Sunday

16 June 2024

 

CJ spends a good part of the night sleeping with me, usually draped across my hips and thighs, which tends to make my legs go numb. But, hey, he's a Good Boy and he picked me as  His Person, so I let him stay.

The night before last he stretched out near my side, using my body pillow for support. He was comfortable, I was comfortable, and we both fell asleep. I was also happy as hell because there's nothing like a warm kitty who wants nothing more than to be with you sleeping cuddled up close.

I'm not sure how long it was--an hour, maybe three--but I woke to the sound of a tiny, weird sounding meow. That was nothing new; both cats have soft meows unless they really want something, or are scared. I thought he might be having a bad dream, so I reached out to pet him.

Normally when I do, he lifts his head to look at me, even for just a second. But that night, he didn't move. I whispered his name, then said it louder, still petting him. No response.

Carefully, with a whole lot of trepidation, I set my hand on his side. I couldn't feel any movement. No soft rise and fall as he breathed, no tiny muscle twitches from the weight of my hand on him. 

I moved my hand to his chest. Not a thing. No breathing, and I couldn't feel a heartbeat. I pressed harder, still nothing.

So I stuck my finger under his nose, hoping to feel tiny puffs of warm air.

Nope.

So I did what any hopeful person would do. I started shaking him, speaking loudly, calling his name, begging him to wake up, despite the dread that he would not.

I shook harder.

Nada.

Finally, I reached for my glasses and half sat up, wondering what the hell I was going to do. I told him, "You're only a year old, CJ, come on."

My watch lit up, bathing his still body in dim light.

He lifted his head, looked at me like, HEY I AM SLEEPING HERE!, and then laid back down, dropping right back into the sleep I worked so hard to rouse him from.

"You," I said into the dark, "are a little shit."

meow.


Saturday

16 March 2024

 

20 January 2020, the day I got this bike. About 8,000 miles and 12 pounds ago. Someone please come take those 12 pounds, please.


I skipped the meds last night, and for the first time in who knows when, the sleep fairy hasn't punched me in the face yet today. Am I tired? Yes. Could I fall asleep if I crawled back in bed? Also yes. But I don't feel like I will die if I don't take a nap.

Today was also not rainy (as it has been a whole lot lately) and not windy (last two days were awful) and wonderfully sunny, so after puttering around for a bit, I pulled on some bike shorts and headed out for a 100 mile ride.

I wish.

No, I intended to ride for an hour, which would have gotten me 15 miles a year ago. Today was slow, with a couple of breaks to assess how I really felt, and I ended it a little after 45 minutes and 10 miles. I know, your grandmother can ride faster than that and she dead...but I was happy enough with it.

I first stopped at the little park around the corner, somewhere around mile 5. I planned for just 2 minutes, enough to get a drink and check my HR, but then Rando Rider (who I see around all the time) pulled up and sat on the bench next to me. It's fine, it's not the first time, but he's Rando in my head because I don't know his name. His intent was to do the same thing I was, just a breather after his likely 18mph leisurely roll around town. He sat, grabbed his bottle, and then said, "Have you noticed how many people are out on bikes today? Other than me and you, they're all on those ebikes."

Now, I have several ebikes. I had no idea how he felt about them, but a lot of dedicated cyclists are still wallowing in the "that's cheating" pool.

And I had noticed. "Good for them," I said. "It's a nice day. Anything that gets them out on two wheels."

"Ayup." He slid his bottle back into the cage and got up. "I'm getting my fourteen year old one of those little folding ones. Get him pedaling before he's old enough to want a car."

And off he went. I admit, I was surprised. I expected him to grate against the ebike surge. But he took off too fast for me to tell him I have a small folding ebike in my garage I'd sell him for cheap.

Another minute, and off I went, too. I had a running commentary in my head, mostly noting all the work people had done in the yards, swapping grass for rock and plants, wondering how much that cost because damn they looked good. There's also a high chance that the commentary wasn't all him my head and I talked out loud to myself, but hey. Who cares.

Just before my final loop of the neighborhood I approached a 2 way stop sign, and coming up to it on the sidewalk was a little boy and his dad on their bikes. I could see easily that no one was coming, and normally I'd slow but not stop, but I did this time because...little kids. "See?" Dad said. "People DO stop on bikes at the sign."

Glad my gut was right and I didn't blow through it.

(No, I don't blow through stop signs. I slow, I balance, I wait. But I rarely need to put a foot down unless there's traffic.)

Next up: pulling all the bikes out of the garage to clean up, lube the chains, charge any batteries...and then put most of them up for sale. I don't need that many, I can't ride that many, and I realllllly want to make space for the One True Bike. 

Cross your fingers weaning off the meds is the answer...I have the Great Cycle Challenge in September and would really like to not cry my way through it.

Wednesday

13 March 2024

Blowing a little dust off the blog...


 Ok, so what's 4 months of silence amongst friends? I truly did not intend to let it go this long; there were a whole bunch of days when I opened the computer intending to write, but then things happened and nothing writery happened. So it goes.

I mentioned back in July that we had a new doctor who was taking my chronic pain seriously; she prescribed generic Cymbalta, which should play around with all the gunk in my brain and over time provide some relief, especially for my back pain. And it did--I'm guessing it's soothed about 90% of some specific radiating pain (though not the actual spine itself, where the pain is generated) which is enough that I could get back to doing the normal fun things I enjoy.

Problem is, there are side effects. Most of those went away within  couple weeks, but the sleepiness...oh, man, has that stuck around. I sleep well at night--a total victory for a chronic insomniac--but 3-4 hours after I get up in the morning, a vicious sleep fairy sneaks in an full on face punches me with fists fill with sleepy dust, and I find myself crawling back into bed. 

It's like there's no choice; I either go back to bed or fall asleep in my chair.

In the first weeks after we brought the cats home, that was fine. They were little and liked to plop down on top of me and nap for long stretches, so I slept then, too. Now they're full sized cats and while they still like to sleep with me, they're not an excuse for nap time. 

I'm drained all the time. I'm barely working--I've been playing with a manuscript for 4 months and have only gotten 40 pages into it, where normally I'd be done with the vomit draft--I can't read a book without falling asleep, I can't surf online for long, and I especially have not been riding the way I want. 

