Romeo and Juliet through Children’s Literature

This is a project I created for a Shakespeare class I am taking at APUS. I couldn’t get the school system to upload the powerpoint file, so I added it to my page. Submitting the page for a grade.  All artwork included in this assignment is the property of Arleen McCann aka Art by Ms. Arleen.

Arleen McCann

McCannA_Research Project Powerpoint

My Artwork “Homage to The New Colossus”

As some of you know, I am pursuing my B.A. degree at American Public University. For my American Poetry class, one of my assignments is a creative project based on an American poem. I chose the Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus”.  Considering the political atmosphere of the past several months I believe this is as important to the fabric of the American culture than ever before.

My artwork has 3 dimensional elements that have been assembled into a background of tropical topaz blues with ivory and gold. You see the backdrop of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.  Elements of time, keys and gates are included. These represent, the immigrant’s key to a brighter future as they enter New York Harbor. The golden swirl is the energy of their future prosperity in America. In the upper left corner is a copy of the poem that has been printed on printable vellum. All elements were adhered with Modge Podge.  The actual piece measure 11×14. It is gessoed art board with 2 inch sides.

I am proud to be an American. I think this country was built on a melting pot of experience and traditions brought to us from all points of the world. With the exception of the Native American Indians, we are all immigrants. Our families all came here from somewhere. We owe those who pass through the gates of freedom with only the hopes of a new life, a debt of gratitude.

IMG_0696I hope you enjoy my artwork. I will be listing it for sale soon. Prints will be available on Fine Art under Art By Ms.Arleen.


I See Her Staring There…

This is a piece that I recently wrote as an assignment for my Personal Essay class. On the surface I know some might wonder what I am doing working toward a degree at 54. I do this because I want it. I want to open up the long closed corners of my life and set this stuff free. If for no other reason, working toward this degree has allowed me the creative freedom to let go. It has given me the confidence to write and yes, the confidence to live. I don’t know if I have shared this, I might have. Years ago, I was in an English 101 class at junior college. A wide-eyed,  girl who frankly, didn’t know her butt from a hole-in-the-ground. I handed in what i thought was a stunning paper,to be told it was a piece of garbage. I, yes that is the important word here, I allowed that to take hold and hold me back. I held me back for a very long time. I take responsibility for that and I am moving forward.

There have been two things I have always loved to do. Write and Paint. Since I was a little girl I have been hard pressed to separate the two. I think with that in mind, the one thing I have been blessed with in my life is the ability to create!  Even the word to me gives me energy-C-R-E-A-T-E! When you boil the salt down to the bottom of the pot, that is what is left for me. It is what I have been put here to do-Create.  For me writing and art go hand in hand. When I create my storybooks, or picture books, I am creating a character, giving it life. When I take those characters and give them form and features, adding colors and texture, I am giving a dimensional quality to this work only I can do. Someone reminded me of that yesterday.  Thank you James Ray. I am listening. I needed to pass that on. So this is one form of my creative ability. My personal essays. What follows is outlined in the reflection letter. Thank you for taking this journey with me.


Reflection Letter for Essay

I was inspired to write about this topic because my mother has always been my best friend. I have always tried to be there for her and my Daddy.  So in February of 2000, when my Mother asked me to move home and help her care for Daddy, I didn’t have to think twice about my answer. I packed my apartment up and moved the 25 miles home.  The hardest part of writing this essay is opening the emotional dam hidden in my heart for so many years. It is hard to watch your parent’s age. It is hard to experience the flip-flop in roles: first being daughter, then being caretaker. The stress of trying to be all to everyone is overwhelming. Sometimes, even the caregiver gets sick. Those are the most challenging moments- when your mind and soul are weary. When it is hard to muster hope. I never anticipated that nearly 17 years later I would still be in this position in life. For all intents and purposes, my life, my dreams, my goals all ended. I had to keep those feelings at bay and let the love and most importantly, the respect for my parents take command. My Daddy passed away in 2009.  It was a cold winter day in February. That is when my Mother began to show signs of more than just an overwhelming grief, but a loss of a part of herself.  Suddenly I had my Mother and fifteen acres of land in my care. This girl, who felt more accustom to a coffee shop in the city was now having to learn to use a tractor and fix a porch. So, those are the strengths and weaknesses of this essay- the emotional underpinnings. I can only improve on my writing by writing and facing the emotional moments. Not sugar coating emotions and feelings.

