This World is Not My Home

My dad has a new knee. He’s already up and walking on it and doing all his exercises. I always thought the biggest challenge was going to be getting him to take it easy and not overdo it.

I felt bad for leaving my mom up there and relieved to get home. Eight hours in the car with a big dog is a lot.

But he loved the Midwestern snow with no ice. He would go out in my parents’ back yard for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. He’d try to convince you to go out there with him. I did and it was glorious. I think we actually played. I kicked snow at him, he zoomed around, and then leaped at me pretending to bite my hand. He even got down in play posture before he would zoom off.

But he and I were both very stiff from that much time in the car. I’m jealous that he’s going to be able to spend all day sleeping while I’m at work.

The cats both looked surprised to see us when we got home, like they had just come to accept that they owned the house now, with the exception of random spot-checks from the Butcher.

My parents have a fake daughter. She calls them “mom” and “dad” and they introduce her as their daughter. They gave her an afghan I made and told her it was from me. I hadn’t met her before. I hadn’t really realized the extent of the weirdness.

I kept waiting to get a scammy vibe from it, but if she’s trying to con them, she’s going about it very, very slowly. Or all she wants is for someone to occasionally buy her lunch, so the con has worked? I don’t know.

I think she was a little jealous of me and I was of her. But I can’t have the kind of relationship they want to have with someone because it would crush me, so, I guess, as long as it’s just weird and not exploitative, whatever. Everyone’s happy.

I still don’t like it. But it’s not my business.

I wish they lived closer, though not next door.


This Cat

You guys know I fret about this cat. He turns 18 this year and he’s in rickety shape. The Butcher and I had a long discussion where the Butcher admitted that the orange cat can’t go live with them, that it would just be too much to ask him to get used to being an indoor cat in a new house at this late in the game.

I don’t know if you guys remember how the tiny cat went. One morning she was bleeding from her mouth and I was trying to round her up into the carrier and get the dog back inside and it went like hell and she sprinted outside and was gone. My parents’ cat went the same way. He determinedly snuck out and went off to die.

These past few days, the orange cat has been feeling his oats again. Playing, running around, yelling at me when I’m in the kitchen, demanding a million head scratches.

But yesterday, when I got home from the grocery store, he went outside with the dog. I thought he’d come back with the dog, but he didn’t. I gave him a few minutes and then I started to worry because it’s so cold. I put on my coat and went out to the shed and called for him and he came out and meowed at me and we walked back to the house together.

This morning he dashed out as I was letting the dog in. It’s five degrees here. And he was gone. I called for him. Nothing. I tried to go about my morning, but I kept listening for him at the door. Finally, the fourth time I checked the door, there he was, strolling up, like it was perfectly normal for a rickety frail man to want to wander in freezing temperatures for twenty minutes.

Is this a part of his, as the Butcher put it, “New Year, New Cat” initiative? I kind of think that, even as he’s looking worse to us, he seems to be feeling better than he has in some time. I mean, he was motherfucking playing yesterday. And certainly in his younger days, he would have much rather gone to the bathroom outside, no matter what the temperature, than used the litter boxes.

I’m torn between trying to just enjoy this bout of young behavior and worrying that he’s at the age where even good news is bad news.

Also, can I just say, it’s 5 degrees here and my garage is 40? God bless that heater.

Rope Burn

I was hoping to get these two mermaid tails done, but it’s been so long since I’ve used huge amounts of that yarn, I forgot how hard it is on my skin, especially on cold days like these.

I actually have rope-burn on my finger. Yesterday I had to switch over to a project with softer yarn.

I was trying to come up with a way to not have to go to the grocery store today, but, alas, I need shit.

The old cat was in fine form this morning. He played with a magnet for like twenty minutes, threw a pillow on the ground, and fought with the dog. I guess he woke up a kitten again, for a moment.

Also, the Butcher sent me this picture:


He claims he righted Cthulhu after this picture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I get up there and it still looks like this.

There’s something so very satisfying about seeing that look on his face.

