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Autumn at Rocky Pond in central Massachusetts

80 degrees. No wind. A few wispy clouds. Colors popping out all over.

Perfect conditions for perhaps the final kayak trip of the season.

Enjoy the views.

Entrance to Rocky Pond in Boylston, MA

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3-640 rocky pond autumn leaves

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4-640 red tree at rocky pond

5-640 floating red leaf

6-640 red leaves and blueberries640 rock rocky pond

7-640 red leaves and blueberries2

8-640 rocky pond vertical autumn

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A glimpse of heaven.

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Free online writing retreat being offered by Loyola Press author Vinita Hampton Wright

Whether you are a published author, an aspiring author or someone who just loves writing in your diary or journal, I highly recommend this free week-long writing retreat offered by Vinita Hampton Wright of Loyola Press.


You can subscribe to receive the posts in your email by clicking here. Each day you will receive writing exercises and teaching from Vinita; you can choose when and where you “attend” this retreat thanks to the flexibility of the online experience.

This year’s theme is “Writing for the Soul.” Vinita offers details here:

WritingRetreat book_Soul Tells a StoryI also highly recommend Vinita’s book, The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life; this book changed my life. This book is not just for writers but for anyone engaged in creativity. Vinita shares her own experiences along with sage advice, leading you on a journey within that will reveal an unexpected treasure trove within yourself.

Besides adding a tremendous dimension to my writing, I found myself coming to understand the creative within me and how to deal with it. This is a gritty read; the exploration and authentic living of the creative life is necessarily risky. It also is a life brimming over with exhilaration and joy, opening your eyes and your heart to a whole new world.

Check out this wonderful, and FREE, week-long writing retreat!

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September 18 Gospel reflection: how lavishly do we love?

September 18 – Luke 7:36-50

mary-washes-jesus-feetHow much she loved Jesus!

She might have seen him preaching on the mount when He told the crowd that the poor in spirit were blessed. Blessed. No one had ever said that to her before.This vibrant preacher drew her to Him like a magnet. His words shone a bright spotlight on her soul where she saw the reality of her life for the first time. She knew she was poor. Somehow she must meet this prophet and find out how she could be blessed.

She would do anything to get near Him. She could not get Him out of her mind after seeing Him that day on the mount.

Several days later she saw Him entering a house nearby her own. She burst into the house uninvited, paying no mind to the other men in the room who were whispering about her: “Sinner!” “Prostitute!” She ignored their murmurs and their stares. She only saw Jesus.

She had one thing on her mind: “I love Him.” She cried copious tears at the sight of the object of her desire but this time her intentions were pure. She lavished her love upon Him, covering His feet with kisses, washing them with her tears, and drying them with her hair.

His eyes met hers and in that moment she knew she was blessed. Her unbridled love for the Son of Man saved her that day.


How can I show my love for Jesus? Whom can I lavish my love upon?


I love you Lord but sometimes my love is reserved. How I wish I could see you face to face but I cannot until the day I die. Oh Lord, send me those people that You wish me to love just as that woman loved You. Amen.

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How does she do it?? Barbra Streisand at 72 with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show

There has never been a doubt in my mind that Barbra Streisand is the greatest singer of our time. Now 72, she no longer has that incredible power in her voice but all the control and subtlety remains. Plus the heart. This woman never fails to tell a story when she sings.

She has been known to dominate her duet partners but I think Jimmy Fallon, imitating some of the great singers that she duets with on her latest album, Partners (including the King himself, Elvis!) holds up quite well. Check out this video:

Babs still reigns supreme (and looks terrific to boot!).



The reviews are in! Update on the success of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One

Thanks to all of you who have ordered The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One – so far we’ve raised over $900 for the Purrfect Pals no-kill cat shelter (exact figures – 102 books sold, $910.68 USD; £17.20 GBP; €17.28 EUR).

