My cat, the extortionist.

The other cats seem to actively avoid my cat Pepper in our neighbourhood.
Initially, I was indignant for her.

Why is my cat the outcast?! Why is she not invited to play in their reindeer games? Cat-Bullies!

Lately, my opinion has shifted.  She’s often out overnight. In the morning, she proudly deposits her conquests on our doormat.  But she’s so consistent, it makes me wonder.  Cats have off days, don’t they?

I got to thinking maybe she’s getting her ‘nights take’ from other cats.  Maybe she’s actually the cat version of Don Corleone. She’s an EXTORTIONIST!

The other cats seem to keep a good distance from our yard.  Cats I once perceived as bullies now look scared. They give Pepper an especially wide berth.

This week, I found a sizeable chunk of NOT HER OWN kitty fur in her claws. I’m not saying what colour the fur is in case my neighbours read this. (They likely don’t, but one can’t be too careful if your cat is Don Corleone).

She meows like a juker if we don’t let her out at night.


Cat Gangsters

I think Pepper’s cat-gang toadies are expecting their leader.


I can see the scene now:

Damn it, Blackie. I said two chipmunks this week. All you bring me is this raggedy mouse head? You know I love you like family but this?  This can’t go on. You insult me.  You insult my family.  What am I supposed to bring them? When you bring me this?

Just saying, she looks guilty as hell.


Don Corleone



Why am I hugging you?!

Every Thursday in going to get Thankful up in here! (Up in here!) Stay tuned on Thursdays for thankful posts. I’m not religious or whatever. Just thankful for tons of stuff. I’d love to hear from you about things for which you are thankful.

Given my vertigo, here are a few things I’m thankful for lately:

Slip-on shoes. Bending down has so not been happening these past weeks. Flat slip-on shoes for the win!

Netflix. Though I’m normally a Netflix junkie, I’ve ripped through my share of whole, entire series of shows lately. A friend of mine offered like 3 new series up to me recently and I was able to answer -affecting nonchalance that I’d already seen them all! (Kind of embarrassed about that-don’t I have other I interests?!)

Sturdy, kind people. In my adventures out in the world these past few weeks, many people, sometimes complete strangers, have seen me standing uncertainly at the top of the stairs and have offered to lend me a hand.
Case in point, my extremely busy doctor kindly took me by the arm and walked me down the hallway and waited with me as my partner nipped the car out of the lot.

As I’m lurching along through these moments, I’m touched. I want to hug these people as they try to get on their way. Such kindness!

Those of you who know me well, know I’m no hugger. I’m blaming the vertigo for turning me into this huggy-type person. Odd side effect, that.

Thankful Thursday! What are you thankful for?


‘It’s a long, long road to recovery from here. A long way back to the light. It’s long, long road to recovery from here. A long way to getting it right.- Recovery, Frank Turner

It’s true for so many of us in so many ways. We’re all recovering from something. I think the lyrics that Frank Turner sings here really hit the nail on the head.

Darling, Sweet Lover, won’t you help me to recover? Darling, Sweet Lover, someday this will all be over. – Recovery, Frank Turner

Here’s the video:


I find the video unsettling though. It seems incongruent with the angst of the song. Almost as if the director either didn’t get the song or tried to smooth over a different intention to the song. ‘Yeah, see, this is a song everyone can relate to- and it’s bouncy. Let’s show people bouncing around!’

No. I wanted angst, thank you. Heart twisting, drag your heart slowly on the concrete style angst. The song starts with a guy who is taking downers after a bender. Yeesh. Not a lot of bouncy dancing going on there.



Vertigo and Cheerios.

Turns out you need far fewer things than you think you need. With my ears and brain fighting a war about which way is up, turns out Apple Cinnamon Cheerios are the answer to everything I need. Slightly sweet and crunchy-they require no milk when eaten by the handful and are delicious. They settle my stomach and make me feel halfway normal. This is an enormously satisfying feeling -especially when you can’t look up or down without feeling quite dizzy.


Vertigo and Creativity.

So, I’ve been suffering from my first attack of vertigo and its launch was a doozy. The effects are far less severe than when they started but I’m still quite wobbly and my partner has stayed home with me today, lest I tumble into the fridge or down the stairs.


Fortunately, for my creative brain, it’s left me pretty immobile and has forced me to use my inner resources for entertainment. Well, that and the Internet. I’ve been forced to think about my whole wrestling with creativity thing. I think I just need to plant a seed in the ground (is that even a phrase?) and get started.


So I will. So there.



Tips for your first Disney World trip

Let’s start off by stating that my family and I really love Disney.  We’re letting our Disney flag fly, baby!


Here are a few tips that will make your first trip to Disney World easier.

Plan ahead.

