A is for Ailuorophobia


The Abominable Snowman

Ate apples apathetically

The ache in his abdomen

Left him feeling most atrabilious

I quite like that word, “atrabilious”. It means melancholy and bad-tempered. I know feeling atrabilious the day after Easter is probably terribly irreligious.

Put it down to a box of marshmallow Easter Eggs.

Today marks the start a month-long blogging A to Z. It’s harder to start than I thought. So, I did a little research on things beginning with A. Actually I just paged through the dictionary writing down words that appealed to me like atrabilious.

And then….

I found…

Ailuorophobia n. An extreme or irrational fear of cats

I am not an ailurophobe. I am, however, truly impressed that while Microsoft Word continues to eschew English spelling, it does actually recognise that as a word.

I am a cat person. I like their arrogance, their independence and their total commitment to finding the sunniest spot in which to nap.

For some reason though, I seem to attract not people who see a cat and run screaming in fear, but those who breathe in a piece of fur and promptly lose the ability to process oxygen.

An early boyfriend happily spent hours at my home. I may have misguidedly maligned his commitment and depth of feeling to me as I later nursed a broken heart. It turns out that far from being a cold, unfeeling bastard, the poor boy had suffered extreme torment at the paws of my beloved cat who adored him, without speaking a word. His allergies were so bad he needed to keep an inhaler in the car and had to have medical attention after every date. How sweet was that? Young love. Ahhh.

The cat in question was a Havana Oriental named Mashenka. She went everywhere with me, largely due to the fact that she was an attention seeker who would destroy my property if left alone for any length of time. So, she became a regular fixture at university, cinemas, restaurants and a seasoned motorbike rider (different boyfriend).

Still Wife with Cats I now own three cats, let me rephrase, I now share my home with three felines.

Friday is a chocolate Burmese, named by my son so we could say, “Thank God it’s Friday!” Friday regards any movement as a total waste of energy that could be spent napping.

As a young and feisty cat she diligently caught one bird from every species to be found in our vicinity including the neighbour’s budgie.  You never know how many feathers a budgie has until you have to carefully dispose of all evidence.

Sadly, after a close encounter with a Sacred Ibis, commonly known as the Hadeda, involving a flight of some distance and a fall of some height, Friday no longer sees the point of venturing beyond the house.

Sinatra was not keen to pose, so this is someone’s else’s feline companion.

Sinatra is a red point Siamese.

He, like his namesake, can only sing three chords, but his eyes are mesmerizing.

Sinatra is a classic supermodel – terribly beautiful, but not terribly bright. He is also afraid of his own shadow. And things that go bump in the night.

He does not go outside.He loathes the texture of grass under his feet and the presence of my dogs fills him with undisguised contempt.

The latest addition is a ginger tomcat who goes by various aliases including Puss, Doctor Who, Macavity and Fat Cat. I found in him at a rest stop in Harrismith covered in oil and just about fitting into my hand.

My husband’s willpower stood no chance against a small purring ball of fluff, three children with tears welling up and a wife who said he would be a cat murderer if he left without small cat in tow.

PussThe cat in question is now the size of a small lion and is lying happily on his own chair next to my desk.

So happy is he at his fate that he allows my daughter and half the neighbourhood children to carry him around like a slightly recalcitrant Hobbes.

He is what I term a Real Cat. He prefers to be outside. He is fed at three different neighbour’s homes. And he catches rats.

The last point is where I am struck with ambivalent feelings. Personally, I believe the only good rat is a dead one.  I am a musophobe – a very sterile term for my loathing and revulsion of all things ratite, including mice, rats, hamsters and bunny rabbits.

My mother maintains I must have died during the Black Plague in a previous life. I put it down to two horrifying award-winning children’s books entitled The Rat. It was so horrible, I can find no reference to its existence anywhere.

The first trick of parenting is to learn one very important lesson. Never show fear.

Children smell fear and they will capitalise on it.

At your expense.

At every chance they get.

I managed to hide my shivers of disgust at the frogs, but I could not hide the gurgling scream of horror at the rat.

My husband was in Sweden and I phoned him for guidance.

“Just leave it there and go to bed,” he said.

“I can’t,” I wailed, “I’ll know it is there.”

“What exactly do you expect me to do?” he asked gently.

I ended up closing my eyes and sweeping it out the door. Of course, it came back. They always do. Cats seem to not quite understand my inability to accept their gifts with lashings of praise and adoration.

The next day, a small voice called, “Mummy, come quickly!” I stepped out of bed on a small, warm, wet squishy thing. And I screamed. And screamed. And screamed. Three children laughed so hard they might have wet their pants.

The day after that a panicked voice yelled, “You have to come outside now! Mom!” I dropped everything, expecting arterial bleeding at the very least. I flung open the door and… a large rat was catapulted into my arms.

