Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Alcan Adventure!

About a year ago, Logan and I decided we wanted to get a truck and camper. Having two dogs that always go with us when we go out, it was a little difficult to find sitters for just the cats. That meant we usually didn't go out for longer than a day. There are several trips we've been wanting to make, like Valdez and Homer and Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks. We did go to Chena Hot Springs last November for one night, since a friend of mine was willing to watch the cats, but Dexter wasn't too keen on that (he spent most of the time in hiding.) But that was a lot of driving in two days and not a lot of time relaxing or enjoying all the fun stuff there.

I remembered my aunt and uncle used to come visiting from their home in Washington to my family's home in California with a camper, their cats riding along inside it. So I asked my dad if he would be willing to sell his old camper to us, as he and Mum weren't going to be using it so much anymore. He was willing.

A crazy plan formed: I would drive down to Idaho and trade in my car for a truck at a huge dealership that has special deals for Alaskans and other out-of-state patrons. Then I would drive to Mum and Dad's house in California to pick up the camper, and drive it back through Canada to Alaska. I asked a few friends to see who would like to share the adventure with me.

See, I didn't think Dad would want to sell his truck. That was his baby and he'd had it for about fourteen years. But Dad surprised me one day by offering it to us with the camper for about 10k. This meant I wouldn't have to drive down, I only had to fly and drive back up.

We jumped on the offer and started saving up, planning on doing the drive and the deal this summer.

Over the course of the year, the plan evolved. Logan decided he needed a vacation, so he invited himself along. My friend Tiffany agreed to come along the drive back. Then my cousin Alex threw her hat into the ring, making us a party of four plus a small service dog, Chloe.

Then Logan's work interrupted, so he had to fly down about four days after me. He only got a couple of days with his family before we started the drive back. We were on a time crunch because the house sitter had her own vacation planned as soon as we got back, so we couldn't extend ours at all.

I spent a week in California with my family. Then, at about 3 in the morning on Sunday, June 15 (yes, it was Father's Day), we started the long trek back home.

We spent our first night at my aunt and uncle's house in Northern Washington. It was very rainy there, of course. I got to see my cousins, we toured their homes and properties, met their animals. I almost had a heart attack when Aunt Christy brought out one of their less friendly cats.

He was a dead ringer for Dusty. So alike, it was scary. My heart ached.

We left after the tour, around 11 in the morning. We rode the ferry (a major trip for equilibrium, to be sure) and crossed the Canadian border that day. We stopped at a nice RV park in Cache Creek, next to a stream. Tiffy and I shared the bed, Alex got the table that turned into a bed with the seats, and Logan sacked out in the truck.

Many areas along the trip were very nice with lots to look at and take pictures of. But some areas, like a long stretch after Dawson Creek, were very boring.

We got lots of pictures of bears and other wildlife. It go so that we'd say, "Oh, it's another bear. Keep going." We even got some video of a bison mock fight. They weren't really fighting all that hard, mostly stamping and lowering heads with an occasional bump of their noggins together. But pretty neat to see.

It was interesting to note that in all the larger cities, A&W was the one restaurant you could be guaranteed to find. There were so many of them! We finally tried a Tim Horton's in Whitehorse, since we passed a bunch of those too. Fast food that is a lot fancier and better tasting than fast food. Almost like a cafe at high speed. Would definitely recommend to anyone who hasn't tried one.

This was not an easy trip. Because we were under the gun to get back by the 20th, we didn't do much other than drive. We spent one night at Liard Hot Springs, which was great except for no showers or laundry. There were several construction areas. We only got stopped at one for about twenty minutes. The others were no problem because we were out past the work crew times.

Getting through the border was interesting. When we crossed to Canada, the lady asked for our passports, asked how we were all related, where we were going, if we had firewood and some other things, and then let us go. Very polite and rather cold.

The guard at the border crossing into Alaska was very friendly and chatty, gave us our passports back and needled three of us for not having signed them, then he and Logan started talking about knives before we went on through. It was such a relief to be back in the States, but I have to admit that I get a real kick out of Canadian money. So colorful and shiny, and who could not love a coin called a "looney?"

