I wrote this piece about our sweet, stubborn grand dog a couple of years ago. Rest in peace sweet Toby. be nice to the cats in heaven.
I had big plans for yesterday. Before I settled down to continue working on writing the sequel to Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, I was going to tidy up the most recent edits for chapters 21-30 in that original manuscript.
It had taken me two painstaking days to get the chapters fleshed out and whittled down and, in some cases, exorcised, and I planned to spend some time looking at spacing between paragraphs and sentences. Making sure there were no orphans or widows lurking about—even though those really won’t be a concern until it’s time to publish.
It wouldn’t take me long, I thought, and soon I could be delving into the continued stories of my characters in and around Happy Valley.
But, if you read the title you’ll understand that instead of tidying up, I was redoing all the editing I’d already done because I didn’t save any of it! Grrr. Thankfully, it went faster this time. I remembered most of the changes I’d made using my editor’s guidelines. And now it’s triple saved, just in case.
Some days I think I’ve wasted too much time on this novel writing enterprise. What if my debut novel is awful and nobody wants to read it? That’s a looming possibility. But then I think, “Goofball, what else would you have done with your life these past few months?” and I shrug and keep working,
A writer friend says he comes up with story ideas by asking “what if?” questions. Now I can’t stop thinking about this method. When I get in bed at night now, what ifs keep me company, and when I wake up, they’re the first thing on my mind.
Here are some of my thoughts:
What if one day dogs developed the ability to speak to their humans in standard English, or French, or whatever language their humans speak? What if cats could do advanced mathematics? What if they were deemed a menace to society and hunted for their abilities?
What if someone discovered a cure for stupidity, but the powers that be had him/her murdered?
What if some humans suddenly developed the ability to fly, but only during a full moon?
What if no one ever died?
What if the cure for cancer was a single word, and the scientist who discovered it was in a coma?
What if no one ever took their own child home from the hospital—instead, they were assigned a child at random?
What if life actually didn’t begin until one was forty?
What if we, after death, had to answer for the lives of all the creatures we’d ever inadvertently killed in front of a committee of animals?
What if only women were allowed to run for public office?
Okay, I’ve probably bored you all, but I can’t help thinking about this stuff. Tomorrow maybe I’ll write about something more exciting. Like, watching grass grow.
What if there really was peace, people?
As I approached the driveway into Doright Manor today I clicked on the garage door opener. Rounding the turn leading into the garage I noted a large lizard scampering up the door, taking ill-advised refuge in one of the door’s folds.
I yelled at the lizard, “Look out!” and tried to stop the door, but wasn’t quick enough. Now the world has one less lizard. It’s a sad day indeed.
Rest In Peace, little lizard.
I’ve never been a particularly competitive person—at least that’s the lie I tell myself. The truth is, I care about winning.
In fifth grade I won an essay contest. The topic we all had to write about was “What America Means to Me.” I believe my essay mentioned our forefathers and their fathers (would they be eightfathers?) and a lot of stuff about tradition and equality. Guess what? I knew more about America as a fifth grader than Trump does as our president.
As a junior high student, my friend, K, and I won the three-legged race two years in a row at our school’s annual field day competition. On my own I won the 50 yard dash. If I attempted to run fifty yards now, I’d probably have a heart attack. No one gives a medal for that.
I’ve won spelling bees and trivia contests. I even won a combination spelling/handwriting contest a couple of times. Once I won an essay contest based on a bunch of lies about my participation in band class. I was mortified when the judges returned that essay to my band director. I’m sure he was bewildered. He’s dead now. I hope my essay wasn’t to blame:
I’m nearly 64 now, and I haven’t won anything in ages. I guess once one leaves high school the opportunities are few and far between. But honestly, if I can just make it through 2020 in one piece, I’ll take that as a win.
Someone on Facebook posted an essay about the perverse way we women have of saving the good stuff for a special occasion. It reminded me of an Erma Bombeck quote:
“…I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. …I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.”
