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. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How Much Can One Day Suck?

Quite a bit, apparently.

Yesterday was rather entertaining, when looking back on it the next day. One of those days I almost (almost, mind you) think about moving back to the lower forty-eight.

I taught three classes yesterday, one of my heavy load days, increased by the arrangement of two practice sessions with a couple of other instructors. We have new routines being released, so we get together to practice them and get paid for the practice sessions.

The fun began right at the end of my Centergy class, a class that's a fusion of yoga, pilates, and tai chi. The last track is for resting, recovery, and generally behavior usually attributed to meditation. I was just starting the speech that brings everyone back to the present moment in a gentle fashion:

"Take a slow, deep breath. As you release it, begin waking up the body by wiggling fingers and -"


The loudest, most obnoxious noise I've ever encountered rips through the entire building.

Someone had set off the fire alarm.

I stood there with my mouth hanging open. Then I said, "Well, you're all awake, so have a good day!" Everyone cracked up.

My next class started late because the noise continued until the fire department could arrive and turn it off. It was a false alarm, reportedly set off by a bouncing basketball. Whoopsie-daisy! At least it's good to know that the alarm is so loud, it'll drive everyone out of the building, emergency or not.

And now a few words about the weather.

Most of the time, it snows here through December, January, February and March. Snow in November, October, and even September is not unheard of, and it often snows in April, and sometimes as late as May.

In other words, snow is expected, and in many ways, appreciated. Fills potholes in the road, stuff like that. Last year we got more than we needed, but it still wasn't a huge problem. I'll take too much snow over the really huge winds we get any day.

There was one year that put something ahead of my dislike for great winds: freezing rain, aka ice storms. That was the year my Yaris got stuck sideways after sliding on the ice at the top of the driveway.

This season, we've only had one decent dumping of snow. This was followed by strong winds displacing the snow and packing it down hard in some places. And then the temperature shot up for a couple of weeks, melting the tops of everything just enough to form ice.

Even that's not always too bad. The melting was minimal, and the fact that the wind displaced the snow helped keep a lot of roads pretty clear of ice.

But yesterday, the rain started. The kind of rain that is almost slush, and therefore freezes to the top of already slick areas and makes them virtually impassible with the expectation of keeping your car on the road.

I was on my way after a very long day of exercise, and the rain had been going all day. When I stopped in Walmart, I was going to park in a close spot to minimize the possibility of slipping and falling. I was driving extremely slow, and trying to give everything around me lots of room.

I STILL almost slid into a parked car as I turned into a spot. Changed my mind and parked far away from other cars. All my balance training in my classes helps me stay on my feet as it is.

When I turned off the main road to the one that goes to my subdivision, I knew that things were going to get really bad. It's mostly downhill, with an S-curve at the bottom, a place where moose like to hang out. So I stayed in second gear most of the way. When I was approaching the dreaded curve, I slowed down and put it in first gear until I was creeping along at about two or three miles per hour.

I intended to go through the middle of the curve and minimize any turning as much as possible. There were no edges where I could get better traction, only deep ditches into the properties lining the roads. It didn't matter what gear I was in, how slow I was going, or how carefully I approached the area; this curve had it in for me. My car just slid right off the road and over into the ditch sideways.

I almost thought the car was going to roll, but it didn't. I cringed at the sound of the thorny brush scraping the sides and the undercarriage. I tried driving it forward, because it looked like I could get out by the driveway a little ways ahead. But it got stuck and died a couple of times.

A nice neighbor and his teenage kids stopped and offered to give me a ride home, which was right neighborly of them. Later that night, my hubby and I managed to get the car out ourselves without towing.

The most amazing part: there doesn't seem to be any damage to the car at all.

I love my car.

So though the day was about the worst it can get in Alaska weather-wise, it still manage to end all right. And still not nearly as bad as the entirety of last year was. I've written and submitted two stories this year. I've already caught up to last year's count.

This rain is about to drive me batty, though. Spring weather in the middle of January, when we're supposed to be having sub zero temps and lots of snow. And the wind started blowing today, too.

In the arena of healthy eating, we've been gradually going over to a more primal based diet: veggies, meats, fruits, that kind of thing. Essentially, no grains or farm- and agriculture-related foods. We're not strict. We still have brown rice. We still have dairy. Paleo is even more strict from what I've heard, even down to no fruit because of the sugar. I doubt we'll ever get that far, thanks to my relentless sweet tooth.

I was kind of missing pancakes, and I found a recipe for almond pancakes on a blog called "Girl Gone Primal." Tried them out today. If you're expecting them to be anything like the traditional wheat pancakes, you'll be disappointed. They are different. Not necessarily bad, but it's hard to describe. Drier and almost crumbly if you let them sit awhile. But decent with maple syrup. I couldn't eat very much, though. They are heavier and more filling than wheat pancakes.

I plan on trying her "Oopsie Pizza" recipe next. :)