“Where is Emmy?”

Usually when our Emmy hears the sound of a door knob turning around 5 o’clock, she scampers down the hallway and rounds the corner into the entranceway.  Three days ago, my husband returned home like any other day.

“Hi!”, I yelled from the kitchen.  “Did Emmy greet you?”

“I don’t see her.”

“Hmmm…that’s funny.  The last time I saw her was around 4 o’clock and she was out on the deck standing on the other side of the railing.”

We have a deck that was built off our kitchen, which is on the second floor of a two family apartment; one family upstairs, one family downstairs.  My husband and I live upstairs.  When the weather is nice, I open the door and let our two kitties Nigel and Emmy enjoy the outdoors, or as close as they can get to it, and all its’ ambiance.  There are a lot of maple leaves on the ground below right now and the squirrels just love to chase each other through the crunchy leaves, up the trees, down the trees and again through the leaves.  It’s perfect “kitty tv.”

Nigel and Emmy are strictly indoor cats.  The closest they’ve gotten to exploring the outdoors, at least while living with my husband and me,  is observing from a distance on the deck.  This is a privilege that Nigel enjoys, but at the same time doesn’t make any attempts to observe any closer.  Whenever there is a patch of sunlight on the deck floor you can find Nigel curled up in it basking in its’ warmth and that’s enough for him.  Emmy’s reaction to this privilege is a different story.  She’ll step out onto the deck and after a minute walks back into the kitchen.  Apparently, the sunshine and the squirrels aren’t enough to tempt her.  This reaction has been the same since we moved here in January.  Although, I couldn’t really let the kitties go out onto the deck in the freezing cold.  They had to wait until spring.

You can imagine my surprise when my husband came home and there was no Emmy there to greet his arrival.  We looked under beds, the sofa, chairs, the dining room table, the bathroom and I checked the deck…twice.

There was no doubt that Emmy was gone.  She must have jumped from our second story deck and landed in those crunchy maple leaves.  My heart sunk.   Whether Emmy had experience outdoors before we adopted her, we don’t know.  All I knew was she was gone.

My husband walked outside and called her name.  I shook the treat bag hoping she’d come running for her treat of crunchy goodness.  We drove around our neighborhood hoping to spot her in a neighbor’s lawn or on the sidewalk.  No Emmy.

I signed into Facebook and uploaded a photo and a plea for any information on Emmy’s whereabouts.  I asked my friends to share that post and then I shared that post on the local animal sanctuary’s Facebook page.

My husband called our neighbors downstairs and explained what happened.  They promised to keep on the lookout for her as they are animal lovers themselves.

About two hours later, my husband received a phone call.  “Your cat is looking in my back door right now.”

I didn’t even put on my shoes.  I just walked downstairs and outside in my slippers.  There she was.  Emmy was tentatively looking in the window of the storm door while Murphy the Pomeranian was looking out.  I immediately scooped her up in my arms and held on tight.  I could tell she wasn’t completely confident spending time on the ground outdoors.  Her claws were immersed in my fleece jacket just enough to let me know she wasn’t going anywhere far away again.  My husband was just as happy to see Emmy.  I only held her for a few seconds when he took  her out of my arms and carried her upstairs and into our apartment.  He wasn’t taking any chances.

I was so relieved.  The worst part about the whole ordeal was not knowing if Emmy was okay.  I’m just so glad I have her back and I couldn’t thank my neighbors enough.

Needless to say, Emmy is banned from the back deck and we’re looking into purchasing a high cat tower for her amusement instead.

“Are you going to tell me of your adventures outside Emmy?” This picture was taken shortly after Emmy arrived back home safely. I hope she realized how good she has it here. 🙂

Emmy (left) and Nigel on the observation deck


Tea and a Tale with a Tabby

interview with Shirley Bean

Fancy Pants

How were you and your kitties united?

Henry- internet.  He was about two years old and is now eight.

Ebony- He was a stray and came to the bank.  Erica brought him home.  He was forced on me because Erica got two new kittens.  He has stayed ever since.

How did they get their names?  Any nicknames?

He was already named Henry.  His nicknames are “Fancy Pants” and Henry said in French.

Erica and Alan named Ebony.  His nickname is “Denise the Ebony Menace.”  I gave him this name because he is into everything.


 Do they have a favorite place to cat nap?

Henry likes to sleep on his own feather pillow (fluffed of course) at night and my lap during the day if he can.

Ebony likes to sleep on my bed during the day and his bed at night.

Which do they prefer: ball, feather wand, toy mice, cat nip…?

Henry prefers a homemade cat nip mouse shape. 

Ebony prefers a Ty Beanie Baby yellow mini kitty.  He carries it around, sleeps with it, and plays with it.

