Category Archives: veterinarian

The Writer’s Spellbook

by Lillian Csernica on August 1, 2017



One of the most important elements of a fantasy novel or a game world is the magic system. A logical and consistent magic system will do a lot to help improve the quality of the story… A better magic system means a better story, and a better story means more readers!



Whether you’re a writer or a gamer, a graphic novelist or an historical reenactor, The Writer’s Spellbook will give you step by step guidance in making the crucial decisions that will bring your fantasy world to life.




Filed under cats, chocolate, classics, creativity, doctors, dogs, dreams, editing, fairy tales, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Food, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, hospital, housework, legend, Lillian Csernica, love, nature, parenting, publication, research, romance, Special needs, steampunk, surgery, sword and sorcery, tall ships, travel, Uncategorized, veterinarian, Writing

Universal Studios: Screaming and Laughing

by Lillian Csernica on July 2, 2017


Next up: Shrek 4-D. This adventure was so amazing and funny we saw it both days.


You start out in Lord Farquad’s Dungeon, where the Three Little Pigs and Pinocchio are being held prisoner. The Magic Mirror and the Ghost of Lord Farquad get the story started as a prelude to what happens during the 4D movie in Ogre-Vision!


No spoilers here, but I will say this is more than just a visual experience. Four out of the five senses get some stimulation. One of them hit me right where I live, bringing a whole new dimension to this thrill ride!


Minion Mayhem — Another wild ride! When the Minions all get thrown into prison, Gru starts a recruiting campaign. This is the basis of the ride’s storyline. Gru’s henchman Dr. Nefario has created another evil death ray gizmo that will turns even humans into Minions. (I got to be a purple Minion!) John and I can’t wait to see Despicable Me 3.  What we saw during the ride convinced us we had to see the whole movie. John bought a Minion key ring with his name on it. I bought a charm that shows Kevin and Bob back to back, both of them holding serious ray guns! The perfect keepsake to remind me of the time John and I joined the ranks of the Minions!

The Simpsons Experience — Ever wanted to be inside an episode of The Simpsons? This will do it for you. It’s an insane 3D ride through Itchy & Scratchy Land, facing the homicidal robot cats and mice. There’s an ominous undercurrent to the ride’s lead-in, which explodes into some genuine terror (at least for me) when you experience the very realistic sense of being trapped on a shattered roller coaster.

Yes, that’s right. If you weren’t already in enough of a panic, the ride starts going backwards!


Back when I was ten years old, just the prospect of going behind the scenes at a real working movie studio was a huge thrill. In today’s modern digital world, visitors expect a whole lot more given the endless competition for their attention spans. Now the Studio Tour includes a 3D adventure between King Kong and some vicious dinosaurs. The grand finale is the hyper-realistic, HD adventure Fast and Furious: Supercharged.

I confess a certain nostalgia for the Jaws portion of the tour. There I was, sitting in the tour shuttle with John just as my mother had sat with me. John has a pretty good grip on what’s real and what isn’t, but that didn’t stop him from yelping when the shark reared up out of the water. Another fine family tradition, watching the next generation get freaked out by Bruce the animatronic shark.



Filed under artists, autism, bad movies, classics, creativity, dreams, fairy tales, Family, family tradition, fantasy, history, Horror, Humor, legend, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, mother, nature, parenting, perspective, research, science fiction, travel, veterinarian, Writing

Getting Too Close to Nature

by Lillian Csernica on June 18th, 2017



See this? This is a mountain lion. A cougar. A puma.

They can be 5 to 9 feet long and weigh 100 to 150 lb. They can run 40 to 50 miles per hour and jump up to 20 feet high. They’re also excellent at climbing.

This was in my back yard yesterday, in broad daylight.

As soon as I saw the big cat crossing our creek, I yelled up the stairs to my husband. We have three housecats, and I wanted all of them accounted for right then.

My husband came down. I told him what I’d seen. He asked me if I was sure. Hell yes I was sure! Back when I was 19, I spent a summer in Larkspur, Colorado working the local Renaissance Faire. Many of us lived on site during the week, including the tiger tamer and his menagerie. “Tiger tamer” isn’t really fair, because Bhaghavan treated his cats with the utmost respect and care.

