Tag Archives: The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport

R.I.P. Cleo & Charlie

Loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that I have written here many times over the years of my good friend Val in Brooklyn, who pens the Paws for Thought Comic strip.

She & I have been great friends since 1982, and we are collaborating on an illustrated mystery book series, The Miracle Cats. The first installment will be titled The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport.  We started working on the book well over a year ago. It was going quite well until all sorts of tragedies and extreme challenges began popping up in both our lives, including numerous deaths, and so the writing/illustrating of the book went down to slower than a snail’s pace.

Well, earlier this week, another tragedy struck! 2 of Val’s cats died in the same afternoon.  Charlie had been diagnosed with cancer about one year ago. In fact, my cat, Fluffy, was diagnosed with cancer a month or so after Charlie had been, but Charlie outlived Fluffy by 5 months.

Val and I have a long history of adopting and/or rescuing cats. In fact, way back in 1983, Val rescued a little black & white kitten who lived around the train tracks in Long Island City, out in Queens, NY, where Val lived back then. Val brought the kitten to live with me in my apartment in Manhattan. I named her Kitty, and she was a sickly kitty, but she lived to be 18 years old! And a very dear companion to me. She passed on December 13th, 2001.

Anyway. I digress. Val rescued Charlie as a teeny kitten. In fact, she rescued his whole family! Cleo, the mom, had 2 tiny kittens (Charlie and Pickles) and I believe they were all sort of sickly,  barely surviving under a freeway overpass in Brooklyn. This was 15 years ago. And, although Charlie was expected to die at any moment because of the cancer, his mom, Cleo, who seemed fine and healthy, wound up dying suddenly on the same afternoon as Charlie did. Completely unexpected and so very sad. Losing 2 furry friends in one day, and of course, leaving a 3rd cat, Charlie’s sibling, Pickles, to mourn the sudden loss of a whole family.

Val has several other cats, as well as a rescued dog, and many ferals that come and go in her backyard sanctuary in Brooklyn, yet it is still so sad to lose any members of our families, regardless of how many critters there are! My heart goes out to all of them.

One of these days, things will finally calm down. The clouds will pass, the sun will shine, and we’ll finally finish creating The Miracle Cats! But in the meantime, we ponder the loss and the very meaning of life, even as life goes on. Thanks for visiting, gang.

Cleo and Charlie, in the early years.
Cleo and Charlie, in the early years.

 

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A most perfect day!

Yes, not only is it snowing here today (yay!), but all I have to do today is sit at my desk and write!!

I also have a wonderful photo of Tommy to share! It is extremely difficult to get good photos of Tommy, because she is incredibly timid and the trauma of the recent move lasted longer for her than it did with the other cats in her colony.

Tommy on the bed yesterday
Tommy on the bed yesterday

If you click on the picture, it will enlarge. And then you will see that the table lamp next to my bed is, indeed, nearly 60 years old!!

Like all the other cats in Tommy’s colony (as well as my two tame cats who recently died), Tommy is a character in my upcoming book, The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport, illustrated by Valerie Wares.

In the book, Tommy is “Sister Thomasina” and she worries a lot.  She often says things like, “oh dear,” and “dear me.” And, of course, she wears a nun’s habit because, in the book, she’s a church cat….

"Sister Thomasina" by Val -- but without the habit
“Sister Thomasina” by Val — but without the habit

On the “very fun” front — I needed to come up with a pen name for another book I’m writing and decided to use the Wu Tang Clan nickname generator this morning and it gave me the most AWESOME nickname EVER!! The irony screams out on several levels. It is too good to be believed. Honestly, it could not be more perfect for me, it felt like it came straight from God, and it set the tone for my whole morning. Sadly, I cannot share the name with you here because then it would no longer be a “pseudonym” in the strictest sense of the word… (If you have never used the Wu Tang Clan nickname generator, do it today!)

All right, on that note, I’ve got to go to the kitchen and grab another cup of coffee and then get some more writing done here! As we enjoy our snowy day, I leave you with the song that’s been in my head for several days running (it’s even been in my dreams! What’s that about??). Enjoy, gang!

Okay. See ya! Thanks for visiting.

So many great projects, too little time!

