CAT WRITERS: WHAT THE *BLEEP* IS A CAT WRITER?

When you Google Cat Writer, you really don’t get a whole lot of joy. Most of the links go to various paws of the Cat Writers’ Association. But there you have it: If there is a Cat Writers’ Association, then it logically follows that there are cat writers. That these fur-tive storytellers are difficult to define makes perfect sense when you consider the mysterious and unique nature of the animal they emulate.

It’s really very simple: cat writers write cat-centric books and stories. They write both fiction  and non-fiction, anything that features felines in a majority of the content. Cat non-fiction includes but is not limited to cat memoir, cat help, and cat behavior. Cat fiction can be just about anything: cat mysteries, cat cozies, and cat sci-fi  are only a few of the more popular sub-sub genres.  Many authors have written  a cat book or two, but if cats aren’t featured predominantly in their body of work, they would not be considered cat writers.

Why write cat? What is it about the feline species that propels it to such literary popularity? When did writers first begin to introduce cats as a vital part of their stories? Why do readers lap them up like a saucer of cream?*

In this blog series, we will explore those questions and more. We’ll look at different types of cat writing and highlight cat writers themselves.  Do you have a favorite cat book or cat writer you would like to see featured here? If so, let me know and I will do my best to include them.

*(PS: milk products, including cream, are not good for adult cats and will likely cause diarrhea)

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – Part 2 including The Slot, REBLOGGED

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on A Note From Abroad:
March 9th ~ Borrego Springs, CA Coyote Canyon We had two goals today, explore Coyote Canyon and hike down into The Slot.  Coyote Canyon Another off-road adventure, but this one most of the…

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10 STEPS TO YOUR DREAM VACATION

 

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Anybody can take the vacation of a lifetime. It requires planning, but more than that, it requires mind-set. You must believe it can be done. If, like me, you are short on cash, take heart. Here are the steps I take to make the impossible happen.

  1. Decision time.

It may seem obvious, but the first step toward any vacation is deciding you’re going to do it. Not just wishing or hoping, but actually saying to yourself, “I am going on vacation”. Treat it as a fact. Say it to yourself. Say it to others. Make it your own.

  1. Where?

Where do you want to go? Disneyland? The Caribbean? Paris in springtime? Everywhere? Make a list. Begin with 3 columns: Cheap and Easy (example: road trip to the beach); the One Week Getaway (example: a sightseeing adventure to New Orleans); When I Win the Lottery (example: Greek villa by the sea). List everywhere you want to go in its appropriate column. During the next few weeks, narrow down your list by asking yourself which are my all-time dreams, which will be the most fun, and which are most likely to pull off?

  1. How?

Research, research, research! Check prices, hotel availability, travel expenses, car rentals, etc. Hotels charge different prices at different times of the year. There are websites that compare prices and may help you find good deals. Most hotels give you a 72 hour cancellation window so go ahead and book now. You can cancel if it doesn’t work out. Plane fares also vary with date and day of week and flying into a major hub will be less expensive than flying direct to a small town.

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  1. When ?

As mentioned in #3, prices on travel and accommodations vary at different times, but another consideration is your own schedule. When can you get time off work? When is the pet sitter available? And don’t forget about the weather. You probably don’t want to visit Mexico during the hurricane season or Saskatoon in the sub-zero winter.

  1. The money part.

This is the show-stopper for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be. After doing your research, deciding on a destination within your budget, and finding the best deals, you can work it out with the help of careful planning. I try to plan a year in advance so there’s time to save up. Skip the Starbucks. Quit smoking. Do you really need that new couch now? Figure out how much your vacation will cost, then divide it into a monthly or bi-monthly savings plan. You can pay for travel, hotel, car, and tours in advance to diminish your grand total.

  1. Here.

While you’re away, there will still be considerations and expenses at home. If you have a pet, set up a good sitter or boarding facility. A pet sitter who comes to your home should also bring in your mail and newspapers (or you can cancel newspaper delivery and save a little money), turn lights off and on, and make your house looked lived-in. If you don’t have a pet sitter, it’s good to get someone else to do those things. Thieves really do break in when they think no one is home.

