I love deadlines. Especially the whooshing sound they make as they pass by. — Douglas Adams

Coming out of the apartment building one morning last week, my sons and I discovered a medium-sized Huggies box that had been placed upside-down in the center of the sidewalk. On the bottom of the box, someone had written a message in big black letters.

“Do not move this box,” it read.  “Poop beneath.”

I ushered the boys past the box and into the car so I could take them to school, but I couldn’t stop wondering about the person who had left that well-labeled box on my sidewalk. I kept thinking about the effort that must have gone into locating the box, finding a marker, scribbling the message, and then carefully placing the box just so.

It seemed to me that it would have taken less effort to just clean up the poop.

“Maybe it was a practical joke,” my cousin suggested when I told her about it. “Do you think there might have been a hidden camera nearby? Did you pick up the box and look at the poop?”

“Of course I didn’t look at the poop!”

“I would have, just to see what kind of poop it was.”

Oh, well thank you for that.  What kind of poop? My mind hadn’t even begun to dive down into that particular rabbit hole, but it sure went there after that conversation.

Was it perhaps toddler poop? That would explain the Huggies box. Maybe a toddler was in the process of potty-training and just didn’t quite grasp the whole concept of dropping trou and making a deposit in the proper receptacle. The embarrassed mommy could have dashed inside for the box and a marker, planning on returning to clean up the pile after cleaning up the child.

I thought back to the days when I was the parent of toddlers during the potty-training stage, and quickly dismissed the idea. When my kids were toddlers, I was never organized enough to know where to find a box, a marker, and my child all at the same time. Besides, I was so used to cleaning up piles and puddles of baby-mess that I probably would have just grabbed a handful of wipes and scooped up the offending pile.

Well, either that or I might have used the toe of my shoe to nudge it into the nearby flowerbed with the excuse that I was fertilizing the plants.

I hate to admit it, but that probably would have been my chosen path of action in that situation.

So maybe my current box o’ poop came from an animal? There is a herd of feral cats in the woods that surround the building; maybe one of them was just too lazy to do the usual feline dig-poop-bury routine and just decided to leave a gift on the sidewalk. That didn’t seem like too much of a stretch when I thought about the “gifts” my cat used to leave on the steps — dead birds, headless mice, partially-eaten moles, etc. All things considered, poop might have been the preferable present.

But no, a feral cat wouldn’t have left the carefully-worded sign on the Huggies box.

A dog, then. A dog with a conscientious owner. See, here’s the crazy thing about my no-pets building: everyone has a pet. They’ve all gotten their doctors to sign off on a form that says depressed people need pets to help them get through their days. Apparently, we are an incredibly depressed building.`

As the only person without a pet, I can only marvel at the realization that this makes me the only person in the building who is not officially depressed enough to own a cat. Technically, this means that everyone else in my building is more depressed than I am.

Good lord, that’s a depressing thought.

I have so much to do, and so little time to do it, and yet I spent nearly a half-day wondering about the box o’ poop on the sidewalk downstairs. I could have been editing those final chapters of Their Love Rekindled or working on the opening chapters of my new Love & Destiny series; I could have been washing the dishes or unpacking those last few boxes that have been sitting in the middle of my living room since I moved here just over a month a go. I could have even worked on writing a few blog posts ahead of time and getting them scheduled to go live at convenient times.

But no, I had to sit here pondering the origin of poop on the sidewalk downstairs. I’m not sure, but I think that automatically grants me a PhD in Procrastination.

And to make things worse, I decided that I needed to look up the perfect quotes about procrastination to finish off this blog post. That took up a good forty-five minutes that could have been used changing the sheets and scrubbing the bathroom. But if I hadn’t done that, I would never have found this little gem from Nora Roberts:

My top three pieces of writing advice? Stop whining and write. Stop fucking around and write. Stop making excuses and write. — Nora Roberts

Yes, ma’am.

And so the mystery of the box o’ poop shall never be solved because I am getting back to work. When the mighty Nora Roberts tells me to stop fucking around and write, what else am I to do?


Fiesta the Omen


I have an evil kitten.

Oh sure, she’s adorable.  But looks can be deceiving.

She’s like Rebecca DeMornay in “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”:  Beautiful and seemingly innocent, but harboring a secret, evil plan.

Fiesta is a pretty gray and white calico with white paws and bright yellow eyes.  She was easily the prettiest of the litter, but somehow ended up being the only one that no one else wanted.    We hadn’t even named her like we had the others, and had to scramble for a name when we realized she was ours to keep.

Before Fiesta, we were a happy three-pet home.  There was Snickers, the neurotic Blue Heeler suffering from PTSD.   Callie was a beautiful orange/black/white calico who would come running like a dog when she was called.  She was a lady, dignified and gracious to all.  Her brother Melvin was a big orange tomcat with a bit of a personality disorder and a definite sense of entitlement.

Then came Fiesta.

Snickers hates her.  Snick has always tolerated other cats, but she snaps and snarls at Fiesta.  My husband and I scold her for it, but I think she’s just listening to her animal instincts and warning us of a threat in our presence.

One by one, Fiesta is eliminating her competition.  Oh, she’s sneaky about it.  Makes it look like coincidence.  But I know better.

Callie vanished first, late last fall.  In the four years leading up to that night, she rarely strayed farther than the woods behind our house.  She might cross the road, but for the most part she was a true homebody.  One of our neighbors informed us that Callie often crossed the street to nap in his yard on sunny days.


When she disappeared, we searched up and down our street but found no sign of her.  We ruled out her having been hit by a car because we would have found her body if that had happened.  We questioned our neighbor, but he hadn’t seen her.

We finally decided that she had either been snatched up by coyotes, or taken by one of our neighbors returning to Illinois at the end of the summer.   Either way, she was gone and we comforted ourselves by spreading our love among the remaining pets.

Melvin was next.

We didn’t notice right away, because Melvin often vanished for days at a time.  I began to get nervous after four days, because Melvin was my cat, my special baby.  He was a grumpy old grouch, but he was mine.

Just like Callie, he was gone without a trace.  No body to be found, which means he wasn’t hit by a car.  We’ve asked all of our neighbors if they’ve discovered an extra orange cat prowling their land, but no luck.


He’s just gone.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried over Melvin.  Fiesta jumped into my lap and coyly licked my face as if to dry my tears.  She went prrrt and then curled up into a smug little ball and dozed off.

I swear she was smiling.

I felt the first cold fingers of suspicion invade my mind at that point.  She was just a little too accepting of things, if you ask me.  I know she’s an animal and all, but she seemed awfully ready to move on.

Snickers had an “accident” in the living room last night, her first in the five years we have had her.  I think Fiesta is behind it.  I don’t know how, but I am sure that sweet little cat is framing the dog so that we’ll get rid of her, leaving Fiesta to have the family to herself.

I just hope she doesn’t feel threatened by the children.

Or me.