Day after Groundhog Day, 2016

  1. Yeah. These last two months–where did they go again?

There were the pre-holidays. You know, where you’re getting ready? Gift-buying, present-wrapping, school concerts, traveling.


Then there were the holidays themselves. Food. Gift-giving. 5yo who hearts Santa Claus something fierce.

Fun, but major time/life investment.

Then there was the post-holiday recovery period, which, perhaps, lasted longer than it should have.


I’m back. I’m writing like crazy these days–damn, I love my writing routine, though I’d also love to find a way to drop into that routine a little quicker. It seems to take me half an hour to really settle in, and then BAM! I’ve really just hit my stride, then I look up and it’s time to go pick up the small boy from his happy place (aka: kindergarten, for those who don’t know him.  Kid LOVES school.)

But yeah, life’s pretty damned awesome. Doglet is finally settling into her–I hope–permanent Good Dog state of being. We’re all healthy & happy, another grandbaby on the way, and the words are coming out the way I like them to.

Life is so good, and I’m so damned lucky.

2. It’s also The Year of Cake.

The boy asked me for a special gift this year: make him a ‘birthday’ cake every single month.

Well. Never one to not try to one-up everyone else, I said, “How about a cake every WEEK?”

He, of course, said ‘Hell, yes!’

Although he may actually be regretting that. We’ll see if his infatuation with sugar lasts as long as my excitement about getting to bake a different cake each week (without being responsible for eating it, you understand. My love of all things sugar isn’t really cake-oriented, weirdly enough.) I should have spent my life running a bakery…

But it’s been fun, getting to play with cake techniques, and looking for new recipes to try to improve the standards I’ve been making for years. One can do that, you know: mess with hallowed family recipes, because if it isn’t as tasty, it’s all good because I can just make a new one this weekend!

3. I styled myself out with a needlework frame and a magnifying light for doing handwork with. Because I am old and geeky and my eyes have a hard time with the 40 x 40 stitches per square inch that the patterns I love call for.  I’m also trying to finish up a lot of the half-done projects I’ve started over the years. Needlework pillows, that quilt that’s been waiting for me to finish quilting it for, well, for decades wouldn’t be an exaggeration, sadly. And it’s good, getting through some of these.  Being able to say, now that I’m on the downslope of my 40s, “Nope. I’ll never be a quilter. I’ll never make all my own clothes. I may never spin up that alpaca fleece I bought so many years ago (though I’m not yet giving up my spinning wheel, because that stuff is GORGEOUS!) I like knitting stuffed toys, and baby clothes, and I like doing wicked-intricate stitching on a tiny tiny scale. That’s it. That’s what I do to keep my hands busy while my brain is roaming.”

So there.

4.  Getting a half-dozen more chickies to plump up the flock now that my three remaining girls are slowing down a bit. They arrive in May, and I’m already getting excited, because I AM a crazy chicken lady. Happily, I live in an area where that’s just a standard way of being, and three of my closest friends here also fit that description. Yay chickens!

5.  And, like most of the country, we’ve had a remarkably mild winter, and I am relieved. Last winter was brutal. It felt like living on Hoth, only without the awesome ton-tons.

If I had a ton-ton instead of a 15yo Toyota, I might like winter better, but honestly, I’m from the desert. I’d probably still hate all that snow piled up that wittle schnookums would have to tromp through.

Small Things 10-20-15




And the new anthology Kickstarter for which I’ve been asked to write a story is live, folks!

Bedtime stories for kids ages 3-8 (& their parents!) Probably going to be fantasy-heavy, since most of the writers are SFF. The editor is a man I’ve worked with before, and he puts out very high quality books.  I’m very excited to be included in this project!

(And, btw, there’s still a ‘tuckerization’ available at a certain funding level–wherein I’ll name one of the characters in my story after you or your child–whatever name you specify.)


