Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Names of Simon: The Paw

I've explained why Simon Theodore is Little Brother. In fact, if I read him my last two posts, I'm certain he would roll his eyes and give me a "being a little melodramatic, aren't we?" mrrow. Much as my human brothers are no doubt doing (and I appreciate their silence on the matter). He is more sibling than child.

The Paw in action. 
One of Simon's odd former-stray habits is touching things.

I've read that outside cats will test the waters with one paw in case a new experience isn't safe. For Simon, it's the right paw, and he puts it everywhere.

It goes into the water dish first, followed, not by a test lick, oh no, but by a vigorous shake that shares the wealth. For a cat who doesn't like to have wet hands shaken at him, he can dish it out.

The Paw has shown up in my spaghetti, cereal bowl and once, my hot chocolate. I learned to eat around it because I wasn't throwing an entire dinner away for one touch. The only people food he ever truly liked was Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappucino, and I would put his little sip into a mug wide enough for his head so he didn't have to use The Paw.

The Paw is the pre-cursor to a cat fight, so that's one sign the Turtle reads quite well when she's home. She's found evidence of The Paw stuck in Caleb's back as shed nails.

The Paw has rested quietly on my cheek at 2 AM, insisting breakfast is now, not three hours from now. The claws don't come out until 4:30.

The Paw has something to say about my art projects and reading habits. Mostly "Hello, you should be paying attention to the rest of me over here. I'm far more interesting than whatever that is."

Simon Theodore, The Paw. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about Uncle Simon.

A Tale of Two Cats, part Two

I adopted Simon from the Petsmart Adoption Program. He had been a resident of a more rural animal shelter and a foster mom enrolled him in the program to save his life. Momma Turtle met him first, and pointed him out to me.



I didn't want another cat. Timmi's death had eviscerated me, and I had no desire to love anything else with fur. Since Toffee had a screw loose, I had no concerns about getting attached to her. However, there was a possibility that hanging with a more normal cat might level Toffee out, and this big black weirdo had been sitting there so long, waiting. I adopted Simon.

It was touch-and-go the first month. More than once I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

He was stand-offish. Timmi had literally been in my lap every time I sat down. Simon sat one piece of furniture away, at my eye level, and stared at me. We call it "vulturing." Sometimes this is what he wanted to do. Sometimes he wanted my attention, and if I didn't figure out the difference, he knocked pictures off the wall to explain it.

At 2 AM, he became a cuddle-whore. I've heard men are like that.

He has never met a door he didn't try to go through, or a space he didn't try to fill. More than once he spent the day in a closet I didn't realize he'd snuck into while I pulled out a coat, shirt or pair of pants. Once he almost got sealed into the bathtub while the plumber was working on it. Did you know bathtubs are hollow? Thank God for that.

He liked Hide and Seek. I would realize he wasn't staring at me or coming out for food and drop everything to search my 823 square foot house for a fifteen pound black cat who refused to help by calling back to me. More than once I feared he'd somehow snuck outside while the door was closed and locked and my back was turned. He'd be staring at me from on top of something or under something, laughing, I'm sure.

These kinds of exasperating shenanigans earned him the name Little Brother. Like the little brother who follows you around and breaks your toys and irritates the snot out of you until he falls asleep and then looks like an angel so you don't kill him.

This also led to the Simon Alvin Theodore! I would yell when he knocked something off the counter to get my attention. That was eventually shortened to Simon Theodore, which is more lyrical.

The best part is he helped me live through losing Timmi. I stopped crying every night because Simon was there to be ridiculous and exasperating and hilarious and impossible. Simon touched a different part of my heart, a part that didn't hurt. He was my little brother, not my baby, and he had needs, too. Needs involving play and eating and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Simon has been losing weight since summer, and the vet has finally found evidence of a tumor in his intestines. He's lost a pound in the last two weeks, so his time with me is short. Very, very soon, we will close this chapter together, and wait impatiently for our reunion in the sequel.

I dug his grave this last weekend, because I could feel him slipping away, and the ground will freeze soon. I wish I'd been wrong.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Tale of Two Cats

I intend to blog about Simon Theodore, aka Little Brother, aka Uncle Simon, aka The Paw, but before I tell you about him, I have to tell you about the First Cat of the Turtle Household.

Once upon a time, the Turtle had only one cat. Her name was Timmi, and she would tolerate no competition.

Some of you may be wondering about Sugar, but she was a fursibling, not a furbaby.

