musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “laughter”

the not fun part of being a writer

Dear Literary Agents,

You want to read and shop my middle grade novel to publishers. It is brilliant! Trust me.

Please contact me in the comment section below.

Thank you.



(I am not jaded at all, why do you ask?)

((I hope this reads as funny as it does in my head. Starting to feel a bit loopy in researching agents.))

the amazing sasha

About 6 or so weeks ago, we adopted a kitten, Sasha, after our old lady Babette died. It took a while for him to come out of hiding because:

1. We locked him in Toots’s bedroom with all his accoutrement to acclimate to his new surroundings without having to deal with the Terrorizing Terrier.

2. We took a while to settle on keeping the outer garage pet door closed and just let Lucy out the back door when she needs to go, other than her walks, rather than blow $120 or more dollars on a magnetic door and collar for Lucy.

3. Toots and Captain Comic terrorized him with their love and curiosity. I’m just glad that didn’t kill him.

4. After I moved Sasha’s box and food to the garage beyond the inner pet door, he stayed out there in the storage stuff (we have no basement, living as we do, on a Coastal Plain) and we couldn’t find him, but his food disappeared and his box had regular evidence of use. I maintain, he became invisible for about a week or so. Cat’s have magical powers.

5. Lucy is still chasing him when he appears periodically anywhere in the house besides the bedrooms. That dog lives up to her breeding, even if she is a mix, she is all terrier. She chases anything smaller than her and some things that aren’t, Toots for instance.

There’s a cat in here somewhere, I can smell him!

6. So are Toots and Captain Comic. And loving him with a death grip that he weirdly relaxes into.

Anyway, he is starting to show his true playful kitten personality, and it turns out he is quite an active and clever cat, besides a stunningly gorgeous black ball of fluff with a tail bigger than himself. He has come up with some tricks.

I will wear a pair of jeans for a couple of days, if sticky peanut butter, etc hands haven’t left their mark. I laid the day old pair with items in pockets on my bed with my outfit the other morning, and Sasha deftly, and just for kicks picked my pockets.   He removed my lip balm first, and took it for a tour of the bedroom floor. Then he hopped back up and picked out the spare pair of ear plugs I usually keep on me for Captain Comic, when he needs to dampen the noise around him. I took it from him, telling him, no, he can’t eat plastic, while he was in the process of disemboweling the package to get to its guts. He immediately proceeded to remove, one at a time, two dimes and a quarter from my pocket.

I just wanted to get dressed, people. I did not think I was training a trick cat.

Last night, he came up with a new trick.

He hopped off the bed and closed the bedroom door, then he mewed and clawed under it like he wanted to get out of the room. I dragged my sleepy disgruntled self out of bed and opened the door for him, and tried to keep Lucy away from him, because, since the cat was on the move, the terrier had to be on the chase. Most nights they stay pretty well on the bed in different quadrants separated by two sets of human legs.

I managed to settle Lucy down back on Honey’s side of the bed. She’s really supposed to be in her crate right next to the bed, moved up from downstairs a couple of years ago because of the all night pleading barking and cage rattling she goes through periodically. We’re both suckers.

I got back under the covers, and almost had a chance to rewarm my pillow, when, sound of door being pushed closed, mews and clawing at door and rug. I got up, and here we go again. This time, I picked up Sasha and placed him outside the bedroom door, held Lucy back with my foot, so that Sasha might descend the stairs in peace, and he swished his pretty self back into the bedroom and behind the door. Settled dog, settled back into bed, wonder what that kooky cat was up to. Sound of door closing, mews, and scratching of wood and carpet.

By then, I wanted to kill him, I really need my sleep. But I would never kill a cat, especially one as clever and pretty as he.

I think we went through a few more rounds of what was clearly a game he was enjoying before I was able to get back to any semblance of sleep.

Clearly I have adopted a Trickster cat.

I needed that much more mayhem to bring me even more joy to my life.



I should have done this years ago. I recently threw Captain Comic into wrestling. It seems just what he needs.

I spend my days grabbing him from the middle school to tote him over to the high school, because as an 8th grader, he qualifies for JV team.

Yesterday evening, they had a clinic with the local shipbuilders apprentice school, so all these huge guys came in to show the kids some moves. It was later than the usual conditioning practices we’ve been doing, and they worked him harder, so he kind of faded, but I could tell he was enjoying it. Besides, one of his peers, below, was really cool about continuing to practice stuff with him, where a lot of the Varsity guys, while good with him, tend to let him fade too soon, when things get a little challenging for him, right when he needs a push the most.