Merry Christmas, Garage

I live in a 1950s ranch, which, in Tennessee means a sturdily built house conceived under the assumption that electricity would be nearly free forever, so who gives a fuck about insulation or keeping appliances someplace that stays above freezing without having to leave the door between the kitchen and the garage open.

Anyway, in the time I’ve been here, I’ve had to replace a water heater and a washer due to them freezing in the garage. We tried to then keep the garage above freezing with this teeny-tiny space heater, like you’d put under your desk at work. It worked, but it eventually died.

This week I went out and bought a space heater specifically designed to heat a drafty poorly insulated place like a garage.

The Butcher had to get it out of the trunk for me and then he helped me figure out where I should put it in the garage. And y’all! It has a timer. Last night I told it to keep my garage at 50 degrees for eight hours and it did!

And when I came back from walking the dog this morning, my garage was still… well, not toasty warm, unless you’re eating very, very disappointing toast… but warm. Much, much warmer than freezing.

Also, the Butcher brought the whole family and I swear the orange cat was hitting on the Butcher’s wife. He came and sat right by her and asked her for a million head scratches and when she tried to talk to the Butcher he meowed at her until she turned her attention back to him.

I laughed.

Also, speaking of the orange cat, the dog and I have this ritual where, before I put my shoes on to go for our walk, he gets some loving. He especially loves to have his face rubbed. The orange cat has been coming over and standing by the dog when he does this, and I thought it was because the orange cat also wanted head scratches, but he didn’t really seem interested in them.

And then, for a while, he was kind of batting at the dog’s face, which the dog did not like and I didn’t understand.

But, y’all, today! Today I understood. He is petting the dog! As usual, he seems chagrined, like “I don’t understand why we do this, but if we do this, fuck it, I’ll do it,” but he was also more gentle and the dog tolerated it.

I swear this cat literally thinks he has to learn how to do everything in this house because, if someone falters, he’s going to have to step up. By god, he will hate it, but he will do it.

Day One

I think it went okay. I got them most of the day so they could do their Christmas shopping for each other and have dinner while the Butcher’s family was doing other things. I tried to put into practice everything that I’ve learned at therapy. And I’m trying to be aware of when I’m frustrated and when I’m concerned and when and whether those are separate things.

My parents kept asking me about weird things the orange cat was doing–like when he just stands there like he’s waiting for what he should be doing next to come to him or, like now, when he’s sitting on the couch and he appears to be asleep, but he’s in a position you know he can’t possibly be asleep in and I was just repeatedly like “He’s old. He’s just doing old, weird shit.”

He’s still the animal in this house most likely to come when you call him and most aware of what’s going on in all rooms of the house at any given time. So, I guess I’m not that concerned. I mean, I am concerned in that, yes, he’s 18, which, for a cat is ridiculous, but he doesn’t seem to be in pain, so if he kind of fritzes out every once in a while, well, maybe that’s to be expected.

Ghost Dog, Revisited

I’m sad to report that I think the ghost dog in the back yard is a living cat. Which, since my first rule of “Is it haunted?” is “Have you completely ruled out a cat?”, shouldn’t surprise me, but I still was disappointed.

I didn’t get a good look at the cat today, since the dog was chasing it, but it appears to be orange.


Dramatic Running

I don’t know why, but for some reason the new kitty–who, good lord, by this point isn’t remotely new, but the nickname has stuck–has started running dramatically through the house. Not zoomies. But just, when she needs to get somewhere, rather than walking, she runs.

It cracks me up because it’s just so weird.

The other night, I heard a lone coyote singing very close by. I think it must be more common than I realize, because the dog slept through it. Last night he barked at my across-the-street neighbors for, as usual, getting out of their car. I’m just saying–he normally barks at anything.

I continue to fret about the orange cat. He continues a slow decline marked by periods of forgetting he’s in decline where he tries to get the dog to play with him. I just don’t want him to suffer, but cats are so grouchy, how do you know when they’re physically suffering and when they’re just overburdened by the ennui of constantly dealing with fools?

