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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Day 119: A Little Privacy Please

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 119: A Little Privacy Please

Have you ever watched a DIY video and thought … I can do that. Was the outcome not up to scratch or even what you hoped for? I can relate.

A while back I watched a video of a woman turning an ordinary box into a chic bathroom for her cats. She cladded the box inside and out with a white marble wrap, cut a door in the front panel, a window in the side panel, and even added some extra touches such as curtains, a towel rack and a shelf with miniature flower pots. All this to hide an unseemly litterbox.

That’s a nice idea, I thought, our cats could do with something like this.

The first problem, however, was finding a big enough box. All the boxes I came across were too small to allow for a litter box, let alone room for a cat. That changed some two weeks ago when we had a new washing machine delivered. The box it came in was not alone big enough, it was too big. Not a problem though, this box could be made smaller.

Once the box was the right size, Dieter proceeded with the cladding. A job that proved to be more difficult than anticipated. See for yourself …

Meanwhile, Halley was having fun with the cladding paper.

The end result wasn’t as nice as the box in the video, but I doubt the cats noticed this. After all, what cat cares about curtains, toilet paper, a mirror, a carpet, and wall decorations? So, the box was put in position, the litter box was placed inside and now we waited if they would actually use it.

When Gabriel, Charlotte, Holly, and Halley approached there was a lot of looking, careful approaching, sniffing and cat talk. You know, when cats make these cute little noises among themselves. It was like they were having a conversation.

Halley: “What is that?”
Holly: “No idea.”
Halley: “Our litter box is gone.”
Holly: “You’re right. Where can it be?”
Halley: “I don’t know. Take a look around, I really need to pee.”

Holly ever the inquisitive one took a closer look at the box.

Holly: “Our litter box is in there.”
Halley: “In that box?”
Holly: “Yes.”
Halley: “It’s rather dark in there.”
Holly: “Don’t be such a wuss.”
Halley: “I’m not going in there. You go.”
Holly: “I don’t have to go.”
Halley: “I’m not gonna be the first.”
Holly: “I thought you had to pee?”
Halley: “It went away.”

Charlotte comes sauntering along.

“What is that?”
Holly: “Our litter box is in there.”
Charlotte: “In there?”
Halley: “A little scary, right?”
Charlotte: “I’ll say.”

Gabriel wakes up from a nap and joins the trio.

“Can you three keep it down. What’s going on anyway?”
Holly: “Our litter box is in there.”
Gabriel: “Ah, well, it’s about time. Can you let me pass?”
Halley: “You’re going in there!”

Gabriel gives Halley a look as if she just spoke Japanese and enters the box. Charlotte, Holly, and Halley watch him carefully. Moments later he let out a complaining meow. If you ask that meow could only mean one thing … “Ladies please, a little privacy!”

Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 118: In Halley’s Own Words

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 118: In Halley’s Own Words

Hello, my name is Halley and I’m in a whole lot of trouble. Let me tell you my story …

One day I was sitting on the ledge of the balcony, minding my own business, when I suddenly sensed movement in the bird’s nest.

Yes, would you believe it, in a household that has four cats, a pair of finches decided to raise a family. If you ask me that’s just asking for trouble. They could have picked any balcony, any balcony at all and enjoyed peace and quiet, but no, they choose to build their nest here.

Once the nest was built, mama bird dropped six eggs and then with amazing patience sat on those eggs until six chicks hatched. The parents flew back and forth with food for the little ones, judging by their peeping they were growing, and I knew it was only a matter of time before those chicks turned into proper birds.

Me, I was biding my time. While the chicks were babies they weren’t worth bothering with, toothpicks if you ask me, but I knew that in due time there would be some meat on those bones. So, I sat and I waited.


I didn’t have to wait long. Two days ago the baby birds were ready to fly. I watched them leave the nest and to my utter amazement, mama and papa bird were there to show them where there was a hole in the netting (in the upper left-hand corner). Those birds were smarter than I thought because four of them of them figured it out in no time.

