Sunday, September 30, 2012

I've Got Kitty Pride

I feel stupidly guilty that the dog has his own post on my blog but the cat does not. Intellectually, I understand that the pets don't give a damn whether or not I'm talking about them on the Internet. What can I say? The husband claims that I'm a huge sap. He's probably right.

I also feel that I can't talk about our current kitty, Miri, without talking about my first kitty, Julian.

Julian was, essentially, the first pet I ever had. Growing up, I wasn't allowed to have pets. I once had a goldfish for about a week, until, like most kids, I killed it by overfeeding it. The summer I turned twelve, I had a rabbit for about a month. A friend of my mom's had been looking in on this rabbit for another friend who had gone out of town. That friend never came back, abandoning the rabbit, which my mom allowed me to adopt. I suspect it was already sick when we got it, because it just up and died one day, although I certainly took care of it.

So adopting Julian was kind of a big deal for me. I got him in early 2001 from the Portland Humane Society. He seduced me with adoration that I was incapable of resisting.

This is Julian, aka Jujube, Pumpkin Belly, and Jules Verne.

Julian was your basic black American shorthair. He had a messed up ear, coarse fur, and was constantly full of dandruff. I called him a mongrel. He was also incredibly sweet, very affectionate and intelligent. He always wanted to be wherever I was. If I got up from a seat, I would find him in it when I came back; if I was sitting or lying down, he wanted to be on top of me or next to me. He purred loudly and drooled when he was really, really happy. He also had a very pathetic silent meow. He was capable of meowing normally, but went with the silent meow for attention. It was funny.

Sadly, in June 2008, when we moved to Hawaii, I decided to give Julian to a friend. By that time, he was 10, getting a little old. He never had traveled well. I was afraid that a big move would destroy him mentally (he never had fully recovered from the previous move, and had grown increasingly neurotic). I don't regret the decision to give him up, but I still miss him to this day.

In December 2008, we adopted Miri from the Maui Humane Society. She was approx. 1.5 years old at the time.

This is Miri, aka Miri Cat, Mau Mau, and Kitty.

Miri is an "abby tabby," a cross between an Abyssinian and a tabby cat. Her Abyssinian side is evident in her looks, as well as her personality. Like Julian, she is very affectionate. She's also loud and talkative. Like most Abyssinians, she's "inquisitive," which generally translates into her being both pernicious and naughty. If there's something she absolutely should not be getting into, she'll be in it. I thought she would grow out of it, but she's over 5 now and still getting into all kinds of trouble. At night, she likes to sleep by my feet, but can't seem to refrain from attacking them when I move, even after all these years.

Unlike Julian, Miri isn't very smart. Since Abyssinians are supposed to be intelligent, I like to say she got her smarts from the tabby side. We call her "pretty but dumb" (don't worry, she doesn't mind). She's the only cat I've ever known who not only chases her own tail, but also shadows. As exasperating as she can be, though, I adore her. We brought her with from Maui, and I'm glad. I don't think my heart could've taken another cat abandonment.

Those are the kitties I've had in my life. I love cats. They're a lot less work than dogs, more suited to my personal needs as a pet owner. My dog is cool, but I'll take a cat any day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

So Dawn Goes Down to Day

This is my new soccer scarf.

First and foremost, I am a Portland Timbers fan, and will be until the day I die. But this scarf was given to me by a friend. It belonged to his father, Randy, who was tragically killed in an accident earlier this month. As an adult, I haven't had much occasion to meet my friends' parents, but I had met Randy. We bonded quickly over our mutual love for soccer and books. I was very fond of him.

My friend felt that the scarf was best given to me, that Randy would have wanted me to have it. I was happy to accept it, and am even happier to begin rooting for the Dynamo as my second team. Every time I cheer for them, I'll be thinking of Randy. What better way to honor a friend who has been lost?

Two Updates on Previous Posts

The dog's new toy still lives, although only just.

This side doesn't look too bad, but the other side (which is white) is caked in dirt. He's also opened a bit of a hole on the white side. He wrecked the plastic mechanism that made it squeak. I've also started finding stuffing all over the house. Still, I consider it a victory. This toy lasted a week before breaking. More expensive toys have fallen far more quickly.

In other news, I finally found the other half of the magnet that kitty broke.

Now if only I can find the superglue, I could maybe put it back together.

Finally Got My Dallas Library Card

I'm so excited!

Okay, so it's a little underwhelming. Definitely not the best-looking library card I've ever seen. However, I'm still thrilled to be back in book-borrowing business, especially since our budget doesn't allow for much book buying these days.

I picked up two books while I was there: The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson (non-fiction) and The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (fiction). I looked for some of the books on my ever-growing list, but sadly they were not available at that branch. I'll have to order them from other branches.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's A Dog's Life

I thought my regular readers (haha) might appreciate a brief, fun (and surprisingly sappy) interlude. Don’t worry, if you prefer my more serious stuff, I have an update of that nature planned for either tomorrow or Saturday.

Today at the grocery store, I bought my dog a new toy. I don’t buy him toys very often because he has a tendency to destroy them in about .5 seconds, pulling out their stuffing and subsequently trying to swallow it, which I assume is bad for him. However, this toy was only 94 cents. I figured, if it’s destroyed before I leave for work, it’s not like a wasted a whole lot of money on it.

