Wednesday Weirdness: Black Cat, a White Hair, and a Wish

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageWelcome to the first Wednesday Weirdness of December. At the mention of black cats, most people immediately think of witches, familiars, superstitions, and Halloween. But there is another legend, and because I love both cats and folklore, I couldn’t resist spinning both into a tale called Food for Poe.

A black cat sitting on red ribbon and surrounded by Christmas decorationsIs it weird? Oh, yes. It’s been compared to a cross between Night Gallery and Hallmark. For even more of a mash-up, it’s also a Christmas story.

But what about the legend? I’ll let that unfold naturally. In the scene below, Quinn Easterly, encounters a strange old woman in the grocery store, where she has stopped to pick up food for her newly adopted cat, Poe:

“There’s a legend about black cats.” The woman eyed her critically, continuing as if she hadn’t spoken. “Not the witch legend or the Halloween stuff you hear as a kid.”

What an odd discussion to be having on Christmas Eve with a snow storm brewing outside. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to talk.” Quinn started to withdraw, then stopped. There was something in the woman’s manner that made her hesitate. The store bustled with activity, but no one drew near. Not a single person ventured into the aisle where they stood conversing over colorful plush mice, boxes of dried meal, and sparkly ribbons adorned with bells.

“Every pure black cat has a single white hair.” The woman’s voice was low as if she dispensed a timeless secret. “Remove the hair without being scratched and you’re permitted a wish—health or wealth, but you can’t have both. And you must make the wish before midnight on Christmas Eve. Health or wealth. Do you understand?”

Quinn felt caught in a twisted dream. “I—”

The woman pulled her closer. “Beware, girl. Healing often attracts one of the Dark Things. Changelings. Creatures that pattern themselves from the thoughts of others. They live in cesspools, drainpipes, and hollow logs. Anywhere that’s dark.”

The hair prickled on the nape of Quinn’s neck. She glanced over her shoulder hoping to find someone else in the aisle, but it remained eerily deserted as though she stood in a corridor severed from the rest of the store.  What she needed was an escape route.

“I’m sorry, but I have to leave.”

“So go already,” a disgruntled male voice chided.

Quinn blinked, startled to find the old woman gone, the aisle behind her suddenly overflowing with people and shopping carts. A mother and two children shuffled past, the youngest trailing a caramel-colored stuffed bear by the arm.

“Look, lady, either pick something or get out of the way.” The grating voice acted like a chisel on the edge of Quinn’s thoughts. The speaker was squat and barrel-chested, pushing a cart loaded with ten-pound bags of dog food.

Quinn smiled politely and shuffled aside.


I admit to twining three separate legends together to suit my own purposes, but the folklore about black cats, a white hair, and a wish for health or wealth is from an old wive’s tale. There’s nothing involving Christmas Eve or midnight, but both seemed like a good fit.

As one reviewer said:

“It is a tale of love, hope, compassion, faith, superstition, and suspense with a touch of horror… I was hooked from the start. If it was up to me, I’d make it into a Christmas movie and watch it every year.”

Cover of FOOD FOR POE with cute young couple and a black cat.And here’s the blurb:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic, and paranormal trouble


I rarely promote this little Christmas novella, but can’t resist splashing it around a bit in December. If you’re interested, you can grab it from Amazon for .99c through this LINK.

Are you familiar with the folklore I used in this story? It’s also been said the reverse is true—every pure white cat has a single black hair, although I don’t know what wish is granted should the hair be removed. If you like Hallmark Christmas stories and cats, along with a bit of the bizarre, I hope you’ll give Poe a try.

One Cat, Three Trees #pets

Hi, friends! I need to talk about cats today. And trees. Not the leafy outdoor kind, or even the decorative indoor ones strung with fairy lights. No, the trees I want to discuss are specifically made for cats.

DH and I adopted our rescue cat, Raven, from a no-kill shelter when she was just three months old. We purchased her first tree before we even brought her home. Below is her “gray tree” which used to be in front of our bow window. You’ll understand the past tense in a minute.

Three-tiered cat tree with sisal/scratching posts. Small black cat sitting on tree middle tree platform

Later, when we remodeled our kitchen, we had room to add a second tree. Given how much she loves to look outside, we purchased Raven’s “brown tree” to place in front of the French doors leading to our deck. Again, with the innocent look (although I had to move the fronds from the back, because she considered them playthings for her amusement).

