Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Looking back at blog entries and Facebook posts, I came to a grim realization:

2012 sucked big time.

There were a couple of high points, only one of which was really big. The big one was my husband's promotion, so much earlier than we expected it to be. The other high points: visiting my family in April (slightly marred by the TSA abuse), and selling one of my stories to the Ravaged anthology.

But sitting here, I remember exactly a year ago we brought Asuka home from the vet after her leg amputation. I am still grateful for the year we got to have with her following that event, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't color the rest of the year. Everything just went downhill from there.

I still ache when I think of my precious fur babies in heaven. I still have dreams about them, still go through pictures of them, still cry every once in a while. I think my strong emotions have drawn Daisy closer to me, as she seems to feel the need to protect me. She often curls up under the covers with me or stretches out along my back. I had a strange dream last night where she turned into a bird, but I didn't know it was her. She'd land on my fingers or my shoulder. Then Asuka pounced, and she turned back into a cat and hissed. Dusty sat nearby and just watched, licking his chops. I can usually interpret dreams pretty well, but I'm not sure what to think of this one.

Anyway, 2013 needs to kick 2012's ass. So I am restarting Write 1 Sub 1 with every intention of surpassing my achievements in 2011. I'll be teaching a lot of classes, which will keep me busy and tired. I think 2013 will definitely go down as a year to remember, and in a much better way.

The world may not have ended this month, but I think the world will change in big ways.

And I want to enjoy the ride.

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring you the granting of many wishes, the realization of many dreams, and the wit and presence to notice. ;) I'm going to look up some story ideas now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Hole Engulfs the House

Three weeks to the day after losing Dusty, last Friday Asuka followed him to the light. Her breathing had been getting heavier, and early Friday morning she had a fit where she was fighting to breathe and panicking a bit. At first we thought she was still doing okay, because she demanded breakfast, but she had another fit a couple of hours later.

I told Logan how she hadn't gone upstairs on her own in several days, she was wobbly when she walked or when I set her down on her feet, and seemed to be going downhill faster. She could barely even purr anymore. We found out later that she weighed only about three pounds, so she'd lost weight she didn't have to lose. The vet would be closed until Monday, and I was scared she would have more, and worse, fits over the weekend. It seemed the line between living comfortably and suffering had been crossed. When Logan saw her having the second fit, we agreed that it was time to take her in.

Both of us were looking for reasons not to, of course. After making the call, I spent the rest of the day with Asuka sleeping in my lap. My mind shrieked at me the whole time, telling me it was too soon, that maybe she would get better, that maybe a miracle was lying it wait.

But I knew it wasn't. She had cancer, and it was in her lungs. Just like my grandmother, who came home to die after learning that.

The visit was much like what happened with Dusty, except that the office was very busy. We sat on the exit side in two isolated chairs away from everyone else. A lady showed us into a small room we'd never been in before, and put the table down. I kept Asuka in my lap as she gave her the sedative shot. I petted her and repeated how much we loved her.

The vet assistant returned with another lady. If I weren't so upset, I would have found the pair amusing, like the Two Stooges, dropping cotton balls and whatnot.

I lifted Asuka up on the table and cried as she was given the final shot. We were told she might convulse, but that she wouldn't feel anything. Nothing like that happened. She merely stopped breathing. And then she was gone.

They left us alone with her to say our goodbyes. I asked her to please give our love to Dusty when she saw him. We petted her, I kissed the top of her head on her little orange spot, and we hugged each other and cried. We wrapped her up in the blanket they'd given us, and quietly left.

When we receive her ashes, we'll set the box up next to Dusty's on the shelf above the window. In the summer, we'll decide where we want to sprinkle them, so that they will always be together.

I don't think I've ever been this seriously depressed. I am having an extreme crisis of faith. I prayed for them both, every single day of their entire lives. These two cats were the first ones I'd ever had as indoor cats, and I was always impressed how much longer indoor cats lived, even into their twenties. So why was it not to be with these two? We did everything we could to keep them healthy and happy. I feel like I failed them somehow, like I didn't try hard enough, I didn't do the right things.

My conscious mind tells me how ridiculous that is, that we did more for them than most people do for their pets, that we gave them peaceful deaths with dignity. And I am grateful that we were able to give Asuka a year that she wouldn't have had with us otherwise. But I can't seem to convince myself. I feel like I will collapse under the weight of guilt.

Daisy seems to be at a loss. I swear she roams around upstairs expecting the other two to pop out at her.  Every once in a while, I hear her meow up there, like she's calling for them. She follows me around a lot more now. She's lying on the table next to the computer as I type this.

I keep thinking I see them sitting on the stairs, or on the futon, or on the bed.

I have cried every single night before going to sleep.

We've decided not to adopt any other animals for now. But we are seriously considering fostering homeless animals that are rescued from shelters before they can be euthanized. One such group has adoption clinics at Petzoo every once in a while, and I asked about it. We had adopted Daisy from another such rescue group almost two years ago. That way I can help as many animals as possible without becoming the local Crazy Cat Lady.

In the meantime, I'll grieve and grapple with the guilt and the pain. I have many friends doing their best to comfort me, and I am extremely grateful to them for their kind words and love.

