Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For the Love of Baking!

It's hard to believe, but Christmas has come and gone, just like that! All that prep, all the hustle and bustle, and it feels like in the blink of an eye – boom! It's gone!

It's always a chaotic time of year for me, but I thought since I wasn't working outside the home this Christmas, it might be a little easier to manage. I even got a head start on my shopping and thought I'd be totally done and ready at least a week ahead of time. But I wasn't. This year, more than ever, it was pretty stressful.

I won't go into all the gory details of the stress, but I will talk about one of the major causes: my holiday baking. I LOVE to bake, and can't wait until December comes because that's when all caution gets thrown to the wind and the baking begins. But this year, with all the baking I did, there's only ONE thing that actually turned out like I wanted it to. ONE THING! Let me tell you about my baking fiasco.

First, I made kiss cookies. My favorites. Apparently the nuts were stale that I used and put in the batter. So I didn't like the taste of them. Ever tasted a stale walnut? Blech! Then I moved on to the chocolate chip cookies. My friend makes the absolute BEST ones I've ever had, so I asked her for the recipe and she said she follows the Toll house recipe except she uses shortening instead of butter and adds just a little extra flour. So I go ahead and make up the batter, and just when I was placing the cookie batter on the cookie sheet, realized I never used the shortening, I used BUTTER instead! And they didn't turn out like I wanted; I didn't even like them. Blech! Then I made fudge, and as I was cooking it, went looking for my candy thermometer, but couldn't find it. It was nowhere to be found, like so many other kitchen utensils that have somehow joined together and have found a new place to live. So the fudge didn't turn out like I had planned. It tasted ok, but I like it a bit flaky and this was more creamy than flaky. I also made Rice Krispy treats, but I made them for Brooke & Ryan when they came over for our Christmas dinner together. I don't even like Rice Krispy treats. Then I was going to make peanut brittle. I even honey roasted the raw peanuts first. And the brittle came out like glue. If you dared put a piece in your mouth, be prepared for it to suck your teeth right out of your head.

Lastly, I made a cheesecake. I had high hopes for this cheesecake. I've made a gazillion of them. I'm well known for my cheesecake. It's stupendous. Bob calls it “Monster Killer Cheesecake.” It's the real reason he married me. Well, not really, I guess. But then Anyway, I was supposed to bring a cheesecake to Bob's sister's house, which is where we were having our Christmas day dinner. It's tradition. I always bring a cheesecake. After the initial cooking time of 45 minutes, it's supposed to sit out for half an hour, then go back in the oven with a sour cream topping on top at a high temperature for 10 minutes. So when the timer went off telling me it was time to put it back in the oven, I slipped it in and when the 10 minutes were up, went back to take it out and saw the topping STILL SITTING ON THE COUNTER IN A BOWL! AHHHH! Just kill me now! Et tu, CHEESECAKE?? The little evil Christmas elves were working against me, for sure!! Anyway, I took it out, put the topping on, put it back in the oven for 7 minutes, praying the topping would set and the cheesecake would turn out something better than a hard brick that would break your teeth when you bit into it. And guess what? It turned out just fine. It was just a teeny tiny bit drier than it should have been. And Bob said he only noticed because he is the master connoisseur of my cheesecake. Being that he married me because of it and all.

And the one thing that turned out the best? It was the Eggnog muffins with a streusel topping. I made them on Christmas morning. And I think that even the little evil Christmas elves knew I needed a break from the baking disasters, because they turned out delicious. Maybe I will even bake again. Someday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Girl Time!

I went to a ladies Christmas tea this past weekend; I had been looking forward to it all year long! One of my best friends organizes a tea every year at Christmas for a small group of ladies. Sometimes it's at her beautiful home, and sometimes it's at a tea house. This year we went to Lady Anne's Tea House in Stuart (

The tea isn't just about having tea together; it's a time to fellowship, to eat delicious food, to share presents, and to relax in an atmosphere that is totally filled with Christmas spirit. A time to laugh, share stories, and just catch up. I always come away from this special time together refreshed. I look forward to it every year at this time. We actually already reserved our date for next year at the same place! 

