You Asked About My Talent

Webster defines talent as a special – often athletic, creative or artistic – aptitude. I certainly don’t have athletic talent. However, it might surprise you to know that I was on my high school intramural volleyball team. Okay, I know that doesn’t count, and you don’t even have to try out. But I did play volleyball. I even had fun. Mostly. (I’m not artistic either unless you count drawing stick figures.)

One thing I can do is write. I call it my gift.

It was in 9th-grade journalism class that I realized I might be a writer. Although my gift was foreshadowed in 2nd grade when I had a poem published in a state scholastic competition. My mom saved the saddle-stitched, (now dog-eared) paper-bound book, and I still have it around here somewhere. My winning entry went something like this:

I went to the store to get some bread,
While I was there, Mother tucked me in bed.
She held me tight,
She let me loose.
And now I feel the soft feather bed of Mother Goose.
Still is still as still can be,
But still, I’m sitting on the goose’s knee.

I can’t believe I can still remember that.

In high school, I was often in advanced English classes and loved literature. And even though I thought I had a gift for writing, I never considered using it to make a living. I really didn’t know you could.

It wasn’t until I found myself divorced and penniless at age 27 that I went to college and discovered a strong writing ability could be a career cornerstone. Initially, I decided on law school. I knew that lawyers write a lot – rumor is they get paid by the word – so writing and lawyering seemed a good match. Of course, you already know the end of this story: I graduated from Purdue with an English degree in professional writing, got married and never made it to law school.

Still, I’ve made a pretty good living as a corporate writer. I’m proud of many pieces I’ve written. Some have had tens of thousands of eyeballs. I frequently write for our top executives, and I’m known throughout the enterprise as the grammar queen. It’s gratifying, too, knowing I have a hand in crafting how our company talks about itself, our customers, our products, and our world.

And yet, I’ve never written that book. I know I could. I feel like I should. Maybe I will.


Chicken Wings in Boston

fried meat on white plate
Photo by Harry Dona on

I love chicken wings. If you know me, you already know this. But I don’t eat the skin – which you also know.

So, I’m in Boston for a conference, staying downtown in a four-star hotel. It’s nice. I decided to walk to a local pub known for their Boston pub-ishness. You know … baked beans and all. It was a crazy-busy place with an after-work crowd and music loud enough to make this grandma cringe. But I had walked there, and after all, it IS BOSTON! I found an empty two-top in the back and after a while, the waitress stopped by. I ordered 12 chicken wings. Okay, that does seem like a lot for the smallish person that I am, but in my defense, I had eaten only lunch (the lobster picked off a lobster roll and a few bites of coleslaw). And I never eat the skin, so that makes it okay – right?

The food came. I ate. And finally, I am stuffed to the gills. With three chicken wings left, the waitress came over to settle up and – on an impulse – I asked her for a small to-go box. She gave it to me. I put the chicken wings in the cardboard, paid my tab and headed back to the hotel.

On my way up the Tremont Street hill, I saw him.

A well-weathered man near my own age, sitting in a wheelchair because he has no legs. Hair sparkling with silver, his chair was backed up against the subway tunnel, and he seemed to be surrounded with friends as though this is his neighborhood. Maybe he comes here every day? I wish I knew.

I offered him the container of wings, and he looked up at me. “Thank you,” he said, humility quickly lowering his eyes. But before they escaped my view, I saw a softness register in them even years of hard living haven’t erased.

I handed him the wings and continued the trek to my hotel room. I’m not sure why, but this made me want to cry. It’s not the first time I’ve given leftovers or even my lunch money to the homeless. And hopefully not the last. I’m not a sociologist. I’m not a political activist. I’m not an idealist who thinks they know it all. And I can’t even begin to know how to fix a world this broken. But it makes me sad.

In a few days, wearing my one-and-a-half carat diamond ring, I’ll board a plane back home to my four-bedroom, four and-a-half-bathroom house. My five cats – who have the best medical care money can buy – will be glad to see me.

I wish I had eaten fewer of the wings.

Biff’s Story

You know John and I foster cats for an amazing rescue in Wisconsin. Over the past four years, we’ve had more than 300 cats stop here on their way to loving homes. They each are special in their own way. But every now and again, one comes along and steals your heart.

Meet Biff.


