Celebrating Thanksgiving ~ and purposing to enjoy it solo

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The fun of adding pumpkins, Pilgrim figurines, and a harvest angel to my baker’s rack. Oh, yeah, and a pesky cat got into the shot.

When Joseph was alive I prepared a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and a friend or two. I was known for my super moist turkey, and it was so simple. I’ll let you in on the secret. I got it years ago from Cooking Light magazine. You mix equal parts of maple syrup and unsweetened jarred apple sauce and smother the bird in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. But the whole mess, and it is a mess, cooks away and you have an apple/maple glaze and a really moist and tender bird. I always cooked my bird at 325 degrees and it’s really good to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s done. Nothing is worse than eating raw poultry. I made the a traditional giblet stuffing recipe from the back of the stuffing package and added chopped dates and chopped, peeled apples and stuffed the bird. Of course, you also have to bake a pan of it, and the trick there is to pour broth over it so it’s not dry. I can’t give a recipe because I don’t cook with recipes, as a rule. I’ve spent years enjoying myself pouring over cookbooks, especially holiday cookbooks, trying different “tricks of the trade” my mother, grandmother, or a friend passed along. It got to where I cooked by eye and by taste. Yes, you have to keep a teaspoon or two or three at the stove to taste or you can get in real trouble. Add a little spice, butter, whatever, then taste. You can always add more but you can’t take out.

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My mantle and another pesky cat. She’s annoyed because I disturbed her nap.

So, now it’s just me, Sophie the Wonder Dog, and as as Sophie refers to them, “those pesky cats.” About six months ago, a series of circumstances occurred and it hit me like a tidal wave that I was basically alone on this planet. And yes, I stewed and whined about it. If you know me at all, if I didn’t admit to whining, you’d know I wasn’t telling the truth.

Of course, it goes without saying, so I almost didn’t say it.,,I have God. I have Jesus. And of course, I have friends and associates. However, as I get up in years, I find that my friends have issues they are dealing with, some excruciatingly serious. So, I really do have to exercise my “spiritual chops” and lean in to God, follow Him, rely on Him, and seek His face.

One thing I keep hearing Him say in a variety of ways is, “Live life. You are fearfully and wondrously made. Don’t stop celebrating life.” I recently heard Joyce Meyer say on a broadcast that we humans are the closest things to God. We have been made in His image and likeness. And we should act like it. We have to choose to do that. It’s a decision we have to make and sometimes re-make.

So, I’ve been invited to a huge southern family Thanksgiving Day dinner in central Florida. I’ve been informed (forewarned maybe) that it will be an experience. Looks like God has a new delight in store for me.

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My mantle at night. Now I’m anticipating decorating for Christmas!!!

 

The Broom ~ did she fly in on it?

The Broom

The broom as a ninja weapon

Every morning like clock-work, I feed my little colony of eight stray cats. A vet tech used to live in one of the condo units near mine and many of them were “trap and release neutered” (T&R). The females have an ear clipped, so that if they’re caught again the rescuers and the vet will know they’ve already been spayed. Our condo is also home to wild Muscovy ducks who are very “food aggressive.” So, I bring “the broom” out with me to ward off the ducks. Trust me, the ducks do not like the broom. When I point it or wave it at them slightly, they waddle away as fast as they can. Hilarious.

My neighbors must think I’m a crazy woman. “Did she fly in on it?”

This morning it was 40 degrees out with the wind coming in off the St. John’s River at about 25 miles per hour. That’s cold in Florida. We think water freezes at 40. It does, doesn’t it? The cats were freaked by the wind, and in a feeding frenzy due to the cold. They know they have to eat up an get some fat on them. I feed them breakfast and a woman in a unit two down from mine feeds them dinner. When they sit, they have that plump shape well-fed house cats have…and that makes my heart happy.

 

hawk

We also have two hawks in the area. I live in a city, not a small one either. Yet, my condo is nestled inside of a wooded area and it sits on a natural pond that is fed and emptied by a creek. There are many natural lakes, ponds, and creeks in Florida…not to mention swampland. Floridians who live in major cities know an alligator may not be far away, or a water moccasin. Florida is pristine beaches, shining resort hotels, surfers, and it’s also untameable. Something I love about the state.

Perhaps due to the cold, the two hawks who hunt the forest area near the pond were circling overhead, above my condo unit. Well, of course…there were eight fat cats eating breakfast right there. And it was cold, so why not snatch an easy meal. Except there’s that crazy woman standing there…and now she’s waving “the broom” in the air in a fighting stance.

Oh, what the neighbors must’ve thought. “Well, in Florida you get all types. You know she writes murder mysteries and writers are strange people anyway.”

 

The Duck War ~ and I win, barely

 

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Unaltered photo taken with my phone. He got close to me!

This is the most aggressive duck I’ve ever encountered!

We have Muscovy wild ducks living in and around the natural pond behind my condo complex (in NE Florida) and the creek that feeds into the pond. Wild ducks are aggressive creatures. The red markings on this gentleman’s face (and I use the term ‘gentleman’ as sarcasm) are meant to intimidate. Yes, ducks can be cute, or beautiful, or striking in appearance…and wild ducks are also extremely aggressive.