Anyway, have a look, and if it seems like a project you’d be interested in, we’d really appreciate the support.  My husband S.C. Butler will also have a story in the anthology, and I’m already excited to read it.  Apparently, my first dog Sydney figures prominently, so I’m really NEEDING this project to be funded…

2.  I’m heading to my parents’ next week for a few days–it’ll be my first multi-day trip away from the kiddo. It’ll be good to see my folks–they’re thinking of relocating to be closer to us out here, and there’s a lot to be done to try to make it easier on them, but I’m going to miss my boys terribly even for just a few days.

Wish me luck getting through the separation without shuddering myself into an anxiety ulcer or something.

3.  Writing is going well, though always more slowly than I expect it to. About 3/4 of the way through a draft that will be awesome if I can just get the story in my head onto the page in any semblance of order. Actually, that’s the job for drafts 2-5 or so, but still, I’m having a hard time reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect right now–it just has to be on the page.  It’ll get there.  I have a couple of 12-hour travel days coming up. Writing ought to take my mind off family worries nicely.

4.  Xena the Sausage Piglet Warrior Princess is enormous. She’s weighing in at 54# and that’s on a restricted diet. She could still stand to lose a few pounds for the sake of her hips (in a dog this size, and of unknown parentage, I do worry about hip dysplasia) but she’s a big dog even if she doesn’t grow any more.  Also clumsy (as a sausage rolling off a plate, hence the nickname) and a clown.  Also a really sweet dog who follows me devotedly and is currently chomping a stick from the woodpile into toothpicks because the cow femur she’s supposed to be playing with isn’t, apparently, as much fun as splinters in her gums.  Big dope.  I love this dog.

5.  We’ve had one of the prettier autumns on record, and it’s still going strong. My chickies are nearly through their molt, so we’re getting eggs again, and the region is still buried in apples.  Happy Fall, y’all.  I do love October…

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Small Things 8-21-15

1.  Xena, Warrior Piglet will not be bringing any other piglets into the world. And, in true cattle dog fashion, she’s acting as if there’s not a large incision on her belly, and that she didn’t just have a few internal organs removed.

Dogs are amazing.  Ok, actually, when Nellie was spayed, she whimpered for three days, and I took her back to the vet, sure something had gone horribly wrong.  Nope, just a sighthound, convinced she was dying from discomfort (and having been through a c-section, she was absolutely within her rights to believe it, don’t get me wrong!) But cattle dogs.  I remembered that my first ACD behaved this way too–yeah, physical discomfort, what of it? There’s PLAYING to do!

And, happily, Xena’s not too concerned about licking the incision site. I’m just going to be spending all my time trying to get her to calm the hell down.  She’s been jumping on things, dogs and people since she started feeling better (approximately three hours after getting home.)

2.  Getting the last few things together for school.  Glass containers for applesauce.  A new backpack with a working zipper. Long pants. Winter coat. Hard to imagine needing such a thing when it’s so blessed hot out there, but…

3.  So if a person happened to serve lobster at a family party right before the hottest, most humid days of the year. And if it happened to be several days before garbage pick up when she tossed the inside-garbage into the outside bin.  And if her outdoor garbage bins happened to get completely overrun by lobster-eatin’ maggots, at least she has chickens who found clean-up duty less disgusting than delicious.

I however, found it stomach-rollingly disgusting. The whole thing. From clean-up to chicken feast.  Might be a while before I can face lobster again.  Or dried mealworm treats for the girls.  Or eggs, for that matter. Blech.

Also? While wrestling with Nellie yesterday, Xena dove/rolled onto the spot where a large dog-poo had just been removed from the yard. When I was done with maggots, I got to deal with dog poo.  Yesterday was a day of disgustingness.  Enough said.

4.  In a fit of nostaliga, the kiddo is rewatching shows he grew out of years ago. Like Blue’s Clues. Which is a nice change from, say, Johnny Test, but I’m struck by how well I remember this show. All the little musical numbers, the dog-sounds. It was really the first kids’ programming I’d ever watched since being a kid, and because he was young when he watched it, I was usually in the room with him.  Weird to know this show has entered my brain and is probably not leaving anytime soon.

