Mitten’s Frightful Demise

By a stroke of good fortune, I survived to tell this tale, but last week I nearly died at the hand of a well-meaning human. It was a kill-with-kindness situation which resulted in an unfortunate outcome, reminding me that good intentions can have far-reaching consequences! The human’s generosity toward me, Mitten the hamster, quickly turned into a living nightmare for me and for her too! Of course, I must confess I wasn’t altogether blameless in the fiasco. Desire and greed contributed to my demise.

I’ll share the experience later but first a little history. A few months ago, I was a very unhappy little hamster with no family. I found myself in what the humans call a pet store. I was sad, homeless, and hungry. Although the store humans scattered food around the cavernous cage, it wasn’t like my mother’s cooking. There was a mechanical contraption that dispensed water, but it tasted bitter—not at all like the cold, sweet water I was accustomed to sipping from the woodland streams. The conditions in that store-place were appalling for a well-bred hamster. It was not like my warm, cozy nest under the sheltered tree roots in the wood—the only home I’d known before I was snatched away from my parents and nine siblings.

Home was never like this! This place was an overcrowded, stinky prison where I was forced to endure many indignities, like sharing a small space with others of my species—many were common types who stole food from each other and threatened me harm if I got too close, so I spent most days curled up in a tight ball, trembling in a secluded corner of the cage, hiding as best I could under a few bits of scratchy straw. I tried to sleep and stay out of the way of the other not-so-nice hamsters. Sometimes, a human who worked in the store would open the cage door and remove one of the more boisterous ones. I can’t say for sure what became of them, but chatter from the other hamster inmates suggested that a human bought them. What? Is it legal to steal animals from their families and sell them to humans? Isn’t that animal trafficking? I shuddered at the thought.

One by one, the hamsters disappeared but were soon replaced by others. It was all very puzzling and terrifying. I stressed over what would become of me. Just when I hit an all-time low and arrived at a point where I was depressed and didn’t even care what happened to me, a human boy with a happy, freckled face and a big toothy smile appeared at the cage, right where I was hiding. As I peeked through my fluffed-up fur and a crack in the straw barrier, the boy smiled at me and tried to stroke me through the holes in the wire cage. He had a gentle touch, and I heard him say, “Mom, this is the one I want! He’s so cute! Please, can I have him?”

It was that fast! I was suddenly picked up, whisked away to a backroom, and placed in a cardboard box with a few holes in it. It’ll take me a while to chew my way out, I thought. It was dark in the small container, and I couldn’t see outside as the holes were too small, so I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think I got a ride in what people call a car. I was petrified but happy to be out of that nasty store. I kept hearing voices saying kind things about me. That at least was reassuring. Apparently, they meant me no harm. The boy called Stephen was doing his best to hold me steady in the box, which was bouncing up and down on his lap, causing me to spin around. Twice he apologized for the rough ride. There was nothing for my feet to grab to stabilize my body, let alone anything I could bite to brace myself. I was dizzy. I was about to throw up my disgusting store breakfast when the jiggling up and down stopped, and we entered a place they said was their home—and now mine—since the boy with the big smile opened the lid, peered in and said, “We’re home little friend! I’m going to call you, Mitten!”

The mom reached in to pick me up, but my nerves were still on edge. Instinct prevailed over good manners. Regrettably, from sheer panic, I sunk my two front teeth into her finger and drew blood, at which time she dropped me back into the box. Within minutes, I calmed down, so I allowed the boy to hold me. He stroked my fur and cuddled me to his chest. Gosh, I hope he doesn’t squeeze me too tight, or I won’t be able to breathe, I said under my breath. Then, as I peered cautiously around, four more friendly faces came into view. The taller humans were the parents, but the other two were children and looked very much like Stephen. I later learned they were siblings, his older brother David, and his little sister Chandra.

Sadness gripped me for a moment as I recalled my own family. I so missed Mom and Dad and my brothers and sisters back home in the wood, but all this attention and love from my new family was comforting, and I felt special. They were treating me like a celebrity hamster. Maybe it’ll be nice to live here, I mused, as my positive attitude resurfaced, and fear began to subside. It seems I was a gift for the boy’s birthday! He chose me. He wanted me over all the other hamsters at the pet store and he saved me from sinking into a pit of hopeless depression. It was almost like home. I felt loved.

