December 31, 2023


I never intended to adopt a cat.  

I thought our daughter Abby would be happy with Splash the Beta fish. But as she grew older,  Abby said she needed a pet she could hug.  So, when she was ten, she and I visited the Humane Society.  We fell in love with a tabby called Ollie.  

As time flew by, Abby went off to college and the house grew quiet.  Being that my husband Jim worked, it was nice having a furry companion around.  Ollie and I grew close, so you can imagine how heartbroken I felt when he was diagnosed with kidney disease.  Within three months, I had to make the difficult decision to put him down.  Ollie only lived to be eight.  

After months of mourning his loss, I felt ready to have another cat.  At the Humane Society, I found Ozzie, a beautiful tabby with one green eye and one amber eye.  Ozzie was well-behaved and gentle, but way too curious and one Thanksgiving, he snuck out.  When we discovered he was missing, I totally freaked out.  Ozzie was an indoor cat.  He didn't know how to hunt for food, how to find shelter, or how to defend himself against predators.  He would never survive outside.

Jim and I posted his picture on Face Book and on Next Door and taped flyers to lamp posts.  We walked the neighborhood every day calling for him.  Jim searched the woods behind our house.  After 19 days I was beginning to lose hope.  By now it was December and the temperatures were below freezing.

Can you believe this cutie causes so much trouble?
Still, we hoped someone had found Ozzie and had dropped him off at the Humane Society, but when we visited, he wasn't in the room of lost pets.  While we were at the adoption center, I decided to hold some kittens, thinking a new cat would cheer me up.  But they were sickly and sad-looking and none could replace Ozzie.  Then on the way back home, we drove past Pet Smart and decided to step in to look at the kittens.  I had no intention of adopting that day, but one of them was named Abby—an obvious sign this was meant to be.  And just like that, we had ourselves a new cat and I decided to call her Lizzie.     

So, here we had a kitten and my husband and I knew nothing about caring for a young cat.  We had adopted Ozzie as an adolescent.  In no time, we learned that this kitten was a handful.  She'd sneak into closets or the pantry and get accidently trapped inside, scratch furniture and audio speakers, bite our toes, leap three feet up to the top of the refrigerator door to swat my hand, and the list goes on. 

The worst thing was, Lizzie didn't know anything about litter boxes (which surprised me because I though all cats no matter how young knew where to potty).  She did her business wherever she wanted.  A gal at Pet Smart advised me to place three litter boxes by Lizzie's favorite bathroom spots, and every few days gradually move them closer to the designated litter box area and then leave just one.  (This worked:)

Now look at her face.  Who can believe something so cute can be such a rascal?  We call her Little Bit, You With The Face, and A-lizzabet.  Sometimes, Sweetheart.  The most-fitting name is Trouble.  A year later she nibbles floral arrangements (silk and real flowers), tries to catch paper coming out of the printer, shreds window sheers, steals guitar picks, and uses my husband's favorite chair as a scratching post.  

Lizzie's latest habits include banging on the bedroom door during the middle of the night or walking on my back as I sleep.  The famous cat whisperer, Jackson Galaxy would say, distract her to stop bad behavior.  Yeh, right.  I'm going to get out of bed at 4 a.m. and distract her. 

Despite her mischievous behavior, Lizzie slowly helped me get over the loss of Ozzie.  But I wondered, what if Ozzie wasn't lost?  What if he found his way back home?  Would Lizzie and Ozzie get along? We were about to find out.  

Six weeks after adopting Lizzie, a neighbor who lived about one and a half miles away posted a picture on Facebook of a cat he had found.  The photo was fuzzy, but the cat resembled Ozzie.  Jim and I jumped into the car and raced to his house.  The neighbor led us to the basement where he kept the foundling, and lo and behold, there was Ozzie, minus his collar, fur matted, so skinny you could see his back bones.  He was literally starving and could barely hold his head up.  I cradled my sweet boy.  How had he survived?  And equally amazing, how could it be that we were reunited? 

The following day after meeting with veterinarian Dr. Vice, I found out Ozzie had no broken bones or cuts.  As Dr. V. put it, Ozzie just went on a walkabout.  Knowing Oz was unharmed was a relief.  But in order for him to rest and gain weight, we kept him separated from Lizzie.  Two weeks later he had regained his strength and we allowed the two of them to meet.   

At first, I wasn't sure if they'd get along.  They seemed suspicious of one another.  Ozzie and Lizzie tested each another and chased through the house.  But their interactions were harmless—no crying or fur flying.  Just pure joyous cat play.  

As I watch the two wrestle, I can't believe we have two cats. TWO!  And they are as different as night and day.  One is calm (and happy to be home) and one is well, not calm.  By now, you know which is which.  Which makes it fun and interesting.  We love 'em both.  Even if one caused us worry and heartache.  Even if one can be nothing but trouble.   

Bonne année! 


December 1, 2023

                                                                                                                                  Photo courtesy: Paula Engebretson


It bugs me when people don't reply, can't say no, can't admit they're not interested.

This happens quite a bit when I query agents.  I may not hear back after following the agent's guidelines, filling out a Query Manager form, and sending a professional query letter.  No word = no thank you.  In the past this wasn't the case.  Agents actually got back in touch through snail-mail.  But these days, agents claim they're overwhelmed with submissions and don't have the time to respond.   

What surprised me was other professionals have adopted this behavior, too.  Six years ago, when I tried to promote my book, I found that newspaper journalists, librarians, and teachers didn't have the courtesy to get back in touch with me.  None of them returned my phone calls, texted me or emailed me.  I was left hanging with the hope they'd be interested in writing a newspaper review, or having me lead a storytime, or inviting me to school to meet young readers.  Though my book was traditionally published, it didn't warrant their attention.  This was eye-opening, sad, and disappointing. 

Unfortunately, this attitude is prevalent beyond the book world and into our daily lives.  Last month, I contacted a handyman who was recommended on Next Door .  He stopped by our house to look at the projects and told me he'd send a quote.  After waiting two weeks, I sent an email to remind him.  He never responded.  Okay, I get it.  He really wasn't interested, but couldn't he have responded to my email?  

Now here's the thing.  I'd like to warn other people about this fellow.  This guy is not reliable and may not follow up.  But I won't.  He has my email and my cell phone number.  And he knows where I live.  I'm not careless or stupid.  It takes very little to set someone off.  So, I'll do nothing.  Stew, yes.  But quietly.

It's a shame some people feel that they don't need to respond, that no response speaks for itself.  But come on man, that's so rude.  And it boils down having no respect for others.  People have gotten self-centered.  They don't think about (or care about) another person's feelings.  It doesn't occur to them to be nice, to get back in touch, to send a reply.   
While writing this post, I found an article that was helpful in dealing with people who don't have the courtesy to say no thanks.  In "No Thanks, 3 Things You Can Do When People Don't Respond to Your EMail," I learned not to take it personally and to move on.   

This article made me feel I'm not alone.  It gave me the go ahead to reach out to other people.  People I can count on.  In the future, I will reach out to my publisher to help me contact journalists, teachers, and librarians.  And outside the writing world, I will reach out to more conscientious handymen.    

Sometimes it's hard to avoid people who choose not to reply.  The thing is, I don't have to let them get me down.  True, their rudeness gets under my skin, but the power is in my hands.  I don't have to deal with these kind of people.  When someone shows me their true colors, I can move on.  I have the choice to work with people who will treat me with the decency I deserve.   

À la prochaine!