Raccoon Roulette

Authors are forever engaged in failure analysis–why didn’t my Bookbub discount result in more sales for subsequent books in the series? What’s wrong with my book cover?

We also do a lot of what we think is success analysis: The readers raved about my cover because the color red ALWAYS gets more attention. (Readers were complimentary  because I asked them what they thought of the cover, and my readers are generally positive, articulate people.)

One kind of analysis we don’t see much of anywhere is the near miss analysis and yet, I find this kind of pondering to be productive. First comes the realization that I’ve HAD a near miss, then comes figuring why I was spared the worst outcome, and what I need to change going forward. A near miss is a free lesson in disaster avoidance, and that is wonderful information to acquire.

Last night I had a near miss. I heat only one area of my house–the kitchen/bathroom area (washer and dryer are in the bathroom). The house was designed this way on purpose, with the intention that if more heat is needed, that big old honkin’ wood stove in the living room will do the trick (boy, will it ever). To accommodate my cats, I leave the cat door open in the living room during the day.

I close the cat door when I go to bed, because raccoons, possums, and skunks get airs FAR above their stations. When that happens, a domestic disaster can result. Last night, I forgot to close the cat door, (don’t worry, they have the hay mow, the summer kitchen, and the crawl space to hang out in), but no unwanted visitors came calling.

A near miss! My relief was inordinate. The damage a raccoon can do when inspired by a twenty pound bag of dry cat food is ridiculous (also expensive). A skunk in a bad mood… let’s not go there.

But I dodged disaster this time. I will think about why I was distracted last night, and try to re-organize accordingly. I will be more vigilant going forward about locking that cat door, but I was also reminded that life is not all lost elections, daunting case statistics, and planetary disaster.

There is good luck, there is being in the right place at the right time, there is rainfall when needed and sunshine for the solar panels. Serendipity is not dead. Last night’s near miss helped me re-set my anxiety and gratitude dials, and gave me a little dose of optimism. I won that round of Raccoon Roulette despite betting on the wrong number.

Have you had near misses? Do they make you stop and think? Or are you more one to ponder success and failure? Three commenters will go on the Lady Violet ARC list. A sample of the cover art (courtesy of Cracked Light Studio) appears at right, and I am getting SO excited over the launch of this series! C’mon, December 14!

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16 comments on “Raccoon Roulette

  1. I have had many near misses in my life. I tend to stop and think to figure out a way to prevent same in the future. Could be “eldest child syndrome” or Virgo/Libra cusp birthday or just being somewhat of a control freak, but while I feel lucky when it is a miss, I don’t trust it will happen again. I will say, however, that I am less bothered with a miss when I failed to try (oops, I forgot to check…) than when I worked hard to do something right (but I checked three times…) and still missed. That just upsets me on a cosmic level. But age has granted me the experience to know that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and there’s not always something you can do about it (boy, am I feeling philosophical tonight). Glad you won the Raccoon Roulette this time.

  2. I’ve had a number of near misses, including leaving windows open during a HORRIBLE rainstorm while we were out. We came back, fully expecting water all over, things blown over etc. When we got back, the first thing I did was to run in and….nothing. It was SO WINDY and we think the wind was blowing the other way and that’s how we were spared. It does make you think. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week, Grace!

  3. Set a reminder routine on your phone to go off when you begin your bedtime routine or at sunset or whatever works for you. I keep these as gentle nudges not to forget the trash/recycling to the curb, filter changes on my HVAC at appropriate intervals, etc.

    One of my biggest near misses was changing my flight to my first duty station in England to PanAm 103 the day AFTER Lockerbie. Others included taking my sole trip to Russia to mid-winter so I avoided being in the midst of the USSR collapse 6 months later, being on the last flight back to the States on orders the day Desert Storm started, cancelling the Yugoslavian vacation my elderly parents wanted to take with me so we avoided being collateral damage of the Bosnian War, and selling the house I owned a Half mile from the Atlantic Ocean the summer before not one but TWO Category 3 hurricanes roared by. That house was 9’ above sea level! And I’m one of the people on the planet who have stood in the eye of a hurricane and lived to tell about it. (Dora 1964)

    I’m incredibly blessed & fall short on my thanking daily.

    • Beth, I’m speechless. I pray that you continue to dodge disasters. This reminds me a little of a movie I saw once where disaster was chasing this couple. Can’t remember the name of it now. Earthquakes, the land splitting in two to swallow them up, etc.

  4. The scariest near miss we ever had was when a huge tree fell onto our driveway. It was a sunny, calm day with no appreciable wind. My son had come to pick up his kids after we’d been watching them for the morning. We were all standing out on the driveway, just chatting before they left. My granddaughter was walking around, my grandson had climbed into the front seat of his Dad’s car. We suddenly heard a loud cracking sound, my son called out my grandson’s name and all then hell broke loose. The near miss part of the situation was that because of the unusual way in which my husband and I had parked our cars on the driveway that day (in the reverse order that we always parked), the tree hit my Honda Pilot first instead of my husband’s much smaller, lighter Volvo. Thankfully the Pilot was heavy enough to deflect the tree from its original path which would have crushed the cab of the car my grandson was sitting in. As it happened, the tree only hit the trunk of my son’s car. My Pilot was totaled, the Volvo was damaged, we had to replace part of the house’s roof and we thanked our lucky stars and whoever was watching out for us that day that it worked out as it did. I still get chills thinking about what could have happened! So, yeah, I know about near misses!!!