We stayed a night in Tok after some debate about whether we should push through for home or not. I wanted a shower and some clean laundry, and we had plans to stop at the glacier on the way home, so we found an RV park to stop. I will never wash laundry at an RV park ever again. Waaaaaaaay to freaking expensive and not worth it. There are even places that have coin-op showers, for crying out loud. If I'd known, I would have changed my vote.

We did hit up the glacier and the restaurant next to it. We had a couple of days before Alex had to fly home, so we went souvenir shopping, stopped at the Alaska Zoo, and even visited Whittier.

My friend Tiffy stayed with us for a week. I learned a very uncomfortable truth about our society while she stayed with us: there are people who don't understand service dogs. A Walmart employee in Canada yelled at us, "No dogs!" We said, "She's a service dog!" and continued on our way. Minutes later, a manager tracked us down to check her tags. At least she was polite and nice about it.

But when we tried to go indoor mini golfing at a place called Putters Wild in Anchorage, the lady behind the counter discouraged us from entering, saying the dog would likely soil the premises. She didn't actually say "no," probably because that would be illegal. You know that boss in "Office Space," the one with the coffee mug saying "Yeeeeeaaaah, if you could come in tomorrow, that would be greeeeeaaaat"? That kind of voice.

Neither of us are confrontational people. Looking back, we both wished we'd challenged her, asking if she was refusing entry. But in my mind, why would we want to spend money in a place that doesn't accept disabled veterans and their service dogs? So I said, "Let's go." And that's what we did.

I was surprised and dismayed that there are people like this. She probably assumed that it wasn't really a service dog, just someone trying to get away with taking her dog wherever she wanted. She didn't ask to see tags or documentation or anything. Just made us feel horrible for even setting foot in there with a dog.

So please, if you ever find yourself in Anchorage, please do not go to Putters Wild. They clearly don't support disabled veterans or service animals.

But other than those couple of down moments, the trip was amazing. I look forward to trying different legs of it each year when we go down to visit family.

My next post will be about the dip netting trip we just took a few days ago, and the cats first adventure away from home that didn't include a vet visit. ;)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Big Exciting (and Disappointing) News

So, once again it has been more than a month since my last post. But the month of June was quite jam packed. Before I get to that adventure, I promised I'd tell about something else that happened during the run of the Marvelous Wonderettes.

On March 17 I did a pregnancy test and it came out positive!

I knew I was really pregnant because my period is as regular as a stopped clock. I was two days late and feeling very strange down there. Went to my doctor for confirmation, bringing my husband and my calendar with my menstruation tracking on it. We both had lots of questions, as you could imagine. Our biggest worry is that the baby be healthy despite our "advanced" ages.

Anyway, she told me I was about five weeks and we set an appointment for some blood tests, which came back pretty normal for pregnancy.

My parents had no idea that we were even thinking about having a kid. And technically, we don't call it "trying." We call it "no longer preventing." If we have a kid, great. If not, we like our lives the way they are, too. I have no intention of doing fertility drugs, ovulation tests, timing sex, or any of that stuff a lot of people do when trying to conceive. It'll happen the natural old fashioned way or not.

So I decided to mail the positive pregnancy test to my parents as a "late" birthday present for my mum. (See what I did there? Hee hee hee.)

I got to see her reaction through Skype. Well, half her reaction. I could see one eye because she was too close to the camera. But that eye got huge all of a sudden.

The package arrived and surprised my parents on March 31. I guess I was around seven or maybe eight weeks by then. Since my parents got their gift, I decided to start telling people that I was expecting.

By the way, I did tell my fellow Marvelous Wonderettes before that day. I spilled the news during our limo ride in costume on the way to our opening night performance. My friend Sarah already knew, having deduced from something I said during one of the appearances we made prior, but I wanted all of them to know in case I started behaving weird, like not eating all the junk I'm known to love.

Anyway, the day after my parents found out was April Fools. I went to teach my Group Power class that morning. One of the participants said something to the effect of, "If I hear one more person say they're pregnant or engaged, I'm going to punch them!"

I laughed and said, "Yeah, I was going to announce that I'm pregnant, but I realized that if I told everyone today, no one would believe me."