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  1. There.

What to do once you’ve arrived can be a fun part of your research. With the internet, it’s easy to get information, but be careful because the internet can lie. Always double-check your sources, especially if money is involved. Make a list of possibilities, again marking dates and times so you don’t get to a museum that’s closed Mondays or book a tour that starts before you arrive. Check local newspapers. Don’t forget to leave time for chance and relaxation.

  1. What to pack.

Packing depends on where you go. If you’re taking a plane and can get away with only your carry-on and extra bag, great. Unfortunately the list of banned item is long, so a checked bag for those items may be best. Don’t take more luggage than you can maneuver by yourself unless you can make arrangements for it.

Here are some things I take: a small pillow, a warm bathrobe, slippers, and a light silk blanket. The light blanket has multiple uses. A set of good clothes, (wrinkle-proof dress or shirt and jacket, nice but comfortable shoes, pretty jewelry that you could lose without remorse). Casual clothes, clean, not grubby, but versatile. Specialty wear, such as swim suits or ski-wear. A shopping-size bag that folds flat and can hold your purse plus whatever else you might want on a tour. A soft coat. All my clothes have to be comfortable or I don’t take them.

Always carry some local currency and know how much it’s worth. A notebook and pen, and few packets of various OTC medications are helpful.

  1. Travel time.

Planning things to do during travel time can make the difference between long, boring hours and constructive and interesting day. Books are great, and even if you don’t normally prefer an e-reader, they do hold a lot of books in a very small and light space. Tablets offer a huge array of options from games to movies, but connections may be spotty and data may be expensive. Look into your plan before you go. Take a mini-version of your favorite hobby: a tiny crochet project or a small drawing pad.

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  1. Keep an open mind.

Travel is never what you imagine. Sometimes wonderful things happen out of the blue that you could never have planned for; other times, not so much. You ‘ll be happiest if you are willing to accept that many things are out of your control. Slow down and smell the flowers. Don’t worry; it never helps.

Happy travels. Please let me know where you go.

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PATTERNS: MAZATLAN

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I do love patterns! They are everywhere, from the tiniest quark to the multiverse. We are built from patterns, so it’s no surprise that we as human beings emulate those patterns in our daily lives.

 

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WHAT I’M WATCHING: ALLEGIANCE

 

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ALLEGIANCE 

Music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione

Musical Drama | TV Series (2016)

Breaking from my usual television review, today I’m writing about a Broadway musical production, filmed for movie-goers.  It’s not easy to catch this special production, so far shown only a few times around the country, but in  my opinion,  it is well worth seeking out.

Allegiance is set during the Japanese American internment of World War II, and follows the Kimura family in the years of and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The family is forced to leave their farm in Salinas, California and are sent to the Heart Mountain internment camp in the rural plains of Wyoming. They take nothing with them except their dignity.

The show effectively puts the watcher into another time and place, one many Americans know little about. It translates not only the history of the period but the feelings of the people experiencing the terrible prejudice and fear elicited by this unprecedented action. One young man chooses to show his allegiance by joining the American army; another stands up for his right as an American citizen to retain an allegiance to his Japanese heritage. Neither is wrong in his beliefs, and Allegiance does a tremendous job of holding the balance.

The story was inspired by the personal experiences of actor George Takei, who stars in the musical. In a letter to fans, Takei writes:

Friends,

In an act of unprecedented religious discrimination, Donald Trump recently signed an Executive Order temporarily banning migrants from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S. This ill-considered order went into effect without warning, leaving vulnerable travelers in limbo at our borders. But luckily, devoted lawyers, civic leaders and thousands of concerned citizens sped to the airports to help safeguard their rights.

The Trump administration claims this order protects us from “radical Islamic terrorists.” They want to “get ahead of the threat” by implementing this ban. Sadly, I have heard this argument before. When I was a little boy, my family was rounded up at gunpoint and shipped off to internment camps. Most of us were U.S. citizens, but because we happened to look like the enemy, we were held as prisoners in our own country. When we were finally released after the war, we vowed to work to never let this happen again.

