GHOST CAT OF OCEAN COVE, an Excerpt

Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove is now available for preorder

A ghost cat and a cold case murder turn a septuagenarian’s beach house dream into a nightmare!

Only a few weeks and Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove will be launched! I’m so excited about this story, the first of a new series, but I’ve already started Book 2! Since by now, I’ve shown off the cover and posted the blurb, I figure it’s time for some real content.

First a little backstory:

Septuagenarian Camelia Collins and her cat Blaze move to the Oregon Coast to fulfill a lifelong dream, but that dream becomes a nightmare when Camelia learns she has purchased a murder house. The former resident, reclusive businessman Jonathan Chamber, was brutally killed on the stoop, and the killer is still at large.

What’s more, Camelia discovers an ancient gravestone at the back of her garden belonging to a cat named Soji. Dead long ago, this seventh black kitten of a seventh black kitten now returns in corporeal form. Will her haunting help Camelia solve the murder mystery or send her screaming back to Portland?

As Camelia contemplated her new kitchen cabinets, she heard the lightest of plops—someone hopping up onto the table. She looked around, expecting to see Blaze, but to her surprise, the surface was bare.

Humph, she grunted as she placed items on the shelves. Then she heard the sound once more as the culprit jumped down, a distinct plunk, followed by the click of claws as he made his way across the floor.

“Blaze…” she began, turning to the sound. Though the room was awash with shadows, there were none dark enough to conceal her tuxie boy. The floor was empty of cat.

“Blaze? Is that you?” Her voice seemed to echo, and she paused, noting the hint of a waver.

Then a distinctive meo-rauw resounded from the living room, and in pranced the cat in question.

“Oh, there you are,” she said too loudly as she swept him into her arms. “I was starting to think I was going batty.”

Burying her face in his fur, she breathed a sigh of relief. She massaged his backbone and scratched his sideburns, eliciting a rumbling purr that rose to audible proportions in the quiet of the coming night.

Suddenly the purr cut off mid-rumble, and the big cat tensed. Struggling out of Camelia’s grasp, he gained the floor with one long leap. Ears back and mouth open, he circled like a wildcat. After two full rounds, he stopped, facing the murky corner. Next, he did something Camelia had never seen the gentle feline do before—he arched his long back and began to hiss like a Halloween cat.

Camelia stared without comprehension. “What is it, Blaze? What are you looking at?”

Understandably, he didn’t answer, but the hissing ceased as abruptly as it had begun, and now he just eyed the place with deep suspicion.

Camelia followed his gaze, peering into the gloom but not detecting anything aside from the dark.

The very dark.

Darker than it should be…

Suddenly a shape began to coalesce against the blackness. A wave of vertigo hit Camelia full force, and she grabbed the edge of the table to keep herself from falling. “This can’t be!” she whispered into the gloom. It was impossible! There was no way she could be seeing what was right before her eyes!

A cat made of mist, white and vaporous as smoke yet unquestionably present. Camelia could pick out every hair, every whisker. The almond eyes glowed red, and she gasped in terror. Then the whole thing flip-flopped—the white switched to black and the red eyes to emerald green. All ghostly countenance vanished, resolving into a quite normal-looking black cat.

Blaze sunk into a loaf position, his ears perked forward in interest rather that fear. Camelia watched in morbid fascination to see what would happen next.

The black cat observed the pair with an enigmatic stare, then opened her mouth into a grand yawn which climaxed in a soft—and very real—mew. She gave a slow blink, a love blink, and suddenly Camelia’s terror vanished.

“Soji?” she offered, for who else could it be but the ghost cat of Ocean Cove?

Then, just when Camelia thought she had recovered from the shock of seeing a specter in her kitchen, she got a second surprise.

“Yes,” Soji answered in perfectly understandable English. “It is I.”

Don’t forget the Ghost Cat Contest!

Have you ever seen a Ghost Cat? Tell about your experience, yes or no, in the comment section and win your choice of an ebook or a signed paperback copy of Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove. Drawing to be held at the Ghost Cat Book Launch, Black Cat Appreciation Day, August 17th 2021. Sorry, USA residents only because of shipping costs.