I Watch Her as She Stares
I watch her as she stares at the controls on the stove. Hesitantly and lightly she touches the buttons. These buttons make no sense to her garbled mind. A mind that whirls with whispers of confusion. The voices of the past speak to her in a language she no longer understands. And so I watch. I am caught between the need to swoop in and take care of the matter and allowing her the independence to continue trying. After all its only turning on an oven. Such an everyday affair for a woman who lovingly prepared meals for her family for a vast majority of her 83 years. And yet she stares. She is locked in battle with a need for self-reliance against the void of oblivion. I sense her intense frustration and move to push the button. She rebukes me. “I can do it myself.” I let her continue with the fight. I allow her the patient individuality she allowed me when I was a child. I still recall her watchful eye upon me as I baked my first cake at six years old. It’s was a beautiful, delicate shade of pink, filled with pops of strawberry flavoring. The room was warm from the glow of the oven coils. I was so proud of that cake. It had the same delicate glow Mother carried in her continence every day. A beautiful, yet proud spirit. A woman with great love for her family.
She musters her courage. She is so afraid of what lies ahead. She pushes the button. Then it comes over her, that same smile that graced her face for so many years. She won a battle, albeit a small one. She feels a moment of personal satisfaction. I relish the moment with her knowing that one day she will acquiesce to the abyss in her mind.  The torrid horror shows of convoluted thoughts and wild imaginings. We put the biscuits in the oven. I leave her with our little dog, Maxie and her television show.
As I sit composing thoughts on my computer I hear the shrill blaring of the smoke alarm. I return to the kitchen to find Mother staring more intently than before. A panic comes over her. I assure her everything is okay, anything to calm her down. I pull the now black biscuits out, turn off the oven. After silencing the smoke alarm, I look to see my Mother languishing over the remains of the biscuits. I can tell her spirit was charred forever. An everyday task she performed ten thousand times has become an echelon of angst. I try to reassure her, “It will be okay Momma. I will make some more biscuits. It will be okay.” She turns and starts back to the sofa, “No”, she says, “it will never be okay again.”

Farewell My Friend

July 13, 2016

Farewell My Friend.

Ms. Kitty crossed the Rainbow Bridge today at 1:30 p.m.  She had a very restless night. All of the horrible things I heard and read about were coming to fruition. I did not want my sweet little Ms. Kitty to suffer so I took her to our Vet. She passed peaceful in my arms.  I would like to publicly thank Dr. Springer for his kindness and overwhelming compassion today. He cared for Ms. Kitty with the respect she deserved and helped me bear my burden. Such a talented Veterinarian and a wonderfully kind human. I will be forever appreciative.  

Tonight as I sit here at my computer, I hear the sounds of Tazzy eating from his dish. I treasure my fur-babes. They bring me joy and help me through the moments of life that are sometimes so hard to bear. I am filled with guilt for ever buying those cat treats. She was so happy and healthy before she starting eating them. Today was one of those days that I will not forget. The surreal silent solitude as I came home in the car. My oldest brother drove down to help us give her a proper burial. So now, Ms. Kitty is home and she is at peace beneath the shade of the dogwood tree. She loved to play under that tree.

I know in time this pain will not sting so bad but tonight my heart is broken.  I will miss and love her always. She was a trust companion and one hell of a mouser. Some of my dearest memories are of her when she would bring me her “gifts”. She brought us everything from snakes to gophers to lizards. I remember telling her, “Ms. Kitty, I don’t really like lizard, sweetie. You can have that one.” She gave me that Donald Trump look with her lips pursed up as if to say, “Who the hell doesn’t like lizard?” She had those looks; a cross between Trump and Grumpy Cat. In the coming months I will try and recreate those smiles that made my heart laugh. That is one of beautiful things about art, time stands still.

Well not much left to say but thank you Ms. Kitty, RIP my friend.


