Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chuck Almost Meets Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy

    This story does not have a happy ending.
    The Chuckster does not watch a lot of TV but he has two favorite shows, and both involve cats.
    One is called Must Love Cats.  And the other -- My Cat From Hell.
    Both star cats, of course, and both look at the world of cats from totally different perspectives.
    If you want drama, My Cat From Hell is your obvious choice.
    Cats who seriously misbehave play the starring role.  They are the terror of the household and their owners are desperate for help.  That’s where Jackson Galaxy comes in.  Not your typical cat whisperer.  Tattooed, he arrives with his guitar case filled with cat toys and treats and before the half hour episode is finished, the cat or the guardians of the cat -- as Jackson calls them -- are transformed and peace reigns once again.
    Chuckie remains glued to the set during the entire show.  And when he learned that Jackson Galaxy was on a ten day tour of the United States, promoting his new book Cat Daddy and that he would be appearing within driving distance from our house in Clinton, New Jersey, at the Clinton Book Shop, well, Chuckie was beside himself to meet his hero.
    Now Jackson Galaxy is a star.  Even to the small town of Clinton, New Jersey, he attracted over a hundred people on a late Tuesday afternoon.  Somehow he lured way too many people into a vintage-style book shop, forced them to cram themselves into a tiny space, which was way too hot, even with the fans whirling away, to hear him speak.
    It was magical.
    No one brought their cat.
    Even though the entire show My Cat From Hell revolves around cats, CATS WERE NOT INVITED.
    Chuck did not think that was fair.
    And, as usual, he put on his chuck face and that face can be persuasive.  He went so far as to hide out in my smart bag, in a vain attempt to smuggle his way into the book shop.
    My husband Bob felt sorry for him.  “Give the kid a break.  Let’s take him with us.”
    “There’s no way I can get that cat into the book shop.  The place is going to be mobbed.”
    “You can try.”
    Now, usually, I’m the optimistic, against all odds, kind of person.  I tried my best to reason with the belly boy.  “Chuck, it’s going to be hot as blazes in there.  But if you insist on going, I don’t want to hear a meow out of you.  I mean it.  Not a sound.  If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of him.  But that’s it.  He will not be able to pet you.”
    What was I thinking?
    When we arrived, we were way in the back.  The microphone was not state of the art.  It was HOT and STUFFY.  But there was magic in the air.  Plus, I volunteer for a local cat shelter Tabby’s Place, and the book shop was taking up donations for Tabby’s Place, so that was a big plus.
    Jackson Galaxy was cool and funny and just like the way he appears on TV.  He spoke for a few minutes before he sat down and began signing books.  Despite the fact that Chuck was squished into my smart bag, and sweating, the belly boy listened to his every word and then waited patiently as we inched closer and closer to the front.
    Finally, we were the next ones to get our book signed and meet the one and only Jackson Galaxy.  My smart bag was opened, and I had a kind of scarf stretched across the top to disguise the fact that Chuck was hiding inside.  The plan would have worked if Chuck had kept to his side of the bargain.
    He didn’t.
    I guess that’s why he’s got this reputation for being a rascal cat.
    It dawned on Bob and me at about the same time that Chuck had no intention of remaining in the smart bag while I got my autograph and met the great Jackson Galaxy.  Chuck began to squirm big time.  He was literally planning to claw his way out.  Maybe hop onto the table and plop himself, belly and all, right in front of the cat whisperer.  Surprise the hell out of him.
    Harvey, the owner, pointed to me.  “Okay,” he said.  “You’re next.”
    Bob was supposed to stand there with my iphone and take the photo.
    Now we had to think fast.
    Bob handed me the iphone, grabbed the smart bag off my shoulder, and ran toward the front door of the book shop.  Now, luckily, it was so hot inside that the owners had opened the double doors in front, so escape outside, through the front, was easy peasy.
    Although, I’m sure everyone wondered why the hell my husband was suddenly rushing to stand near the front door.
    I, pretending not to notice that my husband was acting crazy, waltzed up calm as could be, holding my Cat Daddy book in one arm and my iphone in the other, and asked Jackson--in a cool twist of irony--to autograph the book to “Kate, Bob and CHUCK.”  
    Then I shook Jackson Galaxy’s hand and told him how much I enjoyed his show.  Of course, I told him ABOUT CHUCK.  His biggest fan.
    Harvey offered to take our photo.  I smiled.  I would deal with Chuck later.  For now--My Cat From Hell--would just have to get over it.


To read more about Chuck and his adventures, log onto my website: www.katelutter.com
 Wild Point Island, my paranormal romance, is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.  Recently it was rated 5 Stars by The E Book Reviewers, who said, "At the very core . . . is a multi-level mystery, with plot twists and turns that you never expected. And there is a deep touching love story that grasped my heart and never let go.  This is one book you must go buy now; once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it back down."  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chuck Salutes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

         Chuck, the rascal cat, did not grow up wanting to be a soldier cat.
      He does not know that much about history.
      But every night when we’re home, he plasters himself on the rug in front of the television and watches the news.
      He knows about Arlington National Cemetery and the eternal flame that burns for President John F. Kennedy.  
      I shouldn’t have been surprised when one day he pointed with his paw to an article about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  
     That is how Chuckie usually communicates with us.
     He wanted to see the ceremony. 
     And with Armed Forces Day coming up, and Memorial Day just around the corner, I thought what better way to honor our soldiers and pay tribute, than to visit this special place.
    From our hotel in Washington, D.C., we took the subway and then walked the rest of the way to Arlington National Cemetery.   At the cemetery we purchased a ticket for the shuttle bus service that rides you around to all the key sights, otherwise it would take hours to walk from sight to sight. 
    On our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I told Chuck that other countries in the world have their own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  as a way to honor all the soldiers who fight in battle and yet cannot be identified when the war is over.  In fact, it’s key to the concept of this monument that the body buried within the tomb be unidentifiable so that the tomb can maintain its symbolic meaning.  
    The soldier buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is there to represent all the soldiers who fought and were never found after the war was over.  
    “Did you get that, Chuck?”
    I can never be sure, but he tilted his head in his usual Chuck fashion and we moved closer to the area where the soldiers go through the ceremony.  
    There is always a crowd.
    On the day we were there, a small group of high school students presented the uniformed soldiers with a wreath to be laid on the tomb.  Approximately eighty tourists stood in respectful silence, watching, as the soldiers followed a very precise pattern of marching back and forth in front of the tomb.  It was both elegant and precise.   
    My usually antsy Chuck went perfectly still as he peeked out of my smart bag.  He watched the soldiers perform their set maneuvers.  The entire ceremony lasted only a few minutes, but it was filled with emotion.  
    Maybe, as you stand there in the cemetery, surrounded by thousands of gravestones, the reality gets to you.
    Each gravestone represents a wounded warrior.  
    A man and woman who gave his or her life selflessly for their country.  
    For our country.   
    To maintain our way of life.  
    For us. 
    When the ceremony was over, I showed Chuck how to salute the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 
    “It is a sign of respect,” I said.
    Although Chuck usually hates to be told what to do, he didn’t fight me this time.  
    The rascal cat saluted the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.    


Wild Point Island, my paranormal romance, is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.  Recently it was rated 5 Stars by The E Book Reviewers, who said, "At the very core . . . is a multi-level mystery, with plot twists and turns that you never expected. And there is a deep touching love story that grasped my heart and never let go.  This is one book you must go buy now; once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it back down."  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chuck POSES at the Museum of Natural History

       My rascal cat Chuckster is an anomaly.

       He likes to meet other animals.

       When we were in France, I suspect he fell in love with a French cow.

       And in Vienna, Austria, he gave me no peace until he’d stared into the eyes of an orangutan.  

       Once we arrived back in the states, we took a quick jaunt to Washington, D.C., and ever mindful of Chuck’s education, I was eager to take the kid to the National Museum of Natural History.

       Yes, this was my idea because I’d been there before and I thought that Chuckie would get the biggest kick out of their stuffed animal exhibit.

       What was I thinking?

       But I’m getting ahead of myself because this adventure was fraught with challenges.

       If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s a gigantic place--two floors filled with 124 million objects.  Everywhere you’re surrounded by eager tourists struggling to get somewhere else or see something else.  Bodies push and shove their way past you.  There are food lines.  There are lines to get into the the various exhibits, and even though the museum itself is free, there is usually a line to enter into the place past security. 

       Mad house?

       But, of course, it’s worth every aggravating minute.  

       And I was determined to smuggle Chuckie into the museum and show him this exhibit which I’d seen for the first time myself the year before.  

       The animals look so real.  They are coifed and posed.  Magnificent.  

       As we walked to the museum from our hotel, I tried to explain the concept to my rascal cat.  “These animals look real but they aren’t.  Not like you.  They are fake.  So there’s no need to be afraid.”

       When Chuck is trying to figure something out, his cat eyes become enlarged, and he tends to tilt his head sideways.  I could only imagine what he was thinking.

       And, yes, I do believe that cats can think.  Or plot and scheme.

       He had that very expression on his face.  

       “No, there aren’t any cats on exhibit.  We’re talking big game animals here.  For example, the giraffe.  The monkey.  Safari animals.” 

       I had his attention all right.  

       But the kid looked nervous.

       And he’s not a fan of having to stay all scrunched up in my smart bag.

       Chuckie likes to go places where he can pop out of my bag and run around. 

       Let’s face it, his Top Ten List of places to go does not include--M-U-S-E-U-M-S.  But, I figured, this place was special and not at all typical. 

       We snuck into the place.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t a problem.  (I can’t explain why Chuckie glided through the metal detector and the scanner and wasn’t detected. Or, maybe he was, and the guys that do the detecting couldn’t believe what they were seeing--an orange and white overweight cat stuffed into someone’s smart bag?)

       Rather than press our luck, we scooted to the stuffed animal exhibit.  

       Then I figured our success lay in the timing.  Wait until the exhibit was near deserted then I would let Chuck out to see “up close and personal” the animals on display.  

       Bob volunteered to be the “look out,” and he stood at the end of the long hallway that stretches through the exhibit with the animals.   

       Finally Bob gave the signal, and out popped Chuck.  And he stopped.  Clearly mesmerized, he scanned the animals on display.  

       And this is where the “belly boy” surprised me.

       Chuck wasn’t interested in the elephant or the giraffe, or even the leopard who was posed near his prey. Oh, no.  Without hesitation, Chuck did his best imitation of a moonwalk toward the bat.  Which means--he walked very slowly.  And he proceeded to stare at him.  

       Now, you don’t see bats on display everyday, I grant you that. 

       Then Chuck did something even more amazing.  

       Taking his cue from the animals around him, he POSED.

       He stuck his nose forward.  His tail went rigid.  He put himself into a kind of hunting pose.  Very focused.  As if he were competing.  

       I reached into my smart bag for my camera.  

       This was just too good to be true.

       Chuck POSING at the National Museum of Natural History.

       I aimed my camera and was about to click when . . .

       Bob let out a whistle.

       Chuck heard the signal.

       I, of course, was too enticed with the idea of capturing the rascal cat on my digital camera to display for the rest of the world . . . for my blog . . .to even think about what Bob was trying to tell me . . . warn me about . . .

       But, unfortunately, there wasn’t time to even click the shot.   

       “Kate, c’mon.  People are coming,” Bob shouted down the hallway at the very moment that Chuck dropped the POSE.  

       Gosh darn.

       I whipped open my smart bag as lots of voices resounded in the hallway.

       Chuck hopped back in.

       The moment was forever lost. 

       Gee, but the memory was sweet.