Go big or go home

Dale and Heather

We were five months along with baby #2 in May 2014 during our trip to Peru

I’m the type of person who generally doesn’t shy away from a challenge. In fact, periodically I choose to make something more challenging because I like the philosophy of go big or go home. I did both (literally) when we had our son 21 months ago. He weighed in at 9 pounds 14 ounces (yes, you read that correctly), so I both went for the “oh my” big weight factor, and went home from the hospital happy he was no longer kicking around inside of me. Not that I had control of his weight – although I tried to by teaching cycle multiple times each week until I delivered – but it seemed appropriate that his weight fit with my life philosophy.

Now that we’re expecting package #2 in September, I thought I should make the most of my last few weeks of only caring for one child. So what am I up to?

Gee, I thought now would be a good time to start my own estate planning law firm since I am an attorney and all.

Then of course there’s preparing for the baby by doing everything around the house and yard that I couldn’t do while I had a broken foot for eight weeks this summer and won’t be able to do for awhile after the baby’s born.

Oh, and did I mention I’m submitting my mystery novel, Beguiling Deception, to literary agents so I can hopefully get a publisher to accept it sometime this year?

So yes, big, big, big.

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Here’s hoping baby #2 weighs in below 9 pounds. I’m thinking 8 pounds sounds splendid.

If you’re interested in joining me on this wild, summer ride, you can do a couple of things. First, you can follow me on my new website, www.HeatherHarshman.com. I’ll be posting teasers on my novel, short stories, travel tales, recipes, funny stories, and whatever else tickles my fancy. I’ll also update you on my journey, providing tips along the way on what I’ve learned in the process. This website you’re on now will be discontinued shortly.

Second, you can like my Heather Harshman Author/Speaker Facebook page. I’ll post additional updates on my writing on that page, such as information on the publication of my story, Winters of Solace, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life in September 2014. I’ll also respond to your thoughts, questions, and whatever else you are nice enough to post.

Reboot your lifeTo get things rolling, I’m going to treat you to a sneak preview of Beguiling Deception since I know you’re wondering what kind of novel an attorney, writer, mother, fitness instructor type person like me would write. So buckle up and get ready for a sneak peak in the life of Candice Morgan, my main character.

Beguiling Deception

Candice Morgan enjoys practicing law until her life becomes a criminal case of its own. She finds a girl stabbed to death at her office. Then the killer sends a riddle, demanding she deliver what her deceased father failed to produce or people close to her will continue to suffer or, preferably, die.

Candice scours her attorney father’s criminal client files, searching for the killer and evidence to prove her father’s innocence while her friends solve the riddle. Their research reveals details about her father better left buried, but once uncovered, Candice has to deal with them in her quest to find the killer and the truth.

Hope becomes a pastime for Candice when she realizes the killer’s demands are based on a reality of his own making, yet his aggression accelerates, his grip on her life tightens. Death is Candice’s shadow as his relentless pursuit locks them in a battle that can be fought by no other, insisting she give him the impossible or die.

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How Mykonos Grew Into Her New Fur

Hi, I’m Mykonos.  For thirteen years my former husband Grenoble and I lived with our mom and some periodic visitors, like Grandma and Grandpa Zuber.  Then everything changed seven months ago.  We moved into a house with our mom and her husband.

Grenoble, who I affectionately called Nobler, and I kept

Mykonos napping in her bed that was a gift from her Grandma and Grandpa Zuber

to ourselves at first.  Our father figure is real tall, which kind of scared me, and I heard him say a few times that he was a dog person.  Dogs?  Really?  They’re so loud and hyper whereas I’m a picture of beauty and grace, or at least most of the time.  I’ll admit that I periodically fall off the back of the sofa when I’m sleeping, and I do a funky high step through wet grass, but mostly I’m a lady.

After awhile Mom’s husband started picking me up and chatting with me.  He’d rub my head and back and talk all sweet like.  I wasn’t buying it.  He acted like he wanted to be my buddy, but all he was doing was taking away from precious lap bonding time with Mom.  I pushed away from him with my front paws to clearly communicate that I wasn’t interested in what he was selling.

