How Cesar Got His Name

Last week, I received a long-dreaded text from my friend Deb.

“Cesar had another seizure. I took him to the vet, and it was time to let go. This has been a bad week.”

Cesar the Cat was her second pet to die in two days. She had had to say good-bye to her beloved terrier Daisy earlier that week.


The late great Cesar.

Cesar was 20 years old, and had first entered her life at the age of six weeks. When I met Deb two years ago, she was afraid his time had come then, and a visit to the vet revealed he did, indeed, have kidney disease. However, cats can live a long time after that initial diagnosis, and Cesar continued to function in a healthy manner.

A few months ago she sent me this agonizing text: “Cesar just had his second seizure in two days. I’m afraid it’s time. I will miss him so much. He is the best cat EVER.”

It wasn’t time yet.

Deb taught high school English for decades, and 20 years ago, she told one of her students she’d name her kitten after him if he got an “A” on his paper. He got the grade, and Cesar got his name.

I wonder what former student Cesar is doing now. Assuming he’s alive (and we’ll assume that), he’d be in his mid- to late-30s. Does he remember his one-time teacher named her cat after him? Did it matter to him? Has he ever owned a cat, does he have children, was he successful in his life?

We influence the world around us, and never know it. Student Cesar would likely never imagine that today, a woman he’s never met is musing about his life. Because of a dead cat. To say I care what happened to him is perhaps a stretch, but in a way, I do. I want success for him.

About the time I met Deb and learned about Cesar the Cat, I was in the middle of drawing a cartoon cat for one of my posts. I named him Cesar. When I showed Deb the drawing, she said, “Yep, that looks like him.”


Cartoon Cesar.

I had no idea. I had simply liked the name. For some reason, I’d thought CtC was a Siamese, but he was a Maine Coon. The cat I’d drawn did resemble him. Eventually I made some “limited edition” t-shirts featuring the cartoon Cesar, and a couple of months ago I gave one to Deb.

Rest in peace, Cesar Kitty and Daisy Doo. You are missed.

Image Credits: (Paws and Heart) © Bigstock.com


The Only Game in Town

Recently I read an article saying the maker of one of the most popular online Solitaire games has decided to make their game more difficult.

“Too many people are winning,” was the explanation.

Winning what? I read the article to see if this were some sort of competitive site, where people played for cash and prizes. Nope. Just a simple game of Solitaire, with players of all ages whiling away their time on a computer-generated card game.

I suspect the maker has other motives. As an occasional — and okay, sometimes frequent — player of the game, I can tell you, it’s not a competitive thing for me. I do it to relax, unwind. While I don’t win all my games, it’s no fun to lose all of them, either. I don’t want this to be a greater challenge.

I get frustrated with others making decisions for me like this. Why not give players an option? And let’s look at fashion. Why do all the pants have to be either low-rise or high-rise? Can’t there be one season where the fashion-forward, and lesser mortals, can have their choice of styles?

I recognize consumers need change, but variety is nice, too. I’ve noticed a trend toward historical novels about WWII. There are TONS of them. Movies follow a similar path of conformity…and always have. Don’t bother to tell me about non-conformist literature or film. As one of my friends used to say, the non-conformists all look alike.

Ah, I’m being cynical, I know. It all started with a silly game of solitaire…the only game in town…

Image Credits: (Solitaire Headline) ©Argus – stock.adobe.com; (Deck of Cards) ©CS Stock Images – stock.adobe.com




This was one of those weeks.

I’m working a temp job now, one I think I’d like to last awhile. It’s an interesting group I work with, primarily young…and poor. I’m doing admin work, but my desk is smack dab in the middle of a warehouse.

There are a handful of people my age, a few older, but for the most part, of the 120 or so employees there, more than 100 are probably under 35, if not under 30. We get along fine. I’m grateful the man who hired me looked at my skill set and not my wrinkles.

Anyway, the facility manager jokingly told me he thought I was about 33. I don’t kid myself; I know he was joking. But later that day while in line to pay a bill, I was asked for my birthdate, and after giving it, the young man in line behind me said, “Ma’am, I would’ve guessed you to be about 35.”

So I was feeling pretty good.