My first bestie, Kathy, 1969
Like I said, it's more about friendship than anything else. You know, I wasn't one of the popular girls during my school years. I was actually the “geeky” one, the one the other kids made fun of. I was painfully shy, pretty smart; had freckles & red hair, wore glasses, and didn't dress in the most stylish of clothing. I wore whatever my mother bought me. I don't have very fond memories of my school days. To say I didn't have many friends is an understatement. But there was one friend I had, who was my neighbor. We met when we were 7 & 8 years old. We were besties. We shared our childhood together until I was 15 and moved away to another state. I thought I would just die at the time. We kept in touch even though we were so far away from each other. We visited occasionally, but led lives now separate from each other. Eventually we both got married, had kids, and we actually lost touch for a few years. She found me again one day, many years later, to tell me of the death of her father. We reconnected again and it felt like we had never lost touch. I am so very glad to have her in my life once again, and now that we're both grandmas we get to share our grandchildren together.

I've a handful of close friends who mean the world to me. I know a lot of people, but the handful of women I call close friends, they're a pretty incredible group of women. They've been there for me through some pretty tough times. Even though there was little they could do for me as my son was on the brink of death on and off for 16 months, I knew I could count on them for whatever I needed. When I was reeling from the divorce from my first husband, my childhood best friend flew down to be with me as I faced my first Christmas alone after being married 12 years with 2 little children to take care of. I couldn't hardly get out of bed in the mornings, and had no desire to celebrate any holiday. But she came to be with me, to hold my hand, to let me cry on her shoulder, and helped me bring a tree home and decorated it with us. And another close friend, whom I met when our children were little, helped get me through the ordeal of my divorce. There were times I could hardly breathe, never mind eat. Most days I would spend with her at her home while she comforted me, cried with me, and even fed me. If I wasn't at her  home, I was on the phone with her. Many years later, it was I who was doing the same for her, as she went through the same ordeal. There are too many stories to tell about all the special times I've shared with the ladies whom I call my closest friends.  These are the women I can count on to be here for me in good times and bad; the ones I belly laugh with over silly stuff like pink lipstick at bedtime and "resoaring my stole"; the ones I cry with, and the women I share life's journeys with. They are true gifts from God and I would do anything for them as well. I hope they each know how very special they are to me. 
I truly hope that you all have friendships to treasure, besties to laugh and cry with and to share your journeys with! There's nothing like "girl time" together!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Real Christmas Spirit

Christmas. A word that can instill fear in the hearts of people. Fear that we haven't gotten our Christmas shopping done yet. Fear there's not enough time left to do all we have to do. For some kids, it may be fear they weren't “good enough” for Santa to bring them all that they want on their list this year. For some adults, it may even be fear of the in-laws. Or even fear of being alone during the holidays. But fear is the last thing we should be experiencing!

I've been watching a lot of hokey Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. As one is finished, I tape another one to the DVR so I don't miss it. They are ridiculously hokey and, well, just ridiculous. But I can't stop watching them! Because there's always a real message in them; apparently, the Hallmark channel isn't afraid to make a movie with "God" in it. From the singing of the real Christmas carols, to people being in church, from showing a Christmas play about the birth of Jesus, and people even praying over the dinner table. The acting may not be great, and the story a bit hokey as I said, but the messages these movies bring are down-home, real, and make you think. Christmas is not about fear.

Bob & I had a heart-to-heart this year about gift giving. He doesn't understand the “wish list” idea. He says a gift should be one given from the heart, not just picked off a wish list. He grew up in a home where Christmas was always first about the baby Jesus, and family next. Santa was way down the line. They didn't make wish lists; gifts were given by knowing the person you were buying for and giving something from their hearts. It was different for me. It was always about Santa in our house. Santa was the one bringing the gifts. We went to see Santa and gave him our list of things we just had to have. We had to be “good” all year, because if we weren't Santa would know! We didn't get everything we had on our lists, but Santa was always pretty good to us.

One year, while Derek was still so sick and was in and out of the hospital, we had just gotten discharged from the hospital and Christmas was just a week away. There was no money for presents for him & Brooke, and it was all we could do to get a tree in the house. We didn't know how we were even going to get groceries. There certainly wasn't much Christmas spirit in our home either. But guess what happened? There was a knock at the door soon after we got home, and we found someone from the church we were attending standing there, arms filled with boxes of groceries and bags of presents for the kids. There are hardly words to express how much that meant to us. People had given from their hearts, showing the love of Jesus to us. I will never forget this act of kindness, and it still brings tears to my eyes. The best gifts, ever.

This year, amidst all the hustle & bustle, take some time to search your hearts. Ask God where you can be used to help someone feel the love of Jesus this year. And your heart will know the joy of blessing someone who will never forget where the real Christmas spirit truly comes from.

