Happiness is a Cat Who Cuddles

Two years ago, I adopted a feral, three-pawed cat that was living in my garage. I put food inside the door into the house, and when the cat came in to eat–it was very thin–I pulled the door shut and trapped it. It was not happy, but there was a lot of designer cat food and clean water and an electric heating pad to sleep on and nobody hassled it–the dogs kind of shrugged and gave it space and I petted it whenever it came near but otherwise, the cat stayed in the back of the house and we lived in the front–so it just settled in. Then it started coming to the door of the bedroom where we were hanging out–me typing, dogs sleeping–and watching us, ignoring me when I patted the bed for it to join us, chowing down on all that cat food and bulking up (it’s a Maine Coon and they are not small by nature). And then one day, it jumped on the bed, curled up beside me, and purred. I called it Emily William, since I had no idea what sex it was, and Emily W. moved into the front bedroom with us and never left.

Emily turned out to be a cuddler. She likes sitting in the bay window during the day, examining the landscape for whatever, but at night she’s right by my side, bumping her forehead into my arm to get an ear scratch, putting her head on my pillow to touch her nose to mine, squirming her way between me and Veronica as we sleep. I’m used to dogs being cuddlers, but a cat cuddler is a new experience for me, a big warm thank you and a soft demand for me to pay attention to this relationship. Happiness is Emily William settling in for the night, and settling me in, too.

What made you happy settling in this week?

Thinking About Patreon

Bob and I have been thinking about doing another online writing course, this time through Patreon. We’d do a response to the HWSW writing posts from fifteen years ago, one of us writing the new response and the other of us responding to that, followed by the old posts just for reference. Then we’d do another post talking about a scene from one of our books and apply that week’s lesson to talk about what we did right and how we’d revise today so there’ll be a specific example. Three posts a week for four (or in some months) five times a month. The first tier would be $5 a month; there’d probably be a second tier, too, but we need the first tier to be solid, useful, and educational first.

We’re working on the Table of Contents now, and we have a rough draft. Since you’re my guinea pigs (and now Bob’s), the Table of Contents is below. For those of you who are interested, could you scan it and see if we’re missing anything? Any and all comments are welcome. Continue reading

Working Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Bob and I have been working together for just over a year (we started our second try at collaboration in April of 2022) and we haven’t killed each other yet. There have been a few moments when, even though we communicate entirely in e-mail, the tension was such that the entire Spike program throbbed with “If we were were in the same space right now, I would kill you where you stand.” Fortunately, we are both much more mature (I’m too old to fight any more and he’s getting there), so we de-escalate, apologize, and thank the gods we’re in different states. That are not next to each other.

But a year’s anniversary means time to take stock, and we did almost four books in one year, which boggles my mind. It usually takes me a year and a half, except for Lavender which took twelve years, speeding up considerably once Bob got his hands on it and ripped half of it out. We’d have four books done if I hadn’t face-planted for most of 2023 so far, and Bob has been incredibly patient with me while I lost my mind here. I know he’s used to me, but this first four months was extreme.

So I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Robert Mayer who’s put up with me for the past nineteen years (the story of how we met is here), on and off. (We took a break so as to to kill each other for about thirteen years in there.). If you ever need a collaborator, I highly recommend Bob Mayer. Unless you have an unreasoning dislike of zombie pirates.

Any milestones at your work? Or anything else at the work you do?

Happiness is a Government Agency with a Sense of Humor

I remember how happy I was when I found out the CDC had a zombie apocalypse plan, which they have now tragically retired. And when California came up with a plan for sharks in a tornado, that was great, but now it appears to be gone, too. But then I found out about the National Park Service.

The whole twitter feed is great, relentlessly upbeat while suggesting that tourists stay away from the wildlife; avoiding “the bitey ends.” It’s the Twitter version of the Tom Holland Lip Sync: spend three minutes and feel better.

How did you achieve happiness the week by avoiding the bitey ends?

So Let’s Talk About Social Media and Books . . .

So I just realized that Veronica is sixteen years old this year. You know what the life span of a dachshund is? Twelve to sixteen years. She’s still eating and drinking and sleeping like a champ, but she’s moving slow. And I’m seeing another death in my future at which point I’m going to be a mess. This is your warning. So let’s talk about something else.

I need to learn about social media. Continue reading

This is a Good Book Thursday, April 20, 2023

I’ve been doing a mystery binge, and this week it’s Dick Francis. The thing that always gets me about his work is the clear delineation between good and evil. His protagonists are always basically good people, not showy about it, not saintly, but firmly doing the right thing. And his antagonist are selfish, violent, powerful sadists. I just read the scene in 10 LB Penalty where the antagonist tries to shoot the protagonist’s father but misses because the father slips on the ice and falls just as the shot rings out. The father tells the son to run, but he doesn’t, he falls to his knees and covers his father’s head with his body because, as he explains later, the shot sounded like a 22, and that wouldn’t kill him unless it hit his head. So he protects his father’s head: competence porn matched with moral certitude. I really love Francis’s work.

How did you competently choose good books this week?

Mona Smith, 2009-2023

Mona Smith was a gift-with-purchase: We fostered her because she was the only other puppy Dachshund Rescue had when we got Lyle and then we couldn’t give her back, we loved her too much.

She was at Dachshund Rescue because some breeder had left her in a grocery bag at the gate to the rescue because she was the runt of the litter and had been born with no kneecaps in her back legs. That didn’t bother Mona much, she still ran wild with the other dogs and cuddled up at night, the sweetest dog that ever lived, and every time she looked at you she was smiling. She died in my arms Sunday night, and while I knew little poodles had a life span of thirteen to sixteen years, I did not see this coming. She looked at me, did this cute little howl twice, and went limp in my arms. It was devastating, but Mona was the best, and I’ll have her memory forever, and that’s some comfort.

Mona was a darling.