  5. I was driving on the interstate here in TX after a very heavy frost& saw a pickup pulling a trailer going a bit fast
    To my dismay it crossed the median heading to me
    I immediately put the SUV from D to 2 to slow down& give myself reaction time!! Learning to drive manual transmission did the trick& I avoided a bad accident

  6. I have had several near misses in my lifetime.Two near nasty car accidents and several happenings with weird weather and buildings not able to stand up to the extreme elements.Mostly out of my control but frightening and I am thankful I and others survived.I think a lot about safety and assessments are always my way of calculating the risk of certain tasks that I do.Don’t always get it Right but I do learn from it.I’ve got the scars to prove it!!!!!!.Now I’m getting older I do less risky things but I don’t think that is a guarantee that all will be well.We have to live.Enjoyed Rogues to Riches this week ,kept me out of mischief.

  7. Congratulations on your near miss! I would not like to try to get a raccoon out of my house. We had a cat door in our old house that opened into the garage, where my cats loved to hang out. We used to have opossums also hang out in the garage, and they were a delight to watch. The Mama possum would waddle around our back yard snacking on pecans with a baby on her back.

    I’ve had a number of scary near misses when changing lanes in heavy traffic, but he near-miss that scared me the most involved a bicycle in the wrong lane on a busy highway. I was turning right onto that highway while looking to my left for oncoming traffic. I almost clipped him. He was turning into my lane as I was turning into his.

  8. When I was a young teenager, I decided I wanted to fry something (let’s just say tater tots because I don’t remember what the food was).
    I got a skillet and put a bunch of oil in it then turned on my Mom’s gas stove (i.e. with flames not just a heating element) on high. Then I walked away… and forgot I was cooking something.

    Luckily for me (and my family), my sister came upon the flames licking up at the cabinets and stove hood and put baking soda (? not sure… whatever the white cooking powder from a kitchen is that puts out fires) in it.

    I didn’t get in as much trouble as I should have and, I learned that cooking requires focus and attention and no leaving oil and flames together without supervision!

    Near misses absolutely make me stop and think!! There’s usually a lot of thankfulness and, depending on the type of near miss, it will result in a change in behavior too.

    But, I do also ponder failure more than success. It’s like near misses and failure need to be analyzed for changes in behavior.

    And, I agree! C’mon, December 14th!!! 😀

  9. I have tons of near misses. I try to use them to devise prompts to queue me to not do the same bone-headed things in the future (Tiny Habits a la BJ Fogg, baby). I have to accommodate for my. lacksidaidicalness in noticing things!
    I have post it notes galore to remind me of things

  10. I think we’ve all had near misses – including ones we are not aware of. And yes, I have stopped to think about the misses I’ve been aware of and tried very hard to avoid other ones. I also trie to think about my successes and failures, but do tend to focus more on failures and trying not to repeat them. I should tr to focus on successes and how to repeat them instead.

    • Oh, and many congratulations on your raccoon miss!! I refuse to get a doggie door in part because of the raccoons and skunks in the neighborhood – and the coyotes. I can’t imagine a coyote wanting to get in a house, but since we have a lot of themm, why take chances?? (Also the reason for my cats being indoor only.)

  11. Thank goodness no raccoon!!! I got A Rogue in Winter, but haven’t read it yet. So looking forward to that. I got my husband interested in your books, and he read it but won’t say a word cuz he knows how much I hate spoilers of any kind.

    I got so excited when I saw the cover of What a Lady Needs for Christmas! I was hoping there was news regarding an audio version, but alas I’ll just have to wait. Love that story.

    I’ve had the freak natural disaster kind of near misses, and the kind that were a mistake I made. You can’t really do anything about the first kind. But the ones where you make the mess yourself…it feels so scary or rotten or embarrassing at the time, but you do vow to avoid that action in the future. I’ve been really lucky, so-to-speak. I say that last, because at the time I wasn’t feeling like I was experiencing LUCK at all, but a literal divine intervention which I would never take for granted.

  12. I’ve had several near misses that scared me when I figured out how close of a call I had. Driving late at night I paused at a green light, just felt like I should, and a cyclist went right in front of me at high speed. I found my keys on the outside of my door in the morning when I lived in a sketchy neighborhood with my front door front and center, easy for anyone who passed to see. Then the one that entertained me until I was old enough to really understand: when I was camping in a national park as part of a summer camp, I climbed out of my tent to go to the main tent as it was raining hard and I was bored, then I stretched and took a few steps and the sapling next to where I had just been moments before, was struck by lightning. It took decades before I was able to wear watches without stopping them within a short time frame. I didn’t connect the lightning/watch thing until I met someone who had also had a very near miss with lightning with the same effect on watches.