The fifth one, however, wasn’t as clued up and landed a short distance from where I was sitting. I didn’t think twice … I made my move and grabbed the bird with my teeth.

If I thought mom would be pleased that I caught a bird I was sadly mistaken. When she saw that I had something in my mouth she said: “What you got there Halley?” When she saw it was one of the baby bird she looked shocked and said “Bad kitty cat! That’s bad Halley.”

I ran to her bedroom with my meal, but she followed me. When I ran to the bathroom, she followed me there too and closed the door. Now I had nowhere to go. “Drop it,” she commanded. “I said drop it!” So I did.

And would you believe it, when I dropped the bird she picked it up and when she saw it was dead she wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it somewhere where I couldn’t get to it. “Don’t ever do that again!” she said, wagging a finger in my face.

Don’t ever do that again? What on earth was she talking about? I’m a cat, the baby was a bird, what did she expect me to do?
Anyway, I went back outside on the balcony and sat there, sulking.

A few minutes after I got there, the sixth bird left the nest and landed on the left-hand side of the floor.

Then he flew toward the ceiling.

And then he came and sat right in front of me.

Oh, he looked so tasty. I could feel my mouth water.

So I called "Maaaaaaaaa, can I have this one?"

When she noticed that there was still one bird on the balcony, she scooped me up, brought me inside and closed the screen door to the balcony. Well, I never! Now I couldn’t even go outside anymore! How was I gonna catch this bird if I couldn’t go out? So I sat there and I thought … oh, this blows.

Eventually, the baby bird settled in one of the flower pots and remained there for the rest of the day. I could have gone out, grabbed him and ate him, but it was not to be. The door remained closed.

It got better though, or shall I saw it got worse. Much worse. When Dieter came home, mom asked him to catch the bird. YES I thought, dad is gonna catch the bird for me. I won’t have to do a thing. I’m gonna get that bird after all. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.

Do Dieter went outside, talked to the bird, and within minutes he had him. No cat food for me tonight, I thought, I’m getting a bird. Dealing with the feathers wasn’t very appealing, but okay, I would deal with that when the time came.

And then to my astonishment, to my utter amazement, mom went outside, took a picture of the bird, and then dad raised the bird to the hole in the netting and set it free. “Nooooooooo!” I cried, ‘There goes my meal, or rather my afternoon snack.”

As I watched the baby fly toward the trees I thought with tears in my eyes … bye bye, birdie.

So that’s my sad story. My only comfort being … finches have been making their nest on our balcony for the past three years. With any luck, some birds will do the same next year and when they do, I’ll be ready. But oh dear, a whole year is such a long wait ... 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Day 117: My new best friend

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 117: My new best friend

I have a new best friend and now that we’ve met, I can’t believe it took me this long to make his acquaintance. I’ve been reading for decades, the bookstore being my home away from home, and yet I never paid him the slightest of attention. His name, James Patterson.

Those who are familiar with his work will probably gasp “You never read a James Patterson novel!” and to my shame, I must admit that I never did. I thought his books were not my cup of tea. I saw the movie “Along Came a Spider” of course, with Morgan Freeman portraying Alex Cross, but I had no interest in his other stories.

That all changed last Friday. I found myself in downtown Toronto with nothing to read. The nearest bookstore would have taken me a good 20-minute walk and I just didn’t have the time or the energy to go that far. So I popped into the nearest Drug Market and browsed book section.

There wasn’t much choice: the usual romance novels, fantasy and science-fiction, children’s books and some murder mystery stories. One of them was ‘The Store’ by James Patterson. I picked it up, flipped it over to read the synopsis and … hm, this sounded interesting. So I paid for it and walked out with it.

And OMG the story was so gripping that I couldn’t put the book down. If it had been possible I would have read the story cover to cover in one sitting. The further I got the more enthralled I became and near the end the building could have collapsed around me, the steak could have burned on the pan, I had to know how this ended.