I love naps, but not when the sleepiness is keeping my from real life.

So, yeah, I need to contact the doc and see about weaning off the drug. I would honestly rather have the back pain than not function at all.

I'm still on Facebook every day, so you can catch me there if you miss me ;)

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

The cats...

There's my big regret in not blogging. They grew so fast, from fluffballs to Real Cats a whole lot sooner than I would have likes. CJ is a big boy, long and tall and about 12 pounds; Ozzy is more petite, she feels tiny in your hands though she hit 10 pounds this week. He turned into a momma's boy and she's a daddy's girl...they picked their people and that's it. We didn't get to vote.

They love each other most of the time and spend an insane number of hours chasing and picking on each other. She takes no chit from him, despite how much bigger he is. But she will let him chase her all over the house, the definitive Thundering Herd of Elephants game, and it's not unusual to see him streak past with her hot on his tail.

He's super affectionate with me; she sometimes allows us to pick her up for a quick snuggle. Though, if I'm in my recliner, she jumps up, makes me lie back, and she crawls on top of me to purr. It just has to be on her terms.

 

 

They even work together every night to hunt the elusive toe mice that live under the blanket.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

I'm going to make better efforts to keep up here. I miss blogging, I miss the comments, I miss having old posts to go back and moan about what a moron I am. Hopefully, I'll be more awake when I do...

Sunday

29 October 2023

21 years ago I had a tumor yanked out from the underside of my brain via my sinuses. Yes, it was painful. I spent the 3 days following surgery on morphine, then Percoset, and they sent me home with a prescription for Vicodin, and stressed that I needed to fill it.

So, fill it I did, with the Spouse Thingy's help because I couldn't stand there long enough to hand it over to the pharmacy tech. When it was ready, they handed me two huge bottles--300 tablets. Of Vicodin.

300.

When we got home, I wanted to go to bed, and I wanted Percoset. I don't know why, I just did, and we had two tablets left over from something else. I took one, napped, took another before bedtime, and after that managed it on Tylenol.

I never took any of the Vicodin, and we carted those pills around for YEARS.

Thing is, no one blinked at the amount I had been prescribed. It's just what they did back then. Controls weren't as tight; if your surgery had been painful enough, you took home a chitload of pills.

But, you can imagine what might have happened if I had taken them all, even as directed.

Floating around online, I'm seeing *a lot* of blame heaped on Matthew Perry for his own death. "Well, yeah, what did he expect?" "Drugs will do that to you." "No sympathy, he was a druggie."

I'm going out on a limb and presuming most of those people are too young to remember how his addictions began. And it started with surgery and post-op Vicodin. He got on it, and struggled to get off of it.

It was not a personal failing. He took the meds he was prescribed, and the meds got their hooks into him. It could happen to anyone...and back then it did, more often that it does now, I think.

They sent us home with insane amounts of pain relief. That was a kindness, right? Don't make the patient suffer, make sure they have relief at home.

What never seemed to come with those meds was a tapering plan.

Yes, he wound up horribly addicted, was in and out of rehab more than 20 times, but he tried. And he owned it. And the most likely scenario of his death is that after playing Pickleball for a couple hours, he went home, got in the hot tub for a soak when he was already overheated, and those years of struggle caught up with him. He likely had a heart attack, or even just passed out and drowned.

Don't blame him.

What happened to him was something no one deserved.

I keep thinking of those 300 tablets of Vicodin, and, damn...there but for the grace... y'know?

Friday

22 September 2023

 Last weekend, I decided it was time to stop "bedtime" and let the little monsters have run of the house at night. No lie, I really expected it was going to be horrible for a couple of weeks and I would get zero sleep, but they surprised me.

First night was confusing for them, I'm sure. At "bedtime," when I went into their room to put out fresh food and clean the litter box, CJ tried to herd Ozzy into the room. It took a heartbeat after I turned the light out for them to realize I'd left the gate open. Ozzy bolted down the hall like I'm freeeeeee! I'm freeeee! and I'm not sure what CJ did, but less than two minutes after I was in bed he was on top of me, purring away. He wiggled, crammed himself int my throat, and finally went to sleep.

For about 15 minutes.

It was a pattern all night long. Go do Cat Things for a bit, then come back and molest my armpits, drool on me (and in my armpits), mush my flesh with his tiny little death blades, then run off only to return.

I heard nothing from Ozzy. I slept in snatches, and at about 4:45 in the morning I heard a tiny, squeak meow. It wasn't CJ; he was busy drooling into my armpit. So I went to investigate and Ozzy was on top of the tallest bookcases, and I think she'd been there all night.

At the time she had just learned to get to UP but wasn't that good at finding DOWN. I flipped a light on, told her it was safe, and she found a way down.

Night two started off with as much kitten noise as you can imagine, both of them running around the bedroom like their little asterisks were on fire--and I discovered that CJ's coveted toy mousie with a rattle in it sounds a lot like plastic being chewed on at night--but after that CJ jumped on the bed to sleep with me, and Ozzy went off to do Ozzy things.

Sleep was not undisturbed because he kept getting up and coming back, but he slept in long stretches, which  meant I could, too.

And after that...it was not a big deal. CJ has made me his bed and declared it her territory (he will not let Ozzy on the bed at night) and they're not making a ton of noise. Monday night the Spouse Thingy was home so there was a lot of excitement about his CPAP machine and how the sheets fluttered when his Bed Jet was on, but they let me sleep.

Bedtime is now for me, not them. They notice when I grab a drink and my phone and head to the back of the house and follow me, waiting patiently while I brush my teeth. Then it's Fresh Food Time, and they eat without worrying that gate will close, and after that Ozzy helps scoop the box, chasing the scoop as it moves through the litter, and they'll stay in the room after I turn the light out. No worries about being trapped.

What I was afraid would be a couple weeks of torture was basically a non-event.

Ngl, lol, I might be a little disappointed that they didn't go bat crap crazy for a while. I think I was hoping for a ton of funny cat stories, but all I got was armpit drool.

Saturday

16 September 2023

 

Yesterday Ozzy discovered the uppermost UP. She's since spent a lot of time up there, walking across the top of the tall bookcases, to the TARDIS, then back, where apparently she has decided to take down the curtains.

