Brain Mush

My brain is a bit mushy today. I think it is from running in a hundred directions the last few weeks. Maybe it is getting to do more people stuff again. Either way, this post will ramble a bit so I can give you some updates across many of those hundred directions. 

Cats!

The vet recommended I look into a shot to manage Big Cat’s arthritis. Based on how he acts, I am holding off for now and keeping that on the back burner for later pain management. However, the research I did made me think of getting him a bed for the winter months. With it getting colder, I wanted him to have something warm to sleep on at night. They warn against using heated blankets and such for people, so I went for a heated cat bed.

I got the large one in case Little Cat tried to join him so she would not push him out. 

He loves it. Not more than my lap (thankfully), but he often ignores the metaphorical dinner bell now to stay curled up in it until he is hungry and gets up to pester me for food. He is super adorable in it, and I’m glad he took to it right away. 

Health

A couple of weeks ago, I got my updated COVID booster, and yesterday I got my flu shot. I have mentioned before that I continue to work through a needle phobia. Both vaccinations went off without a fainting problem, so I count those as two wins. The one from yesterday might be contributing to my brain fog today, but the side effects are relatively mild this time (another win). 

I’m doing what I can and crossing my fingers that I can avoid any additional illnesses as we head into the colder seasons. 

Grandma

Something I have been spending more time on lately is helping my grandmother look for a new independent living facility. My mom’s side of the family used to split between us in the Auburn/Federal Way areas and the other half in the Puyallup area. Before my grandfather passed, they also lived in Puyallup, so it made sense that when she decided to go into independent living that they would look for something there as well. 

Time moved on, and the Puyallup half has now moved to Florida, and she wants to be closer to those of us still living in Washington. I have been researching places closer to us, and we toured some a couple of weeks ago. We did some thinking and negotiation, and she signed onto a new place this week. We will be helping her move into it at the end of November, and everyone is excited that she will be closer to us for visits and events. 

Miscellaneous

We started up our Halloween parties again. I called this one Zombie Halloween because we were essentially trying to resurrect the events of old. It turned out to be a great time. I brought back one of my old costumes. My sister and I made it together about twelve years ago, and it mostly still fits with some strategic cape placement. For the event, I also made some spooky deviled eggs. I am a Miracle Whip person, while my husband prefers mayo, so I did half of each kind. The MW ones looked like mummies, while the mayo looked like pumpkins. 

This is the She-Ra (OG 80’s cartoon) costume my sister and I made. I bought the skirt, boots, and sword.

Another fun thing I tried out this week was making butter (main photo)! I first saw an old butter churn on TikTok, then I saw that you can do it with a mixer in about fifteen minutes. The latter seemed easier, so I went in that direction. It was cool seeing it firm up and the buttermilk getting washed out. This morning, I chopped some garlic and homegrown basil and mixed that in for some homemade garlic-basil butter. I’m freezing it for later use, and I might make some more butter and other varieties to give out for Christmas. 

Thanks!

That is all of my brain mush for the moment except to say that two more ratings came in recently on Amazon, so that puts me at thirty-three total between the two books. Seven more, and I will add that deleted chapter to the website! Thanks for all of your support, and I hope you keep reading. 

Cat Check-Up

It is that time of year again, time for their annual check-up. Big Cat again had some additional tests to see how his kidneys and other old organs fare. He has had some issues recently: kidney, stomach, and joint.

Big Cat

Big Cat has been doing much better since he started the medicine for his arthritis. He had been struggling to eat and keep food down, losing a lot of weight. I was worried for a while that he would not recover. The medicine helped, though, and he has regained a good portion of the lost weight.

Big Cat posing during cuddles. This is his happy face.

He has more energy and runs around like a crazy cat again. He may not have as much energy as in his prime, but he looks pretty spry and active for a cat pushing eighteen. If only arthritis did not make it difficult for him to squat when peeing, things would be perfect.

Alas, the potty problems persist. I even switched to the biggest litter box available; one in which his whole lanky body fits. Even if he fails to squat, he usually hits the inside wall. It is not as easy as the automated box, but I can handle the extra work.

As far as the tests went, one of his kidney numbers spiked. While it does not appear to be affecting the rest of the things kidney problems can cause, the vet has recommended I bring him in for a BP test. She also suggested I look into Solensia. The medicine is a monthly shot to treat joint pain, and his back legs are definitely tender constantly. None of this is a surprise for a cat his age.