First and foremost: There is more snow falling here in the hinterlands, even as I type!! Yay! It won’t amount to more than 2 inches, so it’s no big deal that later today, I will once again have to drive into town… While it’s falling, it is just so darn pretty. Especially now that most of the neighbors have their Christmas lights up.

I was assured by the director of production at the company that will be developing my TV pilot, Cleveland’s Burning, that we will begin the re-writes and development of the pilot right after the first of the year.

I’m expecting this project to seriously challenge my storytelling abilities and take a lot out of me. In other words, most of my life will likely come to a grinding halt, once I begin working on the revisions. So Val (in Brooklyn) and I decided to spend December getting back to our book, The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport. Since both Fluffy and Bunny, my beloved and recently departed cats, have prime roles in the book, I was having trouble writing it. I couldn’t get past the fact that both my cats had died this year, so unexpectedly. And Val’s Dad died, followed quickly by her Uncle, so things were just emotionally rough for both of us. Well, once we decided we were both ready to tackle the book again, another dear member of Val’s family suddenly passed away, so the  book has shifted to the back burner once again.

I thought, okay, I’ll make some progress on my memoirs before January rolls around. But suddenly, out of the blue, after about 14 months of researching Caiaphas, James the Brother of Jesus, and the Talpiot Tomb (in order to write my one-man play about Caiaphas in a seriously modern re-telling of his role in the death of Jesus), I sat down at my desk yesterday morning, and lo & behold, the play started coming out! Astonishing. I was so not expecting that.

My play is titled, In the Days of the Flesh. The title is taken from the Book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, and refers to the days when Jesus walked among men. It took me all day, but I got 2 killer pages done. I can’t imagine it will be finished by January, even though it will only run about 55 pages. Nevertheless, if it’s ready to come, I’m welcoming its arrival with “open laptop!!” — however many pages end up coming before the New Year.

So, on we go! And that said, I want to get back at it! Thanks for visiting, gang, and I leave you with this splendiferous Ode to Today!! See ya!

Yes, I’m Happy

We’re adjusting to life without Bunny and Fluffy and finding that life does, indeed, go on.

The shrine to Bunny, Fluffy, and Buster on top of my dresser.
The shrine to Bunny, Fluffy, and Buster on top of my dresser.

And we are adjusting to a much smaller living space (discovering that we actually like the smaller space better!) and adjusting to the endless, endless, ENDLESS driving in order to get anywhere.

In case I wasn’t clear before — I am only renting this faraway house until I find a townhouse I want to buy back in “town,”  as it were. So the endless driving won’t go on forever.

I am in the process of trying to streamline my schedule in order to settle back into writing again. I’m still a bit discombobulated by the many changes in my life — all during the last several months. The fact that I will have to move again in the not-too-distant future keeps me from really feeling settled in, but we’re getting there.

Also, just FYI, by “we” I mean myself and 8 cats…  (The cats who will soon be earning their keep by being featured prominently in my upcoming mystery book, The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport.)

So. Speaking of mysteries…Two of my favorite worlds are colliding! Johnny Depp is slated to appear in yet another remake of Agatha Christy‘s Murder on the Orient Express!!

I’m guessing that with both Oscar-winning Judi Dench and oft-nominated-though-never-Oscar-winning Johnny Depp in the cast, their budget for creating a really splendid re-creation of the Orient Express train will undoubtedly be through the roof!! (YES! Diagram that sentence if you feel foolhardy enough!)

Also, at least in the tabloid gossip, Johnny Depp is rumored to be re-attached to his ex-common-law-wife, Vanessa Paradis. I have no idea of this is even partially true, gang, but I, for one, think it would be so great if it were true! For reasons I cannot reveal here, I am a Certified Expert on the number of times Johnny Depp has smiled in his entire life — the number is 5, by the way. And 4 of those times occurred while he was with Vanessa.

(Do you recall this photo?? This was the 2nd known  time he smiled in his entire life…)

2nd known time Johnny Depp smiled in his entire life
2nd known time Johnny Depp smiled in his entire life

 

We shall see, right, gang? Meanwhile, life goes on… Have a terrific November 10th wherever you are, whatever you’re doing — and, most importantly these days, to wherever you might be driving!!

catdriving

See ya, folks, and thanks for visiting!

