Wednesday, December 12, 2012



For the purposes of this blog, I am the tortoise—largely because my little publishing project is coming together so slowly. That said, it is coming together, piece by piece—a veritable mosaic of enterprise—modest enough in itself, but immensely satisfying to me.

Sometimes I don’t really notice the very real progress I am making. I guess distraction has a great deal to do with it. To quote an old saying: “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to recall that your task is to drain the swamp.”

Well, alligators weren’t my problem recently: Cats were. I suspect I would have preferred alligators. They would, at least have had novelty value—and I could have let them loose in the corridors of this condo building for entertainment.

The elderly two cats proved to be a much more serious distraction than I could ever have imagined—because they were cats from hell! I had them to stay because my friend, Jane Carrdus, had just had a hip transplant; and she rightly felt she could not cope until she was somewhat recovered. I was glad to oblige—little knowing what lay ahead. Also, though not particularly a pet person, I have, in the past, had a long and happy history with cats—though they were all active animals and spent a great deal of time outdoors.

Nonetheless, there is a big difference between one’s own cats and someone else's (I guess it is probably the same with alligators). Also, I now live in an apartment six floors up so cats can’t wander and do what cats do in the great outdoors. On the other hand, they came with a litter tray and were, supposedly, trained to use it.

No good deed remains unpunished. Charlie (Charlotte), a striking white cat with three legs and considerable intelligence, dutifully used the convenience provided—but then threw up on the carpet just about every day. Chester, a beautiful Himalayan of no brain and worse habits, did not throw up, but decided that real tom cats didn’t use litter trays—and opted for my floor and elsewhere instead. And when he wasn’t asleep, he howled; and howled; and howled. Oddly enough, he even howled after he was fed.

Because Jane—who is eccentric—normally gets up at around 3.00 am to start her day (she likes to have her evenings in the mornings) and feeds the cats then, both animals expected me to do the same. If I didn’t oblige them, both scratched at my door and Chester howled; and howled; and howled. And so on.

Multiply by three and a half weeks, and the consequences can be imagined. Think water-boarding. As they say, everyone breaks. And writing requires a well rested brain and absolute focus!

Fortunately, I was able to return the wretched animals last Saturday. Jane is recovering at a rapid rate, and positively glowing with energy and good health. Clearly, we should all have such surgery.

I am in bed, ill, trying to catch up on my sleep, and suffering from the aftereffects of PCSD (post cat stress disorder) which has symptoms akin to bad flu—and may need to be treated with alcohol. And so much time has been lost! Grrr…

But wait: Doesn’t a cat called Charlie feature in my latest thriller, THE BOOK-LOVER’S MOVE? Indeed he does—and his fate lies in my hands.

It’s fun to be a writer; and quite tolerable being a tortoise.


Orso Clip Art



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