Black cat sitting on a large cat tree in front of a French door

You wouldn’t think an animal this delicate-looking could be destructive, but cats have a lethal weapon—CLAWS! If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know the damage they can do. As evidence, I present:

The gray tree is so far gone, we disassembled it. What you see above are the remains waiting to be carted outside for trash pick-up. The brown tree has been moved into the living room. Raven still has a ways to go before it’s no longer worthy of scratching.

In the meantime, we brought this behemoth home.

Five-tiered cat tree with large sisal columns in front of French doors. Black cat sitting on center platform of tree

It’s going to be a long while before she manages to claw her way through these sisal posts. But don’t let that innocent face fool you. She’s already started sharpening her claws on the rope. I should be grateful, because she leaves my furniture alone.

I know pet owners can relate to spoiling their animals. It doesn’t matter if you have a cat, dog, guinea pig, parrot, or some other critter. They all hold a special place in our hearts.

After today, I am headed for Maine, and will be incommunicado until early October. I’ll be looking forward to chatting with everyone when I return. In the meantime, let me know what you think of Raven’s new tree. If you have cats, is clawing something you have to manage? If you have dogs, can they be equally destructive? Are your pets pampered silly? Let’s chat!

 

Reading, WIPs, Raven, and the Puppy Bowl

Sunday was odd. It’s normally the one day I stringently devote to writing but I finished my WIP last week and shipped it off to my editor. That amounted to a lot of Snoopy dancing Friday and Saturday night. I started reading a new book, Where the Crawdads Sing, which appears to be the “it” book of 2019 if all the buzz is true.

I’m currently 55% through, and although I’m glued to the story, I’ve yet to discover whatever it is that makes this book so haunting and unforgettable. Fingers crossed the magic will reveal itself before the end.

Sunday became a day of getting my year-end tax receipts together—not a chore I look forward to. It took several hours before I was done, and I am glad to finally have the chore behind me. Afterward, I discovered the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and was glued for the entire two hours.

I’d heard of the PB before, and even caught glimpses here and there, but never actually watched the whole thing from start to finish. Aside from the genius behind the marketing—which I couldn’t help appreciating—the Puppy Bowl is an overload of cute. With teams Fluff and Ruff, hamsters in a blimp, cheerleading kangaroos, sloth referee, kitty half-time, and an Amazon gray parrot doing updates, you can’t go wrong. I plan to be back every year.

As I write this, I’m watching the Super Bowl, and don’t know the outcome, but I’m enjoying the commercials. Anyone else love the Bud Knight and the competitive look at corn syrup?

I’ve got a crazy work week lined up with several meetings on the day job and several after-work appointments. At least the weather is going to be in the forties and fifties, a huge jump over the single digit temps of last week. Raven was glued to my side day and night for warmth.

And speaking of my beautiful feline, how is it possible for her to be comfortable like this.

black at squished between pillows on couch

Weird, huh? For something less bizarre, you can find me on Story Empire today with a post about Writing Tight. Raven invites you to drop over and say hello. I hope to see you there!

In Honor of National Cat Day: Raven! #blackcats

It was recently brought to my attention (ahem, Julie) that Raven hasn’t made an appearance on my blog in a while. It also dawned on me that today is National Cat Day. Given Raven is a black cat, it’s almost Halloween, and it’s National Cat Day, that’s a trifecta I couldn’t pass up. I’m late in getting this posted, but for all the cat lovers out there, here’s my gorgeous girl . . .

This past spring, hanging out in the bow window.
The little birds that visit in the morning provide hours of entertainment.

Beautiful black cat in bow window with rose in bloom behind glass

Peek-a-boo from her collapsible cube.
She likes to flatten it like a pancake when she’s playing.

Black cat peeking out of a large toy cube

Taking a nap on tree #1 by the bow window.
So innocent—while plotting . . .

Black cat curled up on a large cat tree

The perfect way to get a second tree is to hang out where she isn’t allowed.
Smart girl.

Black cat balancing on the back of chair

The plotting worked.
Tree #2 overlooking the rear deck arrives.
She and a resident chipmunk play tag, racing between this spot
and the patio doors in the family room. More entertainment!

Black cat on a large cat tree in front of french doors

I was an idiot to think that large spray of reeds in the corner could stay. 
Tree + cat + reeds = large cat toy.
The spray was moved in less than an hour.

Black cat sitting on a large cat tree in front of a French door

A new toy—sort of.
Stolen from my key chain.
She makes a good thief.

Black cat in sitting pose looking at camera with a puff toy in front of her

Ready for bed at the end of the day.
She has me wrapped and knows it!

Black cat under sheets in bed

Raven and I wish you a Happy National Cat Day!

Christmas . . . and #Cats

cute black cat poking out of plastic bag on bedThis is our second year with Raven, my beautiful rescue cat. Look at that face. Pretty hard to be miffed at anything that cute, right?

Last December she was seven months old and filled with curiosity. That led her to camp out in the smaller of my two Christmas trees, sprawling on the branches, and stealing at least a dozen Christmas ornaments. Every morning I’d find sparkly blue and silver balls on the floor or tucked away under the couch. Clever little thing did most of her “hunting” at night.

Because the smaller tree goes in our bow window—one of her favorite hangouts—we decided to forego it this year and just use our larger tree in the family room. She didn’t bother the larger tree last year, so we figured we were in the clear.

Uh…not.

A cat never outgrows curiosity.

The tree wasn’t trimmed more than ten minutes when I found her lying in the branches. Now that it’s been up for over a week, the branch-lounging novelty has worn off, but decorations on the bottom are still fair game. Fortunately, we’ve only had one shattered bulb and I was able to scoop her up before her little paws picked up any glass. The glass bulbs are now clustered mostly at the top.

Progress.

I’ve had cats before—three since I’ve been married, Raven being the fourth—and they were all spoiled. But this one has me wrapped. Worse, she knows it. I keep reminding myself that in human years, she’s about 18-20 years old. What’s the saying—Girls just want to have fun?

She’s definitely doing that!

If you have a cat—or even if you don’t—you might enjoy my paranormal Christmas novella, Food for Poe. It features a clever black feline, a holiday romance, and a creature from myth all wrapped up in a Yuletide tale. You can pick it up on Amazon for just .99 cents.

Book cover for FOOD FOR POE by Mae Clair shows attractive young couple in a winter setting with a black cat and silver Christmas ornaments belowBlurb
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic and paranormal trouble

One reviewer’s take:
“This has become my new favourite Christmas story! I’m going to read it again next Christmas. Poe, a beautiful pure black cat (Not at all unlike my own darling, Rico… Wink.) is the hero of this most magical and thoroughly captivating tale.

It is a tale of love, hope, compassion, faith, superstition, and suspense with a touch of horror… I was hooked from the start. If it was up to me, I’d make it into a Christmas movie and watch it every year.” ~ Kevin Cooper

You can purchase Food for Poe for .99c from Amazon 

Raven and I thank you for your consideration, and send you wishes for a purrfectly Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Did Someone Say Friday?

Silly goose looking directly at cameraThe end of the week is a great opportunity to look back over the past several days and take measure our accomplishments. Unfortunately, mine were close to nil. :(  I did manage to eke out a single scene on my WIP, but considering the goal was a chapter, the results are pathetic.

In my defense, the week has been unusually chaotic. I’ve had a work crew at my home since Monday, installing new zoned heat and a/c units. The job is supposed to be finished today—hooray!—but the weekend I wanted to spend writing will probably be spent cleaning. You can’t have a work crew without dust. Lots of dust. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?

I’m not the only one running low on patience. Raven has been forced to spend eight hours each day in the basement while servicemen tramp in and out of the house (I won’t risk her sneaking outside if someone accidentally leaves a door open). We’ve tried to make her confinement as inviting as possible, arranging a “snuggle area” with one of her beds and a blanket. I elevated them on chairs so she’s not on the floor. She has water and food, and I even added a few toys and her red “cube” for lounging.

black cat in pink cube with cat toy

Raven in her pink cube. Besides this and the red cube, she also has a blue one. Can we say spoiled?

Bribes aside, she is NOT a happy camper. She can’t watch birds from the basement, sprawl in the sunlight, or stretch out in the bow window. A rough week in catdom.

The only benefit she’s enjoyed is the daily fussing we do to make up for her morning and afternoon exile. You can see why this Friday is more welcome than usual—I want my house back! So does Raven!

In the meantime, I’m at Story Empire today sharing the weekly Curated Writing Content gathered by the SE authors. While you’re celebrating Friday in the blogosphere, drop in and see what we’ve collected. And in case you missed SE’s earlier posts, Staci Troilo took a fabulous look at Fictional Fathers, and I trotted out My Problematic Word.

Happy Friday!