It has been my life’s mission to tell this story hoping that history would never repeat itself. In November 2015, Allegiance opened on Broadway. The show was seen live by over 120,000 people. In order to make it available to audiences all over the world, that production was filmed for the big screen. I invite you to see this production in a theater near you in the US and in select cities in Canada on February 19th, 2017, known also as Remembrance Day, the 75th anniversary of the date FDR signed Executive Order 9066 setting the Internment into motion.

As a nation, we must never forget what might occur when fear and prejudice overtake our land. As always, we will save Mr. Trump a seat in any theater he chooses.

George

If this production comes to a theater near you, I encourage you to take the time to see it.

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YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN, UNLESS YOU’RE A WRITER

Reblogged from Fire Star Press blogsite

Check out my latest blog on the Fire Star Press blogsite.

Time is a strange element, the way it takes something we know so well – a favorite place, a special person – and without us even noticing, relegates them to the past. Writers plumb that past, sometimes touching on issues they didn’t know were there.

 

 

 

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ONE DAY AT A TIME – IT’S NOT JUST FOR ALCOHOLICS ANY MORE

Pink Dogwood by Liz Rogers

Pink Dogwood by Liz Rogers

“JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.  I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime. (or 4 years)”  —Kenneth L. Holmes

I am lucky. In times of trouble, I have a 12-step program to fall back on. Before you put your fingers in your ears and start going “la la la”, just listen. I’m not going to preach about religion or discuss alcoholism. I just want to share something good I learned to help me through my life.

Of course the point of a 12-step program is that we go through all twelve steps, admitting we are only in control of ourselves and not others; finding our Higher Power, or at least admitting we, ourselves, are not God; accepting that we’ve made mistakes and resolving to do our best to rectify them; learning not to hold on to resentments; and finally realizing that helping others helps us too. All good stuff. Studying these steps changed my life significantly, and I’m better for it. I even have an attitude I never knew existed: serenity (at least part of the time.)

The program has many slogans, maybe a bit corny on first impression, but actually shorthand for far greater thoughts. Let’s look at “One day at a time.”

A lot is happening right now; some issues we can weigh in on and others are determined by people, places, and things beyond our control. We feel helpless and our minds begin to play the What If game. What if I lose my medical insurance? What if prejudice becomes commonplace? What if the media can no longer report the news? What if science is gagged? These worries lead to What if people are persecuted? What if we become another Nazi state? What if climate change is left to destroy the earth? What if this is the beginning of World War Three? And let’s not forget the possibility of alien invasion or the zombie apocalypse. Worry is an infinite void, never to be solved, never to be appeased. What can we do about all these what if possibilities?

“One day at a time” teaches us to look to what we can do today, right now, leaving both tomorrow and yesterday to fend for themselves. Living in these small increments of time, we have a greater chance to accomplish something worthwhile, because ultimately tomorrow is totally dependent on what we do – or do not do – today.

Some days we can stand with millions in protest; some days we can smile at someone on the street. Some days we can write a letter, mail it, and let it out of our hands and into the hands of someone better equipped to deal with it. Some days we can go sit with a scared shelter cat and make his life a tiny better for our presence. Some days we can donate a little money or time to a cause. Some days we can rest and be thankful. Some days we can put on our big girl panties and fight.

One day at a time – sometimes one hour at a time, one minute at a time – it’s not just for alcoholics any more.

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HOW TO PLAY WITH CATS

 

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Yes, there is a right way to play with cats. I know it’s so fun to whip that feather birdie back and forth in front of your cat, to land it on his head, to wind it around his tail, to pull it from his grasp just when he thinks he’s got the prize. And let’s not forget running kitty in circles. Fun.

But wait. Fun for whom?

For you, maybe, but for your cat, not so much. 

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Cats love and need to play, but playing with cats requires patience. A successful play partner must emulate both predator and prey. What would prey do? How would it act when cornered by a giant menace with razor claws and ripping teeth? And what would the predator do to assure the capture of that prey?