That’s  Captain Comic in orange. Of course, being the Tigers, everything is orange in the gym.

During the apprentice school’s Wrestle-off (to find out who is the starting wrestler in each weight class) after the clinic, he hit his limit- tired, hungry, in a crowd, off-routine,  the high pitched whistle, and a baby started to cry in the stands, so I pulled him out, besides, I was already late to another thing and he needed to study for a Science test. On the way home, we chatted about  wrestling in general and the evening’s events.

Captain Comic: Mom, I just don’t think I’m that into exercise.
Me: Really? Because the sensory feed from it is so great for you, especially in wrestling. It seems the perfect fit for you.
Capt: (Frankengroan)
Me: Promise me you’ll stick it out, til you learn your way around it better through the season?
Capt.: Okay, JUST for the season. ….How long is the season?
Me: Til February.
Capt: FEBRUARY?! Holy Crap!
Me: Please, Buddy? Just give it a try.
Capt: (Frankengroan) Okay…

Besides the exercise, I see him transitioning to the high school better next year…having some familiarity with the building, some friends there to show him around a bit. He’ll be less intimidated than he is right now. The benefits of team building and personal accomplishment from the sport, and its discipline will be great for him, too.  I think he really missed Tae Kwan Do, too. Wrestling is more his style.

children’s book in the making?

The New Cat

We adopted a half grown black cat with a big fluffy tail.
He blinks his stunning green eyes so very pale –
A shadow with lights that beam out of his face,
He hovers in corners with hardly a trace.
Until he opens those eyes and blinks once or twice,
Then he swishes his puff tail at the sight of fake mice.

My girl is four and exclaims in high pitch, “He’s SO CUUUTE!”
And “He’s da cutest fing I’ve ever seen in my life! MEW!”
She slides right in and pulls him from the under the bed.
She hugs him and squeezes him, I’m surprised he’s not dead.
But he’s gentle, subtle, likely absolutely terrified –
Yet he behaves as a gentleman, distinguished and rarified.

He has not scratched her in attempts to escape,
Nor has he attacked her in defense against squishes so great.
He merely peers those green eyes around the room,
Seeks a good enough opportunity to zoom
From her arms, and the nape of her neck,
She squishes and squeezes him, loves him, aw heck.

Her goofy big brother is rough on him, too.
Ceiling thumps and bumps signal he’s doing it, too –
Diving under a bed, and grabbing the cat,
Dragging him, pulling him this way and that.
But when they get him out, pin him and hold him too close,
Scratch under his chin, he loves it, and purrs the most.

That cat just puts up with it, and acts very demure.
He gives up after a few wiggles, and begins to purr.
I’m not suggesting that you treat a cat in this way,
That anything is proper in the way that he stays
And just deals with the tough love that they give –
But my goodness, when they do, he lives!

The dog, hold on, is still kept across a barrier,
After all, Lucy is the Terrorizing Terrier.
We close ourselves in with cat, dog claws at the door.
Poor dog, she barks at us to love her some more.
She barks at the kitty, “Arf! Arf! I can smell you in there!
ARF! Sniff! Trailing down the hall is balls of your hair!”

Sasha the cat is regal, beautiful and sweet,
Don’t call him a girl though, or you just might get beat
By a four year old demon who cuddles to death,
And her brother, the hugger of furry adopted pets.
They love him so much, and frankly I do, too,
He’s the lovingest cat we ever had in this zoo.


Not a bad start, especially since I was supposed to be working on my novel manuscript today.

mayhem, good

Again, we have had a lot – a . LOT. – going on around here, so I will make this short and sweet and add a gallery of a few highlights via cell phone pics.

Last week, I threw Captain Comic into JV Wrestling at the high school. He is taking to it better than a fish to water, his enthusiasm fills me with pride and joy. He is still awkward and funny as he is learning, but he is challenging the toughest biggest guys repeatedly during these couple of pre-season conditioning weeks. Even the Varsity guys are proud of him. The coaches are great with him.

Thursday was Toots’s Pumpkin Farm Field Trip with her preschool class.

This weekend we went on a Fellowship Retreat up in the hills at Pocahontas State Park. It was beautiful, we canoed, roasted marshmallows and froze our tuckuses in the drafty cabins in summer weight sleeping bags. We saw Great Blue Herons, turtles, and a snake climbing a tree. The snake posed best for pictures. Toots was talking about going fishing endlessly from before the trip, and I kept responding that I didn’t know if that was going to happen, maybe someone would have a pole she could use. As it turns out, she found a young boy and his dad fishing at the docks when we went canoeing. The boy was about eight years old and very patiently showed her how to hook a worm and repeatedly dropped a line from the docks, for her to watch fish nibble at the worm. He even caught a sunny at one point, and let her hold it. She was in seventh heaven.