Disney World has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and Downtown Disney (an outdoor mall).   There are hundreds and hundreds of  experiences to be had.  We’ve been there for at least 10 trips.  We still haven’t seen it all.    If you plan ahead a little you can have a pretty awesome vacation.  We generally plan for at least 2 days at the Magic Kingdom, 1 day for Animal Kingdom, 1 day at Hollywood Studios, 1-2 days for Epcot and 1 down/resort day.  Your mileage may vary.  Check out our :sample schedule for interwebz.  Granted, that’s a pretty specific schedule but it keeps all my dining reservations and tentative plans together in one place.

Advance Dining Reservations.

The theme parks all have sit down restaurants.  Some have Character Dining.  If you want to eat in air conditioned comfort or have your kids meet a specific Disney character, make a dining reservation.  There really is nothing like seeing your kid light up when they see their favourite character.  There are options for Character Dining at every park and most resorts. Princesses? Mickey and Friends? Winnie the Pooh and his lot? Lilo and Stitch?  You can dine and take pictures with them! We don’t bother with the in-park line ups for Character pictures.  We have a sit down meal.  The characters come to you.  If this appeals to you, you can make dining reservations 180 days before you arrive if you stay on property.  Which leads me to the next thing.



Stay on property.

Really.  Disney has a lot of resorts  that are affordable.  For a whole host of reasons, staying on property will maximize your ‘magical experience’.  The resort staff work pretty hard at making your experience excellent.    Staying on property also affords you early access to dining reservations, fast passes and the free disney transit system – a monorail, bus and ferry system that move you around from resort to park to park.  If you’re renting a car, staying at a resort ensures your parking is free for the duration of your stay at any Disney theme park.  Otherwise, if you stay off-property, parking at the parks is $15/day.  Wah-wahn.  It’s expensive enough already.



Make time for Wishes.

It’s the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom. It’s just magical.  Get a spot early where you can see the castle, maybe get a snack and revel in the magic of Wishes.  At least once.


Fast Passes.

These passes put you into the ‘front of the line’ line for rides.  If you’re staying onsite, you can book these ahead of time online.  If you aren’t staying on property, you can book them in at Fastpass Kiosks when you arrive in the parks.  This way if your kid *has* to ride Dumbo or Space Mountain, you know that you’ll definitely get onto it without a 2 hour wait.  Use them!


Drink Water.

It’s hot there for us Canadians.  We usually pick up a case of water or two on our way in to Disney World or you can have water and a few groceries sent to your hotel room with Garden Grocer.  Check them out at


I don’t know about your family but we get ‘hangry’.  There’s a lot to see and do.  We get excited and forget to eat regularly.  Have snacks with you to keep your energy up. Snacks are kind of expensive at Disney.  Along with our water, we usually bring clif bars, fishy crackers or some fruit.  We have been known to have an excellent Dole Whip from time to time.  A Dole Whip is a frozen desert that you can find in Adventureland.  It tastes like heavenly pineapple and it is hands-down my favourite thing to eat at Disney World.  I have been known to abandon my family, cross the park on my own just to pick one up.

See, I look pretty happy, non?



If your kids are still small enough (or even not), bring, borrow or rent a stroller. The parks are large and it’s a ridiculous amount of walking. You’ll see tons of big kids taking a break in their old strollers when it’s hot. It’s also nice to have a ‘home base’ for your stuff that no one really wants to carry – extra water, stuff you buy, hoodies for a cool evening.   There’s stroller parking everywhere.   We rented strollers in the past.  We liked Kingdom Strollers and Orlando Stroller rentals.  Both of these are reliable local companies that deal with Disney Resorts every day.

Avoid the peak times.

We plan to be in the park either early in the morning or late in the day.  We avoid 12-4 generally. Usually, we go to a park early then go back to the resort for food, rest and a swim.  Sometimes, we hit another park after dinner for rides, parades and fireworks.

Extra Magic Hours.

If you’re staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours.  For resort guests, most days, selected Disney parks either open early or stay open a couple of hours later.   It’s worth it.  The lines are nearly non-existent.  You can get on so many rides without much of a wait at all.  As a rule, we generally never spend ANY more than 10-15 minutes on a line.   To us, we’re on vacation.   We don’t stand in lines if we can help it. We’d sooner be eating ice cream.  🙂

Be Flexible.

Yeah, yeah.  I just spend the last 10 things telling you that planning ahead is your friend.  It is.  By the same token, go with the flow.  Stuff is gonna happen.  You’re gonna miss a dining reservation or a ride will be closed.  Someone will be too tired/hot/fussy to go on.  Relax.  It’s Disney World.  It’ll be here when you decide to come back.

This is a pretty general overview.  Each one of these suggestions could be its own topic with sub-headings.  Have you been to Disney?   What do you think?  What other tips am I missing here?

What more can I tell you about planning your first trip to Disney?

Make your comments below!