Oh, and watch some hokey Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel this year!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not; for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10,11

Saturday, December 8, 2012


We did it. We escaped. It's no small feat, you know. To get out of the house to go away. But we did it. We are living in the great outdoors, at least for 3 days.

We love to go camping. We used to camp in a tent, and have a few horror, er, I mean, “bonding” stories to prove it. Like the time we camped in a tent in the Keys in June and a “franken” storm blew in swarms of gigantic mosquitoes from the Everglades. We used three entire cans of bug spray and went home with poisoning from all the Deet our bodies absorbed. That same trip, a small hurricane blew threw the area we were camping in and blew our entire tent down in the middle of the night, soaking us and everything in it with torrential downpour rain. We ended up sitting in our truck for hours in the middle of the night waiting for the storm to pass. Lesson learned: don't camp in Florida in the summer in a tent. I've a few more stories to tell, but maybe some other time.

Now we camp in a pop-up trailer, usually during the winter months when the weather is the absolute best. No more tents for me! We love cool weather camping, when the temps at night dip into the 40's and 50's, and daytime is high 60's to 70's. Perfect camping weather. We like to go north of where we live, about 4-5 hours, which brings us to the Ocala or Gainesville areas. Our pop-up sleeps 5, but it's usually just Bob & I on a quick getaway for a few days out of town.

Like I said earlier, it's no small feat trying to get out of town. First, I need to get Derek taken care of, so I have to confirm that his dad is available to have him during the time we're gone; then I also have to have someone at the house to watch over mom, as she can't be alone any longer. And don't forget about the “crew”, who also needs tending to. This time Brooke & Christian came to stay and take care of the old home front and all who reside there. Then my work begins: I need to leave instructions for how to manage mom and the crew; pack up everything we need for camping; prepare things for mom to have in the house; grocery shop for camping food and a number of other odds & ends that are too numerous to list. It gets a bit overwhelming preparing for just a few days away! But once we were out of the house and on the road, this huge weight gets lifted off my shoulders and I get in my “vacation” mode. FREEDOM!! And let me just say this: without the help of those who stay behind to take care of Derek, mom, the crew, the house....THANK YOU! You are so appreciated!! You make it possible for me to keep my sanity!

Yesterday we took a leisurely bike ride and then we went canoeing down the Silver River. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The campsite wasn't crowded yet, as it was just Thursday and the weekend crowds weren't here yet. As we were canoeing, we saw a small herd of deer in the woods, a few gators swimming lazily down the river, plenty of birds & turtles, lots of huge blue catfish in the crystal clear waters, and then we saw a few monkeys. Yes, monkeys. Apparently back in 1938, the man who started the Silver Springs attraction brought in some monkeys to help lure visitors in. He didn't know the monkeys were going to swim in the river and escape, and they've been living on a little island in the woods in the area ever since. So we even got to see a few of them swinging happily through the trees.

My favorite part of camping has to be the mornings. It's cool, quiet, and with a campfire going while sitting in a chair with my coffee, well, it doesn't get much better than that for me. This is a beautiful park, and the campsites are large and private. Lots of trees & shade. Its so very dark here at night, except for the brilliant stars in the sky. But they don't light up the camping area; as a matter of fact, the first night I was here, I was walking down the road to the bathrooms and I was actually a bit spooked by the blackness of the night. I felt like I was being swallowed up with it! No campsites had any lights on, and there was nothing but pure darkness, blackness, all around me. Spooooky. I could almost hear “Jason, Jason, Jason.....kill, kill, kill...” those whispered words in the horror movie Friday the 13. Which is why I don't watch horror movies any more. And which is why I ran back to my campsite. And why I didn't go alone to the bathroom anymore after dark.

Today is our last full day here. I will be soaking up as much of this atmosphere as I can. If only I could bottle this up for when life gets a bit overwhelming with the all its' craziness, all its' demands. But I'll just have to settle for looking forward to the next time we can escape, and come back to the beauty of nature; God's restorative, beautiful creation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

She's Down!

Apparently the bah humbug is trying to work it's way into my Christmas back decided to tell me it's a bit overworked after a  weekend of Christmas decorating. With a little bit of a warning, it quit on me. Kaput. And I wasn't even finished with all I had to do. Not a whole lot I could do about it but go directly to the couch and get off my feet. Which meant someone else had to pick up my regular workload. This could prove to be very interesting.