Ms. Kitty 2013- July 13, 2016



Ms. Arleen

All Things Considered…

I didn’t post anything about Ms. Kitty yesterday. The first thing Sat. morning she got up and went to the back door again, just like on Friday. We told her again that it was way to hot to be outside (heat index was expected to be triple digits). She cried the saddest little meow. Kept staring out the back door. This broke my heart. I know she wants out but if she gets to the storage building and gets underneath, I don’t know how I would get her out. We did what we thought was best, told her no. I picked her up and rocked her for a while then took her back to her bed.

Gave her a small dose (less than 1ml) of slipper elm syrup) just enough to coat her stomach. Waited for about 10 minutes for it to work. Followed that up with 2ml of Clinicare Supplement.  We went through this exact procedure twice till 10 last night. Got up at midnight and checked in on her, she was still fine and had used her litter box again.


Kitty on Sunday morning 7/10/16. 

First thing this morning, I checked in on her. She was sitting there just looking at me. When I reached to pet her, she purred and blinked her eyes. I think I have mentioned this before, I read somewhere that cats say I love you when they blinked their eyes at you. I will have to find that link and post It for everyone.  It’s expected to be a hot day again today but not as bad as yesterday.

I will be sitting with her most of the day in the office. I have a lot of work to get done online, most of it classwork that has be turned in by 10:55 CST tonight. My course this term is Hemingway and it requires a lot of work in prep for writing.  Thank goodness, I didn’t take two classes. There are days when the words flow easy, then there are those days when I have so much on my mind that I can’t concentrate to get anything done. I have had nearly a week like that, a foggy muddled mind. I tried to meditate last night, Mother was restless so that was a no-go. She finally went to bed, so I did too. Long story short, after checking on Kitty at Midnight, I got a few hours of sleep. I had intended on being up at 4 or 5 but slept till after 7. Enough of this, time to get busy on my writing. Putting some classical chamber music on, that would be soothing to both of us. Going now, time to write.

Ms. Arleen

Ms. Kitty update for 07/08/2016

Well it’s 8:40 A.M. Ms. Kitty is wide awake and alert this morning. I did not give her the Clinicare through the night, wanted to let to use the litter box. Afraid if she can’t urinate, it will just cause her pain to give her fluids if she can’t rid them. Above all, I don’t want her to suffer. To our amazement, she jumped off the desk walked to the backdoor and meowed to go outside. We didn’t let her outside for a couple of reasons. First, she is still too sick to be outside But the main reason is the heat index is supposed to be way over 105 degrees today. We were afraid she would be going outside to die and we wouldn’t be able to find her.  Cats do that sometimes, especially cats that were born feral. I suppose it is just her instinct. After Mother and I told her “no Ms. Kitty” she walked back into the office where I have her bed set up on my drawing table. She likes this spot a lot. She meowed for me to put her back up there, so I did. I also have her litter box sitting up there so she can get to it without a lot of effort. She used her litter box, then laid back down on the bed. I am going to get her some Clinicare now and give her 3ml. 

6:00 p.m. Well, had errands to run today so was away from the house for a while. When I got home around 2pm I checked on Ms. Kitty. She was alert sitting on the desk. She had used her litter box a little and was drinking some water from her dish. I gave her some Clinicare around 3:30 p.m. She held it down. Thankful we have no vomiting. Some of the credit for that may come from the use of Slippery elm syrup. Just a tiny bit coats her stomach and lowers the acid. Then I gave her the Clinicare supplement. She took a nap afterwards.  It anyone wants the recipe for the Slippery elm syrup I will provide the link at the end of this post. This is a picture of Kitty tonight quietly taking a nap with her new gray mouse I bought her today.

mskitty70816 resting.jpg

Ms. Kitty taking a nap with her new gray mouse. We named it “Minnie”.


Well, took care of all the other chores to be done around the house. I still have to work on my homework post for this week so going to sign off now. I will probably be back up at 4a.m. to check in on Ms. Kitty. Goodnight to you all.

