Fri…er, Monday Cat Blogging

July 3, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

The Dread Catpirate Dora is here for your SOULS!*

Holy hell, that’s terrifying!

Nah, it’s just my sister.

Your sister is a bit…alarming.

I can take her.

*With thanks to Kim, Jonny, and Neil for spare cats.

Friday Cat Blogging

June 23, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

Nothin’. No reason. Why do you ask?

Why does that response make me suspicious?

Because you’re not a trusting soul, like my friend here, that’s why.

You do realize your friend is concrete, right?

That would explain soooo much!

Said the cat in the bathtub. You house cats are super weird.


Friday Cat Blogging (+Cat Cafe)

June 16, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

I suppose you’re wondering why I called you all here today.

Nope, I was wondering if that green stuffs out der is catnip

Hmm your wonders is relevant to my interests, be right over. *

I was wondering if I could kill you with my mind!*

I was wondering about quantum entanglement and string theory.*

I was wondering about why dis cat friend is not very comfy.

*Extra guest cats supplied by Menomonie’s new cat cafe Tabby’s.

Rita the rolly-polly, Primrose of the lawn, & Sherman McSnugglemuffin.

Friday Cat Blogging Farewell to Ash Part 2

June 3, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, In memorium, Laura McCullough, Pets and other friends

Laura’s tribute to our much missed Ash plus more pictures below.

Ashbless, my gray girl

Ashbless was the last of our kitty quartet. We had had all four since 2003 or so. When we got her she was a tiny gray cat, and she came home in the same carrier as Nutmeg. Ash never liked to be held, but over her years with us she learned to live with it. She was our writher, flopping down next to a person and rolling about in abandon. Couches were her places. Downstairs she had her preferred couch, but any person on any couch MUST be sitting there to pet her. Upstairs she had her place between Kelly and me on the TV couch. She could get pets from both of us there. Sitting on people wasn’t her thing; she always preferred to be next to someone.

She was the one who got to clean out my cereal bowl every morning. Dairy milk was best, but she accepted soy milk and almond milk. Cashew milk made her turn away. She also got to clean out my other bowls and plates. Never had any food issues, never was trouble.

Ashbless was the lowest cat in rank, beaten up by everyone else. Whenever a rare cat fight broke out, she ran TOWARDS the altercation, because this was her only chance to get in a few hits. She’d swat someone a few times then run away. We built her a little shelf so she could eat up away from the other cats. If there was anyone near, she would insist on getting pets before eating—a sort of petting jump-start. Each morning she would stand on the ledge next to me as I brushed my teeth, asking for pets before eating.

Her face was beautiful, hinting at Russian Blue heritage. Her ears were enormous; I called them her big bat ears. She had prominent fangs until she strangely ejected them—some cats do this though why is a mystery. Until she lost her fangs, she was our best hunter. Bats, mice, moths. One time a bat was flying around in circles in the media room and the other cats were popping up and down like popcorn trying to get it. She simply climbed the cat tower, watched as the bat circled twice, leaped, grabbed it, broke its neck, landed. Then she gave the other cats a look as though to say “you guys are an embarrassment!”

My gray girl had resting anxious face. She always looked nervous, even when writhing in happiness. She had pink jellybean toes and a little pink spot on her gray nose. She loved belly rubs and after not too much petting she would get over-stimulated and start writhing even more, sometimes with a poofy tail. Her sleeping positions were adorable, either curled into a ball or with some legs straight out as if diving. Most of our pictures of her show her on her side on a couch.

Her last twelve hours were very hard. About 9 pm we realized we hadn’t seen her in a while. We searched the house thoroughly, finally locating her in the far corner under the guest bed. I called to her, and she stumbled towards me. When she came out from the bed, she could barely walk or hold herself up. She also could no longer see. An after-hours vet visit meant she got some steroids, which can sometimes help in the case of a stroke.

We brought her home to see how the steroids would do, but she was very upset. If we weren’t touching her, she would freak out and try to run. She ran into a few doors and walls before we figured out we had to keep touching her. So I spent the night on a few cushions, with her curled up in a warm down blanket next to me. Kelly piled pillows against every corner or hard edge in the room. I kept one or the other hand on her all night. When she tried to move, I would either restrain her or help her stand. But she would always fall over again. She ate a little come morning, and drank a little. But there was no real improvement and it was time to let her go.

Having lost two cats quickly and two slowly (all in 19 months) Kelly and I agree it’s easier to lose them quickly. But it’s very hard even so.
I miss her when I sit on the couch upstairs. I miss her when I finish a bowl of food and set it down. When I see her special feeding ledge. When I see a dark kitty walk past me and it’s not her. I miss her when I brush my teeth in the morning. I miss her when I tidy up her couch. Oh, how I miss her.

Fresh from finishing Laura’s cereal milk.
I love this shot of Ash and Isabelle sharing the cat chair.
Is MY sock, MINE!
I think I tied my legs in a knot, a little help here?
The kind of concentration only a chipmunk can generate.
This is such a perfect cat’s cat shot. All poise and dignity.
Not that she couldn’t be undignified.
I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine.
On her favorite chair on the porch with all the pink jellybean toes.
On her couch looking perfectly poised in front of her kitty quilt.
As the only one of our cats spry enough to there quickly she he loved the
counter and the opportunities it brough to spend time with her people.
She delighted in eating cobwebs even if they did muss her whiskers.
She never did learn to operate the remote.
More pink jellybean toes.
I love the way the sun lights her eyes here. She was so beatiful.
Here she is with Laura’s glasses and a bit of resting anxious face.
More anxious face, though I don’t have a picture of her at her most concerned.
She loved the spot on the media room couch lying between us.
She was highly tolerant of the occasional visitor.
She never really got the hang of the cat pod, though it matched her fur.
Here she is claiming an extension cord for her very own.
And again on the couch between us.
In her last months she came to love the heated cat bed.
This is the face of cat who totally didn’t lick that powdered doughnut.

And I’ll end with Ash and  her favorite person in the whole world.


Friday Cat Blogging Farewell to Ash Part 1

May 26, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, In memorium, Pets and other friends

I still don’t really have the heart for this post, but if I waited until I stopped hurting it would never get done. On May 12 we lost our beloved Ashbless kitty, better know as Ash or our gray beauty. She was mostly Russian Blue, though, like all our rescue kitties, a bit of a mutt and a mystery. She adored people and was a favorite with visitors as she was born without the aloof gene and would treat anyone who sat down on one of our couches as her very own personal thumb-monkey. She had resting anxious face, and everyone always wanted to make her feel better. When we first got her she didn’t like to be picked up or to sit on a person, but in the last year of her life she became a regular part of my catvest, going so far as to sleep on my chest for long periods. We loved her completely and miss her so much. I’m sure Laura will have more to say on that when her heart is a bit less broken.

This our first picture of her from 15 years ago.

Here she is with our beloved Meglet.

They came into our house together and they are both gone now.

Here she is on HER couch. Anyone who sat there belonged to her.

In her younger days she was an amazing hunter of bats and mice, but it

got harder when she lost her fangs. Here she is one fanged.

She could be amazingly beautiful and dignified.

She could also be quite tolerant. That’s totally not the expression of a cat

plotting to murder anyone.

Here she is on her favorite of Laura’s sweaters. She adored it so much

that Laura eventually gave it to her for her very own.

On cold winter mornings she was always part of the radiator gang.

They’re all gone now and it’s so hard.

Quick, throw in the all time goofiest Ash shot to turn tears to laughter!

Derposaurus Ashblessus.

Pretty sure I should follow that with her plotting her revenge for it.

“But, what makes you think I’m a revenge-minded kitty?”

She did a great sleeping dragon pose.

She could be clingy.

She spent some years as a professional dream high diver.

We built her this shelf so she could have her own food bowl up high.

The other cats picked on her sometimes and we wanted her to feel safe.

I miss this face so much.

Did I mention tolerant?

When you gave her really good skritches she went all poofy-tailed.

I was okay in a pinch but Laura was HER person.

“Can I really have this mousie for my very own?”

Another shot of our girls together as they so often were.

I’ll close with this. She could be mysterious.

But she was always reaching for the sun.



Friday Cat Blogging Lost Another and I’m Out Of Cope

May 12, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

We lost our cat Ashbless this morning. She was a dear sweet thing who never caused us any trouble and I’m devastated. I will post a longer remembrance and a photo tribute when I’m feeling human again, but that could be a while. We’ve lost 4 beloved cats in 19 months and I am completely out of cope. This is the most recent picture I have of her on my laptop.

Friday Cat Blogging

May 6, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

I’m the queen of the world!

I’m a huge manatee!*

I’m trapped on a monkey, helllllllp!

I’m indifferent to your plight.

Not as indifferent as I am. zzzzzzzzzzz

I am also SUPER dignified!


*With thanks to Daisy and Andy and Neil for extra cats.