I don't disagree with her on this; we've talked about taking them down since CJ climbed them. They're old, snagged repeatedly (Buddah), and we never close them so they might as well come down.

But man...she is all over the place now.


I used to have things there. No more. And I really should move the stuff on the shelf under it because that Dalek is not replaceable and I suspect she doesn't care.


This is the no-no side of the kitchen. They're allowed on the counter on the other side but not this one because hot things happen here...but we know better, hence the heavy wood cover on the stovetop. Today's struggle is keeping her away from the Crock Pot. I should just let her get close enough to feel the warmth seeping from it, but she's still baby and I'm not ready for that lesson.

Though given that she knocked over my other computer--I am still not ready to go see how bad the damage is--maybe I should.

(No, I will not.)

When we brought the kitties home we were pretty sure she would be the troublemaker of the two...damn, were we ever right.

Tuesday

5 September 2023

 We have become Those People. 

The people who buy the cats a stroller and take them for walks around the neighborhood, lapping the small park, talking to them the whole time to assure them that everything is fine and ISN'T THIS FUN???

Every now and then one of them responds, usually CJ, and he sounds small and confused despite being large and quite centered for a 5.5 month old.

I keep telling them they might as well get used to it and learn to enjoy it, because if they don't I'm getting them a puppy. I want someone to walk, dammit.

YOU WANT TO GET ME A WHAT???

They've actually been very good about it, but we're not taking them far or for long yet. I was afraid this would freak them out, but in general they're very curious and are looking at everything around them, not curling up trying to hide.

And tonight, they saw their first dog. Ozzy was impressed. CJ just wanted to to home LOL

***

Five days in, and I've knocked out 50ish miles for the Great Cycle Challenge

If I can keep up the pace, I'll definitely up my mileage goal; chances are I'll need a rest day here and there, so we'll see, but I have high hopes.

I set my fundraising goal at $2500 and am in the $1400 ballpark right now. I'll get there. Donations can be made directly at my rider page, and I also have a Facebook Fundraiser going, which is connected to the GCC page. 

Since I can't do the long walks anymore, this one has become pretty important to me. And I believe in sweat equity, so I will get the miles in one way or another.

***

If we can get our asterisks in gear before the heat ramps up tomorrow, the Spouse Thingy is going to ride with me. This means a break stop and Starbucks, where I have discovered frappucinos with a creme base, so no coffee...I am going to drink every calorie I burn riding, aren't I...?

BTW, I learned how to change my name in the Bux app so I no longer have to hear my actual name called out. Haven't gotten a single snarky comment or look since I did. It's stupid, but it's a relief.

Monday

28 August 2023

Back in January, I wrenched my back. Badly. Pile on top of that my day to day back pain, and I could barely move. Like, just getting out of a chair was agonizing and I often needed help because halfway up was about all I could manage.

That also meant I could not ride, not at all. Or take walks. Or really...anything.

But then came a new doc and some new meds, and I can move. It still hurts but not OMG KILL ME hurts. But I can't really swing my leg over my road bike and even my step-through ebikes are problematic, so I haven't been riding, other than a couple of false starts, at all.

Thing is, I signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge and it starts on September first. I need to get on a bike. And this one sneaked up on my radar, a Trek Verve 3 lowstep. It's lower than a typical step-through, and on a test-sit at a bike shop (not my usual shop, which did not have it in stock) I was able to easily get my leg through and sit on it. It's comfortable. IT'S PURPLE, which might be the most important thing.

So the Spouse Thingy called my favorite shop and asked if they would take a bike in on trade, and yes, they will. So we took my least favorite bike over, they offered more than I thought I could get, and I placed an order for the Verve. It should get here this week...and then I can start slowly pumping out miles for the GCC.

This year I only pledged 200 miles, mostly because I am not sure how this will go. But if I hit that early, I'll add miles and with some luck I can reach the same 300 I've done the last 3 years. That only seems fair to my donors. 

***

"This would be so much nicer if she would just shave her legs already..."

I'm their favorite bed, apparently

...and clearly they love each other...

***
Ozzy and CJ are growing like weeds (he's cat-sized already, cripes), they're super active, and tons of fun. They're still being put into their bedroom at night because they get into everything, but we're just about ready to move the gate to the hallway entry so they can have more space to roam at night...which means they will have access to me allllll night long.

That's fine. I didn't want to sleep, anyway.


Sunday

13 August 2023

I plopped down in my recliner last night to pound out a post about the cats, because they amuse the snot out of me and are cute as hell. But, I checked my email before I did, and after that, I just did not feel like it.

There was email from my editor's address, and I clicked on it without reading the subject header. I wish I had, so I could brace myself.

It was from her grandson, Brian. He interviewed me about Not About the Cookies when he was in 8th grade and she'd made him promise to be the one to contact me when it was "time."

Yesterday, it was time. Tracy tripped in the kitchen, hit her head, and was likely gone before she hit the floor. And honestly, that was probably how she wanted to go. Quickly, no prolonged illness, nothing like the drawn out passing of her son, Eric.

I will miss her.

She retired from publishing in the early 2000s and began editing for me in 2003. I knew upfront she was more a fan of the stories than perfect grammar and syntax (and it shows in a few of my books) but she extended an offer--let me be 2nd reader, after Mike, and I'll edit--and she definitely had suggestions that improved my work.

Because she was retired from the NY scene, she only worked with a few writers, never more than 4, and I was honored to be someone she never turned down.

She liked the Charybdis series, but she loved Wick. I'm not sure there would be as many books if she hadn't pestered for the next one as soon as one went to print. Hyrum became her favorite, and in her email Brian said, "She also said that if you ever decided to end the series, Vicat needs a major sendoff. I think she saw a little of herself in Vicat."

I can see that. Vicat refused promotions because she was in a place where she was needed, helping newbies get their footing. When she finally agreed to a change in jobs, it was first to annoy the snot out of the Emperor while protecting him, and then to protect his toddler.

Tracy's retirement life centered around helping newby and some established writers get just a bit more out of themselves. She helped us all get firmer footing and then encouraged us to fly.

Her life was long, she lived to 86, and it was happy; I think she was content with what she'd created out of life, and would kick my ass if I mourned.

But dammit, Battleax, I am going to miss you.