Here are reviews from Amazon, :

5 star graphic
I just wanted to let you know that I received my book today. All I can say is….. MARVELOUS!!! This book is a wonderful reminder of all the work and effort John puts into all his fosters. I laughed, I cried. I remembered. The only John left out in his interview is how Dorian flirts with each Momcat. LOL This is great fundraiser for Purrfect Pals. I can’t wait for the next volume. Well done to everyone who was a big part of the creation of this book.
A lovely book! Perfect for any fan of The Critter Room or, really, anyone who loves cats and kittens. Looking forward to Volume 2!
Received my book yesterday and had to look it over on the spot. In a word: PAWSOME! Even if you are not a follower of The Critter Room, the stories about these kitty families, coupled with the tireless efforts Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals, is absolutely heart warming. I love the fact that you have their early days chronicled in front of you and can the follow them on Facebook to see where they are today. Can’t wait for Volume 2!
What a wonderful book. Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals will touch your heart.

Double the Donation!

How about buying two or three extra books to send directly to Purrfect Pals so they can sell them in the store?  That doubles the donation and exposes more people to the book. Contact Connie Gabelein on the Purrfect Pals website to let her know of your intention and to find out the shelter’s address.

What inspired me to make the book

1. Two kittens – Ray and Arthur (now Ace) – I wanted high quality prints of these two adorable guys:

ray and arthur

2. All the wonder fan art:

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R - Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R – Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

 3. The fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats which includes “Over the Bridge” and Ray’s letter to Trillian.

Now I have my scrapbook of memories and many of you do as well. Grab your copy of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One if you don’t have one yet, donate copies to Purrfect Pals or give some as gifts – Christmas is coming … :-)

Thanks for all your support of Purrfect Pals!

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Prayer for persecuted Christians

My thanks to Father Steven Labaire from Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA  for passing along this prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world facing persecution. Please join us in praying for them daily.

mary and jesus facesFather in Heaven, you make your sun shine on the good and bad alike. Your Son Jesus Christ died for us all and in his glorious resurrection he still retains the five wounds of his Passion. With his divine power he now sustains all those facing persecution and martydom for the sake of their fidelity to the faith of the Church. Merciful and mighty Father, do not allow Cain to return again to murder helpless Abel, innocent Abel. May persecuted Christians around the world remain, like Mary, their Mother, together at the foot of Christ the Martyr. Comfort those menaced by violence and those oppressed by uncertainty. May your Holy Spirit of love make fruitful the witness and blood of those who die forgiving.


persecuted christian watch list



It’s here! A scrapbook of your favorite kitten cam memories

box artI am pleased to present The Critter Room Memory Book  Volume One packed with all kinds of goodies! Within its 68 full color pages you will find:

  • tons of color photos from Foster Dad John, “Mr  Ripley” (James Petts) and Tam Woods  including closeups of your favorite kittens and mama cats. Lots of Facebook screen shots.
  • an interview with Foster Dad John by Connie of “Tails of Foster Kittens”
  • fan art by Cazul R, “Thorn” and Sandra Andreasen
  • kitten collages by Nicoya Grobman
  • fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats
  • remembrances of Peter and Honey

This volume includes the following litters:

  • Hitchhiker Fosters
  • Ghostbuster Kittens
  • Pixar Fosters
  • AI Fosters

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There is something here for everyone, including Purrfect Pals.

purrfect palsPurrfect Pals, located in Arlington, WA is the no-kill cat shelter that sponsors The Critter Room. Your purchases will help Purrfect Pals find homes for deserving cats and kittens, including cats with medical conditions. Foster Dad John volunteers for the shelter; they provide him with the food, litter and veterinary care needed for each of his litters.

Purrfect Pals receives the entire royalty;
for every book sold, they receive $10.25.

With that in mind, consider what would happen if we were able to sell 1000 books. Think about that for a moment …

Purchase your copy here.

Meanwhile …

Just what is The Critter Room?

Are you a cat lover but have never heard of The Critter Room or Foster Dad John? Check out the live kitten cam on Livestream – I dare you to tear yourself away. Then check out The Critter Room Facebook page for more information on all the good work being done by Foster Dad John (John Barlett).

Then rush right back here and place your order!

People are benefiting from The Critter Room as much as cats and kittens.
Here are some examples:

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Take up the challenge!

Let’s look at the numbers …

With over 37,00 followers on Facebook and over 42,000 followers on Livestream, we should easily be able to sell 1000 books by October 1st, giving Purrfect Pals a donation of $10,350.

We depend upon you to spread the word.