 

Life, Unexpected

You may recall that I recently wrote a post about my art project — a “Chore Chart” I made for my cats (see somewhere below) in order to get help with the housework around here and about how poorly the cats were doing with keeping up their ends of things.

Finally, it all came to a head the other day, when I unhappily discovered that all my cats had fleas and all the housework had to be done, by me, alone, posthaste. Yes. Cats that never go outdoors; cats living in a house that has had the central AC on all summer long; a house that sits on a property that has had professional lawn care (including certain insecticides) all summer long. And still all 10 cats had fleas.

8 of the 10 cats are either feral or semi-feral rescues that no human being on earth can touch because they are terrified of people touching them, including me, so they require oral, tuna-flavored, meds that I have to buy in bulk from out of state. Luckily they arrived within 2 days.

Friends tried to comfort me in all this by assuring me that it wasn’t somehow “my fault” and that “fleas are really bad this year,” but it didn’t make the chore of getting rid of the fleas any easier. It took about 4 1/2 hours to  launder all the various bed linens, furniture throws, throw rugs, etc.; then vacuum everything, wash down the floor, and then spray everything with Knockout flea spray. (Oh, the things you learn while eternally fostering a feral cat colony in your home. It used to take me several months to get rid of fleas, now it takes me about a quarter of a day…)

When I was finally done, and after I’d taken my shower and collapsed on the bed, ready to get lost in a terrific Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason mystery that I’d gotten from the library, my little cat, Fluffy, the one who has cancer, promptly had a stroke right there next to me on the bed.

The immediate after-effects of the stroke lasted nearly 2 hours and required two more loads of laundry from all the projectile vomiting and temporary loss of bladder control (hers, not mine) and then she settled down into a very deep sleep.

However, in the middle of the night, for two nights running, she woke up with a burst of energy and was doing weird things around the bedroom that she hadn’t had the energy to do for several months and it kept me from getting any decent sleep. At every weird sound she made, or every unexpected thing she collided with and knocked over in the dark, I kept lurching awake, saying, “Oh my God, Fluffy, why are you doing that?” as if her little bewildered self needed to explain to me that she’d very recently had a stroke and was also dying from cancer.

She has since settled way down and is somewhat “back to normal,” all things considered.

Then, yesterday, it was my turn to crash. I didn’t wake-up until 9 a.m. — I  am usually up by 5 a.m.  Twelve hours of sleep. And I was still exhausted. So, unexpectedly (and rather happily, as it turned out) I stayed in bed all day, read my library book in its entirety — The Case of the Stepdaughter’s Secret-– and even began re-watching a series of Midsomer Murder DVDs. I watched 3 of them — a total of 6 hours’ worth of Midsomer Murders in one lovely, rainy summer day. I’d been wanting to re-watch them because I’d recently read Caroline Graham‘s terrific mystery that launched the Midsomer Murders TV series, The Killings at Badger’s Drift.

So it was a day full of mysteries on every front — and I found myself making all kinds of notes for The Miracle Cats series, the series I’m writing with my friend, Val, in Brooklyn. (Sadly, her dad passed away over the weekend after a really long illness, so our series has been on hiatus.) As well as notes for my current novel-in-progress, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge.

I also managed to eat an entire 14 ounce container of Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. All by myself. While spending an entire day in bed.

I have to tell you, gang, it was not the worst way to spend 24 hours! I had a blast. And thanks to the flea infestation, I had an extraordinarily clean house to waste all that time in. I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful day.

kittensleep

From All Quarters… and Alice!

Life does indeed go on, even though it doesn’t look like it from the truly sporadic nature of my blog posts. (I like this definition of sporadic:  “Appearing in scattered or isolated instances, as  a disease.”)

Anyway, I hope my blog doesn’t strike you as a disease… ha ha

In an unfortunate segue, Fluffy is still hanging in there (see post below). She is actually doing better (which is a surprisingly subjective term when used to describe advanced cancer). She is thin as a rail and sleeps most of the time, but while awake, she is in happy spirits and even still a little feisty when encountering any of the other cats. I don’t think they have any conception that she’s dying. and in true “wild life” fashion, if they do know, I don’t think they care. That said, though, we are still a happy household, and I am always incredibly grateful each morning when I awaken and find her still alive beside me in the bed. Right off the bat, that makes it a good day. (Also a surprisingly subjective term. My use of the term “a good day” has truly narrow requirements these days.)