That included the mountain lion. One day he took the mountain lion out for a walk and passed by where I was sitting. Bhaghavan brought the mountain lion over. The big cat promptly flopped down across my feet and started to purr.

Believe me when I tell you there was NO WAY I was going to rub that tummy!


So yes, I do know a mountain lion when I see one.

Mountain lions are normally reclusive and avoid human habitation. To see one walking past my house in full view was both a marvel and a huge surprise. I believe the mountain lion was following a deer trail. It disappeared into the tree line on the other side of the creek.

We found our gray and white cat Hunter under the car. Rayas, the torby, was curled up on a lawn chair, apparently asleep. And Coco, the fluffy black longhair, was up a tree. Smart cat, Coco.

Yes, it’s wonderful to live in the mountains among the California coastal redwoods. Getting close to Nature is important. It’s also important to remember that Nature is perfectly capable of sneaking up on us!




Filed under cats, Family, home town, Lillian Csernica, nature, veterinarian

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

by Lillian Csernica on July 27, 2016


Yesterday we went on a family outing to the San Francisco Zoo. Back in late April, during his birthday preparations, Michael had asked for a trip to the zoo. Chris told him we’d go in the summer when the weather was better and the animals were more likely to be active.

This was my first visit to this particular zoo, which happens to be Northern California’s largest zoological park. Here are some of the marvelous creatures I had the pleasure of seeing live and in person:

Eagle Owl


This owl is enormous! While I was studying her, Athena flew toward me. I now know what it feels like to be a small, furry creature seeing that shadow coming for me. In the Harry Potter books, Draco’s familiar is an Eagle Owl. The owl’s eyes really are that intense orange color!


Grizzly Bear

Kachina and Kiona are orphaned cubs from Montana. They were found foraging for food in a barn. Fortunately, arrangements were made for the zoo to give them a home.

Red Panda


There are few creatures on this planet more adorable than a red panda. Even when one is just hanging out, munching leaves, it’s a delight. To judge from the number of stuffed toys red pandas I saw people carrying around, the zoo must sell more of those than any other animal.

Fishing Cat

This is when I got really excited. I didn’t know the zoo had a Fishing Cat. There she sat, on a stony ledge right beside the waterfall in her enclosure. She took no notice of us humans until a man with a service dog came closer. Then the Fishing Cat stood up and took a good look at that dog! Fishing cats’ paws are partly webbed. They pat the water to imitate how bugs move. That draws the fish, then the cats dive in!



Tigers are my favorite animal, especially the white tiger. We saw a Bengal tiger and a Sumatran tiger. Tigers are supremely cool and they know it.

Gray Rhinoceros


You need to understand just how big a rhino really is. Six feet tall at the shoulder, weighing up to three thousand pounds. My car, a Dodge Neon, weighs a bit over twenty-five hundred pounds and comes up to my chest. I had to stand there staring at the rhino for a good few minutes just to get my mind around the sheer size!


Speaking of size, I was also boggled by the length and girth of the hippo, who was underwater and stayed there aside from a few brief bobs to the surface for air. This photo gives you some perspective. Do not annoy a hippo. It may well be the last thing you ever do.

Snow leopard

How gorgeous can one large feline get? What impressed me is the fact that a snow leopard’s tail is usually as long as its body.

These animals are all endangered species. Please, if you haven’t been able to see them in person, do so as soon as possible. If you find yourself captivated by one or more of these wonderful creatures, consider a donation or volunteer work or whatever you can manage.



Filed under cats, charity, Family, Lillian Csernica, nature, perspective, research, travel, veterinarian, Writing

A Lesson in Priorities

by Lillian Csernica on June 6, 2016


Ever had one of those days when no matter how hard you try, life just keeps getting between you and what you’re trying to accomplish?

Today fought me from the minute I dragged myself out of bed.  Phone calls, interruptions, distractions, failures to communicate.  This resulted in me being late picking up John at school, something I try my very best to avoid.

When I was a little kid, my mother had occasion to leave me with babysitters or at day care centers.  Either Mom wasn’t good at time management, or life got in her way too, because she was often quite late picking me up.  When you’re six, this causes the kind of anxiety that scorches your little tiny soul for life.  I don’t EVER want John to feel that.