This Dog


I let the dog off leash probation and he had a day of doing the right thing and a day of doing the wrong thing and now he’s back on leash probation.

Last night, he apparently didn’t go pee when I put him out for the evening. I was suspicious because new kitty was on the steps and I know how afraid he is of her, but… well, he peed on the floor and then mopped it all up with his dog bed. Which I guess I appreciate.

But then! He almost bit me trying to get a can of wet cat food out of my hand! Like, not deliberately, more just “I’m being a doofus and not being careful and I really want that cat food.”

Can you put a dog on whole-life probation? I need to take him for a long, long walk tomorrow, I think.

In happier news, I finished my afghan. I went with a non-fancy border. The only tweak I made was to make the second round of it–even though it’s just a regular old granny square stitch–going the other way. That’s the one thing about these two-color granny squares–you don’t just work them in the round. You flip them over and go the other way. So, many of the squares have front and back sides of stitches visible. So, I did the same with the border.

Also, the whole house smells like cat piss and I can’t locate a source. It’s one of those cases where I can’t tell if I’m just not finding it, if maybe a change in the weather has caused old smells to reemerge, or if the cat may be just leaking a little bit, which, god, I hope not, because that would indicate the end of him.

I really, really want that cat to just go in his sleep one fine sunny afternoon. Or in a knife fight. Something that would be sad, but I could live with.


The guys came over last night and I made paella for them. They were a little dubious at first. And then they went back for seconds. Huge piles of seconds.

It made me feel like I had powerful magic.

It also made me a little sad because I was planning on leftovers for dinner tonight.

New kitty has taken to pooping in the bathroom (on the floor, not any place useful) when there are fireworks. The litter boxes are clean but she doesn’t seem to care. She must register her displeasure, though there’s nothing I can do about it.

Mouse Wars

I was so busy this weekend that I don’t feel like I really had much of a weekend. I went to war with the mice in the kitchen, which involved emptying three cabinets, washing most of my dishes, washing said cabinets, and then stuffing the holes I think the mice are coming through with steel wool. I also had to run to Target and the grocery store and do a bunch of research at Special Collections and then, as you know, I’m also trying to get a very rough draft of this story together so that I can see where holes are and where I need more research. Plus some out of town friends were in town and I got to see them.

Also, the stupid orange cat bit me on Friday and I yelled so loud that he exploded off my bed and hid from me for two days. Then, on Sunday, when he finally did come out–though let me also be clear that his “hiding” still involved sleeping with me. He just left my bed when he realized I was awake.–and he seemed kind of stiff and sore and wobbly and I was like, Christ, if that dumbass cat hurt himself leaping off the bed, I’m going to feel so damn terrible.

But he wouldn’t let me touch him to feel if he was in any pain.

So, I sent a text to the Butcher asking him to come by when he got off work. That damn cat was fine. “Oh, hi, The Butcher. You want to give me some head rubs? You want to see me scampering across the house? You want I should leap up on your lap?”

And then, after the Butcher left, the cat came and sat on my lap, like now that I saw how things were, we could be friends again.

I’m like, dude, I’m the one who texted the Butcher! You didn’t bring your big mean man over here to put me in my place and teach me a thing or two about loud yelling. I brought my soft-hearted brother here for a second opinion about your squirrelly behavior.

But you can’t convince him of that.


Lord, last night in the middle of the night, I was awoken by new kitty just singing and singing. I tried halfway waking up and saying “Good kitty,” but then she got a tone in her voice so hurt that it caused the orange cat to leap off my bed. So, I was concerned that this wasn’t a loud victory song, but a song of pain and her own death.

I also then leap out of bed.

She’s fine.

She’s brought a rabbit in the house to kill and eat. It wasn’t dead, but it wasn’t going to recover. I considered what to do and as I was trying to wake up enough to formulate a plan, she killed it.

I went back to bed.

I wondered if it makes me a bad person that I let my cats outside. I also wondered why a cat who can catch a motherfucking rabbit can’t ever seem to catch the mice when they’re in the house.

