I Can Deny Ellie Nothing

I don’t say this entirely because I am a pathetic pet-owner who is owned by her cat. A large part is because I am pandemically housebound, haven’t started my blog tour yet for Casting Call, nor started writing my new Percy Cole book. And God forbid I should do some housework. Well, that’s not quite true. I did a load of laundry the other day. It sits in a basket in the living room waiting to be put away. But back to I can deny Ellie nothing. The other day I ordered her a pet stepladder to get on and off our California King bed. The bed has one of those Princess and the Pea mattresses. You know the kind, cloud-soft foam, several yards thick. The kind of bed where once you lay down not only don’t you want to get up, sometimes you can’t. You have to roll over to the side and drop off. Word to the wise: do this feet first. Headfirst, not so good. Adding to the bed’s height are the six-inch lifts. This is so hubby can store his musical equipment underneath. In short, this is not just a bed. It’s a way of life. And Ellie has taken to this life like the queen she is. It is her majesty’s kingdom. However, when she dienes to leave for food, drink, treats or… ahem… potty time, she has to return to her kingdom in the sky. Lately, this has involved a certain amount of posturing. Being a smart cat, despite what others might say, she lets me know when she wants a handheld elevator ride back to the stratosphere. She marches to the side of the bed, lifts herself up on her back legs, stretches front paws to the very top of the mattress, and…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 72

Okay, so you want to write a novel. You’re excited, filled with energy, hope, and something to say. You can’t wait to start the process, do the research, meet the characters, and create a spiffy plot, all that good stuff. If you’re a mystery writer like me, you pretty much know what the ending is going to be, but the ‘how’ of getting there! It’s elixir for the soul. In the beginning, you’re open to all the possibilities that will spur you on during the forthcoming, never-ending months. Writing a novel – at least at the start of it – is a wonderful adventure. Just you, your ideas, a computer, and buckets of strong coffee. But at some point in the process, trying to reach eighty-five thousand words with what you often suspect is pure, unadulterated drivel is another matter. You become bogged down, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. You discover you need more than just a fire in the belly (which could also be labeled as heartburn). For me, that’s the place where ‘talent’ and ‘craft’ need to cohabitate. The craft of writing is a practiced art, much like learning to play tennis. The more you practice, the better you get. You also need the tools that make the process more doable. Where would tennis be without a racket? So I’ve learned – and continue to learn – certain tricks to help me get through the arduous parts of completing a novel. I’m in the throes of writing my 14th novel, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book Seven of The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, so I’d better have learned a thing or two. Some things could be called obvious, but often the obvious gets overlooked along the way. Better to repeat them endlessly than lose sight of them. Here’s a few of…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 51

I am a mere shell of my former self. Seriously. I don’t mean weight-wise. I still remain the block-buster gal we all know. I mean as a person. Among other things, I can’t sleep. I seem to be wide awake until 2 am and get up around 7. Then I zonk out between 5 and 7 pm only to repeat this ghastly routine the next day. I miss phone calls, online meetings, and playing with the cat. My cat, Ellie, has a narrow window of awakeness. It’s usually between 5 and 7 pm. These days, other than putting down her cereal bowl and cleaning out her litter pan, I have little interaction with her. Not that she’s complaining. She even sent a letter of inquiry to the governor of California asking when she will get some alone time in this house. She awaits a personal reply or phone call. Naturally, Newsom would have to call her sometime between 5 and 7 pm. Ellie calls Governor Gavin Newsom “Gav,” as she claims he is a personal friend.  I don’t believe it for a minute. She’s not his type. Back to my lack of sleep. Hubby is fine with my vampire insomnia-like state. After all, we are together 24/7, so any time he gets to himself without me popping into his office for a quick hug or to remind him the pots go on the bottom shelf of the dishwasher, thank you very much, he’s happy. On the subject of loading the dishwasher, I fail to understand why a college graduate and an all-around smart guy cannot grasp that putting metal pots next to glasses is not a good thing. Okay, it’s possible I’m becoming squirrely. Talking to the cat. Waiting for Gavin Newsom to phone. Focusing on how one loads the…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 38

