Furry Family Members

Our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, speaks to the passion of Sally, Diana, and Linda (who chose to not participate in writing our book, but was a longtime member with us) regarding cats. I am a loner in the group because my passion is dogs, although I’ve had many cats throughout the years. Dogs just “suit my taste” more. Anyhow, during my week in Tucson recently for the Tucson Festival of Books, I spent seven nights divided amongst the three writing group members and good friends. I was surrounded by felines – all in all, six of them. No dog anywhere to be found. It was okay, considering I like cats, too. Diana has three, Sally two and Linda one. Scooter tends to be shy. She also spends more time outdoors. She’s a pro at it although Sally checks on the cats when they go outside. A lot. There ARE bobcats and other critters who wouldn’t mind catching one of the innocent felines enjoying the back yard. Mazey has a long, very long bushy soft tail that could nearly wrap around her twice. She’s a beauty and mild tempered. Linda’s Cocoa is a one-year-old wild child that pounded up and down the stairway steps chasing a worn stuffed mouse. I heard her early morn, but rolled over and fell asleep again, a smile on my face. 

Diana has Oliver, Nunny, and then, there’s…Sadie. A very unordinary extraordinary cat. A  kleptomaniac. One time, while Sally was visiting Diana, she left her purse open. Sadie proceeded to pull keys and a pen from her purse. Another time, she took lipstick from a friend’s purse and put it in Diana’s shoe. While staying at Diana’s, we went into her personal library so I could see Sadie’s favorite book, The World’s Best Fairytales. Regularly using her paw, she pulls it off the bottom shelf and places it in the middle of the room. I imagine she does so after reading one of the tales. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me. Somehow, as we watched a movie one evening, Sadie decided my chest was a good place to curl up and sleep. Rubbing against my face first, I spent the next couple hours lifting cat hair off my face. I was honored to be her bed.  

I just have to say, I cherished the time I stayed with my close friends in each of their houses. But maybe even better was being around six cats, their personalities as different as ours, though ours maybe not quite as independent! 

Thursday Prompt 3.16.2023

“Asking for advice about what you should write is a little like asking for help getting dressed. I can tell you what I think looks good, but you have to wear it. And as every fashion victim knows, very few people look good in everything. But in my experience, a writer gravitates toward a certain form or genre because, like a well-made jacket, it suits him.” – Betsy Lerner; The Forest for the Trees.

What is your genre? Do you know? Write a paragraph or two about the genre you are most comfortable writing in.

Weekend Finale

Sunday’s book signing took place at the Barnes and Noble in Foothills Mall, Tucson. It was our last hurrah for the weekend. There was a constant stream of people during the time there. Many were friends of Diana and Sally. They’d either purchased a book or brought one to sign. Due to our family’s many moves over the past years, most of my friends are dispersed in different states, with me now in Colorado. However, I was able to watch their hugs and listen to them, some known for years. The only word to describe it was “sweet.” There’s nothing like friends.

We prepared and happily anticipated the weekend for so long, it’s amazing how fast it went. It was such a new experience for us, and every moment was treasured. So, now what? We didn’t even discuss it. Instead, I flew home to Colorado and all three of us curled up into our home nests and crashed. For now, we’d like to once again pursue our individual writings. But before saying good-bye, we met at Sally’s, toasted each other with a decaffeinated berry iced tea (too early for Bloody Marys) and almost simultaneously looked at each other and said, “We did it!” 

The past three years have been intense, hard work, and a rewarding experience, far beyond our imagination. We want to express again how grateful we are to those who edited and reviewed our book, to our families for supporting us in our venture and to all our friends and readers. It’s been a great ride!     

Focus! Focus!

These past three weeks, I’ve traveled more than usual. Once on the road, and twice in the air. It seems there’s always some story to tell. Some situations are clearly a result of my lack of “focus”, as my younger sister says. She’s analyzed what it is that makes me lose my phone, over and over, then over again, until it’s found in the refrigerator. How it is I’m able to find and salvage it lying smack dab in the middle of a busy street, smashed, but working enough for our cell phone insurance to replace it. There are too many “lack of focus” issues to relay here, but a recent one wasn’t all due to that.

I was flying to my sister’s 70th birthday party for the weekend to surprise her. My husband dropped me off at the United Airlines check-in and I hauled my luggage and cumbersome, over- the-shoulder flowered tote bag and stood in line. It was barely moving. Impatient, I looked around, wondering why there weren’t more agents to check us in. I looked at the sign above that plainly read Delta Airlines. Lack of focus. I rushed over to the zillions of United kiosks and fumbled, bumbled as I attempted to self-check and put the luggage tag on myself. A younger, savvier passenger helped me. I thanked her profusely.

On to security. The line nearly reached to downtown Denver. Finally arriving at the scanners, a woman barks at me to “remove this, put that there, take off your vest. Put them in a bucket.” I toss them in and step into the rotating “put your feet there, hold your palms out” machine. The security agent tells me to remove the rope dangling half-way over my shoulder. I look, wondering what he’s talking about and see my necklace clasp has come undone, and the hook is caught inside my blouse. Panicking as people stand in line, I grab it and pull as the disgruntled line behind me grows exponentially. I tug and tug until it unhooks and springs out of the inside of my blouse. The pendant is gone, most likely sailing into the vast unknown as I rushed to put items in the bucket earlier. Not necessarily my lack of focus.

I move on and ride the commuter to the United gates. Sweating and wondering if I forgot deodorant, I finally make it to Gate B64 and plop down in a seat. My text dings, informing me my gate is now B68. Never mind it’s clear around an expansive gateless corner of the building and in the far distance. I hurry to the new gate and check the sign above, wondering why it names a different town rather than where I was going.  I ask the gate agent; she looks at her phone. “Oh, it’s at Gate 54 now.” Little drops of sweat trickle down my tailbone to my bum as I charge to that gate. Their bad. I wasintensely focused.