There’s Only So Much Poop in Your Dog’s Ear You Can Live With

On Friday, I met with my therapist, which went well, but still took a lot out of me. I’ve only seen her three times, but I now know to kind of expect that I will sleep a lot after it.

So, Saturday, I wake up at 7:30. I take Sonnyboy for our normal walk. He somehow manages to get so tangled up in his harness that he can’t walk–and remember, he got out of the house, so it was on right when we were in the garage and yet, by the time we got to the AT&T yard, he was a mess. So, I had to wrestle him out of his harness and try to get him back into it, which he “aided” by repeatedly sitting down in the most convoluted way. But eventually, I got it.

We got up to the road and he almost immediately rolled in poop. Not on his back, which would be gross enough, but all up in his head and his ears and down his front legs and I tried to drag him out of it, but I am not stronger than him and that poop was, apparently, awesome.

He smelled so bad. It was like a mixture of regular poop smell with like rotting raw beef. I shudder to even remember it.

Then he went full-steam after a bird and got tangled in some barbed wire. Not terribly. But then he was limping and I tried to get him to show me his paw and he was like “And now I’ll just lay down in the middle of the road! Please do not look at my paw, I am busy licking it.” But then he got up on his own and it seemed to be tender but not terrible.

But so here we are, coming down the home stretch and who is standing by the tree but the little old lady he terrorized the other week and her dog who he tried to force to play with him?! But she sees he’s kind of limping so we exchange greetings and she asks what’s wrong and, of course, I’m trying to hold him back from her dog and her tiny little dog is like “Son, I will eat your face off.” And I believed him.

So, I tell her the barbed wire story and just as you would hope from any grandma-looking type, she starts to coo over him and she clearly wants to come over and pet him and comfort him.

But I have to warn her off because he’s covered in poop.

So, so much for making a friend of an enemy yesterday.

We get home and I am just like, I can’t deal with the dog yet. Oh, right, also because I notice on our walk that he is riddled with fleas. I mean, just riddled. Like that motherfucker looked to be hosting the flea circus family reunion. And I’m like “You have a quadrillion dollar flea collar and I pet you all the time. Where did these come from?!”

So, it’s not just a matter of poopy-head. It’s also fleamaggedon.

I eat my breakfast. I go into the bathroom to get it set up for bathing him, because normally the trick is to have everything for Sonnyboy’s bath ready to go and then you have to cajole him into getting in the tub and it takes half your life.

And I’m supposed to meet S. for coffee at 10:15.

But I wasn’t even to the point of getting the dog shampoo opened when I first said, “How’s about a bath?” and Sonnyboy came in and deposited himself right in the bathtub. From out of nowhere! Or, you know, somewhere in the house, but not in the bathroom.

But he doesn’t like to have his head in the tub when he’s getting a bath and his head was where all of the poop was, so, dear reader, I just washed his head outside of the tub and said, “Fuck it, I’ll just towel up the floor.”

And a lot of fleas came off in the wash, though not as many as I’d feared.

But I am disgusting now, so I text S. to let her know I’m going to be a tiny bit late because of Walkpocalypse 2017 and I get in the shower myself.

Problem 1 settled. Walkpocalypse dealt with.

But what about Fleamaggedon? So, I got him a new collar. I got him two new dog beds and his two old dog beds went in the trash. I sprayed down the couch and the Butcher’s bed with flea spray. And though I had been using Frontline on the cats, I picked up some Advantix.

Reader, I defleaed that mean old orange cat by myself. And he is still pissed at me. He spent all morning hiding under my dresser making mean meows at me. He did come out for breakfast, of course, but he was snitty about it.

New kitty, of course, didn’t care. Except for all the fighting and the killing, I’ve never owned an easier cat.

I ended my day thinking, “Okay, problem solved.”

But, like Jason rising from Crystal Lake, I sat down to poop before going to bed (yes, that’s TMI, but it also brings the day full circle, so I’m leaving it) and there I am, stuck on the toilet, and something(s) starts biting my legs. The fleas from the bath, who got caught up in the hair and thrown in the trash can are out for revenge.

