Monday, March 31, 2014

Cat Psychology 101

Arizona and I have been in our house for going on two years now, and we adore it. It's small enough that I can clean it in a couple of hours, and it's high up on a hill overlooking a source of fresh water, which appeals to my beloved's survivalist tendencies. (Our Realtor said it was the first time that 'defensible position' was high on a client's wish list.) Perhaps the finished basement means that storage is at a bit of a premium, but that works for me, because it means that when something comes in, something else has to go out.

Anyway, now that we're settled into our cute little house and have done most of the initial stuff on our 'to-do' list (you know, painting, carpets, new roof on shed, that sort of thing), we're starting to pick away at the little, non-critical improvements and repairs. The sort of things that don't cost much, but you step back and go 'why didn't we do that sooner?'

A few weeks ago, Arizona made one such tweak by pulling out a bunch of cords and tuners and setting up what turned out to be a guy-approved sound system. He hooked it to the TV, mounted the TV on the wall, and programmed the universal remote so we could finally divest ourselves of the separate remotes running the TV, cable, DVD player and tuner. Joy!

(As a side note--another thing on our home-buying wish list was 'no close neighbors.' This is a Good Thing now that Arizona has access to a subwoofer.)

But with improvements come new challenges, right? And thus we realized that putting the TV on the wall and putting the subwoofer out offered two new and interesting platforms for cat activity. And, worse, they created this neat stair-step effect out of the components. Cat heaven! Mind you, Arizona didn't exactly help this matter by, when Pixel T. Non-Kitten sat upon the cable box and looked cute, petting her and sweetly telling her she was being naughty. And I soon realized that my usual go-to of the squirty bottle wasn't ideal when we're talking about electronics.

Enter our dual moment of cat-training brilliance ... First, we decided that rather than (or in addition to) saying 'get off the electronics,' we needed to say 'why don't you come over here instead?' So we bought a cat tree. And then, knowing full well that Lucy and Pixel had scorned every store-bought cat toy and scratching post we had ever purchased in favor of wadded-up wax paper and the couch, we performed Reverse Cat Psychology. 

As Arizona built the cat tree yesterday, he kept up a running commentary, telling Pixel and Lucy (who were busy investigating this process) that this was for humans, and the kitties should really stay off it. Which, of course, resulted in this:

And, yes, that's my plotting board sitting next to the kitty tree. By tomorrow, it will be unfolded and covered in pretty colored Post-its, in preparation for starting a new story. Wish me luck!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Recommended reading: Kristan Higgins' WAITING ON YOU

Hey gang! Have I got a book for you, a brand new (in stores Tuesday 3/25) amazingly poignant romance from the amazing Kristan Higgins ... here's the blurb:


Is your first love worth a second chance?

Colleen O’Rourke is in love with love...just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell broke her experience Colleen doesn’t want to have again, thanks. Since then, she’s been happy with a fling here and there, some professional-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who’s ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they’ve got some unfinished business waiting for them— but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she’s ever loved.

You want an excerpt? You got it. Click here

Some awesome praise:

Higgins’s talent shines, as does her inimitable ability to hit romantic highs, make readers laugh and express heart-wrenching emotion.” – Kirkus, starred review

"Waiting On You has everything that Higgins’s fans expect: smoldering sexual tension, messy, hilarious family ties, and laugh-out-loud humor."
New York Journal of Books

"Waiting On You embodies everything fans of contemporary romance are looking for ... Readers will be cheering for Colleen and Lucas through the entire book." Romantic Times

Run, don't walk, and check it out today!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Confession time: I like watching ads

With cable costs up and the money tree refusing to produce on command, Arizona and I are taking a serious look at firing Comcast and using one or more of the streaming services--Netflix, Prime, etc. He thinks it's a great idea, because he hates ads, most of what he watches can be found on, and he dislikes monopolistic companies.

Me, on the other hand? While I agree that it's an expense that rivals our electrical bill (and our whole house is electric), I'm not such a big fan of the switchover idea, for three reasons:

1. I don't want to have to think about what I want to watch all the time. That's why I got rid of Netflix a few years back, when they were still doing the mail-in program. I didn't like having to think about what Arizona and I might want to watch next weekend, or even that same evening. I like being given a handful of choices that are going to be on at set times, and I can either take 'em or leave 'em. Also, I rarely "watch" TV unless it's a new movie or favorite show--most of the time it's background noise while Arizona snoozes and I write. So the last thing I want to do is have to think about the programming!

2. I like being trapped into watching stuff I wouldn't normally bother with. You know the routine--you're tired, brain dead, and/or need to kill an hour, and sit there clicking through the guide, only to find that none of your usual favorites are available. So you pick something that you figure you might not hate ... and it's awesome. Or awesomely horrible, which is sometimes better. Or maybe it's just okay, but hey, you learned a couple of fun facts you didn't know before--about the history of bratwurst, maybe, or the Spanish-American War. See? That's another thing I like about not being tasked with complete control over my TV programming. Sometimes I like just sitting back and saying, "Okay, picture box. Show me something!"

