What’s one more cat…

Last January, we started the year with three cats.

Nikki

Nikki is the oldest. She turned 16 last March. Even though she is elderly, she still loves to hunt – mostly lizards.

Tails

Tails is the middle child at 14 years old. Jase picked her out from the animal shelter when he was three. And he is the one to name her. She stays home most of the time. The only thing she catches is stuffed animals that she loves to carry around.

Spooky

The youngest is Spooky. She showed up on our doorstep as kitten. She is the more serious hunter and only became a cuddler in the last few years. She turned 13 last July.

We were fine with our three girls. We had no plans to add any other cats. And then….we went to Oliver Garden. And as I posted back in September, we came home with a kitten. He was about 4 months old. We named him Shadow.

Shadow

Having a kitten with a bunch of older cats was definitely interesting. He couldn’t seem to figure out why none of the others wanted to play with him.

About a month or so after we got Shadow, Tails caught a cold. We could hear it in her chest and took her to the vet. What we hadn’t realized is that she hadn’t been eating. We free feed the cats so it is hard to tell who is eating and how much. I had noticed Tails sitting by the bowl several times but thought nothing of it until later. When the vet examined Tails for the cold (which was a respiratory infection), the vet also found a lump under her tongue. The vet said most often this would be cancerous.

All my online research, confirmed what the doctor said. And the prognosis wasn’t good. Most cats died within 6 months – even with treatment. The most we could hope for was a year. Radiation or removing the lumps were options as was steroid shots to reduce the size of the lump. Tails was 14 years old and had already lost about 2 lbs (since we hadn’t realized she had stopped eating due to the lump.) We didn’t think she would survive surgery and didn’t want to try radiation.

We decided to try the steroid shot with the hope of giving her a few more months with us. Eating was hard for her and I ended up feeding her canned cat food about 8 times a day (because she could only get so much down at each feeding.) For a few days, it seemed to be working. And then she started not eating as much. Then finally she stopped eating. It was at that point – about 2 1/2 weeks after her diagnosis – that we made the hard decision to have her euthanized.

Now this is Jace’s cat. He picked her out, he named her, and she often slept on his bed. It was hard for him, but he understood we were doing the right thing.

We could have just stuck with three cats, but hey, what is one more cat…We talked about getting another kitten to give Shadow a playmate – and help distract us from missing Tails.

Luna

Enter Luna – a grey tabby kitten that was just 10 weeks old when we got her. This was the best decision as Shadow and Luna quickly bonded.

Right about the time, Luna turned 14 weeks we noticed bumps on her stomach. Since I was already taking her in for a booster shot, I had the vet look at her. The bumps were her mammary glands that were enlarged. The vet said they see this when a cat is pregnant. Of course, Luna can’t be pregnant; she is too young and hadn’t been near an intact boy cat. Shadow had been neutered 3 1/2 weeks before we got Luna. She did have a brother but again, we were thinking he was too young and she had been separated from him for 4 weeks by this time.

An ultrasound didn’t show any kittens but the vet said to bring her back in 3 weeks and they would be able to tell if she was pregnant. Over the next few weeks, her mammary glands got even bigger – especially in the front.

Well, while my daughter was secretly hoping for more kittens, it turns out, Luna wasn’t pregnant. The vet hypothesized that maybe her body just thought she was pregnant. Her suggestion was to have her spayed and hopefully her hormone levels will return to normal.

Luna was spayed on Thursday so now we have to wait a week or two to see if the mammary glands return to normal.

So, here it is January, and we have our four cats – and there is definitely not room for one more.

Pros and Cons of Taking a Writing Break

Sometimes you need to take a break from writing or sometimes life happens and you end up taking a break whether you planned or event wanted one. Or maybe you think breaks are for losers and are dedicated to spend all your time writing. And some simply refuse a break so they don’t lose their momentum. But taking a break can be good for you and for your writing.

Pros of taking a break

1,) Sometimes taking a break allows you to come back and read your writing with “fresh eyes.” You now can spot grammatical or plot errors that you didn’t catch before.

2.) This one kind of goes along with #1. Sometimes you are just stuck. You can’t get a scene to work or can’t figure out how to fix a plot hole. Stepping away from your writing may just let you subconscious work on the problem and then you are able to fix it when you return to writing.

3.) Sometimes your mind just needs a break. You can’t expect to go all out writing non-stop every day. You simply need to rest your mind. You don’t want to get writer burn out.

Cons of taking a break

1,) You take too long of a break. Now instead of feeling rejuvenated, you start to wonder if you should even go back. Your life is now filled with other things so maybe you feel too busy to focus on writing.

2.) Taking a break means you get out of any good habits you had with your writing. If you were easily dedicating two hours or cranking out so many words per day, it may take time to get back into the swing of things.

How to take a short break

The best thing is to set a time limit – a few hours, a few days or perhaps even a week or two. If you need to go longer, you may need to take a few months off. But you have to find a way to return to your writing. Write on your calendar “Get back to writing” and then do it!

For those short breaks of a few hours or days, you need to get your mind off your writing. Go meditate, read a book, watch a movie, workout or just hang out with some friends. If you are taking a little bit longer of a break you can take a vacation, visit the beach or visit family in another state. If you want to stay connected to your writing, go visit a place related to your book or interview someone or do some research reading.

