The answer to that question requires only one word, and most writers know what it is, but Gold also answers the moreimportant question, “How should we approach writing advice if even the most frequently shared advice is often wrong?”
I use LibreOffice Writer and love it. I made a donation when I downloaded the program (app?) and do so again with each upgrade. But that’s voluntary. As Haines says, it’s totally free. Check out LO and nine others.
When we tried to medicate William last night, a pill fell into the pit between the seat of my recliner and the arm, and we weren’t able to locate it. It’s in there somewhere, or it fell through onto the floor under the chair. After a cursory look, we gave up. We feel safe leaving it there because it’s a sure thing neither cat will gobble it up. If it were one of my pills, they would vacuum it up in a nanosecond.
The pill fell because I was careless and William got his tongue in gear and spat it out. We got another pill. Which means he’ll get only twenty-nine pills instead of thirty. William thinks that’s okay.
William is being dosed for pancreatitis. David is the cat holder. Due to my vast experience, I am the pill poker. It took a week for me to remember that coating the pill with butter makes the job easier. William doesn’t resist as enthusiastically and once in his mouth, the pill slides down more easily. He also doesn’t run upstairs after the ordeal, just jumps down and licks the inside of his mouth with vigor but no expression of distaste. Hurrah for butter. We have about two more weeks to go.
Ernest is probably unpillable. We haven’t tried, and I don’t want to.
I use a piller now. I had a piller in years past, but Chloe didn’t take to it, and I didn’t take to Chloe’s offer to use her fangs on my fingers while they were nearby. Every time she had to be pilled, I left her with the vet and let the experts handle her. Same with Christabel. Chloe was wiry and muscular and if she didn’t bite me, she wriggled out of my grasp. Christabel was big and built like Jello and rolled out of every half Nelson I applied.
At the end of this post, there’s a link to a video tutorial on pilling cats. I include it so you can see the piller. The starring vet says the process is easy peasy. Take that with a grain of salt. He’s a vet. He’s had practice. The cat knows resistance if futile. I suspect he’s a clinic cat. Those animals tolerate many outrages with aplomb. I suspect they have no reflexes at all.
My old neighbor, Steve Dauchy, a big orange tom, was a retired clinic cat. One cold winter day, his family smelled something burning and found Steve sleeping on a propane space heater in the kitchen with his tail hanging down beside the vent. His hair was singeing. He woke up when they pulled him off.
One winter night, I woke, reached out my hand, and touched fur I recognized as not my cat. Scared me half to death. I turned the light on, and there was Steve, snoozing away, the third cat on the bed. He’d sneaked into the house when I opened the door, hidden somewhere, and emerged at lights out, I guess. He was very astute. On cold nights, he slept on the seat of the riding lawnmower in his humans’ garden shed, a nice, tight bedroom, but when he saw a chance of a mattress, he jumped at it. The next morning, while Steve breakfasted in my kitchen, I called next door and told the worried humans about the slumber party he’d engineered, and later, when it warmed up, put him outside.
Tonight’s dose went down in record time. David wanted to medicate him before he went to the grocery store, but we waited for him to come downstairs under his own steam. Between four and five-thirty every day, awakened by his circadian rhythms, he waltzes downstairs for insulin and dinner. Mainly dinner. He hardly notices the insulin.
When I was a teen, I read a book about caring for cats. There was a chapter about medicating them. The authors, a married couple, used the terms cat holder and pill poker.
When I pilled my Siamese, Ms., I was both cat holder and pill poker, but after the first few confrontations, she cooperated. I didn’t have a piller, but she didn’t Didn’t open her mouth on command, but I didn’t have to use much force, and she sat still. She was highly intelligent and behaved more like a dog than a cat, except for pilling. Dogs never cooperated.
The Siamese’s first name was Mademoiselle–for some ridiculous reason–until I realized she was liberated, the Gloria Steinem of cats, good looks and all–and I changed it to Ms. That was ridiculous, too, because I called her Kitty. And Puddy. And Puddy-Wuddy. And Feetie-Pie. All the usual cat names.
