The Battle For The Stanley Cup, As Told By Stanley The Cat

October is a fun time of year. Not only is the weather cooler, but the female slave is happy; she says it’s hockey season. This hockey season didn’t start in October, though. As she likes me to call her, Mom had to wait until January, and boy was she grumpy! I thought I was the moody one! 

Hockey is where a bunch of guys chase something called a “puck” with sticks. My favorite toy is a stick as well, but mine has a mouse on end filled with yummy goodness called “catnip.” Mom says I am a nip addict and need a program. Whatever, mom. Go back to watching the TV. 

The puck looks pretty fun to chase; I think I want to try it. I don’t know about this ice business, though. The ice is supposed to go in my water! So, twice a day, I require the slave to supply me with fresh ice or unleash the battle cry of terror until she complies. 

The hockey humans aren’t taking my ice, so I guess it’s okay that they have some too. I don’t know why they put their feet on it, though; Mom yells at me when I put my feet on the ice. Okay, I put my feet on the ice in the glass she is drinking out of, but sharing is caring, right? 

So, now Mom’s favorite team is in the playoffs. I don’t know what playoff means, but I like to play! Mom says they are playing for the Stanley Cup. Excuse me? Why do they want my dish? Of course, this cup would have to be named after me, not the other way around. 

I like to sit and watch hockey with mom. She gives good cuddles, well, until she starts yelling at the TV. She uses a lot of four-letter words. I’m not bilingual, but I think it’s French. The guy we hear in the game telling everyone what’s going on. He does a lot of yelling too, when he yells, mom cheers. 

The other day he kept yelling, “POINT! POINT!” Um, excuse me, do I look like a Labrador? I do not point. Mom says Point is the reason she would be a cougar. Whoa, really, mom? I’m a panther; that would be awesome! Then someone is talking about the Big Cat in the net. WHY IS THERE A CAT IN A NET? SOMEONE LET HIM OUT!!! And for goodness sake, how many cats do we need around here? Apparently, the other Florida cats went away. Mom said, good riddance, I’d have to agree. 

Now they play with Islands. I think that’s weird. The island makes the puck do funny bounces. My toys make funny bounces too. They’re fun to chase. 

I like watching everyone skate back and forth and back again. Sometimes they fall, but they do not land on their feet. Mom says they blew a tire. That’s ridiculous; There are no cars. 

Sometimes they throw stuff, take their gloves off, and fight. I don’t know why they need their gloves off; I find fighting much more effective with my murder mittens out; just ask the dogs! 

Some of the guys hit the wall pretty hard when they’re playing. I do that too sometimes. Mom laughs at me; she doesn’t laugh at the hockey people. 

Lots of people on the TV boo the guys in black and white. I see them on the animal channel; what do these people have against zebras all of a sudden? The guys in black and white put players in a box. Um, hello! Why are we booing this? Boxes are everything! If they don’t want to sit in the box, I will gladly do it!

I digress. Mom says our team is the champs, and she wants them to be the champs again. So, let’s get down to the serious business; how many shrimps can this Stanley Cup hold? I’m hungry. 

Go Bolts!

Bookworm Wednesday! A sneak peek to a work in progress, “Harvesters”

Hey all, welcome to Book worm Wednesday! Today I’m sharing a work in progress. I’m only a few chapters in so I’d love some feedback in the comments section. 

Harvesters is about a new and completely made-up hockey team. The setting is here in central Florida among all the fruit groves that need to be “harvested.” It is told in the points of view of two main characters. Blaine Noble is the captain of the Harvesters and Renee Dougan is the little sister of Blaine’s childhood best friend, Tommy. When Tommy has gone deep into a substance abuse problem, Renee seeks Blaine’s help to get her brother back on track. Blaine is willing to help but some bad people Tommy deals with, don’t like the situation very much. The more Blaine and Renee push to get Tommy help, the more dangerous it becomes for all of them and the harvesters organization. 

This book does contain adult themes and language. 

Here’s a sneak peek at the beginning of Harvesters

Blaine

“SCORE!” I could see the announcer yelling on his feet as the goal light lit and the horn sounded. Hats started to fly onto the ice as the end of game buzzer sounded immediately after. My team surrounded me in the famous hockey hug as we had just secured our place at the top of the division with our 5-4 win. 