Tuesday

11 July 2023

 Odds n Endz #624,899.9536

I've been working on a manuscript, and because it's been so long since the start of the series, I needed to go back and read them again.

Kinda wish I hadn't, because it's left me with a conundrum and a problem to figure out.

I got to The Space Between Whens, and realized with horror that what went to print was not the final draft. The file used was likely the first draft. A really bad, passive-voice-laden, words-missing, first draft hellscape.

I'm pretty sure I know how it happened, and also know it's not my fault, but still...thousands and thousands of copies of that book are out there, and it's the wrong freaking draft.

I don't know if Amazon will allow a corrected upload.

I do know I'm having a Come-To-Jesus discussion with the responsible party soon.

===

Back in February our long-time doctor retired with very little notice. As in...none. We received a letter in the mail stating he was no longer seeing patients, and we needed to pick a new one.

Ok, fine. I get it. Last time I saw him he seemed as if he was done, and after the last few years, who can blame him? He was pushing 70, so sure, I get it. But we basically had to choose another without any real knowledge of the available doctors. Going through the list and their bios online, I picked a much younger doc who, unless she changes practices, should still be working long after we're dead.

Next appointment with her wasn't until June. That was all right, unless we got sick. I did wrench my back, badly, but if it had gotten any worse they would have just given me an appointment with a random doc, whoever had an available appointment. So, no harm, no foul.

We finally met with her--a requirement, she wants to meet all her new patients--and the 15-20 minute appointment I thought we were getting turned out to be a 90 minute thing, and she went over everything.

Long story short, she listened. Like, really listened. And for the first time I have a real answer about my back pain--spinal stenosis, not just arthritis--and a new medication to control the pain. I can't take NSAIDs any more, so no Ibuprofen or Naproxyn, and thought I just had to suffer. It's an off-label use of Cymbalta, and over time should play with the serotonin and other fun things in my brain to provide relief.

She also gave the Spouse Thingy the same thing to deal with arthritic knees.

The only downside...there are side effects. A lot of side effects that could take 8 weeks to resolve.

EIGHT WEEKS.

And I've had a lot of them. Nausea (which is already abating), lightheadedness, some tummy issues, but the biggest one is sleepiness.

Not just the yawns. This is like SLEEPINESS on a major scale. I have taken more naps in the last two weeks than I have in the last two decades. When I'm awake, I'm sleepy. My eyelids feel like they weigh ten pounds each. I fall asleep sitting up. The only thing I'm not doing is drooling. I have felt punch-drunk most of the time and I'm surprised I haven't fallen asleep while standing.

But it's working. I'm not worth much right now, and probably won't be for a few more weeks, but it's working.

===

The biggest thing going on here:


These two came home on June 26th, and have kept us super busy since. They're a whole bunch of go go go, and everything is new to them, and they've made this a very happy place again.


They also spend a lot of time doing this. Usually on me. Which works, since I can snooze while they do.

I had expected them to be several kinds of freaked out when we let them out of their carriers the first time (in the safety of their own room) but it took less than ten minutes before they were crawling all over us. It was like...hey, we get it, this is home and you belong to us, and we're going to make sure you know it. Also, we like climbing your legs whether you have pants on or not.


This was day one. And they've gotten even more affectionate since then. His name is Captain Jack (called CJ) and her name is Osgood (called Ozzy) and I don't think we could have chosen a better pair than these two.

Remind me of that when they totally destroy the furniture, which they seem determined to do.

(No I don't really care. We knew they would, and when they understand what not to do and where they should scratch instead, we can replace anything they're really ripped up. They just haven't learned yet.)

Ngl, I still miss Max and Buddah, but I already love these two like crazy. They were meant to be.

 

CJ

Ozzy



Friday

23 June 2023

 

It would have been nice if the kitties had been able to come home with us the day we adopted them, but I understand why not (they needed to be neutered, and you just can't trust people to bring them back to get it done...) And the delay is giving us time to better prepare for them.

Many years ago, we turned the spare room into Max's room. There was a sofa and love seat because he was an old man and needed (and deserved) the comfort, but not much else because he didn't need anything else.

After he died, I desperately needed that room to be anything other than Max's room. I needed to walk past it and not automatically look to see if he was sleeping there. So we hauled the furniture out and gave it to a kid just starting out on his own, put my bike in there, and decided it would be a Pain Cave.

But then we discovered Animal Crossing, we liked to play at the same time, so the bike came out and two TVs and two chairs went in.

That was awesome, and we used the room every day fora couple of years. But once the decision was made--it's time for new furry friends--I wanted it to become a cat room again. So we rearranged the house; my office went into the space where the Peleton lived (and still does...I can share) and the gaming room (LOL if you can call ACNH "gaming"...though I also play a bit of Mario Kart, quite badly) went where my office was, and...voila, space for a cat room.

So the day after we adopted them, we hit up PetsMart and spent way more than we should have. And with the time we wait for them, we were able to set up their space...I think the only other thing not there is a tall gate that was supposed to be here yesterday, but thanks for the delay, Amazon. I want the gate so they can chill but not have the bedroom door closed.

They're coming home the same day they've had surgery, so I'm pretty sure they'll need the downtime.

But who knows? I haven't had kittens for 17 years, and never a pair of them at the same time. 

When we got Buddah, Max was just shy of 4 years old. Buddah spent a lot of time in the Boy's bedroom because he was clearly sick and we needed to keep him away from Max (y'all might remember how well that worked out) but I don't remember if we otherwise restricted his run of the apartment for a while. And this house is considerably larger than that apartment was, with nooks and crannies to hide in, so I'm still not sure how much freedom they should have right off the bat.

But...this week is giving us time to go room to room, looking for hazards. Last night we blocked off access to the back of the washer and dryer (because a litter box will go in the laundry room, so closing it off is not really an option) and we finally hung up some pictures that have been leaning against a wall for far too long...we really didn't want them turning into scratching posts.

Over a decade ago, the Spouse Thingy built this super tall scratching post for Buddah, one that the long kitty could stretch out on. We kept it because it was in great shape, but when he pulled it out of storage, he note the top had cracked. So he has time to  fix that now.


They now have toys, two climbing trees, beds, food...everything two kittens need and a lot they really don't. And with any luck, this weekend I can find all the electrical cords they might discover and gnaw upon, and get those wrapped. And Amazon damn well better deliver that gate because I do not want to close the door on them while they recover.