She produced kittens when she was eleven months old. Her idea, not mine. Wonder of wonders, they were Siamese kittens. Praise goodness for the gentleman Siamese down the street. The kittens would probably have been just as easy to give away as if they’d been generic, but people seemed extra pleased to have purebreds. No official papers, of course. Ms. was not an aristocrat, and considering the kittens were conceived under dubious circumstances, they would never have been accepted into High Society.
My one disastrous encounter with a sick cat occurred at the veterinarian’s. The tech was attending to one end of William and I was holding the other end, the one with teeth. He’d buried his head as far back between my body and my forearm as he could go, considering I had my arm clamped to my side. After suffering indignity for longer than I thought he would, he rebelled. I think he tried to bite me, but he managed only to rub his fang against my arm, hard enough to scrape the skin slightly. Within minutes, I had a budding case of cellulitis–I recognized it as such because I’d had it before from an encounter with cat teeth–and I had to go to the urgent care clinic for pills of my own plus shot of antibiotic. It turned out that William wasn’t sick. That night I wrote a verse about the experience and posted it on my blog, here:
William bit me at the vet,
Didn’t like the aide’s assistance,
Used his claws and fangs to set
On the path of most resistance.
Say I’m teary, say I’m mad,
Say that pills and needles hit me,
Say my arm’s inflamed, and add,
William bit me.
It’s patterned after one of my favorite poems, Leigh Hunt’s “Jenny Kissed Me”:
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
If Hunt and Jane (Jenny) Carlyle were around to read the parody, they might not approve, but if I didn’t like the original, I wouldn’t have used it. I don’t consider my version an homage, exactly, but I’m fond of it. I’m a rotten poet, but I do pretty well at parody, if I do say so myself. I wish I could write them for a living.
I’m can’t write anything for a living. I don’t write fast enough, and as yet I haven’t hit upon the Great American Novel. I haven’t hit upon any novels at all, just short stories. A couple have brought in a few dollars from contests, and those that have been anthologized bring in a few cents in royalties (which are divided with the other authors), but the cents are donated to charity every year (supplemented, of course). The truth is–like many lightly published authors, I would be tempted to pay to get my stories in print or online. But I wouldn’t do that. My efforts are worth at least $0.00.
I didn’t plan to say anything about my literary efforts, but in a stream-of-consciousness post, things just happen, so I’ll happen to add that my stories appear in the three anthologies pictured in the sidebar–MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK. My best stories, two of them, are in Murder on Wheels, which has an unimpressive cover but good stuff inside, so if you buy one, please buy that one. They’re all available in paperback and ebook formats. They might be available from your local public library–if they’re not, I’d appreciate your requesting the library acquire copies.
Royalties from Murder on Wheels go to Meals on Wheels in Austin, Texas. Royalties from Lone Star Lawless go to the Port Aransas Public Library, which lost its collection and everything else to Hurricane Harvey in 2018. Royalties from Day of the Dark go to Earth & Sky, which through its website presents information about science and nature. The radio program Earth & Sky (EarthSky) used to air on commercial, NPR, and other public radio stations, but since June 2013 has concentrated on its website and social media.
So there it is, a disjointed post. I went to bed too late last night and woke up too early this morning, so I can’t work on my novella-in-progress, because the characters are too tired to do or say anything interesting. They’ve already said and done one hundred + pages, but they need to do and say it better. Anyway, since they’re not cooperating, and since I’m tired, too, I abandoned them for this post.
The novella will be out this fall. I won’t mention the title or anything else, because it’s a secret, but you can be sure more Blatant Self Promotion will appear in a future post. Not a disjointed one, I hope.
Now I’ll go back to those characters and try to rev them up. They produced pretty well yesterday, when they were rested, so I know they can do it. With the deadline they’re working under, they need to get on a stick.