Asuka had found us in June of 2003, perching herself on the porch railing of my in-law's house and waiting patiently for us to come out and welcome her. Dusty found us a few months later the same year, announcing his arrival on the deck during feeding time with a mighty thump. They gave us nine years of love, friendship, and much purring. I suppose that they both left us in the same year is fitting, but it should have been years from now.

Please hug your loved ones tonight, and tell them how much you love them.

"You know, someone has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our lives."

"Augh! This is the last day! This is it! I only have twenty-four hours left! Help me, help me! This is the last day! Auuuuuuuugh!"

" ... Clearly, some philosophies aren't for all people."

Got that right, Sally. Maybe I need a new philosophy too.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Hole in The House, Nanowrimo Bust, and No Snow

November was just a bad month all around. In fact, most of this year has just been sad, what with the cats' health and not writing and gradually getting exercised to death.

The worst part was that Dusty's health did not improve. He started slipping back down the health hill, getting weaker and not eating. I made an appointment for the doc to see both Dusty and Asuka and get his opinion on options.

He told us the straight, bleak truth: Dusty wasn't going to get better on his own, and most of the options were not comfortable ones. Things like feeding tubes and subcutaneous fluid shots, etc. And none of it would necessarily help. He said that at some point you have to decide when you're doing it for the health and well-being of the cat, and when you're doing it for yourself. That struck a chord with both me and Logan.

When he examined Asuka, he noted her breathing was a bit heavier than usual, which I had also noticed. He told us that he didn't recommend any more surgeries to remove lumps because it had likely metastasized to her lungs now anyway. He did suggest a steroid that would help her appetite and help her general health. Then he left us alone to discuss options.

I told Logan that I couldn't bear the thought of putting Dusty through any more pain, but that I also could not stand the idea of bringing him home and watching him die slowly. I had watched several beloved cats die because we couldn't take them to the vet when I was growing up. Logan agreed: we were both there to love him and pet him as we said goodbye, and he could go to sleep without any pain. As for Asuka, we decided to get the steroid.

When he came back, the vet gave Dusty a sedative. He fell asleep in Logan's lap. A little while later, the vet returned with an assistant to give him the final shot. He said that Dusty was gone so fast, he was probably on the way out with the sedative. We knew that he must have been a very sick kitty indeed.

They left so we could say our goodbyes. Then the assistant returned to make a print from his paw to craft an ornament with his name and paw print on it. We decided to have him cremated, since the ground is frozen, and we wouldn't be able to bury him sufficiently with our shallow ground. That way, we could keep his ashes until the time Asuka passes, so we can release their ashes somewhere together, maybe on one of our favorite hikes.

I am extremely grateful to our vet for being straightforward with us, instead of leading us on with promises that make money but don't help. He truly cares about animals and wants them to be happy as much as we do.

Asuka is doing well on the steroid. She's eating like crazy and still seems pretty healthy despite the huge lumps and the breathing. She's even demanding people food, like meat and cheese, which she never had before. She sits by my side and I feed her little bits of meat from my stew as I'm eating. At this point, she can eat whatever she wants. I still give her the Life Gold on her evening food. She's sleeping in my lap as I type this, purring.

There's a hole in the house without Dusty here. It feels so wrong. I keep glancing up, expecting to see him sitting at the top of the stairs. Without him as a buffer, Daisy and Asuka have not been getting along so well. But I know Dusty's in a better place, healthy and fluffy. The gold tin with his ashes sits above the window with his Stuffed Dusty toy and the paw print ornament. I have no idea how much longer Asuka will be with us, but I intend to keep her as happy as I can for as long as I can.

This all pretty much spelled disaster for Nanowrimo. I attended one writing meeting, and wrote a little over one thousand words. Then I never even so much as glanced at the website or tried to write another word. I felt sucked dry of imagination, inspiration, and drive.

Part of that is also due to the fact that I'm working my butt off at the club. We lost three instructors over the summer, and two more with pregnancies. One of those instructors is back, but the other instructor carrying the club with me is going on vacation this month. I'll be teaching fourteen hours a week until middle of January, fifteen hours a week a couple of those weeks. And that's only if no one else asks me to sub for them.

I'm happy to be able to help people out, but I tell you what, I'm tired. This is my last two-day weekend for a while, and I'll probably spend it sleeping.

To top it all off, there's no snow here! We got two brief little spits, but the wind blew it all away almost immediately. The winds have been awful, this current blast being the worst of all. Once, when climbing into the car in a store parking lot, I couldn't close my door. I pulled with all my strength, with both hands, and with one foot braced. I guess the gusts have been up to eighty-five miles an hour in some places. It sure feels like it. I hope we have it before Christmas rolls around. I even prefer the below zero temps to this wind. At least that gave us some beautiful frost.

So, generally depressing. But I'm trying to find some bright spots. We still have Asuka, and she still seems to be enjoying life. Daisy, Bruno, and Uffda all seem happy. I talked to some people with Alaska Cat Adoption about the possibility of fostering in the future. Logan got a promotion to a position he was hoping to get. And all this exercising keeps me looking hot. :)

Since 2012 was almost nil in writing production (I did sell one erotic story, and I'm still waiting to hear on another horror story), I plan on restarting my commitment to Write 1 Sub 1 for 2013. I hope to make it a better year than 2011 was for my writing.