Posted in My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

CYN LEY AND HER “UNPREDICTIBLE” STORIES: INTERVIEW

“You need to have Life to write. It’s the difference between brushing the surface and knowing something in your soul.” 

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing versatile author Cyn Ley. Cyn takes much of her inspiration from the part of the beautiful and peculiar Pacific Northwest that she calls home—and it shows.

 Tell our readers a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in the lower Pacific Northwest nearly all my life and have the webbed toes to prove it. I graduated with a Masters Degree from the University of Portland in History and Political Science, am nationally certified as a college reading and writing tutor and worked in the field for a long while. Beyond that, special interests include folklore, the tales of “wonders” found in medieval histories, cryptids, spirits, faerie, etc. I think aliens were here long before we were and are still hanging around. I love animals both domestic and wild and hope someday to see a Sasquatch. And give it some apples to take home.

Your latest title. 

THE SOLACE is my latest book, having just been published in print and Kindle formats in June 2021. It is a story of misplaced love and of a constant honor, told through characters who cross the realms of the living and spirit. There are no heroes or villains—just people being themselves and doing what they do. Even the most ordinary of lives can bear with it great revelations.

Leah Hampstead is a woman who has been followed all of her life by something she doesn’t understand, an unknown who doesn’t understand why he is so drawn to her. For her, it reads as fear. For him, it is ages of foundering to find the truth and peace.

For readers, as one of my reviewers put it, it is captivating.

Tell us about your writing.

I’ve had mixed genre stories published pretty consistently since 2014, and happily have been receiving excellent reviews from the start to this day. It’s easier to say what I don’t write than what I do—I don’t do romance, fantasy, scifi, westerns, or porn. I hate cliches like the Plague circa 1346. Anything else is fair game. I love paranormal stories and stories which brush the edges of human realities. Stories of the possible made real, of potential become true, are always fun and intriguing to explore. I’m a believer of chaos theory over cliché, so readers are likely to find twists and turns they did not expect in my tales, but I’ve been told by many that they are very satisfying twists and turns.

I worked with an independent publishing house for a few years as an editor and author but broke away two-plus years ago to form my own imprint of Otherland Press. Modern media, resources, and practices have made going independent incredibly approachable and viable, and there is a lot to be said about being your own boss!

Additionally, I am a member of NIWA, the Northwest Independent Writers Association. We partake in book events all over the Northwest year-round and have a very good website—with catalogue and authors—at www.niwawriters.com.

What drives you to write?

My Muse is very good at whacking me upside the head at 2am and ordering, “Write this down!” (Never argue with your Muse. They hit hard.) A lot of times it’s a combo of being hyper-observant and letting all sorts of things build up and link up however they choose. I’ve never been able to write a story from start to finish. I keep piles of notes and let those synthesize into something cool. So it’s not so much being driven as it is accrual and writing it all down once it’s simmered awhile. Even if all it becomes is a Really Good Sentence. The kind that grabs you by the throat and you feel it humming in your toes.

What sort of books did you read as a child?

My parents were avid readers and brought their kids up to do the same. The short answer is everything in sight. In my house, that meant the Classics, Encyclopedia Britannica, every series on wildlife and ancient man you could think of, with a fair measure of astronomy and geology and life sciences thrown in for good measure. We were done with kiddie books by 2nd Grade.

Did a teacher or some other mentor inspire you to write?

I’d actually gotten scared off of creative writing while I was in college. There was always the great 2-part assignment: write a story, then come back and read it to the class in three days. Part 1 was great fun; Part 2 was an occasion for terror! Introverted people don’t fare well in that kind of environment. Despite this, I discovered I was (according to my professors) a very good research writer and teacher. I guess non-fiction isn’t as scary to present!

Eventually I bumped into a friend and author who got me started with flash fiction.  She was a wonderful mentor. Then I moved on to short stories, was amazed to find that publishers liked the work, and the rest is history.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?

I’ve been interested in writing as long as I can remember. It just got put on hold for a few decades, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You need to have Life to write. It’s the difference between brushing the surface and knowing something in your soul.

Do you have a pet, and if so, tell us about them?