This turned out less disjointed than I expected it to. Half about cats, my default topic, and the rest about books and writing. All about me, my perpetual topic. The experts say not to write about yourself, but except for Helen Hunt Jackson’s nineteenth-century novel RAMONA, I’m about all I know.
I’m putting what I know about Ramona on a separate blog, but doing so requires typing a lot of footnotes, and that’s a slow and sleep-inducing procedure. The text is interesting, though, if I do say so myself.
We’re pleased to announce that “Invisible Men Invade Earth” was named audience favorite at the Central Arts Short Film Battle in Hurst last night. It competed with “Don’t Die” by Cody Lovorn from San Antonio.
As winner, “Invisible Men” will compete with other 2019 audience favorites later in the year.
After the Battle, a 90-minute feature film, The Monster of Phantom Lake, produced by Film Battle organizer Christopher Mihm, was shown. The Creative Spotlight terms Mihm a “retro-styled director.” Of the film, it says,
“Made on a nearly non-existent budget, this B-movie went on to garner much critical acclaim, appear in many genre-based film festivals, win multiple awards, and continues to screen across the world.”
Without further ado, here are pictures of writer-director-producer-camera man-sound engineer-casting director-key grip-best boy-etc. David Davis, stars William the Cat and Ernest the Cat, and one wall of the theatre.
Photos of David Davis by Kathy Waller
Photo of wall by David Davis
Photos of William and Ernest by Charla, our vet tech cat minder, for whom William and Ernest always pose nicely, because they like her more than they like David and me
I thought I would write all twenty-six posts without them–I refrained from using them for Day C–but today I lack the vitality necessary to think of anything new. So on Day V I fall back on Cats.
William and Ernest.
As I recently posted, Ernest and I are having a disagreement over seating positions. My body and my massage therapist tell me I have to sit up straight and hold the laptop right in front of me. Ernest says he’s supposed to be right in front and the laptop can snuggle up to someone else.
I haven’t won, but, on the positive side, I’ve had to see the massage therapist only four times, and I now stand almost upright when I walk. In addition, I no longer get into the car like Audrey Hepburn. (That’s really more of a negative.)
Ernest spends more time than he used to sitting on David’s lap, he stares at me with an expression that implies he’s planning some outrage.
This evening we compromised. He curled up with his front on my leg, his head on the arm of the chair, and a narrow gap between. Because I feel guilty, I let him put his head on the keypad and, to keep him from sending emails, played Candy Crush. Then I moved my leg–it was numb–and he slid down, stretched out, and ended up squashed between me and the arm of the chair.
I took photos. They didn’t turn out–angle and proximity made it hard to get a good shot–but you might be able to get hint of our predicament. My predicament, really. As long as I rubbed his tummy, he didn’t care where he was. I don’t think he even noticed.
Ernest. Ruffled fur is from tummy rub.
William occupied himself this afternoon with walking back and forth across the keyboard and me in pursuit of a bowl of granola bar crumbs that I kept moving back and forth so he couldn’t get to it. He’s so big and heavy (and determined) that when he decides to walk on the keyboard, he walks on it.
Nineteen pounds at his last checkup, down from twenty-three. I calculated the other day–I used to bowl with a ten-pound ball, and it wasn’t easy to lift. William is worth two bowling balls.
When he was a kitten, he would race me to my chair. Seeing me approach it, he would run across the room to get there first. It was both cute and annoying. I thought he wanted the chair. After a while, he stopped.
Lately he’s been doing it again, and I’ve realized he just wants to be petted. But he doesn’t want to give up the chair. I feel guilty for not snuggling with him nine years ago, so I push and pull him to one side of the chair and squeeze into the other–it’s a big chair, and we almost fit. Sometimes he stays wedged between me and the arm. Sometimes he struggles to crawl around to my lap.
If he jumps up when the computer is already in my lap, there’s no question of working. It’s all about him.