That is, as long as the world doesn't end on December 21st. ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bad Blogger! No Doughnut!

Um, so I guess it has been approximately three months since my last blog post? Boy, am I rotten at this whole writing thing.

Well, things have been rather screwy, what with changes in my husband's job, practicing new routines, and trying to complete a costume in time for a Halloween karaoke party this weekend. Which isn't done yet.

The biggest thing that has happened concerns my cats. My Tripawed Wonder seems to be doing okay, except that her lump has returned with reinforcements. They don't seem to be bothering her at this time, but I continue giving her the ES Clear drops since she appears so healthy otherwise. ES Clear has been improved and renamed to Life Gold now. Doesn't need to be refrigerated, which is nice, since Asuka hates cold stuff.

I can't take her to the vet now because a week ago, Dusty ended up staying at the vet for four days due to renal failure. Unfortunately, what caused it can't really be determined right now. The biggest signal was that he stopped eating, stopped using the litter box, and drank water like crazy. Then his coat got dull and saggy, his eyes sunken and weepy, and he got extremely lethargic, though restless.

He started eating shortly after getting fluids. When I went to visit him, he had his face in his food bowl. Everyone that worked there loved him, said he was so friendly.

Now back at home, he's on canned K/D. The other two are also on a canned food diet now. I've read all the information on how it can be better for cats' health, and I went with my vet's recommendation on food that wouldn't be bad for him if Dusty got hold of some of it.

Dusty is also on a medication, the name of which escapes me at the moment. He gets it every three and a half days, and there's even a choice of flavors. He's not fond of it being forced on him, but he doesn't seem to mind the taste of it either.

He's thriving, though he's not quite back to his normal self. He's more mellow now, as though tired easily. But something interesting happened in the house while he was gone:

Daisy started coming upstairs.

In the year and a half since we adopted her, she has stayed downstairs while Dusty and Asuka ruled the upstairs. I guess since Asuka didn't pitch a fit when she came up to investigate, and Dusty wasn't there to protest, she has decided it's safe enough now. Daisy loves sleeping under the covers in our bed. And playing with the ear plugs I wear when hubby snores. I'll have to clean things up now since she plays with everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING.

That's all I can think of to post at the moment. I'll try to be more regular with this whole writing thing. Especially since next month is Nanowrimo. :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ravaged Blog Hop!

One of the things I love about writing is that it's introducing me to concepts that I've never experienced before. This is my first time participating in a "blog hop," where several writers are hosting interviews with other writers on their blogs.

Ravaged Blog Hop - 5 blogs, 10 authors, 10 copies to be won!

Welcome to the Ravaged Author Blog Hop

To celebrate the release of Ravaged this weekend, the authors have done a little Q&A hosted by five of the authors on their blogs. Starting Friday, August 3rd through Monday, August 6th, take a journey to see what brought the stories of this phantasmagorical anthology to light.

Each blog features two interviews, and if you comment you have a chance to win one of 10 PDF copies of Ravaged kindly donated by all the authors.

The blog links can be found below so please go and check out all the interviews.
Annabeth Leong

D.F. Krieger

Silvia Violet

SJ Thomas

Erin O'Riordan

I hope you enjoy these interviews as much as I enjoyed being a part of them. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

So what's going on with me now?

As usual, I just realized I hadn't posted anything in a little more than a month. That's because my writing habits have gone completely out the window.

I realize it's a lot like exercise. Exercise is so much a part of me now that even if I quit my teaching job, I'd probably still feel the need to exercise just as often. However, if I were to stop for a period of time, say for vacation, I know how hard it would be to get going again. Even harder for someone who hasn't done a lot of exercising to begin with.

As far as writing is concerned, I'm a beginner. It hasn't become habit for me, like exercise has.

I'm in the middle of two stories at this time. And my "Encantado" story will soon be released as part of the Ravaged Anthology from Breathless Press. I got a check in the mail that reflected the royalties from an anthology published last year.

I think that was the kick in the pants I needed to plant these pants back in the chair. At least I have a more comfortable chair to sit in now than I did before.

I'm also considering maybe I need a change of venue. As in, different places to write, rather than this same desk over and over, day in and day out. Thinking of maybe getting addicted to coffee and hanging out in coffee houses.

Except I hate coffee. I guess it will have to be coco and smoothies.

I just have a hard time motivating myself to leave the house these days. When I do, it's to go teach. I love the formats that I teach, and I love the fantastic body I get from teaching all these classes. And the club has been updating the equipment, making the actual teaching more enjoyable.

I'm just so tired. July is the hardest month because I'm learning four new routines, teaching all my own classes, and subbing for a lot of instructors who go on vacation during the summer. At least now all the new releases are done, so I can stop practicing for a month. Sigh.

All that movement means that when I get home, all I want to do is space out in front of the TV, or play a video game that doesn't really involve a lot of thinking. When I sit down to write, I end up staring out the window for fifteen minutes instead, because I can't string any coherent thoughts together.