Then my love, my darling husband, my Nobler passed away.  I hadn’t known heartache until I woke up the next day to find the house missing his chitter chatter and pitter patter.  I didn’t hold back my emotions.  Who cared what anyone thought?  I was a widow and it hurt.  I cried a lot.  A low, guttural cry that wasn’t at all feminine but spoke the depth of my loss.

After Nobler’s death I couldn’t find peace.  Eating grass, sleeping in the sun, staring down birds – nothing could make me happy or satisfied.  I became a nomad, wandering from room to room, from one corner of the yard to another.  No spot was right, no light was enough, no human touch felt right.

Then one morning when leaves sprinkled the back yard and the sun woke up later than I was used to, I realized that the sun felt good on my back and the air smelled fresh and crisp.  I saw new opportunities with my surveillance of the yard, and looked forward to taking an afternoon nap in my bed.  I smiled as only a cat can, and flicked my tail a few times, thankful that the oppressive weight on my heart was starting to dissipate.

That day was the beginning of my new life as a single lady.  I opened my eyes to new possibilities and strove to find out who I was.  You know, the me deep inside that hadn’t been tapped into when I was a wife, a companion of another feline.  As I grew into my new fur, I also made certain to remember every day that Nobler was Lost but Not Forgotten.  He would always hold a special place in my heart.

Apparently Mom’s husband could sense the change in me.  He started trying to lay his head on me when I was on Mom’s lap.  Then he began wandering through the yard periodically trying to find me so he could rub my back and say nice things.  Sometimes I even rolled over so he could rub my belly because I’ll confess, it feels good.  Then he pushed things one step further by making me snuggle with him on the sofa each night.  What is he trying to prove, I fumed.  He’s not my dad and never will be.

Mykonos and her new dad

I resisted his efforts, determined that my relationship with Mom would not be hurt just because her husband was a permanent figure in my life.  And then something happened.  I discovered that his height created more space for me to nestle up against him.  I’m not saying that Mom’s too short.  She’s just right.  I simply like having more nesting space.  And then he started draping his arm over me while we snuggled.  The weight was oppressive at first, but when I made myself relax it made me feel protected and cared for.

Now I’m pleased to call him Dad and look forward to our one-on-one time, especially after Mom goes to bed.  I think she gets a little jealous sometimes, but that’s okay. I know she’s happy that I found another human to love.

How did your pet adapt after losing his/her companion? 

Here are more stories about Grenoble and Mykonos:  G.I. Mykonos, Nine Lives Aren’t Enough When You’re In Love, Lost but Not Forgotten, I Don’t Remember That Being in the Job Description

G.I. Mykonos

Mykonos wandered from one side of the backyard to the other, lingering here and there to inspect a plant and eat some grass.  She reveled at her new-found freedom to explore what the world had to offer.  For the first time she had a vast grassland of mystery and adventure to investigate.  She discovered a diverse array of bugs to push about with her right front paw and scrawny lizards to stare at as they basked in the sun.  There were also colorful things with flappy wings that flitted about.  They often taunted her into a game of chasing them around the yard, making Mykie look younger than her twelve years, if not a bit foolish.

As she roamed the land, birds of all colors and shapes would catch her eye.  They posed with puffed chests on the fence, drank from the flowers of the plants, and called to one another from the trees.  When the urge hit her, Mykonos practiced her cat prowess by inching her way through the plains, one crouched step at a time, her gaze locked on the potential prey.  Other times she chose to continue lazing about while casually glancing their way and emitting her, “I want to eat you but will cut you a break,” meow.

G.I. Mykonos in camouflage

As time wore on, Mykie began taking extended siestas throughout the days in strategic locations where she was camouflaged from view of unsuspecting humans or animals that may cross her path.  Her Diluted Calico fur was the ideal mix of pink, tan, grey, and brown for blending into the wooden fence around the yard perimeter.  It even allowed her to become incognito when laying flush against the dirt where grass failed to grow.

