Monday, August 31, 2009

"Do you feel lucky? Well...do ya? Punk?"


I've been thinking about luck.

This may seem like a random topic, but I've been thinking about it for a while. What is it? Does it actually exist? Or is luck a confluence between circumstance and opportunity that is totally random?

Why do some people seem "lucky" and others not-so-much? Is it simply our perspective? Our personal vantage point from either a cup-half-empty or cup-half-full place? Is it because these people worked harder, had better karma, deserved it more? Or conversely, when things don't work out, does it mean you deserve it less, did something bad in a past life or have, somehow, been a wastrel all your days?

I listen to people like Oprah talk about her notion that there is no such thing as luck. She's all about the whole 'Secret' thing and making your own luck happen. Visualizing it. But then I look at her and think, "Did she create every opening she ever got? Or did she simply walk through doors that opened as she passed nearby? Maybe that just makes her less afraid than me. Does seizing that sword every day make her talent any the less? No. Does that make us value what she has accomplished any less? No. But was there any luck involved with her becoming who she was? Maybe.


Why, after centuries, then does this concept of good luck and bad luck still persist? Maybe it's simply superstition, or a way of explaining the unexplainable. If we're having a good day we "feel lucky" and a bad day can mean that things haven't fallen our way. Some days I feel luckier than others. The day my beautiful grandson was born, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. Yesterday, when our banker told us someone in Mexico had fraudulently used our credit card and cleaned out a bank account, I felt really, well...unlucky.

This was simply an exclamation point on an already crummy day, the sum total leading to this little rant. But maybe this was just random universal timing that someone put my credit card numbers together and then pulled the lever. I won the hacker's lottery. Or, rather, he won and I lost. Er...lucky for him. Bad luck for me. See what I mean? I guess I should feel lucky that eventually, we'll get it all back. If we didn't need that money right now, I guess we'd feel that way. Right now I'm just mad.

Oprah says believing in luck is just an excuse to let ourselves off the hook for not trying hard enough. And maybe she's right. Today made me realize I have to try harder to stay positive. To walk through all those doors and not be afraid. The laws of attraction and all that. I know that's probably the lesson in the crummy day I just had. And occasionally, I need a kick in the ass to make me see what I need to see. I can choose to be the victim or I can step out of that and take my day where I want it to go despite that little punk in Mexico. Because right now, I'm feeling a little lucky. As I write this my daughter's is flying toward me from across the country, and in a couple of hours I get to kiss her and hold my little grandson.

That's the funny thing about this life. It's always the bitter with the sweet...

Thanks for letting me rant.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Smoke gets in your eyes...


Cough, cough! Blechhkk!

It's a bit of a mess here. Four fires are burning in the Southern Cali hills kind of in a giant circle around the city. The air is thick with smoke. Our cars are covered with a thin coating of white ash.

There is this weird yellow sunshine burning through the smoke. It's hard to really tell from this poor shot through my scraggly tomatoes, but maybe you can see the psychedelic rays burning down through this thick cloud layer of smoke. No? Trust me, if you were here, I'd show you.



The light is distinctive when there's a fire. I imagine it's as distinctive as the green color of the sky when a tornado is about to touch down. And despite being about ten miles away (and posing no fire danger to us) it's scary to see that brown blanket of smoke creep over the valley and steal away the clear August blue. And the ability to breathe.

It's also like 104*. Hot.

L.A. routinely burns, accidentally through freak lightning, or spontaneous combustion (caused by all the angst in LA no doubt) or intentionally at the hand of some looney arsonist who thinks watching fire eat through other people's lives is fun. Our fire season used to be in the fall, when the green hillsides naturally turned brown. But we've been in a drought for a while now and the hillsides are crispy and brown most of the year and just waiting for a spark. Soon, tumbleweeds will start blowing around our streets and scary Western soundtracks recorded in Italy will start playing over the loudspeakers. But only if Clint Eastwood walks by.

What? It could happen.

We're rationing our outdoor watering now--down to two days a week. My flowers are very unhappy with me. My poor little coreopsis is struggling to stay green. A lonely little shoot amidst the crackly brown. They don't all look this bad, but I'm sad to say many do.

We're certainly not alone in this water rationing thing. I know a lot of cities around the country are doing it, too. Cities whose resevoirs are drying up, while others are buried under enormous levels of rain. What's going on?