But this month is almost over. I knew back in May that this was going to be a hard one, and it was.

I just have to remind myself of this in January when everything is dead and boring.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: Six months later ...

I haven't posted on my little tripawed kitty's recovery and adjustment because she'd been doing so well, there was nothing really to say. She's almost completely the same as she used to be, with the exception of the fact that she can no longer move stealthily like cats do. She sounds more like an elephant wearing snowshoes. I can usually hear her from anywhere in the house.

For a while, I even stopped giving her the ES Clear. This was because she doesn't eat much canned food, and I can't put it on the dry, since she eats so randomly. Also, the other two fat cats mob me whenever they hear the refrigerator open because they know it means good stuff is coming out. It's hard to separate Asuka enough so that she will actually eat the food with the drops on it. And she does NOT tolerate having the drops put in her mouth with the dropper.

Everything was going well. She was healthy and happy.

Until I discovered a new lump where her shoulder used to be.

As with the last time, this tumor didn't seem to bother her any. Nor did her health seem off in any way. But knowing what we know now, I decided to take her to the vet to see what he thought.

He told me honestly that if it were his cat, he'd do the surgery to remove the tumor. She's healthy, and removing the tumor could help her stay that way. Since he had a week off, he told me to take the time to think about it.

The tumor had popped up pretty quickly. I check her almost every day. I thought to myself, if there's a possibility that this is her last year with us, I want to do whatever I can to make her happy. I told my husband that I wish animals could tell us what they want.

That night, hubby had a dream that Asuka was talking. All he could remember was that she said she wanted to have fun.

So I dug out her old collar, put it on her, and let her go outside.

She's always trying to get outside once the weather warms up. She yowls at the door, begging for the chance. So I figured I'd let her do that on the days that I don't go anywhere, so I could be there to let her back in the moment she wants to. (The collar is to let the neighbors know that she has a home.)

I also started her back on the ES Clear. If there's a possibility this could improve her situation to the point that the tumors don't come back, I'm willing to put up with the hassle. At least she seems interested in the canned food now, though I can't usually get her to eat it more than once a day.

So today she went back to the vet to have the lump removed.

She's got a row of staples running along her neck and shoulder area. The vet said he got as much of it as he could, and also removed a couple of much smaller tumors in her neck. He took very little muscle tissue in the process. He seemed very satisfied about the results.

The funniest part is that last time we brought her home, I thought she'd want to be downstairs by the fire, since it was December. She proved me wrong by running upstairs and hiding. So I thought this time I'd take her upstairs so she could hide. Ten minutes later, she came down the stairs (very wobbly and slowly) to sit by the heater.

She's a very contrary kitty. I don't even try to predict anything with her anymore. :)

Tonight I brought home a can of tuna to see if she'd be interested in it. After sitting by the heat for a while earlier in the evening, she threw up a couple of times and seemed way out of it still, so I took her back upstairs and blocked the stairs with the ironing board. I offered her the tuna water with some flakes of tuna floating in it.

Once again, tuna water saves my sanity. She drank most of it and nibbled some tuna as well.

And just a few minutes ago, as I sat here at the computer, she suddenly hopped into my lap, scaring the beejeezus out of me. I didn't even hear her coming this time!

For all that she's acting drunk as a skunk, she still seems very healthy. She's behaving just like herself, albeit a more wobbly version. I have the feeling she's going to be sleeping on top of me tonight.

And that makes me a very happy girl.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My TSA Experience

Pardon me while I brush the dust off my soap box. I try not to use it and abuse it too often.

>cough, cough<


As you can probably tell from the title of my blog, I live in Alaska. The only family I have here is my husband. Everyone else in our family lives in the Lower 48. I travel to visit them as often as I can, which isn't very often.

Main method of traveling: commercial plane, of course.

Let me attempt to sum up the other ways of traveling to the Lower 48. You can drive through Canada, but of course they have their own rules, which makes it very difficult to protect yourself with your weapon of choice. Depending on how much time you spend driving each day, it would take at least four days, probably more (maybe less if you drive like a zombie) to get to California. Unless you want to sleep at rest stops or the side of the road, you'll need money to stay in hotels. And this is just one way. You'd double that to come back to Alaska the same way.

Gas alone for a round trip like that would be about $1,000.

You could drive part of the way and do part on the ferries. I looked at the cost for a ferry from Whittier (a couple hours drive from where I live) to Bellingham, Washington (I think that was the place). For a round trip with your car, it would cost over $2,000, and that doesn't include sleeping accommodations. You would camp on the deck or sleep in your car. Google Maps suggests doing three ferries, taking you to Juneau, and then to Washington. I didn't look at the cost of this collectively, but it sure doesn't save any time. Also, you are at the mercy of the ferry launch dates, which are extremely limited.

In other words, this is more like booking a cruise vacation, something that you do once in a great while when you've saved up the money. Not the little week-long jaunts I do once or twice a year to see the fam.

I haven't done much research on private planes, but I hear from other people that they're just as pricey, that you have to put a lot of trust in a pilot that you don't know, and that you can't take much with you. (Anyone with experience in this area, please feel free to comment, as I am still researching the cost effectiveness of travel methods out of Alaska.)