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All cats are different. One enjoys a string toy  and another prefers a body kicker. He may be a loner and only play by himself, or he may like interacting with his person. Some want their prey dragged along the ground; others want to jump for it. Find out what your cat likes; it’s all about him.

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With cats, play isn’t just for fun. Play is the way our domestic and often indoor-only cats connect with their lion ancestry. Without play, cats become frustrated, and a frustrated cat may act out in a myriad of unpleasant ways such as bullying other cats, scratching the furniture, or the dreaded inappropriate litterbox issues.

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A lot of your play time is dangling the hook, waiting in anticipation for the fish, or in this case, the cat to bite. Here are some important tips: 

Always let kitty catch his prey.

Don’t be in a hurry.

If he’s not into it, try another time. Play works best when you make a routine of it. If your cat doesn’t sleep through the night, a play session right before bed can be helpful.

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I asked some of my cat-savvy friends about their cats’ favorite toys. Here are the answers: 

Apparently, me when I’m sleeping! Ok – bug on a string is the all-time fav.

Cat nip mat, catnip pillows and……just plain old tissue paper that comes out of gift boxes. They also love brown craft paper that comes out of Amazon shipments. They jump on it, hide in it and run in circles on top of it. We think they love the noise paper makes.

Our cats love Da Bird and laser lights. Shadrach has a life-size fuzzy rat that has a catnip pouch. He carries that thing around and shakes it silly as he’s “killing” it every damn day. LOL!

When Charmin was still with us, she carried around constantly what we called her “pink baby”. It was just the plastic cord from a feather toy but you wouldn’t know it by the way she treated it. Charmin’s brother, Mr. Whipple, liked the laser light best.

Gremlin loves *hair scrunchies and knit socks or baby booties- they fly like birds when you hook them on your claws. Dusty loves those *clear plastic bands to keep the lids on bottles – he turns them into braille, crunch crunch crunch. And dragging his gold ribbon around the house, meowling plaintively. This only works when we are sleeping. Cardboard boxes. I used to crochet spiders on a string for them but those lose their fascination after a couple of years.

My ankle.

*Hair bands & Legos

Besides nip – a shiny gold ribbon about 1.5 inches wide. Small rubber balls to fetch, and a bright red flocked mousey squeaky toy, also fetchable. The mousey on a string is an overall winner.

Right now they are thrilled with a piece of Velcro they found. Also a little fuzzy thing on the end of a string. It’s just about pulled apart, so I really need to find a new one.

That’s an easy one Mollie! Any empty cardboard box will do for at least 4 hours if not 4 days.

(*watch these items – some cats eat them!)

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Keep your cat healthy and happy. Play with him at least 5 minutes every day.

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~Thank you, internet, for providing these great cat photos.~

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MY FATHER WAS AN IMMIGRANT

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My father was an immigrant. He escaped Germany and came to the United States in 1937. He didn’t talk much about his past, but he did tell about his first sighting of the Statue of Liberty. How beautiful, how great, how welcoming. 

It’s not as simple as you may think, coming to a new country, leaving everything you’ve ever known behind, possibly forever. It takes courage and determination. It is not something a person does lightly.  

My father was outgoing, kind, brave, and smart. He found a good life here, gave back to his new country, served in the US army, paid his taxes, and never did anyone harm. He taught me right from wrong, how to be kind, how to be fearless. 

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He died in 2005 and doesn’t have to see the division our country is facing now. He doesn’t have to see our lapse back into intolerance, prejudice, and hatred of strangers. He would have been appalled by swastikas on the bus or liars in the White House. He is gone but I will fight for him.

 

 

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THE MARKET: MAZATLAN

 

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Mazatlan’s central market is a hub of activity for both tourists and locals. You can buy almost anything there, from clothing to fresh juices, from candy to goat cheese to beans. The many fruits and vegetables are always at the best prices (a whole ripe papaya costs less than a dollar.) And for those with exotic tastes, there is always the fish and meat section, complete with a whole swordfish, manta ray, and a pig’s head.

 

 

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