Sunday, we came back in time for the Wrestling Team photo shoot. I didn’t realize Captain Comic didn’t even know what a singlet was. 🙂 I love that there is a girl on their team.

I took all photos with a cellphone. It should be in order of Pumpkin Patch, Pocahontas State Park then Wrestling, but I think things got a little jumbled in the upload. For instance, the yellow leaf on the step of our cabin should be horizontal, not a vertical shot. Toots and Mr. Cynic are sleeping in the car on the ride home Sunday morning, we canoed on Satuday afternoon.

A friend from my fellowship took my boys out canoeing Saturday morning, and brought back a tale of a killer beaver, GNAWS, parodying JAWS that he said the three of them came up with and laughed about the whole time they were canoeing. Apparently he GNAWS trees to fall on campers…It’s funnier when they tell it.

We had a great weekend. I hope you did, too.





parenting 301

Saturday night, at Busch Gardens  Hall-O-Scream, Captain Comic is nearly out of his skin as we head into The Roots of Evil Scare Maze. However, Toots, 10 years his junior declares, “I’m fine, Mom.” Hands on hips. “Dere’s no such sfing as weal ghosts!”

Once inside, Captain Comic and I lose sight of Honey and Toots immediately, and we make our way through lots of hanging damp misty, spooky things. He squinches his eyes shut and walks through with his head down and his shoulders in his ears, anticipating Scarers jumping out at every step. I talk him through it. “It’s less scary if you open your eyes. You can see them before they jump. Lift your head, Open your eyes. Here comes a corner, someone might jump.” In the meantime he is screaming like a 3 year old girl, I am laughing til I am wheezing and a few Scarers understand. He really is enjoying this even though he seems like he may have a heart attack at the ripe old age of 14. So they jump again.

Later, Toots and Honey make it out. Captain Comic and I are catching our breath, me, from laughter, him from utter anxiety and excitement. I am still laughing, Captain is laughing, too, while holding his heart. “Oh boy. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life!” He chuckles again, I am hooting. I declare him the funniest person in the world to go through a haunted maze with.

Toots’s eyes are saucers, and she is clinging to Honey’s shoulder for dear life. Honey declares no one even jumped at them.

Later, we find some kiddie rides and the carousel to bring everyone back to a normal happy state. Toots is riding the horse ride in Scotland, just prior to our exit. She looks like she is falling asleep in the saddle. Captain is standing next to me, swinging from the fence, in a rocking motion. He is not typically a rocker in the Autism behavior spectrum, he’s more of pacer and hugger.

Me: Are you Okay, buddy?

Capt: Nnnnot really. I’m still traumatized from earlier.

He laughs about it with me. He’s going to be fine.


Sunday evening, Mr. Cynic and I attend a show at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, a great jazz Big Band, called The Birdland. Please check if they are going to be playing anywhere near you. This is a live music experience that you should not miss. They are an incredible ensemble of musicians and they bring down the house!

Back to my story: So we get in the car, it is raining, it’s a cold night for southern Virginia. If you don’t know, we moved from Massachusetts in 2006, when Mr. Cynic was 11 years old, now 17.

I look at his short sleeves in the passenger seat.

Me: Really, Bud, no jacket?

Mr. Cynic: This is the weather of my Homeland.


Monday morning I spend in a frustrating chase of info regarding scholarship deadlines, etc for Mr. Fall of Senior Denial, with whom I had such wonderful time the night before. I also simultaneously am scheduling out the rest of my already insane week, when I track down that JV Wrestling, for which  Captain Comic is now eligible as an 8th grader has already started pre-season conditioning practices. He can start NOW– at the same time I need to drop Mr. Cynic at work at the grocery and pick up Toots at preschool, which is the same time Captain’s school bus drops him off on a good day from the middle school. Practice is at the High school.  Hooboy, how am I going to make this work? I shout it to facebook and between drafting Grandma to go pick up Toots while I play Runaround Sue for the boys, I pull it off.

Fair warning to parents of young kids: Enjoy them now, soon they become above insanity, most of which I did not mention, but I think I finally got through to #1 about scholarship deadlines. Another piece of advice: try not to schedule anything at 3PM. Ever.