Are we in for another dust bowl like in the 1930's? Is it global warming? Or is it just a natural swing of nature? What do you think is going on with our weird weather? Is it weird where you are?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bet you wish you didn't ask...



Claire was sweet enough to honor me with the Me Me award today! Thank you so much, Claire. It couldn't have come at a better time as I was feeling a bit cranky as I sat down to decide what the heck to blog about today. And really, who can be cranky when someone sweet thinks of you in such a nice way? It was Claire's way of saying welcome to the blogging world, but the award also asks me to mention seven things you may or may not know about me and pass it along. Since I already gave out a bunch of awards last week, (And I don't know that many of you yet!) I'm only gonna pass it on to one. I hope that's okay.

So here goes:

1.) I used to be a ballerina! I danced for fifteen years as a kid, and into college. I loved to dance! I would do arabesques while setting the table and choreograph dances in my living room. My weird, dancer's arches will attest to starting on point at 11. Though peer pressure in junior high school tried to punch a hole in my balloon of happiness over dancing, I persevered! I even danced with a dance company for a while and did musical theater productions in the Syracuse University Theater. Oh, Carousel! Alas, water skiing put an end to my dreams of wearing a feathered costume one day in Swan Lake.


2.) I made my living for a while in LA as a commercial actress. I did probably 30 commercials over the years, including one particularly embarrassing,and long-running Head and Shoulders commercial where I'm best known for scratching my head! Someday, I'll post a link to it, so you can be embarrassed for me, too. I did a Hertz commercial with OJ Simpson and Jimmy Conners (for those of you too young to remember, he was a tennis player) when I was just pregnant with my daughter. All I remember of that nightmare is that it was 107* that July day and I had a three piece yellow polyester suit on in a closed, baking studio. Under hot lights. And I was nauseous. Somehow, I ended up on the floor with Jimmy hovering over me. (His wife was due right about then, so apparently he was empathetic.) The rest is a little fuzzy. But they miraculously let me finish with a fan and a glass of ice water nearby. Yes, Hollywood is glamorous.


3.)I met my husband in a bar. But before you get all judgemental, let me say in my own defense that I was employed as a waitress at that establishment, one of three jobs I was juggling in my quest for an Oscar. (Which, as you're no doubt aware, never happened.) He was the bar patron. I was so busy working I had no time for TV in those days. If I had, I might have known this guy I had a crush on was starring in a TV series at the time and worked all the time as an actor. I just thought he was cute. Anyway, it all worked out. Somehow, we've been married for 30 years and produced two wonderful--now grown--children. We just became grandparents!



4. I've published 10 books, all romance novels for houses like Kensington, Harper Collins and Harlequin/Silhouette.

5. I write screenplays, too. Part of the reason for the problematic slowness of my book productivity was my quest to learn this new skill. I took a few years off to re feather my empty nest, go back to grad school and enter into the Hollywood fray of screenwriting, like everyone and his brother here in La-La land. I finally optioned one a year and a half ago. It's still wallowing in development hell. But we're hopeful it will get made. Hopefully some time before Vampires are out of style....


6. Speaking of bats...I rappelled down a 180' cave once. Seriously. Down a shaft two feet wide and twenty-five twisty feet long of slippery, scary limestone (Did I mention I'm claustrophobic? What was I thinking?) and down into a cavern where I free-rappelled another 150' straight down. Toward a pile of ancient bones of critters and curiosity seekers who did not have a rope as they probed the opening I squeezed through. They didn't call it Moaning Caverns for nothing. And there were a few bats. *Shudder.* It was fun.


7. I conquered the subways of Paris. Well, my husband did it with me. They're beautiful subways. Clean and friendly. We found our way all over that beautiful city that way and I even left my reading glasses on a table at Montmartre just so I could take the subway all the way across Paris again the next day and race the little lift (that we missed) up the three hundred cute steps from the stop to retrieve them. I would have left them again, just to stay in Paris because I fell so madly in love with it. And even though we didn't speak French, the maitre d' at the restaurant saved them for me and was very kind. I long to go back there again. And someday, I will.

So that's me in a nutshell. Aptly. I shall forward this Me Me award on to someone I don't know well, yet, but would like to. Someone who's kindly been following my newbie blog and been very sweet in her comments to me: Snap.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Characters Have Issues


One of the things about writing a novel is that it's a 24/7 kind of job. With the books I sell to publishers, there are no time clocks to punch. No boss standing over me with a proverbial whip. The deadlines are mine and mine alone to do with what I will. And being the kind of person who does not like disappointing editors, I'm pretty good about self-motivation when I have a deadline. But this is a double edged sword. It means that regular work hours are meaningless. That is to say, it's not like you can leave a plot point at the office and say hello the next day at 9 am.