The second story in the book was called ‘The End’ with Owen Taylor as the main character. At first, I didn’t like this story. It was a war story and not only do I have zero interest in war stories, it’s set in the middle east, which interests me even less. But I had paid for the book so I might as well read it.

It didn’t take long for me to get absorbed in the story and once again I found myself reaching for the book every chance I got. Near the end, I literally couldn’t put the book aside and so I stayed up until 2:45 a.m. to know how Owen Taylor fixed his problem. And I was not disappointed. The ending was superb, and so much so that I found myself cheering for this man.

All too often I buy a book and like the story, but near the end, it seems the author got fed up with writing and rushes the conclusion or the ending is completely unsatisfactory. That was not the case with ‘The Store’ or ‘The End’. Patterson wrapped both of them up nicely leaving the reader hungry for more.

And hungry for more I was. As soon as the book was finished I wanted to read another one of James Patterson's works. Having arrived at the bookstore (a proper bookstore this time) I was in for a surprise though … there were no less than five shelves of James Patterson books. Oh dear oh dear oh dear, now what was I gonna do? How would I make a choice? So I did the only thing I could do … eeny meeny miny moe and I picked the book where my finger came to a rest. The book turned out to be ‘Guilty Wives’. I’m only a few chapters in the book but I can already tell, this is another excellent story.

I guess it’s safe to say that James Patterson and I will have a long and happy relationship. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Day 116: Soccer Fever – Belgium vs. Panama

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 116: Soccer Fever – Belgium vs. Panama

There are two things that bring people together … a disaster and an international sporting event. If you’re feeling a little feverish, not to worry, you’re not the only one, millions of others share your fever, soccer fever that is.

People who usually don’t follow soccer, now sit glued to their television, computer monitor or handheld device to see 22 men run around after a ball. I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but for some reason it is.

Those who can’t watch the match, life or televised, still keep track of the score via life updates on FIFA’s website. I’m one of those people. I prefer not to watch a live match because whoever I support loses. And not just in soccer, in all kinds of competitions. Whether it’s an Olympic event, American Idol, a beauty pageant, or an award ceremony, my favorites never ever win.

Take Belgium vs. Panama for instance. Being from Belgium I took a special interest in the Red Devils, but in the first half of the game, Belgium did nothing. There was a lot of running around and kicking the ball back and forth, but nothing qualified as exciting.

The second half I couldn’t watch because I had things to do. And that’s when it happened … the players were barely back on the field when Mertens scored a goal. Having finally woken up, Laluka decided to follow suit and planted a ball in Panama’s net too. So happy was the crowd that he decided he gave them an encore. Final score 3 – 0.

Safe to say, I won’t be watching Belgium’s next match. I’ll keep an eye on the score, but watching the match itself … no way, the men do far better when I’m not around.

Anything you can do, I can do better

Give that man a handkerchief

Stand back, I got this

Brother, this is not the time to dance

I believe I can fly

That's my leg man, not a chair

Does it look any better from down there?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Day 115: Battle with the Bottle

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 115: Battle with the Bottle

Everyone will agree that children need to be protected from harm, but where it comes to medicine bottles, they are not only designed to be childproof, in many cases, they are also adult proof.

You should have seen me wrestle with a bottle of cough mixture this morning. If this battle had been captured on video, it might have received thousands of views with people laughing their head off.

The instructions on the bottle were quite clear … push down and twist. So, I pushed and twisted, pushed and twisted some more but other than a clicking noise, the cap didn’t budge.

With a ‘fine, have it your way’ I pushed the bottle in the corner of the kitchen counter and went to sit down to rest. That battle with the bottle cap had left me exhausted.

Never one to give up easily, some fifteen minutes later it was time for round two. I grabbed the bottle by its neck and was gonna show it who was boss. I pushed and twisted, pushed and twisted and after a few failed attempts I had to admit that the bottle was boss. We each retreated to our corners.