5.  Next week is the last week of summer for us. Going to The Boy’s old summer camp for ‘family days’ next weekend–a trip that the kiddo cares more about than anything else about summer.  And then school. Oddly, we didn’t make it to the beach this summer. Or even a lake.  We didn’t do as much as I’d planned on, but we all felt busy, so I guess it worked out in the end.

Happy end of summer, everyone.

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Small Things 7-13-15

1.  Dog consultation went great, they know & understand herding dogs there, and I think Xena and I will learn a lot. First lesson in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

2.  Batch of Raspberry/black raspberry/oh-shit-we’re-out-of-white-sugar-how-’bout-some-Turbinado? jam done. Also some ‘sour cherry/oh hell no, you want HOW MUCH for another 2# of sour cherries? I guess the rest of the jam will be made from cheap Bings…’ jam that set up beautifully, and is the most gloriously colored jam I’ve ever made. Yay!

I think I’m going to try preserving lemon curd this year, and I may very well attempt a ginger marmalade as well. This nice cool(ish) summer has me itching to put things up.  Well, that, and remembering the long dark winter days when a bit of homemade lemon preserve might have been a welcome bit of sunshine…

3.  Day camp for the kiddo these next two weeks–which means my to-do list is longer than my arm.  But it’s all good.  Getting deliveries of playground chips & gravel today, shall be busy spreading them out.  Must make the garden look beautiful before my FIL arrives for a visit next month…

4.  The puppy is turning into a lovely little dog. Oh, how I love the end of teething!

5.  The next 6 weeks are chock full of things-to-do.  This is good, because, yay, summer! But also, I have a feeling that the first day of kindergarten is going to sneak the hell up on me, and I’m going to be looking around, wondering where in the world the time went.

Shoot, I’m already wondering that!

Small Things 6-30-15

1.  Last day of the first month of summer, and holy frijoles it went by fast. Some of that is that we’ve been legitimately busy. Some of that is that I’m still trying to cram a writing block into every day–even when those days have no child-free hours, which is both intense and intensely amusing. And some of it, I think, is that I am simultaneously very excited for the kiddo to start school, and completely horrified that he’s old enough to be doing so.

I mean, yay me, I kept him alive for five years! (Something I wasn’t entirely sure I was capable of, when those crazy people at the hospital let me walk out of there with this tiny precious human in my arms.) But also, if I’m less of a full-time & more of a part-time child wrangler, then I feel like my writing has to amount to a bit more in order for me to feel ok about not holding down a ‘real’ job. So feeling a little weird about that.

I’m writing, selling the occasional short story, getting agent requests for my manuscript, but number of books sold is still a big, fat, zero.

And yet there’s nothing I want more in life–outside of the family I have–than to write, professionally, for the rest of it.

Things I need to think about. Pursue the dream harder, better, faster somehow–or maybe just say “I don’t have this in me.”  I don’t like that second idea at all, but it’s been pestering me lately.

2.  Saw another fox on this morning’s dog-walk. This one had something limp and dead in his?/her? mouth. (We looked it up, the kiddo & I, when he needed to know if the daddy fox might have been bringing the babies food as well. Happy to report that, yes, Daddy-fox might very well be the Bringer of Squirrels.) Really hope this family of foxes survives & thrives. There’s something very satisfying about seeing foxes in the early morning. Starts the whole day off right.

3.  Gymnastics day-camp has been good to the little boy so far. It’s also meant he’s napped both days this week so far. Which makes it harder for his father to get him to sleep at night, but also means he’s not exhausted in the late afternoon as he’s been since February, when he decided he was done with napping.

Today he brought home a piece of artwork entitled “The Plas of Bisy Trucks.” Cranes, tow-trucks, semis & tractors–it was a very bisy plas, indeed.