Also, getting my own pilot's license is out of the question. :)

That pretty much leaves you with commercial flying as the most cost effective and fastest method of travel to and from Alaska. Especially if you use credit card award miles most of the time, like I do.

I had no issue with flying until recently. I don't like it, to be sure. I'm a Taurus; I prefer my feet planted on the Earth and my nose in the grass. I get migraines easily, so I have to drink a lot of water. I try to sit at a window seat because I develop rashes under my arms when I'm stuck in the middle (due to my nervous sweating). I've had some of the worst seat mates, like the drunk guy trying to pick a fight with the guy on my other side. (I'm pretty sure there's a blog post on that one somewhere.)

Security is annoying, but I was always prepared and swept right through without a problem. The agents love my karate moose that travels with me.

So before, I would have said commercial flight was tolerable.

Here's what happened to me last month to change that.

Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage has acquired the new body scanners. I don't know which ones they are specifically, whether they take nude photos or the generic ones. My heart sank as soon as I saw it. I'd done some research on the subject when the uproar started. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't enough evidence to support the idea that these things are safe. When doctors say they won't go through them, I find this rather damning. Of course TSA isn't going to say anything bad about them. If they admitted anything, no one would tolerate their use.

Take the anecdote that someone related to me recently: when the police started using scan guns to clock speeders, there was a jump in testicular cancer because the officers were putting the "safe" scan guns in their laps.

How about the fact that certain foods are concluded to be safe, then not, then safe again? Do we humans really know that much about something that hasn't been tested for long periods of time?

Here's the trump for me. Forget about whether it's healthy for the individual going through once or twice a year, like me. What about the people that work around these things for full shifts, day in and day out? Have the scanners been tested for the long term health of the TSA agents themselves?

Anyway, I decided it wasn't worth it to me to go through it. And they were sending EVERYONE through it that evening. It wasn't random selection. Maybe it was because there weren't as many people traveling that evening. I don't know.

I opted out.

The gentleman called "Female opt out," and had me stand aside. One traveler got confused when she saw me standing there, thinking she was waiting in line behind me. Other than that, I don't know if anyone else noticed my choice to opt out.

The supervisor was the lady on duty at that time and she walked me over to the pat down area. I was keeping an eye on my stuff and she kept stopping behind me. She mentioned that she had to stay behind me, and I said, "As long as I can see my stuff." She agreed, and my stuff was brought over to a spot within my sight.

Before she got started, I was already shaking. I had prayed that I would never be put through this, but I needed to see it through. I've never been selected for a random pat down, so I had no idea (other than the horror stories) what to expect. But I figured it was my duty to at least see if it was as bad as others say it is.

I informed her that I was very nervous, that I'd never done this before, that I have issues with the body scanners (including worry for her own health). She gave me the TSA spiel about the radiation being less than our cell phones.

I was wearing my fitness instructor outfit: tight sleeveless top with built-in bra, tight black capris that leave no possibility of anything hidden inside, and no pockets of any kind. It was quite clear to anyone looking at me that I carried nothing hidden, unless it was up in my hoo-hoo.

I informed the agent that I was a martial artist trained in self defense for sixteen years, that I was a woman traveling alone, and that I had serious issues with getting touched by strangers on my crotch and my breasts. She told me, in very friendly and polite tones, that if I refused the pat down, I would be escorted out of the airport.

Not that I would be allowed to just take my stuff and leave. But that I would have to be escorted out of the building like a criminal.

She promised to tell me everything she was going to do before she did it, which she did. She started with my hair, down the back of my neck. She used the back of her hands to glide over my bottom.

Then she said that she was going to slide her hands up my leg until she reached "torso resistance." Those were the words she used. As she slid up, one of her gloved fingers caught on the fabric of my pants, which made her hands come up too fast. She bumped me right on the sensitive spot of my groin.

My knee came up.

It was a good thing I had warned her about my training, because I did not hit the agent. She was ready for movements like that. What if I had said nothing, and then kneed her in the face? I would have been hauled off to jail for "assault."

But she apologized, and continued on. There were no further incidents from that point on, but the damage had been done. It took all I had not to burst into tears. I saved it for the bathroom, where I pummeled the stall door in anger.

She managed not to touch my groin on the other leg. And she also managed not to touch my breasts when she cupped her hands under them. She thanked me for my cooperation, and I thanked her for her understanding.

Now I've had plenty of time to reflect. My experience was actually decent compared to what has happened to others. But why was it decent for me?

I lucked out and got a decent human being for an agent, first of all. We understood each other. And while I think she should reconsider her choice of profession, at least she did her job in the best possible way. I don't know if she shared any of my views, but she knew I was very upset being put in the situation.

I am a very thin girl. I have almost nothing in the bosom department. It was very easy for someone to pat down without touching something on me.

But think about that phrase, torso resistance. That means EVERY man that goes through is going to get touched on the junk. Every woman that isn't as skinny as me is going to get touched in the sensitive place. Any woman with a bra size bigger than mine is going to get fondled. Anyone wearing baggy clothes, or adult diapers, or with medical issues is going to get groped.