I have two—a Bengal cat and an Aussie terrier. My Bengal’s an early generation domestic, which means she’s got something of a wild side and you have to learn to read her, if only for your own safety. She is, however, quite loveable and cuddly, and sings with a beautiful trill. Because her coat is brindle, she is a master at being invisible. Her coat allows her near-perfect camouflage and there are times she can be right in front of me and I won’t see her. She turns greenish in certain light, and no one will ever know the Empress of the Jungle is even there. She is a fabulous mouser too.

My terrier is also. The two of them have teamed up on numerous occasions to hunt critters who have made their way into places where they don’t belong. Tica (“wild cat”) takes lead and Min (“fierce defender”) backs her up and they never fail!

Min’s just plain brilliant. She picks up everything in a heartbeat. She loves everyone and she loves to travel. Her very favorite thing is when we’re out for walks—I drive a mobility scooter instead of a car and will put her on my lap when we’re at the top of a hill. We’ll both hunker down, and I’ll sing “Born to be wiiiiiiiiiiiiild!” as we sear down the slope at a blazing five miles an hour.

I gotta get that dog some goggles.

How can we find your books?

Look for me on amazon.com. My titles are available both in print and Kindle formats. They also put in regular appearances at any event where NIWA has a booth. Please check our webpage for the schedule.

If you want to chat with me in person, I can be found on Facebook under “Author Cyn Ley: Otherland & Beyond.” I’d love to hear from you!

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“TIME BEING” NOW LIVE ON KINDLE VELLA

 

It’s happening!

Kindle Vella is now live! Amazon didn’t give us any forewarning, except to say, “Get ready, ’cause here it comes!” They said that for two months, so now that the time has finally arrived with a note in my inbox this morning, I’m excited and I hope you are too!

TIME BEING, a serialized story by Mollie Hunt

An elderly woman travels through time to significant points in her life, but things are not the same as she remembers them. Joined by a handsome young stranger and her childhood cat, the fate of both past and future lie in her hands.

This story is a departure from my usual style of writing. For example, this is not a cozy, nor is it a mystery. I have enjoyed it immensely and am now working on a second in this series, “Time Again.” But how did I get here from there? Read on.

Everything I know about life I learned from soap operas.

I was an avid soap opera fan for many years. Every noon (or three p.m. when they changed the time) I would sit in front of the television set and watch All My Children. When it was ripped off the air in 2011, I was devastated. But soon after that I realized I could write soaps of my own.

Though I don’t pen soap operas per se, all those years of watching clandestine affairs, fearsome feuds, and parades of glamorous weddings (Erica Kane was married eleven times during the series!*) taught me things such as lust sells, violence sells, and stunning scenery is as important as script. Even soap deaths held a nugget of wisdom for a fiction writer: no one is truly dead until you see the body, and maybe not even then. But one element rose above all the drama, and that was the cliffhanger*. Every single episode ended with at least one.

The story arc of a fiction novel differs from a serialization in that a novel leads up to a distinct end, where soap operas go on forever. Though a book is broken into chapters that hopefully lead the reader on, the reader may be confident that by the time they are finished, the questions will be answered, the mystery solved, the killer caught, the happily ever after attained, or whatever the plot has laid out in the previous pages. So far, my writing career has only included full length books, but that’s about to change.

Enter Kindle Vella.

 Kindle Vella is KDP’s new platform designed specifically for serialized stories. I probably wouldn’t have thought of it myself, but when the opportunity was presented to tell a different sort of story, my curiosity was piqued. My first thought was to take one of those WIPs out of the drawer and revise each chapter as an episode, but I decided against that. Next, I considered that memoir I’ve been wanting to write. I’d already contemplated a few different styles including flash fiction and graphics—an episodic version might be just what I was looking for. But would it be catchy enough to interest readers? When I read a serial, I’m looking for action, imagination, and surprise. Unless I wanted to dig deeper into the sex, drugs, and rock and roll aspects of my life, I doubt people would be interested

Then a new idea hit me.

Where do ideas come from?

In my mind, I began to form a part flight-of-fancy, part drama, part timey-wimey fantasy that I could write from episode to episode in an ever-evolving manner. But before I could begin, I needed an overview to tie it together. From out of that mysterious and beautiful place where plots are born, came my idea:

An old woman

goes back in time

to confront her past…

to change her past…

to change her past and future

She needed a sidekick. And voila, Aron—is he an angel or an alien?

