I must have been the worst mother ever

I love cats. They fill crevices in my heart with warmth. But they’re animals. I’m not really their mother.

So why do I worry about them more than I remember worrying about my kids?

Case In Point

We planned our week away several months in advance. And I contracted someone to stay at the house with my three little fur babies.

When the sitter cancelled a month before our trip, my first response was, “I’m not going to be able to go on this trip.”

My husband looked at me like I’d grown an arm out of the middle of my forehead. “We’ll get someone else.”

But there’s no one.

Because I really want this person to adore cats as much as I do. And I want to be comfortable imagining them alone in my house.

Am I expecting too much?

Needless to say, I don’t recall ever thinking I would cancel a vacation to stay home with my kids. Maybe if they had been sick.
But one time, my youngest had a bad fall and got stitches two days before I was supposed to leave to join my husband in Washington, DC.

My mother was keeping our sons. She insisted that I go on the trip.

I’d like to say she really had to twist my arm. But she didn’t. I wanted to be convinced it was fine for me to leave my small children.

But these cats?

Plan B

“They do so much better when someone stays with them.”

It’s true.

I love cats for their independence. And my cats are as snooty as any Egyptian god or goddess.
But when we left them for a week and had my father-in-law check in on them daily, they pooped on the chair, destroyed a few items and sprayed my husband’s shoes.

It made coming home an instant relaxation reversal.

Another time, we had some neighbor kids come over and sit with them for a couple hours every day.

This time it was the bed that got used as a litter box. And the television and lights were left on. For how long we’ll never know.

So my husband’s plan to have the neighbor stop in daily to feed, water and clean their box wasn’t looking very pleasant.

Thankfully, my adult sons live nearby. Although they’d rather stay at their own place, they know and love the cats. It’s not too unreasonable for my youngest to commute from my house rather than his. He can even bring his cat (she loves playing with my cats).

As relief floods my chest when this plan comes together, I wonder, “What sort of person am I?”

Who worries more about leaving their cats alone than leaving their kids?

Although my kids were always with grandparents or other responsible adults.

Shouldn’t I want the same for my fur babies?

Maybe the relief I feel has more to do with coming home to no unwelcome presents.

That’s what I tell myself.

That and “You’re the best cat mother ever!”

What do you worry about when you go on vacation?

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Get anything you want – in the mail

Thanks to Amazon and other online vendors, a person never needs to leave their house to be supplied with anything they want. Everything they want—as long as they have a credit card limit high enough—will come to them in the mail.

Or be delivered by another parcel service.

The other day, the UPS man rang the bell at my door. I can see the porch from my office, and I noticed he wasn’t ringing and running like he usually does. Interesting.

When I opened the door, he held out the little electronic keypad thing-a-ma-jig they use these days.

“I need your signature today,” he says.

“I don’t even know what’s in the package.” I said this before I saw it was addressed to my husband. I hadn’t ordered anything I needed to sign for.

“It contains alcohol,” he informs me. Alcohol? We don’t even drink alcohol?

Or is there something my husband isn’t telling me???

“Signature required by law.”

Well who I am to break the law?

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After he verified my name (since no one can sign those digital do-dads with any legibility), he handed me the package.

After checking that the box was from Alex in Laguna, California. And it was indeed addressed to my husband, I sent a text to The Man at work.

He didn’t know what it was either. Even after I sent him a picture of the label.

Things I Get all the Time

I get packages on a pretty regular basis. Mostly because it’s so easy to order anything I want and have it delivered.

Why leave the sanctuary of my home to purchase items if they will come to me? For just a few dollars more.

Amazon supplies me with:amazon-package

  • Books
  • Home decor
  • Gifts
  • Furniture
  • Shoes
  • And pretty much anything I can imagine.

But I also have become adept at clothes shopping. Who wants to go to the mall by themselves? Not me.

Why try on clothes in a cramped changing room when you can do it in the comfort of your own bedroom?

Right. Return fees.

It’s pretty amazing how many companies run specials that include free returns.

Of course, when I’m ordering my bras from Victoria’s Secret, I know the style and size I like. There’s not much risk of having to return them. Unless they are damaged.

It’s not that I don’t like shopping. I on’t want to go by myself. And why fight the crowds on the weekend when all my friends are finally off work and available to hit the stores with me?

Services I’m Trying Out

Recently, I’ve become part of the crowd that uses repeat delivery services.