They've also received their first gifts! Three super premium kitty crack bananas from Auntie Michelle and Baby Diva Olivia. I imagine they'll just be kick toys at first, until they're old enough for nip to affect them...these are perfect for kicking and clawing and gnawing upon.

I think we're 95% ready for their arrival.

Now if we could just agree on names...

Tuesday

20 June 2023

That today would have been Max's 22nd birthday was not on my mind when I woke up this morning. Mostly what I thought when I rolled over and opened my eyes was "Oh, gawd, it's not even 7 am," and then "Finally, I can pick up my bike today."

One of my e-bikes has been in the shop for 5 weeks; the pedal assist just kind of didn't work, and given how pricey these bikes are, I really wanted it to work (and it's too freaking heavy to ride without...trust me, I racked up 40 miles on it and it was like dragging a ton with me.) It took Pedego (manufacturer) to that long to come up with a fix for it, but they did, so an hor before the shop opened we headed up there (because it's an hour away) to pick it up.

I wanted to go early so we would have enough time to drop the bike off and then head back in the same direction, because today was the day we decided it was time.

We're ready for cats.

It also felt like it HAD to be today.

While I drove, Spouse Thingy looked at their website and found a whole bunch of possibilities, and even though I was firmly NO TUXEDOS he spotted a pair. 13 weeks old, surrendered at the same time, one black and white like Max was, and one gray and white.

He looked at others, but kept coming back to those two. So sure, I wanted to meet them.

The names on the papers attached to their fairly spacious and very-not-cagelike cage had them tagged as Tinker and Belle. 

Tinker (boy) is a black and white tux who kinda resembles Max at that age, but is not a duplicate.

Belle (girl) is, despite the photo, a gray and white tux...and did not like me.

I don't think she would have liked anyone. She seemed more annoyed than scared and didn't want to be held, which is fine. I wouldn't want a total stranger holding me close, either.

 

She did pose, though. 


I swear, she's gray LOL

But this guy...Mike held him first, and Tinker just kind of melted against him. He was quite content to be cuddled.


After I set the little girl back in the cage--because that's where she wanted to be and I believe in consent, which I did not have--I really looked at the little boy.

And then it hit me.

We were there to adopt 2 cats on Max's 22nd birthday. And they both resembled him, but not enough to make it a deal breaker.

Dudes, I cried. 

Right there by the cat cages, I got choked up and cried a little.

These two felt like fate. It was a done deal.

They can't come home until next week; they're scheduled for spaying and neutering on June 26th in the morning, so we can pick them up that afternoon. That gives us time to get their room sorted (yes, we took all the gaming stuff out of Max's old room, and it will be given to them) and to buy some toys and another cat tree (yes another...LOL we bought one already.)

They also need names. Neither Tinker nor Belle really float our collective boat.

When Max and Buddah died, we promised ourselves we would wait a couple years before adopting new pets. The idea was to take time to travel and do things, but COVID happened so there was no going anywhere anyway, and by the time we could it was like, eh, we kinda like staying home.

And still, I especially was not ready.

Until today.


Monday

29 May 2023

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my mom's death. I spent the day feeling about 90% of all the feelings; I didn't say anything on Facebook, or anywhere else, because I didn't want any sorrow-laden responses (and I still don't, so...) mostly because though I was feeling all the feels, it wasn't predominantly sadness. 

A large part of what I mused on was what the parents were up to, wherever they are. Did they mention it? Are they even aware of milestone dates and the passage of time? Does it even matter to them? I mean, they are where they are and there's no changing that, and they might not want to even if they could. Do the little slings and arrows of life and relationships still make them bristle? 

Given another year or two, could she and I have narrowed the distance that formed between us, or would we have both stayed on our own sides of a bridge burned down by a situation not of my making, but one for which she was sure I'd picked the wrong side to advocate? 

(Vagueness aside, I didn't think I was picking a side; I thought I was working to get her to give up stubbornness where stubbornness was destroying relationships.)

She was also still pretty angry about a book I'd written. But I'm okay with that.

But, yeah...felt a lot of feels yesterday.

Today would have been their anniversary, 74 years. There's zero doubt that they would have seen it, had they lived. Face it, they made it to 60 before my dad died, and at that point, you stay even if you never say another word to each other LOL

Spouse Thingy and I hit 40 years a year and a half ago; unless something happens, I have no doubt we'll hit 60.

I have no doubt that next year, I'll remember and kinda celebrate my parents' 75th.

Milestones matter to me.

I kinda hope that the Boy will remember some of ours when we're gone, no matter what parental gristle we've left him to chew on. 

And you do leave that, no matter how awesome at the whole parenting thing you think you are. It's reason enough to forgive, even if you do find yourself pondering the what-ifs through your life. Parents and kids look at life through different lenses; they carry different baggage.

I think its worth remembering that the baggage you carry was largely packed by a 10 year old. Those things were important at the time, but might not be worth dragging through life.

And I know, it's much easier to say "let it go" than it is to do that.

Letting go is work. 

Totally worth it.

But...yeah. She's been gone 10 years. It doesn't seem nearly that long. I miss them both, a hell of a lot, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say I wish they were still here--because those last years were not kind to them--I just...wish.

Y'know?

Friday

28 April 2023

Holy fark, I did not realize how much dust has accumulated on this blog. It was not intentional; if you'd asked me, I would have said that it had been a month or two, max. I mean, I'm egotistically verbose...how could I go that long without hopping online and whining?

Then I remembered Facebook exists, and I've probably done my fair share of whining there.

Then I also realized that I haven't done a whole lot of writing in any medium for the last few months, because I cannot get comfortable sitting long enough to allow my brain to cough up the words and then get them onto virtual paper.

Early in January--like *right after* I signed up for a new fitness program, I wrenched my back. This itself is nothing new; I have a bad back. It always hurts. There is a constant ache right at L4-S1 and has been for a couple decades. But this was new; this started in my upper back, an agonizing 2-3" spot just under my shoulder blade near the spine, and I could barely move. Taking more than a shallow breath was problematic. I had never hurt that badly, and that's measured against having a tumor yanked out from the underside of my brain through my sinuses.

