Meet Carmen

The family PRINCESS!!!

When Shantel wanted a pet, we agreed as a family to get a cat because at the time, both Bill and I worked outside of the home, and Shantel was in school all day. We all agreed that it wouldn’t be fair to have a dog and leave it home all day alone. In addition, cats are quiet, they don’t need to be walked, and you can leave them alone for a day or two as long as you leave enough food and water for them while you are gone.

When we first brought Carmen home, eight years ago, she was only four months old. Of course, Shantel wanted to carry her around the house and tried to make Carmen stay in her room like our other cat, Nikki, would let her do. Now, keep in mind, Nikki was already eight years old, and blind, when we brought her home. Nikki loved to be near people and was very much a lap cat. Since Nikki was the only cat our family ever had, when she died, and Shantel decided she wanted another cat, she thought all cats were going to be like Nikki and just sit on your lap and let you pet them and carry them around…NOT!!!

Carmen is very much her own cat. She likes to decide what she will do and when. I tried for a very long time to tell Shantel if she would just leave Carmen alone, Carmen would come to her when she was ready. But, Shantel didn’t listen to me and kept trying to pick Carmen up until Carmen would “nip” at Shantel. Now if you ask Shantel what Carmen does when she tries to pick her up or pet her…Shantel will tell you Carmen tries to “kill” her. She says Carmen attacks her and tries to bit her arm off…Shantel says Carmen is “an evil beast that hates her”. I tell Shantel that if Carmen wanted to hurt her she is fast as lightning and has claws as sharp as razors. I know this because I accidentally scared Carmen one night, by accident, when she was very young and she took a swipe at me, caught my forearm and drew blood, a lot of blood. After Carmen realized that I didn’t mean to hurt her, she came back over to me and was very sorry that she hurt me and we bonded right then and there. I understand Carmen and she understands me…we have a mutual respect for each other and it drives Shantel wild… .)

Carmen has her own special personality and I try to explain it to Shantel but she doesn’t believe me. Shantel says I’m making up all the quirky little things Carmen does.

Carmen loves her feather bird and will bring it out and play with it when we are gone. I will leave it in one place for her when I leave the house but when I get home I always find it has been moved to another area. She loves to play with it when we are gone but rarely ever plays with it when we are home. Shantel tells me Carmen cries when ever I am gone. I ask her if she tried to give Carmen her feather bird but Shantel says that’s stupid and I’m not making that stuffed bird her security blanket… No bonding going on there!

Carmen loves to play chase. When I am walking into a room, she will start running ahead me. I run after her and she will hide. Then when I start to leave the room, she will dash out again and want me to chase her again. We do this over and over until I decide I’m tired and sit down. Then, Carmen will cry until I go talk to her.

After a full day of play, Carmen likes to take a nap. If I walk into the room before she is asleep, she will always turn over and want me to rub her tummy…Again, Shantel thinks I make this stuff up but see for yourself:)

Carmen comes and sits beside me every afternoon and wants me to scratch her back and under her chin. She also comes in and sits on the bathroom sink and waits patiently while I take my shower every morning. Then, when I get out of the shower, she likes to lick the hot water off the side of the tub. I tell Shantel it’s like Carmen is coming in to have her morning “coffee” with me only it’s just hot water. Shantel says “OMG, this just keeps getting worse and worse… Funny thing is Carmen doesn’t do this when Shantel or Bill take their showers…BONDING!!!

Carmen loves tuna. So whenever I make myself a tuna salad, I always give Carmen a little pinch of the tuna to eat. Now, as soon as  I sit a can of tuna on the kitchen counter, Carmen will coming running, she can even hear that tuna can touch the counter when she is napping and will come out and rub against my legs and meow until I put a little pinch in her food dish.

Carmen knows several words or phrases. When I say “do you want to go to bed”? Carmen will run and get on the end of the bed so she can sleep right at my feet.  She also knows when it’s time for her dinner and will sit in the kitchen looking up at the counter until 4:00 P.M. when I put her food in her dish. She also knows exactly what time I get  up every morning but she doesn’t like to hear the alarm go off so at exactly 4:28 A.M. she will come and start nudging my face to make sure I’m awake so I can shut the alarm off so it doesn’t scare her. She really is a very smart cat and it just drives Shantel wild that Carmen and I have developed this special bond.