I began this years ago with Gevalia coffee. Delicious stuff. In fact, I should probably look into starting that up again. I canceled it before we moved because I had a year’s worth of coffee stockpiled in my freezer.

Last year, my insurance finally came up with a mail-order prescription service that wasn’t a pain in the patooty. They ship me a 90-day supply of my daily medications automatically and charge my co-pay to my credit card.

So I get three months of meds for what I used to pay each month at the drugstore.

Save money? I’m in. Added convenience? I’m doubly pleased with myself.

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What other things is the delivery man setting on my porch on a regular schedule? Well:

  • Cat food (from PetCo delivered every six weeks)
  • Shakeology -my healthy breakfast-delivered every two months

And I recently signed up for Stitch Fix. This is a service that sends you five clothing items (you choose the frequency). You keep only what you want. They send you an addressed, postage-paid envelope for the returns.

Yes there’s a fee for the delivery even if you keep nothing.

But nothing is free in this world.

I’m looking forward to having my own personal stylist and seeing what sort of outfits she/he puts together for me each month. Actually, I signed up for an every two month delivery for this, too.

The end of the story

Oh, the package that started this story? You want to know what it was and who it was from?

Well no good gossip here.

It was a bottle of wine with the option of signing up for a wine-of-the-month club. (See? Here’s another thing you can get via mail.)

The sender happened to be one of the owners of a company who did work for us recently. They were thanking us for our business.

We could have used a Home Depot gift card rather than the wine. But what do you expect from a guy who lives in California?

What sort of things have you gotten in the mail (or in a package delivered to your door)?

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Epiphany on the TP Roll

It matters if the toilet paper rolls from the top of the roll or the bottom. Articles have been written on the subject. Memes have blasted around the Internet. Not long ago, I had my own epiphany thanks to a roll of toilet paper.

From the Top

I once read in a reputable magazine that more successful people make sure their toilet paper rolls from the top.

In fact, I think they made some cool-sounding quip like: over-achievers roll over the top. Get it?

I recall checking out my toilet paper the next time I was in the restroom. And switching it from its under-achieving state of being.

“My husband must have put that roll out.”

That under-achieving man! Everyone knew a Type A perfectionist like me would go far in the world.

If that meant getting my toilet paper from the top of the roll instead of the bottom? What could it possibly hurt?

From the Bottom

But you know how different experts have differing opinions about everything. This includes the issue of how toilet paper rolls.

Somewhere at some point after my roll-reversal, I read there was another reason people might let toilet paper dispense from the underside of the roll.

This genius claimed that cat owners rolled their paper that way. Apparently, it made that tempting paper more difficult for cats to unroll. Or maybe it made the paper a less-attractive target.

It’s been many years since I discovered this amazing news.

I could put my toilet paper back to under-achieving mode. And blame it on my cats. For real.

And of course I did it. Not even blinking at how this might make me look in the eyes of people who knew about the over-over quip.

I didn’t even work this new information about cats with toilet paper fetishes into the conversation. Too often.

How it Made Rejection Okay

Fast forward to a recent day in the life of an author who reached the twelve-week point of no return.

What I mean to say is, the publisher that asked for my dystopian young adult novel still had the manuscript well beyond the promised eight-to-ten week notification window.

It had been a couple weeks since the publisher’s editor said that the manuscript was at the top of the pile. It would be read next. The publisher was giving it due-diligence.

And the toilet paper rolled from the underside of the dispenser.

At that moment a light went on.

I was getting rejected because I had allowed my cats to dictate my success.

Rather than demanding that I step up and succeed, I’d compromised by flipping the toilet paper rolls.

It wasn’t my lack of writing credentials. Nothing about my story lacked.

I just needed to flip the stupid toilet paper roll over. And BAM-success would follow.

As I reached to do the deed, it occurred to me that once I flipped the toilet paper roll around and claimed my right to over-achievement, my scapegoat for failure would no longer be available.

Decisions. Decisions.

I told you this whole issue of how to roll your toilet paper was of utmost importance.

So, what do you think? Did I flip it or not?

Try Some Saturday Gratitude

Another week in 2016 is gone.

I’m feeling a little whiplashed from the speed of time. I mean, remember when it seemed like it took forEVER for a year to go by? Back when you counted them by birthdays?

Now I have to do advanced math to figure out my age.

