Morpheus, At the End

My poor rumpled boy

My poor rumpled boy

I was on a cemetery tour I’d organized for the Obscura Society on Saturday, when my phone buzzed.  I didn’t check the message until the tour had ended and I was getting back into the car.  My husband’s text said, “I think Morpheus needs to see the vet. When will you be home?”

I texted, but when that didn’t get an immediate response, I called.  Still no answer.  I was an hour from home, if traffic was in my favor.  I tried not too worry and hoped my husband had the sense to call a cab.

Instead, he’d waited for me to get home.  Morpheus had a blockage and was crying any time someone looked at him.  My daughter made him a nest in my grandmother’s afghan.  He purred briefly as I petted him, but he couldn’t get comfortable.  His cry sounded like, “Mom!”

Our vet couldn’t see us, so they sent us to another vet in the neighborhood.  I gathered Morpheus’s medicines and all the paperwork I’ve collected over the 16 months we’ve owned him.  Off we went to the new vet.

Morpheus_eatingThe nurse seemed to grasp what I was saying about Morpheus’s allergies to chicken and grain and kitty laxatives, but the doctor, when he bustled in, immediately discounted the last year and a half that I’d struggled to find a cat food that wouldn’t poison my cat.  “Oh, they always say it is a food allergy,” he said, waving his hand.  “Have you had him tested?”

No, I said.  My vet said those tests were expensive and unreliable.

“I am treating three cats for mold allergies and they are doing very well.”

I argued, trying to tell him all the different things we’ve tried with Morpheus, all the medicines he’s on now.  The vet spoke louder and faster, drowning me out.  He kept talking over me until I gave up.

18-month-old Morpheus had a urinary blockage, probably caused by the high protein no-grain diet he’s on to treat his allergies. The doctor planned to send him home with a special diet for his bladder problem.  The diet only comes in chicken flavor, one of the things to which I think Morpheus is allergic.  The doctor said, “It doesn’t matter if he’s allergic to it. You don’t know for sure he’s allergic to chicken, because you haven’t had him tested.  The diet for his urinary problems is more important than his skin.”

Which would be true in another cat, I’m sure.  But when he has a reaction to something, Morpheus pulls out his own fur by the mouthful.  He licks his skin until it splits, until it gets infected.  I have dragged him to the vet over and over for EGC outbreaks, which he’s suffered since we first brought him home from the SPCA.

If I had been alone, I might have had the courage to ask the doctor to put Morpheus to sleep.  He hasn’t had his vaccines in the last year, since he’s an indoor-only cat with a compromised immune system.  He’s on three daily medicines to boost his immune system.  His body is resorbing his teeth, which need to come out.  His body is attacking him from mouth to bladder.  We’ve spent thousands of dollars on this cat since we brought him home at Christmas 2012.

My husband okayed the surgery to clear Morpheus’s bladder, even though it meant anesthesia, two kinds of catheters, and two nights stay at the vet.  I hoped he wouldn’t bring home anything to our healthy cat.

The vet left us alone while he prepared for surgery.  We talked to our daughter about taking Morpheus back to the SPCA after this is over.  Our hope is that someone with veterinary skills will be looking for a cat who needs two daily pills, cortisone rubbed into his ears once a day, small measured feedings four times a day, and whatever kind of magic diet that won’t inflame his allergies but will also keep crystals from building up in his bladder — oh, and who can also afford to have his teeth pulled out. We’re hoping for a miracle worker.

All his meds

All his meds

Morpheus came home from the surgery last night.  He’s got three more medicines to take now.  His foreleg has a horrific bruise where the IV needle went in.  His fur is greasy from lack of grooming.  Our other car keeps hissing at him because he smells so weird.  Despite the ibuprofen, he’s in too much pain to climb onto the furniture.  Mostly he’s dragging himself from one sunbeam to another to nap today.

I’ve visited the last two vets who’ve seen him and gotten Morpheus’s files.  I’m trying to remember all the different cat foods he’s had.  I’ve gathered all his drugs together.  Now I’m waiting for the SPCA to return my call and tell me if they will accept him back, if they think there’s any home for him where he’ll be an only cat and someone can stay will him all day to doctor him.  My fear is that he’ll live out the rest of his life in a hospital cage, quarantined from all other animals.

I’ve been crying about this for days.  I wanted so much to fix him.  I think I may be too sensitive to have pets.

In better days

My boy in better days

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Spotlight On: Loren Rhoads #ASOT2014

Loren Rhoads:

I contributed Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues to Authors Supporting Our Troops and in return, I got this nice post featuring my newest book. Thanks, Armand, for all you’re doing!

Originally posted on Armand Rosamilia:


SPOTLIGHT ON: Loren Rhoads


How did you get involved in the Authors Supporting Our Troops event?

I saw the announcements popping up everywhere, but once Sumiko Saulson participated, I was inspired to follow in her footsteps.


What is your latest release and what genre is it?

I’m co-author (with Brian Thomas) of As Above, So Below, an urban horror/fantasy.