I broke away from the pack, the packed arena chanting, “Victory lap!” But instead, I skated right to Kyle Parker, our goalie, wrapping him in an awkward hug over all his gear. The rest of the team followed suit, each tapping their helmet to his; after all, you can’t win a game solely on offense. It’s up to the big man in the pads to keep the puck out of the net. 

We did the diplomatic glove tap exchange line, and after the other team left the ice, I took my victory lap, which was Harvester tradition. By then, the crew had cleaned up most celebratory hats to commemorate my hat trick, giving us the winning goal right when it counted. 

I eyed the stands. The puck bunnies were in full force tonight. I observed my prospects, knowing not a single one would turn me down tonight, not that they ever turned me down. My eyes roamed over the sea of girls. Their short skirts and tight tops left little to the imagination. Then my gaze landed on one in particular. She was up and cheering with the rest of them, her long blond ponytail bouncing as she jumped, her eyes the bright blue color of the sea watching my lap. She wasn’t like the rest of the bunnies, though; she was in jeans and a jersey- My jersey. I scanned her up and down from her plump pink lips, her rack that my jersey did a too good job of hiding, the supple curve of her hips and her legs that went on for days. Those were the legs I wanted wrapping around me tonight. I winked at her, letting her know she was the one.  

We were a brand new team, and my career was taking off. Not that Florida needed another professional hockey team. Still, when tech genius billionaire Wyatt Jennings says he wants to bring ice to his humble community where he grew up, you build an arena. 

I met Wyatt during my freshman year of high school. We were assigned to be lab partners in science class. Wyatt was shocked that I actually wanted to work on the project, not make him do the whole thing, and I take all the credit. Apparently, that happened to him a lot. Wyatt was your stereotypical genius geek, but our last weekend finishing the project at my house, mom asked if he wanted to stay for dinner. We ate in front of the TV, it was an away game for our team, and as soon as the puck dropped, Wyatt was fascinated. 

I’d been skating since I could walk. I had talent with the stick, and seeing as we followed my father wherever the army sent him, joining every kid’s hockey league was the quickest way to make friends. I didn’t usually get to stay long enough to win a championship, but I got my teams to a position to get to the playoffs with being there most of the season. 

I brought Wyatt out on the ice once. We had the same size feet, so he got into a pair of my skates. What wasn’t so easy, it turned out, was him staying up on them. He turned out to be much happier in the stands, cheering me on. He would analyze the players on the other teams and compare them to pro players, he filled me in on their strengths and weaknesses, and at the end of that season, I won my first championship. I left my trophy with Wyatt as we soon moved again. 

Years later, he was building a team, and I was his first call. The Florida Harvesters became my new home. Of course, there wasn’t anything tough or scary about central Florida’s fruit harvesting, but the scythe-wielding grim reaper, harvester of souls, made an excellent mascot on our black and orange home uniforms. 

I had kept in touch with my friends over the years. It was easy to do through email, even if it was a monthly ‘hey, how’s it going?’ That got returned three weeks later. When Wyatt needed a team, I called on the best of the best from my childhood. It turns out we were still good, and having being army brats in common for most of us, we bonded like no other on and off the ice. 

I found them all, except one. Tommy Dougan was my first best friend. We met on the ice when we were eight. He was always my best winger. Our dads served in the same unit, so we traveled together until we were twelve when his dad retired from military life and mine kept going. I missed Tommy. He was always ready for practice on the neighborhood pond or local skating rink. Always willing to push his annoying little sister Renee on her butt as soon as she got on the ice. That never stopped her from following us around, though. She was a mess of slim arms and legs, too long for her skinny frame, braided pigtails, and braces. She annoyed the hell out of Tommy, but their parents made him let her tag along anyway. He pushed her down, but it was always me that helped her up. I was an only child and always thought a sibling would be amazing, even if it were an annoying little sister. As long as I knew Tommy, Renee became my little sister too. Renee was more than that, but I would never tell Tommy how I felt about her. She had a kind heart, always trying to impress us and make us laugh. She also had these big blue eyes that I couldn’t help but admire. 

Tommy and I stayed in touch until we were sixteen. He had an accident on the ice and tore an ACL. It was always Tommy’s dream to go pro. Even when the injury healed, who knew if he would be good enough when his confidence was shaken. He became more and more depressed, and as time went on, despite my best efforts, Tommy disappeared. I thought about him as I was making calls to recruit players. I wanted him here, with me on the team, on the coaching staff-something, but I had no idea where he went. 

