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Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 93: Blue Wilderness Cat Food

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 93: Blue Wilderness cat food

Are your cats finicky eaters? Mine certainly are. While Halley, at 5,5 months, eats pretty much anything I put in front of her, Gabriel, Charlotte, and Holly are super picky where cat food is concerned.

When Holly was recently at the vet with a rear end problem, and the vet diagnosed her with food allergies, he suggested that we switch her from whatever food she was on and feed her better-quality food. We took home a few cans from the clinic, one of the top brands, but when I presented Holly and the others with the food they turned their backs on it.

Alright, then I would try something different. I went to the pet food store and enlisted the help of the shop assistant to help me determine which brands were considered good. Not that that was of much help because she stated that all the brands on the shelf were considered high-quality cat food. So, I took a few cans of every brand available.

Laden with two heavy plastic bags I dragged myself home and for the next few days, when supper time came around, I presented Gabriel, Charlotte, Holly and Halley with one brand after another. With some brands, they took one whiff and walked away, with others they nibbled, but I could see that they didn’t really like it.

Damn, not only had I spent a small fortune on this cat food, but if they didn’t like it, what was I supposed to do now?

According to a friend I had approached this switching of cat food all wrong. To switch them successfully I was supposed to mix 1/4 of the new food with 3/4 of their regular food and gradually increase the ratio. I did that and I could hardly believe the cats’ reaction … the nibbled away their regular good and left the quality food virtually untouched. To say that I was getting desperate is putting it mildly.

That’s when another friend suggested Blue Wilderness. Since she is a former Ragdoll breeder who loves her cats like parents love their kids and I trusted her completely. So off I went to the pet store again in search of Blue Wilderness.

Still, I was a little hesitant about the brand because recently there had been a number of pet food recalls. I’d never heard of a Whiskas or Friskies recall, it was always the specialty brands. So, I wrote to Blue Wilderness and this is the answer I received …

Thank you for taking your time to contact BLUE. In response to your email, product quality is our #1 priority. We have strict controls in place to make sure that our ingredients meet the highest quality standards.

These controls include the following:

Certificate of origin for all ingredients
COA's (certificates of analysis) on all our ingredients prior to accepting
Testing of each ingredient for known toxins prior to accepting
Testing during production to ensure that our formulas meet our nutritional specifications.
Testing after production to ensure product stability and freshness.
Testing after production for salmonella.

Our foods all are manufactured in factories located here in the USA.  Many of our ingredients, such as most of our grains and meats, come from the USA. Our lamb and venison can be free range from the USA or New Zealand. Our rabbit is sourced from Europe, and our trout can come from the USA or Canada.  Where possible our suppliers are instructed to source their ingredients from the US. Where the ingredients are not readily available in the US, such as many vitamins and minerals, our suppliers will only work with reliable foreign companies, and subject all ingredients to rigorous quality testing.

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions.

When I got home, I saw to my consternation that there was no regular cat food left in the house. Now I wouldn’t be able to mix Blue Wilderness with their regular food. If they didn’t like it, they would have nothing to eat.

With more than a little trepidation, I placed their plate of Blue Wilderness on the floor and fervently hoped they would eat it. Not only did they eat it, they devoured it. Holly, who is the champion of picky eaters went for four helpings and in the end, the plate was licked clean. When I saw them returning to an empty plate, again and again, I decided to open another tin, which they also finished.

Safe to say, the food switch has been successfully made and Blue Wilderness is a hit!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 92: Halley – The Easter Bunny?


My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 92: Halley – The Easter Bunny?

I have a friend in Chicago who has a cat named Gracie. Whenever I sent Alex pictures of Christmas, Easter or Halloween decorations, she always wonders how everything stays so neatly in place with cats around. She adds that, with Gracie, this would not be possible. Gracie would destroy such a meticulous setup within minutes.

I always told her the same … my cats don’t touch the decorations. They will look at them, they will sit with them, but they don’t knock anything over. They don’t even touch them.