Once I picked up John, he alerted me to the sudden need for two dozen cupcakes.  P.E. class will be having a BBQ to celebrate the end of school.  The cupcakes are John’s contribution to the feast.  OK.  Since I had to drive to the store with the best bakery, I did a few other errands in that part of town.  One resulted in upsetting news.  The other took three times longer than I’d anticipated.

Tomorrow is the Spousal Unit’s birthday.  I also have a group luncheon to attend.  I have to duck out of that early because we’re interviewing new R.N.s for Michael.  Summer school is bearing down on us and we really need more help.

So I’m a little stressed out, right?

I get home with John to discover my sister has rescued a baby robin from the clutches of our male cat, Hunter.  (That’s his name, job description, species niche, and favorite occupation.  Not bad for a single word. )  We suspect the baby fell out of its nest, because it’s too young to fly.  My sister set it on a branch in the camellia bushes out of the cats’ reach and we shut all three feline predators inside the house.


I fed the baby robin some water with a small syringe.  We watched and waited, hoping its mother would appear.  Even if she did, how would she return her baby to the nest?  This was not a happy situation, especially with John looking on hoping everything would be OK.

Night was closing in.  I took the baby robin to the local native animal rescue.  Finding the place involved a wild ride that is exactly what kept me from getting my own car for so many years.  God and the police must have both been feeling kindly toward me.  I finally found the rescue center, which was part of a private residence.

Now came the hard part.  I had to leave the baby robin there and walk away.  I sat in my car and cried for a while.  I can call in a day or two and see how things are going.  I dread doing so, for all the obvious reasons.

What’s important here is no matter how horrible today was, once that baby bird turned up, everything fell into a very simple perspective.

Save the baby bird.

A while back I wrote a blog post about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.  All the stress I’m mired in right now fell away before that one clear priority.

Save the baby bird.

I’ll let you know what happens.



Filed under birthday, cats, Family, frustration, Goals, Lillian Csernica, mother, nature, neurodiversity, parenting, veterinarian, worry, Writing

Why Permission Slips are Still Essential

by Lillian Csernica on May 12, 2016

Once again, my sons’ high school administration has made me furious.

Earlier this week John came home with a full color brochure full of quotations from famous people and some really disturbing photos.  The subject?  The cruel and brutal treatment of farm animals and how they are killed and processed for our food.

Horrifying?  Oh yes.  Was that all?  Oh no.

There was a video.  Plenty of gross, heart-wrenching detail.

Whoever was behind this went for the hat trick by providing a speaker who hammered the message home even further.

John was really upset.  I sent an email to his teacher/caseworker expressing my outrage over having not been allowed any kind of parental review of such disturbing material. I asked very clearly to know who had approved this material for the class.

As usual, she didn’t know a thing about it and said she’d look into it.  The next day I got an email from her saying she’d spoken to the Health class teacher who told her some other students had also been upset by the subject matter.  Really?  Gosh, who could have seen that coming?

Nobody answered my question about  who approved the material in the first place.

John’s teacher/caseworker assured me this would be taken into consideration for next year.  What about this year?  What about these students?  What about the damage that has already been done?

I have followed procedure by contacting John’s teacher/caseworker.  I’m in the process of making an appointment to talk to the principal.  I don’t expect much.  The school year is almost over and the administration will probably just make the usual soothing noises and promises of doing better next year.

Not good enough.

I will have a name, and if I don’t get one, I’m going to keep going up the chain of command until somebody takes responsibility for this.



Filed under autism, Family, Food, frustration, Horror, Lillian Csernica, nature, neurodiversity, parenting, special education, veterinarian

We Three Cats

by Lillian Csernica on December 25, 2015

It is very, very early on Christmas morning.  I sit here in the pleasant exhaustion of knowing the gifts are all wrapped and tagged, the stockings are stuffed, Chris and I ate the cookies John put out for Santa Claus, and we are as ready as we are going to get.  Chris has begun preparations for Christmas dinner.  The smells wafting up the stairway from the kitchen promise quite a feast.

Allow me to introduce you to three members of our household you’ve heard about but thus far haven’t seen.  These are my cats.

2015-11-28 20.00.34 2015-12-20 04.15.49 2015-12-20 04.16.03

Rayas, my torby, is around 10 years old.  She’s John’s cat, but I am her human.  That means I’m expected to provide pets, love, and a warm lap on demand.  She’s small, but she’s feisty.  Hunter has a bigger frame and outweighs her, but she routinely cleans his clock when it comes to the late night Bushwhack Wars.