Me: (Stretching luxuriously after a good night's sleep) "Oh. Morning, Jack. So, did you and what's-her-face resolve your conflict issues last night?"

A long, irritated pause.

Jack: "No."

Me: "Oh. Well, did you at least come up with some better dialogue than that idiotic patter you were muttering yesterday? Because seriously--"

Jack: "Uh, no. We were...waiting for you."

Me: "Waiting for me? What kind of lame-ass hero are you anyway?"

Jack: "All right, that's it. C'mon, folks. We're going on strike until we get some real revision here." Jack motions the other characters together, then tosses me a pointed glance. "And that's your job. Read your contract."


Yup. Regular hours are a dreamy, fantasy-world away. Because these characters you've conjured up will hound you. They will hunt you down in the middle of a perfectly good nights' sleep and demand their right to a decent resolution. They are relentless, difficult and for the most part, unhelpful.

By the mid-point of your book, as the sagging middle rears its ugly head and they just stand there, arms crossed, taunting you, it can make a sane writer...well, cranky.



(Picture Tom Hanks here, yelling:) "There's no crying! There's no crying in publishing!"

When my characters have reached this impasse, they are not capable of sorting it all out for themselves. Although, as most of you who write know, occasionally,they will lead you to the closed door looming ahead like a road block and helpfully point out that you took a wrong turn back there and it's time to retrace your steps. Here's where the familiar refrain of "Where did this stop working for me?" begins banging away at my sleep.

Nine times out of ten, it's because I've chosen the wrong Point-of-view for a scene. I'm trying to make some character talk when it really has little to do with them emotionally. By switching this to the other character in the scene, it's amazing how suddenly things loosen up. Characters put down their strike signs and belly up to the bar. POV usually finds its strongest ally in the character who has the most at stake in a scene (emotionally or physically.) Why? Because every scene is a mini-book. Each scene has a beginning, middle and end. Each scene starts with one or both characters having goals. And by the end, one character will win and the other will lose. Deciding who does and who has the most at stake emotionally for a particular goal is your choice. Try it both ways if you're stuck.

This all becomes so much trickier, of course, when writing in First Person (meaning the camera is always viewing from one POV--your main character. In that case, you don't have the option of changing POV. So your impasse probably has more to do with whether the scene you're writing has a strong enough goal, motivation or conflict.
Rocky Balboa

I'll talk more about GM&C in another post. For now, if you're not a fiction writer and you managed to get all the way through this post, I apologize. Maybe it'll all pay off and you'll notice this stuff when you read your next novel. But even if it's blogging, I'd love to hear: What kinds of problems keep you up at night when it comes to your writing?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Touched


In Ces's words...
"I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us."

Sarah, my sister, honored me with this beautiful award from Ces and Bella and it's so special to me. I'm so lucky to have my beautiful sisters (Sarah and Anne) in my life. There's nothing like that bond. This blogging thing only happened because of Sarah, who prodded and cajoled me into it, but now that I'm doing it, I see why she did.

The wonderful friendship and support from the people I've met here is amazing and rare. We get to share with each other, sometimes in ways that don't happen in the real world--in ways that touch me every day. So, to all of you who've stopped by here and left comments on my blog, or even stopped by and took a look, thank you, too. I'm so happy you're here. And thank you, Sarah, for giving me this beautiful (seriously, I love the tree!) award.

In return, I'm passing this award to a couple of people who have been very kind and generous to me-- new friends I would love to honor with this special friendship award.

Renee
Bonnie
Holly
Alicia
Debra

Thanks for making me feel welcome here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Cat in Sheep's Clothing

Here's the culprit. Doesn't she look innocent?



Oh yes, she can look so sweet and sleepy-eyed and...domesticated. Even cuddly.



But don't let that fool you.



Anything that flutters, breathes, or wiggles, Maisy considers fair game.

Just ask the neighborhood mockingbirds,
who spent the last two weeks dive bombing her, knowing what lay in store for their nesting babies. (I think the war is over, for this season.)