I didn't really need to be doing anything for the afternoon, so it wasn't hard to be laid out on the couch doing nothing for a while. But come around 5 pm, that's when the real work would begin. Derek would be coming home and dinner was going to have to be started.  I was only allowed to get up for a bathroom break, according to Bob. So it was going to be up to him to now take over for me after his day of working. Mom is here too, but she isn't capable of helping out much anymore. Like I said, this could get very interesting....

I had planned on making soup with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, so when Bob asked what dinner was supposed to be, I told him he'd have to make the soup. He just looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. "I don't know how to make soup", I heard him say. And so it began.

It wasn't a difficult recipe, but that's relative. Relative to who is preparing it.  I would read him the steps and he would do the work. But that would also mean he would have to find the ingredients. And Bob's eyes don't work too well when it comes to looking for something and actually finding it. It could be right in front of him and he'd never see it. Except for when you put a computer screen in front of him with a program that has a "bug" in it...he has no problem seeing that. But look in the fridge or the pantry for something? Not gonna happen. I was pre-hyperventilating with the thoughts of how Bob was going to find the ingredients he was going to need. Without me actually getting up off the couch. Which he would not let me do. Get me a paper bag, please....

To make a long story short, the soup got made. And it was delicious. And we both survived the ordeal. But something interesting happened in the midst of this ordeal. I learned a big lesson. You see, I'm the kind of person who would just rather do something myself instead of asking someone else to do it. Or to ask for help. It's just easier that way. This situation reminded me of a Survivor episode I saw on TV. The team members were blindfolded while another team member, who was not, called out directions to the members to get them to get through a maze  BY LISTENING.I learned to sit back, let someone else help ME, and that it was OK to let that happen. It didn't make me weak - it humbled me, and gave me a picture of what it's like to have to totally depend on someone else. Like how my mom must feel sometimes. Her independence has been slowly taken away and it hurts. I guess I'm alot like her in that way, not wanting to depend on anyone else and doing everything for myself. Maybe now I have a little more empathy for how she feels, what it's like to ask me for help when she can't do something. I don't want her to ever feel she's a burden, which is how I felt even for a short time. But an even greater reminder came to me: to trust God. Don't take over for God, let Him take care of things. Totally depend on Him for all things. LISTEN to Him, listen for Him. And He will take care of me, of you. So many times I get in the way, and He can't get through to me. Ha, it's amazing how life's lessons come through.

So over the next day and a half, Bob did everything I would have normally done. From making dinner, cleaning up, taking care of Derek (not an easy task!) and getting him off to school and then managing him when he came home; to helping mom out, to making sure the crew got all their treats at bedtime, to turning off the Christmas lights outside and an uncountable number of other things, he did them all. Without complaining. Oh, I heard a few huffs & puffs; but he never said a word. Until I was back up and was able to make dinner and clean up last night. And then he said, "Thank God!".

So I'm back in action again, but am definitely taking it easy on the ol' back. I jokingly said to Bob, in the  midst of him waiting on me, cooking, cleaning up, etc., that "I'm not sure how long it's going to take my back to get better...could be at least a week..."; he didn't that was too funny. Guess he lost his sense of humor for a little while! Anyway, I'm reminded once again, of the many reasons I love this man. Thank you honey, for taking such good care of me, always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, My ET

Twenty nine years ago today, my life was drastically altered. My son was born. All 8 lbs 10 oz of him. Normal & healthy is what I was hoping for. But God had other plans.

From birth to 16 months of age, Derek fought for his life. With every ounce of his little being. If he had listened to the doctors, he would have perished. Given up. But being the redhead that he is, his will to live was much stronger than the doctors predictions that he would die. And God had plans for Derek.

He  is 29 today. He is a walking miracle. He's been transplanted now 27 years. Again, a  miracle. Derek is a force to be reckoned with. Everything he is, everything he does, is with all of his being. He loves big. He laughs big. He enjoys life big. But his body is little. And he's still my eternal toddler. Disney World will always be real to him. I know him like he's just an extension of my own body. I guess he is, in more ways than one. It's not every day a child gets a second chance at living with a kidney from his mom. Only God could have made me an almost perfect, almost exact, match for him. Again, a miracle.

He makes other people happy. He somehow knows, when meeting someone, if they need an extra hug that day. He's deaf, but he loves music. I believe he has a special connection with God. I believe God has used him in more ways than I could ever know, to touch people's lives in ways I don't understand. But they do.