It sucked, but I laughed. And sprayed down the trash can.

Yesterday Was the Day

I figured a day would come when the animals might have the idea that the Butcher was not coming home. I was afraid of that day.

Yesterday, it rained in the morning, so I couldn’t walk the dog. Mistake. I came home from work and the front curtain was open, the cat food plate was on the ground and, when I tried to feed the dog, he got impatient and spilled his bowl all over the floor. Then the orange cat peed in my room. Looked straight at me while I was washing my hands and peed and then meowed at me like “fuck you, lady.” (Same cat who has been barfing hairballs on my bed for fun all week. Well, I assume. I haven’t caught the hairball barfer in action, but he’s who’s been sleeping in my bed.)

And then, and then, I turned off all the lights and went to put the dog out for the last time and barefooted I stepped in the largest pile of dog poop that has ever been pooped by a dog. It squished between my toes.

At the beginning of the evening, I was ready to ship them all up to live with the Butcher. By the end, I was ready to ship myself up to live with the Butcher and let these fools have Chaos House to themselves.

New Things

The Butcher’s wedding looms. They’re trying to do a low-key thing, like afternoon wedding with cake and punch afterwards. It’s like they’ve never met our family, which should make the wedding super awkward, with all these opinionated strangers standing around.

I told the kids this weekend that I was going to be their step-aunt. They were more excited about having step-cats. Which, you know, fair enough.

I’m really happy for the Butcher and kind of excited to have the house to myself. And I’m sure it will also be lonely, but man, the dryer will be empty whenever I go to use it.

I think I’m going to win the cat argument, but it’s kind of a bummer because I think the reason I’m going to win it is that it’s sinking in to the Butcher how old the cat is. He didn’t get up to walk with us this morning and didn’t get up to get breakfast. He’s still asleep in the Butcher’s room as we speak.

Oh, god, I hope he’s not dead. Ha ha. I mean, I’m sure the Butcher checked before he left.

Senor Don Gato

This cat, the one who fashions himself as a four-legged Clint Eastwood, is driving me crazy. For some reason, he’s put himself in competition with the dog. If the dog gets head scratches, he needs head scratches. If you’re eating something and he thinks you might let the dog lick your plate, he’s going to need to lick your plate first. Are you trying to do anything the dog can see? The orange cat will need to sit in your lap then. Last weekend I sang a song to the dog and the cat harassed me for like twenty minutes before I figured out that he expected a song, too.

I don’t even think he likes this shit. It doesn’t seem to improve his mood. I think he just wants what the dog gets and so, if he gets it, that’s good enough for him.

But the worst part is that, at breakfast, he really wants to lick the last of the milk out of your cereal bowl and so he sits right up next to you, not quite touching, but close enough that no dog can butt in, and rests the very tips of his whiskers on your arm, as if to monitor the situation for any changes in arm motion that might indicate you are done with your cereal.

It feels like a army of Daddy-long-legs standing on my arm. It’s so weird.



The Butcher is moving out soon. Soon-ish. They need to make some space for him up at The Butcher’s Soon-to-be-Wife’s house. But then he’ll be up there. I thought I would be sadder, but it’s just up in Gallatin and I like seeing him happy.

I don’t know. I guess as it becomes more real, it might be a bummer. But for right now, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

I did broach the subject of him leaving his cat here. He was not happy with my suggestion, but the cat is seventeen years old. He likes it here and he knows here. We’ll see. I just think you shouldn’t uproot an ancient cat unless you have to.

These Cats Disgust Me

Man, I had a busy weekend. Went to the TSLA. Wrote a piece. Ran out of time to write another piece. Did a buttload of dishes. Played with the kids. Walked the dog. Worked on these afghans.

Did I mention “did a buttload of dishes”?

Okay, so I know there was no mouse poop in the silverware drawer on Saturday because the silverware drawer was nearly empty until I filled it with all the silverware I washed.