Mostly they are aggressive with each other and it can be hilarious when they form a circle and chase each other around and around. They rarely actually harm each other, but they threaten each other continually. In this photo, this is how close this guy was willing to get to me, a human who towers over him. Why did he do that? What did he want

Cat food! Every morning, when it’s still a little dark and the ducks are still sleeping at the pond and not roaming for food…I feed 7-8 stray cats. If I feed when the sun is up, the ducks will also be up and looking to eat, and they will boldly chase the cats away from the food I put out. I stand there every morning so I can shoo ducks away in case any get there early. However, they are cagey. Two will come from one side and when I chase them, another two will come and get the food from the other side, and the cats will go hungry. The ducks don’t need the food. They get fat eating insects and choice pieces of grass, buds, and seeds. That’s why I feed when it’s a little dark.

This morning this gentleman must have not slept at the pond but rather on the grass just beyond my condo. After I’d put the food out, he aggressively came toward me and flapped his wings effectively chasing the cats away. The felines would try to come back and he’s frighten them again. So, I went inside the house for about 45 seconds to get my broom to chase the duck. When I got out my stoop was a mess with cat food scattered all over and the cats were running in all directions.

I was so mad I started chasing this duck with the broom like a wild woman. Honestly, a few times I nearly swatted hm in the tail feathers with the broom. A good thing my neighbors were not yet leaving their houses to go to work. They would’ve had a good laugh. I must’ve looked like a lunatic. LOL

 

A Hiding Place ~ for Christmas presents

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Beauty, what are you doing in my secret hiding place???

I don’t have to hide Christmas gifts from kids anymore, as mine are adults. However, I have to hide any present in a decorative gift bag from my cats. They love to climb inside bags and hide there, or tear them apart. So, I had a brilliant idea. They’d never find the bags inside the armoire. Would they?

 

 

 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, ~ John 1:112 [New American Standard Bible – NASB]

Merry Christmas Everyone

 

National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day ~ small blessings

Sophie Winter Coat 2011

 

Sophie the Wonder Dog ~ adopted seven years ago at the Manhattan (NYC) ASPCA. I often tell people, you’re going to find your adopted pet rescued you. Even if you didn’t realize you needed rescuing. Sophie definitely rescued me after my husband passed away too young.

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Sophie and Beauty, one of my adopted cats, at the vet on a senior wellness visit. If dogs become the “heart” of the house and they do, then cats become its “soul”.

 

Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. ~ Genesis 1:24 [New Living Translation]

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Sophie with her Christmas gifts. Santa loves her too. She had so much fun with these “squeaky” toys.

 

 

Goodbye Ebony ~ she left on cat’s paws

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Ebony in 2016 when we first moved to NE Florida. She loved to sleep on the bookshelf where I piled books after I took them out of boxes.

When I returned home from Brooklyn after visiting my daughter for two weeks, I noticed Ebony had lost weight. Well, she’d always been a little chubby, so I figured now that I was back, she’d start eating again. And she did eat.

However, 72 hours later, at night, she had trouble swallowing and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth. I thought it was an abscessed tooth. I told her how sorry I was she was in discomfort…to hang on until the next morning when I’d take her to the vet and they’d pull the tooth.

Dr. Rose did a physical exam and said it wasn’t a tooth. She only had to take one ex-ray. A huge tumor pressed on Ebony’s stomach, liver, and kidneys. She had trouble eating because there was swelling in the back of her throat. The vet said Ebony would not survive this, so there was only one choice. I had to put her down. I hugged her, kissed her, and stayed with her to the end. Dr. Rose always sings at the very end. She sang, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for Ebony.

That song was so appropriate for Ebony. She was sweet, as gentle as a whisper, and affectionate. She had particularly taken to my author friend when Jenna Victoria visited a few months ago. I’m so blessed that Jenna got to know Ebony. She was a dear pet….the epitome of the phrase: on cats’ paws.

After I left the vet’s office, I confronted myself acting as my own accuser. If only…Maybe if I had come back from New York City earlier. Guilt. I should never have misjudged Ebony’s illness and lack of appetite as being caused by missing me. Self-condemnation. After all, I was the one who said ‘yes’ to euthanasia. Judgement. Many people do this. Men feel they should be able to fix all things that aren’t working right. Women feel they should be able to comfort, bolster up, even resuscitate (emotionally and physically) those they love. This certainly includes a beloved pet.

Romans 8:1 [NASB] ~ Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If there was something we could’ve done better, and there usualy is…we can learn from it for the next situation. In this case, as believers, we must submit to God, repent, accept His forgiveness and grace…walk on and sin no more. Whenever we find ourselves nursing guilt, we must submit to God and push it away. If there was nothing or very little we could’ve done better, again, we must submit to God, and push the truly useless condemnation away. This takes making a quality decision on our parts. The accusation is of the enemy. We must move past it and move on to what God has for us…follow the path He’s set before us.

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Ebony (l), Trouble (C), Meadow (R) when they were ‘kittlets’ ~ not kittens anymore, yet not quite cats. Brooklyn, N&