I soon settled into my new dwelling place in the Tripp household. Inside my private enclosure, the environment was safe and cozy, and while I could see and hear all that was going on around me, the outside walls protected me from anything harmful. I was part of the family but safe inside my hamster house. I sometimes hid in the tunnel and made funny faces at the other furry, four-legged family pet—the dog! He would often sit and stare at me. That’s rude, I thought. Then he would drool and lick his chops loudly, exposing huge teeth that were as big as my whole leg. My mom would say that’s bad manners. It was fun to tease him! I would stick out my tongue, wiggle my fluffy tail at him, laugh, and then run and hide. I knew I was quite safe in my house. It was hard to know what he had in mind, but I think he just wanted to play because once, while I was running around the living room for playtime, he cornered me and licked me with his tongue, saturating my back with his saliva. Yuck—it was sticky like glue! That was disgusting! It took me a long time to wash all that matted fur.

I enjoyed life with my new family. It was Stephen’s job to serve my food, and there was always plenty to eat. He also filled my drinking dispenser with fresh water every day. Sometimes though, the boy who chose me was bored with his chores, and so the Mom asked David or Chandra to do it. Now and then, even their mother fed me if the children forgot, or were running late for school. I especially looked forward to my veggie treats and often overindulged, stuffing my pouch with way too much food, which meant extra time running in my exercise wheel. I didn’t mind a bit—hamsters love to exercise, especially at night. Occasionally, I would stand up on my hind legs letting my family know I was eager to run loose in the living room. That was so much fun! Indeed, I was one spoiled hamster—and I knew it. I was home, and I was loved. Life was good.

The day when I was almost killed with kindness was not fun, nor was it funny. It was terrifying, and I will never forget it although in retrospect I can see why the humans all had a chuckle after the event. I am just happy that the one who caused the near-death incident also saved my life, so ironically, you might say we’re even-steven! No, it wasn’t the boy Stephen, it was his mother who dealt the deed. Here’s how it came down.

The day of my demise dawned like any other. I arose to find the sun shining brightly on me as I yawned, stretched, and prepared for my morning run in the wheel. The dad had already left for work, and the little humans were scurrying about as they dressed for school. I wondered if I could sneak out with them to see exactly what they did there all day, but before I explored that thought, something else seized my attention.

The most beautiful smell wafted through my whiskers.  My face began to twitch involuntarily, as I commanded my nose muscles to engage and follow the scented trail. My strong sense of smell confirmed that it ended in the kitchen. That’s when I spotted the mom assembling sandwiches for the kids’ lunchboxes. She was preoccupied with the task at hand, so she didn’t see my longing look, nor did she hear me smacking my lips impolitely. I guess it requires focus to spoon a sizeable amount of peanut butter from a huge jar, add a dollop of jam, and slap two pieces of bread together to make a sandwich. No, it wasn’t the first time I’d sniffed pulverized peanuts, but this time the scent was very titillating, so much so that I drooled down my chin. Come on, Mitten, I thought, now you’re acting like the bad-mannered dog! So be it! That peanut butter smelled heavenly, and I wanted some in the worst way.

Meanwhile, the three children grabbed their lunch boxes and left for school. I noticed the mom hadn’t screwed the lid back on the peanut butter jar, so the delicious aroma was stronger than ever. It was driving me nuts—no pun intended! The house was quiet, the mom was ready to tidy the kitchen, and I thought it’s now or never. I must get her attention, or I’ll be too late! I must convey my desire for that peanut butter before she hides it away.

I seized my moment. I reared up on my hind legs and clawed vigorously at the door into my dwelling, creating a horrible racket that was most offensive to a hamster’s ear, but she paid no attention! I threw myself on the floor and rolled around in noisy circles. I leaped into the spinning wheel and ran my tail off, until the mechanism squealed for mercy. Surely, she must hear that! Is she ever going to take the hint? I wondered.

She had the peanut butter jar in her hand and was ready to dig the spoon deep down inside to scoop some out. What in the world is she doing? Oh no! Are you kidding me? She’s going to eat the yummy stuff herself! That’s when I panicked. Desperate means were required. I once again reared onto my hind legs, snatched the toy with the bell on its tail, and frantically shook it, beating it savagely against the cage. Finally, she looked over at me, and with the full spoon poised in midair, she came over to investigate the commotion. Whew! It worked!

“What’s the matter, little fellow?” she inquired. Huh, I thought, don’t you know? My crazy antics must have paid off, or she read my mind, because she glanced at the spoonful of peanut butter, looked back at me, and said,

“Would you like a little lick of this?” Hmmm! Would I like a little lick? I thought. How about a giant scoop?