Sometimes its very difficult having a special needs child. But the blessings outweigh the hardships, and I would never wish for things to be different for myself or for him. Since he was born, I've cried more tears than I could ever even think of counting, but I've also laughed more than the sum of all those tears because of the joy he has brought me.

Happy Birthday to you, Derek, my Eternal Toddler. I love you more than words could ever say.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tis the Season

Well, I do believe we are officially underway on the countdown to Christmas. Thanksgiving came and went so quickly, I almost missed it!

I always try to put my Christmas decorations up on the weekend following Thanksgiving. I love decorating for this holiday, and it usually takes me up to a week to finish putting everything up. But this year, I think I'll scale it back a little bit.  This year, things are going to be a little different - my daughter & her husband and my only grandchild will be out of town. They usually come on Christmas Eve, we have a wonderful dinner, open presents; then on Christmas Day, we all go to my husband's sister's house for dinner. But not this year.....

I'm really trying to adjust to this, as the time has come for things to be different now. Brooke is married, and now has a child. It's probably time we, as grandparents, make the trek over to THEIR house for Christmas. Things don't stay the same forever, you know. And change can be good. Except I CAN'T go to their house, as they won't be there EITHER! Waaahhhhh! (Sniff, sniff.)

Brooke keeps trying to assuage my hysteria by saying, "NEXT year will be the fun year with Christian!" He'll be 6-1/2 months old at Christmas this year, and yes, she's right. This year, he really doesn't have a clue about it. But still, NONE of them will be here. Waaahhhhh!

However grim the thought of their absence may be, I do believe I am beginning to feel the Christmas spirit. I did get my tree up - we have an artificial tree - with no thanks to bad Louie. Every year, he and the tree are double trouble, and this year will probably be no exception. As I was fixing the branches and making it look beautiful, I happened to see something underneath the tree. And it was looking up at me. With eyeballs. Yep, BAD LOUIE was just sitting there, looking up at me even though he KNEW I really couldn't see him. He was hiding, you see. He just cracks me up!

And then there's my husband. My bah humbug, when it comes to Christmas. It just wouldn't be the Christmas season if I didn't hear, at least a hundred times, "Christmas has become a trick of the devil!" You see, he just HATES that he has to put up lights on the house. It's one of his worse things. But he does it because it makes me happy. That's just the kind of guy he is. And if I have to hear "it's a trick of the devil" a hundred times, so be it. At least my lights get put up.

So, even though Christmas will be different this year for me, some things will be the same. And that's a good thing. I guess I'll live after all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day. A day to be with family & friends; a day to express our gratitude; a day to eat ourselves silly. To all of my family and friends, many of whom I can't be with today, I miss you so much and would love nothing better than if we were all together.

I have so many reasons to be grateful, and it would take forever for me to list them all. Let me just list a few that are on the very top of my list:

I'm thankful for:
A God who loves me, died for me, and saved me.
An awesome husband.
Two incredible children, and son-in-law.
One miraculous grandson.
A beautiful home & plenty of food to eat.
That my mom is not alone at this stage in her life.
My wonderful family, whom I miss so much.
The two most loving families that God brought into my life through marriage.
That God always provides for me, cares for me, and will never forsake me.

May you each have a day that will be filled with the most wonderful blessings, and may you make wonderful new memories that will be forever cherished in your hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review

I have recently discovered a hidden treasure in my neighborhood: the county library! It's only a few minutes from my house, and it's full of books! And DVD's! That you don't have to pay for!

I have always been an avid reader, but just have not had the spare time to spend on reading. I devour books whenever I go away on a trip or vacation, as it's a sweet treat for me to spend time reading.

The local library is new to my neighborhood. And while mom could still read, it was a great way to get her some of her favorite books, anything by James Patterson. She is no longer able to read books, as she forget what she's reading and it's very difficult to sound out the words. So now, I take her there to check out the DVD's. And found myself perusing through the aisles and aisles of books.

The other day I came across a book just kind of laying on a shelf, certainly out of place. It caught my attention with its cover, titled "One Thousand White Women, The Journals of May Dodd". After reading the reviews on the back cover, I immediately knew I had to read it. I love reading about the old American West.

The author's note states this book is entirely a work of fiction. But the idea for the book was inspired by an actual historical event: in 1854 at a peace conference at Fort Laramie, a prominent Northern Cheyenne chief requested of the US Army authorities the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. A terrifying new world was being forced on the Native Americans in 1854, and they clearly recognized this world held no place for them. They believed that the children born out of these marriages would be the perfect means of assimilation into the white man's world.

