The Care and Management of OPP’s – or . . . Feeding Frogs

 

Frog

If you have children, if you have step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, foster children, adopted children .  .  . in fact, any sort of children what-so-ever, you probably have pets. They go together like, well, dogs and fleas.

And it doesn’t matter if they are little kids either, or adult children well into middle-age. You will still have pets. Even if you decided many long years ago you didn’t want to have pets no more, you ‘re still gonna have them. I call them OPP’s, or, Other People’s Pets.

If you’re lucky, it might be a really cool dog that loves you a lot, will take naps on the sofa with you in the afternoon, or perhaps go for a long walk in the woods and fetch sticks, just like on the Hallmark cards. Fun stuff.

Even a cat isn’t too bad. Especially if it lays in the living room corner and twitches away the day, as it chases mice in it’s sleep. Cats will leave you alone, which isn’t too bad at all. I had a cat OPP for years. I really kind of liked her. She died of old age while still in my care. It was a sad day. Sometimes OPP’s will get under your skin. That is, if you’re lucky.

Or they might be frogs.

African Pygmy Frogs.
African Pygmy Frogs.

Frogs are what I have now. The gift of a currently homeless relative, who knew even before she bought the darned things for her kids that she was going to soon be out of a house. But hey, what the heck, no problem, they can always be dropped off at Grampy Schmucko’s house for a year or so. That’s what dummies are for.

Blood worms

I feed them blood-worms. Yeah, you heard that right, and it is just as gross as it sounds. I have watched the frogs mate, right there under a bright light in their gallon or so of semi-stagnant swamp water. I didn’t recognize the activity for what it was at first, and I thought I knew things. I have cleaned the yucky filter and tried to determine on a daily basis, if the snail that also inhabits the tank is alive or dead. And no, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Another relative likes to take long vacations in Europe once a year. My wife and I get to watch the dog. No stick fetching though.  He’s a good old guy, but he’s also a runner, so we need to block the door like a NHL goalie, even when bringing in arms full of  groceries. I have determined however, that he is not going to escape on my watch. For this gig I wear my prison warden hat.

Then there was the twenty-nine gallon fish aquarium. Had that one for several years, as a bitter divorce played out. Yucky things, fish tanks. The fish too. Especially fishing out the dead ones. Gives me the willies, and I once worked in a morgue.

I once watched a dog for a week, a Kerry Blue Terrier named Casey, that belonged to my brother. He had more teeth than a Great White Shark and wasn’t afraid to use them (Casey that is). The only way I could get Casey in and out of the house for potty-time without losing an arm, was to hook the tines at the end of a garden rake onto his collar and pull him out. After he did his business, the process was reversed. I might as well taken a job as an animal control officer.

Memories. Thinking back, sometimes I can mark the different years by the OPP’s.

Bottom line .  .  . I’ve probably had three or four OPP’s in my life for every pet of my own. I’ve enjoyed a few of them, hated some of them (Casey) and spent a fortune on and never made a penny watching even one of them.

The moral of today’s rant?

If you don’t particularly like Other People’s Pets .  .  . you have better really love your children.

Because if you have kids,  old age is going to mean .  .  . Feeding Frogs.

And that I can promise you.

Have a GREAT day !!!

 

 

 

Dancing Unicorns and Wildflowers

 

Unicorn 2

I was pretty excited back in March of this year, when after about ten months of hard work, I was finally publishing my first full-length novel on Kindle and Smashworks. In the ebook universe, this is everything, as publishing at these two venues will get your work in literally every ebook store on the planet. It was called TIME ENOUGH TO DIE – The Watchmaker – Book One. By Lee Capp.

I sat back and waited for my well-deserved accolades, and in many cases received them. I have yet to get a really bad review and so far have averaged about 4.5 out of 5 stars. Not much to complain about there. There have been a few sales here and there and thousands of free downloads, a good way to build a fan base and reader loyalty. Not too bad for a first novel. I was a happy man . . . sort of.

Trouble was that I most certainly wasn’t getting the same kind of reception from my own family. The first to bite the dust was a brother-in-law. Robert is a wonderful man, don’t get me wrong. A religious person of the first order, his standards are very high. No cussing, no pre-martial sexual relations, and most certainly no dream sequence sex either.

TIME ENOUGH TO DIE begins with one of those – in the very first paragraph. By my standards, it’s pretty tame, but then I am most certainly not a religion person of the first order. And oh yeah, I guess there is probably quite a bit of cussing too. Not to mention a few bathtubs full of blood and gore. Hey, nobodies perfect.