The beauty of taking a short break is that your mind is still working on the problems while you are focusing on other things. This is why sometimes it helps to write down your issues or questions before you take your break.

And a writing break doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take a break from all writing. You can stop working on your current project to blog or even start brainstorming on a new project.

Now you may be wondering, how long of a break should you take. There is no one right answer. You may need only a few days while someone else may need a few weeks or even a month. And there are still others who can recharge with only an afternoon away from their computer.

So when you are stuck or feeling burned out, don’t be afraid to take a break. We all need one at one time or another. We need time away to process everything and come back refreshed. You will be better for it and so will your writing.

Dealing with chronic dry eyes (take 2)

Some people know when they have dry eyes. Their eyes feel…well, dry or maybe gritty, scratchy or irritated. I think my problem is that my eyes are dry, but I’ve become used to that feeling so I never feel my eyes are dry. I don’t know there is a problem until it starts to affect my vision.

I was diagnosed with chronic dry eyes back in 2019. To correct the damage to my dry eyes, I tried amniotic membrane applied to my eye. Amniotic membranes have been used in the healing of burn victims. It promotes wound healing and prevents scar tissue formation. It also helps about 88% of those with chronic dry eyes.

And it did work – for a year until I ran into the same problem with the severe dry eyes and dry patches on my eye. Since it had worked before, I decided to go ahead and try the amniotic membrane again. This time, a different doctor in the office did the procedure. Let’s just say, it didn’t go as smoothly as last time. Instead of only covering my lower part of my eye, this time they put the membrane over my whole eye, which obscured my vision horribly (something that should have gone away but this time didn’t). And then because my eyes were dry, they had trouble removing the membrane a few days later. It was not a good experience, but it did fix my dry eyes.

My insurance didn’t cover either procedure (needed to meet the deductible first). So, in December when I noticed a small change in my eyesight while reading my phone, I wanted to deal with my dry eyes before I get to the stage of dry patches and amniotic membranes. I’d be cool with it if it went the way the first one did though the expense isn’t one that I really want to pay if I don’t have to.

Once again, I researched dry eyes. I began doing some of things I really should have been doing all along. The problem with chronic dry eyes is that there is no cure. You can only treat the symptoms and work to maintain the moisture in your eyes. It is something I should be working on daily. I needed a routine that I would keep up with.

Here are a few of the things I am doing.

Eye Drops – I think this is the first thing that many of us grab when we have dry eyes. I am currently using two different drops with different lubricants. Since I wear contacts, I use Oasis Tears Plus as recommended by my doctor. For first thing in the morning, I have been using Refresh Digital PF and before bed I use GenTeal Lubricant gel. I have heard that you have to find what works for your eyes so experiment with which lubricant works best for you.

Mask – A heated mask can help improve gland function and slow tear evaporation. When I started, I was using a mask that you heated in the microwave, but the heat always didn’t last long enough so last year my brother bought me this electric mask. By adding a little water to the mask, it provides a moist heat which feels good. Afterwards, a gentle massage of the lids is beneficial and take almost no time.

Eyelid Scrub – This can be either a pre-moistened cloth or liquid spray and is used to clean the eyelid of excess oil and debris. This is the one I am least sure of as way to maintain the moisture in my eyes, but I saw several recommendations for it so thought I might give it a try. I am using these pre-moistened cloths that I cut into fourths. I have added this to both my morning and evening routine after the mask.

Supplements – Omega 3 fatty acids can the eye’s oil film, so I have been taking a supplement meant for dry eyes. The negative is it is 4 pills. But I plan to try this one next as it requires only 2 pills per day.

Humidifier – With the heater running in the house, the air in the house is drier so I ordered this humidifier to run in our bedroom during the evening and through the night.

Hydration – And one of the simplest things should be to drink more water but this is still one I struggle with. I am not good a drinking throughout the day but I am working on it.

And of course the other thing to do is blink more. I spend a lot of my day staring at the computer. Looking away from the screen and blinking is something I am trying to getting in the habit of doing.

I’ve been working on this new regime for a few weeks. On a few days, my eyes have been bad enough to affect my eyesight. On others, everything seems fine. Hopefully, I can keep on top of this and not have to see the eye doctor for more advanced treatment.   

Top Writing posts from 2021

At the beginning of each year, I usually make a list of my top posts from the past year. But last year was not a good one for me with keeping up with my blog. So instead of having a top 10 posts from last year, you get just 3. I’ll try to do better this year with posting so next year I can make it a full 10 posts on my list.

Creating a dedication or acknowledgment page for your novel

In a past post, I wrote about front matter – all the stuff that goes before your story begins. With the passing of my mother recently, my mind has been on dedications. (Click here to read more.)

Creating a Character Arc

I’ve written numerous times about characters – developing them, naming them and pretty much every aspect about developing what typically drives your story. But I realized I had forgotten one thing – the character arc. (Click here to read more.)

Using an emotion wheel to improve your writing

Creating strong characters depends on putting feelings and emotions into words on the page. Physical traits and character backstory can help create a vivid character, but it is how they behave to a situation that really makes them come alive. (Click here to read more.)