Monday, June 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Gracie

15 years ago my wife, Susan, met Gracie. She had just lost a cat, named Oliver (a feisty orange tabby), to cardiomyopathy. She wasn't really looking for a new cat right away, she was just going to visit the local animal shelter and look around. As with most no-kill shelters, they had an abundance of cats. One cat caught her eye. I can't remember the breed, but it was beautiful, elegant cat. She had passed over the scraggly, scrawny, sick looking black cat. No way was she taking that cat. No, she would talk to this new, beautiful cat and see what it was like. She was just looking after all.

The black cat, tired of being ignored, opened her mouth and meowed. It wasn't a pretty meow, but it was plaintive. Susan (who was my fiance at the time), tried to ignore her, but every time she turned to the pretty cat, the black one would meow. Completely frustrated, Susan turned to the black cat and decided to give her some attention. Hoping it would shut her up enough so that she could interact with the pretty cat. The scrawny, scraggly, sick looking cat (who may have even had feces stuck in her fur) immediately began purring and rubbing against the cage, desperate for attention.

You can probably see where this one is going.

Yup, Susan picked the black cat.  Her reasoning being, "she kept telling me that I was going to take her home. I didn't have a choice." The vet had no idea how old she was because she was so malnourished from the time she was out in the wild before the shelter took her in. She estimated about a year, but couldn't be certain.

It took some work, a bath, and some meds, but the scrawny, scraggly, sick-looking cat turned into quite the beauty. Once we got the clumps out, her fur was soft and sleek. She loved attention and would curl up next to you every chance she got. Gracie was a sweet, beautiful, cat.

She did have some quirks, like the fact that she would forget she could see in the dark and would start calling for you until you called her name, then she would come in a meow a couple times before hopping up in bed and going to sleep. She was also an amazing jumper. She could jump from the bottom of our entertainment center to the top (close to 5 feet). She also had extra toes (called Polydactylism). Her paws looked like little mittens. It was the strangest thing in the world.

She wasn't a big fan of our second cat, Nikki (a grey and white tabby), but they eventually got along enough that they didn't hiss at each other (for the most part). She also wasn't too thrilled about the addition of small, grabby, baby hands either. I think she spent most of our kids baby-hood hiding out of reach.

The average life expectancy of a cat is between 12 and 14 years.

Gracie was over 15 when she passed. It was sudden, as most illnesses are. We took her and Nikki to the vet June 16th (see this post for details on the visit). They gave Gracie an anti-inflammatory shot. June 22nd, my wife took Gracie to the vet because she looked like she had lost weight and was lethargic. She had lost 14 ounces in 7 days and was dehydrated. Fluids were administered and she perked up. Saturday morning, I took her back, more fluids were given. Saturday night, my wife took Gracie to the pet hospital (BluePearl Veterinary Partners). Gracie was up 7 ounces, but she was lethargic and could barely stand. They kept her overnight and gave her more fluids. Saturday afternoon, Gracie was not responding to the fluids and her blood work had a value on her kidneys that they couldn't even register it was so high.

My wife stopped by to take her home. It was obvious that they couldn't do anything. They told her that Gracie wouldn't last the night. Susan decided that the only humane thing to do was to let her go there at the vet.

We all arrived to say our goodbyes. When they brought her too us, it was obvious she was in pain and had difficulty breathing.

Gracie passed peacefully, June 24th at approximately 7 pm, surrounded by those who loved her most. It was hard letting her go, but seeing her at the end, and the pain she was feeling, it was the only humane thing we could do. As much as we wanted to keep her physically with us, she needed us to let her be free. Free of the broken body she lived in. Free to be at peace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lily the Rescued Kitty

Ok. This is a placeholder blog while I work on something more writer related. I promise you'll like this. Also, I have cute pictures. Also, the location for this post is exactly where it happened (approximately)

Ok, Friday (June 15th) I was driving through rush hour traffic. Not an uncommon occurrence on a Friday morning (or any weekday morning for that matter). I was drinking coffee and listening to the local shock jock morning show on the radio.  Traffic slowed down in it's usual place when I saw it, a fuzzy lump on the shoulder of the highway. At first it looked like a dead animal, but as I drew closer, I saw it raise it's head.

What the hell? Is that a Kitten?

After a moment's hesitation, I pulled over, jump out of my car and ran down the shoulder (of a very busy highway no less!), and scooped up the kitten. Her face was bloody and swollen and she had blood on her left hind leg. As I picked her up, I prayed that she didn't have any internal injuries. I gently placed her on the passenger seat of my van and took off.

She was a fuzzy little thing and so tiny. She cheeped a little noise when I set her down on the chair before closing her eyes and falling asleep. I eased back into traffic and immediately dialed my vet. I told them what happened, and then found a way off the highway to go back toward the vet (I was going North, vet was South...not important, but oh well). I then called work and told them I would be a little late (they didn't mind...boss loves animals).

The whole way to the vet, I kept talking to the kitten, telling her to hang on and we would be at the vet soon. I kept looking over to check to see if she was still breathing. Which, thankfully, she was. We arrived at the vet safe and sound a few minutes later. After a brief checkup, the doctor told me that she was actually in really good shape considering she was pitched out of a moving car that morning. No internal injuries, just a scratch on her face and a swollen head (and a massive headache!). She spent the remainder of the day asleep at the vet while they kept an eye on her.

