halloween

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

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PumpkinCarrotCake

The BakerMama shares an incredibly moist and flavorful cake that gives you the best of so many flavors. It shouts fall and screams Thanksgiving! http://goldmedalflour.com/Recipes/PumpkinCarrotCake

Stranger Than Fiction!

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Toughie the Ghost Cat

clip_image002He showed up on Halloween, the last of our trick or treat visitors for the night. At least that’s what we thought when we heard the scratching at the door. But it wasn’t a tot. It was the toughest, roughest tomcat we had ever seen, huge and mean and downright unpleasant. He didn’t ask to come in. He just walked in as if he owned the place. That’s when we made our mistake. We fed him. “What a cute kitty”, said Margo. Was she wrong.

We named him Toughie. We had wanted a pet for a long time. But Toughie certainly wasn’t our pet, or anyone’s pet. He was strictly a loner. He stayed with us two days and then vanished. During that two days we developed a mutual affection. I learned to pet him and even spar with him, which he loved. After a few painful and bloody lessons I learned to put on a thick coat and heavy leather work gloves during our sparring sessions. He was one ferocious animal. He was scary even when he was being good. He was a monster when enraged.

Toughie was also the clumsiest cat I have ever known. A complete disappointment to anyone who thinks that cats are naturally graceful. When he jumped down from the back of a chair the whole house shook. He would walk along a shelf knocking off memorabilia as he progressed. We learned to clear all the shelves when he was visiting. But we always welcomed his visits.

After that first two day honeymoon we didn’t see Toughie for a while. Then he came back, covered with new scars. It was wise to keep away from his scars in our sparring sessions. He would go for my face when suitably annoyed.

But we loved him. More than that, I developed some kind of weird spiritual connection with Toughie. He would come to me in my dreams. We would be fellow alley-cats, prowling the local alleys and backyards in search of food, sex and trouble. We found a lot of every one. These were very unusual dreams. I found out what it was like to be a wild animal, aggressive and totally amoral. A hunter of mice, rats, other cats, small dogs, birds, whatever. I tasted the blood of the prey, felt the excitement of the hunt and the kill. I can feel the pounding excitement right now as I tell you about all of this. These new tastes and habits started to affect my waking life. I became much more aggressive at work, got a promotion. More aggressive in my marriage with a lot more fighting. Margo was not pleased.

I really missed Toughie when he was gone. Whenever he came back I became alive. We had become close friends, both in our sparring sessions and in our shared dreams. I loved him truly. He was the brother I had never had.

Toughie visited us three or four times. And then he disappeared for good.  He was gone.  I found myself prowling the local alleys and back yards looking for him. I even put up “cat missing” posters. No response. Even my dreams of Toughie stopped. I grieved for him.

And then, one night, there he was in the most realistic dream I have ever had. I could see everything in fine detail, smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel the thrill of the hunt as we coursed through the neighborhood together. Then the sharp crack of a .22 and Toughie’s scream as he fell to the ground dead. I woke up sobbing, filled with grief. Margo asked me what had happened. I told her. She told me to stop being an idiot.

Early the next morning I woke up to a scratching at our door. A soft scratching, but unmistakable. I opened the door despite being terrified.  I had to know. There was nothing there. Well maybe something, but so fast and so blurry that it seemed like my imagination.

The next night we were awakened by the crash of knickknacks falling off our mantel. We figured that there had been a small earthquake. Not true.  No explanation.

Then the dreams came back. Not all the time, just occasionally, like Toughie’s visits. We would go prowling together and I would taste blood and thrill to the chase. We actually talked with other, not quite in spoken language but clear enough to exchange thoughts and concepts. Enough to know that Toughie has a mission. He wants to teach many people what it’s like to hunt, to taste the prey’s blood, to feel the excitement of the night prowl and the nocturnal adventures of the alley-cat. So be in touch with your dreams tonight, and listen carefully for the faint scratching at your front door.