr. Scoobydooby Man. You call me The Kitchen Cat. You call me Feef a lot. I love to crawl into your lap when you’re at your laptop at the kitchen desk.

But I don’t watch TV with you and Dad and the other cats. I like my basket in the kitchen. I have a window to the beautiful yard Dad created, and a nice cool sink to lie in for a change. I’m also very close to the food. When the other cats are done eating their breakfasts and dinners, I like to finish up their food. I eat a lot, but I really am a big boy with lots of muscles. And lots of love. I’m not shy. I just don’t like confrontation. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Love,

Felix

 

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How Can Restaurants Best Offer Gluten-free Food?

It’s so hard to travel–whether for business or pleasure–when you have celiac and have to be completely gluten free. The gardener has a pretty bad case of celiac, so he has to be vigilant. Unfortunately, travel and being vigilant don’t mix very well.

A lot of people comment to me that it’s so easy to find gluten free in restaurants today. Well, it’s easy to find restaurants that say they offer gluten free options. But are they really gluten free? Judging by how the gardener reacts, many times they are not.

Then I found an article in the newest issue of Gluten-Free Living called “One-third of labeled gluten-free restaurant food contains gluten” by Van Waffle. (Yup, that’s the byline!)

The title kind of gives away the gist of the article. SO DEPRESSING. And I am so not surprised. Time and again, we have to correct servers about items on the menu. An entree labeled gluten free, but made with regular soy sauce. GONG. Chicken noodle soup listed as gluten free. GONG. French fries made in a fryer that cooks glutenous food. GONG. It goes on and on. Then they lie, too.

The other day I picked up burgers and fries at our favorite local place that has a dedicated fryer, meaning it only fries gluten-free food in it. As usual, the gardener’s burger and fries were in a box. I opened it and looked at it. The lettuce, onion, and tomato were missing. When they gave it to me I said, “This is gluten free, for sure?” Oh yes, yes. Actually I asked two different people! But I had a funny feeling. Our burger place is a brewery, and it’s dark by the bar where you pick up take-out.

When I got to the car I noticed that the box did not say GF on it as it usually did. So I went back in. This time I was very insistent, and the woman who checked it said it wasn’t gluten free. They would make a new one. “They can’t just take it off that bun and put it on another one, you know.” She knew that.

While I waited I wondered why I had given them a nice tip. Three different people had “helped” me, and nobody seemed to care if my husband got sick from their food or not.

What we are doing wrong, for the most part, with gluten free food in restaurants is not taking precautions starting from the menu planning and kitchen design.

One of the places we traveled to this summer was Quebec. There were three restaurants with distinctive ways of handling the situation. As a side note, this issue of Gluten-Free Living has an article about GF food in Quebec!

  1. Ottavio in Gatineau is a very casual Italian restaurant. They don’t serve alcohol, so we picked up some wine at the gas station across the street. The wine was good! but I digress. Ottavio has two separate kitchens–one for gluten and one for no gluten. They also serve the gluten free food on red dishes (P.F. Chang’s also uses separate plates which has got to be so helpful to servers and makes the diner feel more secure).  The food was good, and the gardener did not get sick.
  2. Arepera in Montreal is an extremely casual Venezuelan restaurant that is gluten-free! The food was good, and there was no stress at all. The gardener can’t eat beans either (just one of many food intolerances that have developed as part of celiac disease), but there was plenty of food to eat.
  3. Bistro Le Veravin in Quebec City is supposedly 99% gluten-free. Personally, I think they ought to be 100% because it would make it easier, and I am guessing it is more like 90% gluten free. But the food was delicious, and the gardener did not get sick. He had a wonderful selection of food to choose from. I had the poutine au canard (duck confit poutine) because poutine you see.

So separate kitchens is a wonderful idea for providing gluten-free food for diners. But being 100% gluten free is the best because then the celiac can totally relax and enjoy instead of paying attention to everything so that a mistake doesn’t happen.

Back to poutine: this was a breakfast poutine in Ontario. Wowsa. So good. Sadly, not gluten-free.

Next week we are going to try a gluten-free restaurant that is a little closer to home. Fingers crossed!

Our gas station wine–tasty and gluten-free!

 

 

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The Self WHAT?

If you are disturbed by vulgarities and crass language, feel free to skip this post, but please come back next week because I don’t make a habit of subjecting people to it.

I have a nonfiction short story out in a new anthology published by Devil’s Party Press. The theme of this collection is a bad word in the title of each story. Lest you think this is sophomoric hijinks, the writers are all over forty!