What is their best quality?

Henry is very loving and gives hugs.

Ebony’s best quality?  None!  He gets into everything- plants, on tables, claws everything, and gets into garbage. 

If they could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Henry would want more lap time.

I really have no idea what Ebony would change about me.

If they could answer one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask Henry, “Will you love me forever old friend?”

I would ask Ebony, “Why do you get into trouble all the time?!”

What’s steeping?

Chocolate Coconut or Hazelnut Vanilla tea

What are you currently reading?

God’s Word For Us Through Jeremiah and Erma Bombeck

Where is your favorite place to read and where are your kitties’ favorite places to be while you’re reading?

My favorite place to read is in the couch recliner.  Henry’s favorite place to be while I’m reading is on my lap.

Ebony likes to be in his bed, on the window ledge, on his cat tower or on the back of the couch.

If you wrote a novel about your kitties, what would be the title?

For Henry- A Devoted Friend in a Silk Fur Coat

For Ebony- Denise the Ebony Menace!

What is one feature you love most about your kitties’ looks?

Henry’s fur is so soft like silk.  Also, his eyes melt my heart.

Ebony is totally black with a fluffy tail.

What hobby/craft project are you currently working on?

Jewelry making and a quilt (attic window pattern)

Additional comments about your kitties?

Henry is my life.  He and Jehovah have helped me through some very rough times in the past 6 1/2 years.  He is faithful.  Whenever I’m down or cry he is right by my side.

Ebony- I’m too old to have a young kitty.  I can’t keep up.  He tolerates me and I tolerate him.  He goes upstairs to visit but wants to come home!  I don’t know why!

Sir Henry, “Yes. I am royal.”

Tea and a Tale with a Tabby

an interview with Erica Yeager

Who is in this photo?

Gussy and Gabby

How were you and your kitties united?

After losing my Luna cat I found myself very sad.  So, I started looking on the internet at www.petfinder.com.  I came across these four beautiful kittens.  They wanted them to be adopted in twos.  Gabby really caught my eye because she was a beautiful Siamese.  So, I adopted Gabby and Gussy, but Gussy chose me. 

How did they get their names?  Any nicknames?

The girls, as I like to call them, were given their names by the foster mom that took care of them.  She liked “G” names because she named my two “Gussy” and “Gabby” and the other two were “Guppy” and “Gibby”.  We call them “Gussy Girl” and “Gabby Girl” and “the girls”.

Do they have a favorite place to nap?

Gabby loves to lay in my dresser drawer and the back of Alan’s chair and Rebekah’s bed.  Gussy loves to sit beside me at night on the couch.  She also likes the back of Alan’s chair and the glider rocker stool. 

Which do they prefer: ball, feather wand, toy mice, cat nip…?

Gussy loves the crinkle balls.  She carries them in her mouth and drops them in her cube and attacks them.  She also likes the feather on her scratching post.  Gabby loves the crinkle balls, too.  She loves cat nip that Grammy gives her. 

What is their best quality?

I love when Gussy comes up to me after work and rubs all over me.  She talks a little, which I love.  Gabby is very quiet, which is nice.

If they could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Gussy would like me to get up earlier so she can eat.  Gabby doesn’t really know me.

If they could answer one question in English, what would you ask them?

Gussy- Why are you so scared for me to pick you up?

Gabby- Are you pregnant?

What’s steeping?

Good Earth Original Sweet Cinnamon Fruit Tea

What are you currently reading?

The Watchtower

Where is your favorite place to read and where is your kitties’ favorite place to be while you’re reading?

I like reading in bed or on the couch.  Luna would always sit on my lap.  Gussy will sometimes come up beside me.

If you wrote a novel about your kitties, what would be the title?

The Two Girls Who Found Their Forever Home

What is one feature you love most about their looks?

I love Gussy’s dark face.  I love Gabby’s face shape and coloring.

What hobby/craft project are you currently working on?

knitting a blanket for a friend who is having a baby

Any additional comments about the girls?

They rock!  Getting friendlier by the day.  Currently 7 1/2 months old.  Really hoping Gabby isn’t pregnant.  Only time will tell.

Tea and a Tale with a Tabby

an interview with Rebekah Yeager


How were you and Ebony united?  Mommy brought Ebony home from the bank.  He was all alone on the road. 

How did he get his name?  Any nicknames?  He is black.  A nickname is Ebonezer.  Ebony means black.  Does he have a favorite place to cat nap?  In his dog bed. 

Which does he prefer: ball, feather wand, toy mice, cat nip…?  Ebony prefers Bryan’s toy cat. 

What is his best quality?  He cleans all the cats’ food. 

If he could change one thing about you, what would it be?  I’d play with him more. 