The room went quiet as this sunk in. Alicia, one of my fellow instructors, said, "Hold it. Are you pregnant? For real? Are you just playing with us?"

I smiled and said, "Yes, I'm pregnant for real. No joke. I really am."

General pandemonium as people squealed and congratulated.

And then Mother Nature played her April Fool joke on me: that night I started miscarrying.

It was like a bloody floodgate opened. My doc scheduled another blood test and sure enough, my progesterone count had dropped. The lady who took my blood seemed sadder about it than I was. In fact, she was so sorrowful I almost started crying. But I realized that it wasn't my emotion making me that way, it was hers. So even though she said, "It's okay to cry," I did not.

It seemed crazy to me that, as people found out that I'd miscarried, their reactions were far more emotional and sad than my own. We live in an area that has many deeply religious folks, and I imagine that might have something to do with it. They considered it a life lost, as if I'd already had the baby.

I guess it didn't really bother me that much because I knew it was a distinct possibility. I'm thirty-eight years old, spent decades on the pill, and have never been pregnant before. If I didn't have a miscarriage first time out, I would have been shocked.

Also, seven weeks was hardly long enough to process the information. I hadn't been thinking of baby names or college funds, clothes or food, or anything. I hadn't really even considered whether it would be a boy or a girl. As soon as I knew for sure I was pregnant, suddenly I wasn't.

I trust my body. It has worked so well for me over the years I have no reason not to. And I trust whoever or whatever is in charge of running the Universe. If this is on my life's agenda, it will happen.

But it sure was strange, feeling like I needed to comfort other people when I was the one who had the miscarriage.

My doc prescribed me a medication, the name of which slips my mind now. A common one that goes inside the vagina and "finishes off" the miscarriage. I think mine was pretty close to done at that point because I didn't have all the horrors that other women have described using that stuff. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought it was just a really late, really heavy and clotted period that lasted more than a week.

And so now things are back to normal for my body. And life goes on as it always had.

There are a few changes on the near horizon, though. These changes would be beneficial if I got pregnant again. I'll be talking about those in a future post.

Next up: The Great Alcan Highway Adventure!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Finally Stepping Off the Crazy Train: The Marvelous Wonderettes

It has been about four and a half months since my last blog post. This is my first blog post of 2014, apparently. I didn't realize it until just a day ago when an old friend found me through this blog and I thought, "I wrote in January at least, right?"

Uh, no. And now it's the middle of May. Yikes.

So I think I will be writing down the events in a few blog posts so they don't come off as one long winded, crazy-quilt, splatter mess of words. Which they might anyway, so who cares, right?

This blog post features the main car of the crazy train, the one I spent most of my time traveling in: The Marvelous Wonderettes.

I've been doing theatre since I was about seventeen years old. I remember making my high school choir teacher mad because I had to miss the Christmas concert due to being in "Jeanette Isabella," Theatre El Dorado's Christmas show that year. I'm surprised she didn't flunk me.

I was doing back-to-back shows during those younger years. Sometimes performing, then doing backstage stuff when I was too young for parts in other shows. I was a stage mangler, excuse me, manager, props mistress, stage hand, yadda yadda. I did everything. "Godspell" was probably the toughest show because we were on stage most of the time, but it was a cast of about nine or ten individuals. Sometimes you sang lead, sometimes you sang backup, sometimes you didn't sing at all. Sometimes you got to sit down and rest, there weren't any costume changes or scene changes (well, except for the odd costume pieces we put on while onstage). Not a lot of strange hair or makeup needed doing.

The Marvelous Wonderettes was so much more exhausting!

I hadn't done a show since March of last year, when I was asked to take a few vacated roles in "The Sting." I didn't have much hope in getting into the Wonderettes because there were only four parts, and the first act was the senior prom, which meant the four girls were around eighteen years old.

Everyone else was apparently sure I'd get in. I guess maybe I pass for younger than what I see in the mirror every day. I definitely know I have the energy of a teenager. And I still have the teenage skin problems as well. (Which they said would go away in my twenties. They LIED!)

I was shocked when I got the part of Missy. But it also made sense. She would be the one that seems a little older because she's the "director." She tells everyone what to do, where to go, what song is next, chastises the other girls for not doing things right, and so on.