She needed a cat, and in trotted Brie, Sylvan’s childhood puss who turns out to have amazing abilities.

I also needed a title. The story told me its name was, “Time Being.”

1952-That time when Sylvan witnesses her own amazing birth.

2021-That time when she is paralyzed by stroke.

1968-That time when she protests the Kent State shootings.

2000-A new century.

1961-That time when she wakes up in her childhood home.

2030-That time when she sees a future that cannot be explained.

What memories do you think about? What do you wish you could change? How about the future—what do you see there, or would you prefer to be surprised? I don’t know where Time Being will lead, but I’m excited about the journey. The slate is clean and open.

ALL MY CHILDREN – cast shot at the Crystal Ball – 12/8/98 Pictured, back row: Cameron Mathison, Meg Mundy, Vincent Irizarry, Michael Nader, James Kiberd, Marcy Walker, Michael E. Knight; middle row: John Callahan, Paige Rowland, Carolyn Neff, Jill Larson, Esta Terblanche, Robin Mattson, Zen Gesner, Amelia Marshall, Eileen Herlie; bottom row: Cady McClain, Julia Barr, Susan Lucci, Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa, James Mitchell AMC98 (Photo by Ann Limongello/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

*Seven of (Erica’s) marriages to six different men have been valid, while four of her other marriages are invalid. Generally, the number of times Erica has been married is named as ten, though the total of her valid and invalid marriages, plus her 1991 vow renewal with Adam Chandler, would come up to eleven. Erica Kane, Wikipedia

*The word cliffhanger is defined as: an ending to an episode of a serial drama that leaves the audience in suspense. The term “cliffhanger” is considered to have originated with the serialized version of Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes (which was published in Tinsley’s Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873) in which Henry Knight, one of the protagonists, is left hanging off a cliff. —Wikipedia.

 

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HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GHOST CAT? NEW CONTEST, NEW BOOK!

Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove is now available for preorder!

Who’s seen a ghost?

Many people have told me they’ve experienced spiritual interactions with cats that have passed across the Rainbow Bridge. I, myself, had a few such encounters. It may be as subtle as movement in your peripheral vision, or as detailed as a sighting. They may appear in a special dream or come as a touch of fur, a weight on the bed where they used to sleep when alive.

In my new book, Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove, the spirit of a long-dead puss haunts the property of Camelia Collins, a septuagenarian who has just moved to her dream cottage on the Oregon Coast. Soji, a legend in the little town of Ocean Cove, is said to be the seventh kitten of a seventh kitten making her magic. There is even a small room in the Ocean Cove Historical Museum devoted to the big black cat. Though few of the residents really believe she is real, Camelia finds out firsthand that Soji’s spirit does indeed wander. Are her motivations friendly, or will she turn Camelia’s dreamhouse into a nightmare?

Of course, there’s more to the story than the ghost cat. The local sheriff is having an affair with the antiques dealer’s daughter. A nice man Camelia takes as a friend may not be so friendly after all. The rich guy on the hill got his money from bootlegging. There is more to Camelia’s fragile neighbor than meets the eye. A murder was committed on her doorstep and the killer has yet to be found…

Photo by Reba Spike on Unsplash

 Ghost Cat Contest!

Have you ever seen a Ghost Cat? Tell about your experience, yes or no, in the comments and win your choice of an ebook or a signed paperback copy of Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove. Drawing to be held at the Ghost Cat Book Launch, Black Cat Appreciation Day, August 17th 2021. Sorry, USA residents only because of shipping costs.

Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove is the first in my new Tenth Life Cozy Mystery Series. Customers who preorder will receive the content on the release date, 08/17/2021.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0992WH2CL

Posted in Contests, Contests, My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

SELEIA: A CRAZY CAT LADY CHARACTER SPOTLIGHT

 

Crazy Cat Lady Character Spotlights, an ongoing series of flash fiction backstories featuring the cast of the The Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series.

Lynley’s granddaughter Seleia Voxx has finally turned eighteen. Though finishing up her freshman year at Portland State College and heading for an eventual major in astrophysics, the lovely young redhead still manages her job at the Cupcake City Bakery with friendly enthusiasm.