Well, that’s the update on William and Ernest. If I weren’t so sleepy, I would write something else–something brilliant, something scholarly and profound, cogent even, displaying my remarkable erudition–but on this Day V, the tale of two tabbies is all the farther I can go.
I learned all the farther from a co-worker who hailed from Minnesota. I love it. It’s in my personal lexicon to use on occasions such as this.
WordPress suggests I use yabbies instead of tabbies. Nah. Good word, but it doesn’t fit.
The following article, first published here on November 26, 2017, focuses on one of the most Shocking Crimes in the annals of our nation, and on the three Heroic Felines who helped Investigators Crack the Case.
Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff Cleared of All Wrongdoing, FBI Reports
FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address labelon the package containing the explosives and traced it to the Poff cats. It is alleged that Ms. Poff sent the potentially deadly devices to former President Obama and Governor Greg Abbott because she was mad at them.
Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff were taken from the Poff home in Brookshire, Texas, 34 miles west of Houston, Thursday around 9:00 a.m.
FBI Agent Arnold Specie, chief of the Houston Bureau, announced in a press conference late Thursday that after intense grilling, officials were satisfied the cats had no connection to any nefarious activities.
“The only thing they’re guilty of is shedding on paper their owner later used to wrap the explosive devices. You can’t fault cats for shedding.”
He said there’s no doubt these are the right cats. “The fur of all three exhibits white hair. That’s true even of Puffy Poff, who is mostly orange but has a couple of white spots on her underside.” He assured the press that DNA testing will confirm the hair belongs to one of the Poff cats.
A reliable source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said he’s not so sure. “They know more than they’re telling,” he said. “It’s impossible to get anything out of suspects that keep falling asleep in the middle of questioning. And every time Muffy rolled over, Specie gave her a belly rub. Specie’s always been soft on cats.”
The early morning raid, which involved a number of federal agents as well as a Houston PD Swat team on stand-by, rocked this usually quiet community to its very core.
“I could tell something was going down,” said neighbor Esther Bolliver. “I was outside watering my rose bushes when I saw these men wearing dark suits and ties crouching behind Julia’s privet hedge. One of them was holding out what looked to be a can of sardines, and saying, ‘Kitty kitty kitty,’ in a high-pitched voice, you know, like you use whenever you call cats. I thought it was Animal Control.”
Mrs. Bolliver ran inside and told her husband. “I said, ‘Bert, come outside and look,'” she said.
“I knew they was G-Men first thing,” said Bert Bolliver. “It was the fedoras give ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”
Ten-year-old Jason Bolliver, who had been kept home from school with a sore throat, added that the raid was exciting. “It’s the best thing that’s happened here since my teacher had her appendix out.”
Agent Garrison Fowle (pronounced Fole), who led the raid, said capturing the cats proved remarkably easy. “The sardines did the trick. Those cats ran right over and we grabbed them and wrapped them in bigterry clothbath sheets and stuffed them into carriers. It was a snap.”
Neighbors, however, contradict Agent Fowle’s account, pointing out that the Brookshire Fire Department had to be summoned to get Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” out of a live oak near the corner of the Poff property. It is believed she bolted when she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.
While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadrylto Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.
Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospitalin Houston. Information about his condition has not been released, but Mrs. Bolliver observed Ben Taub has a first-class psychiatric emergency room, and she thinks that’s why Smits was taken all the way into Houston.
“By the time they got Pud-Pud down from that tree, the poor man was staggering around like he had a serious case of the fantods.”
After their release, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” were relocated to an unspecified location.
Special Agent Fowle said the initial plan was to fly them to Washington, D. C., in the care of Agent Banks, for further debriefing, but Agent Banks put the kibosh on that, saying there was no way in hell he was going to spend one more minute in the company of “those [expletive deleted] cats.” Fowle said Agent Banks has been granted sick leave until he stops itching.