Ms. Arleen 

Recipe for the Slippery Elm syrup for cats in renal failure. This is a wonderful website with a lot of information on the disease. The link follows:

Ms. Kitty Update for 7/7/2016

Well, it has been a couple days since I brought Ms. Kitty home. On Tuesday I received some products I found for cats in renal failure. One of them is a product called Clinicare Feline Liquid Renal Care. I will not lie, it cost a good bit for one can, but I am down to brass tacks here. I ordered it on Amazon for $11.48 a can with Prime shipping. I needed it fast so I am so glad I have Amazon Prime. It came yesterday.  It’s like Ensure for cats- a liquid feeding supplement for cats in renal failure. I have to do something to get some nutrition in her. I used a feeding syringe that holds up to 10ml. I am only giving 2ml at a time. I figure this is about all she can tolerate. She is still drinking water from her dish.  I started giving the Clinicare around 5 pm as soon as UPS delivered it. She held still while I gave it to her, then she began licking her lips like she liked it. I put a little on a dish but she wouldn’t lick on her own.  So far I have given her a total of 6ml. She has tolerated it well. No vomiting. That was my first concern with giving her fluids by mouth.


Ms.Kitty at 3 a.m. on 7/7/2016

I got up at this morning to sit with her and work on my classwork (I am pursuing a degree online at APUS in English.) She usually sits with me when I work on papers. It felt like old times, she sat up on the desk with me watching me type till about 4:30. Then she abruptly got down, staggering. She went under the bed and sat there until 6 a.m. Mother and I are both wondering if this is one of the signs of her decline-wanting to be alone. I took it as a cue and left her to herself and went back to bed till 10a.m.

She was back on the desk, alert. I could tell she had not used her litter box at all. This worries me. I see her drink water but not urinating is not good. I did not give her the Clinicare yet today. I don’t want to overload her kidneys with more fluid that she can process. She is not in pain. Alert and looking around.

I will go for now. I am going to go sit with her a little while. I will post again tomorrow.

Ms. Arleen

Our Journey with Ms. Kitty

Typically, I share my artwork or my writings on this page. However, for the next several posts, I will be journaling the life of one of my cats, Ms. Kitty.  She was a healthy, active cat until a week or so ago. She began to be crankier than normal, hissed at the other cats more. We thought it was just Ms. Kitty being Ms. Kitty. Then she didn’t want to eat her wet food anymore. All she wanted was Temptation Cat Treats. So much so, I bought the huge box. It never crossed my mind that anything could be wrong with giving them to her. It even states on the backside of the container you can substitute for a meal. They made her happy, we thought.  Then around the end of June she stopped eating, then a few hours later, she stopped drinking. She retreated to a corner in the office where no one could reach her easily. She just wanted to be alone. I began then to wonder if the treats were under a recall. I started researching the matter online. I found a website,, that has over 263 reports of cats with renal failure after eating theses treats.  Make that 264 after mine is posted!  I know I cannot state that this is the definitive cause of her illness but it is the last food product my cat ate- pretty good evidence when coupled with the 263 reports.

On June 29, 2016 I took Ms. Kitty to Animal Hospital of Walker County. Dr. Kimbrell could see right away she was a very ill cat. He suspected bowel blockage or kidney failure. After running her labs, there was no doubt, she was in renal failure. Her BUN was awful high.  He kept her there on IV fluids for the next several days. Today, July 5th, after we discussed it with Dr. Kimbrell, we brought her home. He is an excellent Veterinarian and I mean excellent. He has done everything he possible can for our cat.  She is a very strong and is fighting to stay here with us. We intend to do everything we can for her.

I have always thought there were valid instances when the saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword” was true. This is one of those times. I intend to shine a white hot light on this subject and this product.  So many cat owners cannot be wrong. Each owner loved their pet as we love Ms. Kitty. When I say “we” I am referring to myself and my 83-year-old mother who is heartbroken. At night, Ms. Kitty, stayed very near mother. They have a special bond. Each pet parent wanted the best for their fur-babies. We are no different.  There are some who sue these companies. Mother and I are not litigious in nature. We could never and would never put a value on Ms. Kitty. She is a member of our family. We just want someone, anyone in the FDA or some authority to inspect these complaints. If these treats are causing harm to our cats, they need to be pulled off the market. I know, we have the added ingredient of greed (yes, I said it!) in this equation. I suspect they make a great deal in profit off this product line, but an honest third party investigation is merited.

