Monday, June 1, 2020



If I could have one wish, I would be back in my mama's house. I loved her company.  She was a brilliant woman with a wicked sense of humor. I think she knew me better than anyone, although that is easy to say. She knew my many faults but never threw them in my face, but for the most part, she was a delight. We spent many times in the car on the way from one place to another, discussing ethereal topics, her mind wandering as far as mine. She seemed to know no limits in her imagination and I matched hers, finding her a joy. I don’t think I've ever found anyone as fascinating.  

I remember sitting quietly in Grandma Stewart’s kitchen when young, watching Mama cook.  She was a fantastic creator of food. Despite what you had in your kitchen, she would produce a delicious meal.  I asked her how she would feel if I died, and she answered, “I would cry for the rest of my life.” That, to a paranoid kid, meant the world.

She was cooking dinner in a pressure cooker, leaning over to inspect the pot, and it blew up in her face.  I remember her consoling me in my terror, telling me that she would be fine as she was taken to the hospital.  I counted every second until she returned, her face wrapped in gauze.  Luckily, she suffered no real damage.

Another memory…she made wonderful donuts and shook them in a bag of sugar. She loved for me to watch her cook and I loved it as much.

When I was around 12, my parents discovered I could sing.  I hid it from them for a long time, letting them think that it was the radio. She was so proud and engaged a German voice teacher near Chapel Hill to give me lessons.  She would sit in the car and read while I sang.

She was a voracious reader, everything she could get her hands on.  It tickled her when we girls shivered as she told us about Rasputin, the mad monk of Russia.  I've never forgotten the look on her face as she watched our reactions.

She had a good work ethic, often leaving home in later years, traveling several hours away to make a sale.  She made friends easily and virtually no one could resist her charm.

I don’t think she ever met a stranger, no matter what race or nationality.  She had many friends and was a friend to them as well. 

I miss you mom.

Monday, May 25, 2020


Had a really crazy week. Can't wait to see how this one goes. I lightened my mood by looking at funny memes tonight...the laughter was welcome. I and an online friend swapped a few. Some I won't the ones below will still, hopefully, bring a chuckle.

I do love animals, can you tell? 

Life is too short. When you can, find something that amuses you, relax, and have a good laugh. It does wonders for the soul.


Friday, May 22, 2020



I sit and watch as they put out food.
They see me but make no overtures, as they know I will run.
They seem to care, so I come each day and wait.
I can only hope that I will always be welcome,
If only from under a bush.


It sat under a bush, a small, thin ball of fur, and seemed to know instinctively that this was where it should be.  I had watched the cat for several days, putting out food, hoping it would eat, and the third morning, there it was.  I spoke softly as I placed the bowl on the lowest step, and going inside, I watched from the partially closed door. It took a week before it would stay under the bush and not run.  It took another week before it began to trust me enough to let me watch from inside with the door completely open.

One morning, I opened the door to see a tiny flash of orange.  She had kittens!  I placed the food down and went back inside to watch.  Slowly, she came up, tentatively followed by four kittens, one orange, one gray and white, and two orange and white.  What a joy they became!  I looked forward to seeing their tiny faces each morning and grew to love each one.  They began to trust me, letting me touch them, if only for an instant. 

 As the weather was turning colder, my husband and I bought a sleeper for them – a large plastic crate that he cut a hole in, sealing it against the rain. We placed a large towel inside, first insulating it with newspaper underneath. Each day, we would replace the towel with a nice warm one from the dryer.  They slept there all winter, safe from the wind, growing friendlier as time passed. Why didn't I take them in?  We already had two cats that never went out, a dog, a bird, and two ferrets.  Being new at the feral cat experience, I think we were afraid.  

By spring, they were grown, sweet cats but only trusting us.  The little female surprised me one morning with a litter of kittens that I promptly placed with a loving woman who had done cat rescue and lived on a mountain.  What a perfect place. As time passed, the calico gave birth to another litter. I caught them, turning them over to the humane society and a local rescue group and the capable and loving hands of women who became mentors.  I remain grateful for their knowledge and support.

I was able to trap the five cats that formed the “colony” and through the humane society, had them spayed/neutered and inoculated. The last litter that had been born before we could trap the mama became members of our household, loving reminders that although we could not take all, we could at least make a difference for some of them.