I don’t know how to order online. I have to admit it. I thought it would be simple, but it isn’t. And I’ve made a few faux pas, which is French for you blew it. Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband. He gets that while I have many virtues, ordering online is not one of them. I may have mentioned that several weeks ago I ordered wine from BevMo. It did not go well. The results of this order showed up today. They said it would come in 10 to14 days. It took 17. And then I somehow managed to duplicate the order, which was bad enough. But when I went into the website to straighten it out, I managed to double the duplicate order. That’s 4 times the amount of booze I meant to order. Bummer. But this was not my fault. Seriously. Well, not completely. Well, maybe a little bit. Okay, entirely. Rats. In complete sincerity, I’m not sure what happened. I went to BevMo’s website.to order 6 bottles of wine and one bottle of vodka.  In my defense, the website was not exactly user-friendly. Maybe a little too much Cinco de Maya and not enough what’s going on. But the end result was I wound up with 4 times the amount of wine and spirits than I intended to order. This can happen to anybody. Right? But hubby is a good egg. He became philosophical. He said we can save all these bottles for the future, should we live to be a hundred and thirty. Or maybe, he proffered, we could open up a bar. Enthusiasm enveloped him. We’ve got the name, he said. The 6-Feet Apart Tavern. And a bonus: If you buy two drinks, you get to pet a tubby black cat named Ellie.…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 24

Everything I am, I owe to my cat. Now some people might call this a harsh assessment of me, the human being. But I feel that Ellie has shown me areas of my personality that could use some work. First, humility. I can say with no small amount of pride that when I am with her she doesn’t seem to mind. This has boosted my self-esteem tremendously. Being not minded by your cat is a feat unlike any other. It is not often that your cat gives you a free-to-walk-about-the-place card. I take this with the humbleness it deserves. Second, clarity. Having prolonged chit-chats with another entity who dozes off upon occasion or interjects the conversation with yawning goes a long way in reminding one to keep up the pace of the subject matter. Do not rest or linger upon a particular subject. Do not indulge in long-windedness. When I do, Ellie hops off the bed and heads for her cereal bowl. Or litter pan. Either way, she makes it clear I am never going to win the debate championship. Brevity is all. Third, campaigning. Rubbing bellies, chuffing under chins, scratching behind ears goes a long way to winning over a constituent to your way of thinking. Democrats and Republicans take note. If you are looking for a canoodle with a warm, fuzzy thing, consider doing this. Do not, however, do this with two-legged constituents, especially if they answer to the name of Tiffany or Peaches. This has gotten many a politician in deep trouble, often putting the kibosh on a promising career. As Ellie has said, choose your companions wisely. Then chuff away. Fourth, compromise. You are not going to have your way completely. In fact, you may not have your way at all. So you wanted the quilt and…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 14

We can relate, even though it’s only day 14. From the Funny Cat Diary Secret Cat Diary DAY 752 — My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant. DAY 761 — Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair … must try this on their bed. DAY 762 — Slept all day so that I could annoy my captors with sleep depriving, incessant pleas for food at ungodly hours of the night. DAY 765 — Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was … Hmmm. Not working according to plan. DAY 768 — I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called “shampoo.” What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth. DAY 771 — There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 10

Having been sent to my room by the world’s goings-on, I find myself trying to control more and more of my little, teeny-weeny life and everything in it. I make sure Norman is wearing his mask and gloves before he goes out. And that he carries his hand sanitizer. And that he peels his gloves off when he returns home and washes his hands. And then I disinfect the doorknobs and anything else he touches on his way to the sink. Yesterday I made the pronouncement that I would take his car to the gas station and I would put gas in it because I had just done it for my car. It was such a nerve-wracking experience, such an exacting big deal i.e., sanitizing the gas pump, hose, car door, steering wheel, and so forth, and in such a precise order, I don’t think he could do it. Really? And when did he become such an idiot? Maybe he didn’t. Whoops! Maybe I am the idiot. And I have also become obnoxious. Even though Norman would never say so because he likes living. But just ask Ellie, my cat. She is so tired of me hanging around, grabbing her, smooching on her when she’s half-asleep, and following her every move. I am doing this because I am anxious and bored. This is a dangerous combination. It leads to obnoxiousness. See above. And I would also like to add that I cannot watch The World News with David Muir without a martini in my hand. So  I am also becoming a lush. Can one drink a martini in a hazmat suit? Stay tuned.

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Alert the Presses! New Covers for the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries!

I’ve been rebranded. And it’s not as painful as it sounds. The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries are now called a “fun detective cozy!” Below see all the new covers for the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. Why change covers? Why not? Tastes change, concepts change, hairstyles change. Remember the sack dress? Of course not. Most of you are waaaaay too young. But I remember. In fact, I even owned one. But I digress. Here are the new covers for the series and Tugger figures prominently on all of them, which makes me love them even more! All the books can be found here.

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I’m teaching my cat, Ellie, to say the word ‘Greenies’

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?

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Gobble, Gobble

  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 heatherhavenstories@gmail.com.

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