The Great Ringworm Wars

It all started last December with an article in the local newspaper, saying that the animal shelter was overcrowded and were offering half-off on adoption fees. So, since mine beloved spouse had been languishing in the absence of a dog (a German Shepherd Dog, preferably of German working lines, to be precise), I went to the shelter’s website to take a look. Behold, there was a young female who looked great in her beauty shot. We called the shelter. She wasn’t at all workable for us, being super high-energy and not cat-safe. (GSDs have a high prey drive, so it takes a special individual dog – like one that’s been raised with cats and taught proper manners – to not regard them as Fun Things To Chase and Kill). While I was on the site, I noodled around the list of adoptable cats and saw a couple that reached out to my heart. I have a soft spot for tortoiseshells, and my long-time favorite cat was a dilute (gray) tortie.

Then up speaks Daughter Who Abides With Us, saying she has quietly harbored Kitten Lust since the Ragdoll kitty she brought with us died (FIP, Feline Infections Peritonitis, invariably fatal). She went looking on the web for another Ragdoll or similar breed and found one. A family conference ensued, replete with “I had no idea you wanted a kitten so badly” and “I didn’t want to be a burden” sorts of statements. Further research led us to not one but two kittens:

Sarah (Daughter Who Abides With Us) located a Maine Coon mix, a gorgeous red and white girl at a local private shelter. Bright red, unusual in a female, with golden eyes. I felt a certain loyalty to the public shelter, especially since they had a sweet little dilute tortoiseshell tabby (“torbie”) with only one eye. We called the private shelter, passed their application procedure with flying colors, and reserved her. Then we decamped to the public shelter to look at Pirate Girl.

Freya at 10 weeks

(Note: we already have one one-eyed cat. Gayatri came to us from the same public shelter about a decade ago. From the damage to her eye and her extremely hand-shy behavior, we deduced it was traumatic. We had it surgically removed since that kind of physical injury often results in a highly aggressive cancer.)

Pirate Girl (aka “Cornelia,” now Freya, as in Odin’s wife) was timid at first but began to warm up to us quickly. Given everything she’d been through in her short life – her intake photo with a hugely swollen lesion on her eye, covered in fleas, with a cold and parasites, was truly pathetic – it was no wonder. We brought her home but isolated her in my office to give her time to adjust and get used to being in a house instead of a cage. After a week, she was making love to us, purring like mad, gobbling up the kitten food we provided, and trying to make a break for it whenever we opened the door. So we tried her in the general household, taking it step by step. (First put adult cats in bedrooms, let kitten roam free and smell where they’d been; reverse procedure; put kitten in dog crate with adults loose, observe them for hissing and other bad words; introduce under close supervision.) It turns out that Shakir, our male, about 10 years old, fancies himself a patient, indulgent grandfather to kittens. Before long, he and Freya were romping and curling up together. Gayatri (the Original Pirate Queen), not so much, but as she mostly hang out in Sarah’s room, the hissing was manageable.

Then came time to bring “Hallie” (Red Sonja, guess why) home. Poor girl, she was found

(Red) Sonja at four months

abandoned and turned into a different public shelter at only one month old, and was set to be euthanized the same day. Fortunately, one of their staff called the private shelter and they rescued her.

I bet you’re wondering where the ringworm comes in. Continue reading


The Phantom of the Opera: A Very Short Review

We happened to find ourselves with a free day in New York City last week, and of course we invested our time wisely! The first stop was the Morgan Library, where the manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien are on view through mid-May. This is well worth seeing if you can manage it, a real insight into the creative process of one of the founders of modern fantasy fiction.

But the exhibit is not all that large, and the Morgan is within walking distance of Times Square. A brief scouting of the TKTS booth there scored us last-minute tickets for the matinee of Phantom of the Opera, a mere hour before curtain. Irresistible! My husband had never seen it, although it’s been perpetually on tour and has been made into a movie in addition to running on Broadway for thirty years. Continue reading


You’re Not in California Anymore, Dorothy

Between named winter storms who trampled through the Puget Sound area like a stampede, leaving heaps of wet white stuff all over everything, I managed to get out of Seatac and land in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. Did I mention I am a second generation Californian? No? Well, I am, my papa having been born in Los Angeles.

I love California. Just love it. The place names, when I hear them, stimulate my happy place. Griffith Park. Redondo Beach. San Lorenzo. Jack London Square. Street names in Los Angeles and San Francisco feel almost tasty: Sepulveda. Mulholland. Portola. Telegraph. So I landed in Sonoma County, which really was no more than a county I passed through on the way to visit my parents, driving from San Francisco to Lake County and Arcata. In those days it was a relief to get north of Santa Rosa, break free from congested Marin County and climb Mount Helena to Middletown, and on then Lower Lake. Or zoom through Ukiah to Cloverdale to Garberville and points north.