Well, old Bob never made it to paragraph two. When I asked him how he was doing on the book, he said he deleted it from his computer because after reading the opening, he thought he had stumbled onto a porn site.

The next to fall was a step-grandson. All of fourteen. He didn’t even get to the end of the first paragraph before quitting, and warning other kids his own age to avoid it at all cost.  Another step-daughter, a church-lady of great repute, would not deign to begin at all. Some folks asked me to “tone it down.” I was beginning to get a complex.

And not one of them had even gotten as far as the naked gunfight or the torture chamber scenes!

Finally, in a semi-snit, I raged. “But it’s supposed to be a hard-boiled detective story,” I said. “It’s not supposed to have dancing unicorns in it, for pete’s sake!” Then the idea hit. I wondered if I could have a hard-boiled detective story with a dancing unicorn. Someone once bet the great songwriter Cole Porter that he couldn’t write a song titled simply, “I Love You.” He did, and it became one of his biggest hits.

So, when I wrote the soon to be published ELLIOTT BAY – The Watchmaker – Book Two, I put him (or her) into it. He (or her) appears in Chapter Two. And it’s not a dream sequence either. It’s a full- blooded unicorn dancing in a field of wildflowers . . . and dang it, I think it works. I invite my readers to judge for themselves.

I love my fans, both the paying ones and the free downloaders. And of course, I love my family too. To them I say, “This one’s for you.” Who knows? If ELLIOTT BAY ever makes it to the big screen, perhaps the dancing unicorn will make the final cut. I can see him (or her) now, dancing it’s little heart out . . . perhaps to the strains of WONDERFUL BABY. . . sang acappella. Think Don McClean.

Anyway, until next time . . . you all have a wonderful day.

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Children’s Books

THE CREATIVE TEAM RAFANELLI 

Andrea Rafanelli
Andrea Rafanelli with Sammy
Antonio Rafanelli
Antonio Rafanelli
Lara Zarowsky Rafanelli
Lara Zarowsky Rafanelli

Let’s talk books. Not ponderous tomes this time, but children’s books. As in very young children. The two or three to five year olds. What should a child’s first real book be like? I would propose that it should teach something, and lend itself to reading with a parent. It should also have great graphics and color and great visual appeal.

Such books for young children are few and far between, it sometimes seems. Now I have found a couple on Kindle. Yes, they are ebooks, but again that lends itself well to reading with a parent. Both of these fine books may also be coming out in paper in the near future for those who prefer that.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I must admit that both of these little books were authored by my son-in-law, Andrea Rafanelli, and his brother Antonio. Andrea’s wife, Lara Zarowsky Rafanelli, my daughter, was also Editor on the project. But trust me, I’d still love the books, even it I didn’t know the team that created them.

So here they are. Take a look, and if you agree that they both belong in your child’s library, and that they are a great (and entertaining) teaching tool–they both are available from Kindle, for a measly three bucks each, minus a penny. Thanks to all for work very well and thoughtfully done.

The Bully Wave
The Bully Wave

Concerns the very serious subject of bullying. A great way to have that first discussion with a child.

Our Solar System
Our Solar System

A short but lovely and endearing story about how the Sun and all the planets became friends and ran around with each other. A sweet little tale about getting along with people that are a little different.

Thanks once again to all involved. We will all be looking forward to a lot more great installments from this team as time goes by.

 

The Ripper Unmasked

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Like many kids growing up back in the good old days, I had a mom and dad that liked to scare me. Oh, I knew it was always for my own good. Striking old-fashioned icy-cold mortal fear into the hearts of pre-teens, is a darned good way to get them to come right home from school, not talk to strangers, and not hang with the wrong crowd. All the parents did it, and mine were no different.

One of the perennial favorites bad-guys was of course, the ever-popular English boogeyman, Jack the Ripper. He was the cause of a lot of crap being scared out of the kiddies–with myself no exception. You have to remember that this was the early fifties, and old Jack could have been, at least in theory, still alive. I can’t say I ever really stopped to think just how old he would have had to have been. Ninety something if he was a day. It would have made for a no contest footrace between old Jack and me, as I could move pretty darned well back then. Now of course, I move like a ninety year old myself.

Mom would always say something like “He was never caught you know.” It was a tagline guaranteed to send a shiver down my spine.

Those childhood scare tactics spawned a lifetime interest in old Jacko, and I think that at one time or another I probably bought into whatever hair-brained  theory was out there about who the Ripper might have been. They ranged from Russian born butchers, sons of royalty, famous writers and painters, and just plain old common street thugs. Turns out that the simplest answer was the correct one.