And I got a NICE person. I've heard about others who power trip, who harass travelers because they have a "badge," who steal stuff because they can get away with it. I saw a little of it myself at the Anchorage airport, as a few of the agents behaved as if they wished they had cattle prods in their hands.

I can't even imagine what it must mean for people who have been sexually traumatized in some way. The very idea makes me sad. And very angry.

Now compare this to my return trip from the Sacramento, California airport. They now have the body scanners as well. But because this was a much busier time I was flying (I assume that was the reason), only a few random individuals were sent through the body scanners. I was not, so I did not even get the chance to opt out and see if my experience would be different there. I did the usual removal of the shoes, putting my stuff in the buckets, and walked through the metal detector without any issue and went on my merry way in seconds. Just like I always used to.

So what is someone in my position to do? If I want to take a stand and refuse to fly, I'm severely limited in my choices if I want to see my family. Basically, I would need roughly three weeks in order to spend a week with my family if I choose to drive. And I would have to spend twice, maybe three times as much to do so, not to mention the money I would lose taking the time off.

And what if I opt out of the scanner and get an agent who is not polite, who does a full on grope instead of an accidental bump? I'm trained to prevent this kind of treatment. Parents tell their children not to let anyone touch their private parts. Why is this any different? I don't know these people. I didn't do a background check on them.

Will it take a slew of cancer to show the dangers of body scanners? And who says any terrorist will get caught in the first place? Drug smugglers were getting through with TSA assistance. All it takes is for one to get hired that's willing to help them.

Some people would say, "Well, why don't you move?" Those people don't understand what that would take. That is not a cheap option either, not if you want to keep all your stuff and your cars. And I feel that the economy is worse in the Lower 48 than it is here. Why would we want to move? Why should we move just because we want to avoid plane travel?

There have been so many articles about pat down horrors, about ways to get stuff through the body scanners without being detected, and health issues, and TSA corruption and incompetence. All I can really say is, "Do your own research." See what you can find on your own. Don't listen to the TSA, and don't listen to only one or two individuals like me.

For myself, that line has been crossed. I can't just blindly go along with whatever someone orders me to do in the name of safety that actually isn't safer.

For those in Alaska, I found this group: Alaskans Freedom to Travel USA.
They tweet a lot of articles about the TSA, so they are a useful reference to get you started.

This is a very important issue for Alaskans because our travel to the rest of the nation is so limited. There is so much more that I could say about the subject, but it would fill a book. Just remember that we only really know what we're told by others. So try to hear as many different voices on the subject as you can, and see what the majority is saying before you make your own decision.

Okay, time to put my soap box back in the closet.

The Bliss Found in NOT Writing

Holy Mary, Mother of Meatballs. Didn't realize it has been a full two months since the last time I posted. Apparently I needed a good long break from writing. And boy howdy, did I take a break!

I've hardly written a thing since March. I started a story, but haven't finished it. I just reached a point where I didn't have the energy or the desire. My brain wanted to move on to other things I had neglected, such as playing guitar and making mini teddy bears. I had new routines to learn, which means practicing and teaching, which means lots of exercise. Lots. It really is impossible to do all the things we want to and need to in the time we have as humans.

So I decided a guilt-free break was in order. Much as it killed me to fall behind two months in Write 1 Sub 1, I felt I needed to give over to this desire to do things other than write.

Some writers give excuses for this. I noticed writer's block is a common one.

No excuse for me. I simply ... didn't want to write.

I can hear other writers howling at this statement. They would tell me, "That means you really don't want to make it in the writing business!"

In a way, they're right. I don't. Well, not in the traditional sense of being the next J. K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. I don't have those kinds of unrealistic aspirations.

All I want to do is entertain people. I like to sing, dance, write, make gifts that delight the receivers. If I become famous and rich while doing such things, all right then. I'll accept that.

But I don't expect it in any way, shape, or form.

And who knows? Maybe in a few years I'll look back on this entry and do some howling myself. "What was I thinking? Why, oh, why didn't I just plunk my butt in the chair and apply my fingers to the keyboard every single day like I did most of 2011?"

Well, here's one reason:
I made this little guy during that time. :)

Last year was intense. Doing Write 1 Sub 1, I think I produced more in that year than in all the other years combined that I've ever written something. I was full steam ahead, and I got twelve stories published, something I never dreamed would actually happen.

And then I crashed. My steam turned into a dribble of water. And that, too, dried up.

I admit, part of it might have to do with the next blog post I'm going to write about. I've been avoiding it because I was so angry about what happened, I couldn't think about it and not have my blood pressure rise.

I'm ready now to write about it, and so with a deep breath, I leap back into the writing fray. I will do my best to lay out all the facts and not put a fiction writer's spin on it to make it more interesting.

After all, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, yes? ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: Being Held

Of course, for the first part of her healing process after the surgery, Asuka did not like being held much. And truth be told, it was easier to pick her up and hold her when she had the huge, stiff wrap around her because it gave me something to stabilize her body with.