Click through the photo if you want to order a copy. My story is called “The Self-Mindf**k.” See, I can’t bring myself to spell it out in public!  As for the title of the anthology, you can read the book cover above.

Seriously, though, my story is childhood memoir, about the way the fear and anxiety of living in my parents’ home over a basement bomber shelter affected my thinking—hence, the self-mindf**k. Here is a little “teaser.”

In the summer I turned six, my father dismantled his cozy basement workshop and built a secret underground bomb shelter out of cement blocks. This intrusion into our home was my first encounter with the Cold War. Television regularly put us through tests of emergency broadcasting via CONELRAD, and at school, duck-and-cover drills were weekly rituals. The goblins in our nightmares were “Commies, Reds, and Pinkos.” The anxiety this threat gave me was palpable and made even more acute because I was supervised by nervous parents. I had to wear a cumbersome lifejacket just to play in the sand at the beach. Overprotective was an adjective created for my mother and father. I don’t know if I would have been a fearful child if I had grown up in a different environment. Maybe part of it was genetic. But a fraidy cat I was–too scared to attempt cartwheels or to ride atop someone’s handlebars. Living across the street from an intimidating dog was one more frightening aspect of life in those days.

***

Thanks to Marie K. Bailey  I discovered I could post a deal on my first poetry collection Doll God on this blog. Ten bucks covers a signed copy and postage to a U.S. address I’m so sorry that I can’t offer the same deal to my friends in other countries. However, if you are interested in shipment elsewhere, please email me and let’s try to work something out.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Doll God, Family history, Memoir, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

From Anne Lamott’s Pen

Following a writing prompt requiring the poet to pull words from a published book, I ended up with this poem. I wish I could remember which prompt I used–and how much I varied or not from it, but it was a couple of months ago. And these months have been full of work stress, so my memory looks moth-eaten.

The book I used was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a popular “writing text.” The subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and I would say that the instructions are more on point for life–and maybe that’s why it is so popular!

 

WHAT TO NAME A CAT

(in the voice of Anne Lamott)

 

Find God

Propmaster

On Loan

Crazy Clocks

Special Effects

This Effect

Ring True

One Door Shut

R&B

Therapy

God’s Home

Samuel Beckett

Dirty Feet

Tiny Word

Redemption

One Leaf

Wordsworth

Rumi

Personal Drama

Delusion

Gorgeous

Pure Radiance

Way to the Truth

Present Moment

Home

Each one of these names resonates for me with what cats mean to me. Gosh, that sounds like an essay assignment for fifth grade. A fun assignment!

Maybe you can find a name for your next cat from my list haha.

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Update on Perry

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: I am adding this to what follows and in doing so I am putting the end at the beginning. The latest word is that Perry’s lab reports were normal, so it’s extremely unlikely that he has cardiac disease. He will get a chest xray to rule out anything obvious in his lungs that would account for fast breathing. If that is normal, we will just have to watch him. He doesn’t act sick, by the way. So in a couple of weeks he will get an xray, but I think it seems  that he must be OK. My sweet sweet boy. WHEW!

Good news!!! I think.

The gardener and my friend who is another crazy cat lady cat mom went to the vet with Perry and me. She is studying to be a vet tech, and I wanted her opinion of the visit.

Perry did not have an echocardiogram because the cardiologist said he doesn’t think his fast breathing is cardiac-related. He did bloodwork instead, including a test that he hopes will rule out cardiac disease. A few days for that to come back.

If he has no heart disease, we still don’t know what causes his rapid breathing, but at least he won’t have a serious heart diagnosis hanging over his head.

I took a video a couple of weeks ago to show his “resting” breathing rate. In 31 seconds his rate was 47!!! That is very high. So why? He was just chilling at home at the time.

Our boy was such a sweetheart. He was very docile and easygoing for the vet and for the tech.

We are calling this a possible victory at this point. When the lab results come back negative/normal, then we can have our victory dance!

Thanks for your prayers, vibes, and virtual hugs and pets for this sweet boy.

Perry trying to get Tiger to play with him

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The Back-of-the-Cupboard Cook’s First Recipe

If you are like me, you well know that feeling of not having “anything” in the house to eat. Well, the truth is there are always some old cans in the cupboard. And usually some eggs and herbs and an onion or two.

The other day I found myself in this situation and couldn’t get to the grocery store. So I took out my last can of salmon and an antique can of crabmeat. Seriously, the expiration date was sometime last year. They were both small cans, so I toyed with the idea of making a tiny recipe of salmon patties and a tiny recipe of crabcakes, but that sounded like more work than I had time for.

