Another new year, 2018, has arrived. With it, came freezing temperatures. Luckily, in my part of East Texas no freezing precipitation arrived with the sub-freezing temps.
Thank goodness, God was watching out for us when our furnace decided to die at 2:00 a.m. on December 29. We called the gas company, and a female technician arrived to check for a gas leak. There wasn't one, so she turned the gas off to the heater. We contacted a local AC/Heat company as soon as they opened and by 4:30 p.m. we had a new unit installed and working. Thank you, Jackie Ford and Robbie. The cats were appreciative of the heat too.
Also, the end of December saw the release of my first solo book/novella, The Bridesmaid Got Waylaid. It is one of six novellas in a collection called Trying Out For Love. I can't wait to read the other five stories in the collection.
Happy New Year, everyone!
My Bear is assisting me tonight...she's curled up on my left arm sleeping, while I try to work. Thank goodness she is mostly on the arm of the recliner because she weighs nine pounds.
Typing one-handed is a skill learned by necessity but does require more editing.
I feel like I've been writing with one hand behind my back for the past three months. I contracted to write a novella for a collection about women who attend an auction to bid on the right to be one of six bridesmaids. The idea originated with an online writing friend who had heard a news story about such a thing and thought it would be cute to see what six different writers could come up with, writing independently.
Why hold an auction? The bride-to-be decides she wants the money for her wedding. Not that she needs it, but because she wants it. She sends invitations to every person she has ever met, who she has any kind of address for at the time.
Why would her 'friends' agree to participate? She is a name in society. If they win a place their positions in the Newport Beach society would be elevated.
My writing buddy, Jayna Aspromonte, met with me in October and we plotted the 20,000 word novella. Loosely, mind you since I'm a panster--a writer who gets an idea and starts writing. No pre-planning, no character arcs, just sit down and write. A plotter lays everything out in detail.
Elaine and I traveled the same way we wrote. We had a destination in mind but how we got there depended on what we saw on our maps--the old-fashioned thingies made from paper with roads on it to guide you.
Oh, the places we would have missed and the adventures that we wouldn't have had if we plotted our course by city, date, and time. I'll have those memories for the rest of my life span and beyond because bits and pieces of all our trips end up in our writings.
Back to the discussion. All I had to do was get the invitation to Colleen (my heroine), have her go to the bridesmaids' auction, and win a spot.
Why couldn't I do that? No idea at the time. I started writing and got nowhere. November came, and I started again using the same basic story line. Nada.
The pressure built. I only had 20k to write. Easy task. After all, I had managed to write 51,000 words once in November during National Novel Writing Month. Two weeks passed and Thanksgiving was nearing along with my December 1 deadline. Panic rose.
Then I did what I should have done to start with...I started praying. At the beginning of Thanksgiving week, I got an insight. A thought from a line in version two hit me. Colleen had taken some extra time in getting to California because she drove and did some sightseeing.
What if I changed her profession from potter to photographer and sent her on that same sightseeing tour, starting the story off in the middle of her adventure?
New file, new beginning. The only thing remaining from the original outline was Colleen Decker, and that she currently lives in Dallas. She had lived in Newport Beach until she was twelve and her parents were killed. Everything else was new.
Now, Colleen found herself on Wyoming Highway 14A, scenic route through the Big Horn Mountains, having car trouble. From there, the story built. And I had fun with the writing.
I had been on Hwy 14A, and we had trouble with Elaine's van, but the problem resolved itself without human interaction. God is a better mechanic than any human.
In Colleen's case, Andrew (Drew) Thomas Murphy came along at the right time.
I got the novella finished, but not by my December 1 deadline. I emailed the publisher to let her know about the delay and continued writing. I emailed the completed file to her on December 12. So now I'm waiting to see if she accepts it, and if it will be included in the novella collection.
I'm still praying. But even if it is rejected by that publisher, I came up with ideas for two more stories. I'll write those and package all three together to submit to a different publisher.
Now, I can come out of my cave and spend more time in the living room, so Bear and the rest of the crew can join me in the recliner again.
Waiting for a new Dana Mentink novel is like waiting for Christmas to come when you’re a child. When Cowboy Christmas Guardian arrived in my mail, I dove into her newest effort with all the excitement of opening a special Christmas present.
I was sitting alone in the living room a few days ago, well except for a couple of cats. Bear was sound asleep on the couch with Bluebell right next to her. I lowered the footrest on my recliner and woke Bluebell. She raised her head and blinked at me.
I think I spoke to her. The next thing I knew she had launched herself from laying stretched out on her right side to sitting on the couch's arm. I promise she never stood up. She flew from being completely spread across the seat of the couch to sitting facing me grooming her front paws.