4.  We had the piano tuned for the first time since we moved, and it’s an absolute joy to play again. I’d pretty much given up, since I couldn’t play before for all the wincing at its horribleness. But I’m slowly starting to remember some of my favorite pieces, and I’d love to learn more. Any suggestions? I’ve always played classical & ragtime, but have started to enjoy movie scores as well. There are songs from The Piano that are as rewarding to play as anything written 200 years ago…

5.  I do love my little office, carved out of a tiny, sloped-ceiling closet. It’s barely big enough for a chair, but it has a teeny tiny window mostly overlooking the roof.  And some trees. And the neighbor’s roof. Also a guest-room bed where Princess Wiggle-butt likes to sleep while I’m writing. I love this little room terribly. Best place in the house.

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Small Things 6-19-15

1.  Hey hey hey! Two blog posts in three days–not so bad for an out-of-blogging-shape gal with time management issues!

This morning I have determined that walks with the puppy & the 4yo are difficult. The puppy is in the process of being trained out of her determined hatred of all things ‘car’.  She wants to eat them, which goal I can distract her from with a well-timed offering of American Cheese Product.  This is, however, difficult on a narrow sidewalk-less roadway, when I’ve got a 4yo hand in the cheese-offering hand.  Not safe. Came home before the walk really started, & I’m cranky with it.

But I’ve promised the wee boy ice cream at Friendly’s this afternoon (his choice of treat, not mine. Blech.) and The Boy’s due home in the early afternoon, so maybe the pup and I can try this walkies-thing again.

Single parents, you have my utmost admiration.  This shit is hard.  And I feel like I’d give up a (minor) body part to have three minutes all to myself to, I dunno, shower the other parts.

But when his dad’s away, the wee boy & the whippet are both clingy. When she doesn’t get a long, fast walk in the morning, the puppy is insane. And although I’m sleeping better on solo nights now that I can trust the puppy ears (which are connected to the puppy’s barker) to alert me to any problems, I still feel less than 100% in the rested/calm department this morning.  I could use a vacation.

But The Boy is coming home today.  I hope to pass off child-care to him pretty much as soon as he staggers in the door, and disappear, first on a long walk then possibly to a coffee-shop. To drink caffeinated beverages and write some words that aren’t awful.

That sounds like a little slice of heaven right now.

2.  Another cloudy day, my tomatoes are loving it, but sweet corn still isn’t up.  Ah well. Happily  we have local farmers for any sweet-corn purchases we need to make.

It’s interesting, this third-year-of-the-garden. Interesting to note that the cheap weed block I used here & there when I ran out of the fancy stuff doesn’t actually, you know, block weeds.  Going to have to get out there with vinegar in a spray bottle and just knock it down.

I’m finding asparagus volunteers all over the place and am g0ing to have to go through & try to transplant them to the asparagus bed.  It’s pretty, but way too tall and sun-blocking to allow to come up wherever it likes.

Garlic did great this year again, and I have kale volunteers everywhere.  Thinking seriously about using kale in my ornamental landscaping – the frilly stuff is awfully pretty, super hardy, and I do love the idea of making salads from my ornamentals.

3.  Despite my present frustration, the kiddo really is a joy to be around these days. In fact, I think some of my frustration is due to the fact that he usually acts so much more mature than his years that when he does actually act like a 4yo, it drives me more nuts than it should.  “Age appropriate”, I keep whispering to myself.  “Teasing the puppy after I’ve explicitly asked him not to is way more age-appropriate than most of our conversations/interactions when he behaves like a thoughtful 9yo.”

But he loves his puppy and his friends–even (especially?) those who are younger than him. He likes being the teacher, the ‘big brother’. At a playdate yesterday, listening to him and his 2.5yo buddy take turns saying nonsense words, then giggling maniacally at each other’s offerings was one of the cutest things I’ve heard in the recent past.

Soccer is still a bit of a stretch for him. He really doesn’t like the idea of just ‘taking’ the ball away from those little kids on the other team. No matter how often we explain the idea of competitive sports to him, it’s just not sinking in.

(And I’m totally ok with that, btw!)