Seleia enjoys a close relationship with her doting grandmother that only improves as she gets older. She even helps Lynley with her sleuthing on occasion, when the danger isn’t too great.

Lynley is quoted as saying on numerable occasions, “Seleia and I are as close as sibling kittens,” and since Lynley is the cat lady, she should know.

Even so, like all teenagers Seleia has a few secrets in her past that her grandmother never found out about…

Photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash

SELEIA

“Oh, man,” Seleia sighed. “This is wrong. So wrong.”

She giggled as she passed the bottle to Marjorie who wiped off the rim with the tail of her blouse and took a swig.

“Yup,” Marjorie belched. “Wrong, wrong, wrong. But fun, right?”

Then both girls laughed out loud.

“Shh!” Marjorie put a warning finger to her lips. “Mom’ll hear us.”

“Oops!” Seleia whispered. “Wouldn’t want that. No way.”

“I’d be in so much shit!” Marjorie proclaimed, pronouncing the four-letter word as if it were new to her. “And she’d tell your mom, ‘n you’d be in shit too.”

“My mom wouldn’t care,” Seleia huffed.

“Aw, come on. You can’t tell me she doesn’t mind if her sixteen-year-old daughter gets shitfaced.”

“Lisa lives in her own world—I doubt she’d even notice. She never notices anything I do.” Seleia gave a dramatic sigh. “Now, my grandmother—that’s a different story. She’d be livid. She’s a recovering alcoholic herself, and she’s always telling me how alcoholism can run in the family. It’s a genetic predis…” She faltered. “A predis…” she tried again without better success. “It’s genetic,” she finally spat instead of attempting to tumble over the word, predisposition, once more.

“Yeah, that’s what they said in health class, but I doubt you’ll become an alky over one little drink.”

Seleia grabbed the bottle and took a long draft, gaging at the acrid taste, yet loving it at the same time.

“Make that two.”

Seleia appears in all the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mysteries, and is specially featured in Cat Call, where she assists her grandmother as a cat handler for a hexed film production that winds up with murder.

 

 

 

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MY FAVORITE PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS

 

Do you know my favorite part of writing a book?

Aside from the initial concept, where my imagination runs wild… Aside from that first flowing sentence… Aside from the last sentence when I finally get to write, The End… Aside from designing the cover—all those pretty colors and cats!… Aside from having my editor and beta reader tell me how much they like it…

My very favorite part of writing a new book is when I download everything to the publisher and order my proof copy.

Tyler checking a proof of Cat Winter. KDP proof copies are designated with a gray band across the cover.

A proof copy is simply a single copy of an unpublished book. For all intents and purposes, the proof copy looks and feels exactly like a real book, and in fact it is a real book. When I receive it in the mail in the next few days, I’ll finally get to see the culmination of the work. The cover art and back blurb on its glossy paper, the formatting and font of the text. I’ll get to hold it in my hand, turn the pages, read as if it were someone else’s book, and I, the intrepid reader.

Then I’ll take up my red pen and begin the real work. By the time I’ve finished with the proof, its pages will be filled with red lines, comments, notes exclamation points, and possibly a few mild curses.

Tinkerbelle oversees the red-pen edit.

One would think that after three drafts with numerous revisions, a read-aloud of a computer-printed copy, a beta reader, and a couple of passes by the editor the book would be perfect. And one would be wrong, at least in my case. There is something about holding a printed book in one’s hand that makes it simple to spot errors—not just typos but continuity, plot holes, and duplications. For the most part though, what I revise has to do with wording. Better words, better story.

Can you guess how many times I revised this blogpost?

 I could go on editing forever, but eventually I have to buckle down and call it done. And to that end:

Ghost Cat from Ocean Cove has a launch date—August 17th, National Black Cat Day 2021! Preorders will be up soon.

 

Posted in My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

CAT PICTURES: A LOOK BACK

My phone is full of them.

So is my computer. Cat photos! I can’t stop taking another and another and another…!

But what about all those I took before?

The ones from years ago? Those cats are no longer with me, but the pictures remind me of every loving one. Let’s take a look.