The use of her natural fatigues worked so well that one night her new dad couldn’t find her when it was time to go inside for the night.  She watched him roam about, looking in all of her usual haunts.  He called her name from one end of the yard to the other.  After exhausting his search he said, “Fine. Stay outside if you want to,” and went in for the night.

Mykonos’ cat lips curled into a slow, satisfied smile.  Subject #1 could not determine her location.   Her training and strategizing had paid off.  Next on the agenda, unsuspecting lizards and those flappy things.

What amusing things have your pets done lately?

Nine Lives Aren’t Enough When You’re in Love

Marriage is never easy, especially when you are a cat in an arranged marriage. Take Grenoble and Mykonos, for instance.  They met twelve years ago when they were both in their infancy.  Grenoble was lucky enough to be rescued from a San Diego animal shelter when he was only six weeks old.  A young law student who was originally from Iowa fell in love with him as she wandered the hallways of the shelter.  She was all grins as she loaded him into her open air jeep in only a cardboard box since she hadn’t purchased cat things yet.

Although her person name was Heather, Grenoble called her his mère.  His name was French, after all, and she cared for him more than his real mother had been able to in the brief time they were together.

The first few months of their time together was sheer bliss.  He romped around her apartment all day while she was at school, making certain to take numerous naps in the sunshine on the window sills to refresh himself.  Then he would follow her everywhere she went from the minute she got home until she crashed exhausted into her big cushy bed.  Grenoble just couldn’t get enough of his mère.

Then one day Heather brought home an unwanted guest – a girl cat she named Mykonos.  Grenoble hoped fervently that Mykonos was only visiting because he in no way wanted to share his mère with anyone, especially a cat.

He hissed and growled frequently during the first few days that Mykonos was there to let her know that she was not welcome in their life; she could go back to the farm from which she came.  Yah, that’s right, she was a stray on a farm.  The owner had too many animals to care for so she dropped the girl cat at a shelter.  Heather just happened to drive into the parking lot at the same time the lady was dropping her off.   And now it appeared that he was stuck living with this farm cat – she did not seem to be going anywhere despite his animosity towards her.  Great.

And so life began for Grenoble and Mykonos, two cats who were destined to be together but just hadn’t known it.  As the years passed he began to soften and develop feelings for her.  He chased her up and down the stairs of Heather’s three story condo, pounced on her and pinned her down for minutes at a time until Heather broke them up, and even let her give him periodic kisses.  By the time they reached their sixth year together he even let her sleep on top of him in their cat bed. He hadn’t the foggiest idea why she insisted on sleeping directly on top of him instead of beside the bed, but so be it.  It was easier to let her have her way than to listen to her crying; she needed a lot of affection and would make herself known until she got it.

Then suddenly they had been together for twelve years and Grenoble was feeling his age in his joints and organs.  He had severe arthritis in his shoulders so he could no longer play cat and mouse with his Mykie, he could only slowly lumber after his sprightly wife.  And his kidney disease made him shed numerous pounds until he was a skeleton of his former self and caused his breathing to be labored.  His fragile state did not allow for her sleeping on top of him any longer, especially since she now weighed more than her feeble husband.  While Grenoble was aging noticeably each year, Mykie was the picture of youth.

Their altered lifestyle took a toll on their relationship.  They didn’t spend as much quality time together and often lived out their days in different parts of the yard or house.  The spark they had once felt was all but extinguished.  Then one day Grenoble was sitting at the sliding glass door watching his mère and her new husband make dinner.  He was thinking about how strange it was to have another person in their life.  It had been the three of them forever, until two months ago.  Now their lives were forever changed.

