Summer Suffocation On The Farm

on August 31, 2021
Jitty's Jilted Hearts
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Dear Friend,

It’s the last day of August. No one who has a farm is ever in a good mood in August. Humidity and heat. The dew in the morning is so thick it soaks my shoes. My feet have been wet for two months now I hate that. And either I’m older and crankier, or the weather is really getting worse each year.

But I have some excellent news to celebrate. The biopsy of Sorrow’s spleen came back today—the nodules in the spleen are benign. Yay! Celebrate! And she is healing terrifically. Many thanks to Drs. Lynne Leonard and Dr. Tracy Freeman for the great care. Lynne saw her first and determined she need surgery and Tracy did the surgery. Her stitches came out last week. So other than the fact she is now always on a leash when she goes to the barn with me, she is feeling terrific, eating like a champ, and living the good life.

In not so good news, Scooter, my oldest kitty at 16, is having some bladder issues. We’ll know more when the biopsy comes back, but she’s not feeling all that great right now. She has a ton of medicine to take and I hope that gets her back on the straight and narrow and this is all just a bad bladder infection.

Sorrow and Scooter

I’m going through LADY OF BONES again. My niece edited it for me, catching a lot of things that just didn’t match up exactly. So once these are fixed, I’ll send it in to my editor at St. Martin’s. I like to send the cleanest manuscript I can. And I’ll make my deadline this time, which is always a good thing. I’ve started working on a Raissa and Reginald story too. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve had a lot going on the past 4 or 5 years, and I find my focus and concentration isn’t what it used to be. Maybe it’s brain strain or maybe it’s age. But I just can’t write for 10 or 12 hours a day now. Maybe it’s the whole COVID mess.

The feral cats are making some progress. Apollo, who is the yellow Manx, is not afraid of me. In fact, he bites me on the leg when I am making their food. Just to let me know he doesn’t want me to dawdle. But he doesn’t want to be petted. Alfie has actually come to enjoy a little petting, as has Blitz. Mr. Tab and Precious are doing great. The only one who acts like if I look at her she’ll die is Rachel. She is truly afraid of me. She’s in the sunroom and I talk to her but I don’t stress her by trying to touch her. I hope in time she’ll come around, because I know this is miserable for her. But if she gets out, I’ll never be able to get my hands on her again, and what if she needs vet care? That’s the whole issue. They need to have flea treatment and vet care.

I have calculated that I have to cut the grass 4 more times. I fear that may be wishful thinking, but it’s a lot of grass to cut and I am sick of it. It takes about 3 hours, and it is hot and gritty work. October used to be the end of grass cutting, but it’s been so hot the last few years.

We’ll see. It’s hard to believe this year is almost 2/3 over. Time is a locomotive now. No slowing down for any reason.

I love this silly picture with my good friends Christy and Cissy.
The pirate shall remain nameless to protect the innocent!

I’m looking forward to Susan and Rebecca’s Trouble mysteries. They’re working away, and it will be great to get them in print.

I’m also re-releasing three novels—SUMMER OF THE REDEEMERS, TOUCHED, and JUDAS BURNING. The books are set in 1963, 1926 and contemporary, respectively, and are loosely connected by location (Jexville, Mississippi) and the McVay family. These books were very well received when they were first published in the 1990s. I’m so happy to be bringing them back. More information on this later! It’s been a process, and it would never have happened without sisters Priya and Nikkita Bhakta, who are formatting the books and designing the book covers.

Jexville Chronicles

Oh, and I made some really good chili with the Incognito plant-based meat. It actually tastes like hamburger and has the same texture. How many of you are trying to eat more plant-based? Let me know. I’d love to know your favorite meatless recipes.

That’s the news that fit to print this month. Here’s a song I happen to love. We lost John Prine to COVID in 2020 and Nanci Griffith died this month. She was only 68. Big losses for me. So glad I have their music. The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness



This is Leroy. He was rescued by Gov. Don Siegelman and the inmates at Oakdale Federal Prison. With the help of two very dedicated women Leroy came to live with me at Good Fortune Farm Refuge.

My Hummingbird Vine…I truly need to attack the tropical vegetation before I’m encased in briars!

Early morning in my barn.

Jitty's Jilted Hearts

Dear Jitty,

A very long time ago, my stepdaughter Katie asked my ex-wife and I to co-sign a loan for a new car and we agreed. Katie only made a few payments and then defaulted. Shortly thereafter, her mother and I divorced, and we both remarried eventually. For seven years, my new wife and I have been paying off her car loan to preserve my stepdaughter’s credit rating (and my own), because my ex-wife refused to pitch in financially. Looking back, I wonder if I should have had the car repossessed when Katie defaulted, to teach responsibility and the value of a dollar, or worked out some sort of repayment plan, but Katie’s biological father has been in prison for decades, so I’ve been spoiling Katie from pity and guilt. Fast forward to the present, my stepdaughter is now engaged to a good man. During our divorce, her mother and I had agreed to split the cost of the wedding when it was time. Katie just returned from vacation with her fiancé and has purchased a new car recently. My new wife feels strongly that I should back out on the wedding expenses, and I tend to agree, and not just because I’m afraid of her wrath. I admit I have mixed feelings, but I feel justified in not paying for the wedding because I paid off her first car. Though I don’t want to be a dirtbag dad either. Jitty, do you think I should fork over the money for the wedding? My ex-wife called me last weekend asking me to write her a big fat check. That being said, I’ll be walking Katie down the aisle, so things could get awkward if her mother reveals I didn’t contribute to the wedding expenses. What do you suggest I do?

Conflicted Man

Dear Conflicted,

You got yourself in a mess-o-trouble. My first inclination, which I will resist, is to snap at you and ask “What were you thinkin’?” when you paid for Katie’s car for seven years? Then I came to my senses and realized that I got it. In America, you need a car to work. There’re so many questions here, though. Did you ever ask Katie to pay the notes or pay you back? What conversation did you have with your step-daughter that made her think this behavior was okay? She’s suffering from a terrible case of what the young folks now call entitlement. I am sorry her biological dad is in prison. That must be a terrible wound for her. But buyin’ her out of trouble isn’t helping her. Why didn’t she make the notes? Was she sick? Couldn’t get a job? Why?

Here’s my suggestion. You and current wife set up a meetin’ with Katie and her fiancé and talk this through. Tell the young couple WHY you aren’t gonna pay for the weddin’. Tell them together, and do not allow the ex-wife to be there. This advice is, of course, if you haven’t already agreed to pay for the weddin’. If you’ve done that, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Then you have to decide exactly who you are and what you’re willin’ to stand up for. In other words, you need to grow a pair. These women are runnin’ you ragged.

Perhaps you can agree with Katie on a set—modest—wedding amount. Not an open credit card situation. Under no conditions do you hand over a check to your ex-wife. If you’ve committed to payin’ for this weddin’, get receipts from all the vendors and pay them yourself—not through the wife, a third party.

Folks hate to say no to people they care about. I get it. But drawing boundaries is a parent’s job. It teaches the young-uns that it’s okay to say, “this isn’t good for me. No.”

Draw-the-line Jitty

P.S. For everyone reading this, let me guide you honey chile. Get some advice by writing me at