When the commotion has died down a bit, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will be honored for their part in the capture of their owner at a joint session of the Texas Legislature at the State Capitolin Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.
Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfishdinner.
“Let me be clear,” President Obama said. “Although totally and completely innocent of any crime, these cats surely had a positive influence on the perp. The activity Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” witnessed was fair and balanced, targeting both a Democrat and a Republican, and as such is the first bipartisan effort I’ve come across since my first inauguration.”
After law enforcement officers left, neighbors expressed concern about the cats’ future welfare. The Bolliver family, noting the three felines spent most of the day sleeping on the hood of their Buick anyway, wanted to take them, but their offer was rejected.
Instead, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will make their home in Houston with Special Agent Specie.
Festivities at the Texas Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion were axed after Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” sent word they’d heard about Austin traffic and didn’t care to see it for themselves.
Special Counsel Robert Muellersent the Poff kitties a note of congratulations for a job well done.
The White House reluctantly announced that President Donald Trumpwould invite the Poff cats to a gala celebration at the White House, a huge one, huger than Obama’s fish dinner or Trump’s inauguration even. Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” however, said thanks but no thanks on the grounds they would be busy that night grooming one another’s hair.
Some consequences you can predict. Some you can’t predict. Some you should predict but don’t.
It’s the last of the three that’ll get you.
I had just read a brief bio in my memoir class and turned to leave the lectern, when something in my left hip went pop. Not an audible pop, but a pop nonetheless. I limped back to my chair.
With David (poor thing) half carrying me, I staggered across the parking lot, groaning every time my left foot touched the ground. At home, neighbors had the pleasure of hearing me ascend the steps and walk to the door. Yelp, yelp, yelp.
Getting into and out of the car was worse. I couldn’t climb in as usual.
Get into a car like Audrey Hepburn does, my mother said. Sit sideways, then swing both legs in. The Emily post method.
Phooey on Audrey and Emily.
Until hip day. That’s when I learned Audrey had an advantage. She had leather seats she could slide on. I have fabric that grabs your breeches and holds on. Entering and exiting, I didn’t yelp. I shrieked.
The pain wasn’t exactly excruciating, I guess, but it was close.
At home I fell into a chair, texted my massage therapist, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, and begged for an appointment. That’s how panicky I was. I hate texting.
Anyway, the next day, David hauled me (shriek) to her office. She mashed my spine back into place, then laid her hands lightly around me just below the waist, and said, “How do you sit when you use your laptop? Is it right in front of you?”
And I said, “Noooooooooooooo.” And thought, Well, d’oh.
This is the way I sit when I use my laptop:
Ernest correctly positioned
Ernest incorrectly positioned
Controlling enter key
“Uh-huh,” she said, “I can tell you’ve been sitting crooked.”
So what’s girl to do?
A girl’s going to do whatever it takes to stop the pain.
But the guilt was excruciating. Ernest has only recently learned to liiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, sometimes without being begged, or even ordered, as if it’s his own idea.
He’s the only cat I’ve ever had who followed instructions. Or, more likely, said to himself, She’s been a good and faithful servant. If this is so important to her, I’ll cooperate. I taught him to sit that way. It prevented him from laying his head on the keyboard and typing. (Once he sent an email.) I didn’t realize my hip would suffer.
And he’s a Velcro cat. He can’t help that I have to move the laptop waaaaay over to the left and stretch sideways to reach the keyboard. He needs almost constant physical contact. Denying him my lap could crush his spirit. He’s sensitive.
But for the most part, he’s done well. I gave the I-wuv-oo-oodles-but-we-can’t-go-on-sitting-like-this speech, and he gave up and moved down to lean on my leg.
Mostly. We’ve had wrestling matches. Occasionally I catch him sitting in a straight-backed chair across the room, his lips set in a grim line, staring at me. But over all, we sit in peaceful companionship.
I saw the massage therapist a second time.
My hip has improved.