Little Cat

Not much change for Little Cat, which is good since she is only two. She is still a cute ball of fluff with adorable ear tufts. Her favorite pastime is staring out the back door at the squirrels foraging outside. I have started their diet with nuts from our pantry so they come around more often.
She stares out back and chitters at them and the birds. I have been leaving the windows open so she can sniff the fresh air through the screens (during the day). When the weather finally turns—over 70 in October?—she will be so disappointed that I have to keep the windows closed.

Sleepy paws and bedhead. Little Cat is out for her afternoon nap.

Medically, she is all caught up on her vaccinations and free of any concerns. The vet says we should watch her food intake so she does not gain more weight, but she is good. We will keep Little Cat healthy so she can keep pestering and running around with Big Cat. Someone needs to keep him young.

Little Cat Adventure

Last weekend, Little Cat (LC) had herself a furry freakout. While I worked on Hidden Sanctuary all day, my husband decided to take the time to tackle our pond out back. 

It is a lovely addition to the yard and provides a soothing sound when we run the waterfalls. Unfortunately, water evaporates by the gallon in the summer. In the winter, it collects leaves and pine needles and then turns it all into algae and frog eggs in the early spring. We try to take all the eggs to a local wetland before the draining and cleaning take place. This year we relocated a frog along with them. One final pouch of eggs is still in a bucket out back—it was found late in the process. 

I say “we,” but all of this work was 99.9% him working over about eight hours. A few patches of pond armor are still needed, but it looks amazing. We have a skimmer and a new vacuum, so we are hoping we can keep it sparkling this year. 

Looking good for summer entertaining!

Little Cat Explores 

LC has some squirrel friends she’ likes to watch during the day as she sits in front of the back sliding door. My cats are indoor cats, but every now and then we let them into the backyard to sniff around, usually with the harness and leash on. 

As much as she loves the backyard, she is terrified of people. Whenever friends or family stop by—or even a delivery person—she bolts from whatever sunny spot she found to go hide under a blanket. We have no idea what drives her to be so afraid, but we let her calm down in her safe place.

On Sunday, her split personalities collided in spectacular fashion. After finishing with the pond, my husband found LC in front of the screen door, sniffing and listening to the outdoors. Mowers and trimmers were going, our pond vacuum had been on and off for hours. Despite all of that, she remained interested in the yard.

We put on the harness and leash and led her out back to show her the nice clean water. The trickling of the waterfalls raised her anti-water hackles, so she started pawing off between a couple of bushes. Everything was normal, calm… then the neighbor behind us yelled at his dog.

LC freaked the fluff out. She bolted so fast that the leash pulled out of my husband’s hand. Leaping over the grill, she was halfway up the window screen by the time he reached her. He caught her as the screen pulled out and away, starting to fall, only to have her scratching his arm up in her panic to bolt yet again.

She sprang away from him and climbed nimbly up the screen door, clinging to the top as the two of us worked to hold onto her while gently peeling her off her perch to bring her safely back inside.

Finally, she came loose. I had her scruff and bent to set her gently inside the doorway. The moment she saw her safety blanket through the opening, she decided to use my face as a springboard. Her back claws pierced my cheek and lip as she tore forward.

The leash caught her again, but inside she held still for me to remove it and take her to another safe spot upstairs. LC calmed quickly after that, and we three—including Big Cat—sat with her for a few minutes as she peered around cautiously. I palpated for bruises, finding no pain response. A half-hour later she was back downstairs, once more staring out the back window. 

No permanent harm. The harness and slightly elastic leash kept her from hurting herself or running so far that she got lost. Her trust in us kept her from being traumatized. My face should heal fine, and you can bet your bum we will be scouting for stranger danger before she gets to sniff around out back again.

Don’t worry, I live to fight another day!

Big Cat Problems

Big Cat is unofficially seventeen years old. I say “unofficially” because I celebrate his adoption day in early March rather than his birthday. Every year, he gathers more old-cat problems.

His kidneys have been slowly worsening for a few years now, but the vet thinks it is still relatively stable based on his numbers. He has difficulty “concentrating his urine,” which, in our case, means he drinks more and uses the box more often.

Not too bad. We have an automated litter box, so I only need to change the bag out more often. At least, until I periodically start finding puddles in front of the box.