Captain Comic has been craving physical outlets since he quit Tae Kwan Do a few years ago, and that has been taken out on us in hug attacks galore and wrestling a giant stuffed polar bear in the backyard, hence my searching out about JV Wrestling. Small problem: practices start before the middle school lets out, sport bus from middle school doesn’t start until the regular season starts, so I have a couple of weeks of getting him from middle to high school right when Mr. Cynic usually needs to be dropped off for work and Toots needs to be picked up from preschool. Among other chauffeuring needs…

Captain Comic went to his first practice yesterday. He flung himself into it, no holds barred. After many conditioning exercises, weights, and such, where the coaches and Varsity guys were coaching the new guys and girl on the team, they wanted to show him a few moves and matches so he could have an idea what he was getting himself into.

He took to it more than a fish to water. I’ve never seen anything like it. He didn’t stop, even when the coaches and other guys were out of breath. As soon as he hit the mat, he was back up again and crouched to shake hands to challenge the next guy. Finally I had to call out, “Have you guys had enough of Shea for one day? Because, obviously, he hasn’t had enough yet.” They all laughed and said “Yeah! We have!”

Then he said, “Ew, I’m all sweaty.” And they laughed again and insisted he hasn’t even begun to sweat.

Both of the coaches seemed to know about dealing with kids with disabilities. One coaches the town league, and said he coaches two kids with Downs Syndrome and one with Severe Autism. We confirmed that he would know exactly how to deal with Shea and his Asperger’s very quickly. Both coaches were really open to having him join the team.  He is so ready to do this!

I couldn’t be more exhausted this week, or more proud. And it’s only Tuesday.

we begin again

We all miss Babette very much.

Toots asked sweetly if we could get a new cat. Captain Comic looked at me with big sad eyes and asked what he was going to do when he needed soft. My heart ached for a cat, I expected Babette in all the usual places. A small furry haunting giving us approval for wanting to continue her catness.

I have a friend who had to give up an older cat over a year ago. She had been fostered all this time and in and out of display at Petsmart through the Isle of Wight Humane Society, a no kill organization. She is 10 years old and solid black, two strikes against her in cat adoption, so I wanted to help. I called and left a message, didn’t hear back. On Saturday, I felt a pull to go to Petsmart to see if she was there again. Captain Comic was having a rough morning, doing more than the usual wandering in circles and hovering, so I took him and a cat carrier, just in case, when I dropped Mr. Cynic off at work at his new job with Kroger.

My friend’s cat wasn’t there, but they had half grown kittens in nearly every kennel. Captain and I decided to call the number on a couple of the kittens’ cards for the foster homes. The first call wasn’t available. My heart sank a little, but I thought, it is too soon, after all. I called the next number, and the woman the other end said the one we asked her about was already reserved. I asked about my friend’s cat’s status and that we were interested in her, and she said, “Oh, she was just adopted by a lovely family!  I am so happy for her!”

Having known that cat , she asked what we were looking for – a cat that could tolerate a small terrier on the chase, overly affectionate fourteen year old with Asperger’s and four year old girl. She then asked me if I had noticed the black 5.5 month old kitten named Salem.

He was tucked in the back corner of his kennel, and did not seem happy to be there, but looked very chill, like, “I may not like it here, but I’ve got this.”  Just a pair of spring leaf green eyes blinking in a shadow. The woman on the phone said, “Have you had a chance to see his tail yet? It is very regal.”

The woman on phone said she was on her way there, anyway, with more kittens and to run the adoption on the other kitty, could we meet her back there in about an hour or so?

Captain Comic and I were so excited, and  I wanted to confer with Honey (really for formality’s sake) and on the way home, Captain Comic and I were already falling in love.

Needless to say, I grabbed Honey and Toots after eating some lunch, and we headed back there to adopt him. The many tiny kittens that had arrived were a huge distraction for the kids, but we managed to adopt the older kitten for whom we returned.


He has basically been under Toots’s bed, sequestered in her room from Lucy, the terrorizing terrier since. Also under the bed with him almost constantly have been Toots and Captain Comic. And me, too, from time to time.

He purrs when we scritchy scratchy under his ears and chin. That tail is so regal, he made me think of a Russian Czar with a big fur collar. I asked Toots if she liked the name Sasha (a diminutive of Alexander in Russia – I read way too many 19th Century Russian novels in college). She immediately loved it for him, though she has a little trouble pronouncing it.

We’re letting him acclimate, and he seems to be warming up. We love our Sasha already. And he doesn’t seem to mind us, too much. This morning he came out of hiding and allowed Toots and me to pet him a bunch. He loves to be stroked long along his back and tail, he rolls and purrs into our hands. 