He’s a Chinchilla Persian. Now, that alone makes him special, for Chinchillas indeed are rare. But being special somehow didn’t protect Biff from abuse and neglect. He arrived at our house in mid March. He was starved, flea infested and had open sores over his entire body — he really didn’t even look like a cat. Seven or eight pounds would be a healthy weight for Biff, and he was barely four pounds. His tail was a giant scab. And he was intact.

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Biff’s first day at Wolf Crossing.

Biff came to us from a shelter in Indiana where he had been surrendered as a stray. It’s just a guess, but I suspect he may have been used in a backyard breeding program. Wow. I took one look at this sad little cat, and gave Biff a 50/50 chance of surviving. The shelter had given him a really horrible hair cut, and with so little body fat, he was freezing.

We immediately offered Biff every kind of food we had in the house, got him a heated fleece-lined bed and started him on antibiotics. I also forced him into a sweater, which he didn’t mind wearing, but he certainly complained loudly enough when putting it on. He grumbled and growled as I pulled his paws through the openings, and I even thought he might bite me. But he didn’t.

John took Biff to the vet the following day for a check up and blood work. The vet said Biff needed a dental, but his blood test came back surprisingly good. And so Biff settled into a comfortable routine at the Wolf Crossing Cattie B&B. We offered him bowls of food multiple times and day, and in between feedings, Biff stayed in his heated bed. His sores, which we cleaned and treated daily, started healing.

Boy, could that cattie eat! It was actually his saving grace — Biff loved food. Every kind of food. Canned gravy lover’s, chicken baby food, broths in pouches, tuna. Everything. John noticed that Biff would eat more if we stayed and petted him while he ate. And so we did.


Biff loves lots of food choices!

He was a confident little man, too. It’s one of the things I especially love about Biff. No matter how dire his current situation may look, he’ll still step up to call the shots. No shy shrinking violet here. Biff is resilient and cocky — and that’s probably saved his life more than once.

Soon, Biff was strong enough to have his dental work done and he passed with flying colors. He didn’t even need extractions. Heading the vet’s advice, we decided to wait awhile on Biff’s shots and neutering.

We had a European trip planned for June, and I worried about leaving Biff with our pet sitter, who is wonderful, but comes only twice a day. I mentioned this concern on the rescue Facebook page and an amazing thing happened. A couple whom I’d never met offered to drive 8 hours to pick up Biff, host him and feed him multiple times a day while we were gone! And so it happened. Mike and Stephanie came to pick up Biff and took him to their home in his heated bed.

Biff flourished under Mike and Stephanie’s care, and even gained weight. He looked so good upon his return that we scheduled his neuter. But Biff didn’t fly though that surgery. I would go up to sit with Biff during his meals, but he wouldn’t eat. And when I petted him, especially near his back end, he would hiss, indicating pain.


Too skinny Biff.


Once when I went to visit Biff, he was laying, not in his heated bed, but on a fleece blanket facing the wall. Not a good sign. John was even more observant, a few days after Biff’s surgery, John noticed that Biff had not pooped. So John ran him back to the vet where Biff spent the entire day getting an enema and IV antibiotics for an infection he contracted near his surgical site. We brought him home and continued with sub Q fluids and medications including pain meds. Over the past four years, we’ve lost some fosters in our care, so I know the signs. I have to say I was more than a little afraid that Biff was headed for the Rainbow Bridge. Happily, though, I was wrong, and a few days later, Biff was back to his old charmingly curmudgeon self.

Fast forward over the next few months and Biff continued to gain strength and body weight. I felt bad that he was alone in his room upstairs, and tried several times to bring him downstairs to get acquainted with our own clowder, (and possible adoption) but there was friction. My cats weren’t welcoming, and Biff would retreat upstairs to his room. Still, he seemed happy enough. But sometime in November, when Biff weighed more than 5-1/2 pounds and was settled into his routine, I looked deep into those emerald eyes. They told me that he was safe and healthy now, and he was ready to go to a family of his own where he could have run of the house and snuggle with his peeps anytime he wanted. Maybe he’d even sleep on their bed!


Feeling stronger!

