Monday, January 28, 2013

Maybe Next Month

KittyCat, only six, died on Wednesday. Will we hear from him again? Maybe next month.

The Purry Gates
It seems that I've reached Heaven,
or it's doorstep at any rate,
and been winding round St. Peter's ankles
by the Pearly Gates,
I've plucked the angels' harp strings
and made a merry sound,
But it's plucking at my heartstrings
that you are not around.
So I think I'll sit and wait here,
just outside the door,
And as the souls come floating in,
I'll tap them with my paw,
And when you seek admittance,
they'll rename this place -
It will become Purradise,
and these the Purry Gates!

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Skinny Brown Dog Giveaway" Contest

Kimberly Willis Holt Books on Facebook. If you're an animal lover, that's where you'll find details about a contest you'll just have to enter. Kimberly wants to know what you learned from a pet you adopted. If you're an animal lover, you've probably adopted at least one at some time in your life.

One thing I learned is I hate being in one room typing when my precious kitty is sick in another. While I'm sitting beside my kitty, it's possible you'll immerse yourself in writing the lovely tale that wins a copy of Kimberly's book A Skinny Brown Dog.

By the way, if there's room in your home and heart for another furry family member, I noticed Janda Rakers Facebook posts included appeals from pets looking for a new home.

Time for me to switch hats from writer to Mom.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sh-h, I'm Sleeping -- by KittyCat

I got new-moan-ya. I think moaning is kinda stupid when you’re sick. I’m saving my energy to just breathe. I wouldn't write today, but when Mom turned on Monster to clean the carpets, it woke me up.

On Thursday, she took me to my doctor who squeezed around my tummy, and it really hurt. She sent Mom home with awful tasting food. Then Saturday, cuz I was shaking, Dad and Mom decided I needed to see another doctor.

Scared they were taking me to Snookie’s vet at Dr. Jackle and Ms. Pighyde’s place, I got the super shakes. But then I remembered they don’t work on Saturdays. Ms. Pighyde’s phone message says if the critter’s still alive on Monday, call them back after 10 AM.

Like always, first thing on Saturday, they pulled my tail up and stuck a stick in me. Then they stuck a needle in me and took a whole lot of my blood—so much, that when they took pictures of my insides, you could only see gray and white—not one bit of red or pink. The gray stuff in my lungs is why I’m sick.

This doctor said I don’t have to eat that yucky food. I can eat anything, and as much as I want so long as it isn't salty. I liked her (Dr. Christy Webb) a lot—well, at least until Dad tried to make me eat the pills she sent home with us. They’re the worse thing I've ever had in my mouth.

Humans think they know so much. I know something tasting that bad could never make me feel better. Mom got special tuna strips to wrap around the pills. When I spit a pill out, she ground it up and mixed it in the tuna. She quit trying to make me swallow it when I started shaking and breathing hard. By this time I had spit tuna stuff all over her shirt. Then Mom had to take a pill, cuz her legs hurt from crawling under the table after me, and picking me up a bunch of times.

Like I said, I gotta save my energy. I’m gonna get comfy right here in the office chair, and sleep until I’m hungry.

© 2013, Bernice W. Simpson 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Turkey, Catnip, and Other Good Stuff -- by KittyCat

What’s good about Christmas? Well, for one thing, Mom and Dad get real busy. This year, they were busy as ever. On top of that cuz the flu shot zapped Mom pretty good, she cancelled a bunch of stuff. The best bump off her winter to-do list was my annual doctor’s appointment.

But the very best thing about Christmas is turkey. Dad doesn't like it, so I get lots. I get so much I don’t mind sharing with my tabby friend, Snookie, who spent Christmas with us. I even didn't care that Mom gave some to Meaka.

Meaka is a German shepherd, a dog that walks by our place with his mom, Dagmar. She’s a German human. The first time I heard Mom say that name, I got confused.  The lady was some distance away, and Mom, holding the garden hose, called to her, “Dagmar!” I kinda though it was strange—hearing Mom swear at someone and threaten them with a blast from the garden hose. I swear, Dagmar is the lady’s name. And I had it wrong. Mom had plants to share with Dagmar, and was getting ready to put water in a pot for Meaka cuz it was hot outside.

Aunt Pen forgot to bring Snookie’s stocking, so we just had one filled between us. We got lots of treats and some little cans of yummy food. Mom’s catnip plants died last summer, so she bought a bag. “It’s not organic or even USA-grown” she said to Dad. “I hope their hair doesn't fall out.” I figured she was just making jokes. But just in case, I let Snookie play with her catnip-filled toys before I touched mine. Ha, ha. Snookie thought I was being real nice letting her be first.

I was pretty nice to Snook the whole time she was here. Snook always got her breakfast first. I let her have the office chair, and didn’t use her litter pan. I even let her sit beside Mom on the sofa when she wanted to.

“You must be sick,” said Snook one day. “ You've actually allowed me to get some attention.”