If he could answer one question in English, what would you ask him?  Why can’t you stay off the counters? 

Ebony and his toy cat



What’s steeping?  (Favorite kind of tea)  I don’t like tea. 

What are you currently reading?  The Magician’s Elephant

Where is your favorite place to read and where is your kitty’s favorite place to be while you’re reading?  On the couch, in his bed.

If you wrote a novel about your kitty, what would be the title?  Ebony- The One Who Will Get the Boot 

What is one feature you love most about your kitty’s looks?  He is soft. 

What hobby/craft project are you currently working on?  Play teacher.

Additional comments about your kitty?  When he was little he was a puff-ball.  He gets on the counters.  He is crazy about toy cats.  He loves everyone in the house.  He loves the cube toys.  He is rough.       

In loving memory of Luna


Country Girl

…continued from “Omnipresent Felines”

On March 3, 2007 I moved out of my parents’ three-story farmhouse that is nestled in a valley in the vast countryside of rural Pennsylvania. I had lived there since I was two-years-old and left when I was twenty-one-years-old.  I exchanged country living for town living in an apartment.   I went from living on a couple hundred acres of farmland and countryside to having no yard at all.  Instead of birds and peepers, I hear cars and trucks with loud exhaust pipes, motorcycles, neighbors cursing, and the next-door elderly couple yelling at each other in their native tongue.  Instead of picturesque rolling fields of green and tall evergreen trees hugging the farmhouse, there’s buildings and electric wires that clutter my window views.

a partial view of some of the fields surrounding the house

the view from our apartment dining room window

It has been four and a half years since I left my isolated country dwelling.   I’m still not fully adjusted to living in town and having neighbors.  After all, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

from left: our neighbor Ernie, my dad, & my brother Jim- This picture was taken a loooong time ago, definitely over 10 years ago. Poor Ernie is no longer alive, but he'd always help my dad with the hay baling.

My dad July 2011 with three wagons full of hay bales.

My sister Katie. She was actually driving the tractor, not posing for a picture. This was taken at least 10 years ago.

I left behind many aspects of country living that I love.  I really miss the Spring Peepers serenading me with their song; their chorus resemblant of sleigh bells.  I was always fond of waking up to the birds chirping early in the morning.  I enjoyed listening to the sound of the lawn mower or the revving of the tractor.  To this day, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass.  In the summer, we’d sit around a campfire almost every night in our  country worn out hoodie sweathshirts.  We lived on hotdogs, hamburgers, and mom’s homemade potato and macaroni salads all summer long, but none of us seemed to mind.

My mom and me this summer. We had friends over and were cooking food over an open camfire.

My mother and I share a love of Autumn.  For most people, Spring is the season of change and rejuvenation.  However, it’s when the cool autumn air sweeps in that rejuvenates me.   Hey Summer!  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!  I love everything associated with the fall season.  The fresh, crisp air is a welcome respite from the ghastly hot and humid sauna of a season I’ve endured the past few summers.

Here I am at the Gratz, PA fair in 2009. My maiden name is Chalmers. No, my first name isn't Allis.

Autumn is the season of burnt orange, fiery red, golden yellow and eggplant purple.  I love these colors integrated into the season’s fashion.  Out with the summer’s flimsy threads and in with fall’s thickly woven duds.

Here I am again at the Gratz fair- October 2009. I usually go to fairs just to see the animals. Well, maybe the food too. 😉

Autumn is the season for apple dumplings and pumpkin pie.  My mother, known by all as a fabulous cook and baker, would make her moist pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. It’s the season of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Autumn is the best time of year back home.  Many city folk travel hundreds of miles and pay an arm and a leg to stay in a hotel just to view the changed leaves and visit the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  For my family it’s just a driveway’s ride away from viewing the spectacular autumn transformation.

an Autumn welcome for anyone arriving at the Chalmers' home

October 2009- from left: my nephew Ondrej, my sister Katie, my mom, my niece Ellie- Katie and Ondrej were getting ready to go hunting.

During the cold months, which could last from October on into late May, the kitchen and living room woodstoves were always a welcome comfort.  One of my friends even said that she loved smelling the wood smoke on my clothes when she’d give me a hug.  Beside the kitchen wood stove sits an Amish-made oak rocking chair.  I don’t think I’ve ever missed a chair before, but I miss that one.  Why buy a humidifier when a basin full of water can be on top the woodstoves?  I remember one of my sisters putting orange peels on top of the kitchen woodstove in place of store-bought potpourri.

This is me 10+ years ago fetching corn from the barn for the front porch corn stove.

These are my two sisters, the twins, Katie and Kelly. They're also fetching corn for the corn stove- 10+ years ago.