IMG_20130331_224044Okay, it was a supersized soft toy rat, but all the same, I collapsed to the ground in a Victorian swoon.

I know they say that the key to overcoming your fears is to face them. My husband swears by “flooding”. I don’t believe it. My kids are making sure I have to face my musophobia on a near daily basis and if anything it is just getting worse.

Follow the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge here: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

A to Z Blogging Challenge

a-to-z 2013-Header-002

Tomorrow marks the start of the A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge. Each day I have to blog about something beginning with each consecutive letter of the alphabet.

Easy, peesy, lemon squeezy. Not.

I just managed to squeeze out A, but will take on any creative options for B to Z.

These things always seem like great ideas in theory until you start having to actually make them reality.

It reminded me of my friend’s challenge to herself to draw the alphabet in fruit and vegies. I can only hope my attempt is an adequate verbal equivalent.

You can see more of her work at Mobijo (mobijo.blogspot.com)

And buy her fantastic designs from her Mobijo Digital Etsy Shop

Alphabet popster 02 LR


Penny Terrible and the Bodice Ripper

From Deviant Art

What a fabulous title for my non-existent romance novel. A sort of steampunk Jack the Ripper meets Alice in Wonderland.

Today, I almost bought a fake book dust cover printed with War and Peace. They are designed to disguise cheap romance novels as actual literature. I think they are brilliant.


I didn’t buy it. It costs more than a year’s worth of Penny Horribles.

And I love a good bodice ripper. Add in a touch of supernatural and the real world can take a back seat.

However, I hate 50 Shades of Bleh.

I cannot fathom this tepid series’ popularity. You’d think no-one had ever written a BDSM novel before. All this phenomenon is, is proof of the miracle modern marketing can have and the stupidity of the market to fall for it.

My entrée in the world of erotic fiction was Anais Nin, The Story of O, Emmanuel, Lady Chatterley and Erica Jong.

What separates these from the nausea inducing pages of Shades, is actual literary talent and the magic of leaving something up to the imagination.

Debbie Does Dallas has a more believable and well-developed plot line and that is saying something.

Enough already.

So, I am a voracious reader of romance novels. I didn’t buy the cover because I assessed the price against my embarrassment factor and found I didn’t have the latter.

I like happy endings. I like it when handsome, yet flawed hero meets beautiful yet under-appreciated heroine and sail away into the sunset. It reaffirms my faith. So, you may read the Bible, I read Mills and Boone. Happy endings all the way.

I also find the lack of pretension refreshing. These books don’t pretend to be anything other than escapist light-hearted reading for a lazy Summer afternoon, or in my case a rare, but highly prized, lengthy bubble bath with a glass of vino.


I am one of those women for whom all the electronic time-saving gizmos have just created a time expenditure loop. The more of them I buy, the less time I have.

So, I read where I can.

In the loo.

In the bath.

In the car waiting for the boy ninja to emerge from the sacred hallows of the dojo wherein no mother is allowed.

In the queue for the ATM and so on.

Hence, I can’t deal with complicated plot lines, time and space jumps or complex literary theory. My days of Umberto Eco are over. I think I reached my rock bottom somewhere around page 20 of “The Island of the Day Before”. To this day I haven’t met anyone who has actually finished this book.

My spouse is threatening to build a bookshelf in the storeroom to house my Nora Roberts collection of which he is acutely embarrassed. My late mother-in-law used to scoff at them too, until I caught her borrowing them.

Once a year I’d hand over to her boxes of M&Bs for her Rotary book sale. Every year they brought in more cash than all the other books combined.

These days I have a fancy tablet and smartphone, so I can download them and pretend to be very busy instead of actually numbing my brain into a quasi-meditative trance.

I also cannot sleep if I am partway through a book. I have to finish it. So, I need books I can finish in under 2 hours. Otherwise I’d never get any sleep.

With all this in mind I thought I’d try giving the writing of one a shot. This way, whenever some friend or family member makes some disparaging remark about my reading material, I simply say that I am doing research.

Good brief. Tight parameters. How hard could it be?

About as hard as feeding my son Brussels sprouts. Well nigh impossible.

I had to start somewhere.

So, I started at the most logical point.

Not a plot.

Not character sketches.


My name.

You see, my problem is this; apparently there are two other writers with my name.

One writes very serious books about geological disasters in South America and the other a rather bizarre bodice ripper involving time travel  and windmills (one of the few I never finished, but had to buy, because seriously how cool to have a book with my name on it?)

Yeah, I bought Victoria Beckham jeans for the same reason.

And Victoria Secret lingerie.

I am a slut for stuff with my name on.

The point is how can I be expected to start my M&B piece d’resistance without a suitable name?

It’s a dilemma.