How do cats do things like that? I have no clue. Bluebell is one of those cats who can jump from a flatfooted position straight up in the air about 3 or 4 feet. I've seen her run up the hallway, turn the corner into the living room and leap about 5 feet across the room to avoid running into one of the other cats sitting on a rug in her path.
I sure wish someone could explain their body's agility to do such acrobatics. Then I wish someone could figure out how to transfer some of that agility to me!
In 1979, I was privileged to view a partial eclipse of the sun in Kilgore, Texas. I constructed a pinhole camera from a shoe box and shared it with co-workers. We had lots of fun, but I never once thought about the animals outside.
Today, the USA experienced a coast-to-coast solar eclipse. My sister, Katrina, and I created separate pinhole cameras to view the heavenly spectacle. She used a large cereal box, while I opted for a small box a coffee mug I had ordered came in a while back. We went outside and sat with our backs to the sun and waited. Both cameras showed us a reflection of the sun, but mine was flawed. I thought it was because I had left my reading glasses in my bedroom. After a while, Katrina had me look through her camera. So much clearer! Lesson learned - when constructing my pinhole camera for the 2024 eclipse, I'll use a larger box. :)
We stayed outside for about an hour. During that time, we noticed the dimming of the sky, a lowering of the temperature, a unique quietness, and the lack of the ever-present squirrels. We weren't in the path of totality, but we did experience about 75% of an eclipse.
I had not thought about animals staring at the sun and receiving damage to their eyes. The news, Facebook, and the internet all spewed warnings about keeping our pets indoors during the eclipse. We did. Tool, the husky, is an indoor pet but goes out to take care of his business several times a day. Katrina took him out before the eclipse started and again after it ended. Only one of the cats, Gray, goes out on occasion, but we kept her inside. Later I saw a Facebook post where two people were mounted on horses and observing the eclipse. They wore protective eye wear and had covered their horses' eyes with padded bras, which looked humorous. I laughed.
I got to thinking about the situation. In all the eons since God created the universe, the animals, and humans, why are we just now worrying about the animals?
Animal rights activists would say it's because we're finally seeing the need for protecting our pets' eyesight, thinking of them first instead of being centered on ourselves. They're wrong.
Think about it. Why aren't all the billions of wild animals, who have no one to provide them all with a safe shelter, blind?
God created them and gave them instincts to protect themselves. Why did the birds stop singing? Why did the squirrels disappear from our yard? When an eclipse happens, the light grows dim or goes completely dark, depending on the amount of eclipse in a particular area. Animals go to sleep when twilight and then night falls. God planned it that way. And He gave the animals the instincts they need to protest themselves. If humans will stay out of the way, the animals will be fine.
One last comment - I love all animals. If I could lay hands on those cruel people who torture animals, well they might just receive a taste of their own medicine.
In a houseful of female cats, a lone, male Husky named Tool resides in relative peace. Most of the time. Tool was raised with his feline sister Boo. She is a beautiful Snowshoe Siamese. They can often be found early in the mornings snuggled together on the living room couch or the rug in front of the TV. Once in a while, they wrestle around and play a little chase. Not often, mind you, because Boo is older and chunky and has arthritis.
Problems arise when the other four cats in the house feel threatened by poor Tool. He only wants to play with them, but they don't quite understand because Vader, Bear, Bluebell, and Gray weren't raised with dogs. Hissing and spitting occur when Tool comes too close and corners one or the other of the cats.
Jealousy is a major factor in the house. Bear, Bluebell, and Gray love to snuggle with me when I'm in the recliner. Tool has been slapped enough to know their claws hurt. Thank goodness, that Tool hasn't been scratched badly enough to cause major damage. His feelings get wounded often, though. When one of my feline friends tries to sit with me, at times Tool rushes over to get petted as well. This causes tension, from me, because I've been clawed enough to know how sharp those claws are. I don't want Tool to get hurt, but I also don't want more wounds on my body either.
He has his own bouts of possessiveness where his squeaky toys are concerned. Tool plays with them around the house but most often they are in the living room floor. As long as he's not paying attention, there isn't a problem. Yet, sometimes one of the cats will walk across the floor go to their food, water, or litter box and get just too close to one of his toys. A commotion ensues, and there is barking and hissing.
Tool is a great watchdog. Usually, he goes to sleep with his human father, but he is away for a few days. Tool has decided his job is to stay with me in the living room, since I stay up late, until I go to bed. Then, he takes up residence in the hallway outside of all bedrooms. His human mother tried to get him to stay in the room with her, but he lays down for about 10 minutes then jumps down and insists he be let out of the room. He's a lovable dog and friendly, but I'd hate to see what he might do to someone trying to harm one of us. We're part of his pack, and he's the alpha dog. Criminals beware.
Cats are sneaky...that's a fact. Part of it is their ability to walk around without making a sound. Another part of a cat's sneakiness is that cats love to play Hide-and-Go-Seek. Bear and Bluebell play this game pretty much every day but their version integrates Hide-and-Go-Seek with Chase.