I had finished my shower and followed my team out of the locker room where the puck bunnies waited in the hall. It was the same every time. We walk through, announce what club we were hitting up that night then search out the one we winked at from the ice when we got there. They never had any idea what was going on in the game; just that the number on our scoreboard was bigger than the number on the other teams was enough to get them under us at the end of the night. 

I made my way down the hall, and there she was, entirely out of place being fully clothed. I looked right at her as the defensemen behind me were calling out the name of the club. 

“Nice hat trick, Noble!” She called out to me as I walked by. I stopped and studied her, there was something familiar about her, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

“No one ever could catch you on a breakaway. It looks like you just got faster. Guess that’s how you’re leading the team in points,” she said. 

My eyebrows raised as I stopped and studied her. 

“Why are you staring at me like there’s a limp dick growing out of my forehead? Did you think I was one of these fuck toy bunnies?” She asked me. 

I stared at her in shock. The girl was no bunny. She could spout hockey stats, had the face of an angel, the body of a vixen, the mouth of a sailor, and the whole package was wrapped up in my jersey. I was in love. 

Renee

“Put me in with the bunnies,” I told the kid at the arena ticket window. 

The guy scanned me up and down. “You’re certainly hot enough, but you don’t look like a puck bunny,” he said. 

“I’m not, but tonight I need them,” I replied. 

The guy gave me a funny look but sold me the ticket. I found my seat in the packed arena, and sure enough, puck bunnies surrounded me. I smiled briefly at the guy calling me hot. Sure, puberty had done well by me, but I wasn’t here for the players. Well, scratch that; I was here for one player, but not in that sense. I was here for my brother. Tommy had gone off the deep end, and I was worried about him. What had started with wanting too many painkillers after a teenage hockey injury had grown into a full-blown adult drug addiction. Tommy needed help, he needed rehab, and he needed someone who would get him there. I couldn’t do it, our parents couldn’t do it, losing his girlfriend didn’t do it, so I opted for the next step- his childhood best friend. That is if Blaine Noble’s ego hadn’t grown big enough to forget who his friends were. 

I recognized a bunch of names on these jerseys from the army bases. I was guessing this team was all Blaine, and he did know who his friends were. Unfortunately, Tommy was currently not on the roster. I knew if Tommy were whole, he would be right next to Blaine, on his line, every shift, every game. 

Blaine skated a fantastic game, scoring three goals. I ripped my hat off my ponytail and threw it down toward the ice with everyone else’s, and joined in the celebration. The brand new Florida Harvesters had won the game and the top spot in their division. Blaine had gotten his second hat trick of the season, and it was only half over. He celebrated with his team on the ice and did his due diligence to send off the losing team before taking a slow victory lap for the remaining fans. My particular group of bunnies was the loudest and caught his attention. His eyes set on me. He cocked his head like he was trying to figure me out. Did he remember me? He hadn’t seen me since I was eleven. He scanned me up and down and sent me a wink. Maybe he remembered me after all?

Blaine had always been my favorite friend of Tommy’s. I idolized my big brother. He was barely a year older than me, and I was a tomboy. I followed him everywhere. Mostly because Mom made him let me come, he hated it and took every opportunity to knock me down, especially on the ice. The other girls had figure skates, but not me. I had hockey skates, and I was determined to use them. The rest of Tommy’s friends laughed when he pushed me down, but not Blaine. He always helped me up. “Come on, little Doogie,” He’d say as he pulled me back to my feet. “We’ll knock him down next.” We never did knock Tommy down, but it always made me feel better that Blaine helped me up instead of laugh at me. When I was eleven, I wrote in my diary that I would marry Blaine Noble one day. 

Now, I just needed to talk to him. I needed him to know what was going on with his friend and try to get him to come to help me knock some sense into my brother. The bunnies were filing out of the stands, and I knew they would lead me right to the players, so I stuck with them. This was my best chance of getting Blaine to notice me. 

It worked. The players were walking through the hall. All showered and dressed for a night out to celebrate the victory. They announced the club they would be partaking in alcohol consumption at, giving the puck bunnies the benefit of showing up there to go home with one of them. I waited as most of the team passed, several eyeing me before one of the girls in a lot less clothing clutched onto their arms. 

Then I spotted him. The guy was attractive even as a kid, but man, did he grow up hot. Whips of his dirty blond hair fell over his forehead, still damp from his shower. The fitted black t-shirt over blue jeans left little to the imagination about the abs that hours in the gym sculpted underneath it, and his emerald green eyes apparently could melt a woman’s underwear right off. I had heard from the gossip news that Blaine Noble had become quite the playboy in his rookie season of pro hockey. He was headed in my direction and had already passed over about six puck bunnies. 