The big issue? I can't take NSAIDs. So no serial Ibuprofen to knock that sucker down to something tolerable. I took a single dose to hopefully take the edge off, and that reduced the fire about 3%, and after that I didn't dare take more (kidney issues...did you know your kidneys are the thing that filters NSAIDs? I didn't, not until I was told to avoid them, and only take if ABSOLUTELY necessary.)

After a couple days of that, and a whole lot of leaning on a heating pad, my lower back decided it wanted a fair share of the attention, too, and began screaming at me.

3 months later, and I am just now to the point where I can move like a normal person, though there are some things I cannot do well...like sit for long periods because the upward pressure irritates my lower back. I sometimes need helping standing. Getting up feels like trying to force open a rusty hinge. It's not pretty.

So what did I do? I signed up for a 100 mile virtual bike ride for April.

Because I am Teh Smart.

I can't get onto my road bike, but I was able to kick my leg up just enough to get onto a step-through, banging my toes onto the bottom bracket. Barely. It left me wishing for (and perusing online) a Low-Step frame, which still really tempts me. The miles have been sloggingly slow, but I should finish the month with 100.

And while I can't sit long enough to really write, I have managed to get some rewrites done, turned in a manuscript, grumbled at more requested rewrites, and now have a new bouncing baby book out there.

The Lost Boys of EveryWhen.
 

It took a long time to even start this book, because I missed my co-writer. But I still feel him whispering to me when I'm working in the Wick Universe, and once I got rolling, I really got rolling. Now the book is out there (and a lot of you, a pleasing a lot of a lot, read the beta version last year) for people to buy...yet I still haven't gotten my author copies. I dig the cover and just want to see it for real.

Hopefully today. I know a few copies were shipped and should have gotten here yesterday, so maybe today.

And hopefully, too, I can get further into the next book. I know there's one more Wick book in me, and the story has been bubbling in my head for a long time. I don't know if it will be the last one, but there are other things I would also like to write, and I am not getting any younger.

Hey, maybe I can write under my own name again!

There was discussion about that with this latest book: who's the head author? Max or K.A.? Would it matter to readers? Most of them know who Max was and who K.A. is, so if the switch was made, would if affect anything?

In the end, it came down to fairness to Max. I could not have started any of this without him. So he's the Forever Head Writer on all things Wick.

I still miss that little chit more than is probably healthy.

That's okay.

Okay, so now go buy the book. I want a new bike. One that doesn't hurt to get onto.



Monday

14 November 2022

 

I post a lot of memes on Facebook. I have 126 albums loaded with somewhere between 200-215 images each, just things I've run across online over the years. These memes might amuse me, confuse me, upset me, or a mix of all. They might be intended to spur discussion, or they might be there because I know someone in my friends' list will get a kick out of it.

I used to post 2-3 times a week, and for a while during the COVID lockdowns I posted daily. Now I'm down to once a week or so, but...not intentionally. My intention is usually to upload what I've saved to y computer at least twice a week, but the day slips by and next thing I know I'm in bed thinking, "Damn...well, I'll do it tomorrow."

Yeah. By the time I do, I have 50+ memes to share.

Aside from what that does to my notifications the next day, there's a downside to it. Facebook bots tend to snoop and deem a meme here and there to be against their standards. I protest, usually win, and we all get on with things. Only one time have I been penalized, and that was to take away my ability to buy ads for 30 days.

I've never bought an ad, so...sure, I learned my lesson.

Still, my wrist gets a little sore from being slapped so often, and I figure it's a matter of time before they lock up my profile as punishment for sharing things created by other people, that have been shared so often that finding the OC is damn near impossible (like, I'd give credit if I knew where they were born, but...) 

I've mused about and tongue-in-cheek threatened to start another FB account, just so I have a place to land when the inevitable happens, but so far I haven't pulled the trigger. I have a few friends who have done just that, and it seems to work for them, so maybe this week... maybe. I'm not sure why I'm dragging my feet on it, but I'll get it done eventually.

A while back a friend of a friend commented on one of their posts, and I truly dug their name...and then was told it's the Australian nickname for Karen. It was like the heavens opened up and poured sunshine all over my coal-black soul, and the only downer was that I had not known that 50 years ago when I begged my parents to let me change my name.

I was totally ahead of the curve on the whole hating-Karen thing. The difference is I didn't hate the people or ascribe poor behavior to it...I just loathed the name. 

I still hate it. I regret not changing it when I became a legal adult, but by then I didn't want to hurt my parents, and after they were gone it felt too late. Too many people are just used to using it, and asking them to change felt unfair. And now? Holy hell, y'all know what a clusterphk the name has become. Try ordering in Starbucks and having that name called out.

It's not comfortable.

My reluctance to impose upon other people doesn't mean I can't have a new FB profile with essentially the same name, just one from another country. Ms. B Fug...I'm stealing your friend's name.

So if you get a friend request from a Thompson named Kaz in the next few weeks, it's totally me. I'll make sure the profile picture and header make it clear; I'll do 90% of my usual stuff on my usual account, but sooner or later I am not going to win a protest against the FB bot, and I really do need that connection to my friends.

Also, totally not related, 2 news shorts posted to The Lost Boys of EveryWhen. Along with links to download them to your favored e-reader. 

Also also totally not related, I had pie tonight. Just sharing.

Sunday

13 November 2022

He's been gone 2 years, today. Which means Buddah has been gone 2 years, 5 weeks. Yes, I'm still keeping track. I will for a few more years, I think. I miss them horribly, still, and I don't think you ever get over the loss of your heart pets. 

I had pets before these two: Ataturk, Dusty, Hank, and I loved the hell out of them and miss them, too, but there was something about Max and Buddah. Their loss has been like recovering from a sword wound to the gut. There's a massive scar and it's probably always going to hurt.


So no, I won't get over it. But I think I did get through it. While I'm still grieving, I am inching ever closer to wanting 2 more cats. And yes, it would definitely be 2 right off the bat, because I am never again going through what we went through with adding Buddah to the mix when Max was pushing 4 years old.

I'll never know if it would have gone better had Max not gotten so sick from whatever URI Buddah brought into the apartment, but there's no denying that for a long time it was not good, and Max suffered for it. I'm hoping that getting litter mates or a bonded pair will help.


Then again, I also want a dog.