At church today, I was sitting in back with a woman, her daughter and 4-month-old grandson. I’d never met them before, and this adorable little baby was smiling and flirting with me. Of course I smiled back, and the baby’s grandma asked me, “do your grandchildren live in the area?”

I was so startled, I just said no. I don’t have any grandchildren. I don’t have any children. And yes, friends my age all pretty much have a passel of grandbabies, but no one has ever assumed I was a grandma before.

Where does the truth lie? How old do I look?

Autumn walk

How do we view those around us?

Several years ago, when I was working as a reporter, I covered the local community theater group’s most recent production, and got a wonderful photo during rehearsal of the lead actress. It turned out she’d had some Top 40 hits years ago (don’t ask me what), so I ended up doing a story just about her.

When I interviewed her, I mentioned the photo I’d taken earlier. She frowned.

I asked if she had been unhappy with it, and she said no, it was a good photo. She paused, and added, “I just didn’t think I looked that old.”

I look in the mirror and I trust I see an honest reflection of what I look like, but I know I don’t see myself as others do. That carries over to other aspects of my life as well. I don’t know how people perceive me. I have a pretty good self-image, and I believe I understand my strengths and weaknesses. But I have no idea how I’m viewed by my co-workers, for example.

I’m not talking age here. I’m talking how they see me as a person. Serious or flighty? I can pretty much guarantee they’ll say nice, but how does that translate?

Right before I sat down to write this, I had stopped in the grocery store and ran into a former boss, someone who would have heard lies and rumors about me from a few years back. I was immediately on guard.

No worries. He spun around so quickly it was like a blur. I passed him in the parking lot a few minutes later, and he ignored me.

How does he view me, in light of the falsehoods I know he’s heard?

Girl with a jug

It isn’t something I worry about or feel any great concern over. I have people who know me and love me, and what anyone thinks of me is their business. How they see me is colored by how they see themselves.

I just wonder about it sometimes.

What is important to me is honesty with myself, accepting myself, forgiving myself, improving myself. I want to be better when I turn 60 than I am today.

That’s not too far away…better get on it.

Image credits: © maiko62 – stock.adobe.com


A Handful of Tips and Tricks

The best flavoring a hostess can add to her entrees?

Hungry guests.

Tricks of the trade can give anyone an edge. Here are a few I’ve learned. For some of you, at least some of this information is old hat, but hopefully I can pass along some useful trivia to help make your life a little brighter.

Use triangles in photo composition.

background-2516984_1280They don’t have to be perfectly symmetrical, of course, but three points in a photo that create a triangle make for a pleasing image.

Use parsley to get rid of garlic breath.

Ever wonder what the sprig of parsley is doing on your plate? It’s not just decorative. It’s nature’s breath mint (well, a couple of mint leaves will help too).

Call TV news stations after lunch but before your afternoon siesta.

ReporterWant your local news to cover your event? Generally speaking — and on any given day, this can change — your local television news staff has the most time between 12:30 and 2:30. The morning news program is over, and they still have plenty of time to pull together the evening news. So they have time to listen to your pitch.

Rub a walnut on scratched wood furniture.

walnuts-1049558_640It’s basically the oil in the walnut that does it, of course, but you feel so ingenious doing this.

Baking soda does wonderful things.

Scour out your kitchen sink. Mix it with hydrogen peroxide and gob it on insect bites. Sprinkle it in your shoes. The list goes on and on…

And I’ll say it again, hungry guests are happy eaters.

Any helpful tips you’d like to add?

Image Credits: Triangles, Walnuts and Tip icon courtesy of Pixabay; Background on header © Dreamstime; Reporter © Bigstock.



Heartbreak ‘Round the Bend

I got a surprise call from an old friend today. Surprise, because he called, and surprise, why he called.

Todd* came into my life about 15 years ago when he began dating a friend of mine, Dani.* The two of them were inseparable for several years, seeming to bring out the best in each other and destined for a happy future. As time went by, however, I began to see some cracks in the glossy surface, and when they eventually broke up, I wasn’t surprised.

But it was a shock for Todd, who was inconsolable for years after Dani called it off. In an effort to get over her, he moved back to his former home town, and I hadn’t heard from him, save the occasional Facebook post, for nearly four years.