 AS Above cover

Quick description of it.

As Above, So Below is the story of Lorelei, a succubus who sees an angel across a crowded bar and decides he’ll fall for her, no matter what she needs to do. It’s also the story of Azaziel, an angel who came to Earth as a Watcher before the Flood and has searched for the perfect love ever since. Aza rescues the soul of one of his mortal charges and uses it to possess Lorelei – which drags in a defrocked priest to perform…

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Vacation plans

photo-3It was really hard for me to go on vacation last week and leave work at home.  Usually, I carry my laptop, so I can blog — like I did at the Death Salon in LA last fall.  Or I bring a book I’m working on to edit, like I did when Mart and I went on retreat to Gilchrist last August.

This time I left the computer at home.  I’m waiting for The Dangerous Type to come back from the editor, so while I have some unfinished books I could be working on, nothing is pressing.  I haven’t wanted to get engrossed in any large writing projects, since I could be pulled away at any moment.  Rather than give up on the idea of work altogether, I made a list of blog posts I could research or write while we were traveling.

Of course, before we left, I scrambled around to write a week’s worth of Tumblr posts and get them all scheduled to go up like clockwork.  I wrote and scheduled the posts that appeared here last week.  I meant to write a Cemetery of the Week entry to go up on 4/9, but I ran out of time before we left.

Once we arrived in DC, I only managed to write and upload one blog post from the hotel room: the Weekly Morbid.  It took forever to find all the links and copy them into WordPress on my iPhone.  The whole process was frustrating and time-consuming and did not encourage me to attempt the much more complicated COTW format.  In fact, by last Wednesday, I was coming down with Mason’s cold and couldn’t even manage my phone well enough to post a place-holding “here’s a reprint” post.

The upside of all of this is that the vacation was much more like a true vacation than I’d planned. I did have some working time in the mornings, while Mason and our daughter Sorrell slept in, but I spent those hours reading books on my kindle app, catching up on Pinterest, twittering, and reading Facebook.  I didn’t bring — or buy — a booklight, so I couldn’t even write in my notebook in the darkened hotel rooms.

In the evenings, while my daughter watched the Disney channel, I read travel magazines and graveyard books, researching markets and new cemetery columns.  To be honest, it was work, but work of the relaxing and entertaining kind.

In the end, I did much less writing that I would have in the old days, when Mason and I traveled with no electronics at all.  Back then, I wrote pages and pages of notes and observations, analyses and histories.  We even hung out in cafes so I could write.

This trip, I was much more content to let the experiences flow over me.  I still researched Rock Creek Cemetery (albeit after we visited). I drafted what I think will be my next Scoutie Girl column about Sorrell’s love of the flight simulator at the National Air and Space Museum. I drafted a long blog post about my writing schedule.

I don’t have much work to show for a 10-day vacation.  To my surprise, I’m okay with that.  Maybe it’s good to ease off now and then.

What do you think?  Do you check your email when you’re on vacation?

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In Praise of Party Girls

AsAbove pc

Click to order from Amazon

Where did the character of Lorelei come from?  She was inspired by a woman I met at university.  Kimmy lived across the hall from me in East Quad.  She was beautiful: large very dark eyes made bigger by mascara, long mahogany hair flipped back from her face just so, heart-shaped face. She wasn’t very tall, but she was seriously stacked. I wasn’t surprised to find she’d done catalog modeling in high school.

Mostly what I remember about her was her presence.  Kimmy was a light.  She had a huge laugh.  Just by arriving, she made everything more fun.  When she came into a room, every head turned toward her, but she wasn’t obnoxious about it.  She didn’t seem to crave attention; she just accepted it as normal.

Kimmy had a way of singling out people and drawing them into her circle.  During my second day in the dorm, she cornered me as I was about to skulk into my room. She and her roommate were going to play quarters with some other people on the hall so we could all get to know each other.  Why didn’t I come?

Which is how I met Mason, who’s been with me pretty much ever since.  Kim drew him in, too.

Kimmy was always ready for anything.  When Playboy came to town, looking to photograph Girls of the Big 10, she considered it. When she met another girl who had been contacted by a Greek millionaire who was looking for pretty girls to come lounge around on his yacht in their bikinis, she considered it.  I think her curiosity about that lifestyle was matched by a small-town naivety that didn’t really guess what that kind of deal would demand in return.  In consequence, I felt protective of Kimmy.  I didn’t want her trusting nature to lead her into a situation she couldn’t charm her way out of.

Lorelei came directly out of that feeling.  I wanted to explore the possibilities laid out in front of Kimmy, but know that Lorelei would survive them.  I wanted to give Kimmy a happy ending and a boyfriend she wanted just as much as he wanted her.  And I wanted to guarantee she’d never lose her fearlessness or sense of fun.

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As Above got its first review!

AsAbove pcThanks to Jeremy Price, my first novel got its first review.  In a word: sizzling.

Here’s the whole thing, fom Up All Night Horror Fiction Review:


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