And the only reason I’m anticipating the next birthday is because I get a trip to Hawaii in the bargain.

Without further grumbling, here are six reasons to be grateful this week:

Monday

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I had a HORRIBLE Monday this week, but I got up and faced down the day anyway.

Tuesday

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I really need some girlfriend giggle time.

Wednesday

D195

It’s heating up in the world of Giants’ Baseball. Expect to see some memes. This one is a hat-tip to Old Men’s Softball.

Thursday

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I know some everyday heroes. I bet you do too. Don’t let their deeds go unacknowledged.

Friday

D197 This meme needs no additional explanation. Every person who has ever gone on a diet can relate. (Replace chocolate with chips or whatever your food-based weakness is.)

Saturday

I had a really HORRID Monday this week, but I got up and faced the day anyway.
Swing away. And I say the same to my SF Giants. Go boys. Best record in the league.

What other reasons can you think of for being grateful? Any of these memes stand out for you?

The Problem with Anticipation

Image from sweetauthoring.com

Anticipation. The tingle on your tongue as the triple chocolate pie is being sliced. Your brain fires all cylinders. You’re SO ready for that delectable deliciousness.

Anticipation. Time crawls. A teenager asked to clean his room. “Polar ice caps move faster,” you tell yourself.

Anticipation. Pleasure and pain.

If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you know a day can stretch beyond 24 hours. Maybe even double up making 48 tortuous segments of sixty minutes.

That’s how this day feels. The travel day from the left coast to the right, on my way to the first ever, long-awaited Caribbean cruise.

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It might be because it started at 2AM.

I wish I was kidding about this. The cat jumped up, dug at the covers and nudged my hand until I petted him. The sheets were stuck to my back (a common occurrence during my peri-menopausal sleep phases).

My brain kicked on. “Is it time to get up? Go to the airport? Head to the cruise?”

Who needs an alarm when they have a cat?

The problem with feline wakefulness, it only happens when you don’t want need it. The day you count on those kitty paws to get you to the airport on time, is the day the cats abandon you for the back of the recliner.

My husband rolls over, turns off his alarm. I crawl out of the damp sheets, hindered by the cat curled into the bend of my knee. She’s not impressed that I’m trying to get out of bed.

No traffic at 3 am means we make it to the airport in record time. We catch up to the airport shuttle near our favorite parking shelter, which means we miss the bus.

Delightful. This early, we shiver in the near 40 degree weather for fifteen minutes until the next one comes.

I try imagining myself on the deck of the cruise liner. With no former point of reference, this attempt at mind-over-matter warming fails.

Eventually we get to the terminal, check-in, leave our bags and head through security. A short line at four in the morning.

Coffee. Yogurt parfait. How am I going to hand them my boarding pass when both hands are busy with breakfast?

The first flight is a little over half full. My eyes are burning. I close them, hope for rest.

Drink service comes, and I’m wide awake. I give in after an hour of coaxing myself back to dream land and eat my breakfast.

I’ve been hot and shed my layers. Now I shiver and shrug back into the bright pink sweatshirt.

Sleep evades me.

The buzz in my head, only slightly louder than the pounding that says four hours of sleep is not enough, announces the mocha grande skinny has shifted into high gear.

Caffeine. I hate you right now.

Did I really need that shot of sweet goodness with all this anticipation fueling me? Probably not. Live and learn.

Check back here for more musings from my first time cruising over the next several weeks.

What were you anticipating the last time this fever struck?

Finding a Novel Idea for NaNoWriMo

Ideas bombard me. A snippet of conversation or a newspaper article set my creative juices flowing. Does that mean I can use them to create a novel during NaNoWriMo?

Ideas for stories seep from my brain, pools of drool beneath the cheek of the exhausted.

Getting an idea is never a problem. Grasping hold of an idea that has potential to become a 50,000-word novel can be a cat of a different color.

This is when a novelist’s best friend comes in handy.

No, not the Internet. A specific craft book? As much as I love my Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, it isn’t going to do much during the idea stage.

Instead, I must follow my natural instincts. I need to ask “what if?” as often as possible until the potential for conflict in my story exceeds reason.

Asking questions is the best way to beef up a story and flesh a cool thought into an amazing plot.

And it should be a writer’s first instinct.

Even while making invitations with my future daughter, this ghoul raised its head. “I wonder how they ever came up with this.”