With a lump in my throat, I posted Biff’s bio to the rescue’s adoption website and waited. A very special couple answered. They live in a big house nestled in northern Wisconsin forestland, and it seems they’d been following Biff’s story on Facebook, loving him from afar for quite some time. After two long conversations, I was convinced these people were sent to care for and love my sweet boy. They have a history of saving special needs cats and feel that it’s their calling. Even more so, they felt called to care for Biff. How wonderful is that?  They drove more than 12 hours to meet my boy.

So after more than nine months at Wolf Crossing (a foster record), my buddy went home a couple of days ago. I got an email from his new mom saying that Biff is eating, drinking, using the litter box and exploring his new house with confidence and gusto. Yep. That’s Biff. His new house has large windows that allow him to watch the bustle of woodland wildlife from the safety of his own heated bed, which he took with him. And if he needs a snack? Uh, yeah, it’s a stone’s throw away.

It’s really everything I dreamed of for that poor little cat who someone neglected and then threw away. I marvel at these amazing creatures who have been so down on their luck, but remain resilient in spirit and able to love in spite of the harshness and pain they’ve endured.

Frequently, people say to me, “Good for you for fostering. I just don’t have the heart for it. I couldn’t let go. I care too much.” I know they are well meaning, but honestly, I care too much NOT to do it. It’s not always easy, in fact it rarely is. And it takes a lot of discipline to not fall in love or to risk pain caused by loving and letting go. Some days I’m better at it than others. John is better at it every single day. Fostering certainly isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of other ways to give back. I get that.


Biff hug!

For John and me, it’s a choice. We risk the pain of loving and having them leave, or worse yet, loving and losing them to death, which happens. But in the end, if we weren’t willing to suffer for these little ones, the little ones would suffer even more. So I try to learn whatever it lesson I’m supposed to from each of the small creatures we’re entrusted with for a short time. I love these words from the musical Wicked that pretty much sums it up:

“I’ve heard it said
That people [or cats] come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…” (For Good from Wicked)

Godspeed, my Biff. And God bless his new parents.

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I’ll always love you.







It just wasn’t enough

This post is a hard one to write. You probably know that John and I foster sweet souls for an amazing cat rescue out of Kenosha, WI. (Check them out here.) In November, we began our third full year as volunteers. 

During our first year, we fostered 64 cats, the second year 100, and we’ve hosted more than 40 this year already. Most of the cats we take in are down on their luck, to be sure. 

People always ask me,”Where do all the cats come from?” Well, everywhere. But the majority have either been picked up as strays or for whatever reason, have lost their homes and found themselves living in cold, steel cages. Ugh. How frightening. And as bad as it sounds to be imprisioned in a cage, for some of these sweet souls, it beats where they’ve been. 

Meet Beth. 

She was a four-month-old, long-haired, blue-eyed kitten who was surrendered to an inner-city animal shelter in Chicago. Our rescue’s director sent me this picture of Beth and asked me if we’d take her in. 

Of course, I said. Beth looks older in the picture than she was. She only weighed about four pounds and still had some baby teeth. See that mark on the tip of her right ear? It was from a cigarette burn. 

Beth arrived at Wolf Crossing on a Wednesday night. The only thing that accompanied her from the shelter was an index card indicating she had been surrendered because her family was moving. I don’t get it, but that’s a common reason people give for surrendering a pet. Whatever. 

Since Beth hadn’t been vetted, I wanted to get her into the clinic right away. She was shy, but very sweet, and she loved to be held. See the Cakes holding her in the picture above? 

But Beth’s blue eyes were dim. She didn’t want to make eye contact, nor was she playful like you’d expect a kitten to be. Still, she was alert and seemed healthy, so we made an appointment for her to get spayed and vaccinated two days later. John took her in Friday morning and picked her up that afternoon. That’s the drill around here. Most cats breeze through the surgery and kittens usually act like nothing ever happened. 

But Beth didn’t bounce back; she never ate again. On Monday, John took Beth to the vet. In the course of trying to diagnose her, our vet did bloodwork and took X-rays. Are you ready for this? Beth had been shot with a BB gun THREE TIMES. Although her wounds had healed, the BBs were still embedded in her little body. 