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I even included the Ripper in my last published book–ELLIOTT BAY: The Watchmaker – Book Two. I wrote it before this latest Ripper news hit the press, but oh what the heck. I may not have got the right guy in my story, but it is fiction, and a darned good read, so I make no apologies. The first rule in novel writing is: never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

The winner was, by the way, a Polish-born barber named Aaron Kosminsky. He was actually seen at the scene of two of the murders, and was taken into custody by Scotland Yard, but released because the witness refused to testify. He was a paranoid schizophrenic and lived only a couple of hundred yards from the scene of the murders in Whitechapel. But most telling of all is the fact that his confirmed DNA was on the shawl of Catherine Eddows, the Ripper’s fourth victim.

Aaron Kosminski
Aaron Kosminski

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I would invite anyone with an interest in the most fascinating facts of this case, and how the modern art and science of DNA tracked him down and solved this one-hundred and twenty-six year old very, very cold case, to read a most excellent article on the subject can be accessed at:  http://www.smh.com.au/comment/it8217s-case-c

Kosminsky went to an insane asylum the very next year after the murders ended, 1889, and stayed there until his death in 1919. So he was hardly a free man, although he was never charged for his crimes. And as it turned out, he was dead long before I came to live on the planet, so I need not have worried myself so much when I was a kid.

A sordid and bloody chapter in the annals of crime history is now closed, and The Ripper is unmasked. I’m glad .  .  . I guess. It was always a lot of fun playing suppose. Kind of a shame, I guess, that it wasn’t the son of Queen Victoria or the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As it turned out, it was really pretty ordinary and mundane. Most things are, in the end.

Well, here’s to you .  .  . Jacko. Thanks for all the sleepless nights.

And for all the goose bumps.

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Welcome To My World

 

Larry Lee Caplin, aka Lee Capp
Larry Lee Caplin, aka Lee Capp

Well, this is it. The very first blog-post from my brand-new website, larryleecaplin.com. I’d like to tell you a little about what this is all going to be about, but truth be told, I don’t have the faintest idea; hence the title “Apropos of Nothing.”

I got that title from many, many years ago. Back when I was a young guy and living in Detroit. Detroit was a very much alive, and very vibrant town back in those golden and halcyon days. There was tons of fun stuff to do and places to go in that wonderful city by the river.

One of the really neat places to go, was The Detroit Institute of Arts, downtown on Woodward Avenue. Every Sunday afternoon they had a film in the Institute theater. It was part of “The World Adventure Series,” television program hosted by a long-time Detroit booster named George F. Pierrot.  George’s show aired in the late afternoon, five times a week. It would usually promote a visiting travelogue guest. The guest would show, and narrate a 16mm film from his travels, which could be anywhere in the world.

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Generally speaking, that very same guest would stay over in Detroit and show his film again in the Institute theater on Sunday. It would be quite an affair. It was ticketed, and came with all the trimmings, including a four-color program. The program would tell about the host and the film that he was presenting, and of course about The World Adventure Series as well.

On the back page was my favorite item. It was called “Apropos of Nothing.” It was about . . . absolutely nothing. It was about whatever was on George Pierrot’s mind when he wrote it.  And trust me when I tell you, that could be anything. But it was always a lot of fun, and it was one of the things that I remember most about those lovely Sundays afternoons so long ago.

That’s kind of what I want this blog to be about. Absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything, all at the same time, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, that’s alright. Maybe I don’t really know either. Maybe we can find out as we go along. One thing I do know though, is that absolutely nothing will be sacred. Not religion, not politics, not the latest news. Not entertainment, and most definitely not books. It’s going to be a lot about books, which still are, at least to my mind, the purest form of entertainment.

There are of course ground rules. No cussing, no name-calling. No bomb-throwing. No sick humor, although to be perfectly honest, some of my well-known dark humor does skirt the line. I promise I’ll try to be careful about that. Mostly, we won’t be trying to hurt people here, or tear them down. What I would most like to see is something positive. Building things, and people up, and offering positive suggestions and feed-back. Let’s give it a try, shall we?

We’ll go down memory lane quite frequently. I like that place a lot. I spend a lot of time on that particular street, as I am now sixty-five years old, and a whole lot more of my personal road is behind me than in front. Please leave comments. As long as they follow the rules, they will be published. Mean and nasty stuff gets tossed. Fast.

Welcome to my website and my blog. It’s going to be good to get to know you and become friends. Life is a very deep mystery, and very funny sometimes. Sometimes it’s even the “ha-ha” kind of funny. But life is first and foremost, almost always a mystery. Maybe we can figure a little bit of it out together.

Welcome to my World.

George with his ever present globe.
George with his ever present globe.

 

 

 

 

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