That was me thinking aloud. I watched hot air from the heat gun cause a metamorphosis. The microscopic flecks of embossing powder clinging to ink transformed into an artistic design of silver.

“I bet it was an accident.” My brain whirred with speculation, but I couldn’t come up with anything concrete because I don’t know what chemicals are colliding to make the embossed design.

Heat was the catalyst.

While you’re experimenting with your novel idea, remember this. If it seems like things are slowing down. Turn up the heat.

Let the ground crumble beneath your hero’s feet. Bring a man with a gun on the scene.

And I hope you started doing this last week – before National Novel Writing Month was in full swing.

Although, I have it on good authority that you can use any brainstorming you do today ( tomorrow, and for the next 25 days) as part of your word count total.

It’s not like anyone reads the jumble you paste into the verification window on www.nanowrimo.org. And if it pertains to your novel and you wrote it after midnight on November 1, it technically counts as words written on the project.

Come back on Monday for a few motivating tips.

Moving: From the cat’s point of view

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All this moving stuff is weighing down the pace of my blog, isn’t it? How about a lighter piece on the subject?

And now, here’s what my cat has to say:

Three weeks before

Sniff. Sniff. What is this big cube? *Jumps on top of it. Smaller box up there wobbles and topples onto the floor. Scrambles beneath the couch.*

Here’s another cube. It doesn’t smell right. *Lifts tail and sprays the corner.* Sniff. Much better now.

*Spots a stack of newspaper in the corner of the dining room.* Sniff. Sniff. *Squats on it to take care of business.* That was so much closer than that smelly box out in the garage.

Two weeks before

*Wanders through empty living room.* Where is my couch? I hide under there when scary people come to the door. What am I supposed to do now?

DSCN0594*Sprints recklessly up the stairs when steps sound on the front porch. Cowers beneath the bed.* Whatever is happening around here, I don’t like it.

Personal feeder peeks under the bed. “Here, kitty. You can come out now.”

*Turns head away.* Not until you bring my hiding place back.*Closes eyes.* I’m not even going to look at you.

Two days before

*Stalks through mostly empty rooms.* Where is that couch I like to sit on so I can stare out the window? What have they done with my blanket? It belongs on this chair?

If they don’t stop taking my things, I’m going to go to the bathroom in every corner of this place. *Sniffs corner by the sliding glass doors.* This is as good a place to start as any. *Squats. Scrambles into the garage when personal caregiver lumbers down the stairs.*

“Cat! Why didn’t you use the box?”

*Grins and licks a paw.*

Moving Day

*Crouches in corner of the closet.*

Rusty...his time with us was short
Rusty…his time with us was short

“Here kitty, kitty.”

Do they think I’m stupid? I saw them bring the box/cage thing in from the garage. They’re carrying everything else out of here and now they think I’m going to go too.

*Stares wide-eyed at the human.*

“It’s okay, baby. We’re going to a new place.”

What’s wrong with this place? I like it here. This is the only place I’ve ever lived. How about you let me stay here?

*Tries to dodge between human’s legs. Door shuts.* Trapped!

*Squirms, but is forced into the box/cage thing. Growls at the mesh side of the portable cage.*

*Yowls for the entire fifteen minutes it takes to drive to the new place. Throws weight against the side of the box when human lifts it off the seat.*

Sniff. Sniff. New smells. I don’t like new smells. I don’t like this new place.

Side of the carrier is opened. In front of him he spies the big bed where he lets the humans sleep with him.

*Dashes under the bed.* Sniff. Sniff. This carpet smells funny. *Huddles against the wall. Refuses to come out for hours.*

“Here’s your box.” The human scratches him under the chin while kneeling beside him on the floor. Those big white machines behind her look familiar.

“Lots of food. And look a new water dish.”

Sniff. Sniff. *Turns up his nose and prances away, tail waving like a flag.*

Later that night

*Digs at blanket under human’s chin.* The hand lifts the blanket up. Sniff. Sniff. *Burrows in, circles three times before curling up against the human’s legs.*

Purr. Purr. I guess this new place isn’t so bad after all. My bed is here and my human slave is still obeying me.

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Do you have a cat you’ve relocated before? What sort of surprises did that bring you?

Friday – Your Favorite Day of the Week

It’s almost cruel to post about Friday on Monday. There are many Garfields in the world who hate Monday and wake up asking, “Is it Friday yet?” Why is Friday a favorite to so many people?