That was the start of my disturbing demise.

Mama Tripp was a kindly soul, and she still liked me even though I bit her when I first arrived. She pushed her loaded spoon through the open door towards me. I grabbed it with my eager little hands, and I was on it! It tasted every bit as delicious as I had imagined. My tongue got a real workout as I licked and licked, sunk my teeth into the gooey mound, and sucked in as much of the creamy yumminess as possible, as fast as I could, as I intended to consume it all. I decided none must go to waste as I may never get another chance. I thought I had died and gone to heaven—for a few seconds.

Suddenly, a large lump of peanut butter stuck in my throat, and the more I gagged in a frantic attempt to dislodge it, the stickier it became. I was soon gasping for air. I fell backward onto the cage floor with my feet in the air—a most undignified position for a hamster of my good breeding. My legs were twitching, and my body was squirming around in the wood chips on the floor. I felt my eyes bulging out of their sockets. I was gulping uncontrollably, and my abdomen was convulsing as I struggled to catch a breath. My surroundings grew foggy, and through the mistiness, I saw events from my young life pass before my eyes. I was fading away. Would I wake up in hamster heaven?

Meanwhile, the children’s mom was panicking. She was white-faced and pleading with her Creator to save my life. She must be wondering how to explain to her children that I died from her negligence! Perhaps she was plotting to replace me before the children returned and pass the new hamster off as me. I felt a fleeting sense of pompous satisfaction that she was suffering too. After all, she was the mother, and she should have known that a greedy little hamster might choke on peanut butter if allowed to overeat. I had no more time to think because the end was near.

That’s when the real drama happened! Right out of the blue, she tore the water dispenser off the wall in my house, and horror of horrors, in a last-ditch effort to save me, she whisked me off the floor with her left hand (rather roughly, I might add) and with her right hand, she rammed the narrow water spout all the way down my throat. That didn’t feel so good, but it pushed the glob of peanut butter out of my throat and into my stomach. One big gasp and life-giving air entered my lungs. I could breathe again. She deposited me gently into the safety of my cage, and straight away she flopped into a nearby chair. I noticed she looked quite disheveled!

Meanwhile, I collapsed onto my carpet of wood chips in a whimpering heap, terrified and exhausted—it was the most uncharacteristic behavior for a hamster of my upbringing. Thoroughly embarrassed, I curled my trembling body into a tight ball, and once my heart stopped pounding, I slept all day.

Later that night, when the children and dad were home, I heard the mom confess her part in the incident. Fortunately for me (and for her too) the story ended happily, and they all had a chuckle at the unfortunate debacle. Mind you, I didn’t think it was funny then, and I don’t think so now, but I am forever grateful I didn’t choke to death on peanut butter, and I still love my human family. I have a happy life, and I have no desire for a lick of peanut butter. No, not even a sniff!

I wonder how almond butter tastes—just kidding! I’ll stick to apple slices and carrot snacks.

Good intentions can have far-reaching consequences!
~ Anthea Gillian Tripp

A Closer Look at the Author

A deeper dive into my thoughts.

While I love people and am considered outgoing, friendly and sociable, I value time alone—time to be still and just be. In the silence of solitude is where I process deep thoughts and reflect inwardly on a wide variety of circumstances and situations that I encounter or observe in life.

As a result, a great deal of thought and expression is woven into the pages of My Souls Sings for You, and in the nine chapters in the book numerous topics are covered—ones most prevalent in the minds of so many people in the life and times of now. Some may see the book as the way I view life, or my philosophy on living.

My friends understand how passionate I am about health and wellness, and to them I offer assurance that I will never stop advocating for healthy living, nor will I ever stop championing our parent company. So much of my personal growth has been a direct result of building our business, alongside my husband for 38 years. So many of my dearest friends have come from business and client associations. And if I am honest, there would be no book without our long-established business, so I am eternally grateful for the opportunity given and the sustained success achieved over the years. What I do is a passion and is central to my life’s purpose. It was yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow. My business has also provided the time and resources for me to write My Soul Sings for You.  

If you study the components of optimum health and wellness, you will know there are many elements to good health and longevity. One critical piece of the health puzzle is learning inner peace. The soul yearns for it and needs it.  However, inner happiness, to be content in all circumstances, is not easy to achieve. In our crazy world of today, people often sacrifice their spiritual health as they strive to have more, do more or be more. Alas, some people even exchange inner peace in an all-out attempt to acquire something admirable, like physical health, by striving too hard and overdoing it. If some’s good more’s better? Not always.