Issuing the 1K / 10K Challenge

1000 books sold = $10,000 for Purrfect Pals. Let’s sell 1000 copies by October 1!
You can purchase your copy here.

If you prefer to purchase through Amazon and would like to donate extra to Purrfect Pals to make up the difference, here are the royalty payments from Amazon:

  • Amazon.com $6.36
  • Amazon Europe – For books printed in Great Britain £3.44
  • Amazon Europe – For books printed in continental Europe €4.32

Purrfect Pals accepts donations at bookkeeper@purrfectpals.org

My thanks to John Bartlett, the photographers, screen shot shooters, artists, writers, my proofreader and Connie Gabelein, Executive Director of Purrfect Pals for making this book possible and for making it a joy to put together. I have personally wanted a book I could pull out with my favorite kittens inside and now it is here!


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Book Review: Unsaid by Neil Abramson – the moving story of a husband’s grief journey and how he honors his wife’s life and love of animals

unsaidUnsaid was recommended to me by a friend whom I know to be thoughtful. We are both animal lovers and she warned me to “have the tissues ready.” While the idea of reading about animals drew me in, I was also curious about the lead character’s grief journey since I have journaled extensively about my own since my mother died four years ago. My reflections have been from the point of view of faith in heaven; Unsaid told the story of grief from a purely human angle. And yet I found the same spiritual truth: if we allow our grief to carry us, it will take our loss and help to shape a new life.

The premise of the book

The story is told from the point of view of the beloved dead wife, Helena, pondering the meaning of her life as she observes her husband David trying to carry on without her. She, a dedicated veterinarian, had died of breast cancer at the age of thirty-seven. Her husband, a high-powered Manhattan lawyer cannot deal with his loss.

Author Neil Abramson

Author Neil Abramson

Life regrets

Helena and David met attempting to rescue a deer one night that had been struck by a car. In the ensuing years they bought a farm an hour out from the city which housed two horses, a pig and several dogs and cats. Upon reflection the now dead Helena feels she may have imposed too much of her life upon her husband. She sees how he struggles to maintain the routine of caring for the animals each day. It eventually becomes too much and he hires some help: a nurse from a competing vet and her autistic son Clifford who has extraordinary drawing ability and insight into the mind and heart of animals.

Defending the life of a chimpanzee

Coming into contact with a former colleague of Helena’s, Jaycee, David learns of their work with chimpanzees. Jaycee has developed a strong parental relationship with a four-year-old female, Cindy, who can communicate on the level of a four-year-old child. David finds himself going to trial defending Jaycee who tried to take Cindy from the lab when she found out the chimp was scheduled for medical experiments.

Exploration of the characters

Unsaid builds slowly but I didn’t mind; I was interested in David’s grief process. The book probed the mind of a man who had to come to grips with his loss, not only of his wife, but of his very self. At the same time Helena needed to make peace with her own life, seeing that it did, in fact have value. It is how the value of her life and its impact on David unfolded throughout the book.

Grief is a mysterious and creative process whether we believe in an omnipotent God or not. Unsaid does a wonderful job of pointing out the value of grief and its transforming power so long as we are able to go along for the ride. David is eventually able to move on and as a result, discovers a new and deeper way of living.

paperback version

paperback version

Two sides to the story

Unsaid is provocative in what it says about the value of animals and animal lovers will rejoice in this. While the arguments during the trial certainly favored the chimpanzee, I felt that Abramson tried to be fair in presenting the other side of medical experimentation: the need to find cures for human diseases.

Satisfying conclusion

There are subplots including a sickly dog and his touching relationship with Clifford (and yes, tissues were needed for that subplot) and how his mother, scarred by her own losses, came to embrace the goodness of life again.

The slow boil of this story explodes near the end of the book; one chapter left me positively breathless. The way Abramson resolved the many issues in the story through a series of twists and turns, was very well done. This is not just a feel-good story about animals; it is a gritty and realistic exploration of human love and loss.

Abramson has an interesting background combining his love, respect and knowledge of animals with a thorough knowledge of the law. His understanding of human nature isn’t too shabby either. Unsaid is his first novel; I hope there are many more.

I wrote back to my friend and told her that I loved Unsaid. I hope that you will too.

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