Friday Cat Blogging

April 29, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

Is this where you apply for the cat blog?

Has anyone mentioned to you that you’re not a cat?

Sure I am, look at my shadow.

Can’t. Eyes closed. Sleeping.

But I do really good cat shadow.

Shadow or not, I am skeptical.*

With huge thanks to Shari Emerson, who did this amazing rendition of Dragon’s Cat as part of the not so secret Dragon Diaries project.

Friday Cat Blogging

April 14, 2017 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

I comfortable. Really.

You don’t look comfortable. Dis look comfortable.

Dat look stupid.

Yeah have bad taste, unlike me. I taste great!

You wound me, sir and madam, you wound me.



Michael Levy, an Appreciation and a Farewell

April 4, 2017 in About Kelly, Pets and other friends, Politics/Public Service, Publishing

Michael Levy, one of best men it has ever been my pleasure to know, has left the world. He was a friend, a mentor, and something halfway between a brother and father to me and to Laura.

I first met Mike in 2000, the year my wife, Laura, took her current position as a professor in the physics department at UW-Stout. The then director of research services heard that Laura’s husband was a science fiction writer and immediately thought of Mike’s work as a reviewer and scholar of science fiction. Introductions were made, and we soon became friends with Mike and his wife, Sandy. Over the following seventeen years that relationship has deepened into a connection that is as much family as it is friendship.

Mike was brilliant, giving, gentle, kind, and possessed of a bottomless and quirky sense of humor that meshed with mine in a delightfully odd sort of way. I think that the laughter we so often shared is what I will miss the most about him. We shared many meals, we played games together, and critiqued each other’s writing. We shared good times and bad and we were always there for each other. But most of all, we laughed together every time we were in the same room, even in darker moments. It hurts my heart so very much to know that we will never share another joke or quip.

Other people will talk about Mike’s many important contributions to the field of speculative fiction and they will do a better a job of it than I could, but I do want to talk a little about how his work affected mine, because my writing is at the center of who I am and Mike deeply affected my writing. One of the first things that Mike did after we met was ask to see my most recent book, though I was at that point still barely published with only a couple of short story sales to my name. It was a contemporary fantasy with the working title Winter of Discontent and I had finished the book within the last few weeks. It was steeped in theater and set in a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Of everything I have ever written it was far and away the most literary. Handing it to a man who was not only a speculative fiction reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly, but also an English professor was more than a bit intimidating, especially when we had only just met, but I swallowed hard and handed it over.

When Mike finished the book we got together in his office for a chat about it. Scary stuff for an unpublished novelist. I’m not sure what I expected to hear. I was proud of the book, certainly, but not at all sure I had pulled off even half of what I intended. I cannot begin to express how validating it was to hear him say that not only was it good work, it was important work. He thought it had the potential to be a big book. Not necessarily in terms of sales, but in stature. That conversation is one of the things that kept me writing in the years between 2000 and selling my first novel in 2005. Sadly, Winter of Discontent has never been published, though it has come very close several times. It is out on submission again now, after sitting in a trunk for most of a decade followed by a recent rewrite. When it sells, I will owe a huge debt for any successes it has to Mike.

Though he never got the chance to formally review Winter of Discontent, Mike did review several of my other books and was a champion of my work, taking me more seriously as a writer and an artist than I often do myself. For the last decade when Mike taught his yearly science fiction course, one of the assigned books was always my WebMage. Every time he taught it he would invite me in to speak with his class about the work, which was always a pleasure. Now, I think of myself as a commercial writer first and foremost and that is how I generally talk about my work at places like Mike’s class. But it’s not something he was ever willing to let pass unchallenged. When he spoke about my work he would argue for me having a great passion for politics and ethics in my writing, a tendency to slip deeper topics into light books, and even my literary merit. He always took my work more seriously than I do, and believed in it in ways that I am not generally willing to. My gratitude for that is boundless.

Mike was an academic mentor to Laura as well, helping her negotiate the academic politics specific to Stout, the challenges of being a department chair, the world of academic publishing, and so much more. He made us better, stronger, happier people, and we are not alone in that. Over the last few weeks we have heard similar stories from many of his friends. Wherever he went, he helped people to achieve their dreams and be their best selves. His absence is going to take a bright light out of our world. He was endlessly generous with his time, his insights, and his love. He was a great mentor and a great teacher and he made a huge difference in the lives of his friends, his colleagues, his many proteges, his students and the whole world of speculative fiction. He was taken from us both too soon and too young and Laura and I will miss him as long as we live.