Of course in reality, the Cheyenne's request was not well received by the authorities, the peace conference collapsed, the Cheyennes went home and the white women did not come. But in this novel they do.

The author, Jim Fergus, brings to life an American West like I've never read before. His portrayal of the women, their conversations, their emotions, are so realistic, so true to how women think, speak, feel. And again, this was written as if it was 1854. I could feel their joy, sorrow & heartbreak when they did. I loved how the Native American characters were portrayed, and felt such shame, as though I had a part in it, as they experienced the betrayal of the white man. He actually traveled extensively in the northern Great Plains and really got to know the country he was writing about. He felt a tremendous responsibility to be as accurate as possible when it came to first learning about the cultures and histories of the Northern Cheyennes and Apaches, and then writing this into his story.

I did not want to put this book down once I started reading it. And at the end, I was sad it was finished. It touched my heart in so many ways. I went back to the author's note after I was finished, just to be sure I had read that this was a work of fiction. I felt it surely must be a true story!

If you have some time to spare and like to read, I highly recommend this book. It's actually a book I would like to have on my own bookshelf. Go check it out at your local library!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bob the Chef

It's a beautiful Saturday morning, and in my book, there's no better way to start my day than to have my husband cook breakfast. He doesn't do alot of cooking, so when he does it's usually breakfast and it's always eggs. Bob's Special Eggs. And that's ok, because they're really delicious and they have a special ingredient that only comes from him: Love. Love is definitely an ingredient, and food prepared without  a touch of it just doesn't taste the same!

I don't know exactly what goes into these eggs, so I can't post the recipe. He never makes them the exact same way and won't let me in the kitchen when he's cooking. He said it's better if I don't know! From start to finish, he's in control. Even the clean up. Well, most of the clean up. It's a real treat for me to have him cook breakfast. And Derek loves Bob' Special Eggs too, and always devours them.

I'll be in the kitchen later today, making Pumpkin Bread for the Thanksgiving baskets our church will be giving away; homemade chicken soup for dinner, and homemade wheat bread. Check out "Yummy-In-The-Tummy" section later on today where I'll be posting these recipes.

I hope you enjoy your Saturday as much as I plan on doing! Except I think I have a head start on everyone else, as I've got Bob's Special Eggs to get me going!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We've had a cat-nabbing here at our house. Not a kidnapping, because there were no children involved. But a cat was. Smitty. (Read more about him in "The Crew.") Abducted. Sometime during the night. He is being held for ransom. The perpetrators: the local pound. Yep, it's true.  They posted his proof-of-life picture on the web.

All day Tuesday I was frantically searching for him. He stays outside at night, but usually sleeps in the barn. First thing in the morning when I wake up, he's at the back door ready to come in and get some grub. But he never showed up. And still wasn't home by time I went to bed. I knew something had happened to him, as he's older now and very predictable. We do have our share of wild critters out in this area, so I was very worried something may have gotten the best of him. A wild dog? A gator? Gators have been seen taking a stroll down our dirt road at night. I was very upset to say the least. This is a member of my family!

My daughter suggested I check the local pound. But knowing Smitty, I knew he wouldn't have let anyone near enough to catch him. But just before I went to bed, I remembered that traps are set out here to catch feral cats. Hmm, maybe he got caught in a trap? So just before I went to bed, I checked the lost & found and saw a picture of a cat that looked just like him, but the description didn't really match.

First thing Wednesday morning, off to the pound I went, and when the info was checked about where he was found, it was true. I had found my Smitty! But, he hadn't been caught in a trap set by the pound. He was brought in by a neighbor! What?? We know most of our neighbors, at least the ones directly around my house, and I knew it wouldn't have been one of them. We live in an area where each home has some property, from 1-2 acres. Our neighbors are not directly "on top" of us. Smitty had been roaming around here for 11 years, and doesn't cause anyone any harm. So who would trap him and dump him off?? Apparently a neighbor on the street off my back yard, three houses down.

So $60 later, I had my traumatized Smitty in the car and we were headed home. I went for a visit to this person's home later on in the afternoon, and found out she works at a veterinarian office and had decided she had had enough of all the feral cats roaming around so she set a trap. Of course she didn't catch the big black tom cat that's been fighting with everything in sight. She caught my Smitty, who is no trouble to anyone. I didn't get to speak directly to her, but to her mother, who said she would let her know what happened. She did feel badly. Probably not as bad as my poor Smitty felt being in jail.