Returning home from my shopping trip, I brought in the first bags and put them on the landing in the entryway (our entry leads immediately up a flight of stairs). I went out to get the rest of the groceries, leaving the bags on the landing and the dog at the top of the stairs. When I got back inside, I found the dog still at the top of the stairs, only now he had his new toy in his mouth.

Normally, I would scold him for being a naughty dog & getting in the grocery bags, but he was simply too cute. In fact, instead of scolding, there may have been a hardy dose of laughter. What can I say; I’m weak. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of him there at the top of the stairs, happily wagging his tail with his new toy firmly in grip, but I do have this one:

Showing off his new toy to me

This is the first dog I’ve ever had. It’s been . . . trying at times. A mix of two high-strung breeds, he’s both needy and nervous. There have been days (like when he got scared during a thunderstorm that happened when we weren’t home & peed on the bed) when I wonder if dog ownership is really for me. But there’s something so incredibly compelling about a happy dog. Seriously, look at this picture:

Chilling with me on the couch, watching Sunday Night Football

How can that not warm your heart?

As frustrated as I get sometimes, deep down I know that I’m going to miss the little guy when the inevitable time comes that he won’t be around any longer. So when he gets on my nerves, I’ll try to remember that he has both a tiny brain and thousands of years worth of genetic instinct that he’s operating on. I’ll try to remember to enjoy the couch snuggles and the little happy dance he does every time the husband or I come home, even if we’ve only been gone for five minutes.

And I’ll keep buying new toys because, really, there isn’t much in the world that’s better than a happy dog with a new toy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blast from the Past

When I was packing up for the move to Dallas this past June, I rediscovered a couple of small boxes that my brother gave to me last year. They contain many of the letters that I wrote to my mother over the years. I read a few, then put the boxes away to resume packing, determined that I would go through them at a later date and put them back in chronological order.

With the husband working overtime almost the whole entire weekend, and having absolutely nothing to do, I spontaneously started going through the letters last night. At first, I wasn’t sure that it was the best idea. Earlier this week, my kitty broke the magnet that I had bought while shopping with my mother when she visited us on Maui. That visit was the last time that I saw her while she was healthy; she died less than a year later (still so hard to believe).

Here's the sad little magnet that kitty broke.

At any rate, I was pretty upset about the broken magnet, much more upset than I had expected to be, so I thought that maybe reading these letters would upset me as well. However, it turned out to be pretty fun.

The very earliest letter is from Feb. 1994, during my freshman year of college. The last is from Jan. 2007, my last full year of living in Portland (although I didn’t know it at the time). But the bulk of the letters are from Aug. 1996 – Oct. 2000: my last year of college, the year I spent in Minnesota, and my first couple of years in Portland. I know that there were many more letters than these. They’re probably still somewhere in Mom’s house; I doubt she threw them away.

I thought that reading them would be kind of embarrassing, but for the most part it’s just fascinating. The most striking thing is how much I’ve forgotten. There are people I mention that I can no longer recall, as in I literally cannot picture them, but there they are on the page, with me talking about them like they were important to my life. There are also lots of events I mention attending that are lost to the mists of my memory. For example, I mention, more than once, going to see my roommate-at-the-time’s friend’s band “Lolly” play. Now I can’t remember this band at all. I don’t even know what kind of music they played. I looked them up on iTunes but they’re not there.

In all honesty, most of what I write about is rather boring, or it would be to an outsider. For me, though, it’s interesting to see my progression through the years, especially my young adult years, to see how I slowly became the person I am today.

I’ve been considering scanning the letters into the computer and/or typing them up, but I’m not sure yet if that’s a step too far. For now, I think it’s enough to read through them and put them in order. I’m thrilled to have this time capsule of my life, and grateful to my mother for (perhaps unknowingly) saving it for me. It’s a pretty cool thing that anyone would be lucky to have.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo, Final Reflections

Camp NaNoWriMo is well and truly over. As predicted, I did finish on time, coming in at just over 55,000 words on Wednesday of last week.

I found the process more difficult this time than I did last November. I’m not sure if it’s because I was working on two things at once, or because I had a job this time, or because this story was simply not as easy for me to write. Perhaps it was a combination of all three.

At any rate, I’m pleased with the core of the story, but it is going to require a lot more revision than the first book in the series. There is one chapter in particular with which I’m unhappy. I’m also a little “iffy” on a certain aspect of the story (a relationship) and I need some time to mull it over before I draw conclusions. So far, I haven’t re-read a single word of it. I need distance from it for now.

However, none of that is intended as a slight against the experience. I had a great time. I was really proud of my ability to stick with it despite no longer having the support of a writing group. I’m definitely planning on doing the “real” NaNo in November, when I will write the last book in this fantasy series.

Writing fatigue was prevalent last week so I took a lot of days off. I didn’t reach the previously mentioned goal for the fantasy romance. All I wrote was the one new chapter (chapter 15), but it ended up being twice as long as I’d anticipated.

ALSO, I started the werewolf romance. I literally couldn’t stop myself. I tried to, but damn if that story doesn’t want to come out. I’ve already written three and a half chapters, around 10,000 words. I’m really excited about it & am looking forward to the process. I think it’s a good story.

This means that I currently have three works in progress (WIPs) and two completed novels that require revision. As I was walking the dog last night, I realized I’m going to have to maintain NaNo levels of writing for months if I want to get all of this done by the end of the year. The thought kind of scares me, but I'm pretty sure I’m up for the challenge.