Tag Archives: family life

Furbaby Friday with Author Dee Gatrell


I am happy to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author, Dee Gatrell, to Furbaby Friday to share her wonderful dogs and humorous romantic fiction novel, Sweet Sunset.
 (Icarus)
Dee: Icarus was a 12-year-old, schnauzer. We had him since he was 6 months old from a breeder going out of business. He was an alpha male, and had the eyes that drew  you in. He got along with dogs outside, but wasn’t crazy about them being in the house. After they were here a while he adjusted and just belly growled.
My one daughter had a deaf white boxer. It ticked him off because the dog couldn’t hear him, but sometimes she could feel his growl and get nasty back. Then when that dog died, daughter got a pitbull she named Fireball. Icarus would sit on my husband’s lap doing his Elvis imitation of the lip curl. Fireball laid on the floor in front of them. When Icarus would growl, she’d pick up her head, and toss it back and forth with a big grin. Ticked him off that the pitbull didn’t get angry at him.
A month or so ago we noticed Icarus  had days when he didn’t feel good, but by afternoon he was better. The day came when we noticed him shivering and he pooped black. And two days later he couldn’t get up. Alarmed, I called the vet, and we took him in. She said she expected it to be Zeus, not Icarus. She did x-rays and blood work. His spine had deteriorated and his blood work was off. She said  he was in pain. We made the heartbreaking decision to put him down. We held him and kissed him goodbye. Our vet cried with me. My husband saved his tears until he was home and we didn’t see him.
My husband has cancer, and Icarus was a comfort dog, sitting and sleeping on his lap or stomach. We had him cremated and have his ashes on the bookshelf in a pretty box. My husband admits to talking to him at times, or saying a prayer over him.
 (Zeus and Icarus)
We know Zeus won’t be with us for long. He falls a lot and isn’t eating as well. But he’s still our sweet boy.
I recently decided to get another dog, a rescue. I applied for a dog named JoJo from a rescue shelter. I didn’t really think I’d get him as he had a lot of applications wanting him. He was at a shelter about 40 miles from us. He’s a Maltese and only 10 lbs.
I said I wanted a dog between 1 and 3 years old. They say he’s four. He was found on the street. He has no voice, just makes little noises, and thinks he’s barking at our rescue lab mix. And he has issues with food. They said he was starving when they got him, so now he has anger issue when he sees other dogs with food. We’re working on that, too. But he is sweet. Zeus is nice to him, and that’s good. Poor guy falls down in the house on tile floor, but  he can run in the yard.

(JoJo)

Zeus takes long naps these days. He likes to be with me in the office sleeping on the pillow beside me, where Icarus used to lay, or Ellie. They have lots of pillows, but always want the same ones.
The first two days Icarus was gone, Zeus wouldn’t sleep in the bedroom. I’d find him in the kitchen sleeping on the rug in front of the refrigerator. Now he’s back to the bedroom at night, but not on Icarus’s pillow.

Zeus usually has a happy face. Well, except for this time when he got groomed. I don’t think he was happy with the results. Generally, when I go to pick him up from the vets he’s happy to see me. I swear he snubbed me. At home, it took him a while to warm up to me. OK so he reminds me of my dear Aunt Mildred with the round body and skinny legs. Shhh, if she’s listening from above, she won’t like that description.

(Zeus after his haircut)

When I wrote Sweet Sunset the editor kept saying I had too many folks whose name started with whatever letter. So I changed the main man in the story over and over. Finally I named him Zack. Hey, no one else’s name started with a Z. Then I realized I had Zeus in the story. I decided no one would mix up the man and the dog.

Beth: I love hearing about your dogs, Dee. They are such characters. I’m very sorry about your loss of Icarus. Sweet Sunset sounds great.

Blurb for Sweet Sunset: Myrtle Sue Henderson, widowed, didn’t count on her mother-in-law moving in with her when her husband passed over. But Myrtle Sue’s loopy in-law troubles aren’t her only family baggage-she’s ailed with three adult children who use her like a pair of Depends. With a daughter and two grandchildren attempting to escape an abusive husband, a second daughter who is pregnant with twins, and a son who refuses to grow up, she’s at her wits end.

Myrtle Sue didn’t figure she’d ever meet another man she’d care for, until she went to church to get away from her troubles, only to find more when her mother-in-law causes chaos and hits an elderly man with her cane and helps herself to money out of the collection plate. That’s how she meets Zack. She figures once he meets her dysfunctional family, he’ll run as fast as he can-away from them.

Favorite passage from book:

June finished her food, and pushed her plate away. She gave Hazel a look of pity. “Ya know somethin’, Hazel? You’re full of shit.”