His eyes met mine as he approached. I started to believe the hype about the underwear melting as I felt my insides heat up from his gaze. Stop it, Renee, he’s practically your other brother, and Tommy needs you. Put your hormones in check, I said to myself. 

“Nice hat trick, Noble!” I called out to him. 

He stopped in front of me, studying me. I continued to spout stats at him, telling him I wasn’t a regular puck bunny. I knew the game. I was expecting a line from this smooth talker who had winked at me not even an hour before, but he continued to study me. 

“Why are you staring at me like there’s a limp dick growing out of my forehead? Did you think I was one of these fuck toy bunnies?” I asked him. 

“Hey!” said a short blond in booty shorts and a crop top, giving me a dirty look. 

“No offense,” I smiled sheepishly at her. 

She smiled sweetly at Blaine and, when she figured she wasn’t getting anywhere, started making eyes toward the goalie. 

Blaine and I turned our attention back to each other. “Don’t tell me you’re too good to recognize an old friend’s little sister,” I said. 

“I’m pretty sure I’d remember a little sister who looked like you, and I’m pretty sure her brother would have kicked my ass for what’s going through my head right now.” 

There he was, the playboy. 

“Blaine, it’s Renee,” I said. “Renee Dougan.”

“Little Doogie? No fucking way!” Blain said, his face lighting up. He studied me closer and saw the scar on my forehead over my left eye where I had walked into Tommy’s skates slung over his shoulder when I was following them, and he stopped abruptly in front of me. “It is you!” He said and dropped his bag of gear. Blaine wrapped me in a bear hug, picking me up and swinging me around. I squealed as I hugged him back. 

He set me down and put his hands on my shoulders, looking me over. “Wow, you grew up!” 

“Yeah, that tends to happen over the years,” I countered. 

“You always were a smart ass,” He said with a smirk. 

I know he meant it friendly, not sexual, but a hot guy’s smirk always had the power to melt me. Blaine’s currently was no exception. “Always better to be a smart ass,” I started.

“Than a dumb ass,” We said in unison, laughing as we repeated what his father always used to tell us.  

“How is your dad?” I asked him. I knew his mom had passed away a few years ago. They were overseas at the time, so that we couldn’t attend services, but Dad had made sure to send a card from all of us. 

“He’s good!” Blaine said, “Still out in Montana. He’s come down for a couple of games.” 

Just then, the last of the guys burst through the locker room doors, doing a lot of celebrating. A forward from Blaine’s line known as ‘Turner’ stopped to throw an arm around him. “Captain, you going to introduce me to your friend?” He asked, winking at me. I gave him a polite smile. 

“Hell no, you womanizing pig, get outta here,” Blaine said, laughing the guy off. 

“You coming to celebrate?” Turner asked. 

“Eh, We’ll see,” Blaine said. 

“Awww shit, I get it, see ya, captain!” The guy said, looking between Blaine and me with a seemingly knowing smile before strolling down the hall and cheering some more. 

“Renee, can I take you to dinner? The locker room hallway isn’t the best place to catch up,” Blaine said. 

“Yeah, I’d like that,” I replied. I was grateful for his invite. What I needed from him was going to be a lot easier to ask in a quiet restaurant. 

An hour later, I was in a little black dress, parked in the lot of an Italian restaurant about to ask professional hockey’s rising star for help with my addict brother. Still, if I had to be honest with myself, Tommy wasn’t the only reason I was nervous about having dinner with Blaine. 

Monday Motivation: Be Fluffy!

Today, I’m going to talk about something a little different, but I feel it’s important. 

It’s the importance of being your less than serious self. I’m going to use writing as an example. 

There are several types of writers. Journalists, for example, bring us the news of what’s going on in the world. They write facts, the real stuff, no matter how pleasant- or daunting they may be. 

Is this an important role? Absolutely. However, that’s not the type of writer I am. 

Bloggers, traditionally, give us information or teach us how to do things. Are they important? Heck yes! I learned how to crochet, make jewelry, clean stubborn stains, and make homemade dog biscuits from blogs. They’re similar to journalists in that everything you want to know, someone has written about the subject. Is this the type of writer I am? Nope. While I have a blog, It’s less than serious information, and there are no how-tos. I would never grace myself with the title of teacher. 

