SEP
11

Remembering Homer on 9/11

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Probably no part of Homer's Odyssey has provoked more outraged response (yes, there are readers out there who were outraged--outraged!--by Homer's Odyssey) than the chapters dealing with 9/11 and my attempts to rescue my three cats who were trapped in my apartment mere blocks from Ground Zero.  I have been called "selfish," "utterly self-absorbed," "eerie," and just plain "stupid" for thinking about my cats on a day when so many human lives were lost.

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455 Hits
AUG
25

Homer

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If you’ve come here from Homer’s Facebook page, then you already know this is the blog post I’ve dreaded writing since I first started this blog four years ago. And yet, ultimately I’m here not to mourn a loss, but rather to celebrate a life lived in full—a life that was lived beyond what even I could ever have imagined for him.

He was the kitten nobody wanted. After years of love and ardent admiration from those who knew him best, after tens of thousands of fan letters and gifts from those who loved him through his book, and millions of readers in more than 22 languages and countries all over the world, it’s hard to believe that this was how he came to me—because dozens of other people who’d had the chance to adopt him turned him down. It was unquestionably my great good fortune that none of them thought it was even worth meeting him. Fate may have taken Homer’s eyes, but he had my heart from the moment I first held him as a tiny kitten in a box in my vet’s office, 16 years ago.

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7993 Hits
OCT
29

A Port in the Storm: The Cooper-Lermans Prepare for Sandy

Those of you who remember my detailed and exhaustive preparations for Irene last year--or who've just come to get a sense of my general personality ;-) --know that when I say I like to prepare for a major storm, what I really mean is I like to over-prepare.  Well, I lived through Andrew back in '92 and September 11th back in 2001, so I've learned to appreciate what the Boy Scouts have been saying all along.

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297 Hits
SEP
25

A General Update on the Cooper-Lermans

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Fanny helping me clean out my closets

I have to start out by thanking you all for the overwhelming support I received after posting about my recent struggles with asthma.  I received so much great advice and insight from you--much of which I have already put into practice (more on that in a moment)--but most valuable of all was hearing how many of you have gone (successfully!) through similar struggles and what you've done to get the best of them.  Talk about inspirational!  Please know that I do read every single comment on this blog, even if I don't get to respond to them individually.  I don't know that I deserve all the unconditional support I get here, but I do strive to be worthy of it.  :-)

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411 Hits
MAY
01

Our Help is Needed...

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Naoto Matsumura lives in Tomioka, Japan.  He is the only person living in Tomioka, Japan.  Once home to over 16,000 people, the city has been closed down by the government due to radiation dangers from the TEPCO Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the wake of last year's tsunami.

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314 Hits
APR
26

A New Furiend for Homer, Take Two

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Actually, two new furiends! ;-)

As I mentioned about a month ago, I've been considering the possibility of a kitten or two to add to our family.  My hope was that a kitten wouldn't be as put off by Homer's unusual face as an adult cat might be, and that two kittens together would give Homer some outlet for all that playfulness he still has at 15 (!!!) while also having each other for those times when Homer's energy level isn't quite as high as a kitten's.  I also hoped I would be able to find a "special needs" kitten who might not be considered as adoptable as other kittens, and who would benefit from the devoted level of cat worship we're prepared to shower on pretty much any feline that crosses our doorstep.

As anybody who's ever rescued a cat knows, when it comes to cat rescue--ask and ye shall receive!

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377 Hits
DEC
22

Saying Good-Bye

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Today Laurence and I are going up to Fort Tryon Park to scatter Scarlett's ashes.  Those of you familiar with Manhattan geography may know it as the spot far uptown that is also home to The Cloisters.  It's a beautiful spot--maybe the most beautiful in Manhattan, at least in my opinion--and also where we scattered Vashti's ashes last year.  Laurence and I like the idea of them being together again, and think it's the right place for our two beautiful girls.

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467 Hits
DEC
08

An Update and Some Thank-Yous

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I always say that the greatest thing about writing Homer's Odyssey is having gotten to meet so many of the utterly amazing humans who love animals.  Thank you--from the bottom of my heart--to all those who've taken the time to comment, email, send cards and letters, and generally offer their moral support.  A great deal of your practical advice and suggestions have been useful, but the most useful thing of all is knowing how many sympathetic ears I have right now.  As we all know, not everybody in your life--even people who genuinely care about you--really "get" how difficult a pet's illness can be for you.  This is true even when you've written a bestselling memoir about your pets.  ;-)

To those of you who asked, we do have Scarlett in a soft cone.  Initially the vet sent her home with one of the hard plastic ones, but I swapped that out within a couple of days.  The soft cone is certainly more "livable," although Miss Scarlett still doesn't care for it very much.

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403 Hits
JUN
01

Did Someone Order a Kitty with a Side of Newspapers?

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Homer this morning, having found the perfect "Homer-sized" place to curl up for a nap...

290 Hits
MAR
04

Putting the "Crazy" in Crazy Cat Lady

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

Those of you who've ever brought home a cat with stitches and been given the strict instructions not to let the cat jump on any furniture for 7 to 10 days probably already know where this is going...

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300 Hits
MAR
03

Scarlett

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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!

402 Hits
FEB
28

Record-A-Thon Benefiting Blind Children

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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).

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281 Hits
SEP
29

Chasing the Dragon...

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Scarlett begging ENDLESSLY for Pounce treats!

Poor Scarlett!  The time has finally come when Laurence and I had to make the decision that Scarlett's endless need for Pounce treats is beyond her control, and that it's time for her to submit herself to her higher power (in this case, the two of us) to try to overcome her Pounce addiction.