He’s reading like a champ, and enjoying longer and more complex books.  He still loves having mom & dad read to him, and I’m delighted to do it, even when he corrects my pronunciation.  (“That’s pronounced ‘off-ten’, Mommy. You said ‘offen'”) I’m developing real preferences in his choices of chapter books–Geronimo Stilton is awful; Cam Jansen is good; anything by Dav Pilkey is great–disgusting, but great. The Mr. Putter & Tabby books are lovely, as are the Henry & Mudge books.  He still enjoys picture books, but he’s spending more of his time alone reading the bigger books.

The end of another era.

4.  He’s also huge.  Always has been, but seriously, he’s tall & skinny like his daddy, and–especially when he’s wearing his glasses–looks at least a couple of years older than he is.

His eyes are getting better, which is good to see. Patching is a pain, but he only has to do it for an hour or two now, which is nice.  And I think his eyes are getting better in general, as he often takes his glasses off to see something better.  Weirdly, though, I’ll miss those glasses if they go. Superman’s cool, but I’ve always had a thing for Clark Kent…

5.  Lemon tree blooming, bougainvillae blooming, lilies scenting the whole house, it’s a sweet-smelling day, and I’m going to try to keep the stress to a minimum.  Off to Brooklyn this weekend for my step-granddaughter’s 2nd birthday (yikes!) and looking forward to it.  Sweet summer days to everyone.

Now, off to go look up when it’s time to harvest my garlic…

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Small Things 2-9-15

1.  I miss my cat. So damned much.

2.  Speaking of so much, the snow outside is way too damned much. 69 inches in the last 2 weeks. Plus it’s really freaking cold. I really need a break.

3. Ramen continues to be the best thing I’ve ever eaten for lunch. It’s all I ever want anymore, forever and ever.

4. We’re all getting a little stir crazy. The Boy is a hero for taking the little one out to ‘shovel’ a lot. Flinging snow wildly and ineffectively uses up a lot of little boy energy that would otherwise be spent in sulking aggressively, or seeing how loud he can shout. He’s normally a charmer, but the long cold indoor days are wearing on all of us. Plus, I suspect I’m not as much fun to be around as usual.

5. Drinking whiskey. Enjoying the woodstove that The Boy has considerately been stoking all day so it will be tolerably warm in the barn tonight. Listening–on the monitor– to him singing the wee one to sleep.  Hoping for a few hours to try to write, to get my internal life in order, even though my external life feels very off-balance right now. Hard to believe it’s been a week without Mattie.  I keep thinking I’m seeing her out of the corner of my eye: a saunter of black. A pounce of darkness.

More whiskey. More cleaning – my, is my house ever clean! More cooking, more baking. More forts for the kiddo to play in. More stories read. More puzzles puzzled over. More board games played for the umpteenth time. More stories written. More wine. More kisses from The Boy and the wee one. More biscuits passed stealthily to the dog to apologize to her Whippetness for this miserable damned cold. More Facebook. More book recommendations. More cross-stitch — I’ve been stitching like mad lately, despite needing to get ON with a couple of baby blankets that are coming up due in May. More going to bed early. More napping in the middle of the day. I’ve always hated February. More daydreaming with a seed catalog in my hand. More feeding the hens compost and mealworms and suet cakes, because I feel so guilty making them live outside in a coop, and yet they keep laying eggs for me. They believe spring is coming soon.

It may not be spring, but March really is coming soon.  Bringing a visit with my folks.  Bringing snowmelt.  Bringing mud season.

March is just around the corner.

March is also a very long time away.

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Small Things 1-28-15

1.  Snow.  We had some.  30 inches to be exact.  Also, the wind sculpted it into these amazing ridges and valleys and drifts.  Holy snowflakes – like 5′ tall drifts.  Now, I know this aint no Buffalo, but for coastal New England, this is one hell of a lot of snow.

Yesterday was ‘hunker down & bake’ day. Today was ‘shovel’ day.  Both were snow-days-off-from-school which has wreaked havoc on our routines, but it’s been a fun break, too. Been a rough January, so it was fun to give ourselves the days off.

