Something about me.
Let us spare you Cathy Parker, the Early Years and skip on to more formative times.
I abandoned college midstream to become a military wife, a rather startling side effect of marrying the man I loved. Later on, the military husband and I unlinked when I found myself too often alone in heart and in fact. After a seven year gap, I again tackled college and finished with a degree in English Literature, a lovely yet impractical realm within which to have dwelt for four academic years. Yet it was the perfect world for me; I just didn’t quite recognize it or couldn’t quite attain it at the time.
Before I left college for the husband, I had also made a foray into the study of marine biology when a professor’s lecture clued me into the fascinating world of whales and dolphins. Alas, this inspiration occurred back in the days before the term “sexual harassment” was even a glimmer in US Supreme Court justices’ eyes. I experienced a dose of it, and knew enough to escape right back to English Lit, but not enough to blow the whistle, as I might have done today. Never mind. I never really left the cetaceans behind.
The often lonely military wife life, while not my cup of tea, did allow me to live in England and travel to many locales, including Russia in the winter, where my copy of Doctor Zhivago was confiscated at customs and I was made to sign a document in Russian, contents unknown. They let me leave the airport, so I assume I did not confess to spy charges. As if to comfort me for my lost novel, the trip did offer a nighttime horse-pulled troika sled ride across the snow with icicled-trees lining the way, just as in the movie made from said banned book, at the end of which our guide took one look at my blue lips and said, “You need vodka.” Which I did.
Next up for me and my little daughter Kim was a job as the editor, photographer, writer, layout person and delivery agent for a newspaper in a remote region of Wyoming filled with gas and oil workers and ranchers, the considerable buying power of which two cities forty miles north and south of my tiny community longed to attract — the journalist’s dream: a huge news hole. I could write as much as I liked. I climbed oil rigs, rode on a cattle drive, watched the birth of lambs, ate a Rocky Mountain Oyster fresh off the hoof [this was a test, you see, to see if I qualified for the ranchers’ respect]. In general, I enjoyed a splendid if hard-working, all-hours life.
And now I wonder why I left it so late. Writing is the best gig ever. In order to study the craft, I attended and graduated from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.
So what about the whales and dolphins I promised I didn’t leave behind? Well, I volunteered for eight years at a zoo where I paid my dues shoveling up musk ox droppings [which resemble milk duds] and scraping fish guts out of the otter pool to win the right to become a keeper’s aide at the marine mammal center. Among other things, I fed a baby fruit bat hanging from my thumb, gave a polar bear her last meal before illness took her, helped train and often visited with my little buttercup, an 800 pound female walrus, became the Aunt Cathy of the only baby harbor porpoise in captivity at the time — and befriended a cranky and wonderful beluga, who became the role model for the beluga in my novel, The Power of Three.
After I moved to other parts of Wyoming, I became a bit bored with journalism and decided, after another seven year gap in education, that I might as well go to law school, where I garnered Editor of the Law Review and Order of the Coif honors along with a juris doctorate degree. In due time, the stress, the hours and the difficult issues, along with an unfortunate automobile accident, led to retirement. But this retirement gave me the opportunity to Write, and thus to endure the stress, the hours and the difficult issues thereof.
Since I love all things in nature, I also traveled to Rwanda to watch the mountain gorillas in the wild because I feared we might lose them altogether to forest encroachment. To afford the trip, I remortgaged my house and consequently had to sell it during the Great Recession. Although I loved that house, and grieve it still, I would remortgage it again today, even knowing I would lose it, to finance my treasured time in Rwanda and then in Tanzania, where I spent several exceedingly hot, dusty weeks in three national preserves with Africa’s abundance of wildlife. And I journeyed also to Borneo to observe the orangutans and wildlife there. [Having learned my lesson, I saved for nine years to pay for that trip]. The orangutans in Indonesian Borneo [but perhaps not Malaysian Borneo] are in fact quite endangered by the razing of their forests for palm oil plantations.
I now enjoy my sweet pea of a grown daughter and three splendid grandkids living an hour away [too far!] and my four-footed babies at home. These currently include a lanky, long-legged 100 pound golden retriever-poodle mix who thinks he’s a lap dog, a cat adopted at the Humane Society when I‘d just returned from Africa and found the wild thing just days away from her End because no one wanted to deal with her fear, as a longtime stray, of all things human, and the cuddliest black cat ever. Who is also fat.
I have dirt under my fingernails, as I plant and tend veggies and flowers. Unsightly but satisfying — that is, my fingernails are unsightly, and the flowers and veggies are satisfying. The weeds I could do without. But the world will have its weeds, won’t it?
And here is Fosbury, so named because he was a flopper