I did it, Mom

Dear Mom (Carol, as I called you when we worked together),

Today I found out that my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir won  three awards just from one competition. Judy, my coach and editor, took a stack of books to send in to many competitions. She said winners are often announced close to a year later.

Yet here we are, three months after the book launch, and I got word this morning of the three awards from Beverly Hills Book Awards. Here they are: Winner: Animals and Pets; Winner-Regional Non-Fiction-West; and Finalist: Memoir. Finalist is just as good as Winner.

You were the greatest writer I ever knew. I think we can thank Northwestern School of Speech (now called School of Communications) for that, where you got your undergraduate degree. For me, my Master of Arts from the Graduate School (now called School of Education and Social Policy, SESP) helped me.

I remember your starting a writer’s column for a little Highland Park paper, the name of which escapes me-it wasn’t the Highland Park News. One time, entries were slow, so you wrote the most exciting short story I’ve ever read. I wish I could find it. The ending was no less unexpected than a Stephen King work.

I miss you so much. This March 12 will be 40 years since you took your leave. In 1979, there were set visiting hours at the hospital, otherwise I would have stayed with you longer than that evening. Instead, the phone rang early the next morning with tragic news. It was unfair to lose my best friend when I was 26. When I have a birthday now, I count how many more years it is since your 56 years of life.

I know we communicate. Doing well on my first book I owe all to you. Thanks, Mom.

Love you, “Cara”


Teasing Kitties

The boys have rediscovered their favorite toy. It’s a Kitty Tease ®, a small, fishing pole-type device that has a string on it with a piece of denim on the end of the string. They chase it like maniacs and jump high in the air.

The dumb thing is that I actually paid money for it. I’ve had it since Fletcher and Kitty Al were born in the late 80’s. Cowboy Joe is the most maniacal. He chases it, jumps high in the air doing some pretty impressive gymnastics with it.

Since the new master bedroom is pretty large, there is room for the three to run and chase it, while I control the motions. Even Big Frank gets into the action. And, this is one time where Matthew doesn’t run the other two off. The three play together.

Ever since Joe was a kitten, he’d play until he panted. Panting is not normal in a cat. Open-mouth breathing is a sign of trouble, which is why I was concerned about him as Jeff and I drove into Texas, and Jeff held him in his lap the rest of the way to Cowboy Joe’s new home. As shoemaker’s children go without shoes, of course I’ve never had it worked up. He is a perfectly healthy, happy cat otherwise.

On a more worrisome note, one of my favorite (equine surgery) professors, Dr. Simon Turner, was in a terrible bicycle v. car accident at the end of last month. This is much worse than the accident he had in 1986 when I was a junior veterinary student. He and his wife, Dr. Ann Wagner, were headed the next day to Australia, of which Simon is a native. His bike helmet was packed. Out riding without a helmet on a road bike in the days before mountain bikes, he hit a rock and went over the handlebars landing headfirst. He had some major damage to his brain, but recovered enough to win a prestigious honor is osteoporosis research in sheep that benefits humans.

This time, a car was rounding a corner, I think into the sun, may have clipped the corner, and hit Simon. He has been at the Medical Center of the Rockies ever since, and will go straight to Craig Hospital in Denver hopefully soon. To lessen the hundreds of emails, the family has set up a blog. Thoughts and prayers go out to Simon and Ann.