When Tweaking isn’t enough!

IMG_1436By Mary Jo

Today I'm happy to have my long-time friend and fellow cat lover Kathy Lynn Emerson here to talk about making an old book new again, and why she's done that in this case.  It's a delicious insight into how authors think, and why we do the things we do.  As for the cats, note the author photo, plus the candid snap below of Kathy and kitty napping together. <G>

First, about Kathy:  Kathy Lynn Emerson (aka Kaitlyn Dunnett and Kate Emerson) has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. In 2023 she won the Lea Wait Award for "excellence and achievement" as a Maine writer from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. She is currently working on creating new omnibus e-book editions of her backlist titles. Her website is www.KathyLynnEmerson.com.


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Cats and Christmas Trees!

My Work Here is DoneCats and Christmas trees

By Mary Jo

Cats have been around since time immemorial and Christmas trees became popular in the mid-19th century, when Victoria and Albert introduced the German custom of decorating trees into the British royal palaces and from there to most of the English speaking world. (In other words, they went viral. <G>)

And if Victoria had a cat, it probably climbed her tree.  But cameras, especially easy Christmas-Ornament-Catto use cell phone cameras, have really helped cats in Christmas trees become a true internet meme. (The image of the black and fallen tree is from Facebook and I think of it as "My work here is done. <G>)

At least a couple of times when I was a kid in our farmhouse, cats brought down our tree  and very messy it was. That hasn't happened in many years because tree stands are much more stable now.

I've had a few cats who were Christmas tree climbers, and many of them enthusiastically bat at low hanging ornaments.  ("Look, they hung all these nice play toys just for me!")

The cat below, right, is the Mayhem Consultant's cat, Reggie the Rascal.  Don't believe that innocent look.  He has climbed trees and he loves scooting up tree decorating ladders, then prowling the valances.

Christmas and cats 2014 001But mostly my cats are content to lounge underneath and possibly check the tags to see who gets what.  Christmas 2020(That's PandaMax on the left, doing exactly that.)


The number of jokes about cats climbing trees and sometimes pulling trees them over got me to thinking about pets in Christmas trees in general.  Cats are small and agile and have claws designed for climbing.

Probably a ferret would also be a climber, but they aren't that common as pets. Parakeets and other pet birds can fly across a room and land on a branch and perhaps cause some damage if they're larger types like macaws. 

Christmas and cats 2014 005Dogs aren't built for climbing, but a friend of mine assures me that the enthusiastic wagging tail of a Labrador retriever can reap a serious harvest of ornaments!

Thus, the number one rule for pet owners who put up trees it to PUT UNBREAKABLE ORNAMENTS ON THE LOWER BRANCHES.

We have a nice collection of lightweight, hard to break plastic apples that look pretty and have a  high tolerance for being knocked across a room.  (They make a distinctive rattling sound as they roll merrily across a hardwood floor at 2:00 am.

FluffyXmas2022So the bottom line is that with decorating care it's possible to have both pets and trees which is good for those of us who love both.

Do you have experiences with pets and Christmas trees?  Tell us about them!

Mary Jo

Adriatic Shores

IMG_0630Adriatic Shores

By Mary Jo

I've written about the first part of our Italy to Istanbul cruise, and now it's time for part two, visiting countries on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. 


First up was Croatia, a beautiful country with mountains and a long stretch of sea coast.  Dubrovnik is perhaps its best known city, and it's spectacular.  We visited several years ago so instead of touring the city, we visited places in the country.  Above is a view of Dubrovnik from a road above the town. You can see the round shape, the walled city, and the orange roofs. We visited several years ago.  On the right is a picture of one Dubrovnik  a steep gardened alleyof its steep, stepped streets. I loved all the greenery along the steps!


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Cats and Writers, with examples

Singi disapproving

My writer cat, Singi

Joanna here: Just a small blog today, about writers and cats.

Writers and cats are rather ham and eggs, Laurel and Hardy, beans and franks partners. Obvious buddies.

There must be a reason for it. Some cats are obviously born with printers' ink under their claws.

I think it’s because writers sit for long periods of time not doing anything exciting like pounding in nails or cutting hair or making fine adjustment to the sniper scopes on precision rifles. They go typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype and then sit for several minutes staring into the middle distance.

This is pretty much what cats do, allowing for an absence of taWench twainpetty tap tap.


“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering, outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
     Mark Twain


That's a high compliment from Twain there. A good writer never says a word too much.

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The Joys of January

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

The holidays are over!  You've:

Roasted your turkey.

Navigated and possibly refereed your relations.

Watched or fled the football games.

Wrapped presents or shoved them all into gift bags because that's easier. Panda Xmas tree 2

Taken the ornaments away from the cat.

Eaten all the Christmas cookies/fruitcake/latkes and wished for more, or decided enough already!

Watched the ball drop at midnight of 12/31 to usher in 2015 (though in some Maryland towns, it might have been a crab, or a donut or a canvasback duck that dropped.  <G>)

Made your resolutions.

So now:


I like January because it's usually such a peaceful contrast to the holiday season. 

January is a good time for working. 

A good time to get together with friends to brighten up gray days. 

A good time to toss those resolutions that are totally unrealistic or involve self-hatred. Winter Wonderland

Instead, do things you enjoy.  Watch a favorite flash mob video.

Or a cat video(It's well know that the infrastructure of the internet is pictures of cats. <G>

Read a good book.

Read SEVERAL good books!  

Enjoy the peace. 

And maybe the bagpipe flash mob or Irish stepdancers.  <G>

What do you like to do in January?

Mary Jo