Ask the hummers who love sipping my Lilies of the Nile. I can watch Maisy out of my front window as I write and occasionally, I'll see a calico blur fly by the window pane. I rush outside to see if I can rescue whatever now sits inside her jaws, because the truth is, she has no will to kill these things she catches. She just wants to play. So she rarely hurts on first swipe.She loves the chase. This Spring, I found a series of hummingbirds inert on my sidewalk after a long game, but one day, I caught her in the act!

She instantly dropped the poor little creature when I yelled at her and looked at me, like, "What? This is what cats are supposed to do."

But she took my theft diplomatically.

The hummingbird wasn't hurt. It was dazed by cat breath. It blinked up at me and I hoped it was going to make it. I took the little thing in my hand and warmed it for a long time. I sat really still and cooed to it. Told it everything would be okay. Soon, it wiggled its toes and I opened my palm up and it helicoptered up in the air and buzzed around my den, flying into walls.

So I picked it up again and held it some more. It hopped on my finger and stayed there, blinking up at me. Eventually, I decided I should let it go. It's little feet were curled around my index finger as I walked outside with it to Hummingbird Nirvana--The Sacred Bottle Brush Tree.

Then, the weirdest thing ever happened.

It would not fly away. It sat there, as if to say, "No way. Uh-uh. Ain't gonna happen. There's a C-A-T out here. Take me back inside!"

So I did. By then it was almost dark. I lifted the little bird up to some wires hanging across my rafters in my den and it seemed perfectly content to stay there. So I hung a bottle brush blossom beside it (in case it got hungry) and we let it have a sleepover.

In the morning, it climbed back on my finger (I know, right?) like we were old friends and let me take it back outside. After a moment, it blinked up at me then buzzed to a nearby flower to take a sip. Then it disappeared into the trees.

(Haikudo)

I have to say, having that little bird trust me not to hurt it after what it had been through was seriously a spiritual experience. It was a moment. Sometimes I hold my finger out to hummers in my yard, hoping it will return and remember me. But so far, no one has taken me up on the offer. But I'm okay with that. And Maisy and I are still friends.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflections


Brace yourself for this little profundity:

Sometimes a tree is just a tree. Sometimes, it's a reminder that what we're looking at is a universal nudge.

No seriously, brace yourself. I'm about to speak in metaphors. Take this tree, for instance. I think it's a redbud. It lives at the edge of this pretty little pond in the Botanical Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas. And on this day, when I snapped this shot, I was simply looking at how pretty it was with its reflection in the water.

Today, something entirely different occurred to me as I looked at it. You see how the reflection in the pond isn't the exact opposite of the tree? In fact, it's the underside of the tree reflected in the water, not the tree we are seeing from a distance. But still, we look at it squarely and think, yeah, that's the tree, reflected in the water.

Today, as I looked at this picture, it made me ponder the distortion that frequently enters into that small, internal conversation I often have with myself about...well, me. About my failures, my shortcomings, and my dark, veiny underleaf. That is to say: When you look at me, you just see the tree. I see something completely different.

My vision of me is coming up through the water. Shot through with uninvited shadows rippling the image. Maybe that explains my habitual, none-too-generous assessment of myself and my accomplishments, and underscores all those things I know I should be grateful for:

1.My husband.
2.Our kids.
3.Our grandson.
4.Health.
5.My sisters.
6.Our home.
7.Good friends.
8.Being a writer.
9.Our cats.
10.Trees, reflected in water.

Sometimes, my history floats just under the surface, distorting my idea of myself. And the reflection? It's not necessarily all that accurate. Maybe that's where the old, "Keep your head up," saying comes from. As in, "Don't look down there and scare yourself. Here is where the real tree is."

Okay, I warned you about the metaphors. Don't say I didn't.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Buzzed



I was outside today, staring at my vegetable garden noticing that nothing was producing anymore except for these gorgeous little white flowers on my flowering garlic, which is sad because I live in California where you'd think my whole summer would be overflowing with veggies. But it's not. No, my tomatoes are finished; green, but finished. My zucchini has bitten the dust. Likewise my summer squash. I think it's probably my fault somehow because at some point, too early every year, this happens. Too much water? Too little? Who knows? I love to garden but I'm no expert. I throw the plants in there, boost them up with good stuff and hope. That's really what planting a garden is, right? It's a hopeful act. You hope you'll eat off of it every year.

Here's my zucchini in better days.


Oh, sweet zucchini! I loved you!

