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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 80: Fundraiser for Holly

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 80: Fundraiser for Holly

2017 didn’t end well for us and 2018 is not off to a great start. Remember how we lost Mickey at the beginning of December? As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, the cost made a serious dent in our financials. Between the doctor’s consultation, the X-rays, the euthanasia and the cremation expense, this tragic episode cost us in the region of $600.

Now yesterday we had to spend another $500.

On Wednesday, Toronto got a break from the freezing temperatures and enjoyed a glorious sunny day of a whole 7 degrees C (44 deg F). Whether it was the mildness of the day or the sunrays, we’ll never know, but Holly was desperate to go out on the balcony. She sat by the sliding door, meowing, looking at me and adding a few decibels to her meow.

I didn’t see any harm in letting her out. It had been called for days, after today the temperature would dip down again, so she might as well take advantage of this ‘warm’ sunny break and get a breath of fresh air. So, I opened the door. Holly tentatively stuck her nose outside, followed by the rest of her head and then paw per paw stepped outside. Less than five minutes later she came back in, the fresh air was obviously a bit too fresh.

The next day Holly started to sneeze. Whether it was the cold air or something else, who knows, but Holly now had a cold. At first I didn’t think anything of it, after all, everyone catches a cold from time to time and gets over it in due time, but in Holly’s case, it went from bad to worse. When she stopped eating and drinking I knew it was time to take her to the vet.

Since Halley was due for her second inoculation, an appointment was made for her too.

At the vet’s Halley was checked first: heart, lungs, ears, eyes, joints, fleas, and finally two injections.
Up next, Holly, and she too had her heart and lungs listened to. When her temperature was taken, it turned out that she had a fever. She got medication and the vet suggested a change in her diet. Apparently, the food we’re giving her (I won’t mention any brands) is not good and we have to switch to something better.

When I was presented with the bill, I nearly needed medication (for my heart) … $491. Why, oh why did I give up on my dream to become a vet? Not only would I have made a ton of money, but I would have saved a considerable amount on my own lot.

Anyway, a friendly woman who knows about my 2017 and now 2018 vet expenses suggested that I ask for financial assistance through ‘Go Fund Me’. Asking for money! I was horrified by the thought, I’d never asked anyone for money (except when I do the annual Toronto Cat Rescue fundraiser), but never anything personal.

“Oh get over yourself,” she said. “Lots of people do it for lots of different reasons. Go for it. What do you have to lose?”

So I did. I created a fundraiser named 'Holly's medical expenses'.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 79: Update on Halley

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 79: Update on Halley

Halley has been with us a little over a week and it’s been … how shall I put it … exhausting. Kittens are wonderful, but kittens are all trouble. Trouble with a capital T.

When Halley wakes up, she bounces on the bed like she’s on a pogo stick and buggers the other cats (Charlotte, Gabriel, and Holly) until they agree to get up. If they comply Halley is happy with the result, if they don’t she proceeds to nipping their tail, their legs, feet or even ears. Eventually, they all give in and get up.

Her next victim is me. Sleeping in in the morning is a thing of the past. At a certain time, Halley seems to think that I’ve slept enough and starts trampling all over me. If I ignore her and turn over, she goes on to rubbing her cold wet nose against mine or even softly biting it. That usually has the desired effect, but if I want five more minutes she moves on to something else … purring directly in my ear. When she practiced that trick for the first time yesterday morning, I thought a helicopter had landed next to my bed. I couldn’t believe that such a small kitten can produce so much noise.

When we’re all up and about it’s time for breakfast. Kitten food for Halley, regular food for Charlotte, Gabriel, and Holly. While the latter waits patiently for their plate, Halley follows me wherever I go and weaves between my feet in the process.

When everyone is fed and watered it’s time for my shower. Holly always joins me in the bathroom but ever since Halley came on the scene I now have an audience of two.

While I get myself ready for the day, Charlotte, Gabriel and Holly do much the same. They have a wash and then go in search of a place to nap. But not Halley, sleeping is not on Halley’s agenda. Oh no, she’s going to help me with the daily chores.

Making two beds used to take between five to seven minutes, now it takes … I don’t know, a lot longer. People who have or had a kitten will know exactly what I’m talking about. People who never had a kitten just have no idea how much trouble making a bed is with a kitten around. It takes forever to get the sheets and the duvet smoot, because kitten jumps, bounces, claws, bites, and generally messes things up.

