There is a method to my madness. My two cats get three types of treats. Yes, they are spoiled, but let’s move beyond that. Yulie has learned through the years to jump up on their counter, and point to the treat he wants with his nose. Problem solved. But it is Ellie that concerns me. When I put treats down on the floor for her (she can’t jump up onto the counter; too tubby), Ellie turns her back on me and just sits, waiting. I have to put all three treats down before she turns around and chooses one. Sure, she does eat the other selections, but maybe it’s more of an afterthought? Anyway, it occurred to me that if I teach her to call out the treats by name, it could save me a lot of trouble. I started with the brand, Greenies. My reasoning was ‘Temptations’ is a hard a word to say right off the bat. And the word ‘Party Mix’? Forget it. And after all, she is a cat. She needs time to work into this. Every day for about three months, I shook the bags with the treats in them and she came running. Then I repeated the word “Greenies’ again and again. So far, nothing. So I STILL have to put all three down for her to select the one she wants. And then she eats the rest! I mean, really? How dumb can she be?
Tuesday night I had the delight, honor, and good sense to go to Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park for the debut of a new book, The Amorous Heart. There, author Marilyn Yalom, scholar, writer, feminist and all-around-good-gal, was being interviewed by Theresa Donovan Brown, an award winning author of fiction and non-fiction. And another all-around-good-gal. It was a bright evening of entertainment, and the sharing of knowledge, history, comradery, laughs and spirit. Ms. Yalom is my kinda feminist, a woman who studies, observes, reports, enlightens, and enthusiastically supports women without beating up or denigrating men. It can be done. After all, a lot of men are all-around-good-guys. On another note, Ms. Yalom is a mighty fine writer. She imparts her point of view with the assuredness of a writer who not only knows her stuff, but how to put it down on paper with wit, style, clarity, and – dare I say it? – HEART.
Over fifteen years ago during the Christmas season, I was visiting a dear friend and noticed a small, jewel-like tree glittering on her hallway table. When I asked her where she got it, she told me she had made it for her mother using ornaments, broken jewelry, and so forth from her family’s life. Now that her mother passed, she had the tree and would someday leave it to her own daughter. When I examined it more closely, I saw some of the ornaments were older, some cracked or faded, and sparkling earrings or bracelets were wedged in here and there among the firmly packed decorations. My friend pointed out several ornaments saying things like, “This is the first Christmas ornament my parents got me when I was born,” or “I made this for Mom in the 3rd grade.” When asked how she could make such a tree, she told me it was simple. All you need is a small fake tree, a container to hold it, plaster of Paris, lights, ornaments, costume jewelry, and a glue gun. I ran, not walked, to my local craft store containing the ubiquitous little green, plastic trees and bought a small one-and-a-half foot tall tree, a bag of plaster of Paris, and an attractive round plant holder. The plan is simple. Day One: fill that charming little container about ¾ of the way up with plaster of Paris (follow the directions on the box). Pull the little tree out of the base it came on, stick the tree into the wet plaster of Paris, hold the tree straight for a minute or two until the plaster begins to set, then go about your business for the rest of the day so it can dry thoroughly. Day Two: Starting at the top, take…
Which do you like better, cats or dogs? Cats are phenomenal animals. They have surpassed dogs in popularity, but I suspect this is because we have a lot of city dwellers in apartments where space is at a premium. We could never short-shrift our canine buddies; dogs are pretty terrific, too. Most people I know have both when they can. I would if we had the room. In Japan, where many apartments are the size of closets, cats are almost revered, which from a feline’s point of view is only as it should be. This Thanksgiving, Yulie and Ellie want to reach out and wish all their four-footed friends a safe, happy, and tummy-filled holiday. Across the land shelters are filled with those less fortunate. Please remember them, too. To us, their two-footed friends, they advise to keep turkey-coated tinfoil out of harms way and not let pets get too freaked out from visitors or small hands that can paw harshly at them. Good memories and love to all, no matter how many feet we have. Or if we meow or bark. Happy Thanksgiving. To enter to win a Thanksgiving placemat for your cat’s cereal bowl, leave a comment and email your home address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a part of me that hates the Fall. October and November seem to be the two months when I’m going to catch any germ running around. Fall is also social catch-up time, when everybody revs up for the holidays. As an example, just this week, due to a head cold that morphed into a sinus/eye infection, I will be missing three grand events. On the one hand, I could say how lucky I am to have a life where I attend such functions. On the other hand, I could say ‘poor me’. I’m going with the latter. On the plus side, while my health may be temporarily on the wobbly side, my new book, The Culinary Art of Murder, comes out November 27th (only 99¢ on pre-order). And even though my husband gave this upper respiratory infection to me, I still think he’s tops. Although in the future, he’s not allowed to come near me when he’s sick. Meanwhile, have a joyous Fall, everyone. Stay healthy. And if that’s not possible, remember you are blessed. “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” Dr. Seuss was pretty danged smart. Happy Thanksgiving.
It’s on the way! It’s nearly Halloween and Ellie has a new hat and a new job! She’s been hired out as the official Good Will Black Cat Ambassador for HavenMeister Productions (that would be us) for the Halloween season. As she’s not allowed outside, her job is to lounge around the house with her belly hanging out, eat her treats whenever she wants, and play with any toy that amuses her. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it. We were going to give her a cardboard haunted house, but she’s afraid of haunted houses and prefers her pillow, thank you. She is thrilled to be earning 3¢ a week! Her brother, Yulie, who happens to be a Flame Point Siamese is getting into the act. He’s a fun kinda guy. And if you’re looking for a fun, lightweight mystery to read with a few witches in it, try my first Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery, The Dagger Before Me. A 1942 Broadway production of Macbeth has double, double toil and trouble. But Percy Cole, along with her noodle and a WWI German Mauser, is on the case. Happy Halloween, everyone!
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Cindy Sample, the talented writer of the humorous Laurel McKay Mystery Series, and I had a wonderful time on Sept. 9th, talking to the Norcal Sisters in Crime about Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Self-Publishing (but were afraid to ask). Cindy is the taller, elegant one on the left. For an hour and a half, we were led by our moderator and fellow Sister, Marla Cooper, another dazzling writer.
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Another Round Robin Blog Topic. On a subject I recently experienced, so I can really go with this one. Several weeks ago, as I pounded the keyboard toward the finish line of my latest novel, The Culinary Art of Murder, I found the ending wasn’t going to work. Here I was with nearly 80,000 words done, only 5,000 to go, and no “The End” in sight. I had an October delivery deadline. I panicked. I prayed. I wept. I ate chocolate. Nothing. At a loss, I put the manuscript away hoping my sub conscience would find a way. After all, I’d already written eleven books and it hadn’t let me down yet. I let the old ‘sub’ gestate, percolate, and regurgitate. Maybe my inner mind knew what it was doing, even if I didn’t. The scary thought was maybe. More prayers. More weeping. More chocolate. Nothing. So, was I done as a writer? No, I decided. But writing can be an ephemeral thing, as can the rest of life. You can’t always get to the same place in the same way at the same time. And things can turn on a dime. I allowed myself to become distracted. Life helped me out. One of my two cats, Ellie, got sick. As a dutiful mommy, I became preoccupied with getting her well. My musician husband, Norman, had a lot of gigs. I went to see him perform. The weather became oppressively hot. When I wasn’t watering my garden, I stayed inside and watch old movies on TCM, eating more chocolate. Every now and then thoughts of the book would flit into my mind, but I’d beat them back with a mental stick. I didn’t want to think about writing or my book for a week or two. And as a person who…