So the first few times picking her up after the wrap came off were challenging. I was used to hooking my fingers around both her front legs and scooping her up, but I quickly realized that wasn't going to work anymore. And she yowled at first because everything was raw and sore. (I know, I state the obvious, but this is part of the learning process, living with a newly tripawed kitty.)

Now her scars are healed up and the crusty stuff has fallen off. Her fur is nearly grown back in as well, making the surgery scar even less obvious. And she no longer yowls when I pick her up. She's beginning to like being held once more. One of her favorite things to do before was to stretch herself out while hanging over my shoulder. She's beginning to figure out how to leverage herself so that she can do a variation of that stretch. Asuka is very trusting and literally drapes her body over my shoulder when she feels stable enough.

She also no longer minds the surgery site being petted. This is nice because I can pet her whole body now, rather than skimming by the sore areas.

It's difficult to tell if the ES Clear is helping her all that much. Asuka behaves as normally now as she did before (with adjustments). She even caught a shrew a few weeks ago! And she played with it by tossing it in the air, just like before. She's not as skinny because I've been giving her an extra feeding of canned food with the ES Clear drops on it. I discovered she does not care for the canned food that looks like small cubes of meat in stew. She just licks all the stew off and leaves the cubes. So I have to mash it all up before she'll consider eating it. Never knew she was that picky!

She has adapted to the missing front leg much better than I hoped, and she seems to be completely healed. I pray that we caught it in time, and that she lives a long, happy, healthy tripawed life. So mote it be. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weird Weather, First 2012 Acceptance, and Tripawed Update!

The weather has been so strange. Tons of snow in December, negative twenty degree temperatures most of January, and now mostly mid thirties and raining this month! Everything is slick and dangerous out there, and the snow has been sliding off the roof in big chunks. The snow is now piled higher than the edge of the deck around the front of the cabin. I'm wondering what the weather has up its sleeve for next month.

On second thought, maybe I don't want to know.

I've received my first acceptance of 2012! It's the second story I wrote this year for Write 1 Sub 1, and It'll be my second publication with this publisher, the first being "Bordello Secrets." So yes, Mom, before you ask, it is erotica and it's even more explicit than "Bordello Secrets" is. (Heat rating of 3 vs Heat rating of 2.)

Asuka, my Tripawed Adventurer, has been doing very well. Her scars are healing up and her fur is growing back. She has caught one shrew, and she spends a lot of time sleeping in her favorite chair upstairs. She is very affectionate these days, but less inclined to sleep on me as she was before. I'm still giving her the ES Clear, two-three drops a day, even though the directions say twice a day. It's hard to get her to eat canned food more than once a day. For one thing, she has access to dry food whenever she wants. And also, she doesn't want to eat when the other two cats try to mob her to get a taste. And as soon as they hear me opening the can, the other two are right there begging for it. So it's difficult to find a place where Asuka can and will eat in peace.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

She goes up and down stairs in complete ease. The only time I've seen her falter was the time Daisy swatted at her from under the bottom stairs and she nearly fell off, but she saved herself. Sometimes she doesn't cover up her stuff in the litter box. But then again, neither does Dusty.

All in all, she seems to be just dandy. It's such a relief to see her happy and purring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: Week Three

So I believe it has been three weeks now since we brought Asuka home from having her front leg amputated. She's getting around much easier now: her walking is smoother, I just saw her come downstairs almost as fast as she goes up, and she's figuring things out.

There are still a few moments that wrench and warm my heart at the same time. She's eating less of the canned food and more of her usual dry food now, which means her little puking moments are back again. (Oy.) I've been giving her a couple of drops of the ES Clear every day on some canned food. For a while I was giving it to her twice a day, but she's less interested in the canned food now, so I've only been able to get her to eat it once a day. She seems lively and bright eyed, as I will explain more of soon.

I've watched her using the litter box. I assumed she'd probably never be able to cover up her stuff since she has to hold herself up with her only front paw, but she proved me wrong. She's figured out how to brace her back feet while leaning on the side of the box to scratch litter over her mess. She's still trying to use the missing leg though, which I admit is hard to watch.

Today, all my cats are impressing the heck out of me. Our shrew population in the house seems to be thriving, as my cats have caught three of them this morning alone! Daisy has caught two (one of them as I've been writing this post), and I believe Dusty caught the other one. I only think it was Dusty because he was down here hunting for one. But when I went upstairs, not only was he playing with it, but so was Asuka! Again, she braced herself with her back feet wide so she could reach out and bat the poor thing with her front paw. She picked it up in her mouth and tossed it into the air. I'm so proud of my kitties (though it just kills me when the poor little things aren't dead yet.)

All three cats are in hunting mode now. They are guarding certain places and sticking their paws in cracks and crevices. I have the most fantastic cats on the planet. :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: More Good Signs

Bringing her out of hiding seems to have done Asuka a lot of good. Last night, I heard her eating from the dry cat food that is out for them all the time. Today, she actually jumped up onto the futon to sit in my lap, a movement so natural, it was like she had all four legs again. The motivation seemed to be the can of cat food and the spoon I had in my hands. ;)

And just moments ago she used the litter box, came out to the living room, and sat down to clean herself. I can see she's having issues figuring that out; she keeps trying to go the way her missing leg would have allowed her to go. Right now she's making a mess trying to clean litter off her feet. But I'm so proud that she's trying, that she's not just sitting depressed in a corner of the house.