As I sat in my chair, making coughing noises that would have scared a bulldog, I eyed the bottle on the kitchen counter. Why did the manufacturers make it so difficult for people to open the darn thing? Surely, they realized that those who needed cough mixture were not feeling too great to begin with, so why make things extra difficult for them?

I was not gonna be defeated though, I would persevere and that bottle better watch out because I was coming and this time I wasn’t leaving until I had its top severed from its body. “Come here you,” I said. “I’m gonna push and twist and you’re gonna open or I’m gonna throw you off the balcony.” The prospect of taking a flying leap 11 floors down must have filled the bottle with panic as he released his cap on the second try.

Now that the bottle was open I faced a second challenge … was this stuff safe to drink? According to the label, the syrup could cause serious kidney and liver damage, was not recommended for patients with heart problems or asthma, while in bold letters the label stated that pregnant women should not drink this. Holy smokes … cure a cough, run the risk of developing more serious problems.

In the end, I decided to risk it. It wasn’t as if I was going to drink copious amounts of this stuff. But still, why does it have to be this way? Why can’t the scientists come up with safe medication?

Some might say that there are natural ways of healing a cough and believe me, I’ve already researched and found that honey has healing properties. So, I’ve been sipping honey water, but I’m sorry to say it doesn’t work. I still cough and cough, or shall I say, I bark and bark.

Still, if you have any suggestions for how to calm a cough, I’m all ears. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Day 114: A 60 Million Dollar Winner

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 114: A 60 Million Dollar Winner

For the past few weeks, the jackpot of Max Millions stood at $60 million dollars. Week after week, nobody won this jackpot, until yesterday which means that someone or a group of someones are celebrating this weekend as he, she or they are $60 million dollars richer.

During these past few weeks, people who otherwise never bought a ticket now did and they didn’t just buy a ticket, they went all out and bought $20, $50 or even $100 worth of tickets. Which makes me wonder … does the jackpot have to amount to $60 million before people get interested? Is $5 million, $10 million or $20 million not enough?

I also hope it’s not an undeserving person who won. You know the one who says … “Oh I never play, this was the first time I bought a ticket.” I find this terribly unfair. There are people, like me, who play every week without fail. Most of us have a firm set of numbers we use every week like birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates with a special meaning. So you can imagine, when some jackass wins millions who otherwise never plays that we feel betrayed.

As for me, I had high hopes of winning and plans of helping friends who could do with some financial assistance. Unfortunately, my hopes and plans turned to dust. Other than two free tickets I won nothing.

Not that this came as a surprise, I never win anything (other than free tickets and the occasional $10). Although, I must admit, many years ago – about a month after we arrived in Canada - I did win something.

Back then Max Millions was known as the Super 7. As the name implies, gamblers would pick seven numbers and then hope for the best. That particular Friday night I watched the draw of the numbers on TV and wrote them down on a notepad. Once the draw was finished, I retrieved my ticket and moved to the dining room table.

When I checked my ticket I had not 1, 2, 3 or 4 numbers right, I had 5 numbers right! Dieter and I were besides ourselves, thinking that we had won thousands of dollars. How much were five right numbers worth … $30,000, $50,000, $75,000 or even more?

Since results were not posted online back then, Dieter put on his coat and shoes and went to the nearest convenience store to pick up a ticket with the winning numbers and the money breakdown.

When he came back I immediately could tell that he didn’t have good news.
“Not $30,000, $50,000 or $75,000?” I asked him.
He shook his head.
“How much then … $10,000?”
Another headshake.
“$5,000 … $3,000?”
More head shaking.
“Well, how much then?”
Dieter put the ticket on the table so I could see for myself. The payout for five correct numbers was … $131,57.

From what I can tell, everyone agrees. The difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th prize is too big. See for yourself …

6 + Bonus
3 + Bonus
Free Ticket

Still, come Friday, I'll play again because as every gambler knows ... you have to be in it to win it and perseverance pays off. And if nothing else, I am persistent. I live by the slogan NEVER GIVE UP!