Probably the best winter memories involve food.  Are you really surprised?  I can still smell the yeast from the bread dough laying in its bowl, covered with a dish towel, resting on top of the highest cook book shelf near the kitchen stove.  It was waiting to be risen from its shallow depths and plunged into the hot oven.  *contented sigh*  I loved my mom’s homemade and hand kneaded honey-wheat bread.  What’s a nice thick slice of homemade bread, fresh from the oven, spread with a thick layer of butter without a bowl of hot, homemade soup?  My favorites?  Mom’s ham and bean, thick beefy chili, and creamy, cheesy broccoli and ham soup.  With all that yummy god-sent goodness, you might as well invite some friends over to partake, and  let the card games begin!

I was never interested in learning to make bread while living at home. Last year I learned by myself with the help of Taste of Home. This is my Cranberry Swirl Bread.

Despite the enormous change in my living environment, there was still one change that seemed even more distinct — the absence of animal life.  I could no longer hear the birds chirping.  Unfortunately, their songs couldn’t compete with the ear-splitting noise from exhaust pipes, tires squeeling, horns honking, neighbors yelling, etc.  I didn’t hear my Spring Peepers anymore.  Can Spring Peepers even be found in town?

To be continued…

Whisker Reflections

Nigel’s Way

From “dog person” to cat lover

This is the story of how one cat made me become the unthinkable.

     Looking back on my childhood, I do not recall a period in time of which my family did not have animals, either for the purpose of livelihood or companionship.  Throughout the years we had Black Angus and Brown Swiss cattle, horses, chickens, and pigs.  We even named one of our pigs Wilbur.  Also, checking-in around our home, and occasionally inside our old farm-house, were unwelcome furry guests such as squirrels, bats, birds, raccoons, bears, and coyotes.  One summer, an elk even graced us with his presence in our large backyard.  Living in north-central Pennsylvania, or “God’s Country”, my family was and will remain surrounded by the animal kingdom.

a partial view of the rolling fields surrounding our farm

     One might think that with exposure to such a wide variety of animal life, whether invited or not, that our family might prefer more exotic pets or at least flirt with the idea of getting one.  However, that assumption could not be further from the truth.  See, there were two unwritten rules in our household.  Number one, when leaving your seat of comfort in the living room, you must call out “Coming back” if you wanted your seat to be empty upon your return from the refrigerator.  When there are seven kids, the best seating went to first come, first served and if you were served, you wanted to keep that seat for as long as possible.  Rule number two, rodents and reptiles shall not pass through the front door.  This rule was silently issued by the Queen of our castle, our mother, and reverently understood by all of her subjects.  It was a law, however, that we did not resent, nor try to break.  The truth of the matter was, even though we lived in very isolated country and some of us stacked wood, ran the farm machinery, spent hot afternoons in the blazing sun stacking hay bales, push-mowed our humongous uneven yard, and anything else of a hard work and sometimes manly nature, nothing could send any one of us, including the two boys, leaping onto a couch or counter top screaming like a little girl faster than a little brown mouse the size of a ping-pong ball scurrying across the hard floor.  If leaping onto a counter with such agility and screaming at the top of your lungs was an Olympic sport, I’d say most of us would win gold.  Our mother, of course, would be our coach.

     I’ll never forget the time when I was awakened in the middle of the night by my sister Katie screaming bloody murder directly across from my closed bedroom door.  A squirrel had gotten into her bedroom by entering a hole from outside that led into the cubby hole, which was used for storage.  The door to the cubby hole had been left partially open.  I have to tell you why this still makes me laugh.  Katie is a twin and the tomboy one of the two.  She is a burly girl who could knock you over with her pinky finger.  Her activities include fishing, hunting, operating heavy farm machinery, raising Black Angus steers for good T-bones later, and outsmarting and outworking my brothers when it comes to any chores on the farm.  Do you have the picture of Katie in your mind?  Apparently, the squirrel had walked up onto Katie’s chest and when she woke up, there it was staring her in the face.  Cue the screaming bloody murder part.  This was not the first face-off with a squirrel in our house, nor would it be the last.  If any of us knew, especially my mother, that there was a squirrel or mouse running loose in our three-story farm-house, a sleepless night was inevitable until the furry intruder was apprehended.   Fortunately, on the night of Katie’s squirrel episode, my bedroom door was closed.  Therefore, I knew for certainty that my bedroom was furry-free and I could lapse back into dear sleep while the rest of my family, however, had bedroom lights on, broom or other household weapons in hand, and slept with two eyes open.

No, our family of seven kids and the parents preferred one of the most popular house pets, bigger than a mouse and squirrel, but more predictable and less ferocious; the dog, man’s best friend.

To be continued….