All that changed when Halley joined the family. This is Halley’s first Easter and the first time she sees Easter decorations. She does more than just looking and sitting with them though … she rearranges. Have a look at these before and after shots …

Does Halley object to the yellow chickens? Does she feel there should be a bunny? Is it possible that she is of the opinion that she is a bunny? Whatever her motivation, she had no problem pushing the big chicken out of her way and slapping the little chickens off their feet.

And it’s not just Easter decorations. Anything that lies on the coffee table, on the corner table or anywhere else sooner or later takes a dive.

It all starts very innocently. She sits on the coffee table, spots an object, takes a closer look and ever so carefully touches it with one of her front paws. When it doesn’t fight back she touches it again, this time with more confidence. Next, she moves it a little, and a little more and if I’m not there to stop her, within no time whatever it is goes crashing to the floor.

So far she's had it on with my lipstick, a USB stick, a pen, a coaster, a spoon, a bracelet … it really doesn’t matter, if it’s on the table, Halley will send it to the floor.

Right now, because of her size, she can’t jump on cabinets and counters yet, but as she grows older and bigger she will no doubt broaden her horizon and then Lord help us all. I already fear the worst for when Christmas comes around.

Anyway, now I understand why Alex is so reluctant in decorating her home on special occasions and I’m sure when she’ll read about Halley and sees the pictures she’ll nod with a smile and think … welcome to my world.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Day 91: The mystery of the missing socks

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 91: The mystery of the missing socks

Have you ever done a load of laundry and ended up with an uneven number of socks? Of course, you have, everyone has. Experts have even made a study of it and came up with the following explanation:

Practically speaking, the study found the most common causes for missing socks were falling behind radiators or under furniture, pairs getting separated in different washes, socks falling off a washing line or simply forgetting to put them in the wash in the first place.

I have experienced that problem too, not once but several times. I know that I have 24 pairs of white socks, but the last time I counted I only had 21 pairs.

In an attempt to find them, my first port of call was the laundry basket. I tipped them upside down, sifted through them, but found no socks. I looked under my bed, looked behind cabinets, checked the bathroom, even the walk-in closet, but no socks could be found. It was, to say the very least, very strange. One sock going missing is already mysterious, but 6 socks!

And then one night the mystery got solved, just like that. I came home and changed my socks because they were slightly damp from walking in the snow. I left the damp socks on the floor to dry and went to the kitchen to make coffee.

When I came back into the living room I nearly dropped my cup in surprise. There was Halley with my sock in her mouth!

(Excuse the bad quality of the pictures. They were snapped in a rush.)

“And what are you doing?” I asked her.

She looked at me, eyes big with surprise. Before I could say another word or make a move, she turned tail, trotted into Dieter’s bedroom and slipped under the bed.

We couldn’t stop laughing. It was the funniest sight … Halley running off, dragging the sock between her paws. When I tried to take it away from her, she held on for dear life. Okay then, she could keep the sock for a while.

It was great entertainment anyway. Eventually, Halley came back into the living room with the sock, played with it for a while, dragged it to the kitchen, ran with it to the bedroom, all the while providing us with laugh out loud laughter.

After a while she showed up without the sock, so she obviously had deposited it somewhere. Since I had seen her slip under Dieter’s bed I wanted to retrieve my sock from there, but I was in for a bit of a surprise … I found not one but six socks. The little thief!

And while we’re on the subject of hiding things, it’s only fair to say that Halley also finds things.

The other day, we heard her batting something around in Dieter’s room. When he went to check he found her playing with a screw. A day later she was playing with a ring. Now it’s become a bit of a joke, when we hear her playing with something Dieter says, “Now what has she found?”

So far, she’s dug out a Christmas ball, a hair clip, a pen, a lipstick, and a subway token, all items that were forgotten. She even found a long-lost piece of paper.

Weeks ago, Dieter had written down a schematic for something he wanted to print and for some reason that piece of paper had gone missing. He’d searched for it, but it was gone. He assumed that he accidentally threw it away.