The mystery begins…

He is not spraying or peeing all over the house. It is just in front of the box. Also, while we think it is Big Cat, there is a chance Little Cat developed some inappropriate bathroom habits, so we decide we must identify the problem to find the correct solution.

Brilliantly, we move the indoor Ring camera I received for a work anniversary to dangle over the boxes, trying to catch the piddler in the process. Days pass and puddles happen, but the camera picks up only a few jumps in and out of the box, no damning evidence. Its sensor is not sensitive enough to trigger with their sneaky little bodies.

Time for the next level: we borrow my father-in-law’s nature camera, stringing it up with rubber bands and twist ties. We catch the piddler in the act not even a day later! Big Cat sticks his head in, sniffs around, and proceeds in no further. With his front half inside, Big Cat lifts a leg to make a horrendous mess on the floor.

I have a theory…

Little Cat had just gone, and the machine had not turned yet. I’m thinking he does not like to use it dirty. I shorten the time between going and turning. Then, today, we spent an hour dismantling and scrubbing that machine down to get it nice and clean again.

I bring this thing in, calling out in a sing-song voice, “kitties!” Big Cat comes running. He eagerly jumps in the clean litter box, all four feet in, his butt still sticking out… and pees all over the floor.

*Pained sigh* It looks like he also has arthritis. It can cause them to no longer squat when they pee.

The vet talked about some gummies many people are raving about working well for dogs and cats, so I will reach out about getting some of those. Mr. Picky Pants (Big Cat) will probably turn his nose up at them, meaning I’ll need to get creative.

I love him still, and I continue to hope I have him for many more years, but cleaning up cat urine is getting exhausting. Fingers crossed we have this resolved soon with meds and intensive remedial litter box training.

Hope you all enjoy the weather this weekend!

Paperback and Progress

I feel like I have been playing catch-up lately, and it has been forever since I have done a general status update, so here is all the stuff that I have not shared since the holidays began!

Holidays

I spoke before about seeing family for the holidays, which was great. I also received some great gifts from everyone. One was a cool cover for my ReMarkable2 notepad that can support it in different positions. It makes me feel better knowing it has something to protect the screen when I’m not using it. I’m currently wearing a blanket/poncho thing my parents gave me. Big Cat enjoys it as well for his lap time. A third thing I’m excited about is my new minimalist wallet arriving in the mail this week. I purchased it with a gift card received to pick one I liked. 

After Christmas, I was cat-sitting for my parents during their visit with my brother and family in Florida. That mission was complicated by the week of snow we had in the area. They live within walking distance, so I made the trip every day. Footing became a bit treacherous on the ice and more effort than usual tromping through the snow, but the cat was not without company. 

Going without trash service for three weeks during that period due to snow and ice became a bit more daunting. We don’t usually have too much trash, but a mix-up on recycling dates a month earlier meant we were already two weeks behind on that pick-up. Boxes were piling up in the kitchen with recyclables. When the bin emptied this week, we immediately filled it again. Hopefully, this catches us up for good this time. 

Business

You may have noticed some picture changes on the website already. If you did, you may already suspect I had some professional pictures taken, and you would be correct. I contacted a photographer to take a handful of “casual, professional headshots” for my author materials. A couple of the pictures are on the website, I changed my Facebook profile photo, and one is on the back cover of my paperback. 

This one is on another page, but Big Cat wanted to make an appearance here too!

That’s right! Hidden Memory is also out in paperback as of this week! I ran through a couple of author proofs to make minor formatting adjustments, and my first few author copies are on their way—probably still in the printing stage—now! If you signed up for my newsletter, you should have seen it in your inbox earlier today, and it includes a chance to enter to win a signed paperback! If you did not sign up in time for this giveaway, do not lose hope. There will be more in the future, so go to the home page and sign up now so you don’t miss out!

With the paperback complete, I’m focused on finishing up the current draft of Hidden Promise. I will pass polished chapters to my alpha readers and then revise Hidden Sanctuary in preparation for beta readers. On the business side, I’m learning about advertising on Amazon and hoping it does not cost me too much for the education!

I will end on a celebratory note this week. It has been just over a month since the book was released. I had a relatively successful launch, thanks primarily to word of mouth through my friends and family network to their networks. My advertising has resulted in eight additional sales. I have five reviews on Amazon, and I have two preorders for the next-in-series! Thank you all for your support!