#1 Thing to Assuage Holiday Stress

I posted this pic to Instagram Stories asking people to vote on whether this is a helpful cat or not. Something like 82% voted “yes.” (I forgot to look at the final score before the story expired.) This only proves that my tribe of followers are TOTAL CAT PUSHOVERS.

And yes, that’s THE FATE OF THE TALA on the monitor. I was amused by how many people messaged asking if that’s what they spied. Those who listen to my podcast know that I’m struggling with this book, but I’m also at 88K now – which I originally thought would be my total! – and I’m getting there…

NOT helped by cats who insert themselves between my hand and the mouse.


Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our #1 Thing to do to keep our sanity this holiday season. Come on over to find out mine!


Taking the Leap

Yesterday Isabel discovered the finch nest in the juniper out front. She managed to climb pretty high before I intervened.

For the finch’s sake, not hers.

It’s pretty cliché, the story about a cat being stuck up a tree. They can climb up, but they can’t come down again. The idea makes a good foil. The hero rescuing the cat, the fretting over the cat, the dubious moral about getting yourself into something you can’t get out of.

The truth is, usually the cat doesn’t come down because it doesn’t want to. When it’s ready, down they climb, just fine.

I’ve had enough of hanging out in my particular tree. I’ve taken what feels like a big step and I’m sending directly to a science fiction/fantasy house. One whose imprint I know like my own name, because it’s been on every book I’ve read for the last 4o years or so.

It feels good, too.

As I discovered a few months ago, printing the book out is satisfying in a way the electronic attachment can never be. Mindful of those lessons, I used my best paper. This house earned extra points from me because all they want is a cover letter and the full manuscript. No dinking around with synopses or partials. All or nothing baby.

I sent it all.

And it feels like taking action in a way that nothing else lately really has.

And I tweeted the fabulous Robin McKinley to tell her I was sending it, not that she’d care, and that my cover letter says I want to be her when I grown up, so I was tweeting her for luck. And she tweeted back a “Good Luck!” Which, okay, is probably silly to get all thrilled about, but I did. I am.

Now we wait and see. I bet the cat will come down on her own.

My Old Wyoming Home

I don’t think about the old house much.

Which is kind of odd, because it once meant so much to me. Last week, when David and I went to Ten Thousand Waves to celebrate our anniversary by soaking in a private tub, he asked me if I thought the new people were using the hot tub much.

I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

“Our hot tub?” he says. “The people who bought our house — do you think they use the hot tub?”

Ohhhh. The hot tub we used to sit in pretty much every night for five years. In the house we bought for love. For jts beauty and the sunlight. I just hadn’t thought about it. “They’re from California and it’s been a cold winter — I hope they’re using it!”

And then I started thinking more about how they were doing. If they figured out how to set up the pond heater so the koi in the pond will overwinter. The upstairs gets cold when it’s really chilly — I should have left a note telling them of my trick of closing the downstairs heating vents and turning on the upstairs ceiling fan and heating from the top down on those super-frosty days.

Last night I dreamed that we snuck into the old house. The person we were with — maybe a real estate agent? — knew they were out of town. So we went in to look around and all the windows were shaded so no light came in! Enraged, I went around opening shades and doors. I heard voices behind one door and there was a woman inside, reading to a little girl who was sick.


So I fled. Fortunately she didn’t see me. (How she couldn’t when I opened the door to the bedroom is silly, but that’s the great thing about dreams.)

Anyway, I think I’m connecting with the timing. It was one year ago now that we put our house on the market. I started to say good-bye then. I wasn’t sure of the date until I checked this blog post. Amazing to me how our subconscious notes and commemorates anniversaries, even if we consciously don’t.

Coincidentally, I wrote about that house (okay, that part isn’t a coinicidence – I write about every damn thing, like cats and New Mexico weather) and the essay appeared in Going Green.
Recently the Wyoming Library Roundup published an article on the anthology and they used a picture of our old house. (Look at page 9 – I can’t seem to get it to bookmark.)

So now it’s immortalized the way I liked it, for all to see. Which is a lovely by-product of writing. It doesn’t really matter if they use the hot tub, if the fish survive the winter or if they close the shades.

It’s their house now. Mine is in the book.

Cats and New Mexico Weather

One of my very good friends, first and faithful readers and giver of really good advice gave me some suggestions the other day to make this blog even better.

I’m sure it’s really good advice, for me to stick to a particular theme. She thought I could focus here on one thing and have another blog for subjects like cats and New Mexico weather. She even threw in some flattery about how I’m good at adding whatever thematic frame I want to, to a given mini-essay/blog post.

The thing is: I don’t think my brain works this way.

The last few days I’ve been valiantly trying to follow her advice. Really, I have. And I find myself dreading composing my blog post. When I started doing this, I promised myself I could write about whatever I wanted to.

Which often includes things like cats. And the New Mexico weather. Cuz, hey, I’m a creature of my immediate surroundings. Also, in some ways, all things are alike to me. It all intertwines. Kind of the tesseract view of the world. Even though a cat sleeping on a big blue exercise mat and a full moon aren’t the same pattern at all, somehow in my twisted mind, they reflect each other.

And today, all the roads in and out of Laramie are closed. It’s Homecoming Weekend and there’s a foot of snow on the ground. The pic above is courtesy of Kate Stein. The Wyoming coaches were ferried from Cheyenne in a snow plow. It’s Rockies play-offs in Denver and it’s snowing away.

We’re to hit 70 today in Santa Fe. It’s sunny and clear. Which makes all of us happy. Including the cats.

Good-bye Lucy

On Friday, my mom had her Himalayan cat put to sleep. This sort of event occurs regularly through our lives, marking the eras in 10, 15, or 20 year increments — less if illness strikes. One beloved pet dies and we acquire another. For a family like ours, who keeps cats, we might have five or six primary cats through our own lives.
Lucy was 16 and it was her time.
My mom posted Lucy’s obituary via email:

Dear Friends,

It is with sadness that I tell you that Lucy had to be put to sleep yesterday. She was apparently suffering from kidney failure which went undetected until it was too late to cure her.

She had a very full sixteen years and got to experience travels to many fun destinations including Dauphin Island, New Orleans, and Tucson. She probably logged more car miles than most other felines. She was a comforting companion to Leo during his illness and a highly adaptable friend to me. She will be missed.

Leo was my stepfather, who died a few years ago. Lucy loved Leo, the boyfriend who followed and my mom’s new husband, Dave. She was always a man’s cat, loving my mom’s men as she loved them.
So Lucy’s passing now marks the end of this 16 year increment. Now begins a time when my mom has no cats. This is new, too. Dave has said they can get another, which is lovely of him. But she wants a little time of driving back and forth without dragging a cat along. I can’t help but think that the next cat will see my mom through the last increment of her life.
Or maybe there will be two more. I find myself adopting the leapfrogging cat method. Our two cats are 12 and 3. While this muddies the life increments, it’s also an insurance policy against being completely bereft.
I’m big on ensuring I won’t be completely bereft.