It’s hard to Rest In Peace about your seventeen-year-old cat going missing one night. It’s hard not to bury a body. It’s hard not to know for sure they are dead.

Of course, the other side of it is hard: Watching them decline and agonizing over when or if is time to help them.

Either way, you feel like a crappy guardian of your beloved creatures. If I decide to help them die, I feel like I gave up. If I lose them, I feel irresponsible.

Here are the facts. Kiki came to us at one day old. We bottle-fed him. From the very beginning, he loved to be outdoors. (My cats have always had a designated window to go in and out.) And from the very beginning, he loved hunting. He brought me more birds, lizards, squirrels, mice and rats than any other other cat I’ve known. It was his jam.

In the winter, he would spend all his time indoors curled up in a warm place. Come spring, the birds screeched and the squirrels chattered when he reappeared. In the summer, he loved staying out all night.  I’d find him in the morning, on the screened porch sleeping off his stalking and ready for breakfast. Canned salmon, please.

Yes, he was slowing down. Yes, he seemed to have a little dementia. But he was still healthy. And he still loved to spend the night outside.

When I came home from the prison last Thursday night, he’d been indoors all day. I opened the porch door and he slipped out. That was the last I saw him. He didn’t come home for breakfast or dinner or breakfast or dinner…

I think a larger critter got him. I’ve seen a fox running across my yard. People have said they have seen coyotes. There was a report of a bobcat on the neighborhood listserv, but I seriously doubt it. Kiki did not hunt beyond the perimeter of our yard. He was wary of cars. No, I think a bigger animal came into our yard made him his prey. I like to think he wasn’t afraid. I like to think he knew what was happening when the claws and the teeth were upon him. I like to think he went willingly into the cycle of life, the way so many animals had succumbed to him.

I miss him. The way he’d lick the algae on the outdoor fountain for water. The way he would wake me up when it was time for breakfast. The way he would purr. The way he would claim a seat for weeks on end and then suddenly change it. The way he was a presence in our lives for seventeen years.

My darling Kiki…Rest in Peace.


Every Friday I receive a prompt to write a poem. This week’s was to write about a storm. After the prompt came in, I went to a dinner where someone said, “She was my sky.” It seemed like a good place to find a storm. (Ten mins or so)

She Was My Sky

I watched her from my crib or
a blanket on the floor or
my highchair perch or
best of all, from her lap.
The closer to her, the warmer I was.
Except when her hazel green eyes turned brown and dull and
her dry heavy sighs meant a storm was rolling in.
Then I scurried and hid in my closet
listening for silence,
waiting for the skies to clear and the wind to move the scuds away
I read every barometric pressure change in her skin
I followed her, the last of her four children,
toddling after my north star,
chanting like a drunken pirate
up, up, up pick me up.


Another Sunday

I think joy is a deep sense of well being.

I lay in bed in bed this morning, feeling the edges of myself under the warm covers. Chickens clucked next door. Sun poured onto the bed. I picked up my phone and the world far away from my bed came to visit. Friends in beautiful places. Writers with exciting news. In seconds, my little world felt very dull and uninspired. And, if I lay there one second longer, my life would be wasted.

Holy crap, what a way to wake up. What a way to spoil a perfectly fine morning. Well-being leaked out of me.

What if we lived each day without comparison?
What if every minute we knew we were good and delightful?
What if we felt the edges of ourselves as the possibility to know another?
And to let them know us?

Pride and Joy

This month, I completed several big projects.

The first one was writing and editing my dear friend Ben Livingston’s website. It was a total joy to work with him, and his website is now a complete compendium of his work, his philosophy and his humor. Here it is:

The second was a months long project that published this week. My intention was to reframe the tragic event of your book going out of print. First, I interviewed authors and illustrators whose books had gone out of print. Then I interviewed editors and agents to get their perspective. Finally,  I dug deeper into the numbers to understand the landscape of publishing.

Here is the series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I grew up as an author writing this series. While the event of a book going out of print is sad, I no longer wire it up as a failing of mine. It is a publishing event. My gig is writing. I’d best get back to it.

So I feel a lot of pride and joy in these accomplishments. And buoyed. And purposeful.

As I tap, tap tap…


I just got back from a five day retreat with some very fine writers. It was productive and cozy and fun. Here’s what worked: I brought one manuscript to work on and one book to read. That’s it. I checked email a bit but I only responded to necessary things and only at the end of the day. We brought our own breakfast and lunch stuff and each took a night to cook dinner. At the very beginning of the retreat, we each said what we were working on and what we wanted to accomplish. We did one writing prompt per night. And towards the end, we each shared a portion of our work. It was splendid.

One of my very favorite moments was when I shared my writing anxiety with the others: “Does it always feel like the whole manuscript could fall apart at any moment?” Without exceptions, all of my writing mates laughed and nodded.

Oh, good. I’m normal.

Here is the view from our writing perch: