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Gwen and Laurence with Melanie Paradise

As (most of) you know, Laurence and I headed to Knoxville last week to visit Melanie Paradise, who won this year's "Win a Visit From Gwen Cooper" contest.  Melanie, in addition to taking on hosting duties, also arranged a reception and reading/book discussion at Pelissippi State Community College, where she works.  Truly, she and her partner, Sarah, were such delightful hosts that Laurence and I felt we'd made new friends.  It was hard to leave!

Happy Friday, everybody!  I've been back from Knoxville since Sunday, but some technical problems with my website kept me from posting until this morning.  I'll put up some photos from the trip, and a general update on how everybody's doing, over the weekend.  (Scarlett's stitches came out beautifully and she's VERY pleased to have finally lost that dratted cone!).

Tomorrow I fly to Knoxville, Tennessee to do a reading/book signing at Pelissippi State Community College and visit reader Melanie Paradise, who won last year's "Win a Visit From Gwen Cooper" contest (first prize: 3 days with Gwen Cooper; second prize: 6 days with Gwen Cooper!  ;-p  That's my little joke).

For those of you looking for ways to contribute to disaster relief efforts in Japan, I recommend the following organization:

The Search Dog Foundation is a US organization that rescues dogs from shelters and pairs them up with firefighters to train them for search-and-rescue missions.  They're deploying teams to Japan now.  Your donation will both assist survivors in Japan in the short term, and also help to give many wonderful dogs here in the States a "second chance" in life in the long term.

As you can see, the grand experiment into finding creative ways to keep Scarlett off the furniture didn't last very long.  The second (and I mean the very second) my back was turned, Scarlett found her way onto our bed.  I can understand how, at a deep and instinctive level, an injured animal would feel particularly vulnerable on the ground.  Scarlett has made it clear that she doesn't intend to sleep on the floor if it's at all avoidable.  So, rather than dismantle our apartment in such a way as to make all the furniture inaccessible, we've decided to build Scarlett little "staircases" made from chairs and boxes that help her get onto the couch and the bed.

She seems much happier this way!

This is what happens when you let the cat make decorating decisions...

The good news is that Scarlett came through the surgery with no complications.  I'll be able to pick her up in a half hour or so.  I'm going to stay with her in the guest for at least a few days.  She's going to be in some pain, and isn't supposed to jump on anything, and will probably appreciate some time by herself--and since I spend most of the day in the guest bedroom writing anyway (it's also my home office), I think it makes the most sense.  Laurence and Homer can have a boys' cabin in the main bedroom for a little while.

I just dropped Scarlett off for her surgery (as a side note, it has NOT been fun this morning dealing with two cranky cats who haven't eaten since midnight last night!).  Thank you so much to everybody for keeping us in your thoughts.  I'll post something later tonight/early tomorrow, once I've got her back home!
Even a blind kitty enjoys a good book!

I am very pleased and proud to say that I've been invited to participate in this year's Record-A-Thon benefiting Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic.  On Thursday I'm going to the organization's New York studio to record an hour-and-a-half of Homer's Odyssey (the book will also be read by other volunteers and recorded in its entirety).

Scarlett and I went to the vet today.  The good news is that her diabetes has been greatly stabilized.  The bad news is that the small tumor on her hind leg that we decided to leave be until her diabetes was under control (the risk of complications/infection from surgery is just so much higher when the patient is diabetic) has grown to roughly the size of a golf ball over the past week or so.  Maybe it was growing all along and I just didn't realize it because I was checking it every day and couldn't see the subtle differences ju?  (If only this whole thing could just  be my fault, then I could stop doing whatever I was doing wrong and Scarlett would be okay again.  Sigh.)

Work continues apace on my next book, a novel titled Love Saves the Day.  The book's main narrator will be a cat named Prudence, who is very much based on Scarlett--a curmudgeon, in other words, but one with a heart of gold buried under all that gruffness.  It has long been my belief that Scarlett spends most of her time judging the rest of us (and finding us lacking), so it's been a lot of fun imagining what her opinions on everything might sound like if she could put them into words.

My muse

D'oh!!! Homer hides his head in shame...

Hey, guys!  Some of you may have noticed that our Twitter account has been suspended.  I'm trying to get to the bottom of things and figure out why this happened (maybe our account was compromised in some way?  but there's been no unusual activity...).  It should be back up in a day or two, but in the meantime you can continue to keep up with us on Facebook and here on my blog.

Media coverage about the plight of animals caught up in Egypt's turmoil continues to grow!  Time magazine published an article on their website last night.  Here's the link:,8599,2048792,00.html

Many, many thanks to all of you who are making donations and helping to spread the word--we really are making a difference! :-D

Happy Friday, everybody!  Just wanted to post a quick update on our efforts to help the animals of Egypt.

First, MANY thanks to everybody who has made a donation to ESMA and/or helped spread the word about what's going on.  I can't begin to tell you what a tremendous difference you're making.  I've been working furiously to continue to get more information out there and to line up homes here in the US with shelters (I've been getting a great response so far--more on that early next week).

A kitten in Egypt threatened by the current violence

I’m assuming that everybody reading this knows something of the current chaos reigning in Egypt, so I won’t rehash it here.  As you may have guessed, the situation is becoming desperate for Egypt’s animal population and the humans who rescue them.

So, despite the foot of wet, soggy, sticky snow on the ground here in NYC, I have to trudge all the way down to the very bowels of Manhattan for my second day of jury duty.  Honestly, I'm feeling like such a martyr right now that somebody ought to slap me for my own good.  ;-)

Before I disappear into jurors' purgatory, I wanted to post two quick updates:

I wish I were Scarlett right now...

I'm going to be spending the next three days in a Manhattan courthouse--not as a defendant (you'll be relieved to know) but sitting in a pool of eligible jurors who may or not be picked for a jury.  This is my third time serving jury duty in New York in the ten years that I've lived here--and, honestly, are there no other eligible jurors in New York??? 

Homer threatened to move out if I didn't update my blog soon. Here he is getting ready!

For reasons that I'm sure make sense to her, Scarlett has decided to ring in the new year by stockpiling as many of Homer's toys as she can find in this box that she's staked out as her own personal cave.  I still haven't decided if she just likes sleeping on them, or if she's trying to be a mean big sister and hide all of Homer's toys from him.  Knowing Scarlett, probably a little of both.  ;-)

Hooray!  Reader Lisa Kranick, an experienced cat rescuer, is going to give Sugar a "fur-ever" home.  Many, many thanks to all of you for helping to spread the word and for all of your wonderful suggestions as to local shelters that might be willing to take him if a home couldn't be found.

What a wonderful way to end the year.  Happy New Year to you all!!!  :-D