The gray fellow with the impressive whiskers is Hunter.  We got him from a shelter about 5 years ago.  When he’s lonely he’ll wander around the house with his catnip mousie in his mouth, making those yowling sounds.  Whoever he presents his trophy to had better respond with much praise and petting.  Hunter is everybody’s cat, but my sister is his human.  When she comes home, he gets all excited and goes galloping outside to jump up on the hood of her truck and try to climb in the driver’s side window.

Coco is the fluffy black longhair.  She is my cat, acquired as a kitten for my 43rd birthday present, so she’s 7 years old as of the 29th.  She is my big furry baby, but my husband is her absolute slave.  She will demand “brushies” as we call them, and he cannot help but obey.  She has commandeered the penthouse sleep berth of our multi-level cat tree, where the convection currents bring her the best heat in the house.

2015-12-20 04.15.25

After dinner the cats will come sit on my bed while I’m working.  Combinations vary depending on who gets in here first and seizes the best spot on the inevitable pile of clothing that occupies the foot of my bed.  Rayas will sleep on my pillow.  Neither Coco nor Hunter are brave enough to usurp that spot.

Why do I mention my beasties on this, the Feast of the Incarnation of Christ?  Pious legend says that on this night you can hear the animals speak just as they did in the manger on that holy night so long ago.  At this point, Hunter has been snoring, Coco demanded more brushies, and Rayas is off somewhere curled into a tight little stripey ball.  My cats are not all that religious.

In the morning there will be happiness and laughter and the usual joyful craziness that accompanies tearing into all that gift wrap and trying to keep track of who gave who what so I can keep the thank-you notes straight.  The cats will take part, chasing each other around the tree, diving into the piles of gift wrap, and trying to run off with the spiraling bundles of curling ribbon.

I love my cats.  The holidays are often a hard time of year for those of us with intense family issues.  Cats are pretty straightforward.  They are the supreme beings, and I’m just cat furniture.  Given how complicated my life can get, I find the simplicity of our relationship downright refreshing.

Wherever you are, whatever particular feast you’re celebrating, I wish you a New Year full of all good things.





Filed under cats, Christmas, Depression, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Family, family tradition, Humor, therapy, veterinarian, Writing

Update on the Kitties

by Lillian Csernica on July 7, 2015

Chris brought poor Coco home around 10:30 p.m Sunday night.  She was awake, but still loopy from the sedative.  The right side of her face had to be shaved, including some of her whiskers.  Fortunately, no drain was required.  The vet did put her in a Cone of Shame.  When Chris got Coco out of the cat carrier and put her on the floor, she completely flipped out.  Have you ever seen a cat run around the house backward?  She wanted out of the Cone in the worst way.  Chris finally caught her.  Her pupils were huge and her tongue lolled out of her mouth while she panted.  I’ve never seen her do that.

I sat in my usual spot on the couch.  There was some dispute among the cats because Rayas usually sits on my lap there unless Hunter beats her to it.  Chris offered a second option.  Coco crawled onto my lap.  Rayas parked herself between me and Chris.  Hunter really wanted a good look at Coco.  She smelled funny, she looked funny, and she was behaving in a weird way.

Hunter, as I have mentioned, is not the brightest candle on the cake.  He was smart enough to notice Coco now wore her own Cone.  (I can’t help wondering if this made Rayas nervous.  Would she be next???)  I had to fend Hunter off more than once.  Coco might have been stoned, but she was still alert enough to growl at Hunter every time he came near her.

I spent the night on the couch keeping Coco comfortable.  The vet prescribed one pain pill a day for three days, along with warm compresses on the wound site twice a day.  From the right, my beautiful fluff ball looks like Zombie Cat.  She’s on the mend, fortunately.  Coco did manage to get out of her Cone today.  I carried her over to the food and water bowls.  She drank water for several minutes.  Then I had to put the Cone back on.

Hunter has healed up to the point where Chris and I decided to take off his Cone.  Oh, what a happy kitty he is!  The first thing he did was wash his face.  Poor creature.

Rayas is curled up on my bathrobe on the foot of my bed.  Soon I will go downstairs and see if Coco needs more laptime.


Filed under Family, veterinarian, worry