He even ate in front of a small audience. He may just decide to keep us, too.






At 12:31am on August 26th, 1998, my baby, my little monster, the funniest kid in the world came into the world. He had a mug like Edward G. Robinson. He got better looking.

Now he’s bigger than me.

Here are 14 things Captain Comic would like you to know about him:

1. I have a huge collection of Godzilla DVDs and figures.

2. I use the figures to make stop motion movies.

3. I am currently working on an action comedy animatic.

4. I tend to wander, a lot.

5. Mom tells me not to hold the cat, but she’s  SO FLUFFAY!

6. When mom tells me to do something, something else always pops in my head to go do first.

7. Sometimes when Toots bugs me, I want to crush her like one.

8. But I don’t. Mom would kill me.

9. Mr. Cynic is the antihero in my life. He sometimes is a jerk, but also has my back.

10. I love slapstick and campy stuff. The picture above is an example of my humor.

11. I am compulsive about hugs.

12. I wrestle a giant big polar bear plush in the backyard.

13. I feel sympathy for the dog. Well, any dog. People, not so much.

14. THERE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A FOURTEEN! Scratch that. My favorite thing to do is draw comics and make movies on the computer.


Happy birthday, kiddo. I love you and have got your back, too.


After picking up our old stuff in MA, we headed a little south to Connecticut, the state where both Honey and I grew up, though we met in Massachusetts many many many moons later. He was a city boy in New Haven. I grew up south of there in more suburban bucolia. We both grew up on Long Island Sound.

We visited his brother, sister, niece and the rest of their family, including the two adorable little boy cousins who are closest to Toots’s age, but are the next generation. Funny how these things work out, huh? Toots is definitely a second stage of life baby. Her oldest cousins of her generation on both sides are in their twenties. My brothers’ and my kids are spread out pretty evenly from 23 down to 4. But I’m getting lost in my thoughts here, so pictures! Alas, I only seemed to get shots of her little cousins at Honey’s niece’s place.

Again with the two camera loads into the gallery, one of these days I will figure out how to reorder. From the cell camera, we have the little New Haven cousins and Honey’s sister, who is about to have a third grandson!  We had a nice afternoon visit on their father’s birthday, and then we scooted down to my parents’ house where that pic of my brothers and me from 1975 sits out for everyone to view that incredible wardrobe. 🙂

In the mid-80s, my dad, a big tennis player, built a soft court in the backyard. It’s a little hard to keep it up now that he hasn’t played regularly  since his knees and serving shoulder have given up the game, and the berry brambles are taking over from the borders of the yard. Toots loved picking berries with Papa and me and on her own. Mostly the groundhog, deer and birds have eaten the easiest berries to reach.

We retrieved the boys, and visited with my brothers and their families. The younger cousins picked berries together and roamed the yard, and the older cousins talked bands and such. We ate and laughed and shared old misadventures from when we were growing up. Then we got back on the road home and Toots crossed her eyes, and the boys huddled in the back and we crossed the Delaware then Bertha crossed the 100K mark, and eventually we arrived home.

But the day before we got the boys back, my old friend, also named Cathy -we’ve known each other since second grade when one of us was drawing the other’s name in the back baseball field dirt of the school I had just moved to and the other said, hey how did you know my name, and we can’t remember who was which Cathy in that fateful meeting – took Honey, Toots and I and her son to the beach where we grew up.

It was high tide, and that beach has always been popular, but holy cow, not as crowded as that day. But the boats and the swings and the sand and the Sound were the same, though the pavillion has grown and they’ve put weird breakers up in front of it so it seems the pavillion has eaten up half the beach, but I still loved it.We still had a beautiful day, catching little fish in buckets and playing in the sand and chasing sea foam and shooing gulls from our snacks, and just hanging out.

While things change, some things never do, and my daughter played on my beach the same way I did, and some things, like the wind and the sea and the sand rolling into each other are constant, and can always be counted on, even as I move away and grow up and become two families and then one, always one, because these are the things that matter, which is why I didn’t really get pictures of when my family was all together, and I am grateful they are still where I grew up, even if I am too far for many visits.

And that is the end of our epic Summer 2012 East Coast journey north that was only five days, but was just packed. I have the boys back, and we’re revving up to school already, making preparations.

I hope your summer has been full of wide open spaces and adventures and long hazy days, beaches, blue sky, berries, big rains, lightning bugs and night peepers.

surprise in my pic file

Captain Comic created another.

He has been storyboarding in pencil like crazy for a short film to make in stop motion, but he seems to have moved into computer graphics a bit.


I just love his expressions.

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