And much more importantly, the citrus trees & bougainvillae plants I bought for the express purpose of keeping alive hope while the snows descended did their jobs perfectly.

I was ready for winter to be over long before this one ever began, but even I’ll confess that this storm was pretty darned fun.

2.  I made ramen.  Boy HOWDY did I make ramen.  This ramen. And really, do yourself a favor and make it right now.  It’s spicier than I would have thought from the recipe, and very rich. Also, when you make it, it makes a ton and the noodles slurp up all the broth.  So just dump the whole batch in a big bowl in the fridge, and then when you’re ready for your ramen lunch, add quite a bit of boiling water to your helping to reconstitute the broth before you eat it – it’s still plenty rich. Seriously addictively delicious.

3.  My kiddo is a full-on reader.  And it sort of snuck up on me.  I mean, I’ve been following his pre-reading picking out of words in pet stores etc., with giddy joy for a while now.  But when he progressed from that to being able to pick out words while I was reading to him, to being able to just, well, read it himself, I sort of missed all that. Just all of a sudden, he’s reading.  Not physics texts, obviously, but not See Spot Run, either. For the longest time we thought he was just pretending, because we know he memorizes books almost instantaneously & always has.  (Nothing like having your reading corrected by a 2-year-old, “You got that word wrong, Mommy, it’s _____”) But he’s started doing it with new books, and unfamiliar books, and fairly complicated chapter books (though after a solid paragraph from a chapter book he’s ready to have a parent take over the reading chore so he can just kick back and enjoy the story.

Also, he’s been hiding my stash of index cards under a chair in the living room, so he can practice writing – lists of the things his Real Bunny is going to need in his new electric house.  Sometimes the spelling is, er, extremely creative, but it makes sense from a shorthand transcriptionist’s point of view.  Guess he’s going to be a court reporter someday…

4.  The cat continues – slowly – to show minimal signs of progress.  This is so hard. She’s such an easy-going cat she doesn’t really even mind the thrice-daily ‘hold the cat down & press on her bladder til it lets go’ routine. But I can’t do this indefinitely – everything else aside, I have to be present all day, every day, so her kidneys don’t fail.  So she has to get it back, or–well, or else.  And this sucks.  Uncertainty is almost as bad as certain horribleness.

It does, however, make cleaning the litter box an exciting chore – somewhat akin to finding easter eggs. because as long as she’s improving, I don’t need to make any hard choices.  So I’m all “LOOK!  I FOUND ONE! A BIG CLUMP OF SOLIDIFIED PEE!  YAY, MATTIE!”

If the neighbors are spying on us, they are quite convinced I’m completely, certifiably nutso.

5.  I broke an egg in my coat pocket today. It was as disgusting as you might expect.

That is all.

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Small Things 1-9-15

1.  Cat is healing up nicely. Red blood count is back up, and she’s getting used to the new routine.  I’m also getting quite good at it if you have any full cat bladders around that need expressing…

2.  Finished The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and loved it.  Pookas, real horses, a fishing island, horse-racing, a love of the sea.  Pretty much a perfect book.  Highly recommend to fantasy readers.

3.  As I’d hoped to, I’ve found a few writers online to swap manuscript critiques with, and it’s making a huge different in my  incentive to get the work done.  Funny how thinking about someone else’s writing can be at least as helpful to my writing as their thoughts on mine…

4.  It’s really damned cold here. Cold and the snow started at about 9 and is still going strong.  Would really love for it to warm up a little, but, you know, New England winter, I can’t complain overmuch since this is what we signed up for.  Still.  A little warmer for a few days would be nice – a bit of a thaw-out even if the temps never get close to 30*


5.  I bought a foot-warmer footrest thingy for my closet-office, and this thing rocks.  Only sips electricity, concentrates it just where I need it, and DAMN, this thing gets toasty even when it’s bitter out and chilly in.  Honestly, if you’re sitting & shivering, this is a pretty wonderful idea that is working as well as advertised.