The rehearsals started in mid-January. And it was like rolling a snowball down a hill: it got bigger and bigger and faster and faster.

I soon realized a few freaky facts.

One, there were only four of us carrying the entire show.

Two, there were no costume changes or scene changes of any kind, except during intermission. So no moments to go backstage and check in with the script or refresh lines. Or get a drink. (Except a quick swig of water from the tiny punch glasses on the prom refreshment table.) Or go to the restroom. (The stage "restrooms" weren't real.) In fact, my character never left the stage once she was on it.

Three, with the exception of one song (which was a solo of mine), all four of us performed in every single number of the show.

Four, it soon dawned on me that in the first act, my bossy character's lines usually led into each part of the scene.

This is the freaky fact that scared me the most. I realized that if I swapped my lines or skipped any of them, we could end up jumping ten pages of script or missing several songs.

Bring on the performance nightmares!

I don't think I got much sleep the month of March. Every time I called for a line during rehearsal was a tiny moment of terror.

And four part harmony is not easy when there is no one else sharing your part. You're trying to listen to each other and remember your own stuff as well. The "Mr. Sandman" we did in Treble Choir in high school was a cakewalk compared to the Wonderettes' "Mr. Sandman."

So all in all, this was a huge amount of work for four girls to take on. We also did a slew of appearances at different rotary club meetings, chambers of commerce, and what have you. Some in costume and some not.

We really didn't get any down time before the show or during intermission either. I personally had two hair pieces, a curly one for the first act (1958) and a big bump for the second act (1968). I had hairpieces because my fine hair would not have handled the teasing needed for the second act in particular. One girl had to have a tattoo drawn on her arm between acts, another had to get into a pregnant belly before changing costumes, we all had to change our makeup to match the time period. When we got to the theatre, it was go-go-go until the show was over.

And even with all that exhaustion, it was still fabulous amounts of fun.

People loved the show. They sang along, swayed back and forth, couples smiled at each other when they heard songs they recognized. We even had a few people come up and tell us they were Class of '58 for real!

Every night we would pick someone out in the audience to refer to as "Ms. McPherson." The audience got to vote for their prom queen every night. The real winner was fixed, but it was fun to see who won the audience over each night. I actually won once, which I never thought would happen because I was the one bossing the audience around and telling them to turn off their phones. Betty Jean got a lot of sympathy votes and won most nights.

We also would pull a man up on stage to be "Mr. Lee." My character had a crush on this teacher in the first act, and then "marries" him on stage during the second act. Luckily all our Mr. Lees were good sports and got a kick out of it. They were usually someone related to or known well by some member of our cast, crew, or band. And our own director was Mr. Lee for the final show and didn't even see it coming. Heeheehee.

One night a lady that we picked to be Ms. McPherson just didn't cooperate at all. I don't know if it was because she didn't want to stand out, didn't really understand what was going on, or maybe she was frozen in fear. I was worried we had ruined the show for her, but she said afterward that she enjoyed it. I hope that was true.

The show ran for four weekends. Several sicknesses made the rounds through all four of us, I had allergies on video night (and I cringe every time I hear my voice crack on that video), and we were all tired to the point of dragging. But the four of us went out karaoke-ing one night and pretended to get in a lot of trouble, taking pictures of us in handcuffs and what not.

We got lots of memorabilia from our director, like mugs and a picture book. Lots of M&Ms, veggies, and fruits were consumed during rehearsals. I made bears with matching lollipops for each of the girls in their individual colors, and gave chocolate moose pops to everyone else in the crew and band. We made a shadow box of memories for the director and made him cry (again.) The four of us got to ride in style to opening night in a limousine in costume, which was definitely a bonding moment when I spilled my big news (more on that in another post.)

It was a big, huge, amazing, marvelous experience that I am so proud to have been a part of. I made some new friends, got closer to those I was already friends with, and got to play a character almost twenty years my junior. I'm quite positive that's the last time I'll be a teenager on stage.

Now if only my teenage skin problems would go away ...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review of 2013: The Speediest Year Yet

Tomorrow is the last day of 2013. Looking back at my blog, I realized that with this post, that makes four blog posts for the entire year.