Hearing a quiet movement next to him, he distractedly turned to the right to investigate the source.  Grenoble’s gaze was greeted by that of Mykonos.  She sat a couple of feet away and a bucket was sitting between them, but that didn’t stop him from noticing the sparkle in her eyes and the sheen of her fur.  What a beauty, his Mykie, his wife of twelve years.  His weakened heart surged with a deep love for her that he hadn’t felt in over a year.  They stared into each other’s eyes for a couple of minutes, then turned back to look at their mèreand her husband.  He saw them kiss and giggle, still engulfed in the newness of marriage.  Their budding love inspired him; he vowed that, despite his age and ailments, he would work to stoke the fire between him and his love.  He didn’t know how much more time he had with his Mykie, so he wanted every day to count.

The Love Cats by Heather Harshman

I Don’t Remember That Being in the Job Description!

This is Thumper.  He was born at Target in Anaheim, California seven years ago.  In his youth, he enjoyed relaxing days on a shady balcony of a townhome.  He wasn’t disturbed by much other than the occasional bug and being sprayed down every so often when the balcony was cleaned.

Thumper in his California garden by Heather Harshman

As he reached middle age he was moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.  This came as quite a shock to Thumper as he had fully acclimated to the California weather and rather enjoyed it.

The two week ride in a bumpy, stagnant moving truck was far from ideal. When he finally arrived at his Tennessee home, he was greeted by a wall of heat and humidity that made his fur curl and his ears droop.  His new abode was on an apartment balcony that was blessedly covered and surrounded by maples and evergreens.  The view and neighborhood squirrels helped to distract him from the oppressive weather.

Seventy-eight days of ninety or more degree heat later, Thumper was shocked one morning to awake to the smell of something crisp and dusty.  After much thought and overhearing of other’s conversations, he determined that this new smell was called fall.  He reveled in the cool of the nights and the dew of the mornings during this time.

He had just settled into the bliss of fall when a devastatingly cold wind blew in from the north.  All at once Thumper involuntarily shifted to survival mode, but, of course, just when he had adapted to this third seasonal change, he was again subjected to stifling heat and humidity.  Thumper decided that this place had issues – it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be – cold, hot, dry, wet, humid, or windy.

He had reached his tolerance limits when he was loaded onto another moving truck.  After only a few days he arrived at his next home, back in California. This time he was placed on a brown substance that absorbed the heat of the sun and the cold of the night.  He even got to enjoy fragrant things growing around him and his nose was periodically tickled by water that sprinkled all over him.

Oh, such bliss he had found…until one day he felt an odd sensation in his ears.  It was a foreign feeling, unlike anything he had ever experienced.  It never lasted more than a few minutes and didn’t occur at night.  He realized that it was only when he had water collecting in the curves of his delicate ears that he experienced this phenomenon.

Thumper was perplexed by his ear issue until one morning when he was awakened by the robust laughter of his owner.  “That’s so hilarious,” she said.  “The cats are lined up for their morning rabbit ear drinking experience.  This is such a Kodak moment – I’ve got to get a picture of this!”

The cats are drinking from my EARS?!?!  Thumper was shocked and utterly humiliated.  He had endured an immeasurable amount of discomfort and unforeseen situations in the past year, but none of that could compare to the devastation of having his flowing, perfectly maintained ears used for such a derabbitizing purpose.

Caught in the act by Heather Harshman

Thumper smoldered about the situation for many days, unwilling to let it go.  It wasn’t until the girl cat, Mykonos, starting sleeping next to him during the heat of the afternoons that his resolve began to waver.  The vast array of colors in her Calico coat distracted him from the uncomfortable temperatures and the constant humming sound she emitted brought him great comfort.  He soon found himself looking forward to her visits.

Then one morning when Thumper awoke to the now familiar tickling sensation he was no longer upset about the situation.  Rather, he welcomed her visits, whether they be to keep him company or fill her belly with the water that had cooled in his ears from the watering the night before.  Her presence helped to fill his days and made him feel appreciated and useful.  Although Thumper hadn’t anticipated “water boy” being part of his rabbit job description when he arrived at this new home, it was just fine by him.