“Huh! You’re just jealous.”

Norma had been pretty quiet, when suddenly it was like she became possessed. Her hands began shaking and her drink sloshed onto the table. She leaned on the table and hissed at Hazel. “Evil, evil! You are soooo evil!”

“Who you calling evil?” Hazel said.

“You are eeeeeevvilllllll!”

“Mother, hush!”

I glanced at Lynn. She glared at her mother. I thought for a minute she was going to stuff her napkin into her mother’s mouth.

Something about my book:

There was a day when I thought only my relatives were dysfunctional, until later when I realized most of us have dysfunctional families. After many years of listening to people talk about their families, Sweet Sunset was born.

I was asked to move my mother from a senior apartment complex. They feared she would burn the place down. She caught her food on fire, exploded cans in the microwave and her doctor suggested I put her into an assisted living facility.

As I grew older, I took a closer look at my own children and friends. Presley was married to a man who broke her eye socket, Sonja is kind and an enabler, Terry looks for love in all the wrong faces. Hmm. Yep, I realized we all have dysfunctional families.

My mom wasn’t Hazel, but she did and said a lot of what Hazel says, like talking about her dead father and how he visited her. How she broke handles off glass cups. To this day none of us can figure out how she did it. June did tell us about her neighbor’s cheap jewelry party and the pole. She was funny.

All writers know we only need to look around us and we’ll find stories everywhere.

I do hope you enjoy Myrtle Sue and her family and friends. Come sit a spell and eat some of the good food they imbibe in.

***Get Sweet Sunset in Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Sunset-Dee-Gatrell-ebook/dp/B01M3QJT75

Twitter: Twitter@deegat41

Blog link: http://deesnews.blogspot.com/

Website link: http://dgatrell.wix.com/author

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Dee a comment.

My Cats Are Super Helpful with Christmas Preparations


christmas-cat-siamese-tabby-mix-with-bow

The holidays can be hectic. Thanks heavens, I’ve got the cats to help me: Peaches, Cream, Pavel, and Percy. Kitty Pavel likes to assist with decorations and gift wrapping. Little escapes his notice. He gets excited when the tree goes up and the wrapping paper, boxes, tissue paper, and bags come out. He likes the crinkly sound paper makes and exploring inside bags and boxes. Also hiding. He’s all about Christmas, unless you have catnip and then he’s easily distracted.

Peaches and Cream are Christmas lovers supreme. They are, however, disappointed that we switched to an artificial Christmas tree (because of my allergies). They will still crunch on the fake branches, though. I hear them ‘crunch, crunch, crunch.’ And ascending the artificial tree is not impossible. Heck no. I’ve greatly reduced the number of ornaments I put on it, and anywhere else in the house within their reach, or I would have camels and wise men carried all over the place. And have. I was constantly retrieving Creche figures and ornaments. Peaches and Cream are what some might consider ‘naughty’. Because of them, far less goes up so they’ve saved me work. Less decorating.
Peaches and Cream

Our older curmudgeonly tabby Percy ignores most of the festivities and keeps my spot warm on the couch. The only problem is that he complains when I want to sit in it, however, he will compromise by sitting on me. Preferably my chest, when I’m trying to write on my laptop. All very helpful. Peaches adores Percy and hangs out with him as much as Percy will tolerate. Even more.

percy-and-peaches-happy-in-a-sunbeam
(Percy and Peaches curled together in a sunbeam)

“Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” ~Robertson Davies

“People who love cats have some of the biggest hearts around.” ~Susan Easterly

“Cats can be cooperative when something feels good, which, to a cat, is the way everything is supposed to feel as much of the time as possible.” ~Roger Caras

“There has never been a cat
Who couldn’t calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair.”
~Rod McKuen

Christmas cat--Siamese Tabby Mix.jpg 2

(Pavel exploring Christmas packages)

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.” ~Bill Dana

“If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up.” ~J.A. McIntosh

Peaches and Cream opening gifts.JPG1
(Note this tree only has lights on it….)

peaches-cream2015-jpg1

(Peaches and Cream into everything)

“Kittens believe that all nature is occupied with their diversion.” ~F.A. Paradis de Moncrif

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” ~Charles Dickens

cream-into-the-presents

(The look on Cream’s face when I caught him in the act.)

“It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming”. ~Adlai Stevenson

I Have A Cheap Fairy Godmother


I got a bunny buck. For those of you ‘not from around here,’  bunny bucks are the vouchers awarded to faithful patrons of a local grocery store. In the weeks preceding Easter, customers receive bunny bucks based on purchases. When you accumulate all seven you get ten dollars off your groceries–or a ham.