Putting groceries away … OMG, that’s just a nightmare. Storing stuff away in the upper cabinets is no problem, but storing things in the lower cabinets …  well, that goes something like this …

Open cabinet door – remove the kitten from the cabinet. Reach for bathroom tissue. Remove kitten from bathroom tissue. Remove kitten from the cabinet. Hold kitten with one hand while storing away bathroom tissue with the other. Repeat this any number of times.

When putting stuff in the fridge I have to stay alert too. While I’m putting away butter and cheese on the top shelf, Halley is checking out the lower shelf. I guess she got that tip from Holly, who was an expert in fridge inspection.

So far vacuuming has not presented a problem because the noise seems to scare Halley, but sweeping … well, if you have any kind of an imagination you might have some idea of how that goes. I no longer sweep the floor with a brush, but with a brush with a kitten attached to it. I tried to remove Halley a few times, but she hangs on for dear life. And does she mind getting dragged all over the hardwood floor? Not at all. On the contrary, when done, Halley looks at me with her little face that seems to say … are we done? That was fun.

Doing dishes is also no problem because Halley is far too small to jump on the counter, so instead she sits next to my feet, giving an occasional meow for attention. It’s hard ignoring those pleas that translate to ‘Pick me up’ but no, no way, Halley walking on the counter top is way too dangerous. She might a) fall into the dishwater or b) fall off the counter. Not that there’s no danger on the floor. As I dry the dishes and put them away, I move around and so does Halley, so I have to watch my step.

With the chores done, it’s time to go on the computer. By now, all the cats are fast asleep, but not Halley. Oh no, she’s like a Duracell battery, she just keeps going and going and going. At times, she just sits quietly and watches the screen, more of than not though she tramples all over the keyboard, at one time even switching the computer off.

So, sweet as Halley is, she’s also a packet of trouble. I don’t know how mama cat does it with five or six kittens. The poor cat’s nerves must be in tatters.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 78: Countries I’d like to visit but (probably) won’t

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 78: Countries I’d like to visit but (probably) won’t

In my post of yesterday, I mentioned that there are countries that I would like to visit, but for one reason or another, won’t. I traveled quite a bit already. Being from Belgium it’s not difficult. Belgium is bordered by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxemburg, all within driving distance, as are Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The latter five take a little longer to reach but it's doable.

Countries I would like to visit but (probably) won’t are:


I would dearly love to go down under to see the kangaroos, wallabies, koala bears, and the colorful parrots, but two things are stopping me. One is the flight time. I’ve read online that visiting Australia can take between 22 and 36 hours, depending on the airline. 22 hours in an airplane … no, I can’t imagine doing that. When I fly to Belgium it takes about 7 hours and that’s about as much as I can take. Another detail that stops me are the spiders. I’ve read that Australia has some huge beasts and is actually home to the largest spider on earth.


Ever since I saw the movies ‘The Best Marigold Hotel’, ‘The Second Best Marigold Hotel’, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, and ‘Million Dollar Arm’, I’ve developed a fascination with India. While it doesn’t take as long to get there as Australia, with a 14 to 18 hour flight time it’s still a horrendously long trip. Another thing that stops me is the food. From what I understand India likes spicy foods. My neighbor from Sri Lanka recently presented me with a few samosas. “Are they spicy?” I asked her. “No,” she said, “they are very mild.” So I took a bite. OMG my throat nearly caught fire. If this is what she considered very mild, I wonder what really spicy tastes like.


I would love to see the Red Square in Moscow, Victory Square in Leningrad, the Catherine Palace in Pushkin and see the Bolshoi Ballet in performance. I worked with a Russian girl once and when I asked her if she’d ever seen the Red Square, she shrugged and said she saw it every day on her way to work. I guess it was as ordinary to her as the CN Tower is to Torontonians.


It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to visit America, more specifically, New York. I want to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, the various bridges, Central Park, and all other tourist attractions.

These are just the top four but there are other countries I would like to visit. I’ll probably never get the chance, but that okay, with the Internet I can go anywhere I want without having to endure the heat, the cold, or crowds of people.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 77: Hitting a snag

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 77: Hitting a snag

It’s day 77 of this writing project and some of you might have wondered what this is all about. What it’s about is simple, I have a list of 365 tasks. Tasks such as:

- The Professor: Write about a teacher who has influenced you
- Mirror, Mirror: What if your mirror started talking to you
- The Stars: Take inspiration from the night sky
- Fire Starters: Write about building a fire
- Fashion: Write about a fashion model

While some tasks work out, these five definitely did not.