The following week was a roller coaster of progress and set backs. It was always one step forward and two steps back. Beth was treated with medications and even hospitalized for a couple of days in a warm incubator and given intravenous fluids. When she seemed strong enough, we brought Beth home. Twice a day, we administered sub q fluids, and three times a day we forced high-calorie food down her using a syringe. At times, we’d muster all the optimism we could, and we’d say aloud to ourselves and each other,”It’s baby steps, but she’s  getting  better.” And to Beth, we’d say,”You’re not leaving. You’re not going anywhere. Not on our watch, baby girl. Not on our watch.”

She died anyway. 

Exactly two weeks after her surgery, Beth took flight for the rainbow bridge. It was a sunny Friday morning about 7:30. Her beautiful pink nose had turned white. She lost the battle.  

I could have cried for a week and would still have had enough tears left to make an ocean. But I had to go to work. So I put an eyeliner in my purse while John wrapped Beth’s broken body in a soft pink blanket and took her to a local pet crematorium. The people there are so wonderful. (Dieters Pet Crematorium in Washington, IL.) Beth isn’t the first foster we’ve taken there, and she likely won’t be the last. 

It’s been about a month since Beth left us, and John and I still can’t talk about her. But she is not forgotten. I think about her short life filled with unspeakable cruelty, abuse and atrocities. And cruelest of all? She was so close to safety–she had made it to rescue, but not in time. Fate doesn’t play fair. 

One thing tortures me still. This is the point in the story where I should say something like,”At least Beth died knowing love in her final days.” But did she? It seemed all we ever did was stick her fragile skin with needles and force food down her throat, when the very smell of it made her wretch. Did she know we were only trying to save her? Or did it simply seem like more abuse to her? I don’t know. 

People say,”You did everything you could.” But the raw truth is, it just wasn’t enough. 

For Linda


Although our lady has worked here a long time by nearly any standard, you can’t tell simply from looking. Still, her eyes carry proof of wisdom greater than the sum of her calendar years. Perhaps it’s because she has learned a lot on this journey. Some of the lessons have been hard fought and even harder to sustain; and yet others have come just as easily as a bee flies straight to the nectar.

As you can imagine, she has touched many people in her time here. And the people with whom she has walked are better for having known her, if only for a short while. What do they say about her? They say that she is pretty, but even more importantly, that her heart is good. They say she is smart, but also that she is wise in uncommon ways. And she is not afraid to have a tough conversation. I think I admire this trait the most. It was for this reason you felt good somehow if she had taken you to task over something, because it meant you were important to her—that she cared.

Our lady has a quick smile and uses it freely—it is something else she taught us. And when she listens, she uses her eyes as well as her ears. If perhaps you say something funny, she throws her head back and laughs as if she has not a care in the world, even though she does. She makes everyone in the room feel just a bit more important. And during her time here, she must have said “thank you” ten million times. She is genuine. Although our lady didn’t know her well, she cared very much about the woman who made coffee in the café.

And so today, as she prepares to leave this place she loves and the people she cares for, we are happy for her. True, we will miss her and we know she will miss us, but we are excited for her future. And she has prepared us well. Someone once said that the ultimate legacy is leaving a place better than it was when you found it.

Yes, indeed. Our lady has done very well.

For My Friend Sam


And so on his last day, he dressed as though it was his first: a pale green patterned wool suit with blue button down oxford shirt, navy silk tie and argyle sweater vest. Perched atop his head was a wool tweed flat cap, just like an English professor might wear. The way he dressed said a lot about this day—the day he left a job where he had been employed for the past sixteen years and eight months.

It had been a job where he practiced his craft. He was a writer of uncommon ability, and his gift had been too good for that place anyway. You see, his capacity to breathe life into words and make words into symphony was far superior to any task he could have ever been given there. Still, whatever touches he could add, he did; whatever wisdom he could give, he gave.

The way he dressed on this day said a lot about the man himself, too. It said that while others may decide that his work there was done, they would not decide how he would go. They would not decide how he would feel. They would not decide—ultimately—his future.

And so on his last day, he dressed as though it was his first. Because in every way that mattered, it really was.

Our 2014 Miracle

There are ten days left in 2014. How did that happen? It’s been a year full of beginnings, but among the most obvious, this marks the first full year John and I have been a foster home for SPCR–a purebred cat rescue based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. ( Just last week, cattie number 64 for the year checked into the Wolf Crossing Cattie B&B. It’s been fun and rewarding to help save so many catties. I have to say, tho, if not for John being retired, we would not be able to operate at this capacity. Still, I’ve kept decent records, and if I were good at Excel, I’d create endless pivot tables and analyze how many guests we’ve had at any given time to predict next year’s traffic flow based on history. But I’m not.