And there’s lots of Snook, the flabby tabby, to get attention. Tempting, but I didn’t say that out loud. Truth is, I did have a tummy ache. Like I said, Mom gets real busy at Christmas. That day she didn’t notice when I ate my breakfast and most of Snook’s. I ended up with the runs.

Tons of food is what’s not so good about Christmas. But at the time I forget all that from the year before, and just remember the best parts. I'll bet you do, too.

© Bernice W. Simpson

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Leadership of the Small Writing Group, Part II


Good leaders lead. Leaders need to delegate. In small groups, especially those which experience considerable membership turnover, the facilitators or loyal volunteers are apt to take on so many duties, they have little time left to write.
“Many hands make light the work.” Writers who want to gain the most from meetings agree with that adage, and prevent one person from becoming overtaxed with time-consuming tasks. Depending on the number of participants willing to share responsibilities a group might consider the following positions and their responsibilities:

Host and co-host: If your group meets in a restaurant, your host’s main duty is probably getting a head count if the facility requires it. Whether it’s an apartment club room or home, the host must make sure the meeting room is set up, and help guests feel at home. Usually one or more will volunteer to help with preparation and clean up. If not the facilitator should call for a co-host.

Critique Attendant and/or Time Keeper: This person should be aware of policies with regard to your group’s critique sessions, and make sure that part of the meeting runs on schedule. When the workload is heavy, s/he needs to divide critique time more or less evenly between all participants, and call “Time” if/ when a member runs over his or her allotted time to speak.

Librarian: If the group has a book exchange program, the librarian updates the books on the list members have available to lend out. The librarian should make available a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar guide for each meeting.

Liaison: If your group is sponsored by or affiliated with a larger organization or is part of a writing group network, the liaison officer function as a link between the entities. Suggested duties:
·          At regular intervals submits an activity update to other groups or sponsor.
·          Keeps up with resources offered by the larger organization. For example, classes or activities they sponsor, literature available for distribution, and so forth.

Coordinator: This member is the group’s cheerleader. If budgeted, provides awards for goals met, checks on members who have been absent, and helps to arrange field trips or social activities if membership is interested in such functions.

The positions listed above are merely suggestions. One group may employ a grammarian, another a computer expert, or a photographer to record activities. Primarily, it’s important that the bulk of the work should never fall on the shoulders of one person. Secondly, a group should take advantage of members’ talents and willingness to help.

© Bernice W. Simpson 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Kudos Office Depot and Phil Bonnington

At Cat in the Corner, Thursdays are typically the day I write about different authors or their writing groups. As far as I know, Phil Bonnington, a department manager at Amarillo’s Office Depot is not a writer, but without his help today, I would have quit.

I told Phil my hubby gave me Dragon NaturallySpeaking, purchased elsewhere, for Christmas 2011, but I hadn't had a chance to use it. During the first quarter of 2012, I spent the time I’d set aside for learning to use the speech recognition software on problems with our new computer and internet service. By then it was tax time. With taxes finally caught up (late), I’d fallen behind on everything else.

2013 arrived. My new beginnings would start with the very thing I’d planned one year ago. Back to the program, I began to follow prompts that would allow it to recognize my voice. I tried everything I knew to do but could not get past the application’s microphone test.

According to a tech at Dragon Naturally Speaking, Dragon and my computer are incompatible. And, oh, by the way, since I had not been able to use the device yet, they’d waive the cost of the phone call. Next time, despite the fact that a foreign accent slows communication and makes the situation even more frustrating, I’d pay about $20 per hour for technical help.

I needed a certain type of adapter that had to fit a USB port, the techie finally decided.

That’s why I went to Office Depot. Seeking a solution to the problem, Phil and I looked over a row of products. He actually opened one package to see its contents better. Like so many packages today, when you cut open (and how else do you get into the darn things?) knife-sharp edges threaten you. Your hands might better survive an effort to separate two warring tomcats.

We weren't sure that any of those products (headsets) would work. I called Dragon’s help line. I hate being heavy handed, but I suggested they waive the fee for tech help. Then I named groups of writers—from local to international— who would hear about the situation within hours if Dragon stuck me with $20/hr for the conversation.

Whether prompted by ethics or numbers, the Dragon folks said we could talk for free.

Phil stayed there while a Dragon rep and I spoke. It took a long time. Dragon offered options. I was almost ready to spend more at Office Depot for a new headset than purchase one from the company that had packaged a lemon in my Christmas gift. Finally they offered an upgrade which included 3 months of technical support, for about $50, and I agreed to it.

Phil Bonnington spent considerable time with me today, and he didn't make a sale. Because of him, I’m writing tonight. And I’ll write, do research or conduct an interview again tomorrow.

Writers need certain tools, and learning to use them can be frustrating. If you are a writer who feels undone at times by technical changes, drive over to Office Depot. I've patronized that store enough to know you’ll find the writing tools you need and staff willing to help you. That makes Phil Bonnington a writers’ assistant, doesn't it?

(c) 2013, Bernice W. Simpson