Then a few days ago we saw Halley reaching for something under the love seat. By the looks of it, she couldn’t quite get what she was reaching for, but that didn’t stop her from trying. Persistent little thing as she is, she eventually got what she was digging for … Dieter’s piece of paper.

Now as it turns out, Halley can not only hide and retrieve things, she can also count. If you don’t believe me get a load of this.

This morning she was playing with a soft yellow ball. The ball rolled under a bookcase and since she couldn’t reach under it I got the ball for her. While on my hands and knees (closely watched by Halley who also peered under the bookcase), I did not only find the yellow ball, but also a blue ball, a green ball and red one.

I retrieved the yellow ball and gave it to her. She looked at the ball, looked at me and waited. I retrieved the blue ball and placed it next to the yellow one.
“Do you want the others too?” I asked her. She just sat there, waiting. So, I first got the green one and finally the red one. And would you believe it, as soon as I placed the last ball in front of her paws she started batting one of the balls around. The little bugger knew that there were four balls under that cabinet and waited until she had all of them back.

Now if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Day 90: Cat food – What do you feed your cat?

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 90: Cat food – What do you feed your cat?

A trip to the vet recently revealed that Holly has a food allergy and we had to switch her (and the rest of the gang) to a higher quality food. I took home some cans from the clinic and hoped for the best.

If you think Holly and the others were grateful for this better quality food, think again, they approached the plate, took a whiff and walked away.

Introduce the new food gradually, someone said. So I did. I mixed a quarter of the vet food with a can of the old food. And would you believe it … Charlotte, Gabriel, and Holly ate everything except the vet food. (Halley is still on kitten food, so she was unaffected by the change).

My guess was that they didn’t like the vet’s food, so I took a trip to the pet store and bought a variety of quality foods. I walked out with a bill of over $50. As I tried this food and that food, it quickly became clear which brands and flavors they preferred.

Then this week I received an email containing a link to a website destroying my newfound peace of mind. Three of the flavors my cats like were classified as undesirable food for cats.

I took a closer look at the brands they recommended. All links directed me to Amazon:

Addiction Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Blackwood Chicken Meal and Field Pea Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
This link directed me to dog treats.

Earthborn Holistic Wild Sea Catch Grain-Free Natural Dry Cat & Kitten Food
$104.48 for a 14 lbs bag.

Fromm Gold Holistic Adult Dry Cat Food
$162.01 for a 5 lbs bag.

Lotus Just Juicy Pork Stew Grain Free Canned Cat Food
$157 (Two customers who ordered online were under the impression they were going to receive a case of 24 cans but received only 1 can)

Now Fresh Grain Free Adult Recipe Dry Cat Food
$208 for an 8 lbs bag.

Redbarn Naturals Salmon and Delilah Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
$160 for a 5 lbs bag.

ZiwiPeak Daily-Cat Cuisine Venison and Fish Canned Cat Food

These prices are just ridiculous!!!

While I believe in feeding my cats good food, I should mention that I’ve had cats all my life and they never had anything other than regular cat food bought in a supermarket. All of them lived around 13 years with the exception of Mickey (who died aged 10 from congestive heart failure) and Fluffy who lived to be 20 (and died of … old age I guess).

At one point the website states “Exposing your cat to these ingredients — even in small doses — is not worth the risk, especially when there are so many healthy cat food alternatives without them.”

Very true, now all it takes is to tell the manufacturers of those healthy foods to lower their prices

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 89: Halley – A cat with an attitude

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 89: Halley – A cat with an attitude

Many of you might remember Halley, the kitten we adopted some six weeks ago. Yesterday we took her to the vet for her 3rd and final vaccination.

Getting her in the cat carrier was no problem. In the past we had to push and shove our cats in there, but not Halley, she all but walked into the carrier herself.

Downstairs in the lobby of our condo building, she sat by the grill of the cage carefully watching everything that was going on. People were coming in, going out, and coming in and out of the elevators. When three kids made an appearance and the boy commented “Hey look, a cat!” the look on Halley’s face was priceless. Her expression resembled the statement … ‘Technically, I’m a kitten, Einstein.’

In the cab on the way to the vet, she did what so many cats do in a car … she started to sing. Halley is by no means competition for Celine Dion, but she definitely has a cute voice. At home, we rarely hear a peep out of her (except at meal time) but now in the car, she let herself be heard.

At the vet’s office, I positioned her carrier in such a way that she could see and be seen and predictably she got quite a bit of attention. It didn’t take long for one of the medical assistants to approach her and croon “Oh what a cute kitty.” Halley turned on the charm with a blink of her beautiful brown eyes and if she’d be able to speak, I’m sure she would have said ‘Tell me something I don’t know.’

Unfortunately, she also received some unwanted attention, that of a big golden retriever. This particular dog, called Sophie, wanted to make friends with Halley, but she was having none of it. When Sophie came up to her carrier, Halley raised herself to her full eight inches, flattened her ears, narrowed her eyes and let out an almighty hiss. (I am a kitty, hear me roar!)

Sophie immediately took a step back, cocked her head to one side with a look in her eyes that said ‘What’d you do that for?’

After Sophie had been dragged away by her owner (apparently Sophie loves cats) another dog of an unspecified breed was gonna try his luck. He didn’t even make it as far as Halley’s cage. Still standing proud, she puffed out her chest and gave the dog the dead stare, accompanied by a look that unmistakably conveyed ‘What’d you looking at?’

I think it’s safe to say that Halley has an attitude. She had never seen a dog before, but if you think she was afraid, think again. Even though both dogs who showed an interest in her could have swallowed her whole, she stood her ground and send the clear message … don’t mess with me.

Once with the doctor, she turned on the charm again and was as good as gold. As soon as she was out of her cage, she paraded around, head budded the doctor, and even purred (and believe me she’s got quite an engine).

When the time came to get her shots, I feared that she might claw or hiss at the vet, but she didn’t even blink. The whole thing was over within seconds without any discomfort on Halley’s part.

Back home, for being such a brave girl, she got her favorite food (mackerel & grilled skipjack) followed by some treats for dessert. Now the little mite is resting comfortably.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 88: Book Review – The Woman in the Window

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 88: Book Review – The Woman in the Window

I found myself with nothing to read last Friday. Among other presents Father Christmas had given me three books, I’d finished them all and so now what … Fortunately, I was downtown and within walking distance to Chapters Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer.

Since the authors I follow had nothing new on the shelves, I browsed for something else to read and came across ‘The Woman in the Window’. I remembered seeing a poster for this book on the subway, I read the synopsis and I was intrigued.


Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

The reviews weren’t bad either …

Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

“Good choice,” the cashier of the store smiled when I went to pay. “There’s been a lot of hype over this book.”

I left the store withe the book tucked under my arm, happy in the knowledge that I had made a good choice. Or so I thought …

No sooner did I start reading the book or I thought … what is this … this is rubbish. I kept on going though, if others had such good things to say about the book, then maybe the story would pick up. It didn’t. If anything, it got worse.

On Amazon I read the reviews …

The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.” (Stephen King)

“A dark, twisty confection with an irresistible film noir premise. Hitchcock would have snapped up the rights in a heartbeat.” (New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware)

“Finn’s debut lives up to the hype … A riveting and mature first novel that stands out in a crowded genre.” (Library Journal)

After reading such lavish praise, I began to wonder what was wrong with me. If everybody loved this book, what did that say about my taste in literature?

Then again, I know from experience that these so-called critics can’t be trusted. What Stephen King and Ruth Ware had to say, you can’t really believe because they’re not going to criticize a  fellow writer. Good manner dictate that they must be supportive.

As for the so called professional reviewers … I never believe a word of what they say. Whether it’s a book, a movie or a play … they nearly always have nothing but good to say.