It makes sense that when you have more than sixty cats pass through your house, you risk falling for a sweet soul you’re unable to part with. Especially true given that you’re the kind of person willing to house sixty cats to begin with. Well, it happened to us this year. Meet Windsor.



He’s a classic silver shaded Persian with emerald eyes encased by black eyeliner and sports brick red nose leather; his wide-set rounded ears are breed standard. And I love those ears! According to the shelter who delivered Windsor to rescue, he was a product of divorce. Three years old, Windsor was matted, filthy and flea infested when he arrived at Wolf Crossing. I took one look at him and those enormous sad green eyes melted my heart. Windsor also has a snaggle tooth, which endears him to people, but according to our vet it’s the result of previous trauma to his jaw. Hmmm. How does a cattie get a broken jaw?

When Windsor arrived, he wasn’t neutered, either. So, getting that remedied was top order of the day. But we soon learned that Windsor wasn’t healthy. After his neuter surgery, Windsor simply stopped eating to the point where his life was threatened. He was weak, lethargic and couldn’t even hold up his head. Of course we took him to the vet and followed directions incuding force feeding Windsor from a syringe three times a day. Ugh. If you’ve never force fed a cat, be advised it’s a messy affair designed to upset all involved. During this time, he weighed around five-ish pounds and lived in our bathroom.

And so Windsor progressed, but didn’t really thrive. Sometime in early summer, we officially adopted him and cemented Windsor’s future at Wolf Crossing forever, in spite of the fact he consistently vomited two or three times a day. I mean huge vomits where the entire contents of his stomach landed all over my house, carpet, clothes and furniture. And he was ravenous. So there was a lot.

Windsor featured in a photo for a Facebook post.

Windsor featured in a photo for a Facebook post.

During these months, we took Windsor to our vet for a series of tests, but the only conclusive determination was that Windsor was one sick boy. Our vet is very competent but he, like most vets in small clinics, simply does not have the resources for state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. And so, he referred us to the University of Illnois Veteranary School of Medicine in Champagin, IL–a one and a half hour drive for us.

imageEarly one Wednesday morning in October, John took our sweet boy to Champaign with hopes of understanding and fixing whatever was wrong. Wow. Were we in for an astonishing ride. First of all, this vet school hospital is amazing. It’s just like a people hospital with surgeons, radiologists, cardiologists and you-name-it-ologists. Who knew there were so many kinds of specialized veteranarian doctors? We didn’t. But luckily for us there are, because within three hours of Windsor’s arrival at the hospital, the team had conclusively determined that Windsor had a sliding haital hernia caused by his severely restricted airway. In other words, Windsor had such difficulty breathing through his tiny nostrils, the negative pressured caused by the sheer force of his effort to breathe caused him to suck his stomach up into his chest cavity. This phenomenon is well-documented in brachycephalic breeds of dogs like bulldogs, but has not been formally studied in cats.

imageAnd so, Windsor’s surgery was scheduled for the next day. I drove to Champaign that evening with hopes that I would get to see him. They’d planned to open his nostrils by removing tissue, making it much easier for Windsor to breathe. In addition, they were to suture his stomach to his abdominal wall to prevent it from sliding in and out of his esophagus. And, in as much as possible, they’d planned to repair his stretched esophagus. In addition, they’d discovered bladder crystals and hoped to flush those out as well. His surgery went very long, but I finally got to see Windsor at around 10:00 pm that night He was so happy to see me. Even though he was very out of it, he reached out his paw to touch my hand. But it actually touched my heart.

Windsor reaching a paw to touch me just an hour or so after his surgery.

Windsor reaching a paw to touch me just an hour or so after his surgery.

See the amazing intensive-care accommodations for Windsor after his surgery? That bed is heated from the bottom. Every effort (including pain medication) was made to keep him comfortable, and it seemed like each breath was counted. Initially, the surgeon was very pleased with how his surgery had gone, but Windsor was far from out of the woods.

Day three after his surgery, Windsor had us worried. We took this photo on our visit.