Carmen was very co-operative while I was doing her photo sessions for this blog post, but when she decides she has had enough, she will give you a look that lets you know “enough already“…

When Shantel gets home from school everyday the first thing she says is “where is that beast”…I tell her all the beasts I know of live in Africa…then Shantel will say “you know what I mean…but I make sure she asks where Carmen is by name because I tell her Carmen gets her feelings hurt when Shantel calls her names…Shantel just shakes her head and says “OMG, this is just ridiculous, and I know other people don’t talk to their pets and treat them like you do”…I don’t know about that my friends…what do you all think? Do any of you talk to your pets? Are you bonded with them?

Stay tuned!


I received a response today from “Anonymous” sent from “ regarding my blog posting on April 18th titled “Letting go of My Katie“. I want to respond and dedicate this blog post toAnonymous”.

Dear Anonymous,

I wondered when you would stop by. I’ve known you were out there and I so hoped you would stop by my site one day. It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard from you. When I read your response to my blog posting “letting go of my Katie” I had the very strong feeling I’ve known you for a very long time, and more importantly, that you are someone who I love.

Now,”anonymous”,  in response to the comments you left regarding my blog post “letting go of my Katie”, there are just a few things you need to know about blogs. The first thing is that when you own a blog, as I own this blog, you pay for the domain and you have full control over the contents of the blog you own including approving any comments that you allow to post to your blog. If I don’t approve your comments they don’t post to my blog, so the only person who sees them is me. That said, I want you to know that I am pleased you stopped by my blog site, and that you want to leave your comments. I welcome all comments, even when the person leaving the comment has a different opinion than mine. I love hearing what my readers have to say. However, I do have a slight reservation about “anonymous” responses only because I find people who want to be “anonymous” tend to have a lot to say and they sometimes come across as being very defensive, guilt will sometimes do that to people, but they don’t really want to own their words. No, they want to say things but hide behind “anonymous”. I say what I mean and mean what I say and I will put my name to my words. So, here are some thoughts for you to consider “anonymous”…

I will be happy to approve your comments but first you need to understand the rules I have for leaving comments on my blog. It’s like blog etiquette 101 if you will. First of all, I don’t post ghetto slang. No,  If you want your comments approved to post to my blog, you need to use proper English including full words and complete sentences. Second, I will not approve potty mouth comments, so if you want your comments approved to post to my blog, you need to respond in such a way that is not offensive to my readers. I will not approve comments that contain cursing so you will need to work on cleaning up how you talk. That said, anonymous, if you would like to go back and clean up your language and try to create a response that conveys dignity and respect both to me and my readers, and if you would like to own your words and leave me your name, I will be happy to approve any comments you want to leave.

I will leave you now, anonymous, with those thoughts to consider. I do want to thank you, anonymous,  for stopping my blog and I do so hope you will clean up your comments so I can share them with my readers. Until then please know that I still love you!

Stay tuned!

Let’s Take a Walk

I love to take long walks. Do you?

I have a very dear friend, who is a great photographer, and lives in New York City. I call her my frissy, because she is more like a sister to me than a friend. Frissy walks all over Manhattan everyday taking  absolutely beautiful photographs of her beautiful city. She also belongs to several photography blogs and takes all kinds of photography classes. I am by no means a photographer, never studied it, and don’t plan to, but I do want to post pictures to my blog so I am still practicing, practicing, practicing, on different ways to use my little Costco Lumix 10x optical zoom camera. Now, keep in mind my dear friends, until a week ago, I didn’t even know I had a memory card in my camera. But, I am a pretty fast study and I pay attention to things once I discover them or when someone shares new things with me.  One of the things I learned from frissy is that sometimes  photography has a theme of some sort…so as I went for my walk this morning I decided I would take pictures of my route to share my beautiful neighborhood with you as this will also give me more practice posting the photos to my blog…win/win right?  I also decided to make my photography theme “curves“. So, as I walked around my beautiful Chandler, Arizona, neighborhood areas, I looked for as many things displaying curves as I could find. It had just rained prior to my walk and in fact, it was still sprinkling as I was walking. Let me just add here that there is absolutely nothing that smells better to me than my beautiful Arizona desert when it’s raining or just after a good rain. I LOVE that smell:)

I am going to dedicate this blog to my frissy, and her love of photography. If my passion was photography frissy I would want to be just like you when I grow up…thanks for sharing all your beautiful shots on your blog Now, my dear readers/friends if you want to see spectacular photography check out my frissy’s blog site from the link above. I am so very proud of her and her work.

Now, back to my walk. Here is what I saw today. Let me know what you think of my beautiful neighborhood…

This is a lovely park in the center of my neighborhood. I happened to notice the path going through the park curves and the trees have curves too. Do you see that?