One or the other of them will tuck away in a nook and wait. Then the other one will walk by and get "attacked." The the chase ensues. When their game is in full progress, it's better to hide yourself away in some corner and hope the trail they're taking through the living/kitchen areas won't end up including your area.
The path Bear and Bluebell take includes the couch and love seat in the living room careening off the north wall then through the dining room to the kitchen all the way down the hall to the main bathroom. Once there the two cats will pause for a moment then shoot out of the door and back down the south hallway into the living room again.
Their game lasts between five and ten minutes. After that, both cats find a soft, warm place to sleep and rest a while. Watching them is a hoot.
Years ago, we had a calico cat named Tinkerbell. In the living room, we had a piano and the keys were often left uncovered. One day I was home alone and heard the piano being played, one note at a time. I don't believe in ghosts, except for the Holy Ghost, and didn't believe anything supernatural was going on in our living room. I did want to see who was playing our piano.
I eased to where I could peek into the room and found Tinkerbell marching from the bass notes to the upper treble ones. She noticed me and jumped off, running into the family room. What was funny to me was that I had seen that same cat sneak across those same uncovered keys a number of times before without making a sound. Over Tinkerbell's remaining years, we heard her playing her music many times.
The piano has long since gone to our oldest niece's home because our father wanted her to have it. So our current five cats haven't had the chance to develop any latent musical talent. Such a shame. They simply have to make-do with inventing games.
Ever try to give a cat a bath? My sister, Krissy, did one time with disastrous results. Maybe if she would have watched the YouTube video I ran across on Facebook tonight, she might have had more positive results.
Cole and Marmalade are a cute pair of cats who appear on Facebook. Their human, Chris, posted a how-to video loaded with tips on the best method to give a cat a bath. I'm not sure all his tips would work, though.
I had gone with a friend on a day trip in early May. We were on the hunt for quilting fabric and plants. We'd been gone from home only about 45 minutes when I got a call from Krissy wanting to know if she could rinse her mouth out with peroxide. My question was: Why do you need to rinse your mouth with peroxide? Her answer came out garbled. I thought it was my phone/hearing. I had to ask three times and finally understood her to say: Frosty scratched my tongue.
"How did that happen?"
"I was giving the cat a bath."
I told her to rinse with salt water and hung up. Georgia and I laughed about the incident and continued on our way. When I got home about 4 p.m., I had forgotten about the phone call. I sat at my computer, turned it on, loaded up my program, and then remembered.
"Oh, hey, let me see where Frosty scratched your tongue." I was glad I was sitting on the couch. We took off for the urgent care clinic. Krissy's 'scratch' was a rip that required five stitches.
Poor Krissy. I laughed at her, the nurses laughed, and the doctor asked the nurse if there was any cat gut in the suture room. For the next six years when prompted, "Hey, Krissy, tell them what happens when you give a cat a bath," her good-humored response was always, "You get to go to the ER." Krissy had the tendency to open her mouth and stick her tongue out when concentrating on a task, a genetic inheritance/habit picked up from our father. Krissy never attempted to give another cat a bath.
Puzzled by what your cat means when it head butts you, twitches it tail side to side while its rear end and tail are up and its head is down on the floor? For more information go to: https://brightside.me/wonder-animals/how-to-find-a-common-language-with-your-cat-289760/?utm_source=fb_brightside&utm_medium=fb_organic&utm_campaign=fb_gr_brightside
Bluebell, a Tonkinese, will often tilt her head back to touch my chin two or three times and look at me while I'm holding her in my arms. She 's being friendly and reassuring herself I'm still there and paying attention to her. The Tonkinese is a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese. Bluebell has gorgeous blue eyes like a lot of Siamese but has Nystagmus which causes her eyes to bounce/wiggle from side to side at times when she's staring at me. It is a neurological condition that is a consequence of the cross breeding between the Siamese and Burmese. The condition is involuntary, non-life threatening, and not communicable.
She is tawny in color and the darker portions of her fur keep getting darker as she ages. Her nose looks as though someone took an eyeliner and outlined the little pink triangle. So unique.
Bluebell is a classical representative of her breed. She loves attention and is demanding of it. She gets along well with the other four members of her cat pack here in the house. She enjoys the great-nieces and nephews who visit as long as they approach her quietly. And when adults come to visit, she makes herself a pest.
She loves to play fetch, and her favorite toy is a plastic ball with openings and a bell inside. She will locate one in the house, pick it up, and call for someone to come play with her. When Bear doesn't respond, Bluebell continues to call, with the ball in her mouth, and comes on into the living room to find one of her humans to throw it for her to chase. The front hallway stretches the whole length of the house. My recliner is positioned so that I can throw the ball down the hall toward the bedrooms. Bluebell will zip after the ball, playing soccer with it until she wants it thrown again.