Timmi came from the vet, and originally from the VA. She had been adopted as a kitten from a lady who died shortly thereafter, and the family intended to have her put down. Nice family. She stayed at the vet's for 3 months before I adopted her at six months old. Yeah, real nice family. Her one redeeming feature was a long, fluffy tail.

I am a sucker for a fluffy tail. Timmi lived before smart phones, so I have very few pictures of her. She wasn't terribly photogenic anyway. I drew a lovely one and finished it in marker. This is what her soul looked like.



I hear Big Brother laughing at me.

Timmi was a snuggler. She wanted to be carried around like a baby, and she slept in my lap whenever I sat down. Much of Star of Justice was written with Timmi in my lap.

Timmi was a sickly cat. Around seven years old she got sick enough to stop eating, seriously enough that the liver got involved and I resorted to a feeding tube until she recovered. She used up all nine of her lives before she was done, and I am convinced that on one occasion God miraculously healed her.

Eventually, her colon stopped working, and there was nothing more to be done. Somewhere around the age of thirteen, Timmi took the Long Step and broke my heart. I think this happened in late 2004, early 2005. I'd have to check my records and I don't really want to.

I had been mourning her sickness and dreading her passing for years. I had no idea how hard it would be to lose her for real until it happened.

A house with one needy cat became a house with no cat at all. I came home every night and wept for hours, pretty much every time I sat down and she wasn't there.

Mom needed to break up her two stray Siamese sisters, so Toffee came to live with me (after an unsuccessful re-homing attempt with a former neighbor). Although Toffee was needy, she was no Timmi, and the crying continued. For months.

Then, in July 2005, came Simon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Disappointing Books

Thanks to MTV's (who would've thought?) The Chronicles of Shannara, I'm rereading Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara and Elfstones of Shannara. I first read both of these somewhere between 10 and 14 years old (I know I read Lord of the Rings in Hawaii when I was 12, but I can't remember if these came before or after that). Barely remembered Sword, so I'm thinking I read it once and Elfstones more than once.

Sword is... well, it reads like a first book. Lots of unnecessary words. A more than passing resemblance to Lord of the Rings (Elder Brother was less kind in his opinion on that). Omniscient POV that irks. In short, a good story made harder by less than stellar execution. If I can finish this second read, I won't pick it up again.

Elfstones was smoother, as happens when a writer continues to hone his skills. I hadn't realized how much Star of Justice pays homage to Amberle Elessedil, who was my favorite character.

I'm also rereading Mansfield Park by Jane Austin. I say "rereading" only because I find evidence in my copy that I read it in 2008. I have literally no memory of anything from the book. If it weren't my handwriting in the margins, I would swear I'd never even seen it before. Since I'm halfway through and unable to find a single character I like, I'm not sure I'll finish it, either.

I remember loving the Arrows of the Queen triology by Mercedes Lackey when I was young (although her Companions were a total rip-off of Anne McCaffrey's dragons). I reread it as an adult and threw the books away because the writing was so poor. I'll never read anything of hers again.

I wish I was able to pick up a book and just read it. The books I finish anymore are rare. Too much effort for too little reward. I find myself wishing the author would just leave these people alone and let them live out their little lives in peace and quiet. Hardly the stuff of legends.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Prayer Garden

A little over two weeks since the election. The amount of time it takes most New Year's resolutions to fall by the wayside. How are you doing?

My prayers have slacked a bit. Could be the holidays. More likely, I'm not used to endurance prayers.

When I wrote Daughter of Anasca, I was studying prayer as taught by Jim Cymbala of the Mormon Tabernacle*. If you didn't see it in the story, you weren't paying attention.

Now I'm reading Destined for the Throne by Paul Billheimer, originally published in 1975, revised in 1996. Hardly new thoughts, but new to me. I don't know that I agree with all the conclusions but I do agree - emphatically - that intercessory prayer matters, and the state of our world is a sad reflection of how seldom and how poorly Christians pray.

When God doesn't answer my prayer of the morning by dinner, I'm inclined to believe he didn't hear me. I forget that God is a God of timing, not just time. His timing is perfect, and his plans always blossom at the perfect moment.

I have a medicine bag given to me by a former boss with a feather bead on it. I was told certain tribes believe their prayers are carried to heaven on smoke and feathers, and the bead is the symbol of those prayers. While that is a beautiful image, my prayers aren't smoke that vanishes. They have substance.

TT: The "search" feature on this blog stinks. I know I've written about this before (House of Prayer), but it won't pull it up. I had to go straight to Google, and found results in the top five.