I thought Butters' loss would push me away from that; granted, it made those 5 weeks even worse, but oddly, where I was in this "well, it might be cool" kind of place for the last few months, now it's more like, "for sure I want one, if we come across the right dog at the right time."

The right time won't be until after the holidays, but still.

Butters was a wonderful dog, and I want that in my life again. I want another Hank, a goofy, sweet, loving soul who wants nothing more out of life than happy walks, and treats, pets, and attention.

But...yeah.

Today marks 2 years since Max died, and I hope he's getting the Bridge Party he deserves. 

And hopefully I can get back to blogging happier thoughts...I swear, my life is not wrapped around pets no longer here. I mean, it's a whole lot of Animal Crossing and bikes, but in the grand scheme of things, that's pretty decent. I just need to add in a little more actual work, because there are 2 shorts I need to get online, and then a book to polish.

 


Friday

11 November 2022

 Thumper's moment of OMGWTF:

For background, it helps to know that Max was trained to weigh himself. If he went into the bathroom with me, which was pretty much every day, before I'd open the door to let him back out, he had to step on the scale. It was right next to the door; most of the time he did it because he was in a position to bolt out when the door was barely cracked open, but it created a habit that made it easy for me to keep track of his weight.

Buddah...nope. I tried to get him to sit on the scale and was met with growling, nipping, and him jumping up on the vanity where he growled and nipped a little more.

Max's self-weighing was a helpful thing in his last couple of years. There was a number we held onto, knowing he was hanging onto a healthy weight. A few months before he died, though, the number started going down, and a couple of weeks before, he dipped below 10, which is as low as the scale will weigh. On his last day, the vet weighed him at 8 pounds...the same weight he was when the Boy brought him home at 4 months old.

Now, here we are, nearly two years after Max left us. Yesterday I went into the bathroom and closed the door, because even though there's only one other person in the house and he was asleep...I do not need an audience, especially a surprise audience should he get up early.

After I washed my hands, I turned toward the closed door, and something caught my eye, so I glanced down; the digital scale was synching itself, though I had not been on it. Curious, I went into the living room to get my phone and checked the app.

GUEST 10.9 lbs

Make of that what you will.

Yeah, sure, maybe the scale was just doing what digital scales do, and if not for the registered weight, I'd have shrugged it off.

I'm not shrugging.

You never know...

Thursday

10 November 2022

The wind sucked out of my blogging sails; I fully intended to blog as many days this month as possible, but then a Big Bad Awful happened, and my heart was not in it.

On Sunday, my son's dog Butters--known to Max's friends as That Damned Dog Butters--was helped on his way to the Bridge. The Boy knew several days ahead and took time off work to spend that time spoiling the hell out of him, which is what this wonderful pup deserved.

I mean, his life started out hard under someone else, and my son truly rescued him. Butters was afraid of men, but with Curt's patience and deep, unwavering love and commitment, Butters thrived. When Salina came into their lives, well, Butters got exactly what he needed, and was one happy dog.

Mid-September, they went to Mexico to celebrate their anniversary, and I got to stay with the pets. It was clear then that Butters was declining, but to me he just acted like an old man. Stiff, he needed help going down the stairs to outside, and he slept a lot, but otherwise he was just old.

He made me, as Max would say, 23 kinds of happy. He ate all the food I put in front of him, and asked for more (and damn right, I gave him as much as he wanted, and extra treats to boot.) And one wonderful afternoon after I brought him inside from some time spent in the back yard, he raced through the house, those ears bouncing, sending the cats running for the other room. There was joy in that, and that's the image I'm holding in my head. Butters on a Very Good Day.

The Spouse Thingy was able to spend a lot of time with him over those few days, too; lots of time spent outside, sniffing all the things. There were no walks, but there was couch time with pets and head skritches, and unlike the first time they met--when he was still afraid of men--Butters melted into his hand and loved the attention.

I think that's what he wants to hold onto; Butters enjoying him, not one bit afraid.

We knew it was coming, and braced ourselves Sunday morning, not wanting to leave the house, just waiting. And when the text came, we both broke. I spent the day crying, and the Spouse Thingy admitted he didn't dare go near any of the equipment in his wood shop because he couldn't see through the tears. I'd expected to be sad; I'd expected to cry. But I didn't expect it to burn.

We loved that puppy...Curt and Salina LOVED him. No one else could have taken better care nor loved him as well as he deserved than they did. I'll forever be grateful that such an amazing soul stuffed into that small body found his way to the people he needed, and who needed him. Butters was a big dog in a small body, and I can't imagine there ever being another one like him.


Monday

31 October 2022

 

Instead of Starbucks, I'm sitting at home, waiting for Jesus, who is delivering a Christmas tree purchased from Costco. Jesus called me at 7 a.m., which is fine despite the fact that I am not a morning person and am typically not awake at that time...which also made me wonder what the point of having a Do Not Disturb setting on my iPhone when it does, in fact, allow calls from people who are not on my exceptions list.

But, fine. I'm home. I can work from home. I have no access to my desk at the moment, because we are rearranging everything and there's quite a bit of stuff stacked on my work surface. It's been like that all weekend, because we are doing this slowly; a few years ago we rearranged and did it in a day, but now we're a few years older and why the hell should we work that hard now?

So now I'm in my recliner in the living room, unreclined for reasons I do not know, poking around online while I await the arrival of Jesus. At 7 he said he would be here between 10-12. At 9 he called again to revise that to 11-1. I half expected a call at 10:45 to revise yet again (hey, chit happens, people get delayed; no biggy) but so far, so good. It's 11:35 and he hasn't shown yet, so I'm playing an audio game of Is that the delivery truck or the trashman? as I wait.

He'll get here when he gets here.

While I've been poking around online I've seen 1,876 posts informing me that NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. If I had not just wrapped up the first draft to a book I might play along, but this year I think I'm going to do my own thing.

NaNoRiMo

National November Riding Month.

Ok, fine, I didn't think through the "No" part of that, but still. Instead of starting a whole new book, I'm going to keep working on what I've already written, and try to get on the bike every day.

I mean, I already write everyday. The habit is there. I don't ride every day; I ride several times a week, but I haven't tried doing the every single day thing, and maybe I should.