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The Rambling Writer Explores More Greek Islands, Part 13: Rhodes Town and Lawrence Durrell


Join me to explore more of old Rhodes Town, including the Turkish quarter where the writer Lawrence Durrell lived and mused upon history.

NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.

 When Thor and I returned to Rhodos Town, I wanted to see the Turkish Quarter at the harbor, where Lawrence Durrell lived while stationed there by the British to help with post-World War II recovery. He named his rented house Villa Cleobolus for the ancient Greek sage. The villa, now closed, is located near the harbor market, within the walled grounds of an old Turkish cemetery.

Durrell, who had spent many happier years in Greece, pre-war, wrote the memoir Reflections on a Marine Venus about his time on Rhodes, and while evoking the timeless beauty of the island and Greek history, it radiates melancholy about so much that was lost. Amid the chaos of postwar damage, deprivation, and recovery work, the quiet hours at the villa were precious: Continue reading


New Worlds: Just Add Water (and Year Three!)

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series. And many thanks to my faithful patrons, who have funded two years of New Worlds: with this, we embark upon Year Three! Look for the ebook collection of Year Two in early April . . .)

The Tigris and the Euphrates. The Nile. The Yellow River. The Indus.

If you look at the cradles of early civilization, those cradles are river valleys. This is no coincidence: human beings need fresh water to survive, and our settlement patterns are shaped by where we can most easily obtain that water, for ourselves, our livestock, and our crops. One of the ways to kick a savvy reader out of a story is to stick a major city in the middle of a plain, while a perfectly good river flows unused nearby.

But we haven’t just stuck to riverbanks. So let’s take a look at how we’ve managed our water needs over time.

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Nnedi Okorafor’s New Comic: LaGuardia

I have become addicted to Nnedi Okorafor’s new comic series from Dark Horse, LaGuardia. I know exactly when the next issue is coming out and I’ve even discovered the exact spot where it will be on my display in my neighborhood comics store. It’s been a long time since I felt this way about comic books.

When I was a kid, I mostly read comics when I went to Stanton’s grocery store in Alvin with my mother. We did most of our shopping at Baker’s store in Friendswood, but about once a month we’d drive over to Alvin because Stanton’s had more items.

Mother would shop and I’d plant myself by the comic book stand and read as many as I could while she got groceries. The store never objected.

I wasn’t very systematic about my reading. As I recall, I read a lot of Archie comics, which, on reflection, probably introduced me to a lot of sexist conditioning even beyond that of school and church and society as a whole. Though in some ways reading Archie was like exploring an alien world, since nothing about it had anything to do with my life.

We rarely bought comics, so I didn’t leave behind a stack of them for my mother to throw out before the word came that they could be valuable. And I always read way more books than comics. Continue reading


Nancy Jane Moore’s Stories on Curious Fictions

Reprints of some of Nancy Jane Moore’s short fiction can now be found on Curious Fictions. Her most recent story at that venue is “Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars,” which also appears in the Book View Cafe anthology Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls. Several of her other stories reprinted there also appear in her collections available on Book View Cafe.

There is no charge for reading stories on Curious Fictions, though tips and subscriptions are always appreciated.


Feeding Your Invalid in the 19th Century 12: Faux Fish

Il Pesce

The notion of not telling sick people the truth was not solely Victorian. Well into the 20th century, if you had cancer your doctor might not say the fatal word, for fear that you would just lie down and die in despair. However, the 19th century did bring deceiving invalids into high relief. Many ailments — STDs, insanity, epilepsy — were social anathema and could never be spoken of except in whispers. If a man had syphilis, a highly contagious and entirely incurable disease at the time, his doctor might treat him but not tell the wife. After all, it was the mister who was paying the bill, right?  The little woman might endure poor health for years before realizing what was going on.

I had not realized that deceiving the sick extended even into the kitchen! This is a recipe passed to me by Gillian Polack, who found it somewhere in her researches. It is translated from some Asian language and does not favor the precise measurements of Western recipes. I am not entirely clear what he’s trying to tell us to do, with those eggs. I would hope that the ‘gourd’ is something like a zucchini or vegetable marrow. If sufficiently spiced up with those ‘other things’ in the last sentence it probably was tasty enough. But what a disappointment if you were actually hoping for fish! Continue reading


My Electronic Overlord

I really am a simple soul.

In December I was given a Fitbit for my birthday. I love it. I may, in fact, have gone a little off the deep end about it. It’s a little bit like a tamagotchi (remember those?) except about exercise: it requires attention and gives you just enough approving feedback to keep you giving it that attention. This is how our E-Overlords are going to take over: by making us want to please them so we get tiny gratifications. Continue reading