I think this year zoomed by a lot faster than previous years. Like I've heard it said, once you're over the hill, you begin to pick up speed. ;)

All in all, it was a fairly mediocre year, but still a vast improvement over last year. The worst part is missing my fur babies, Dusty and Asuka. They've been gone a year now, and I'm still struggling with feelings of sadness and guilt, though I know we did everything we could. I occasionally make donations to some of the local cat rescues in their memory to help me deal. At least I can speak of good memories without automatically bursting into sobs now.

The highest point would be our adoption of Dexter (now full grown and goofier than ever), and his sweet and loving relationships with us and his best kitty pal Daisy. Other high points include more recent events, such as some achievements of my husband in his job, my performances with Cantora Arctica, and getting asked to sing in next month's production of "The Dixie Swim Club." I had a story accepted a few weeks ago, one that has been hanging in submission purgatory for a very long time. It will be my first reprint; it was the first story I ever had published.

My writing has been very poor, not really any better than last year. Again I only wrote about 1500 words for Nanowrimo (bad story idea that went absolutely nowhere and I didn't have the time or energy to try and rescue it, or start again.) I've hardly written anything for the last six months. I'm not sure why I struggle with it so much, but I have a hard time balancing the things I want to do with the things I have to do (and a lot of those things happen to be time and energy vampires, like practicing routines).

I have no resolutions, because they are always the same, which means it makes no difference if I start tomorrow or next month or next year. So if I really want to change certain things, I have to want it more than I do.

Some things to look forward to next year: we're trying the Mud Factor 5k obstacle run in June. Also we'll be purchasing a truck and camper from my parents, which will make vacationing much more fun and avoiding airport security possible. I'll be trying out for The Marvelous Wonderettes, but if I don't make it in the show, I'll join the Cantora Arctica choir again for their spring semester.

In the meantime, I'll be writing, playing guitar, maybe starting craft projects again. And spending less time wasting my brain on iPad games like Candy Crush Saga. (Why, oh, why did I ever start playing that time vampire of a game?!)

Wait, that almost sounded like New Year's resolutions after all ...

Happy New Year! Many blessings to you and yours!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Whole Lotta Stuff

It has been four months since my last post. So much has been going on.

Our last winter snow occurred on May 17th this year, either tying or breaking a record for late season snow. The weather after that for two months was perfect and beautiful, even downright hot for a long time. Almost no rain at all. Even so, we only managed to get out in it a couple of times. We got a canoe and paddled the entire length of Eklutna Lake, a feat my arms will not soon forget. Carrying the canoe back up the hill to the car afterwards was a form of torture no creature ever deserves.

And then on August 1st, the rain started. It has rained most days this month. A couple of nights ago we had a big storm roll through with hail, thunder, and lightning. Dexter actually got a little freaked out by it.

Speaking of Dexter, he and Daisy are so close and cute together, the adorableness simply floods the house. They are often cuddled up and cleaning each other. They stopped sleeping with us when the weather got hot, but every once in while they like to sit next to us or curl up in our laps. Dexter is sleek and still fairly small, a face full of character and goofiness. He likes to eat dog fur fluffies and carpet fuzz from the kitty tree. He even threw up one of my hair ties. He adores his felt mousy toys. His tongue sticks out almost all the time.

It has been something of a trial with his bathroom habits. He seems to have decided that he doesn't like the self-cleaning litter boxes (a serious disappointment for me; I loved them, and they were expensive.) AND he doesn't like "World's Best Cat Litter," which truly is the best. So he has developed a habit of crapping on the floor near the boxes. I have to keep them clean by scooping several times a day, because he won't use one that has anything in it. It's a pain, but I'm figuring him out.

Recently I admitted to myself why I have avoided writing for the last four or five months: I'm still sort of depressed and definitely exhausted.

At night I still sometimes get sad and cry over the loss of my furbabies, Dusty and Asuka. And I still always question what happened. I've lost my faith and my confidence in many things that used to be part of my coping and support system, and have nothing to replace them. I've been spending all my spare time playing video games that I have played before. For a while I started making teddy bears again, but quit halfway through one.