The next morning, our older two cats had a checkup (coincidence?). By that time, my wife and I decided to keep the kitten. It was fate, that and she was super cute. When we arrived Saturday morning, we wanted to see Lily again. Vet brought her out. What a difference 24 hours made!

The vet visit was up and down. We got to take Lily home, but we found out our oldest cat, Gracie (a 15 year old rescue) may have cancer (we found out one of the spots was full of eosinophil cells, but are not sure about the other spots). We found out that our next oldest cat, Nikki (14 year old), who has kidney disease, is still doing ok. Her creatnine is high, but it hasn't changed since the last time she was in. So here is Lily, all snuggled in a blanket at our house. We have to keep her isolated from the other pets until Friday because she had worms (which is common for kittens apparently). If you zoom in the picture you can see the cut below her right eye. Considering she was pitched out of a car, she's one lucky little kitten. We think we're pretty lucky too.

She's a really sweet kitten. Still a little shy, but very cuddly and loves getting pets. She's starting to get a little more playful and kittenish as she gets better. She's got a motor on her that you can hear through a closed door.

Ok, here's a little rant. She was found 3 exits North of a very good no-kill shelter. Three EXITS! That's maybe two miles at most. It would have been nothing to take a minute and drop her off, no questions asked. What soulless, inhuman person would throw a baby animal from a moving car on a highway? To quote my vet, "There is a special place in hell for people like that". If you have a pet, or find a pet, that needs a home, do the right thing. Find them a home. Before I left work Friday, I had to offers to take Lily, and I wasn't even TRYING! It would have been so easy to pop onto Twitter, Facebook, or even Craigslist, and find her a home. And if for some reason, I couldn't find her a home, it would have been really easy to drop her off at a shelter. There are several good ones in my home town.

Do the right thing. It isn't hard and it could just connect you with a special friend. I know it did for me.
Ok, rant done.

'Till next time.

The vet that took care of her: Cat Clinic of Johnson County (we have been taking our cats here for years).
The shelter that was three exits south of me: Heartland SPCA (formerly Animal Haven)
Another really good shelter that we have gotten both our dogs at: Wayside Waifs (Facebook page). Main site:

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Ok, so I stole the title for this blog post from a far-fetched, but popular TV series. The picture to the left was borrowed from this blog post (who knows where they got it, I don't).

Anyway, so the topic today is numbers. I've got a few. It's funny how much of our lives revolve around numbers. I could spend hours waxing poetically about the philosophical nature behind numbers, but let's be honest, you're probably not too interested in that anyway...even if it is really cool...

But I digress.

Ok. Let's talk about a  few numbers that I'm a fan of.

  • 42 -- I mean who doesn't like this number?
  • 3 -- Yeah, this number pops up a lot in my life. I have to pull three paper towels from the dispenser at work (yes, it's OCD...I'm a writer and a One of the gods in my WIP has three eyes. This all could have something to do with being raised Catholic, but who knows. I could just be weird.
  • 65,000 -- the average words in a novel according to statistics compiled by In comparison, A Brave New World hits close to average at around 64,531 words. The longest being War and Peace at over 590,234. Interesting stats, it's easy to find them. Just type the title of a book, add the phrase "word stats" and "" to the search and you're guaranteed to pull it up. It also includes readability scale and whatnot.
  • 50,000 -- The minimum for NaNoWriMo.
So, why are these numbers important? Well, the first two just because. The last two are actually very important.

As of right now, my WIP#1 is at 46,906 words (according to Scrivener).  I have five chapters left.  My average chapter length is around 2,000. At the current rate, I will hit 57,000 at the end of chapter 24.  Could be more, probably won't be less. Then it is on to revisions.

All in all, not bad considering I had a horrible time in English class as a child.

'Till next time.

Oh, and because my friend Abigail Kern claimed she was going to scour my blog post for any reference to her witty tweets to me they are... :D

This arrived first...

 Followed shortly by this...and yes...I just made an inappropriate pun, but it wasn't on purpose.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Off Like a Herd of Speeding Turtles plus June #writemotivation update

Yes, that is how June has started. Despite my desire to move faster, I am being lapped by turtles...specifically the turtles resting on the on in the picture above. I would be more frustrated except that I know that other authors out there have the same problem. It happens. You get over it, you move on.

My goal for May was to finish my WIP. This didn't happen. However, in my defense, I was writing a short story for my Creative Writing class that I ultimately submitted to the college literary journal. Feedback from various writerly friends and students from my class was really positive. So, we'll wait...and wait...and wait...and maybe hear back.

On other good news, has risen from the dead. Spent some time on there and it looks really nice. I finally found my old poems that I posted on there. I've included links in my Publications and WIPs page. Check them out and leave me a comment if you want.

Also on that page, you'll see that I have retired "The Forgotten Arch". I did that because I was incorporating it into WIP#1 and have decided to alter it significantly to fit better into the plot (and because I have some ideas to make it sound cooler).

So, my goal for June? Well, I would like to finish the first draft of WIP#1 so I can get it out to Crit/Betas for review. Almost done, but like I said, I'm running a little slow right now. So, we'll see what happens. June isn't a #writemotivation check-in month, but I'll still be posting updates via Twitter and this blog. I also plan on cheering for all of my writer friends out there in the Tweet-verse. You guys are an inspiration and a joy to talk to.

'Till next time.