Tag Archives: family

Status Update – Kitten Progress

Feb 17, 2017

It seems inevitable that when I’m trying to get things done under a tight deadline and I need to focus, I have cat drama. Well, not cat drama in this case. It’s more like this baby kitten of mine is going through her terrible twos!

So for those who don’t know, I’ve had two cats, brother and sister, Torpedo and Butterfly, for twelve and a half years. They were born to me. But Butterfly passed away in December. So, not wanting Torpedo to be alone, and seeing that he was mourning the loss of his sister, I got Justine, who was just about 6 months old at the time, mid-December. And she was cute and adorable and very, very shy.

Well, she’s not shy anymore! She’s totally come out of her shell and keeps getting into everything. She dashes around the house, chasing everything that moves and half the stuff that doesn’t. Her latest obsession is zipper-pulls, so if I leave anything with a zipper lying around, she HAS to play with it. She’s taken to napping on the couch with me while I write too, but sometimes that means climbing up on my lap desk to get an up-close and personal look at my fingers.

Justine is a typical baby. She needs to play. The other day, she was zipping around so fast that I thought she and Torpedo were chasing each other. Until I noticed Torpedo napping in his usual spot. Justine was running around so fast that I thought she was two cats! She’s also at the stage now where if something is on a table, she’ll knock if off, and if there’s a surface she hasn’t explored, she’ll jump up to explore it.

The thing is, up until recently, Justine has annoyed the heck out of Torpedo. At twelve and a half, Torpedo really is an old man, and his world has just been severely rattled. He’s been growling at her and swiping and chasing her around to establish dominance. But no more! For the last week or so, he’s been eyeing her differently and sniffing her without growling or chasing.

Well, yesterday the day I’ve been waiting for came! The two of them sat down on one end of my couch together and napped. It wasn’t quite the cuddle-fest that Torpedo and Butterfly would have, but it was bonding. And to top it all off, Torpedo gave Justine a few good grooming licks. And that’s super important for cat behavior. Grooming means acceptance, and when one cat grooms another it’s a big deal.

I certainly think it’s a big deal. I know that Torpedo needs to feel bonded with another cat. And it makes me feel so much easier about all the travel I’ll be doing this coming year. I can go away knowing that they have each other.

Status Update – Bouncy!

Feb 05, 2017

How cool is this???

Oh my gosh, I did the most awesome thing ever yesterday! I accompanied my 5-year-old honorary niece to a classmate’s birthday party at a place called Bounce U. It’s basically an entire warehouse full of various bouncy castles!

HN (Honorary Niece) had such an amazing time. Granted, she bounces like a rubber ball all the time anyhow. She started jumping, just randomly, from the moment we got into the place. Then she continued to run and jump and zip down the slides and bop around like a crazy person. This, by the way, according to her mom, after waking up at 5am and going to ballet class in the morning, then the birthday party at noon. I swear, 5-year-olds have enough energy to light up a city!

Anyhow, this bouncy house place was pretty darn cool, and I wish they’d had them when I was a kid. Someone somewhere came up with a billion-dollar idea with all these gigantic air slides and bouncy houses. I was worried that they would feel unsafe or like the kids might get hurt, but they were all pretty ingeniously constructed for the least possibility of injury. The kids were more likely to hurt each other by stepping on each other than to have problems with the equipment. Fortunately, they did an okay job of watching the safety video before they got into the rooms, and there were attendants watching the party.

They also served pizza to the kids afterwards and had a cake. Seriously, this is a brilliant idea. And the kids had a blast. I’m proud to say that HN is one of the most popular kids in her class…with the boys. Ha! Her dad is going to have his hands full in about 10 years. It was fun to sit with one of the moms of one of HN’s particularly close boy-friends and to hear about how much he talks about her. For a second there, I almost felt like a parent with an actual kid!

My brave, brave girl!

But hey, I love my honorary niece and nephew (her little brother, who just turned 2, and boy was he acting like it yesterday!) like they’re my own. And I’m more grateful than I will ever be able to express that their mom, my best friend, considers me family. Yay for the family you find!

Excuses, Excuses

Feb 17, 2016
New Year's resolution? Nailed it!

New Year’s resolution? Nailed it!

Ah yes! You know how New Year’s resolutions go. I had a great one too. Well, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn how to make donuts from scratch. BAM! There they are. I need a bigger donut cutter, but they were really tasty. Now to perfect the recipe and tweak it. Chocolate donuts anyone? 

