Friday, August 11, 2017

Princess Puddin's Pet Parent Training Tips

Everyone knows you can train a dog, but not a kitty.  We kitties, though, can sure train our pet parents. I suspect some of us are better at this than others, so for my fellow kitties who may struggle with getting their pet parents in line, I’d like to provide some tried and true tips.

Today’s lesson covers how to train pet parents on proper feeding procedures. Yes, they don’t just come already knowing what to do.  Success in getting food when, where, and how one wants it, requires the kitty to perfect the art of speaking and of turning up her nose.
  • To get attention by speaking, the kitty must meow loudly as soon as the pet parent goes anywhere near the kitchen.
  •  And, if the pet parent doesn’t go near the kitchen when the kitty is hungry, then the kitty must meow wherever she is and keep looking back at the pet parent while prancing towards the kitchen.
  • Kitties must stand by the kitty bowl and meow especially plaintively once the pet parent hits the kitchen, even when food is already in the dish because the food is very often not to the kitty’s liking. 

The next step in training on proper feeding procedures is for the kitty to artfully turn up her cute kitty nose to indicate the food is unacceptable.  There are several factors that can cause food to be unacceptable.
  • Food has been in the bowl for over 60 seconds.
  • Food is not properly fluffed.
  • Kitty wants milk, not food.
  • Kitty wants food, not milk.
  • Kitty only thought food was a good idea and has changed her mind.
  • Kitty is distracted by the water bowl, a noise, the dog, or the pet parent turning its attention to anything other than the kitty.

 How does one artfully turn up a cute kitty nose? There are several techniques:
  • Sit or stand near the kitty bowl and stare at it.
  • Sit or stand near the kitty bowl and stare at the pet parent.
  • Add meowing to the stand or sit step as appropriate.
  • Sniff the food and look up at the pet parent accusingly.
  • Sniff the food and with an appropriate touch of disdain, walk at least two feet away and lie down.
  • By all means, do not touch the food.

Well trained pet parents will respond by continually fluffing up the wet food or washing the food from the kitty bowl to replace it with milk or whatever else the kitty desires until food satisfaction is achieved. Having a dog in the house is especially helpful when training pet parents on proper feeding procedures. 

My fellow kitties may ask, “How on earth can having a dog be helpful?” The answer is simple: dogs like kitty food and loving pet parents won’t want their dog to eat it. Because kitty food is not healthy for dogs, pet parents will rush to pick up, fluff up, or change out the kitty food to prevent the dog from scarfing it down. 
Puddin's delicately drinking
water from the dog bowl
 And, believe me, if you have a big dog like Lord Banjo, food can be scarfed down with one swipe of the tongue. That boy loves to eat my food—or anyone else’s for that matter—and he can lie near my bowl and scarf down food without ever lifting his head.  I consider that behavior the height of laziness, as I always gracefully stand when I eat.  I have trained Lord Banjo in other ways, but I haven’t been completely successful in the food arena as of yet.  This guide is about pet parent training, though, so we’ll leave doggie training for another day.

Meanwhile, I do hope my fellow kitties find these tips helpful, as I’m already hard at work on Lesson Two.

Write Princess Puddin’ at

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Magic of Mirmande

Magical is the perfect description for the three days we spent in the village of Mirmande, France. My husband and I have vacationed three times in France: a bike and barge trip in Burgundy, a cycling tour of Normandy, and a river cruise in the South of France.  This summer, we capped off our river cruise with a stay in Mirmande to visit a high school friend who retired there with her husband.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect holiday. Our friends picked us up at the train station in Valence, took us to lunch in the countryside and then introduced us to Mirmande. We started with a tour of their home near the top of the hilltop village, accompanied by their dog Kirby, a.k.a., Kirbs of Provence.

After we oohed and aahed over the picturesque simplicity of their stone cottage and marveled at the view, we walked down the hill to L ‘Hotel de Mirmande to rest before dinner. The village is a vision from a fairytale. Named one of the most Beautiful Villages in France, it charms visitors with ramparts from the 5th century, houses built with beautiful stone facades and winding alleys lined with stone. Add in the fact that the population numbers 525, and you’ll begin to get a feel for the tranquility we experienced.

We discovered its beauty is easier to appreciate when walking downhill, as the uphill climb to dinner in my friend’s garden was a challenge, making the chilled wine awaiting us a welcome treat.  We lingered over our four-course meal and several bottles of wine before wending our way down to our hotel, flashlights in hand.

Day two, we enjoyed warm croissants in the café as we watched the village come alive and chuckled at the antics of the kittens across the street. Next was a trip to the Renaissance palace and town of Grignan. Because I’m an author, my friend wanted to take me to this village made famous in the 17th century by the letters of Madame de Sévigné, a French writer. The village was a bit more lively but still peaceful. We returned to Mirmande for our afternoon siesta, a tradition in the heat of the summer, before walking to the Café Margot for another leisurely dinner.

Day three was billed as a “day in the life,” so we ate breakfast and then took a morning walk with our hosts, a trek they do most days. As we wandered, we were greeted with lilting Bonjours from shop owners and neighbors.

Lunchtime found us touring the pottery in nearby Cliousclat before dining al fresco at La Treille Muscate, where my husband ventured out and ate Toro—yes, bull.  Before napping that afternoon, my friend and I hit the shops in Mirmande.  I found a dainty bracelet at Le Passage to remind me of my visit, and at Au Gre Demes Envieswhich means To my Liking in EnglishI picked up a dress to send to a friend. She’d admired my hostess’s dress in a Facebook photo, so we did international shopping via email.

Our last day in Mirmande, we experienced the friendly Saturday market and selected the ingredients for the midday meal.  Though we didn’t want to leave, we were soon ferried to our hotel in Valence in preparation for catching the early morning train to the Paris airport.  It wasn’t long before reality intruded on the magic of Mirmande, but thankfully, the memories still linger.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Royal Pooch is preparing to party

Lord Banjo has been very busy
First, he paid a visit to the Royal Seamstress, and he's so happy with his new royal robe and crown that he's endorsing her as Seamstress to the Stars.  Next, Milord is beyond excited that plans have been finalized for his August 27th Book Launch Party. And yes, he'll be wearing his new outfit!

Ink Penn News
Not to be outdone by the Royal Pooch, I now have an author page on Goodreads. My other news is that I've been selected to participate in the inaugural DeKalb County Public Library Local Author Expo on August 19th. August will be a busy month for both Lord Banjo and the Royal Mum.
A Huge Thank You
Once again, thank you to my readers.  I continue to have repeat buyers as folks read "The Ink Penn" and realize it makes a great gift.

I had to smile when a recent Wall Street Journal article recommended small books as good hostess gifts. That's why there's a copy of “The Ink Penn” in my suitcase right now. For more gift ideas, read my column, "Looking for creative hostess gifts?" and discover what else I found in the WSJ.

Finally, thanks again to those who have posted Amazon reviews. I'm at 25 and hoping for more!

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