I remember, as a child, watching our Siamese cat give birth and wondering at the tiny, helpless forms that filled the bottom of a box my mother had put in her closet.  We watched them grow, playing with them and falling more in love with them each day. When the time came for them to go, we cried, but knew that my mother had found special, loving homes for each one.  Soon after that, she had Belle, our beloved cat, spayed.  When asked why she replied that there weren't enough homes for all the kittens Belle would have.  We took her at her word but would not understand until later in life when we had our own experiences with cats.

My two sisters and I have a special place in our hearts for all animals, but especially cats. We all have several each, my last count in my house was 10. We also take care of ferals whenever we find them, going out of our way to feed them and look after them as best we can.  

We don’t look for a 'pat on the back'.  We do what we do as a small appreciation for regal, beautiful creatures that don't ask for their lot in life and return love and affection whenever it is given, even from under a bush.

Barbara Chioffi

Links for the Blogs Participating In The Tour:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Good afternoon. Nothing like a nature walk to invigorate us, especially in the current situation. Today's images will hopefully inspire you to explore your surroundings and bring calmness to your soul.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020


In a previous post, I referred to music as a stress reliever. Music isn't only for stress relief, it is my sanctuary. When I write, when I can’t, when days are sunny or filled with storms, music has been my constant companion. This quote by Maya Angelou expresses it best.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back against loneliness.”

This quote from The Writer's Circle by Anthony Neilson is also meaningful:

"Listen to music to find a way into the story you're telling. Music is incredibly evocative; find the piece that reflects the world you're writing about and you're halfway there."

My mom once told me my first word was ‘book’. She said I’d walk around wanting everyone to read to me, so she taught me how at a very early age. I then discovered music and my world was complete. Being able to see any book I'm reading on my mental screen is a gift, but being able to visualize music in colors and patterns as I’m listening is a treasure.

Everyone has their favorite genre. I, myself, like a little of everything. I play before writing, choosing music to suit the part of the story I'm working on. Then I play as I write, and when the words flow, it's a beautiful thing.

For example, when I'm aiming for an epic paranormal theme, I might listen to something like this:

Need a little highlander in your life....try this.


Music is powerful. It can lift your spirits, enable your talent, and give you vision. Explore the available music services and create your own magic.


Monday, May 18, 2020


Today, I share a portion of a letter dated 1889 written by my great-great-grandmother, and yes, I have the original in its envelope, as well as others. I treasure these letters that speak of what we would consider mundane things... coach rides to town, Sunday church services, the state of  friends and relatives, and so much more. 

My dear daughter,

It is night, past nine o'clock, and your Pa has just come into his room where he has a good fire. He is all alone with a candle on a little stand and is writing to his sweet child. He got a letter yesterday from Cousin Annie and one from Sister. He was sorry to hear that Aunt Mary is ill and my dear daughter's throat is not yet well.

It has turned cold today, but I have a good piney woods fire to go to bed by. I hope that you also have fire to warm your feet. Little Herndon is down on the hearth keeping me company. He has been at school only four months and reads very well, writes some, and spells wonderfully for his age and time at school.

I'm not much of a walker these days, having broken myself down last summer going up the mountain to your watermelon patch. I would never have gotten to the top if it weren't for you and Alex. He pulled and you pushed and at last I found myself on the top. It was a spectacular view.

I'm getting a little cold and will stop writing for this time. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain as ever your loving and affectionate...


Times like these are long gone but the sweetness and simplicity of the words live on.


Friday, May 15, 2020


Ah, the favorite animal. Today, I'll share my fur children with you, all ten of them - seven of my own and three inherited from my son and his fiancé when they moved.

TEN! you say...not so much when taking care of them is a labor of love. A routine helps, plus separating several who would cause mayhem or have mayhem done to them. 


    Morning: 1. Turn on coffee...oh yes, must have fortification.
                     2. Open blinds, let sun in. Stand in window and
                        greet the day.
                     3. Rinse and refill cat water bowl.
                     4. Change cat boxes.
                     5. Divide cat food into three important step.                                    They know their spots, two to each bowl.
                     6. Place food on floor. Step back. :)
                     7. Make coffee. Ahhhhhhhh.
                     8. Relax in living room with morning news.
                     9. Playtime during the day with toys and red dot. :)
     Evening: 1. Feed basement cats. They have dry one day, wet the
                     2. Refill dry food bowl for first floor cats.
                     2. Clean and refill water bowls for all.
                     3. Clean boxes for all.
                    4. Playtime with red dot. :)


So little pampering, rewarded with a lifetime of purrs and love.