So, I had a look on Amazon what real readers had to say …

"I love a good domestic/psychological mystery. Lately I have been disappointed. This book seemed so promising, published with high praise from writers I trust like Gillian Flynn and Louise Penny. There were 5 star reviews by readers. What could go wrong.? As I read it an old song by the Who kept going through my head, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

"So boring. Kept waiting for the story to start.
I am 130 pages in and not sure if I will continue."

"The characters are not very likable or interesting and now I am losing interest. Not sure if I will continue or not, so many good reviews though so maybe it gets better."

There was another very detailed negative review, but that has since been removed so couldn’t copy that one.

In addition, there are indeed some very good 5-star reviews, which left me wondering … did those people read the same book I did? They called the story ‘riveting’, ‘thrilling’ and ‘twisted’. I found it childish and annoying.

The main character, Anna, is not exactly a sympathetic one. She suffers from agoraphobia and is an alcoholic. All she does all day is guzzle wine, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late night ‘snack’.

This alone bothered the hell out of me. Why did every wine she drinks have to be named and described? Did he get a fee from a liquor store to advertise alcohol? When someone smokes critics and people alike are quick to jump down the smokers’ throat, because oeh smoking causes lung cancer. But nobody seems the least bit bothered  by the constant drinking of characters in books and movies. Shouldn’t it be pointed out that alcohol causes high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, not to mention liver cancer?

In addition to her alcoholism, Anna watches black and white movies. A. J. Finn obviously has a love for these old movies because the book is peppered with their titles and plots. Every single chapter has movie titles in it, or a reference to a well known person.

So, eventually I thought … to hell with it. Life's too short to waste it on this rubbish. I took ‘The Woman in the Window’ back to the bookstore and moved on to something else. Safe to say, I’ll never pick up another book from A. J. Finn again.
I find it absolutely baffling that so many manuscripts get rejected, yet this one got published. Does A. J. Finn have connections in the publishing industry?

As for the critics who praised this story … they should be prosecuted for misleading information and lying through their teeth.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Day 87: Suffering from back pain? Go bowling

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 87: Suffering from back pain? Go bowling

As some of you may remember, on November 4th I hurt my back. It started with a tiny pinprick in my lower back, the pain progressed throughout the day and by 10:00 p.m. I was in agony. Everything I did, whether it was sitting down, getting up or moving around, I did slowly and with utter care as the slightest wrong move caused me excruciating pain.

Today, three and a half months later, the pain is much better, but my back has not completely healed. Standing for an extended period of time or walking a distance still causes me discomfort. Not just in my lower back but between and under my shoulder blades.

According to my doctor, I had to go see a physiotherapist. At this point I would do anything to get rid of this pain so off I went.
A short conversation with the clinic’s receptionist told me that a session with the therapist would cost me $90 for 40 minutes and every session afterward would be $65 for 20 minutes. Since I don’t have insurance, this would come out of my own pocket. Fine, if that’s what it took I would pay.

I looked forward to my appointment the next day, but it was all rather disappointing. The therapist asked me a lot of questions, followed by some stretching, pushing and poking. Aware of my discomfort she offered a 3-minute massage and a 10-minute heat treatment.

I must admit, my back felt better after the massage and the heat treatment but later that day everything went south. OMG, I was in so much pain I actually felt worse than before, much worse.

According to the therapist, this was normal. This was why she would have to see me 3 times a week for the next 10 weeks. I did a quick calculation … $65 x 3 x 10 would come to $1,950. That was quite a shock to my finances.

On Saturday morning I went bowling. I was more than a little hesitant given the state of my back, but I felt I had to try. If I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it, but I would at least have given it a shot. Rather than bowling full-out as I usually do, I threw my ball with care, ever conscious of my spine and surrounding muscles. After three games I called it quits though. The games had gone fine, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

Today, some 36 hours later my back pain has all but disappeared. No more pain in my lower back, no more pain between or under my shoulder blades. Price of the games … $6.

Conclusion … before you see a physiotherapist and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars, GO BOWLING!!!