This week, in writing news, I have finished a draft of The Sharpest Claw, Book 2 of the Cats of the Afterlife series, and I have sent it off to my beta readers. It was the right thing to do. I really could not look at it any more. But when I woke up this morning, forty-eight hours after I sent the drafts, I had major doubts about the work. But then the next thought was, “That always happens,” followed by “Perfectionism is not your friend,” followed by, “It was time. You will hear what they have to say and then move on with your work.”
The Sharpest Claw features kittens, based on our young cat siblings who live with us, Indiana Jones and Samantha Bee. They will be two this April. We've had Indy and Sam since they were eight weeks old.
When I was a kid, I remember mama cats giving birth to kittens in boxes inside our home, but before Samantha and Indy, I hadn't been around kittens for years on end. I loved the experience. Sometimes I mourn the loss of their kittenhood—how Indy can no longer sit inside of a hat. But Sam still squeaks. Indy remains a shoulder cat, although most of the time now I lift him up. As a teenager cat, he doesn't like to have his picture taken, but Sam will still look up at the lens and accept the click. To my great sadness, Indy is no longer interested in lying on my legs. I know I sleep better without him there, but I miss it. He still loves Mike's legs and sits on them when we're watching TV and dozes on them in the early morning hours.
For some reason, the other morning, after I prepared coffee, I wondered if Indy and Sam might like to play. I had gotten out of the habit of playing with them. When they were kittens, they had a monkey's head on a string that they were quite fond of until they bit it so much that the head tore apart. But we had several stringed toys that I would whirl around while singing. It seemed important to sing while I played with them.
Since that time, they've grown up, and we moved, but there was still some stringed toys hung up on the closet door. So that morning, I picked one up and started dragging the string down the hall. Well, Indy showed up immediately, his ears pricked, ready to play. Sam observed from the top of the sculpture. After a few flicks of the string, she came barreling down and captured the string in a flying leap.
Then Indy looked at me. He sat down at the end of their cat tube. When we had played in the past, I would dangle the string from the other end, and he would run through the tube and capture it, then let it go, and sit down at that end, waiting for me to dangle it at the other end now. Something about this activity, of him racing through the tube and racing back always made me laugh. It was wonderful to see that he remember and he still wanted to do it.
Of course, I sang. There are two ballads that I've sang to them ever since they were small, “Till There Was You” from The Music Man and “Close to You.” Yes, it's the Carpenters. Of course, it's sappy. But it's really sweet, “On the day that you were born, the angels got together, and they decided to create a dream come true. So they sprinkled moondust in your hair and golden starlight in your eyes of blue.” Most of the time, I substitute “fur” for “hair.” Sam has blue eyes, and Indy's are brown. So I switch back and forth with that.
So this is our new thing. When the coffee is brewing, we play. How long will it last? Will they outgrow it soon? I don't know. But I intend to enjoy it as long as I can.