Big Red

Going all the way back to May 2013, the picture I chose as the banner for this blogsite.

Top: Tinkerbelle – Left: Big Red – Middle: Dirty Harry – Right: Little

November 2013, when I had all four.

~ Dirty Harry ~
1998 – 2014

 

~Lux~

Lux, the 911 Cat, came for a foster visit and stayed in my heart ever since. He now lives in his forever home, but with someone else.

 

~Little~

Little was with me the longest, having been adopted when she was two.

~Oscar~

Oscar is the first cat I’ve needed to return to the shelter. He was a lovely boy but bullied Little mercilessly. He was adopted by someone else as an only cat.

~Blaze~

Blaze my sweet foster success. My fragile boy, gone too soon.

 

The Cats Of Today.

~Tyler~

Then came Tyler. After years on the streets, he’s happy to be safe at home. 

~Ginchan~

Ginchan! Old cats rule!

~Jaimz~

Another Foster success, little hyperthyroid boy.

Tyler, Ginchan, Jaimz

 

Posted in Cats, photography | Tagged | 13 Comments

SHE IS STILL WITH ME

Yesterday. June ninth. My mother’s birthday.

I didn’t celebrate. I didn’t mention it to anybody. I didn’t put it up on Facebook. But she knows I remember. Always remember.

I like to picture her there in Heaven, surrounded by cats and flowers and her family that had gone before. When she died, I dreamed she told me she was cold. With all those cats gathered around her, I know she can’t be cold anymore.

Say her name: Mary Elizabeth Kable Rubin. She is always with me. A photo on the dresser; a journal on the shelf. We were close; memories abound.

Happy Birthday, Mommy.

Posted in Life Through Amber, memoir | 12 Comments

IT WAS THE THIRD OF JUNE…

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day. I was out choppin’ cotton and my brother was balin’ hay…

Today is June third.

I’ve posted before about the enigmatic ballad sung by Bobbie Gentry back in the sixties. It’s been more than 50 years since she produced the haunting song that had a whole generation wondering: What did Billy Joe Macallister really throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge? Half a century later, we still don’t know.

Though speculation ran from flowers to a baby, no one ever got Gentry to commit. In 1976, a film was made based on the song, it’s interpretation including a homosexual theme. Herman Raucher, the screenplay’s writer, asked  Bobbie Gentry about the song:

“I said, ‘You don’t know why he jumped off the bridge?’ She said, ‘I have no idea.’”

What does it mean?

Even more intriguing is the meaning of the song itself. A handwritten page of Gentry’s original lyrics had been found. It began with a verse she never recorded and with the first line crossed out.

Sally Jane Ellison’s been missing since the first week in June. People don’t see Sally Jane in town any more. There’s a lot o’ speculatin’, she’s not actin’ like she did before. Some say she knows more than she’s willin’ to tell. But she stays quiet and a few think it’s just as well. No one really knows what went on up on Choctaw Ridge the day that Billy Jo McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. —University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections

In the published lyrics, Sally Jane became the unnamed female narrator who was only present with Billy Joe throwing something off the bridge. What it means has more to do with the nature of the ballad than the story.

The story itself has many dramatic elements— Billy Joe’s apparent suicide and the bridge-tossing mystery— that its true meaning was lost on the youth of the mid-sixties, as it has been lost ever since.

It doesn’t matter what they threw off the bridge. More ominous than Billy Joe’s suicide, more menacing than the couple throwing something off the bridge, more heartbreaking than the lonely narrator picking flowers up on Choctaw Ridge is the blatant apathy of the family to the tragedies going on around them. The true theme of the song is indifference.