Yesterday while shopping there with daughter Elise, I commented that I only needed one more coveted bunny buck, and I hoped it didn’t turn out last year, when, ‘woe unto me,’ I forgot to cash them in. Much lamenting followed–by me. The others bore up. Well, lo and behold, as I’m in the checkout line an elderly woman tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I needed a bunny buck. Why yes!  Magic, right? Then it occurred to me that I’d used up my wish on a bunny buck.  Apparently, I’m alloted a certain number. Not many.

Years ago, when we were poor as church mice, not sure what we’ve gravitated to now, barn rats maybe,  I’d recently given birth to my eldest daughter and had a craving for potato chips–not something our budget extended to.  Generic saltines were the limit and I even made my own crackers. They were pretty bad and live on in family lore.  But back to the longed for chips. Weary, as new mothers are, I took a nap with the wee ones and awoke to discover an Old Order Mennonite neighbor on my doorstep holding a paper bag which she extended to me saying, ‘Our family got together today and made potato chips. As I was passing, I thought you might like some.’

I just stared at her. My wish was granted. We might lose the farm, but by golly I had potato chips. Similar events have led me to the conclusion that sometimes, in the most unexpected ways, my wishes come true. Not the miraculous answer to prayer sort of way, but the kind a fairy Godmother might grant with a wave of her wand. Either I need to be loftier in my wishes or more specific.

Well, we didn’t win the lottery my hubby informed me this morning–he’d actually gone all out and bought two tickets. Nope, I got us a bunny buck.

For Those Who Love the Country and Even Those Who Don’t


Written in a month by month journal style, Shenandoah Watercolors features rural life in the Shenandoah Valley of VirginiaI  enrolled the book in the kindle lending program where you can borrow it for free at this Amazon link.

Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 finalist in the nonfiction category of the EPIC Ebook Awards, ‘Kind of a big deal’ in the publishing world.  Winners to be announced in March.  My American romance Red Bird’s Song is a finalist in the historical romance category.  Fingers crossed for a win!

Back to Shenandoah Watercolors:

“This is perhaps the most beautifully written memoir I’ve ever read. Its lovely and languid descriptions of the picturesque valley, the farm and gardens are equaled only by the charming and funny descriptions of the antics (and conversations!) of the farm animals. What a joy this is to read.”

~Amazon Reviewer C. G.  King

January Excerpt from Shenandoah Watercolors:

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.” ~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pale streaks of mauve feather the western sky above the frozen pond and the golden glow of the sun illuminates the ice as it sinks below the ridges.

The hardcore group of hockey players who’ve been here for hours still whack the puck around the smooth space cleared of snow and a lone couple circle together in one corner, reluctant to leave.

The frigid twilight breeze rustles the dry leaves that cling to the bare branches of the maple and I caught my breath as I trotted Mia past the wintry scene of skaters, timeless in its way. It seems as though the ice will last on and on, but we rarely have more than a week when the pond is frozen hard enough for skating. Weather in the Shenandoah Valley swings back and forth between north and south as though it can’t quite decide which we are.

Considering that my brother John said it was twenty degrees below zero in Vermont, I’d say we qualify as the South, just on the Northern fringes. Our sentiments are decidedly Southern.

Unlike the dedicated skaters, I scurried back inside. If it weren’t for the need to exercise my plump little dog and idle self I’d just lie on the couch like a slug. I’m well into my winter hibernation mode. Every fall I swear this lethargy won’t overcome me, but inevitably it does. Ernest Miggleton remains immune. He’s one pesky kitten since we took the tree down and climbs into the cabinets, raids the trash, steals Elise’s new fuzzy socks, her fluffy dog toy, and annoys the heck out of the big kitties. But all this sport pales in comparison to the daily assaults he launched on that enticing pine, resplendent with baubles hung just for his amusement.

Elise pointed out how seriously bored Ernest was yesterday as he perched eagerly beside her printer waiting for it to whir and buzz magically to life. She’d just finished printing a paper for ninth grade English lit and he was enthralled. Every time she gathered him up he wriggled to get back into position, not wanting to miss anything. So she printed another page, but that only feeds his fetish.

We’re endeavoring to find the little fellow a hobby. He has expressed interest in bird watching, the nurture of mice, and collecting kewl stuff.~

*Our latest kitten rescue is our Siamese mix, Pavel, picture by daughter Elise. *Snow covered Nandina berries photograph by my mom Pat Churchman. *Sunset over the frozen lake I bought from istock because I don’t have a good one on hand and out pond isn’t currently frozen.

*My brother John Churchman is an amazing photographer gaining much long overdo recognition.  For his scenic, artistic images visit: Brickhouse Studios