I see a great need for people to live a more balanced life, and a simpler life—one that embraces inner peace and happiness. But how does one achieve it? I believe that the stories in my book will guide my readers down a path of self-discovery, ultimately leading them to seek out, and secure a greater sense of spiritual peace.  

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification
—Romans 14:19

My Soul Sings for You

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Earlier this week, my publisher Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, alerted me that they had submitted my book files to the printer for formatting, and that the official publish date of the book was 18th September 2019. I am delighted to reveal the title and its accompanying tagline.

My Soul Sings for You
Spiritual Peace in the Life and Times of Now

Publishing this 356-page book has been a unique journey that has challenged me as a writer and a person at each step of the process—actions that included writing, editing, selecting cover graphics, interior chapter graphics, creating unique captions to each graphic, as well as reading the entire book numerous times. It all added up to a lot of planning and decision-making amid intermittent periods of waiting patiently as my publisher performed their part in the production process.

The Birth of a Book

I can’t help but see similarities between the creation of my book and the birth of a child. A baby requires nine months to develop and likewise its been exactly nine months since I announced to the world that I would publish a book in 2019. I can hardly believe it’s true!

Since January, when I first announced my intention to author a book, I have shared an assortment of Sneak Peeks posts on social media platforms, highlighting random passages from a few stories in the book. I tagged those posts with #firstbook2019, #bookcoming2019, and similar hashtags—countless times.

It excites me to use the hashtag #publishedauthor on subsequent posts.

Many friends have asked about the book content, and I answered honestly and briefly. However, it’s time to dive deeper into the substance to reveal the theme and what you will read, but first I’d like to share comments from a couple of people who have read the entire manuscript and who offered to endorse the book.

I am so grateful to Ann Miner and Don Watts for the following reviews:

  • Anthea Tripp writes from personal experience with conviction, wit, and wisdom. Her openness, honesty, and witness of her faith lend a sense that the words are written personally for the reader. My Soul Sings for You is a pleasant and easy read.
    —Ann Miner, Author, I Lift My Eyes, Bugs in the Baptismal, Buddy Finds A Home, Polly Possum’s Wandering Path
  • We have been friends for 35 years and I never realized she had this writing talent! This is a great read, with poignancy, humor and faith throughout.
    Don Watts, aka The Old Woodworker, Sugar Land, Texas

On the back cover of the book, you will find the following description:

Do you dream of a simpler life? Are constant demands and nonstop busyness stealing your joy?

Welcome to the life and times of now. Sometimes, amid the clatter of life, we sense a whisper from the depths of our being, imploring us to stop—to seek peace and restoration. We may acknowledge the fervent pleas, yet we’re unable to devote time and attention to our souls. As we juggle the demands and priorities of life, we disregard the spiritual essence of who we are, and whose we are. We neglect our souls. Unrequited, they thirst on.

My Soul Sings for You characterizes the world today. Valuable lessons about family and life in all its glory are gift wrapped in true short stories to awaken your soul and restore your spiritual peace. Refreshingly raw and real, these writings will evoke strong emotions that touch your heart. As you resonate with the storylines, you’ll laugh at the humor in situations, shed tears of sorrow at life’s losses, and rejoice in the triumphs. With your faith renewed, you’ll marvel at unexpected miracles. Your hope will soar to new heights. You’ll experience the beauty of unconditional love and joy.

There is no distinct beginning or ending to this book. Pick it up whenever you have a small block of time to read a topic that speaks to your heart. Be still for a moment or two. It’s time for your soul to sing again.

A few more points of interest for questioning minds:

  • My local book launch will be mid to late October, date TBA
  • I will offer to participate in book signings locally
  • Books will be for sale via numerous online distributors worldwide, including
  • There are three versions: paperback, hardcover, and an eBook. The book retailers determine the price and discounts
  • The book is currently undergoing a professional review—the results anticipated in 11-12 weeks. Fingers crossed.

The rapid transition from production to publishing has left my head spinning—it is very much like giving birth. Lol! One minute you’re pregnant and the next minute you have a real, live baby in your arms! You may be fully prepared for the event and be well aware of the due date, but once it happens for real, you are caught in a whirlwind of activity which is all new to you!

In this instance, it’s not a baby in my arms but a book in my hands—well, almost! My first order of books will arrive in ten days. It’s incredibly exciting, but it’s also a bit nerve-wracking. So much is unknown and this entity has the power to take on a life of its own.