I figured what the heck and created my own recipe. I can follow recipes pretty well, although I do tinker with measurements under the guidance of the glass of wine I keep close to my hand and lips ;). Nevertheless, I am not a creative cook who concocts new recipes from scratch. Until now. Maybe I should start a blog called THE BACK OF THE CUPBOARD COOK because these lil suckers were yummy.

Here is the recipe:

 

SALMON CRAB CAKES

  • 1 6oz can salmon
  • 1 6oz can crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup panko (gluten free is what I used)
  • 1 t. herbes de Provence
  • big dollop mayo
  • salt
  • pepper
  • (can use touch of sriracha, but I did not want the heat)
  • olive oil to fry in

Mix together everything except the oil. Let set in fridge for ½ hour (or less or more) because of the panko.

Form balls in your hand and then flatten into the hot olive oil in a skillet or frying pan and cook until browned on both sides.

Eat with whatever else you can scrounge up, even if it’s an old frozen side dish. (OK, that’s what we did).

The advantage to these cakes is that they are much tastier and less “fishy” than regular salmon patties. They are also easier and quicker to make than good crab cakes. The two seafoods actually complement each other very well, and the texture was lovely.

And because I was sneaking little pieces from the pan, I forgot to take a pic! I shared my recipe with my kids afterward, and my son who likes to cook said you could use a flavored mayo, too. If you do, change out your herbs if they don’t match the new flavor.

Now, don’t trust me on these salmon crab cakes. I know. After all that, she says, “Don’t trust me.” But I wasn’t using measuring cups and whatnot. I was just throwing things in. I’m only sharing because these combinations of flavors and textures worked.

###

A very cool thing happened on the way to not writing lately. My poem “Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill” has been nominated for Best of the Net 2019 by Nine Muses Poetry with five other poems. A big thank you to editor Annest Gwilym! You might have read the poem before. Some of you wrote lovely comments, too :). If not and you want to check out these six nominations, the links are available here: Best of the Net 2019 Nominations from Nine Muses Poetry.

###

Perry is getting his echocardiogram today, so good thoughts, vibes, and if you don’t mind, prayers for my boy, please.

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The Cat of a Thousand Expressions

This one is going to be short because I am burdened with too much work-work lately. But I wanted to let you know that my dear darling sweet Perry might have something serious wrong with his heart. He has to have an echocardiogram. I will report in on the findings, but the test isn’t for a little while, although my vet seemed anxious for him to get diagnosed ASAP so he can start treatment.

Has there ever been such a unique and special cat? The answer is no. His face shows almost a thousand more expressions than those of other cats. These are subtle, complex, and always in flux expressions. He had a little test at the vet, and he was soooooooooooooo good. And when she asked to see inside his mouth, he opened it up wide for her. No, this is no joke. (Let me remind you they thought he was feral when we first found him hahahahaha).

Pear Blossom is taking Clavamox for yet another UTI, poor girl. She had to have an anti-nausea shot because after a week of that medicine, her GI system has had it. She takes it for 3-4 weeks at a time. Pear is 19 and has medical issues, but we’re enjoying our time together.

Tiger is struggling to keep her weight up. She might have a pancreatic issue. Right now, I am trying to keep her at 6.9 pounds. She no longer looks like the chubby little sweetheart she did a few years ago. I can feel her ribs.

The other cats are vying with each other for attention . . . .

***

I thought you might like a little Facebook tip today. Do you know how to delete a group of posts on your timeline all at once? Or hide them from your timeline? On your wall, turn to the “grid” view, then click manage posts. Little white boxes open up and you check the ones you want to either hide or delete. You can do up to 50 at one time. Then click next and you can choose whether to hide or delete. What you need to know is that if the post was originated by someone other than yourself (you can see the tiny profile pic in the top left corner of the post image) you can only hide, not delete.

***

Make it a good week. You are loved!

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Brainstorming Instagram


Do you like social media? I don’t mean in an “all in” sense or that you view it through rose-tinted glasses. You can accept its flaws. But in spite of its flaws, do you like it?

I really like Instagram. I wish I could “share” Instagram posts from other accounts to my own without using an outside app. But other than that I like it because it’s very visual. That means it is pretty like Pinterest is pretty. And it doesn’t have a lot of opinions ricocheting all over the place like Facebook does. Trust me: I have my own opinions. I don’t need everybody else’s.

More literary magazines are developing a presence on Instagram, and I like that, too. And more poets and writers. But are we making the most of Instagram for our words?

I’d like to put words with images in a more productive way on Instagram. For instance, tiny poems or micro stories.  Have you seen the like? If you do something like this yourself or have seen it done, please share with me usernames.