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Small Things 1-6-15

1.  So.  Learning how to manually express urine from my (pissed off) cat’s bladder.  Cross that one off my bucket list.


Ok, seriously. My beloved Mattie-catty had another run-in with a car. She’s fully ambulatory, no broken bones.  Sort of.  Her tail has basically been yanked off the end of her spine, causing nerve stretching & damage to everything back there.  Hopefully the damage is temporary.  She may never regain the tail, but we have high hopes for excretory function.

A bad night two nights ago, when her red blood count was falling – internal bruising was pretty awful – & we basically thought I was bringing her home from emergency care to die.  I slept on the dining room floor with her so she wouldn’t be alone – and so I could get her to the vet quickly if her pain was so bad that she needed to be put to sleep at, say, 2am, but she slept comfortably and then a couple of hours before dawn she rallied rather remarkably.  Today she’s uncomfortable because of the peeing thing, and I’m uncomfortable because of the scratches and bite wounds she’s given me, but she’s walking, jumping, climbing up on laps, chasing cat-toys, and generally acting just fine.  Except for the peeing thing, and having a dead tail.  So I get to ‘help’ her pee three times a day until she gets that back–which she does not actually appreciate at all. She’s actually being very good about it, but there’s apparently only so much pee-related discomfort/humiliation a self-respecting cat can take before she lashes out.  She’s always very sorry afterwards, but I’m thinking seriously of investing in some leather gloves.

She’s not in any physical pain at the moment, so we’re giving her time (and antibiotics. And muscle relaxants) to heal, and hoping for the best. That’s the only treatment there is for this. Weirdly – for this is not apparently a common injury – I had a dog who died from complications of this exact same injury when I was very young. So I’m dealing with some anxiety because of that awful outcome, while trying to listen to my vets who all say that cats do much better with this (as with every) injury than dogs, and that she’s actually already responding well.  So I’m trying–mostly successfully–not to despair.

We’re also trying to figure ways to contain the cat indoors – which will be a huge adjustment for her – while still allowing the dog independent access to the outdoors as needed (which is important.) But for the moment, we’re just trying to get the hang of this ‘help the cat pee in the bathtub’ trick.  She’s in no mood to go outside right now anyway. She knows she’s fragile right now, even if that knowledge irritates the hell out of her.  Plus, you know, it’s damned cold out there.  Even the voles are snuggling underground.

Send good thoughts our way.  This is no fun for any of us.

2.  On a lighter note, the little boy is back in school and giddy with joy.  We all like having the structure of school in our day, but he really missed his friends and his teachers, and the whole exciting thing of being a big kid at school.  So happy he loves it so much.

3.  He also loves Young Cam Jansen books.  Oh my.  My parents gave him a bunch of them for xmas, and he’s loving the ‘mysteries’ (after one has read a mystery 17 or 18 times, we ALL know how it ends, kiddo!) of them, as well as being able to read so much of it himself. Out of nowhere, he’s told us maybe 10 times in the last 2 days that one of his friends at school can already read, and I think he’s put himself in competition with this boy.  Which is probably just fine for him emotionally. He can do it when he’s motivated, but he would usually rather be read to – we’re certainly not putting any pressure on him to read, but I know he likes to be the best/first at everything, so if it means he pays more attention to where my finger is when we’re reading together than he does to the pictures, so be it!

4.  It’s cold here, and icy, and the chickies would like it to warm up now.  Them and me, both.

5.  I’ve started corresponding with a few people about starting up a fiction critiquing posse, and it’s good to be talking to non-relatives about writing again. I’ve allowed my writing world to become a bit too small over the last few years, and it’s nice to be out in the world again, so to speak. I think this is the year to really get some things done and out there, fiction-wise.  I had another manuscript request on January first, which was a nice thing, and a good thing happened on the 31st that I’m not allowed to crow over just yet – though trust me, you’ll hear about  it soon.  So I’m feeling optimistic, and inspired to work harder, work smarter, and get this writing thing going.

Because honestly? Manual Pee Expresser is not my calling in life, no matter how good I get at it.