BizarroWord – A Jenn Initiative

Find And Replace like Reply To All can be a blessing and (more often) a curse. Perhaps a similar thing was the reason Shakespeare created so many new words in the English language. Perhaps it had more to do with bad spelling than dramatic flair?

bizarroJenn, from That’s a Jenn Story, invited me and anyone else who’d like to have a go to decipher her Found and Replaced words, discover a new meaning for each and then apply them in an example.

Come on, head on over and give it a bash! http://thatsajennstory.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/saturday-snippets-4/

Corrected Original Definition Usage
exodthem  exodus (vulgar) ex-sod-emAn expletive used to express irritation at a group of people. If they can take a joke exsodem all!
bettheyen  between (noun) beth-ey-enBased on the Hebrew for house meaning a 1950s type wife and homemaker who always has a cold beer for her man, warms his slippers etc. A good bettheyen never questions her husband’s actions. She knows he is the master of the house and she has no right to question him.
conclthemion  conclusion (collective noun) Con-cla-th-em-e-onA term describing small children’s inate ability to sense when their mother is on the loo and annoy the hell out of her one by one and then en masse. I was locked in the loo happily reading Vanity Fair when my kids formed a conclthemion one at each window and one at the door going “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
constitthemion  constitution? (noun) cons-tit-hem-ionThat awkward moment when the hottest man in the world comes over to talk to you and you sit and gulp like a goldfish before stuttering out some platitude wondering where the hell your brain, personality and pride just went. Johnny Depp came over to say hello to me. I think I swallowed my tongue. I was utterly useless. It was a total constitthemion.
ththem  thus (Collective pronoun) th-th-emUsed to deflect blame from oneself to an imaginary group of others It wasn’t me. I promise. It was… it was… ththem! You now the slimy green slugtapusses that live in the fish pond? Ththem.
theyre (without the apostrophe) were (noun) the-ireA term referring to a type of parental rage likely to end in the tears of one or other party Mom went completely theyre and made my brothers get out of the car and walk home!
theme (when it wasn’t meant to say theme) and, my personal favourite: use Th-ee-meBased on the classic Little Shop of Horrors, a term heard often by the mothers of small boys with boundless appetite and wearing retainers. Theme! Theme! I’m starving! I haven’t eaten in forever!
themurp usurp (noun) th-em-urpThe sound made by a sleeping man drooling happily in to the pillow while snoring like a steam engine when receiving an elbow in the ribs by an irate and sleep deprived wife. “Themurp! Wassat! S’a’burglar?”

The Naked Blogger

Being a blogger is like taking all your clothes off and walking starkers down Main Street. It opens you up to all kinds of crazy.

Of course, you’re sharing your personal brand of crazy too. And that’s okay.

When you prepared to let it all hang out, it is worthwhile realising that people do actually read your blog – yep, I know, believe it or not.

If you don’t intend people to read it and want to keep it as a personal odyssey keep it offline.

Now, March 21 is Human Rights Day in South Africa. It commemorates the horrific massacre at Sharpville, but that’s not what this about, it’s about what happened as a result.

Instead of being “Just Another Public Holiday” (which in all honesty it is) we are encouraged to take the day to remember what our human and civil rights are, as set out first in the Freedom Charter and then in our terribly progressive, yet utterly useless, constitution.

One of the most important things to remember in South Africa is that unlike in America, my right not to be offended or discriminated against outweighs your right of freedom of speech. This applies to every sphere public and private.

It means you don’t get to call me a bitch or the C-word.

It means you don’t get to use the N-word or the K-word.


It means that racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist speech is a criminal offence.

Yes, even on a blog.

I don’t care if you’re a proud white supremacist with a pillow case over your head.

Go wild and have a pillow case party all by yourself in the real world, but spreading your particular brand of poison in the public sphere is not only politically incorrect (we are BIG on political correctness in South Africa), it is criminal.  140_with_great_power

Blogging is a lot like being Spiderman (or Winston Churchill).

With great power comes great responsibility.

Think about what you’re saying.

Think about the effect it has on other people.


So when Emporer Lubu waxes lyrical on the feminine ideal according to his world which is inhabited entirely by a sex he likes to call the bitches (and not in a friendly “Hey! Bee-atches” kind of way), I wonder if he stopped to think:”Gee, if R. Edneck were to read this and go home to his trailer and beat his wife into a pulp because his beer wasn’t cold, would I in any way feel I was partly to blame for condoning and justifying his actions that were only intended to train her properly, after all he wouldn’t have hit her if the bitch hadn’t talked back in the first place?”

Having a blog is not a licence to trash your ex, find SWF’s you want to cook and eat for dinner, share your sexual fantasies about children and sheep, or let loose a vitriolic stream of hatred.

By all means spark debate, start a conversation, be controversial, but watch out for that line. In simpler words – don’t be an asshole.

And if you feel your loathing of all women, gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims etc. is worthy of sharing with the world, be prepared to deal with those who disagree.

And for heaven’s sake add a little bit of self-deprecating humour so you don’t come off as a total <insert P-word here>.