A concern I do have is that lit mags and writers are posting quotes from new poems and stories on Instagram, and the writing is not tight enough for that purpose. The shorter the piece, the tighter it must be. Here’s an example of what I mean. “The morning sun trembles on the horizon at 7AM.” I made up that lousy sentence, but see how the time is mentioned twice? That is the kind of loose writing I see in some of these quotes.

Next question: I don’t usually post my blog post photo on Instagram when I publish a post. Should I do that? Is it good to do a tie-in like that or is it boring to see too much of the same thing?

One thing about Instagram as social media: I think it might be less social than some others. There doesn’t seem to be a good means for more than two people conversing about a post. You can horn in on someone else’s conversation, but it’s not really in the way you can discuss on Facebook or Twitter. In this way, again, it feels more like Pinterest, which feels the least social of all.

FOLLOW ME AT CAT POEMS!

What sort of photos do I usually post?

  • CATS
  • ART
  • NATURE AND LANDSCAPING
  • WRITING
  • FOOD
  • FAMILY
  • FAMILY HISTORY
  • VINTAGE CULTURE
  • ODDITIES
  • DOLLS
  • TINIES
  • TRAVEL

Pretty much my usual topics haha.

Happy Independence Day on July 4th!!!

One of my tinies

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An Elegy for a Beloved Friend

On May 6 I posted about a poem I wrote for a friend who recently passed away. I had written the poem during #napowrimo. Today I am sharing the poem with you. I don’t plan to send it out. Writing it was the most important experience.

However, it has been shared with others. It turns out her husband loved it and published it as the poem for the pamphlet at Nancy’s Celebration of life. The title refers to Nancy’s way of saying goodbye, whether in person or on phone or by email. And for cards and gifts she used to wish “light and love.”

You Are Loved

 

We were sketches

you colored in with

your box of Crayolas

You were the model

we studied for vision

You were a guidebook

we the letters in line

You were music we

turned up on the dash

You were a disciple

You were the doyen

You were walks with

trees and caterpillars

You were the one

whose arms reached

around the universe

and whispered in one

word sentences because

each one was enough

light

love

###

Live this life in light and with love. No comments please.

I’ll see you next week.

 

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Jury Excuses

Last week, writer and blogger Cinthia Ritchie was called in for jury duty and tweeted about it. I was reminded of what happened to me the last time I was called in for jury duty.

Before I tell you let me say that my favorite grandmother was ALWAYS put on juries. Murders, robberies, everything. She was exactly what they wanted for every case she was ever called in for. Sweet lady who got along everyone. Educated, but not “overly” so. A “housewife” who went back to work when her grandchildren were growing up.

I sort of wanted to be like her because I thought that court cases would be good fodder for writing.

But I was always in a teaching quarter/semester when I was called, so I always had to ask for an extension.

Then one day I was able to go. And you know what we did? Sat in a big group under fluorescents (you know I can’t handle those because they are a trigger for my complicated migraines, right?) and waited

and waited

and waited.

In addition to the complicated migraines, I also have primary lymphedema. Lymphedema is an everyday thing. And it is extremely exacerbated by sitting or standing still for long periods of time. I can practically watch my feet and legs swell up if I am too still (without lying down).

If you want to know more about lymphedema, here is a great blog (The Lymphie Life), written by a good writer who suffers from lymphedema.

Around 2:30 they finally corraled us all before the judge. There were at least 100 people in the room. One by one, we had to go around and tell the judge if there was some reason we could not be on the jury. By that time I could see that I wouldn’t be able to sit still for a trial. What if it went on for a full day? Or two days? Or a week or more? I would need a hospital, and they would need an alternate.

As I waited my turn, I heard all manner of excuses, mainly dealing with work and/or children. I was embarrassed for everyone having to talk about their personal lives in front of all these strangers. When people were done with their excuses, the judge explained that he would keep their difficulties in mind but that they might end up having to serve.

When it was my turn, I stood up and pretended nobody was in the room–or I would have been too scared to say anything. Then I described lymphedema, and why I couldn’t sit still long enough to be on a jury. Keep in mind that I would have loved to be on the jury.

The gray-haired judge looked at me over his glasses and nodded. “OK, you are excused from serving jury duty. You may leave.”

I turned to go, and the entire room erupted in applause. The man next to me slapped my arm and said, “Good one!” A woman raised her voice. “That’s the best excuse I’ve ever heard to avoid jury duty.”

Before the door shut behind me, I heard the judge admonishing everyone to settle down and be quiet.

I’m filing that story in the “life is unplanned” section.

PERRY SAYS HI!!!!

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