He’s not over her. He’s moved back to win her heart all over again.

It seems Dani knows nothing of this; in fact, she’s engaged to another man. As Todd points out, they’ve been engaged for more than three years, and she’s well into her thirties. I admit that does seem a bit strange, but I don’t think it’s enough of a sign for Todd to believe she’s still in love with him.

He’s asked for my support as he pursues her. I know Todd. He’s going to believe until the wall tumbles down and buries him. I told him I wouldn’t support anything illegal, unethical or just plain stupid, and Dani is my friend, too (although I’ve been out of contact with her since they broke up).

Right after I hung up from my call with Todd, I heard from Sandy, a mutual friend.

“I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW STUPID HE’S BEING,” she fumed. Apparently, he called her first.

I made my decision right then. Todd has my support.

I don’t believe he’s going to win Dani back, but I believe he’s going to need friends.

I called him once again, told him (sort of) what Sandy said, and promised I’d be there for him. I also told him I had no reason to believe Dani still cared for him, but that wasn’t what was important to me. What did matter was he knew I get it, I know how his mind works, and I believe he’s going to need someone to bounce thoughts off of from time to time.

Like, before he drives by her house at midnight on a Saturday night to see if she’s home or not. He’s 38 years old, for crying out loud. If he’s going to pursue her, he’s going to do it legit.

So we’ll see. I see heartbreak ahead…but until the break is complete, he can’t heal.

*Names, of course, were changed.


Sum Greater than the Parts

When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Explaining synergy gets a little convulated, but basically, it amounts to this: you take two parts and together, they create something that’s worth more than the combined value of the two parts. Two plus two equals five.

I learned of a practical example of this the other day. A co-worker was telling me about his son, an accomplished photographer. While he has the same raw skills with a camera many of his peers possess, he has another skill, one that by itself likely wouldn’t take him far professionally, but enhances his photography skills: he’s a trained hypnotist.

He can help people relax, not by actually hypnotizing them, but by  giving them tips and cues to bring out their natural selves. This talent has brought him high praise, including what has to be one of the top compliments a photographer can receive: “you captured their souls.”

A recent assignment for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation had him shooting pictures of a young woman with that horrible disease for the foundation’s newsletter. The stunning results brought tears to her parent’s eyes, who know they will likely lose their daughter in a few short years. They will have these treasured images to remind them of who she was, inside and out, while here on earth.

I loved hearing about that set of skills and how they combined to bring so much joy to people. It made me wonder how many people out there have two seemingly unrelated talents that together would explode into a rich and rare ability.

In college, we focus on a career path, and that’s a good thing. Goals are important, and seeing into the future helps keep us moving forward. What we don’t know at that age is everything we’re capable of, or even the ways our quirky pasttimes might bring us more glory.

Synergy can happen at any point in our life. Horrible experiences from the past may have resulted in a mindset that opens up a skill we’ve been building on for years, but have hit a roadblock in developing further. There are countless examples of how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts in our lives.

Keep your heart and mind open to possibilities, and never forget your interests belong to you, you have a right to them, and they may just save you in the end.

Photo Credit: (Diamond and Coal) © cherylvb – stock.adobe.com


A Swing and A Smile

Last night the temperature dropped considerably, and when I left for work today, I needed a sweater. First time this season, and much earlier than I anticipated.

It was a mild summer, and now I’m wondering what winter will look like. The snow I can do without — we have so few snow plows in this area, a few flakes and we’re homebound for days. However, I wouldn’t mind some brisk weather.

A good cold snap and beautiful fall leaves. A winning team. A steady paycheck. I’d like to walk around the block with a swing in my step and a smile in my eyes.

I’d like my nails to grow out a bit, instead of constantly tearing off just as they reach a decent length. If I can keep my hair just the way it is… (okay, that won’t happen, but at least I know where I want it).

Cat sniffing flowersA new sofa would be so nice…books pouring out of my bookcase…a solid savings account.

It can happen, it really can. The end of an era is drawing near, and a new one is beginning.

I can’t wait.


Image Credits: © geosap — stock.adobe.com

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