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305 Hits
SEP
28

A Teachable Moment

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Okay, look--I see negative reader reviews of the book all the time.  And while they're never exactly fun to read, I'm astute enough to realize that they're an inevitability (any book that gets published is going to be disliked by somebody).  They certainly don't make me angry.  To the extent that I notice them at all, what they mostly do is serve to remind me how uncommonly fortunate I've been that the overwhelming majority of reader reviews I see are so very positive.  And then I'm happy again.  :-D

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286 Hits
AUG
29

Vashti

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This morning, Laurence and I made the very difficult decision to put Vashti to sleep.  Without dwelling on morbid details, I'll just say that the past few days have been very bad.  It was time.  We were both with her in the vet's office until the end.  It is a credit to both Vashti and the medical team that's been caring for her that there wasn't a single dry eye among the staff.

Vashti was 14 years old.

I've been trying to think what I would write about her that I haven't written already.  This time, though, I think Laurence put it best.  "The eternal feminine," he said.  "That's what Vashti will always be to me."

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395 Hits
JUL
22

Vashti

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I brought Vashti to the hospital this morning, where she will remain at least overnight, and possibly for the next few days.  We're just not sure about anything at this point.

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289 Hits
JUL
21

A Looooong Night

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Vashti had a very bad night last night.  Her new blood-pressure medication is not agreeing with her stomach or GI tractat all, and...well, let's just say that neither of us got much sleep last night.

The worst of it seems to be over.  Vashti's clearly feeling a lot better, I've cleaned her up, and I've already spoken with the vet about changing her meds.  In the meantime, Vashti has been pretty insistent today (in her own gentle way) about my lying on the bed in our guest bedroom/home office so she can snooze on top of me.  Which--given how exhausted I am right this minute--is just fine by me!  ;-)

242 Hits
JUN
15

Ellis and Morgan Updates!

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It's great to be back online!  And it's even better to have an update from Morgan and Ellis's new mom.

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216 Hits
MAY
29

A Teachable Moment

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Today I received what was officially my first negative email from a reader.  "It was inevitable," is one of my husband's favorite expressions, and it probably applies here.

Anyway, this particular reader was quite upset.  It seems that he bought my book on Amazon, but had actually intended to buy "The Odyssey" by Homer.  The letter essentially accused me of: setting up an elaborate con to trick readers into thinking my book is "The Odyssey;" plagiarizing the poet Homer by stealing his title and (this especially upset the letter-writer) brazenly using (attributed) quotes from "The Odyssey" to precede each chapter of my book; and all in all writing a bleeping bleep book about a bleeping cat that bleeped bleep and wasn't fit for the letter writer to bleep his bleep with.


It ended by expressing the apparently sincere hope that both I and my bleeping cat would die soon and spend eternity rotting in hell.  This last part is a direct quote that I am not embellishing.

Ahem.

Well, I have a general life policy that goes something like this: It never pays to pick a fight with anyone who's crazier than you are.  So I promptly deleted the email and planned to be done with the whole bleeping thing.

But it occurs to me that what I actually have here is what some might call "a teachable moment."  Yes, it's true that, technically speaking, the book the reader intended to buy wasn't "Homer's Odyssey," but "The Odyssey" by Homer.  It's also true that Amazon undoubtedly would have cheerfully exchanged the item for him had he contacted customer service when he discovered his error.  That may be my best defense, but responding thusly feels very much like begging the question.

So, because I like to be service-y, and because I have every desire to save my immortal soul from the fiery pits of hell (not to mention Homer's kitty soul!), I thought that this might be a good opportunity to enumerate for other hapless Amazon consumers the ways to discern that my book, "Homer's Odyssey" is about a cat named Homer, and is not "The Odyssey" by Homer, which features no cats, although there is a pretty awesome small scene with a dog.

Ways to Tell on Amazon That "Homer's Odyssey" is About a Cat, And is by Gwen Cooper, And is Not "The Odyssey" by Homer the Greek Poet:

1. At the top of my book's Amazon page, it clearly states: "Author: Gwen Cooper."

2. The subtitle of my book is "A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat."  "Feline" means "cat."  "Cat" also means "cat."

3. On the cover of my book is a large and prominent picture of a cat.

4. Directly below the book cover is an Amazon video of me, Gwen Cooper, talking about and interacting with Homer, my cat.

5. Below that is a box that says "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Purchased..."  It is followed by a list of five other books about cats.

6. Following that is a clearly labeled and bolded heading that reads: Product Description. In three paragraphs, it describes a book about a cat.

7. Following that is a personal essay I wrote exclusively for Amazon, in which I describe my experience living with a cat and writing a book about said cat.  It is accompanied by a photo of me with my cat (Homer!  He looks so cute there!).

8. After the essay and the book's publisher/ISBN number info is a list of "Tags Customers Associate With This Product."  The most frequently checked tag is "cats."  Other tags include "blind cats," "pets," "animal rescue," and "SPCA."

9. Following the tags are 137 customer reviews, many of which feature headings like, "Not Just Another Cat Book," "Beautiful Story About a Beautiful Cat," and "Enjoyable Read For Cat Lovers."

10. And, at the very bottom of the page is the list of Discussions in Related Forums, with subject headings such as "cats," "Wellness Food for cats," etc.

If my letter writer is reading this blog, I think the question you should probably be asking yourself right now is "How did I misread those signs???"

;-)

Truth be told, the level of vitriol in the email was a bit disturbing.  But if one can't laugh about such things, how can one get through life?

As a reward of sorts for those of you patient and good-humored enough to read this thing all the way to the end, here's a "family portrait" of Laurence, Homer, and me, enjoying a very summery Memorial Day Weekend Saturday:

From my family to yours, have a "paw-some" holiday weekend!!!

208 Hits
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