I've gotten sick/injured a couple of times recently and I think it's because I'm teaching a lot and there's no one to substitute for me. So the exhaustion and depression combined to the point where I'm occasionally cleaning the house, but not really accomplishing anything.

I had my heart and hopes pinned on the theatre's production of "Brigadoon" getting me out of this cycle. They did not get nearly as many people as they needed at the auditions, and still I did not get the lead or the supporting female part. Even with the one actor that I counted on showing up to auditions, it didn't happen. He got cast as the father of the lead female role. I guess I've passed my prime age window for lead roles.

I know that I would have gotten in the show if I was willing to accept any role. I'm not willing. Especially for a show that's rehearsing all summer long. I was shocked to find one of my friends with a gorgeous voice was cast in the chorus as well. Everyone is always telling me what a wonderful voice I have, so if we can't get decent roles on account of our talent, I start to wonder why I try anymore.

So now I'm a little apprehensive of auditioning for the musical that is just four female roles. The problem is that they have to play an age range of eighteen to twenty-eight. The first act is senior year in high school, the second act is the ten year reunion. This can go one of two ways: the cast will be women all around my age who look young enough to pass as a group (thirties who still have a uniform youthful look), or the cast will be women who are actually in that age range. It can't be a mix, or the women who are older will look much older beside the younger ones.

The theatre situation has got me questioning if I really have any talent at all, if maybe I'm an old hag that everyone is trying to placate and humor. A lot of things I used to be sure about are questionable at best now.

Now I'm left battling my own desire to hide away and do nothing of worth. I tell myself I don't want to start a project because something is going to interrupt it (husband getting home, needing to practice routines, cleaning house, etc). I'm even reading books I've read before so I don't have to pay attention to them. I feel overwhelmed every time I start something, thinking about everything that needs to be done.

I'm floundering a bit, trying to find direction again. I went and sang at a karaoke contest where the finalists compete at the Alaska State Fair. I got second place and a finalist spot for the show this Friday, and I'm nervous. I have deep issues with contests like this, stemming from childhood school trauma. (I can hear you asking, "So why did you do it?" Simple answer: I love to sing.)

I'm even second guessing this entire post as I write it, reread it, write some more, delete stuff, yadda yadda. Argh, make it stop.

If anyone has any extra inspiration or confidence lying about, I'd be glad to take it off your hands. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Whoa, Wait ... It's April Already?!

What happened to February and March? I feel like I went to sleep the day after my last blog post and just woke up.

That's a real nice April Fool's joke on me.

Well, I guess I just didn't notice the rapid passage of time because of how busy I've been. I got called on to join a show already in rehearsal when someone dropped out. At the time I wasn't even considering auditioning for the last couple of shows of the season at VPA, but when my phone started blowing up with messages like, "Heather, come join the fun!" - well, how can anyone resist that?

I almost resisted. Having just gotten a regular schedule in teaching and coming off from a subbing stint that made me appreciate the time I had to myself, I almost said no. But when I saw who all was also in the show (and more friends have joined since I arrived), I had to change no to yes. Besides, hubby was actually encouraging me for once, since he's been taking martial arts classes in the evenings.

So with rehearsals, a heavier teaching schedule, new routines to practice, trying to keep up with Write 1 Sub 1, and much more, time got away from me. In March, I actually stopped writing again. (What is it with the month of March? I go strong for two months and then conk out at the same time every year.)

I promised myself that I would pick up the writing again in April, since our show opens this first weekend in April. I still need time to practice new exercise routines, which is hard since each routine is an hour and I have four to learn. But as each one releases this month, that load will get less and less. And this is the last week of evening rehearsals during the week. Now I'll just be busy with the show on weekends.

I found out the musicals next season are Brigadoon (the first show) and The Marvelous Wonderettes (next year.) I am very interested to see what happens at the Brigadoon auditions. For one thing, it's a big musical, so lots of people needed. For another thing, it's the first show of the season, which means rehearsals will run through the summer. In Alaska, it's hard to get people to commit to a show during the summer because everyone wants to get outside while they can. And one other thing, it will need a lot of guys. One of them at least has to be a good singer and dancer.