“The song is a first-person narrative that reveals a Southern Gothic tale in its verses by including the dialog of the narrator’s family at dinnertime on the day that “Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Throughout the song, the suicide and other tragedies are contrasted against the banality of everyday routine and polite conversation.” —Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ode_to_Billie_Joe

Published Lyrics:

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton, and my brother was balin’ hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And mama hollered out the back door, y’all, remember to wipe your feet
And then she said, I got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge
Today, Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie BridgeAnd papa said to mama, as he passed around the blackeyed peas
Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense; pass the biscuits, please
There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow
And mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billy Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie BridgeAnd brother said he recollected when he, and Tom, and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
I’ll have another piece-a apple pie; you know, it don’t seem right
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge
And now ya tell me Billie Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie BridgeAnd mama said to me, child, what’s happened to your appetite?
I’ve been cookin’ all morning, and you haven’t touched a single bite
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today
Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin’ off the Tallahatchie BridgeA year has come and gone since we heard the news ’bout Billy Joe
And brother married Becky Thompson; they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going ’round; papa caught it, and he died last spring
And now mama doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Bobbie Gentry

Ode to Billie Joe lyrics © Spirit Music Group

In this photograph from the November 10, 1967 issue of Life magazine, Bobbie Gentry strolls across the Tallahatchie Bridge in Money, Mississippi. The bridge collapsed in June 1972.

Posted in Death & Dying, Health, Wellness, Lifestyle, Life Through Amber | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

HOW WE GRIEVE

For Bear, Roman, Gracie, and all the others, gone too soon.

It is in our nature as humans to dismiss death until it stands up and hits us in the face. Yet there is no escaping it. These past few weeks have brought such an end to three beloved cats who held unique places in their humans’ lives. A blogger, a friend, and a family member—their stories are different, but the end result is the same. They are bereft, overcome with grief and loss.

So what now? What do we do when we wake up in the morning and go to bed at night with our hearts aching for that one special cat who is no longer purring beside us? There is no getting around the hurt. There is no replacing the one who has gone. We are left to deal with a new, smaller life. But how?

Create something. Make something in memorial to your cat. I crochet. Sometimes it’s just a square, and others, it turns into a complete memorial blanket in the colors of the cat. Black, blue, brown, and silver for my beloved Tinkerbelle; Yellow and rust red for Big Red. Each time I warm myself under that blanket, I think of them.

A painting or coloring project, a collage or photographic tribute such as a cup or plate, a poem or story—these are just a few of the creative options for tangibly expressing our love and loss.

Positive impact: Doing creative projects utilizes a different part of the brain, allowing a healthy, healing flow of energy that helps us to let go.

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

Meditate: Meditation can be as simple as concentrating on one’s breaths, or as complex as creating a setting and a ritual to carry it out. Making a place dedicated to our cat can be helpful. A candle, a vase of catnip, a favorite toy, a collar—anything that focuses our love on positive memories, the ones before the pain.

Positive impact: Meditation and controlled breathing are proven to be beneficial to both body and mind.

Physical activity: Run, walk, dance, work in the garden—whatever our personal favorite exercise might be. It should be something we love and don’t view as a chore. Nothing can diminish our grief, but the more energy we expend physically, the more that grief becomes right-sized.

Positive impact: The action of exercise works to unlock us, not just in a physical sense, but mentally as well. Doing something we love makes it even more beneficial.

Two beautiful products from independent artists.

Whisker Tributes, by Volana Kote

Handmade custom jewelry from real fallen whiskers. All designs can be customized with your own pet’s whiskers, too! ^..^

In the sick days before Blaze crossed Beyond, he was confined to his bed. One day I found a single white whisker that he had dropped there. I’d heard of Volana Kote and the beautiful jewelry she made using cat whiskers, so I looked her up. I was so disappointed when I read that she needed three to four whiskers to make a pendant—I only had the one. But I didn’t give up. I contacted her and told her my story. She was happy to oblige and helped me pick a pendant that would work.  She offers many sizes and background colors, and her work is both unique and understatedly stunning.

Memorial Votive, by Bernadette

Custom Pet Memorial Votives using images you provide. During the day your votive captures ambient light even without the candle, but in the evening, when the candle is lit, the flickering light through your pet’s face in a darkened area is warm and intimate.

I have not yet purchased one of these votives, but I know Bernadette’s work as she is a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association. She consistently wins awards for her art, and her work with cat rescue is a reward in itself.

*I received no compensations from either Volana Kote or Bernadette for including their products in my blogpost.

To all of you who have ever lost a cat (or other beloved companion) I grieve with you. However we choose to express our grief is up to us. There is no wrong way as long as we do it with love.

Posted in Cats, Death & Dying, Health, Wellness, Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments