Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Call Came

The die was cast. I’d sent the 22,000-word manuscript of Dulcy’s story off to Jane Meara in mid-May. Almost immediately I called a good friend and asked her to visualize me hearing from Ms. Meara,
            “I’ll get right on it,” she said. This relaxed me for she was an outstanding visualizer.
            I waited through the rest of May and all of June. July dawned, stultifying all of us in Stillwater with hot and humid weather. On July 3, 1991, Eliza disappeared. I roamed the neighborhood, calling her name. She didn’t come home that night. The next day I wandered farther afield, calling, calling, feeling my heart clutching within me.
            That evening I went to a copying shop to print flyers in which I offered a reward for her safe return. The following morning, I left the house at 8 a.m. and began to walk an eight-square-block area, thumb-tacking a flyer on each telephone pole.
            Around 1 p.m. I returned home to nap for an hour. Quickly I fell into a deep sleep. Grief and tiredness had taken their toll.

Dulcy and I at the birdbath.

            Sometime later, the phone rang. I woke, groggy and a little disorientated. I’d been dreaming about Dulcy and didn’t want to left go of her presence. I reached for the phone and croaked out, “Hello.”
            A voice began to speak. For the first minute or so, only an occasional word or phrase impinged the fog within my brain. “ . . . Jane . . . happy to . . . hardcover . . . thinking of illustrating . . . like you to add . . . .” Then, suddenly, surprising, amazingly, I heard a word so earth shattering that the fog vanished and thought rushed in.
            The word?  
            “Wait!” I shouted. “Wait a minute! Start over. I was taking a nap! I haven’t heard a word you’ve said! Did you say ‘contract’?”
            Now I’m sitting upright on the bed, the phone pressed to my ear. Attentive. Verging on giggles. Smiling wide in disbelief.
            Yes, it was Jane Meara—“Call me Jane, please.” She “loved” the book. All I needed to do was add a brief section about taking Dulcy for shots. Jane wanted readers to realize how necessary this was. I confessed to her that I’d never done that, but I could see her point and would be happy to add a scene in the vet’s office.
            She said she’d put the contract in the mail to me on Monday. I thanked her and then gave her my deal-breaker. The cover of Dulcy’s story had to say, “As given to Dee Ready.” Only then would I sign the contract. She asked me why this was so important. I explained that I hadn’t written the book. I’d only edited it.
            Jane graciously assured me that the line would be on the cover. She proved just as gracious in all our future dealings.
            After we finished our phone call, I called my friend. “Tell me,” I said. “How did you visualize me hearing from Jane Meara?”
            “Every day since you called, I’ve been seeing you come home with groceries. You put the car in the garage. You carry two sacks across your side yard toward the house. You hear the phone ring as you reach for the porch door handle. You drop the sacks and rush in to answer the phone and hear the good news!”

The garage, side yard, and porch 
of my 1870 lumberjack home in Stillwater, Minnesota.

            Whatever the scenario, I was getting a contract! Details were mere piffle. 
            After sharing the good news with her, I got ready to post more flyers. With thumbtacks, flyers, a thermos of water, and an apple in my backpack, I locked the front door and turned toward the street. There, padding up the front steps was Eliza Doolittle. Hungry. Exhausted. Disgruntled.

Eliza Doolittle on top of kitchen cabinets. Aggrieved.

            I concluded that she’d been in a neighbor’s garage since the morning of July 3. The owner must have gone away for a few days and returned on the afternoon of the 6th.
            The call from Jane. The offer of the contract. The return of the prodigal feline all took place on July 6, 1991, the two-year anniversary of Dulcy’s death.
            She just kept giving me gifts.
                                                            (Continued on Saturday . . . )

PS: Besides the usual holiday activities, I am in the midst of copyediting a lengthy manuscript for a Minnesota client. The deadline for completing it is next Tuesday, so I’m going to work long hours between now and then. Because of this commitment, I won’t be reading blogs or commenting on them until next Wednesday. I will miss reading your wonderful blogs, but I’ll catch up on all your postings in the days after the manuscript goes in the mail. Thank you, in advance, for your understanding. 


  1. Yes, it's all too perfect to be a coincidence. I believe Dulcy was still sending you presents. And glad aggrieved Eliza turned up just fine! Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, I'll be looking forward to your return.

    Hugs to you, Dee, and I do hope the copyediting goes well. That's what I did for many years and it does require concentration.

  2. Still water. I loved living there, even though it was in the winter. Beautiful town. And I can just see where you were living.

    I found myself excited for you as I read of your phone call. I had a poem published once and I still recall reading that acceptance letter, how very happy I was. But, a book! How very exciting!

  3. Oh, Eliza looks just like our Sindbad! He once got stuck in our neighbor's crawlspace under the house. He got in at one end, but forgot and went to the other end where there was an opening covered by a screen. There he sat and complained loudly until I heard him and broke in and rescued him. How interesting that all this happened two years to the day. Dulcy was looking out for you.

  4. Oh I was worried you were going to say she never came back! So glad she did. I had a cat disappear like that once and I didn't find him for 5 years. come to find out he was in my elderly neighbors shed and had hurt himself. She took him to the vet then gave him to her grand kids. He was fat and happy by the time I found out.. I had to leave him as they loved him so much.

  5. Oh, what a perfect 'coming together' of everything. Your recounting of what happened has been so 'real' and once again proves just what a truly gifted writer you are, Dee!

    I hope your copyediting goes smoothly. It sounds as though you've been burning your candles at both ends to get a mammoth job completed on time. You'll need to give yourself a good break after that and treat yourself to something you really enjoy! Don't stress AT ALL about not visiting/commenting. I'm pretty sure everyone is very busy getting ready for Christmas and no one will expect (or want!) you to add any more pressure on yourself!

    Big hug xoxo

  6. I continue to marvel at your story of how Dulcy's book came about, Dee. What a gift.

    Good luck on your copyediting. I really applaud your sense of purpose and priorities; your discipline. Here's hoping for a good flow in the work and to seeing you closer to Christmas. Blessing to you, Dee.

  7. Life is strange--& often wonderful. Reading how everything came together on that particular day gave me chills.

    Take whatever time you need. WE'LL WAIT FOR YOU!

  8. Purr-fection! Loved every word! And I can't wait to read your book!

  9. How wonderful. And Jane sounds like a sweetheart :0)

  10. But you know, great cat, great story, yeah yeah...but of course, you are a great WRITER which is what made it all come together.

  11. Ahh! They say there are no coincidences, eh? ;)

    So glad Eliza came home to you. What an exciting day!!

    I confess that I don't bring Karma in to the vet for shots, either. She never leaves the apartment...a protected life.

    Best of luck on the editing job! See you when you are done and back online. :):)

  12. I love this story -- with so many things coming together! I'll look forward to seeing you online again next Wednesday!

  13. What a great story about the perfect timing of so many aspects. I just love that Eliza came home when she did, and can picture her disgruntled attitude! Oh, I am missing my cats when I read your stories. It just isn't the right time to get a cat . . . eventually.

    I have long been a believer in "all things happen when they are meant to happen" and that we don't have the power to change those events. I think the sequence of events was no accident whatsoever!

    PS ~ only you, Dee, would be so thoughtful as to let us know why you are unable to comment on posts! Big hug to you and good wishes on meeting those deadlines!

  14. DJan,
    I can tell I'm talking with another copyeditor--you understand the need for concentration. All those facts! I'm not a detail person, so copyediting takes a lot out of me because I concentrate so hard!

    I suspect that getting anything published, no matter its length, is exiting and awesome and somewhat overwhelming. I'm not surprised that a poem of yours was published. Your blog writing is always lyrical and you find the "telling" word.

    The Sinbad is one fine fellow! I'd love to see his picture.

    Like you I had a cat disappear for four months. Later I discovered that he'd found a wonderful home with four young boys. How could I take him away from such bliss! I didn't.

    Thank you for your understanding. Once I finish this copyediting job, I think I'm finally going to retire--at 75. I want to devote myself to my own writing of three novels and to finding an agent (a BIG job in today's world) and to the blog and all the wonderful friends, like you, whom I've met through blogging.

  15. Penny,
    Yes, I'll visit you and your blog next Wednesday. I've had work--line editing and copyediting since June and so I'm ready, not only for a rest, but also, I think, for retirement. I plan to work on a novel, blog, and see some movies!

    Yes, it was all so serendipitous. The Universe taking care of me. The Oneness of those who raised me, those who educated me, and those who befriended. All together blessing my life with Eliza and Dulcy.

    I so hope you'll like Dulcy's book when you finally get it. I'm wondering how much time the post office takes to get a book to Great Britain!

    Jane truly was a sweetheart. I'll have more to add to her story on Saturday.

    I thought it was cool also! Right word!

  16. Mary,
    Thank you for the "testimonial"!!!!! I'm glad you think I write well. It's taken me my whole life to come to the belief that perhaps my writing does speak to people. The blog is truly helping me improve my writing skills.

    In 1972 when Dulcy and I began to live together, I'd never lived with a cat before. I knew nothing about taking her in for shots! Complete neophyte. Jane's belief that this was something we had to do is what taught me to take the three new cats for shots back in 1989. I didn't even know to keep them indoors. I let them freely roam the neighborhood until Noah was injured while trying to run away from a neighbor's dog.

    And I look forward to what you've blog by next Wednesday. I know I've missed your recent blogging. I used to be able to juggle several things at a time. Multitask. That seems to be a thing of the past. Kathy, please look below at my response to Sandi's comment. A great post that you might consider writing is just how much control we do have and over what.

    One of the things Meniere's Disease taught me is that I truly have little control over much. I can control how I choose to respond to things, but not much else.

  17. Hi Dee, I just wanted to stop by and say hi. I enjoyed reading your interview with Melynda. Congratulations on getting Dulcy's book published. It all sounds very exciting.

  18. Truly remarkable! You show how persistence and belief in Dulcy's story moved you forward against all publishing odds. So inspirational for others who have a story to tell. This is such a fun read...and as always, I'm staying tuned for more! Debra

  19. Darlene,
    Thanks for stopping by. And yes, getting Dulcy's book published was exciting and quite satisfying!

    I'm glad you're having fun reading this. It's certainly fun for me to write. And I hope you're enjoying Dulcy's book.