LIFE STAGES: WHEN KITTY IS GONE

A home is never so empty as when one has lost a beloved cat. Even if there are other pets still present, chances are they feel the loss as well. If kitty went peacefully, there will be empty beds, forsaken toys, and an overwhelming absence in all the places he liked to be. If his last days required medical assistance, there are probably a different sort of remembrance in the form of leftover medications purchased in hopes of recovery, maybe a half-used fluid bag, a geriatric litter box, or cans of special foods. All these things are reminders that he is absent and things will never be the same.

No one gets through life without grief. Breathe deeply and let it happen, because denying it will only cause more pain. But what else can we do besides lie on the couch and hurt? Here are a few ideas that have worked for me.

1.      Forgive yourself. Chances are, no matter what happened, you are taking blame upon yourself, but, you must accept it was not your fault.

2.     Attend a Pet Loss Support Group. Help heal in a supportive environment with others going through the same thing.

3.     Create a project in kitty’s memory. Whether a drawing, collage, or  afghan crocheted in kitty’s colors, the act of doing can bring a sense of peace.

4.     Put together a photo album. Don’t be afraid to show it to your friends. They understand.

5.     Write a journal. It can be just for you or to share with others. If you have a blog, share it there. If not, this may be a good time to start one.

6.     Share on social media. Whether a simple statement about kitty’s passing or an elaborate eulogy with photos and video, you may be surprised how far-reaching your post will be.

7.     Go to PetLoss.com, “a gentle and compassionate website for pet lovers who are grieving over the death of a pet or an ill pet.”  Note: be prepared to cry, but that’s a good thing.

Have faith that the grief will lessen and the wonderful memories of your time with kitty will float to the surface. And when the time is right, another cat – a different cat – will call for you to bring joy into each other’s lives again.

 

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THE THING ABOUT RETIREMENT

A little over a year ago, I retired from my full-time job as a records scanner for a large medical concern. In reality, it was quitting since there is no Social Security payment involved, but only time that is now my own. I should have stayed on until my real retirement age, but I just couldn’t stand another day, let alone two years. The stressful, low-paying, mind-numbing, body-crushing, unappreciated… need I go on?

I had lots of ideas about what I’d do with those extra five days per week: go for health walks and get a treadmill; write my books, blogs, stories, posts, and articles; finish cataloging my ancestry and maybe visit some of the places they had lived; cat-sit and do collectible sales for money; get back to regular volunteering and attend my Al-Anon meeting every week. I envisioned a decline of stress and an upsurge of energy. All those things I’d promised myself for the last fifteen years.

Things never work out as planned, do they? I hadn’t counted on a resurgence of my General Anxiety Disorder which makes even the simplest effort disproportionately difficult. Out of the last 12 months, I’ve been plagued with some extent of GAD for 8. I didn’t get a treadmill and now I’ve became reticent to go outside my house; no one’s here to make me, so in I stay. I didn’t cat-sit or sell stuff because I got an ACA health plan that was based on me not making any money. I became even more of a slacker about my volunteering and my meetings because they were away from home. (see above.) I had so little energy I was certain I must be sick.

The thing I did do was write. I finished and published 2 books in 2016, wrote a third draft of another, and started a fourth. I managed about a blog a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I kept up with posts on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Pintrest. I did promotion, readings, and panels; I attended promotions, readings, and panels. I met lots of writers, read lots of books, and for the first time, really began to feel like I was a writer too. So that’s what I do in my house when I don’t go outside: I write.

On looking back at the last year, a year of making – and breaking – my own plans and goals, I see it as a transition and learning experience. I know I have to keep moving, even if all I want to do is sit and play with the stories in my head. I feel better when I move, walk. I’ve just recently began standing at my computer instead of sitting, and it did me instant good. I know I have to bravely face the anxiety when it comes and appreciate the times when it’s gone. I know I have to make some money, and I really do love cat-sitting. (Collectible sales, not so much)

Retirement comes with a cost: all those hours I have to fill with my own choices. It feels a little like being a kid out of school: I couldn’t wait to be here but now what do I do? I thought I knew, but I am finding it’s a process. To be fulfilled and comfortable in retirement, I have to give up a lot of preconceptions. I have to let go of fantasies and goals that will not work for me anymore. Everyone’s retirement looks different and I know now that mine isn’t going to be on the Love Boat.

 

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AS DARK AS MY FUR, by Clea Simon – Book Review

AS DARK AS MY FUR, by Clea Simon, Cat Writer

(Publish date April 1, 2017)

An orphaned girl makes an unlikely detective in a harsh, dystopian city. Aided by a cat with a past, she seeks answers to a cruel case. Traps are set; gauntlets are run, There is danger everywhere. Narrated by Blackie, an ancient cat who had once been human, the story loops and spirals to the final conclusion and leaves us ready for the next book. 

Simon is extremely cat-savvy to pull off this unconventional narration with such accuracy and feeling. Though Blackie, remembering the advantages of being human, sometimes resists his felinity, he is a cat through and through. 

As both a writer and reader of cat mysteries, and I hesitate to call “As Dark as my Fur” a mystery in the conventional sense. Because the story is told by Blackie and all perceptions are his, there is a fluid quality of introversion that might disappoint a reader who expects the usual formula plot. “Dark” seems more a noir study of an extreme human condition, one that I hope we never see.

Note: I love the cover art. I would snap this book off the shelf without even reading the blurbs because of it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know Blackie and Care in this inspired sequel to “The Ninth Life”.

 

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MAZATLAN MEMORIES: THREE FERAL CATS, from Fire Star Press

Check out my latest blogpost, MAZATLAN MEMORIES: THREE FERAL CATS, on Fire Star Press.

We all miss our pets when we go on vacation. Here’s a sweet short story about cats right when I needed them most.

 

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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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