For instance …

I can’t write about a teacher who influenced me because no teacher ever has. Actors, singers, and writers have influenced me, but definitely not teachers.

What if a mirror started talking to me … holy crap, I think I’d get a coronary right there on the spot.

Taking inspiration from the night sky … not really working for me. I see the same stars every night (everybody does) and in the event that something exciting is going on, like a super moon or a meteor shower, I miss it. If something is going on in the sky, the sky is packed with clouds.

Building a fire … I’ve never built a fire and if I were to start now the superintendent and the management of my building wouldn’t be too pleased.

Writing about a fashion model … give me a break. I have zero interest in fashion models.

So, there you have it. Even though these writing tasks are supposed to help to get the creative juices flowing, there are topics that just don’t work for me.

Yesterday’s task was to write about a dragon. Well, that didn’t work either. What I know about dragons would fit on a postage stamp.

Today’s exercise was geography: write about a country you’ve never visited and why you would never go there. Seriously, if I was to write about such a country (countries actually) I would offend quite a few people.

So, I’ll do the next best thing. Tomorrow’s task is: write about countries you’ve never visited but would like to. I can most certainly do that.

Stay tuned …

Now, in addition, I’ve taken on posting daily calendar quotes. These are not my ideas, these are quotes that I get from my 2018 calendar. 

Today’s quote:

Despite the many images of cats lapping up milk, most cats are lactose intolerant.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Day 76: A new addition to the family

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 76: A new addition to the family

Everyone, meet Halley. Halley was adopted from the Toronto Cat Rescue last Friday.

Originally, her name was Ella and while it’s a fine name, I didn’t really take a fancy to it. In my native language (Flemish) Ella is too close to ‘ela’ a term of caution. When a cat, or dog or a child is about to do something naughty, it is warned with ‘Ela’, meaning … don’t do that, I saw that or something to that effect. So, we started thinking of a different name.

I posted Ella’s picture on Facebook and asked members of two cat groups what they would call this kitten. There were a number of suggestions, but none of them were suitable. Some proposed male names, which were not acceptable as Ella is a girl, others came up with nicknames, which I didn’t consider because I prefer a proper name. My other cats are called Charlotte, Gabriel, and Holly, so Ella’s deserved a proper name too.

Someone suggested watching Ella for a few days and the perfect name would become obvious. As it turned out, it did. The perfect name for our little rascal is Halley, named after Halley’s Comet. Just like the famous comet she’s predominantly white, she has a long tail, and she races around the place.

I’m sure that in the weeks and months to come, there will be plenty of updates on Halley, so watch this space and see our little kitten grow up. For now, enjoy these few pictures and video. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Day 75: Happy New Year

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 75: Happy New Year

It’s January 1st and I would like to wish all my readers all a happy, healthy and contented New Year.

When I read the wishes that are flying around on social media, and the resolutions being made, it always amazes me the kind of effect a new year has on people. 

Today we're getting a fresh start, but if you think about it, we get lots of fresh starts over the year. Every 30 days or so we start a new month, every 7 days we start a new week, and after every night dawns a brand-new day. Yet February, Monday or any other month or day of the week comes and goes without anyone taking any notice. It’s only January 1st that has people hopeful, forgiving, and in the best of spirits.

Even though we wish each other a happy New Year, chances are, we’ll hit a few snags along the way. People will die, people will get sick, lose loved ones, lose possessions, lose jobs. Along with smiles, tears will fall. So here are my New Year’s wishes to you.

If you’re sick, I hope you’ll get better soon. That you get up from whatever has you feeling down, and start whistling a tune.

If you’re unemployed, I hope you’ll get work. And with any luck, your boss won't turn out to be a jerk.

If your bank account can do with a boost, I hope you’ll get a windfall. Be careful though that your newly acquired wealth doesn’t become your downfall.

If you’re struggling with a problem, I hope it gets sorted out. Whether it’s something you need to talk or write about.

If you wish for anything in particular, I hope you get what you desire. Don’t overthink it, just go for what you want to acquire.

If life seems bleak and you feel you have reason to complain, keep in mind that the sunshine will come after this time of rain.

Be kind to yourself and to others, we are all mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.

Now that 2017 has been laid to rest, all we can do is give 2018 a warm welcome and hope for the best.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Day 74: Looking back on 2017

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 74: Looking back on 2017

The year is drawing to an end and if you’re like me you’re thinking back on all that’s happened over the past months. All in all, I think it was a rather uneventful year, but let’s have a look how 2017 treated me.