My Soul Sings for You is already visible on some book sites and is available to purchase. I decided to make a public announcement right away—before you stumble on the book by accident! Meanwhile, the Westbow Press marketing folks are designing my website, and promotional materials.

I encourage you to read my book in whatever format you choose and I hope you enjoy the collection of stories. Perhaps something I say will resonate with you or touch your heart and mind, and help you find spiritual peace and a deeper faith. I pray that my words bless you, inspire you and encourage you to nourish your thirsty soul.

If you enjoy the book, please leave a review at the site where you purchased it. Thank you to all who have encouraged me to complete this book. Gratitude overwhelms me. Your generosity and outpouring of love truly humble me.

I pray this book glorifies God, and blesses you abundantly.

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll.
—Job 19:23 (NIV)

Beyond Words

We must read beyond words! When strung together, they can evoke strong emotions or ignite the imagination, creating vivid pictures in the mind. Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words, touch is more powerful, or just being can be the most appropriate of expressions. Then, there are times, when reading or listening, we must look beyond words to discover an inference or a deeper meaning.

For the last five months, while writing the manuscript for my book, I’ve never been more conscious of the power hidden in words, their unique meanings and the impact of connecting the right words into a phrase, a sentence or a paragraph for the most accurate interpretation by the reader. Continue reading →

Remembering Don Allen

I had seen Don around town and heard him singing in the choir on Sundays in Church of the Valley, where Chuck and I and Don and Leota were members. It was hard to miss a man of his stature, but what really caught my attention was the joy on his face as he sang his heart out to the Lord, as beautifully as the birds, which he loved and knew by name. His passion and appreciation for music were undeniable.

My first encounter with Don, and where I really got to know him was in the Rotary Club of Apple Valley. We were inducted the same day and soon became good friends. Our time together in Rotary was fun and memorable and during one of the fining sessions, Don suddenly stood up, and in his booming voice we know so well, he pointed at me and, from across the room, blurted out: Continue reading →

Reflecting and Projecting

At the end of each calendar year, I do this thing in my head. I ponder the year just ending and dream about the year ahead.

I think back over the past and I imagine the future … in context to today, the present. Keeping it in context to the present is important, because inevitably the past year’s impact has changed me in some way, molding me into who and what I am right now. Maybe not a better or worse “me” … but different. There is no status quo because we’re all constantly morphing as we’re affected not only by circumstances within our control, but also those outside our influence.

I’ll clarify for you. Simply put, I do some in depth soul searching of the immediate past, present and future. This process isn’t written down. It’s not a structured format I follow on paper, though I’m pretty sure there are great books and articles available to guide someone through a similar {and probably better} process, but this works for me and has done for many a year and I’m too seasoned to change now!  Lol! 

My thinking goes something like this …. Continue reading →

The Reluctant Participant

I slowly opened the envelope and stared intently at the words on the invitation while a flock of conflicting thoughts flew hither and thither inside my mind.

There was a minute or two of pure mental chaos! My first thought was to accept and go to the party, but ……….

Here it came! The dreaded “but”.  Of course you know the sentiment that follows a “but” usually contradicts what precedes it. The words after “but” seem to be more powerful and they often cancel out what was previously expressed.  Like “I really like holiday parties but ….”.   

In this case, an entire family of “buts” rushed into the white space in my head. Continue reading →

And the Dust Returns to the Earth as it Was

And the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

The three times I’ve experienced death up close and personal, there has been no shadow of doubt in my mind that the spirit, and very essence of life, departs in an instant, leaving its human body, an astoundingly empty and lifeless vessel. As a Christian who believes in a loving, living God, I experienced both sadness and joy at that moment … simultaneously. Extreme sorrow from the loss that was overshadowed by an amazing sense of joy … joy that the spirit of my loved one returned to God. Continue reading →

Do Roses Grow in Heaven Dad?

Happy Father’s Day Dad. It’s been 5 months since you left to be with Mum and I rejoice that you’re together for eternity.  I’ve been thinking of you all week and find my mind wandering … and wondering … upward to heaven.

The weeks have flown by and 8:00 a.m. each day has come and gone and the phone sits there … silently. I miss your familiar ring and our daily chats and even though I know full well you’re not here to call me, the habitual phone call of so many years has left an imprint of expectancy … that we’d be talking, so I thought I’d dial you up in heaven and share some thoughts. Continue reading →