Day three after his surgery, Windsor had us worried. We took this photo on our visit.

The next few days was an emotional roller-coster of good news mixed with concerning news. He ended up needing another emergency surgery for a blocked bladder, requiring a blood transfusion and contracting pneumonia. But through it all, we visited as often as we could and the doctors took exceptional care of our boy, keeping us informed every step of the way. Thankfully, after a week the good news started outweighing the bad, and we brought our baby home a week after his surgery. At his lowest, he weighed in at 4-1/2 pounds. I held him all the way home, wrapped in a baby blanket.

imageWindsor came home with a feeding tube, which while not as messy as traditional force feeding, was still challenging. We gave him his meds through the tube and fed him through it, too, if he didn’t eat enough on his own. At first it seemed overwhelming, but we soon got the hang of it. imageAnd within a few days, Windsor was eating enough so we didn’t have to push food through the tube; and within a week, the tube was out. There were other ups and downs along the way including a white-nuckled midnight emergency run back to the hospital, but he got a little better each day.

Fast forward two months later, Windsor has made a full recovery. Was it expensive? Yep. Would we do it again? You bet! Windsor eats like there’s no tomorrow and weighs nearly seven pounds–which according to our vet is exactly perfect! And while there is still an occasional puke, the bond that we’ve developed with him is like no other. It always amazes me that many of the catties who have been through the worst times are the sweetest and most loving. A lesson for us, maybe?

Windsor fully recovered!

Windsor fully recovered!

It was Never the Plan

John and I have been fostering homeless catties for nearly a year now. And during that time, we have hosted more than forty sweet souls at what I call the Wolf Crossing Cattie B&B. Our house is perfectly equipped for it with three vacant, fully-furnished bedroom/bathroom suites upstairs. It sure beats a cage in a shelter. Among this year’s guests were a pregnant Himalayan mom and dad who checked in on the first day of June. They were surrendered by a very nice lady who loved them, but circumstances had rendered her unable to care for them.

Mama Lola

Mama Lola

Thirty days later, two cats turned into seven! Born on the last day of June, we welcomed into this world three seal point males, a seal point female and a blue point female. Now, I did not expect to fall in love with these babies, which was just as well because they had been promised to furever homes since before they were born.


Mama and babies

Sweet babies

Sweet babies

Knowing they needed to be socialized by humans, when they were six weeks old we moved mama and the kittens out of their solo accommodations upstairs and into our bathroom. Once they were acclimated, we let them have the run of the house except for mealtime and bedtime, which they spent in our bathroom. And even tho they were beyond cute, I quickly tired of bathroom chaos, litter sticking to the soles of my feet and tiny creatures attempting to climb my nightgown. I said, “I will be glad when these kittens are gone and I have my bathroom back to myself!” And I meant it.

Sweet catties at the gate in my bathroom

Sweet catties at the gate in my bathroom

Meanwhile, handsome dad, Gaspar, got adopted and the kittens went about the busy business of discovering their world.


And at some point, when I wasn’t looking and least expected it, the kittens managed to wriggle into my heart. What fun we had with these babies! Dinner time was the best, when they would all race John from the kitchen to the bathroom where they were fed. He would say, “C’mon, Babies!” and they would roar through the house like a pack of tiny wild buffalo, crashing into each other and everything else along the way. Then in the quiet of the evening before bedtime, they would snuggle on the couch with us and purr their little heads off.


All too soon came the day to say good-bye to these little angels. About a week before they were to be adopted, we took them to the vet for spaying/neutering and microchipping. Suddenly, it became important to know who was who. So I bought them each a different color kitten collar (try to say THAT), and they instantly became individuals with the sweetest personalities. There was Blue, Blackie, Pink, Purple and Red. I wish we had marked them weeks sooner.



And so it happened. Very loving, responsible people came to Wolf Crossing, rang the door bell and took away my sweethearts one by one. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they couldn’t stay. I knew I couldn’t keep them–it was never the plan. But neither was the way each of them took a piece of my heart when they left.


Sweet baby angel


Rosie the Roomba Rocks!!!

Okay. So I like to think that I’m sort of “with it” when it comes to new things and technology. I mean, I manage the eCommunications group for a Fortune 50 company where I’m responsible for all the corporate electronic communications vehicles, including our corporate web and social media presences. Yes, it’s true that I have hired a team of amazing young people who tell me what to do everyday. But still, I rub shoulders with technology-savvy people constantly.