And the best news is that, with practice, I’ve learned to get into a car like Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey’s legs aren’t visible in this clip, but you can get the drift. She does the swing-around about 1:35. That might not be leather upholstery, but she’s had more practice than I have.
Nov. 26: Ordered quilt online; multi-cat design; not quilt in picture, and not cat either
Nov. 27: Received email confirmation; processing time 5-7 days; everything handmade and impeccably “sawn”; hoped quilt would be more impeccable than proofreading
Dec. 1, 4, 7, and 8: Received emails re more quilts available for order
Dec. 10: Received email re quilt finished, ready to ship, tracking number to follow
Dec. 10: Received email re discounts on six other quilts
Dec. 11: Received email re same discount on same six quilts
Dec. 12 – Jan. 17: Received no emails at all
Jan. 17: Emailed company re Where is my quilt/Did I miss an email with tracking number?; very polite
Jan. 18: Received email re Quilt is ready and on the way.
Jan. 24: Received quilt
Jan. 25: Put queen quilt on queen bed; quilt barely covered top of queen mattress; I kid you not
Jan 25: Measured queen quilt
Jan. 25: Pulled up company website to check dimensions of ordered queen quilt; website down until all quilts ordered before Christmas have been shipped
Jan. 26 – present: Considering options:
Email company re Did I receive double or twin quilt in error? and if so, I’ll send quilt back in exchange for queen quilt
Email company re I will send quilt back and await refund (and hope refund arrives before end of 2019)
Email company re I will send quilt back in exchange for king quilt (since queen might not be large enough either) and will send more money as soon as I receive king quilt
Email company after website is back up and I know exact dimensions of queen quilt I ordered and have better idea of what more action to take
Email now re usual 30-day limit on returns
Email company re what I’m really thinking
Email re I’ll volunteer to help package and ship quilts ordered before Christmas (possibly necessitating a trip to China, where I suspect they’re made)
Rive my hair and wail like a banshee
Put quilt on dowel and hang on wall
It’s a silly quilt, cute in a kind of ugly way, but I finally decided I might as well adopt the title of Cat Lady and stick images of cats all over the house. And I thought Cat Gentleman would like cat quilt, since he adopted his title years ago. Quilt was supposed to be a Christmas present.
I ordered late and thus knew Santa Claus might not bring quilt on the First Day of Christmas, but I assumed the Magi would deliver it by Epiphany at the latest. Now I hope to get this thing straightened out before Pentecost.
Worst case scenario, the correct quilt will arrive in time for Advent. And I’ll give it to Cat Gentleman for Christmas.
Posted on Whiskertips, December 24, 2009, when William and Ernest were still young adults.
If you read my earlier post, our Christmas tree has been the subject of intense, but not unexpected, conflict.
As soon as the tree lit up, so did William and Ernest. William had to be physically restrained from chewing on the lights.
The next morning Kathy found the tree lying on its side and the cats out of sight. The tree spent the day endeshabille, as it were.
After lengthy trilateral negotiations, a compromise was reached.
Ornaments and tree skirt are, of course, out of the question.
Gifts will appear Christmas morning immediately before they’re to be opened.
Christmas Compromise, 2013
After Ernest began eating everything he found interesting– thread, twine, string, ribbon, “elongated things,” the veterinarian said– and his health care became repeatedly expensive, David and Kathy decided Christmas tree needles shouldn’t be allowed in the house.
David bought a small artificial tree complete with lights and set it on a chair.
William supervised setup and checked for stability.
A certain instability was discovered, but William said Ernest was at fault.
Ernest said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Since then, however, nothing untoward has occurred.
William continues to keep watch.
In 2018, gifts still appear Christmas morning immediately before they’re to be opened.
Note: The black thing William is lying on started as my bearfoot slipper but soon became a soft, squishy thing for William to make biscuits on.
Another note: I don’t think my cats are cuter than other people’s children and grandchildren, but I don’t have children or grandchildren, so William and Ernest get their pictures broadcast worldwide.