3. I like commercials. There, I said it. Not all of them, mind you. Flo, Maxwell and the gecko could all die in a fiery car crash and I'd be okay with it, especially if Geico paid out promptly on the claim. And most car commercials look the same to me, with the exception of the giant hamsters, which I find baffling. Okay, so in reality, I only like maybe one in twenty commercials, and then only the first few times I see them ... but I really do like seeing them, and knowing what folks are talking about when a new ad comes up in conversation. And I like sniping at the TV when a particularly annoying one comes on. And ... well, I just like commercials. I don't like when they interrupt movies, or when there are fourteen of them in a row, but I do like them as little mini-snippets of stuff. And I would miss them.

So where do we stand on the getting-rid-of-cable debate? I'd say we're in the fact-finding stage. If we could find a service that would stream normal programming but allow us to pick and pay for the channels we actually want, we'd be all over it. Since that doesn't seem to be an option, we'll probably try for a month pretending that we don't have cable, and see what happens. (I predict I won't last long.) Or maybe we'll just keep talking about it and not actually change anything. It happens! 

If you've got any suggestions about your favorite (or least favorite) streaming services, I'd love to hear them! Do you Hulu? Roku? Or ... ? Do you hate cable, love it, or fall somewhere in-between?

Finally, I would like to leave you with two thoughts. 

One, dear Burger King: I like the bass line of your new ad (especially since Arizona just set up his old sound bar and subwoofer, and now the floor shakes), but it's 40% less fat and 30% ****FEWER**** calories. You can count them, so it's fewer, not less. Kthnxbye. 

And two, herding cats:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Top 10 ways I can tell spring is coming to New England

Yep, it's just around the corner! Not that you'd know it, what with waking up to a fresh dusting of snow and all. But still, there are several tried-and-true ways for a New Englander to tell that spring is coming. To whit:

10. The permafrost snow banks in the Home Depot parking lot are a gnarly grayish-brown, and have approximately the sodium content of Progresso soup.

9. When grocery shopping yesterday, Arizona and I bought more fresh veggies than Progresso soup.

8. The horses at the rescue now require the use of shedding blades, which have enough teeth to please the biggest steampunk enthusiast, and pull off huge handfuls of winter coat.

7. I come home from the rescue coated in such hair. The laundry is not amused.

6. Our white car is gray.

5. The stores are out of salt, likely because it has all been distributed to the cars and ugly gray snow lumps at Home Depot.

4. Yesterday, everyone living in our immediate vicinity was at Home Depot at least once.

3. At least half of them bought crocus bulbs.

2. Half of them have no idea what to do with a crocus bulb.


1. Lucy T. Cat has initiated the "I need to go out right now! Ugh, it's cold, let me back in! OMG, I need to go out! Aah, let me back in!" protocol, secure in the knowledge that one of these times when she goes out, the snow will be gone and the chipmunks will be out to play with her.

What are some of your signs?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hunky Marines and cute dogs--count me in!

Already read your copy of WINTER AT MUSTANG RIDGE? Wishing for something awesome to read while you wait for Krista's book, coming out later this year? Well, I've got a recommendation for you!

Here's an itty-bitty excerpt:

Helmand Province, Afghanistan, August
In Afghanistan, the kids threw rocks.
Staff Sergeant Luke Fletcher watched four boys in the street take aim at an oil barrel and counted himself lucky that today, at least, they'd found another target.
He didn't dislike kids. They were sort of cute under the age of five. From a distance. The kids in Iraq used to tag after the Marine patrols hoping for handouts, candy, maybe, or soccer balls or humrats-humanitarian rations.
A stone ricocheted off the metal barrel like a bullet, and twenty-three-year-old Corporal Danny Hill, sweeping the bomb wand at the front of the column, froze.
"Easy," Luke said. "It's just some kids throwing rocks at a . . ."
Shit. At a dog.

The back-cover blurb:

Meet the Fletchers of Dare Island
Steady Matt, the son who stayed
Ambitious Meg, the daughter who never looked back
And warrior Luke, the Marine who never expected to return.

A heartwarming new novel in New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra’s beloved series about family ties, second chances, and the power of love…

Marine Luke Fletcher is determined to do his duty—first to his country and now to his ten-year-old daughter, the unexpected legacy of a high school girlfriend. But his homecoming to Dare Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks challenges his plans for the future and forces him to face everything that's missing in his life. He wasn't prepared to lose his heart to this child he never knew. Or to fall hard for coolly reserved small town lawyer Kate Dolan.

Former military brat Kate knows Marines can make lousy fathers...and she's got the scars to prove it. Giving her heart to a man who's bent on leaving seems one sure way to have it broken.

Now, no matter what it takes, Luke must prove to Kate and to his daughter that Semper Fi is more than a motto—and to himself that there’s more than one way to be a hero.

I can't recommend this author enough!