My stepmom, whom I adore, is also dying. It is getting near the end. She has struggled with MS for many years; the last 6 of which she’s been in a nursing home. She has always been an incredible optimist, always had the most inspiring outlook on life, always so uplifting to be around, even all these years that she’s been confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home. But now her pain levels are off the charts and she’s on morphine, which signals the beginning of the end, however, “the end” is a surprisingly subjective term when it is forecasting what morphine will trigger in terminal illness…

I will miss her so much. Not only is she a wonderful, charming, warm, and generous Italian woman, but she has also made my Dad really happy while they’ve been together. And for whatever reasons, the words “happy” and my “Dad” were not usually words that appeared close together in a sentence for most of the decades I’ve known him.

On the writing front… I got word from the producer in LA last night, that he is sending the final edits (for The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge) to me in the mail TODAY. I should have them early next week. Today, I’m working on the outline for the first book in the series (the book has the same name).  I decided last night that if I can write at least 3 pages a day, I could complete the book by the end of the summer. (Not always an easy task, since I write, re-write, revise, and edit pretty much every sentence as it comes out of my brain — which is why voice-activated software is useless for me, but also why I usually only need a first draft of any manuscript I write.)

Even though Valerie and I are still working on The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport, we are both dealing right now with cats who have terminal cancer. It has stymied the flow of inspiration for the time being. So we’ll get back to it probably later this summer. Meanwhile, I need something to keep my spirits up, so I decided to work on the first book of The Tea Cozy Murder Club series.

Re: the car accident (see some sort of post below, where a cable TV repair guy totaled my beloved, albeit exceedingly OLD Camry)…his insurance company is being what my lawyer describes as “stingy.” So I am biding my time, it’s been 2 months already. As I wait for an acceptable settlement, I am driving a really lovely, albeit exceedingly OLD, Mercury Sable Premium LS. Wow, do I love it. However, it needs a lot of work. It looks great on the outside, but under the hood, it simply is nowhere near as awesome as my Camry was. But I have to say, every morning when I open my garage and see that sparkling silver luxury sedan from days of yore, I get super excited and say, “I love you!!” And I totally mean it.

So. A holiday weekend is practically upon us. I am busy through the weekend, but on Monday, my cousin and I are going to see Alice Through the Looking Glass !! I cannot wait. We loved the first one so much.

You know…I  was saddened to read that Johnny Depp’s mother had died recently. It always seemed like they were very close. But regarding Amber Heard filing for divorce from Johnny Depp (I guess, now that his mom’s dead)… Well, long-time readers of this lofty blog have probably noticed that I stopped writing about Johnny Depp after his engagement to AH. I did that because my grandmother always told me that if I can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all.  Well, now I feel like I can say something sort of positive about AH. And that is, the fact that she’s seeking spousal support after 15 months of “marriage” doesn’t surprise me at all. (MEOOOWWWW!! ha ha ha)

Anyway,  I sure hope this means that one day in the foreseeable future, Johnny Depp can go back to being “sort of” happy (and go back to being the incredible actor he was before the nuptials set in). We shall see, gang!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, if you live state-side. If you don’t, just have a great weekend. Thanks for visiting. See ya.

Opens Tomorrow!
Opens Tomorrow! Go see it, gosh darn ya!

Getting ready to say goodbye to Fluffy

My precious rag doll cat, Fluffy, who was 10 years old in March, has cancer and does not have too much longer to live.

I am spending every available moment with her. I am going to miss her so much.

Here are some views of her over the last couple years. Two different illustrations by my friend, Val, in Brooklyn (the woman who’s working on the mystery book series The Miracle Cats with me). And three photos. Gosh, do I love this cat.

Fluffy by Val -- from our book, The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport
Fluffy by Val — from our book, The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport
A sketch of Fluffy by Val.
A sketch of Fluffy by Val.
Fluffy on my bed.
Fluffy on my bed.
Apparently, Fluffy has spent a good deal of her life on my bed...
Apparently, Fluffy has spent a good deal of her life on my bed…
The cutie-pie with her tongue hanging out!
How I will remember her best!