Last Day

Most people love Fridays because it’s the last day of their work week. This means it’s the last day for plenty of things:

  • Getting up early
  • Going to bed at a regular time
  • Driving to the office
  • Dealing with ugly traffic
  • Slogging through the stack of stuff on the desk

It’s only the last day for a very short time before the cycle begins again.

I’m self-employed. I’m wearing sweats and slipper socks as I type this post. That’s my “go to work” uniform. I still show up for six or more hours Monday through Friday. Someday, I might even collect a paycheck.

First Day

If you’re a “glass half full” sort of person (like me), you love Friday because it is the first day of your weekend. When you walk out of work at closing time, you answer to no schedule but one you choose.

Many times, Friday is the first day of:

  • Vacation
  • A three-day weekend
  • Rest & relaxation
  • Forgetting the stress associated with work

I freely admit that Friday is not the first day I must share my quiet work space with another individual. My oldest son works from home on both Wednesday and Friday (this telecommuting thing is great for some people). Friday brings both my son and my husband to their telecommuting office space.

Fortunately, we all have our own desk in three separate rooms. Most of the time the WiFi can even keep up with all the data we’re spewing around Internet-tionally. But when it’s lunch time, my space is invaded, and the quiet ends.

Fun Day

Friday night is date night for many people. Restaurants with open seating on Monday through Thursday require reservations on Friday. Why is this?

People are ready to celebrate the end of the work week. Maybe heading out on the town is the way they relax.

I’m not much of a late night person, so I’ve noticed that most forms of entertainment I might enjoy begin between 7 and 8 p.m. Whether we’re heading to a Blazer game or a Murder Mystery Dinner, things don’t get started until 7 or later.

Which is fine since most people aren’t getting up at their regular time the next morning. It’s Saturday. They’re sleeping in, cooking a lovely brunch to enjoy while leisurely scrolling through their Facebook feed. After that, they’ll tackle that wonderful thing called a “to do” list.

What do you like about Friday? If Friday isn’t your favorite day of the week, why not? What is your favorite day and what makes it so great?

My Regular Wake-up Call

No one should awaken at 3:30 in the morning. Even fewer poor souls need their hair pulled out by the roots to rouse them from slumber.

Someone should tell my cat this.

I am a self-confessed ‘crazy cat lady.’ Only my very un-crazy husband keeps me from populating our house with every stray cat or kitten in the neighborhood.

When I’m away from home, I miss the familiar weight of my cat on my feet. His kneading of my bare arms at midnight? Not so much.

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However, if you’ve never had a cat curled up against your side and purring up a storm, you’re missing out. Very few professional massages I’ve had are more relaxing than that feline motorization.

He purrs.

The rumbling starts small and builds to a steady hum. The vibrations resound in my chest like a sustained bass note.

I’m nearly lulled to sleep.

He licks himself

Which of course involves sticking his back foot in my mouth – claws extended. So much for the purr-induced peace. Sleep? That’s been rudely jerked away, as well.

He paces on the pillow

Stepping on my hair so it yanks my scalp an inch away from my skull. He stands there, looking around. I think he knows it causes me pain, so he wants to revel in every moment.

He walks over my stomach

First, he paces all around the bed. How can such a small animal resemble an earthquake on a mattress supporting two adults? Once my eyes are closed, he makes the abdominal cross-over. It’s like being sucker punched.

Yes, Forrest, cat paws pack quite the punch.

He lays on the other side of me

Generally, this involves digging at the covers first. I don’t know why he likes to be under them because he only stays there for a few minutes.

He purrs – again

Lulling me into a false sense of security. Yes, I’m drifting off, soothed by the bass notes vibrating behind my breastbone.

He appears to sleep

And so do I

He licks himself – again

Cats can never get clean enough. Or maybe the purring dries out his mouth and the licking turns the spit-factory on. I don’t know, but if the claws don’t get me, the smacking sound does the trick.

He paces on the pillow – again

Yes, the results of the not-a-cat-walk across the head of our bed are the same. It’s just another moment in which I’m thankful to my mother for yanking on my scalp when I was a child. I don’t feel the pain. Too much.

DSCN0593And when it’s finally time for me to get up, he has curled up close to my side again. He scowls at me in that way only cats can and refuses to move. I move the entire sheet with him hammocked happily within.

Cats. Gotta love them.

What sort of wake up call keeps you laying there in the dark composing blog posts?