Researchers publish their findings to show the world new things they’ve discovered and why they’re valuable. Their words improve life by showing us what’s out there. Everything we know today is because someone discovered and reported about it. These writers are of monumental importance. I, however, am not one of them either. 

I write what some consider to be fluff. I enjoy the less than serious approach to life. Why do I believe this to be important? Because we all deserve a break sometimes. We need to take a load off from the world. 

I have a confession to make. I’m a TikTok junkie. TikTok is a fantastic platform that connects like-minded people through a genius algorithm. It shows you a variety of people making videos, you start liking them, and then it brings you together with more people who enjoy the same things you do and more creators that provide this content. 

The best thing I have found since I’ve started my writing journey is BookTok, TikTok users who love to read, and several authors, many indie authors like myself. 

What’s troublesome is how many of my fellow romance authors are told they’re not real writers, that their writing serves no purpose; it’s “fluff.” 

Au contraire. We have a purpose. We provide a much-needed break from reality. In our world, the quirky girl gets the hot guy. The villains pay for their crimes, and there’s a happy ending. We go into dimensions of magic and mystery where mythical creatures exist, and fantasies come true. We want to bring our readers with us to other worlds of mystery and wonder, even if just for a little while. We want to provide that escape when the real world gets overwhelming. 

I feel this is the case for anyone who provides entertainment. Authors, actors and actresses, professional athletes, musicians, and anyone else in the entertainment industry play an essential role in the world. Some may see what we do as fluff, but I say, be fluffy; someone has to. 

We may not change or save the world, but we do make it a little brighter. 

The Feather Appeared

I had a dream, not a famous one but an ordinary dream. A couple of dreams, actually. In those dreams, feathers appeared. Now, I’ve always heard the quote “when angels are near feathers appear,” but I hadn’t seen it until now. In my first dream, I shared a meal with my parents, who have both passed on. I was whining and carrying on about being sick and tired of being sick and tired and not being able to get up and go to work. I had gotten very ill in January and wound up septic in the hospital for a week. Following hospitalization, I was primarily on bed rest due to a leg wound that required me to elevate my leg as much as possible. Due to lack of activity for three months and not being in great shape, to begin with, I lost a good deal of muscle tone in my legs. I had also advanced into stage 3 chronic kidney disease and am carrying around a good bit of water weight. Doctors recently discovered I have degenerative joint disease in my spine, hips, and knees and something in my lower back is not where it should be. All of these make minimal tasks very difficult for me. Mom looked at me from across the table and said, “if you cannot get up and go to work, then work sitting down,” and with that, they were gone. I was left in the booth by myself, and when I ran my hand along the top edge of the stall, I felt something metal. I picked a carved metal feather with ribbon on it, a bookmark. I knew the feather was significant, but I didn’t know why at first. My medical condition has left me in a state where my former employer no longer held my job because I could not do it at the end of my FMLA time. I can’t commit to any 9-5 right now with the number of doctor’s appointments, medical tests, life-changing procedures to follow, and the like. I started to research work from home positions, and the same consistently caught my eye: writing. A light went off in my head, and the metal bookmark reappeared. It’s a feather from heaven with a message: books. I decided to write a book. I needed a subject. Some thoughts occurred but seemed more short story type than a book. Enter dream number 2. There’s some background to this. For a very long time, I have been dealing with anxiety. Not normal pressure, no mine is wake up in the middle of the night in complete panic and never want to leave my house anxious. It stems from stress regarding medical issues, having so many complications of my condition, being unable to work, figuring out how to support myself, jobless roommate and pets when I just have savings, not feeling well ever, and finding normalcy in a completely abnormal situation. An excellent friend helped me develop “my happy place.” A place I create in my head where I imagine myself being when the stress gets to be too much. Shortly after the book idea, I began to worry about all of the above, and I went to my happy place, and I fell asleep. I remained in my happy place in my dream and at my favorite resting point was a feather. I woke up and said I’m going to write a story with my happy place as the setting and the ideas sprang forth. I’m doing it. I’m writing a book. At the time of this blog, I’m 20,000 words in, and I’ve just begun. I realize a book is a big undertaking and won’t happen overnight, so I’m looking for some other projects too. This blog will be one of my projects. It will showcase my thoughts, my struggles, my health, and life journeys and, at times, feature some short stories or random things. It’s a jumping point to bigger things. Even being gone all this time (1994), Mom still gives good advice.