How is it possible, then, that I have missed the Roomba Revolution?!Roomba

John (my retired husband and live-in maid) and I were shopping in Costco yesterday when we came upon a pallet of Roombas billed as “Pet Series” models. Now, anything that cleans up after pets is high on my radar, especially since we recently adopted our third Persian cat. We studied the box and marveled at the claims of effortlessly clean floors listed thereon. But we were very skeptical that anything so small, cheesy and poorly named could effectively clean floors. Really?

Still, we were intrigued, so later, I read all the Roomba reviews on Amazon and decided that we had to give this thing a try. We drove to back Costco and procured one, naming her Rosie–because it seems much more maid-like and productive than Roomba.

We brought Rosie home and plugged her in. While Rosie was charging, John vacumed our floors–a combination of handscraped dark wood and wool area rugs with a few scatter rugs in the kitchen and mud room. I sat and enjoyed a glass of wine on the couch during this observation

Once Rosie indicated she was fully charged, we set her off to clean our kitchen-great room-informal dining room-mud room area. Basically, everywhere we live downstairs minus our bedroom and bath. On Rosie’s inaugural run, she cleaned our floor for around two hours, easily gliding over the hardwood and making flawless transitions to the rugs. Ceramic tile in the mudroom/powder room? No problem for her! Rosie has this really cool “whisker” brush that she uses like a tenticle to get even fine crumbs (or cat hair) located in corners and along the baseboard. When Rosie was done, John emptied her “holding tank.” You would NOT believe how much dirt, ick and yuckiness she had managed to pick up.

In the past couple of days, we have run Rosie in this same area three times, each time disgusted by the amound of dirt she continually finds on our floors. Earlier today, we put Rosie to work in our master suite, a combo of carpet and ceramic tile with scatter rugs in the bathroom. The results? Unbelievable! She actually raises the nap on the carpet, so you can tell where she’s been. It is seriously like someone ran the vacum in there while I sat on the couch drinking a glass of wine. One of the coolest things? When Rosie gets low on energy, she goes back to her dock and recharges herself!

A couple of things: Rosie is not systematic and her pattern of cleaning might make you crazy if you’re deliberative and methodical. But I will say there’s a method to her madness, and by my non-scientific estimation gets about 80% of the floors each time she runs. Then she gets a different 80% the next go-round. It’s kinda like shaving your legs quickly every day–what you don’t get today, you’ll get tomorrow. And Rosie probably won’t replace vacuming altogether, especially when you need a deep clean or have particularly dirty floors for whatever reason.

I have to say, tho, after only two full days of Rosie cleaning our floors, we’re delighted with her and we’d purchase all over again. Apparently there is a wet washing version for wood and ceramic that I’m going to check into. I’d love for Rosie’s cousin to mop my ceramic tile while I’m at work. Or while I have a glass of wine on the couch!!

The Baby Cakes Says

The Baby Cakes just turned four last Wednesday. In four short years, she has said so many hilarious things that I could have written a book by now. I’m sorry that I’m just now taking time to write them down. Even so better late than never. I’ll be back from time to time to update.


Baby Cakes at 3-1/2 years

Animal Doctors

We’re driving in the car a few months ago, and we pass our veterinarian’s place. “What’s that?” says the Cakes.

Me: It’s Mo and Alice’s doctor. They call animal doctors ‘vets.’

Cakes: Vets? A vet?! I’ve never heard of such a thing!

Me: Yeah, well, you’re three. There’s a lot you’ve never heard of.

At the Movies

We’re sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to start. Baby Cakes looks at me and says, “I’ve been wanting to see this movie my whole life.” She just turned four.

In a Day’s Work

I work for the world’s largest premiere construction machinery company. When she and I are in the car and we see one of those famous yellow and black machines, the Cakes squeals at the top of her lungs, “Nana tractors!” With all of the construction on I-74 between Peoria and Morton, it can be non-stop. And the Cakes thinks I single-handedly built each and every one of them.

“Look there’s another one!! And it’s moving!” the Cakes squealed with delight after about the tenth machine. “Wow, Nana. You sure do have a lot of work!”