Its leaves are peppered with fallen purple jacaranda blossoms from my nearby tree. I would swear that (The Artist-Formerly-Known-As-) Prince came up with his song title "Purple Rain" from these blossoms. Well, not specifically my blossoms. But from one of these gorgeous, crazy making trees. (Hint: Never plant one in your backyard.) Do you think this has anything to do with my failed garden?

And here, hiding under pristine green leaves with no trace of the powdery futurama that awaits it, is the yellow squash.


Aren't they little beauties? But alas, they are no more.

So, anyway, I'm staring at my garden that is sliding into its yearly oblivion and notice bees swarming all over these garlic flowers. Totally ignoring me. Unconcerned by my presence. So I took some pictures of them. Of their little shiny, transparent wings.





They were busy, working. Not thinking or worrying about the zucchini flowers that had gone away. No, they were only thinking about these flowers. The ones that still had some sweetness in them. And I thought...bees are naturally wise.

Monday, August 10, 2009

...And Do It Anyway.


In my thirties, I decided that I should do something that scared the heck out of me at least once a year. And I don't mean 'try sushi' or 'drive the LA Freeways at rush hour.' Although, both of those things could, possibly, hold valid fear factors for certain people... People who shall remain nameless... *shudder*

Anyway... I wanted to try something that was so far outside my comfort zone that it would make me break out into a cold sweat, possibly keep me up at night for weeks at the mere thought of how the heck I would ever accomplish it? Okay, I'm a middle child: that need to please, to succeed, and to prove that I, in fact, exist is in the job description.


Writing books was one of my wild hairs. Submitting them for sale, even scarier. Picture yourself stripped naked, holding a flogging strap with a little word bubble over your head saying "Thank you, sir, may I have another? (Name that film.) It turned out, I liked writing and selling books. It became a career.

Teaching writing at a major university extension was like that, too. (I endured an entire sleepless summer wondering how I could conceivably fill a three hour class and BTW, teach anything anyone wanted to learn.) Friends warned me against it, saying it would only interfere with my writing. But I did it anyway, because according to my devious plan, the very idea terrified me. I knew it was a good one. Ten years ago, I conquered that fear and I did not actually expire. I'm still teaching today. Sensing a pattern here?

It's been almost three years since I made the decision to apply to grad school after finding myself smack dab in the middle of an empty nest crisis. I did it with serious prodding from my DH (who understands my middle-child insecurities) but deep down, I relished a new challenge. And I thought it might be a good idea to have a backup plan for the future. Besides writing. Something that might involve a steady paycheck. Like teaching in a real college. So, I applied.

Then, I began to rationalize (Oh, yeah. This was part of the process.) "They won't take me." "I'm too old." "The low residency program is across the country from me. In Vermont. That's just crazy talk." No, I put the application in, I decided, and that was the scary part. I felt vindicated. Relieved. I'd done the hard thing.

Then one day as I was innocently listening to my cell phone messages, counting cracks in the sidewalk, I heard this:
"Hi, Barbara, this is P---, the program director at Goddard. I just called to say congratulations, you've been accepted into the Creative Writing MFA program starting in June..."

The rest I didn't hear. I think I said a four letter word.
By now, this sense of panic was familiar. But this time, I was so scared at the prospect I actually considered not calling him back. It took me two days to even tell my husband about it. But in the end, I did call the director back. And I accepted his acceptance. Because, did I mention? I'm a middle child.

Then, for the rest of the spring, I had a hard time sleeping.

Stay tuned for the stories of my Haunted Dorm Room and other grad school adventures. Meanwhile, inquiring minds want to know: Have you done anything to really scare yourself lately? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is...



Kathryn at Tender Graces asked this question today-- Who are you? How do you label yourself? And how do you validate yourself about what you do? Great topic, Kathryn!

This is a question that comes up with my students over and over. And to be honest, it's one that rears its ugly head with me as well. Students who struggle for years with their own writing wonder if they'll ever get published. I wonder if I'll find the level of success I want. It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves, our careers, our publishing advances with others. After all, most of my friends are writers. Published, unpublished, I've found that the way success looks on the outside doesn't always match what the writer feels on the inside.

One friend talked about making the New York Times for the first time and being elated. For a minute. Then she started to worry how long she'd stay there. Would her next book make it onto the NYT? And if it did, would it move up the list? Would she feel like a failure if it didn't? These fears are really no different from the ones unpublished writers have. Will I ever sell? Will this rejection be better than my last one? And if I win this contest, will it make me feel like a writer?