So, as is always my burden to bear, what part I get will rest squarely on the shoulders of what men show up to auditions. This season I was screwed out of both shows I auditioned for because the guys were too young for me to match up with. I shudder to think this may happen again. But next season is more girl-heavy, as opposed to this current season, which was more guy-heavy. So guys got spread pretty thin this year.

Alas, nothing for a poor girl to do but wait and see. And stew.

All right, back to the writing thing now. I've got three flash stories I need to write this week for a submission call. That'll help make up for the stories I missed this last month. I know that's not technically in the spirit of Write 1 Sub 1, but this year I'll settle for having fifty-two stories at the end of the year, even if they weren't written one a week. That'll still be a bigger accomplishment than the previous years.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Loss of a Publisher, and the New Addition

This month seems to hold a lot of activity. Not only am I writing regularly again, but I've been practicing routines like crazy (and waiting for my schedule to become "normal" again), and now there is a new family member in our Little House in the Big Woods!

First, a moment of silence for the passing of Pill Hill Press. This publisher was the first to take a chance on my work. They took on my story, "The Oni," and published it in their anthology "Leather, Denim, and Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter." They also took my third and my fourth stories. (Wicked East Press, one closely associated with Pill Hill Press, took the second one, if I remember the order correctly.) Last August I had submitted a story to their Psycho Cinema anthology.

The answer I got back was not the one I was expecting. Pill Hill Press had decided to close down. By the time I read the email announcement, the website and the forum were already removed. Wicked East just sent an email that while the closing has affected much of their working, they intend to continue after things are straightened out, so that's good to know.

I'm not sure how this will effect the anthologies for sale on Amazon, etc. Maybe someday, when I'm a world famous writer, they will become precious collector items. ;) (I dream big, though my true intentions usually aren't that grand.)

But the writing continues. Today, the writing continues with a lapful of purring kitten.


Please welcome Dexter, male tortie extraordinaire!

I didn't realize male tortoiseshells were so rare, though I knew male calicoes were. Something about the color pattern only passing through the female XX chromosomes, but sometimes a male is born with XXY.

We'd been looking at many cats lately, through the Facebook pages of Clear Creek Cat Rescue (where we got Daisy) and Alaska Cat Adoptions Team (ACAT, who often bring cats to Petzoo for adoption days too). We were wanting a boy who was laid back, liked dogs, liked to play, and preferably young.

I saw this picture on ACAT's Facebook, and the description included liking dogs and playing. When I saw that sweet face, I yelled, "That's my boy!"

I immediately posted that we wanted to adopt him. When the foster mom got back to me, she said someone had laid claim first, but declined the price. Because male torties are 1 in 3,000, they were looking to get a premium adoption fee to help  keep the volunteer rescue group afloat during the thin times. I said we had no problem with the fee. She had to keep him for about a week until he made weight before we could bring him home.

We got to visit him at the foster mom's house. He mostly ignored us, since he was with his siblings and they were just brought to a part of the house they weren't familiar with. I thought he would mostly ignore me when he first got to our place as well.

Boy, was I wrong.

I took him to the bathroom since Daisy was hissing. Within fifteen minutes, he'd explored the whole room and then curled up in my lap, purring away. He stayed there a long time. Throughout the day, he spent a lot of time in my lap. All last night, he slept on my chest. He is in my lap right now as I write this.

The fact that Daisy won't let him get close does not even perturb him in the slightest. The dogs do not bother him one bit. The only thing that scares him is loud noises, but he's already mellowing out over that. He does keep advancing on Daisy, clearly wanting a mama to cuddle him, but Daisy isn't ready for that yet.

However, they spent about a half an hour with Daisy on my lap and Dexter smashed in against her butt on my stomach. She kept hissing at him, occasionally batting his head, but he didn't care. She wasn't using claws.

I am amazed at how quickly he made himself at home here. It's like he knew right away that this was home. That he would be loved and treasured here.

Anyway, so that's the latest in Our Little Cabin in the Woods. The hole has diminished somewhat, though it will never go away. Dusty and Asuka are greatly missed, and I found myself leaking a few tears over them yesterday. But I plan on giving these two, Daisy and Dexter, the best life I can, just like I did for Dusty and Asuka.

And now back to writing, before I bust out crying again. :)