But my other New Year’s resolution…. Well, this isn’t a Western Wednesday post, and there wasn’t one last week or the week before. So, yeah. That one kind of fell apart a little. But I have a really good excuse of why I wasn’t able to post about Western history for the past few Wednesdays. It’s because my dad, Richard E. Farmer, passed away on January 29th. He hadn’t been in great health for the past few years, so it wasn’t unexpected. What was unexpected was the sudden family trip to Huntsville, Alabama, where he lived. I pretty much lost a week of work.

 So why mention all of this? Well, if you’re bound and determined to make a career out of writing, there will come a point when the unexpected rears its head. As much as you plan and make a schedule for yourself, set goals and work diligently to accomplish them, there will be times when something entirely unexpected comes out of nowhere and blasts your plans to bits. For me, it was losing my dad. For my good friend Kirsten Osbourne, it was a thyroid cancer diagnosis which will mean surgery tomorrow. Don’t worry! Thyroid cancer is 95% curable, and her doctors are on top of it, but it’s going to push back a little something-something that the two of us have been working on for you. *wiggles eyebrows* 

The point is, you can’t plan for everything. You can’t plan for Amazon to change the way they tally page reads in their Kindle Unlimited program. (They just changed things, and the payout to authors for the month of January went way, way down… But many authors are theorizing it may go back up next month… Except, it might not) As organized as you make yourself, you can’t plan for another eBook platform going under…or another one rising up. You have no power whatsoever over traditional publishing houses merging or dissolving, and you definitely can’t control the amount of time it takes for them to make decisions about books. 

Bottom line is that no matter how much you plan and structure your writing career, things will come along that blow your plan out of the water. And yep, the same exact thing is true of life. My dad’s wife didn’t plan to lose her husband right after moving into a (giant) new house, while still renovating the old one and getting ready to sell it, and while also searching for an assisted living facility for her mother. Seriously. We may have had our differences in the past, but, whoa. But she’s soldiering on, and I’ve got to give her snaps for that. Makes me losing a week of work look like a day at the park. 

Two authors in the making...

Two authors in the making…

And that’s also the point. We run into hard times. Life takes unexpected turns. It ruins our plans and sends us back to the drawing board. But every time that happens, if we’re truly serious about the path we’re on, we have to take a deep breath, survey the situation, and figure out how to get back on track. Sometimes that’s as simple as making a list and checking it twice. Sometimes it involves a lot more shuffling, especially if other people are involved in your projects.  

The definition of a professional is someone who continues to do the work even when the going gets tough. Hobbies can be set aside, but when this is your job, you’ll find a way to do it. My solution to February’s setbacks has been to forgive myself for not keeping New Year’s resolutions, to write my fingers off when and where I am able, and to readjust my schedule to fit in with all of the crazy going on around me. And also not to make promises that I can’t keep. Like release dates. Sorry! I wish I could tell you when my next book will be out, but at this point I’m just not sure. But I’ll definitely let you know. (And, psst! You can sign up for my newsletter to find out—plug, plug, plug) 

And so, to close, I just want to say that even though we have had our differences over the years, my dad has always been a pivotal part of my writing. Like I said in the eulogy I delivered at his funeral, Dad was a storyteller. He used to tell me bedtime stories about the amazing characters and stories he was working on. (Dude, his character Sebastian Angel is epic, and I fully intend to use him in a sci-fi series I have in mind for the distant future) He was there when I was taking writing classes in college. We attended our first writer’s conference together. He even won a prize. But way back then, I vowed that I would beat him to publication. Which I did. Dad finished one book and worked on a few others, but the only thing he published was a sweet short story. I plan to fix that if I’m able to get the manuscript for the book he finished.

What I Learned About Love From Bill Cosby

Aug 30, 2013

BillWhen you think of Bill Cosby, you might very well think of Jell-O Pudding Pops or Fat Albert or Temple University (if you’re from Philly) or even some of the most hysterical comedy routines of the last quarter of the 20th century. I’m sure you think about The Cosby Show. That’s certainly what comes to my mind. But along with that, indeed, because of The Cosby Show, when I think of Bill Cosby, I think of love.

About a month ago, I was out to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. Kristine mentioned that she had never watched The Cosby Show. Stewart and I immediately launched into “Oh, you HAVE to watch it” and “It’s so good!” and “It’s the best tv show that has ever been produced”. We went on to relate our favorite Cosby moments to each other across the table: the time that Denise tried to make the shirt for Theo, Bill Cosby’s explanation to Theo, using Monopoly money, of how much life costs when you’re a young person living on your own, Sondra singing mopey songs when she broke up with Elvin, the episode guest-starring Danny Kaye. We remembered so much, even though we hadn’t watched the show in more than a decade.