Now to what I can do for Ms. Kitty. I can show you what a gem of a baby she is-through pictures and recounting her journey with us.

Right now as it stands, she is taking water but will not eat. I have bought some low phosphorus, high protein food. I will also try some things I have ordered on Amazon.  I will update tomorrow. For now I will leave you with a picture I took today. I am going to put on some chicken and see if I can get her to take a little broth.

As always, much love my friends,

Ms. Arleen

Links to Websites used:

mskitty 07052016 (2)

Ms. Kitty after we brought her home from Vet Hospital. Taken July 5th, 2016.

My Sisters

It’s always sad when someone you cared about passes away. Even though you knew they had been dealing with illness, it is still shocking to hear those words, “she is gone.” I met Linda in the 5th grade. We sat alphabetically in class. She was in the back of the class, but we sat together at lunch and she rode the same bus I did home. She lived just a few miles down the road in a house that overlooked the river. My biological sister, Kathleen, died when she was newborn, so the girls I knew in school were my ‘sisters’. We laughed, we cried, we fought and we laughed about it when we made up. Linda was one of those ‘sisters”. She was the one who talked me into to wearing makeup for the first time. “It will make you feel so pretty” she said. It did. It helped change the way I saw that teenage me when I looked in the mirror. Linda was a beautiful woman, inside and out.
As a sisterhood of girls now women, we watched each other’s lives unfold, year by year, decade by decade. We are in our early fifties now, most of us had children and some grandchildren. When I look at us, I still see fresh-faced youth running through playgrounds and swinging on swings. I remember volleyball games and dance troupe, plays and pageants. Although life has had its obligations for me that has kept me from joining in with social functions, it doesn’t diminish the love I feel for my “sisters’ or sadness in missing out on getting together. Some of my sister’s I met in college, most in grade school then high school, but all are dear to my heart. When one of you goes away I lose a part of me. A portion of my childhood I dearly treasure. Linda may be gone, but her memory and those images of kids playing will stay with me forever. RIP Linda.

My First Poetry of the Year

I wrote these for my creative writing class. My grades are posted, so I can post them here now. My assignment was three poems, twenty line each. I have a tendency to worry more about the mechanics of writing than the actual writing.

Do What You Must Do 

To say nothing rhymes with Orange

Is a cruel and dirty trick;

It has nothing to do with sporange,

But can certainly be rhymed with Blorenge;

As in, “The orange sunset in The Blorenge

Such as glorious sight to see

The splendorous mountains in Wales,

Especially when cast in sea gales.”

Another example is silver,

This one is hard I admit;

But when given a muse,

The words seem to fuse;

As in “A giver of silver

Has a heart pure of gold,

His gratuitous nature is a gift untold.”

So use a dictionary, expound your words

This will set them free;

Never assume there is no room

For words that seem oddly askew;

Write what you write, say what they say can’t be said

And do ,what you must do.



Twenty Lines 

Twenty lines, the request is small;

Unless you lack twenty lines in all

Give me a moment

For you see;

Nothing seems to rhyme for me;

I am having trouble with my Poetry;

It ends with “aye” instead of “eee”

Maybe a muse would set it free;

Could write about cats all warm and fuzzy

Hell I could write about the tramp down the streets who’s a hussy!

No, that won’t do;

Reading that back, that’s slightly blue;

Let’s give this a try,

Let’s end in “I”

The quicker we’re done and this assignment is nigh;

Oh please forgive me,

For I am quick to wit

I must admit I laugh’s a bit;

Before you know it; it over

It’s through;

My last line of this poem

Well, this makes twenty-two.



The Conch Republic Way 

Heading southbound down Highway 1

Toward eclectic dreams in the south Florida sun;

Warm rays on my skin,

Tropical wind in my hair;

Havana-style Cabanas

The Conch republic way;

I’ll slow the pace

Escape the race;

More good than bad,

More happy than sad;

My soul will sing along

To Hemingway’s song;

It’s not just a scheme

But more of a dream;

For me, I pray it comes true;

It’s as strong as Cubano coffee

As sweet as Key lime pie

That Key West passion burns

I’ll get my turn

And leave this world behind.