I could even mix it up and ride a different bike every day of the week. Yes, I have enough to do that. For now. I am also seriously thinking about selling off half my horde, and I would for sure if it didn't involve dealing with people, especially people who want an unreal deal.

Seriously, when I was selling a cargo bike at at firm $1500 (it was a lot more new, and didn't have many miles on it...it was purchased for the biking book, I got what I needed from it, and decided it could go) I tossed it up on FB Marketplace. Right off the bat I received messages about it, most of them saying they could come right over to buy it, and oh, they would only pay $500.

I wish I was kidding.

I did sell it for asking price that same night, but still.

People.

I may also give NaNoBlogMo a try again. I've done it before and managed to post most days. I need to get back in the habit. Who knows, with Twitter imploding maybe people will blow the dust off their blogs, too, and I'll have another way to fritter my time every day. I miss the days when blogging was A Thing. 

...and there's now a truck outside that is not the trash men... Sweet.

Happy Halloween y'all.


Sunday

30 October 2022

For the first time in a very, very long time, I'm sitting in Starbucks with the intent to get some work done. I have my Passion Tango Iced Tea (or perhaps it's just passion tea now? They messed around with things), my laptop, and the completed first draft of The Lost Boys of Everywhen to work on. It's only semi-busy here, with just the right amount of background noise and the music doesn't suck, so you'd think I'd just jump right into it.

But no, my brain doesn't work that way.

Of course I have to sit here and blog, announcing to the world that, hey, I'm doing my job. Or getting ready to do my job. Maybe just pretending to do my job...

I've been trying to figure out when the last time I came here for anything other than a quick rest stop mid-bike ride, and other than one time when I sat here for all of about half an hour--I was not ready to start working--I think it was pre-pandemic. I can't even tell you for sure what my last completed work was, though I think it was Interview With a Pest. 

There's been talk of doing another edition of that, with some non-interview back matter, but I don't know if my heart is in it. I think by this point everyone knows what happened and probably don't want to revisit it any more than I do.

Now, I should have been here working on Riding My Asterisk Off (the book, not the blog) but...as happens in publishing, not everything went according to plan. I got my advance, I started working on it in clumps, started riding with specifics in mind, and was very near the point where I intended to dedicate a large chunk of everyday writing the book.

Then krap happened. This book was signed to a new publisher, launched by Eric Crow, the son of my very-long-time editor and Battleaxe, Tracy, and they were days away from an official launch. Like, property purchased, people hired, contracts with printers, distributors in line, and several writers under contract.

Eric suffered a series of strokes, so many I don't think they could keep count, and he passed away.

There is no company without the owner. Tracy understood that she could have stepped in and taken over, but her wheelhouse is in editing and not running the whole thing. She's also in her 80s now, and not terribly keen on starting a venture as big as this one without her son at the helm. 

Long story short--and it is a much longer story--the company folded. All writers were paid out the balance of their advances (fun fact: advances are not a one-payment thing. They are usually 3-4 payments, one on signing, one on book delivery, one on publication, and sometimes another at a specified date after publication) and all but one were understanding.

(Yeah, that last one? Not naming names but he's a raging tiny dick, I online-know the guy, and I hope he gets his ass laughed out of each and every lawyer's office he enters as he seeks someone to help him sue.)

In any case, for now Riding My Asterisk Off has been set aside. I'll still write it, but not right now. And it will likely be a different book than was planned.

As for The Lost Boys of Everywhen...that should have been online a while ago, but other things came to light (Amazon krap) so it will go to print before it goes up for free. But it will go up for free. I just have to finish it beyond the first draft.

Saturday

30 July 2022

So what have you been up to in the bajillion days since you last posted, Thumper? Threes of people really want to know.

Largely, this:

 I finished the vomit draft of the next Wick book. It's super raw, way too much dialog and a whole lot of "he shrugged," "he snorted," and "he turned to X person." All placeholder crap for the actual first draft, which I'll start working on...checks watch...in about 15 minutes.

This may actually wind up being two novellas. It's told in two parts, the second much longer than the first, so there may be some tweaking and additions to make the first part stand on its own. My gut says it will be a better story if I do it that way, and it also says that once my editor has it in hand, she'll agree. 

Chapter by chapter (I hope), as I get into this, I'll post what I've gotten done on (I hope) the website for this part of the Wick series. I'm still looking for ways to better protect the content, but I'm coming up dry, so it may just wind up in whole on its blog, and I'll take a bunch of chances with piracy. 

Will it eventually make it into print? Sure. But this isn't about the money or the sales; never really has been, except for the efforts of sales to generate Max's annual toy drive. I may (still dunno, I am so on the fence about this) slap a tip jar on the site, with anything raised being used for the toys. 

I considered using Patreon, but I keep hearing horror stories about creators locked out of their accounts, Patreon changing terms, and a whole bunch of other complaints. I support several people on P, but I haven't been able to make myself leap to the Creator thing. It still might happen, though, if I can offer free content with a pay-as-you-want option.

I've considered Medium, as well...but again, not sure about the terms, and to get any traction you pretty much have to bank on your readers being $5/month members. And it sounds like the payments are paltry. Again, not about the money, but I have issues with platforms making a lot off their content provides while giving little in return.

See, here I am, talking myself into posting everything at The Lost Boys of Everywhen blog...

Looking at it, there needs to be a design shakeup, too.  It does not look super nice at this point, but I tossed the background on just to have one, and then used it to create the title image. Reminds me of the early web, when we though we were so cool to have figured out a modicum of HTML and everything was eye-popping, painful neon and spinning images.

I had a site on Prodigy, uploaded soon after they released their web browser...super early on. IIRC, it was a lot of dark blue and bright red, occasionally so seeped in contrast that it made my eyes hurt after looking at it for a few minutes.

I kind of miss those days, when the truly simple and gaudy was SUPER AWESOME COOL and a basic site could get you offers to create something for someone else. For real money, even. No Paypal or Venmo, just paper checks in the mail because for gawd knows why, we trusted each other enough for that.

In any case, sooner rather than later, there will be content on The Lost Boys of Everywhen...I'm ot working at my usual speed, thanks to a 2nd project I have in the works (bikes!) and to not having my writing partner, but it'll get done.

I just need to work on the whole cliffhanger thing to keep y'all coming back for more.