I’m guilty of each one of these transgressions. But this morning, knowing I’d perhaps see no one other than my cat and, at the end of the day, my husband, Studly Doright, I indulged in wearing my favorite perfume—the seriously expensive stuff my daughter-in-law bought for me last Christmas.
Now, I can’t stop smelling my glorious self. It’s seriously hurting my productivity. Still, I smell AMAZING.
Studly Doright called me outside on Wednesday afternoon. “Come see what I found!”
Now, in the past when he’s beckoned me outside with those words I’ve encountered a great many scary things: huge banana spiders, an enormous black snake, and various oversized insects. He’s never called me to come see some cute and cuddly animal. I was prepared to run.
Fortunately, this time he’d found something I’d have no trouble outrunning—a big fat mushroom.
So how big is it? Here’s Studly Doright holding Mr. Shroom:
Ever wonder what they look like in the inside?
The inside almost looked like the inside of a dinner roll, but we didn’t eat it. We’re easily amused, but not stupid.
Who knows what he’ll find outside next time? Princess Peach?
This one never fails to make me laugh, and I needed to laugh this morning.
She’s nearing the age of 17, this old cat. Until recently she was as playful as a kitten, sure-footed, and ready to attack any rebellious stuffed mouse that came her way.
Nowadays, her steps are halting. She stumbles now and then and her toys are neglected. The saddest thing is, she doesn’t enjoy snuggling much anymore, preferring the cool tile of the bathtub surround to our warm laps. Sometimes I think she’s ready to move on, and selfishly I keep her here.
She’s still my baby, this old cat. I give her whatever she asks for no matter when she asks for it. She wants to eat six times a day? Fine. She wants to eat at three a.m.? No problem. Anything for my Scout.
Studly Doright and I lived in Mahomet, Illinois, for eight years. We’d moved there, reluctantly, from our spot by the ocean in Melbourne, Florida. While we were no strangers to the Midwest, having lived in Kansas at one time, going back to the country’s midlands had not been part of our game plan.
I missed the Atlantic and the perpetual summer we’d enjoyed in Melbourne. In Illinois, we had to deal with a definite lack of beaches and a surplus of cold winters. It took me awhile to appreciate central Illinois.
When our daughter and her family moved to Illinois, just a couple of hours away from us, that helped immensely. Instead of seeing her a couple of times a year I could get in my car almost any time and have lunch with her and the grandkids. I do miss that.
Aside from their presence, though, I began to enjoy all that Illinois had to offer. We weren’t that far from Chicago, and I could ride Amtrak up to the Windy City for almost nothing. I only did that a couple of times, but they were both memorable.
We lived near the University of Illinois, in Champaign, and often went to college basketball and football games with friends, even doing the whole tailgating thing.
We had the best neighbors you could ask for in Mahomet. I think maybe that was the friendliest neighborhood we’ve ever lived in. Just across the road from our neighborhood was Studly’s golf course set in the beautifully wooded park, Lake of the Woods. Sometimes, he’d ride his bicycle to the course. And for Fourth of July fireworks we could sit in our front yard and enjoy most of the spectacle while fireflies flitted in the bushes.
Now, in the autumn, I find myself thinking about the apple orchard we’d visit at this time of year. It was the first place I’d tasted honey crisp apples, and we took the grandkids along so they could jump out of the hayloft (it was kid-sized) and feed baby goats, and wander through the corn maze.
Corn mazes are a big deal in central Illinois. Just between you and me, they freak me out. I have a lousy sense of direction and always fear I’ll become hopelessly lost. There’s a particularly difficult one at the Reindeer Ranch outside of Rantoul, Illinois, so after one failed attempt I opted to spend my time petting the reindeer. They are definitely worth the trip.
I wonder if these places will be open this fall. Covid has spoiled so much. The memories are lovely, though.