I'm sure my Facebook friends are getting bored with my constant Tripawed Kitty posts, since I make several every day, but what can I say? I'm a proud kitty mama!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: A Week After

It has been a week since we brought Asuka home from the vet missing one of her front legs. Some things have improved a lot, some we're still working on.

For one thing, she still doesn't want to move around hardly at all. When she does, it's more like bunny hops. Which is a bit of an improvement over the heavy galumphing she did the first few days.

Also, she still prefers hiding. When I bring her out, though, she seems happier. She spent almost two days hiding behind the bed, where I had to do the earthworm wiggle to feed her. I finally decided last night that I'm going to bring her downstairs for every feeding. It's not an easy task when she hides back there (think long, skinny tunnel where I can't lift my head or my rear as I go along), but I think the results have definitely been worth it.

When I bring her down, she appreciates the warmth from the stove. Yesterday she even spent some time laying in front of it, toasting her tummy like she used to.

Her appetite seems pretty good, though I'm not sure how much water she's getting. When I see her, she's usually hiding. I don't know if she uses the litter box or drinks water when I'm not around to see it.

My ES Clear has been sent, so we'll be trying that as soon as it arrives, see if it helps her feel better.

Today when I brought her down in the afternoon, she was so comfy curled on the futon with a blanket partially covering her that I decided to leave her downstairs while I went to teach class. She was still there when I returned home. And she is still there now. Dusty spent some time laying next to her, and I even got some video of him licking her head. It's so hard to catch them doing that because Asuka usually doesn't tolerate it.

I called to move her appointment up a few days. I could have made the appointment for earlier before, since the practice is ten to fourteen days after surgery for checkup and staple removal. But I wasn't sure what my schedule was going to be, and I wanted to see how Asuka was feeling. I think perhaps the bandages are starting to hinder her, and maybe that's why she doesn't want to move too much. By the time the appointment rolls around, she will have been healing for twelve days after surgery, so I think she will improve more after everything is removed.

And then I'll have to figure out how to wean her from spoon feeding and tuna. She's definitely enjoying the combination of good food fed to her by her human servant. XD

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tripawed Adventures: It's Getting Better All the Time

So I expected that we'd have issues with Asuka's food and water intake. Also, I learned she really hates to be force fed anything, especially her meds.

It wasn't until shortly after midnight, when we'd finished kissing the old year goodbye and ringing in the new year with sparkling cider and poppers, that I finally got her to eat something. I'd been reading different blogs and forums about what to do to get a cat to eat or drink, so I thought I'd try a few tricks.

I put a little clump of canned food (the A/D stuff the vet gave us) on her only front paw. After a few seconds, she licked it off. I did it again, with the same result. Finally, I offered her some canned food on a spoon and she started eating it off the spoon. Only about a teaspoonful by the time she turned her head away, but I was dancing around the living room because she ate!

She still refused water, no matter what I put it in: cat bowl, small plate, the syringe (she really hated that.) I tried dripping some on her mouth, on her paw. She simply didn't want it at all.

I read on some forum that tuna water was something to offer a cat refusing to drink, and that tuna was "kitty crack." Indeed, today this proved true. She gobbled tuna like a starving cat, and even drank the tuna water I offered.

The last hurdle remaining: the litter box.

After a couple of tuna water consumptions today, I decided to place Asuka near the litter box. At this point in time, she's still not walking much. Well, at all, really. She's been behind the bed for one entire day, and on the bed all last night and most of today. I figured with almost two days of meals in her, perhaps all she needed was a little help getting there.

Sure enough, as soon as I put her next to the litter box, she hauled herself into it and piddled. Then hauled herself out and hobbled to one of her hiding places. Never thought I'd be so happy to see a cat pee. >.<

So I thought maybe she'd want to hide for the rest of the night. So I went downstairs with my husband. He was on the computer while I was sitting in my "gamer chair" playing Saints Row.

And we heard a thump. There sat Asuka on the second highest step.

I held my breath as she tried the next step. She wanted to go straight down and skip a step, but I came over and patted the correct next step, which would be easier to reach. She landed heavily on it, then decided to take a rest. I petted her and debated on whether I should let her come the rest of the way down herself. She's still VERY wobbly.

So I went back to my chair and played my game until she moved again. When she skipped a step again, I almost leaped to my feet, expecting to grab her as she came tumbling down, but she managed to right herself. She came down a couple more and was almost all the way down, when the sound of Daisy in the bathroom scared her. She scrambled back up a step.

I came over, picked her up, and put her in hubby's lap. There she curled up, and they both fell asleep for a while.

Now she's sleeping on the futon next to me as I type this. :)

She's amazed me with her leaps forward in improvement. I'm going to give her another medication tonight, but with how lively she's becoming, I'm thinking she might not need anymore after this. He meds were only to last four days anyway, which is tomorrow.

I have a little fighter of a kitty. Warms my heart to see that she's not giving up. This was the best start to the new year I could have asked for.