The year had hardly started and I was down on my luck already. I was nearly knocked down by a car and not once but three times. The first time by a driver of a Mercedes who was reversing without looking in his rearview mirror. The second time by an SUV who was in such a hurry to slip into traffic that he paid no attention to me. The third time by a Toyota who slid across the zebra path.


In February nothing happened, except that someone took one of my stories about a cat and included it in her cat anthology. Some people seem to think that it’s okay to help themselves to other people’s work.


In March I was threatened with legal action. I had written an in-debt review of Contena, a site where freelance writers can find all kinds of writing gigs. Before (almost) joining I had done research about the site and found nothing but good reviews. This itself seemed fishy to me. If something is too good to be true, it usually is. I found a number of flaws with the site and listed them in my review. Within a matter of days, Kevin (the founder of the site) sent me a rather nasty email and threaned legal action. So that’s why there are no negative reviews of Contena to be found. Anyone who has anything but praise for the site gets threatened. My biggest problem with Contena was that members have to pay $99 per month for the site's services. There are plenty of other writing sites around and none of them charges their members one cent.


In April a pair of finches came to have a look at our balcony. Shortly afterward, Mr. and Mrs. Finch started making a nest. For days they flew back and forth with twigs and pieces of fluff and when the nest was finished, Mrs. Finch took up residence and over the course of six days deposited six eggs. What amazed me the most was the patience of Mrs. Finch who sat on her eggs for hours on end without moving.


In May the chicks hatched and fought for space within their nest. We followed their growth with interest. Every time when the parents weren’t around, we went out and took a peek at the young ones who were nothing more than six little balls of fluff.


June saw planting season. The time when we make our way to the Home Depot nursery and buy flowers. As a rule, I always choose petunias because I know they are non-toxic to cats.

At the end of June the six little balls of fluff who were now properly feathered birds flew off. The remarkable thing was, as soon as they left our balcony they were joined – in mid-flight – by one of the parents who guided them to the rest of the family.


In July, we started looking for a new place to live. I contacted an estate agent and the first property ad he sent us was a hit. From the outside, the house didn’t look like much, but inside the whole place was renovated and was just perfect. The advertised price was perfect too, just $159,000. As it turned out, the estate agent had made a mistake though, the price was not $159,000 but $1,159,000. Needless to say, our interest went from hot to ice cold.


In August, I started this 365 creative writing prompts project. Some posts are current events, some are memories, every now and then I vent about something or another, and when I find nothing to write about I turn to my cats for inspiration.


In September nothing happened, absolutely nothing. The only thing worth mentioning was that I read ‘The Alchemist’. This book had a huge advertising campaign, quite a few people were talking about the book so eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the book. And it wasn’t bad, it was an enjoyable read. But to make such a hoopla about it … no, I didn’t think the story was that good.


The same applies to ‘Origin’ by Dan Brown. A much-anticipated book, a huge promotional campaign, but the book itself … a bit of a disappointment. Very well written of course, very engaging, but Dan Brown’s theory about how life started on earth … no, not something I agree with. I have all Dan Brown’s books and I dare say, ‘Origin’ is my least favorite.

October also saw the start of the #metoo campaign, started by Alyssa Milano and followed by a number of other sluts. When looking at pictures of these women, I very much question their motives. I don’t doubt that they were, at some point, harassed by men but then what woman hasn’t been. I daresay that every single woman at one time or another has been on the receiving end of harassment. But to make such a big deal of it. Just take a look at the pictures of these so-called victims and then draw your own conclusions.


In November, I tackled quite a few issues. Rather than writing it all again I’ll give you the subjects along with the links.

Discrimination – old vs. young

Children and electronics

Does Deodorant increase the risk of breast cancer

What’s the difference between a turkey and a tiger

The dangers of parabens

Online Christmas shopping


On December 6th one of our beloved cats, Mickey, passed away. I noticed that his breathing was labored. I suspected a cold and took him to the vet for medication. As it turned out he had congestive heart failure. Treatment would have cost thousands of dollars and would have been very painful for Mickey. I loved Mickey too much to put him through this and so I decided to let him go and cross Rainbow Bridge.

And so, that’s it. Christmas has passed, New Year’s is upon us and tomorrow 2017 will be history. We can only wait and wonder what 2018 will bring.