To summarize: I arrived in Tucson yesterday for the Tucson Book Festival. The airlines and I must have been totally focused. The flight and all leading up to it ran as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Campus Tour

My husband and I were back in Nebraska this past weekend. With some extra time, we decided to meander through the campus where we graduated—the University of Nebraska. We hadn’t done this since the month we graduated, July 1972. Yes, we attended Nebraska games and all the activities after. However, since graduating, we never returned to the campus itself. 

Of course, it was if we spun back into those four years of college. It was a wonderful time in our life. We’d just gained freedom from living at home, made new friends and lived the dorm lifestyle—the girls’ separate from the boys’. Those requirements have disappeared into the archives. Guess that’s a reminder of how long ago my husband and I graduated! 

Last weekend, we relived memories, stopping in front of buildings where I took my main classes to pursue a speech therapy degree. His classes were directly across the mall, where he studied for a major in business. I can still see him hurrying across the mall one afternoon to meet me. It was misting that day and my heart thumped a beat or two faster when I saw him, an umbrella perched over my head. Oh, young love, even though we were married by then. 

As we drove around campus, we laughed at the crazy things we did and how we were able to support ourselves working part-time, me as a waitress, him delivering flowers for a local florist. We were also able to pay tuition and books, something few students are able to do today without accumulating a massive amount of debt. We were lucky we attended college so many years ago. 

Driving campus was a wonderful time together, a reminder not only of how young we were, but also how unaware we were of the future. Sometimes, that’s not so bad.

Thursday Prompt 2. 23. 2023

John Claude Bemis (a writer and instructor) recently spoke of lessons on crafting an unforgettable story. His advice is to “be wild” with your ideas. Let your idea be simple and unusual. Think of something you would normally never consider writing about. Write down that idea and create at least two paragraphs on that very unique subject–for you at least!

Moments of Reminding

My husband and I are going to spend four days this coming weekend in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, first driving with our daughter to a memorial at least eight hours away. The memorial is for her best friend’s father who suddenly died of a heart attack. Our daughter and her friend have known each other since kindergarten and the girls were back and forth over the years between our house and hers. Even though both girls attended different colleges in different states, married, had children and pursued their careers, they never lost contact. It was a friendship never taken for granted. 

There are so many cliches about treasuring the life we have, embracing those we care about, telling them often we love them and yes, also “Stop and smell the roses.” Then, a life ends. Suddenly, or perhaps as a lingering one. It is then I am jarred awake and repeat the same promise to myself that I will never, ever take life for granted again. As another cliche says, “I will live each day as if it is my last.” But, I forget.

I’ve thought about it a lot. Maybe those who truly understand how short and precious life is are those who have experienced a loss—a child, a spouse, a dear friend. So, right now, I remind myself each morning to raise the shade when I arise and view the snowy crevices of the mountains just beyond, the activity on the acreages below as animals are fed, cats hunt near our yard and an elderly man walks a snow-trodden path back and forth from the barn to his house. Watching it all from my window, I am grateful. Grateful there are moments in time that I am aware…to be grateful.

A Vulnerability

Our blog was created to reveal each of us through our writings. We also have used it many times to encourage others to begin writing or continue, either solo or with a writing group. Writing isn’t always “safe,” as many would say. There’s vulnerability at times. Perhaps writing an editorial or a certain essay that begs for a voice.

This coming Sunday, I will be attending a “Letter Writing Party” in Fort Collins to stop the recreational killing of wolves. It clearly is a hot topic between conservationists, farmers and hunters. Proposition #14 passed during last November’s voting, meaning Coloradans voted for the reintroduction of the grey wolf into Colorado. It’s been eighty years since the wolves have lived here. I volunteered at the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary west of Fort Collins for a while. It was an incredible educational experience, and I wrote a story about the Sanctuary in our book Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets.

Discussion and disagreement have focused on the manner of reintroduction and the four phases involved. We “pro-wolfers” (as we’ve been called) have been asked to attend this meeting and write letters to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commissioners in regard to protesting Phase #4, which would possibly allow the wolf potentially to be classified as a game species in the future. 

Sometimes our beliefs must be written on paper, no matter who reads it. Do I feel vulnerable? Yes. Am I one to put myself out there, “in the open?” That’s a resounding no. But isn’t that what writers do? Reveal to the reader who they are, what they believe, be it through fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Sometimes, the writing is for many to see. Not always easy to do.


I recently received a newsletter from Lisa Dale Norton. She is a well-known and respected author and editor of memoir and narrative nonfiction. Lisa has been absent for quite a while and I’m glad that she is back.  Her absence was due to the death of her brother. As she writes, “He was the only living member of my family. The last one who knew the stories, the settings, the people, the only one who knew exactly what was meant if I said: Sheldon, or the Point, or the Old Barn, or the coons.” Her words are poignant, to say the least.

Lisa was my mentor and editor when I lived in Tucson. I also took excellent classes on writing memoir from her. We worked together (many phone minutes as there wasn’t zoom at that time) on my memoir about the farm life and my relationship with my father. Her guidance and editing helped me beyond measure, and I have many binders full of my book chapters and her encouraging comments written on them. 

I bring this up because I have laid my memoir aside for years now, wondering if it just too simple, too generic? I read Lisa’s newsletter and something she said, struck me: “What I know is simple and pressing: If you want to assign the meaning of your experience, you must be the one to write it… because, I assure you, if you do not, other people will. They will be the author of your life, and chances are, it will not be the truth you know in your heart.” Food for thought—action?