The first couple of times Bluebell returns the ball for another toss, she'll drop it close to my feet. What she really wants is for me to run after the ball with her, so she will bring the ball back but drop it too far away for me to reach from my recliner. She's talkative like her Siamese cousins, but her voice is higher and a bit softer.
Bluebell arrived at the house on the next day after my sister Krissy's cat, Frosty, crossed the rainbow bridge. Krissy's grief was so intense she had to have another animal to hold, and Vader isn't a lap cat. Krissy's best friend told her of a woman who had kittens. Krissy drove to Hallsville and brought Bluebell home. I came home after work, headed for the bathroom, and saw this tawny head pop over the back of an arm chair in the living room. When I returned, Bluebell came to make my acquaintance.
Krissy moved to heaven December 28, 2015, and I inherited Bluebell. The question in my mind is: who inherits the cats if I move to heaven before they do? Guess I'll have to make some provisions in my will.
If you want to know more about the Tonkinese, there are a number of websites with information.
Superstitious people often fear black cats. A large number of people refuse to adopt black cats so they are often abandoned or abused. A horrible fate for innocent cats who happen to be born black.
I own, or rather I care for two black cats. The older one we named Darth Vader. A tiny kitten born in September/October 2009, the adult version now weighs 12 pounds. We couldn't tell at first whether Miss Vader was male or female. I laughed and said it would be funny if the kitten turned out to be female. Born to Little Mama and Big Daddy, Vader had four brothers and sisters. Her daddy carried his name well. He bore battle scars from his numerous battles to guard his pack. He weighed about 15 - 16 pounds but had a sweet disposition for a feral male.
Vader inherited his looks and his disposition. She's the oldest of the five cats residing in the house and is a caregiver. Krissy managed to give away three of the five from Vader's litter, but we were left with Vader and her sister, Callie, a beautiful calico. The two of them scampered around the house, playing as only kittens can. My mother wanted those two to go to the same house. Finally, Katrina and Keith talked a friend of theirs into taking them both. Carolyn stopped by the house to pick up Vader and Callie but left holding only Callie.
My mother and I sat in the living room, staring after the woman. Vader ran up to Mama's feet. She leaned over, picked up the leggy, black kitten, and hugged her to her chest. Mama looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said, "That's just not right." My mother didn't cry easily, and Vader became Mama's cat. We could find Vader sleeping with Mama in the electric recliner pretty much every night after that until Mama moved to heaven on March 2, 2010.
Mama had emphysema and had been in declining health for a while, which increased over the next few months. She spent the final three months of her life in and out of the hospital. The last time I brought Mama home we had put her on hospice. We made the decision on Thursday and Heart to Heart Hospice had Mama set up with a hospital bed by Saturday in the living room where she had slept since our father had died in 1984.
After the hospice nurse left on Saturday afternoon, Vader made her appearance in the living room and vaulted up on the bed with Mama. I lifted Vader down, but she jumped right back up on the bed. I got up to shoo her down again, but my sister said to leave her alone. They had spent five months sleeping together, and Karolyn it would be a help to Mama. So Vader remained with her human.
After Mama moved to heaven three days later, Vader kept to herself for a while. Then she joined Krissy and Frosty, Krissy's cat, in the bed in Krissy's room. Vader didn't seem to really bond with Krissy though.
At some point over the next several months, Vader attached to me. The only thing I can figure out is I started using the recliner as my work station chair. The lift the chair provides helps me stand. It's easier on my knees and feet. Since I fill up the chair, Vader doesn't usually try to sit with me. She does come and sit from time to time on my laptop on the table in front of me. Now she walks me down the hall to the bathroom when I make a trip or as I head for bed.
The funny girl moves much faster than me, but she will walk three of four feet, stop and look back to see if I'm still following her, gives me a soft meow, then goes another few feet and stops again. When we reach the bathroom, she goes in, turns to meow, jumps on the toilet lid and then over to the side of the bathtub, and waits. Once I'm in position, I have to turn on the water in the tub to a slow stream so Vader can get a drink. She has to have a discussion with me while I pet her. After two or three drinks, and multiple pettings, she will leave the room. If the door is not completely shut, she will put her right front paw on the bottom of the door and tug it open enough to slip through. If I'm taking a shower, Vader will jump on the cabinet and give herself a bath. If I take too long getting dressed, she will meow at me to hurry because she can't get the door open.
Vader is long on patience with her humans and her sisters.
Author, editor, quilter.
New Kindle Release
December 21, 2017
The Bridesmaid Got Waylaid
Can be purchased as a single title or in a collection,
Trying Out For Love
with 5 other novellas from Amazon.com
Murder In Maggie Valley
Book 1 of the KEPS Kozy Mystery Series from White Bird Publishing