Prayer builds on itself. Choose your image, or perhaps the image changes depending on the prayer. Prayers become a house, a wall, a ladder. Or a garden. I like the garden idea. Some prayer is the hardscaping, some the plants, some the fertilizer. What if my prayers really do create a garden in heaven, a place I will one day walk, and recognize, and rejoice over? If that happens, I want that garden to be as big and beautiful as I can make it, not a tiny, feeble chicken-scratch patch of dust.

I decided before the election to pray. I haven't changed my mind. I don't stop eating because I miss one meal, and I won't stop praying if I miss one day. That prayer garden means too much, and my world needs those prayers too badly.

If I'm hearing mainstream Christian media clearly, and it's mostly what I listen to, this urge to return to prayer is something God is telling us to do. It's showing up in too many places as the exact same message to think otherwise. We are God's church, and his Spirit calls us to oneness. Is it too hard to believe that oneness should be in purpose first, i.e. to turn to God and pray for a change in the hearts of his people and the unsaved?

Pray, Believer. Pray for God to call us to oneness, as he is one. Pray that he limits the evil that runs so rampant, and strengthens his children to produce good fruit in accordance with his will. Pray that demons are bound, and their prisoners are set free in Christ. Those are my top prayers.

May God bless you and keep you and give you peace.

Keep the faith.

*A friend pointed out I meant "Brooklyn Tabernacle." Yep. That's the one I meant. Hard day, folks.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Stay of Execution

That sums up my feelings on this election.

Worldview-wise, I am a traditionalist. I believe in a supernatural Creator of awesome power, who designed me specifically to serve and worship him by choice. I believe the Bible literally, except in those instances where it specifically tells me it is being figurative. I am a conservative, who supports the Constitution as written, and the Republican platform as written. I believe there is nothing new under the sun, and sin for every generation is the same-old story in new wrapping paper.

I believe the vast majority of people have no idea what they believe or why. When confronted with questions about how they arrived at their views, most flounder about and walk away confused or retaliate with meaningless cliches. I've done a little of that myself when confronted with completely new thoughts.

TT: I'm still mulling the whole "Holy Spirit as she" issue, but I cannot reconcile it to my worldview. I won't argue the gender of a spirit, but I also have no need to find my "femaleness" in my God. I'm made in his image. I don't need part of him to be female to make that true, and referring to any part of God as "she" summons images of Gaia and Isis and paganism. Sorry, ladies. I'm a female male chauvinist. I don't see that changing.

I was prepared for a Clinton win. I believe the Supreme Court decision legalizing unnatural marriage was the death-knell of America as I knew it. I know that anti-Christ rules a one-world government that cannot emerge until America is dead.  I know we have sacrificed our firstborns at Molech's altar thanks to Roe v. Wade for 40 years. I know we practice adultery and fornication under every spreading umbrella of a free wifi coffee shop. We are Judah before the exile, and who better to lead us into destruction than Jezebel?

My prayers before the election were for God to sustain his children and allow persecution to purify us of all unrighteousness. There are many today who say "Lord, Lord" who do not know God, and more importantly, are not known by God. Persecution separates sheep from goats, and American Christians are long overdue to suffer for our faith.

My hope before the election was that God would be merciful and give our nation a little more time for the homeschoolers to grow up and take over. I believe he granted that hope, and a day later, I'm as surprised that he did as I am every time he relents over Israel and Judah and gives them another chance.

A day after the election, I see the most ungrateful, corrupt, self-involved flesh-worshippers in the history of the world acting out the temper-tantrums of undisciplined children. I see those who should be buckling down in repentance for our apathy, and mourning for the lost, instead crowing over a worldly victory. Why God bothers with us at all is a continual question for me. But it is not my place to question God's reasons. It is my place to not squander the time I have been given.

So, whether Trump turns out to be Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus or Josiah, I will step out boldly. I will pray daily for God to move the hearts of his people to be actual salt and light instead of a freshwater lightshow of pick-and-choose paganism with a Jesus-flavored coating. I will pray for the hearts of our leaders to turn toward the people they represent, instead of their own glorification and enrichment. I will pray for the heart change that must come before an end to child sacrifice. I will pray for God's truth to spoken and lived, his whole truth, that he is both loving and just. We have forgotten the "just" part, and one day soon, it will devour us whole as he gives us over to the depravity we are determined to indulge.

My hope is not in this world. My hope is in Christ, now and always.

Keep the faith.