Then, I came across this beautiful tree. Wow, look at all the curves it has. It’s amazing what you will notice when you really look for things…

This is just a palm tree. I hate palm trees because scorpions live in them and we all know I HATE scorpions!!! But, the palm tree does have some slight curves to it so it fit into my theme:)

Throughout my neighborhood there are lots of walking/bike trails that run behind houses. The city maintains these areas with beautiful flowers and trees and they even put little baby stop signs out to remind us to stop and look both ways before we come out of our walking area, cross the street, and get back into the next walking/biking area. We wouldn’t want to get ourselves killed… How thoughtful of them don’t you think?

This is more of the walking/bike paths lined with beautiful, lush shrubs and more curves!

Even the trees seem to bow down to greet you as you pass by and display more curves:)

But, when you leave the beautiful, lush, walk/bike paths you will find the rush hour jungle awaits you. I’m just glad I don’t have to be in that today because Shantel is out of school on Friday’s:) Not too many curves here but there are a few if you look closely…

I love the fact that we have some wide open spaces around our neighborhood but my daughter, Shantel, thinks this means we live in the middle of a field. It doesn’t help my case of trying to convince her we don’t live in a field when she can sometimes smell the dairy farm at night that is just a few miles down the road from us…see any curves in this open field?

This is my beautiful early morning Arizona sunrise that greets me every morning as I leave for my daily walks Lots of curves there do you see them?

This is just across the street from where I live. I love the beautiful contrast of flowers, greenery, and the “curves” of the rock as well as the waterfall springing out of the “S”…more curves.

And here we are back at my little ranch. I have a beautiful bounty of curves right in my front yard and when all these beautiful shrubs are blooming I have an explosion of colors to brighten my days. Thanks for joining me on my walk. See you tomorrow!

A Sense of Humor

Makes all the difference in the world!

My daughter, Shantel, has the most remarkable sense of humor and I thank God everyday for her ability to see the lighter side of life.

Being bi-racial, Shantel has beautiful hair. Just curly enough to look like what many woman pay big bucks to achieve but not so curly that she can’t manage it. She got her hair relaxed for a while but after realizing how damaging it was to her hair she stopped relaxing it and just has it flat ironed from time to time. She spends hours, and hours, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much money on her hair and hair products. She just recently started getting highlights put in her hair. I think it looks nice, but I really prefer her natural, un-tampered with, color.. But, I’m just mom and what do I know…? Anyway, Shantel is due to have her highlights re-done in two weeks, and she asked me if I would mind taking her for her hair appointment on a Saturday. I told her I would be happy to take her. Next, she asked me if I would mind taking her to the “YES” store after her hair appointment to buy more hair products. I agreed to that as well. Then, she started smiling and said “I really don’t like going into that “YES” store after I get my hair done because everyone in there always wants to come over and look at and touch my hair and it makes me feel like a cheeseburger in Somalia! I laughed and thought what a crack-up she is!

It’s raining here today in beautiful Arizona but that won’t stop Shantel from wearing her high heel shoes to school. As she was walking around the house this morning, getting ready for school, I noticed her leaning forward somewhat as she walked. I looked at her feet and noticed her toes were sticking out of her open toe high heel shoes. Not only were they sticking out of the high heels, they were actually beyond the edge of the shoe and touching the floor. I asked Shantel if those high heels hurt her feet and without missing a beat, she said ” yes, the shoes do hurt but I just deal with it, it’s what everyone has to do”. Oh, I remember day’s in Corporate America like that but I always had a back-up pair of comfortable shoes in my car, just in case…:)

When I take Shantel to school in the mornings, I walk sighted guide with her through the parking lot and get her to the Student Center that she uses as a landmark to help her find her bearings to manage her route to her classes. Once we get to the Student Center, she says good-bye and I leave to go about my day…but, for some reason, this morning, when I was about halfway to my car, I turned around to look at Shantel and noticed she had somehow missed her mark to begin her route to her first class and she was now turned in the wrong direction and actually walking in circles. I watched her for a few minutes to see if she would correct herself but when she didn’t, I started back to go help her. My heart ached for her and my eyes filled with tears as I watched her fumbling to find her way. Then, all of a sudden, she found her mark, corrected herself, and went on her way….as I turned to leave, again, for some reason, all I could think of was “cheeseburgers in Somalia” and through my tears, I smiled as I thought about what a strong, beautiful, young woman she has become!

This is my beautiful, precious, Shantel, in her high heel shoes

And this is Shantel’s beautiful, expensive, hair… P.S she actually said I could post these pictures…!