So, it was with great alarm that I learned the Butcher found a ton, literally a metric ton, of mouse poop in the drawer Sunday morning. Was there a mouse orgy in the drawer? Could they not have done that late Friday night when the drawer was mostly empty instead of pooping on all my clean silverware?

But that’s not the only thing that pisses me off. I have two cats, both of whom regularly catch and kill things outside. One of whom likes to bring in the things she’s killed, sing about her kill, and then eat everything but the guts and heads, which she then leaves for me to step on in the middle of the night.

How in the fuck do I have two mousers and mice in the kitchen?

Butcher Appreciation Day

Ha ha ha. He hasn’t been a butcher in a million years. But what kind of nickname would “Guy Who Does Some Crap I Don’t Quite Understand And Goes on Trips” be? Nicknames, once given, shall not be updated.

Anyway, while he’s out of town, I’m coming to appreciate all he does, like keep the cats entertained, the dishes, filling the dog’s water bowl every evening, going to the grocery store, getting the mail, rolling out the garbage, bringing the cans back in.

I’m just like, my god, there’s another basic thing that needs doing in this house all the fucking time. And I’m not doing the litter box. Those jerks can just poop outside like regular animals.

I haven’t been doing something for the book every day he’s been gone, but I have gotten a lot more done for the book than I have most of the summer. That feels good. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again–writing is one skill. It is hard but, if you read a lot and know what you like, you can flounder toward writing something you’d like to read and, eventually, write something that you enjoy reading. You can share it with your friends. They may also like it.

The submission process is a whole other equally as difficult skill set. I mean this for both short stories and this damn novel. They’re often conflated into one thing–like if you just write well enough, the submission process is a minor technicality, nothing to worry about. But folks, no. It, too, is hard and requires skills you don’t know you need until you’re crying because you don’t have the skill and you’re not sure how to cultivate it on such short notice.

So, I guess what I want to say is that I was a little fucking snobby about people not being real writers if they’re not submitting. But I also want to acknowledge somehow that this second part means something, too, and has weight and leaves scars. And for most of us, it’s an ordinary, tough, part of being a writer that is mostly invisible to outsiders.

Also, last night, in the dark, I stepped on mouse entrails. I heard the new kitty singing. I knew what it meant. I still did not tread carefully.

The Glamorous Life

This morning the cat was pestering me while I was trying to wake up and go to the bathroom. Finally, I realize she had an enormous, I mean, Enormous, I mean, people of Kentucky, if you looked south and asked yourselves, “Is that a poop mountain rising over Nashville?” I wouldn’t be surprised, sized dingleberry.

Because she’s a tough cat, I grabbed it and pulled it out of her tail fur. (Some cats you can’t do this with and then you have to bathe them. Weep for the owners of those cats.)

She then purred at me in a way I have never heard before, kind of a series of low short rumbles. I felt like a hero, like the kind of person a cat writes a song about.

I Did Some Stuff!

I sent the Metallica story off someplace. If they don’t want it, I’ll send it someplace else!

I worked a little on my October stories.

I wrestled with this afghan, for which there’s never enough yarn. But I’m loving it. I love how the white circle looks. I like the bright colors. I’m excited about my idea for how to connect the squares in an interesting way. I think I have a neat border to try.

I didn’t, however, do any weeding. I’m just not feeling like gardening and I’m not sure why.

The new kitty brought a rabbit in the house last night and ate it. She must be so fast and patient. And tired of our crappy cat food?

But why doesn’t she use her hunting skills on the mice that get into the kitchen? I don’t understand.


she who knocks

I’m pretty excited for this week. Tomorrow you’ll get to read my new Apex story. On Thursday, I’ve got the cover story for the Scene. I’m working on a review of a book for Chapter 16 (So far I have “He rites gud,” so that’s going well.) and I’m up to something which I hope will blossom into something, though I’m still in the “me rite gud” stage of it, too.

Anyway, here’s a picture of New Kitty casting a spell to be let back in the house.

I would ask her to cast a spell to make me an awesome writer, but you know how cats are.