The line that we draw in the sand as our measure of success shifts constantly as we take steps toward our goals. We redraw the line and erase the one behind us. But why can't we be happy about our successes? Is it just human nature to forget what we've accomplished in favor of driving ourselves forward?

Maybe.

But here's what I know. Spending time worrying about things out of our control like publishing, sales figures, book lists and reviewers will only keep us from what we're really meant to do: To Write. Worry keeps us from putting our butt in the chair and doing the work. Fear freezes up creativity. It is the bogey-man of artistry. Whether you write, paint, compose, or do anything that fulfills you, Fear's only job is to stop you in your tracks. Most often, it comes in the form of small negative voices-- maybe the naysayers in our past-- who chip away at our confidence. But all we have control over is what we do. If we paint, we paint. If we write, we write. No one can take that away from us. And it cannot label us. Only we can know who we truly are.

And now a word from my Id (as in the Freudian neuroses to whom this post was really directed.) "That was very enlightened. But can we just readjust this sand line here a smidge?"

"No."

You see sometimes, I need to listen to my own advice. Thank you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Easily Swayed


A couple of years ago, I decided to adopt a furry friend. Though we'd always had cats and for many years, a dog, they were all sweet memories now. I was officially in the dog camp now. I couldn't help myself when one would pass me on the street. I fell in love. Yes, I wanted a dog, preferably. One who would get me out of the house to walk, sit beside me as I wrote and make me laugh. My husband, David, wasn't as enthusiastic. He saw the writing on our (traveling) wall. Me, worrying about the dog. Me, with separation anxiety that always settled into my relationships with my dogs. Me, saying no to going out of town because of the dog... You get the idea.

But I was undeterred. I campaigned, I scoured shelters. I was determined.

Finally, I found a cute little mutt who needed a home. I twisted David's arm and dragged him to the shelter and tried not to notice he was lagging behind me, dragging his feet. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "Wait til you see him. He has the cutest eyes. I think they're hazel."
Him: "Hey, look. A cat house. Let's go look in there first, just for fun."
Me: "But I want a dog."
Him: "We're just looking."
Me: (actually falling for this line) "Okay."

We prowled through the cat aisles. There were so many of them. Young, old, chubby, street-thin. One little tiny calico with a waist I could wrap my fingers around, peered lovingly up through the bars at me and meowed.

She was the most beautiful calico I'd ever seen. I nearly caved. But I steeled myself. I came for a dog. A DOG, understand?

We kept walking. And soon we saw a cage with a lump of a towel in the middle. No cat. Naturally, David had to see what was under the towel. That's just the way he rolls.

We weren't prepared. Nothing could have prepared us. Under the towel was a black and white long-haired beauty of a cat, hiding and madly sucking his thumb.



David had to have a closer look. He took him out of the cage. In the little private room, he cuddled him. I let him curl on my lap where he continued the thumb-sucking, and the paranoid glances up at us from under his inch-long lashes. And then, I was toast. His name was Sylvester and he was 11 1/2 years old. Who else would take this neurotic puddle of anxiety? He'd been raised with his brother (who had already been adopted away) and he was alone and scared. We had to have him. The note said "No Dogs. No other cats."

What??

That can't be right. He was raised with a brother. Look how he's missing him. I went back to the calico's cage. She looked deliciously up at me and meowed. She was a baby. 9 months old. If we were getting Sylvester, then we were also getting this one. This little girl for Sylvester. We weren't sure how it would work. But we hoped. I gave up on the idea of a dog. For now. I'm easy. Did I mention that?

We signed the papers. The little girl needed to be fixed. We would have to wait a couple of days. So we took Sylvester home alone. And he promptly disappeared. We found him under couch skirts, in closets, hiding amongst the towels in the pantry--sucking his thumb! Oh, dear.

Finally, the calico came home. We named her Maisy. We separated them by a door. Maisy meowed. Sylvester miraculously appeared from his distant, unrevealed hiding place. Sniffed under the door. Talked back to her in cat. She answered him. We opened the door.

A love story was born!

Sylvester and Maisy.


Maisy and Sylvester.

Picture them (music over) running in slow motion across a field of flowers toward one another... fur blowing in the wind!


They make me laugh.

It all couldn't have worked out better. Sylvester sits on my lap while I write and (of course) sucks his thumb. The long walks? Well, I have to do those on my own.

PS. That little mutt got adopted that same day by someone who is less of a cat cream puff than me.

Be good to yourself, Barbara