Well, thanks to Amazon, that has changed. I’ve been watching The Cosby Show again from the beginning, and I tell you, my heart has grown about five sizes.

Bill Cosby was not only funny, he had (has) a unique kind of integrity that I don’t see on tv so much these days. The Cosby Show was firmly about family and for families. Lots of shows on the air today are about families, but Cosby was different. The kids could have attitude, yes, but they were not consistently rotten, nor were they smarter than the parents. Cliff and Clair Huxtable were not always right, but they were always the Mom and Dad, with capital letters. The show taught values in a way that I don’t see on tv now. It wasn’t preachy, it was so, so funny. But the humor didn’t come from wild or wacky situations, it came from the little things that we have all experienced in our own families and therefore identify with.

The Cosby Show was a great show, but for me the lesson of love goes much deeper than that. Continue reading

The Importance of Bliss

Mar 11, 2013

I love cricket! And cricket season in the US is almost here! In fact, my cricket team, British Officer’s Cricket Club, held its annual Curry Dinner and Ridiculous Raffle/Auction on Saturday night as a warm-up to the season! It was fantastic to see all of my cricket guys and their wives and families again. I always miss them in the winter. But never fear, cricket is almost here!

cricket pitchFor those of you who haven’t heard me talk about cricket before (there are probably two of you left out there), I am a scorer for a local club team, BOCC, here in Philadelphia. We have a thriving cricket community made up mostly of ex-pats from South Asia, Australia & New Zealand, and the UK. Oh, and we have a few token Americans on our team. I stumbled across cricket a few years ago by way of Bollywood, and it was love at first sight. Now I’m inches away from becoming an officially certified scorer, and my club president last night was encouraging me to become an umpire.

Seems a bit incongruous for an ordinary American girl to be so interested in cricket, doesn’t it. And yes, it’s delightfully unlikely. But cricket fills a place in my soul that I didn’t even know existed or was missing anything a few years ago. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s led me to form some fantastic friendships. In fact, I feel like I could depend on my cricket team members to help me out in a pinch more than some family members! Who would have thought?

Yes, for me cricket is bliss. And everyone needs some bliss. But bliss is tricky. It seems like it should be obvious when really it’s elusive. I think there are a lot of people out there in the world who are searching for something, some kind of fulfillment or validation. Maybe they’re just looking for something to do on the weekends or for someone to go out to the pub with on a Saturday night.

Then again, I see a lot of people who find that kind of bliss and fulfillment in their families. I know so many women around my age, give or take a decade, who are in love with their families. They talk about their kids, their husband, their siblings, their dogs, all the time and with a glow in their eyes that makes them beautiful. They find such selfless happiness in these things that it elevates them, body and soul.

But not everyone has the luxury of a healthy marriage or a tight-knit family. And I’m not saying that bliss comes exclusively with the people you share a roof or a name with, just that I see a lot of people who find bliss there.

Me and some of my cricket buddies when we were on tour in the UK

Me and some of my cricket buddies when we were on tour in the UK

What really makes me happy is when I see people who have gone out there and found their bliss in an unlikely place. I have a friend who is in a similar situation to mine in that she is not married and doesn’t have a lot of close family who has found her bliss in martial arts. How cool is that? She has found an activity she enjoys with people she feels close to, and she has welcomed that bliss into her life with full enthusiasm. You can see the sparkle in her eyes when she talks about it, and it’s awesome!

Bliss is so important! Without it, what do you have? Reality TV?

Actually, I’m kind of not kidding about that. I think it’s safe to say that I fall into the category of people who believes that TV is the drug of the masses. From my point of view, it is a pale imitation of the enjoyment that can be found in getting out there and finding your bliss. Bliss is active, it involves you, it keeps you alive. TV asks nothing more from you than your butt on a couch and your brain on cruise control.

Which life sounds more interesting? A life of bliss, of course! Getting up, going out, and giving your whole heart to something is absolutely the way to go. Is it easy? Not necessarily. It’s a big stretch for me to give up one entire day per weekend in the summer to go to cricket. Time is valuable in this modern world. Is it cheap? Some people’s bliss might be, but cricket, even for me as a scorer, comes with a price tag. One I struggle to afford sometimes. Is it fun? Absolutely! And I’ve made friends that I hope to keep for life.

So what’s your bliss? What gets your heart pumping and your spirits soaring? What do you look forward to in the off-season?

And once you’ve answered that question, get up, get out there, and do it!