Velveteen Loves Hug-a-Muffin

And I love Velveteen!

If you go back to my blog post # 13 you will be reminded about how a little stuffed green and yellow rabbit that my daughter, Shantel, named Velveteen, opened the door for miracles to happen many times over when my husband, Bill and I were helping Shantel get through chemo treatments and the surgeries to remove her eyes when she lost her sight to that horrible disease.

When Shantel was going through her chemo treatments, three different kinds of chemo, three times a week, for four and a half months, she would get so nervous that she would pick, pick, pick at Velveteen’s ears. And I can’t tell you how many times I sewed his tail back on.

Velveteen’s girlfriend, Hug-a-Muffin, didn’t like to go to chemo treatments with us. She was afraid of needles so she would always stay home and wait for our return. Hug-a-Muffin didn’t go on vacation trips with us either because she didn’t like to travel. Only Velveteen was brave enough to venture out of our home.

Every Sunday, after church and after the kitchen was cleaned up from having breakfast, Shantel, Velveteen, Hug-a-Muffin and I would gather around the kitchen table (or on the table) and have a tea party. Shantel thought it was so much fun to pour tea for everyone, and of course, everyone had to have two cookies….that meant that she got to eat what Velveteen and Hug-a-muffin couldn’t…:) Once I learned that trick, I started buying miniature cookies for our tea parties which didn’t go over as well because, of course, Velveteen would always say he wanted the other cookies… but, I was able to convince “him” that it was mini cookies or none…funny how “he” seemed to decide he would eat the mini cookies:)

Now that I know how to post pictures to my blog, I thought you all might like to see Velveteen and Hug-a-Muffin so I dedicate this post to them for all the help they provided getting us through some very hard times and all the joy they brought into our lives.

If you look at my post from yesterday that shows my family room, and click on the picture that shows the wall with TV on it (it will enlarge) and you will see that Velveteen and Hug-a-Muffin both have a place of honor in our home and always will. They are sitting on the wall shelf just above the TV. Shantel may have out grown them, but I NEVER will::: 🙂

This is Velveteen.

Velveteen’s ear’s picked clean!

This is Velveteen’s girlfriend, Hug-a-Muffin

Sunday Tea Parties. Notice the hats because all ladies attending Tea Parties wear pretty hats! These were Shantel’s hats she wore when she lost all her hair from the chemo treatments. She would insist on wearing them to church and our Tea Parties…What precious moments!!!

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

This is the last of the virtual tour of our new home. Hopefully, by now, I have had enough practice posting pictures to my blog that I will remember what to do from now on as I wouldn’t want to have to re-learn all of this again…

Of course I couldn’t show our daughter, Shantel’s, room and guest bathroom (she claims that as her own as well…) because I promised her I wouldn’t take pictures of “her rooms”.

As you can see, I love rustic western decor, and I love repurposing things in new ways. For example, in our family room I didn’t want a “typical” coffee table so instead I bought a rustic bench and it servers both as a coffee table and when we have large groups of people over it  provides extra seating. I also have a large tree pot that I bought in a garden store. I loved it because it has steer heads all around it so I put it in the family room with a glass top on it and put a lace topper on it and it makes the perfect side table…

I want people to feel warm and welcomed in my home and not be afraid to touch things. This works out very well in our home since our daughter, Shantel, has to touch everything in order to get around:)

My husband, Bill, and I love to entertain and are always happy when folks drop by to visit. We always have something cold ready to drink, and it doesn’t take me long at all to whip up something to munch on. So, if you ever find yourself anywhere near our ranch, please, do, drop in.

My home is where my heart is and my happiness is when my home is filled with family and friends!!!

Family Room

Family Room

Master Bedroom

Living Room

Living Room/Dining Area

My Oasis

What better way to start and end the day than swimming laps in the waterfall pool and having breakfast on the patio. Then, after a full day of taking care of business, mine, mom’s and Shantel’s…. relax in my cocoon, happy hour at the pub table…then, after dinner, having coffee on the patio while watching the sun set over my beautiful oasis… Life really is what you make of it isn’t it?

I think I am starting to get the hang of posting pictures now. It only takes me a few minutes to remember what I am supposed to do as opposed to three days trying to get one shot from the camera to the blog post. I hope you enjoy the tour of my beautiful new, scorpion free (for over a month now) home. I will continue to practice with pictures of the living room and master bedroom, but Shantel said no go on taking pictures of her room…some people are so private aren’t they? You can all know she didn’t get that from me…my life is an open book because I believe if you have nothing to hide…you hide nothing right?

Stay tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random in

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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