Happy New Year!

I’ve been a geek pretty much all my life. I was a geek when it was extremely uncool to be one, and I was a geek when they were fairly well accepted in everyday life. It’s simply a part of who I am and what I happen to be interested in. I have a Lord of the Rings collection. There is still fanart from The Legend of Zelda hanging in my room. I’m cool with this. 

And honestly, the older I get the more I realize that some of us were just meant to be kids forever. I missed out on a lot of the spontaneity of youth because I let fear rule my life. Now I’m in my mid-30’s, and I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me. Quite frankly, I like this version of me much better. 

One of the things that hasn’t changed about me over the years is my love of costumes. I went full-out the first time I ever went to a Comic Con and bought a really great Black Widow costume. It was pricey, but LEGIT. I loved the experience so much that I realized it brought back a little dream of mine. 

I had always thought it would be really fun to do costumed Christmas cards. I tried to get my ex-husband to get in on it with me, but he utterly refused. He told me it was a stupid idea, one of the many times his verbal abuse made me feel like a terrible person, and it was all I could to get him to pose for regular pictures. 

Here’s the thing. I adore photo Christmas cards. I love seeing smiling faces and happy families and watching my friend’s children grow each year. I like seeing what they’ve chosen to wear this time around, and what the backdrop is. So for me, I thought It would be so cool to have a theme each year. Dress in costume, go the whole nine yards. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to be the one that everyone looks forward to each year, wondering, “What did she come up with this time?” 

Well, I left that abusive marriage about three years ago. Best decision I ever made. (Which only slightly makes up for the worst decision I ever made, but I digress.) I’m still a single gal, and for the first few years it seemed a little weird to just do Christmas cards of me by myself. Yeah, I know, I could have done whatever I wanted, but I ultimately chose not to go that route.

But then I got my beautiful Bailey last year. Suddenly, around the fall, I realized that I had the partner in crime I’d always wanted. She looks pretty “wolfie” in appearance, so I decided to do a last-minute themed Christmas card. My friend’s mom is a great photographer and agreed to take the photos for me, so I threw together a costume using materials that I found from Goodwill and St. Vincent’s. 

They turned out fabulous. Every bit of what I wanted them to be. I loved seeing them, and I sent a copy to every friend and family member that I could think of. The response was exactly what I knew it would be, and people thought they were great. 

So you know what? The next time someone tells you that you can’t do something, or that an idea is stupid, do it anyway. Maybe the response won’t be so positive, but gosh darn it, if it makes you happy then that’s all that matters anyway. 

Be fabulous, my dears. And have a blessed New Year, from Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. 

Bailey

For those of you who have followed me for several years, and THANK YOU, by the way, you will know that I used to have several pets. At one point, I owned two dogs and two cats. They were all amazing, but over time they all were either re-homed or sadly went over the rainbow bridge. (I still miss you like crazy, sweet Ludo.)

It was difficult to re-home the ones that we did, but I know that it was the best decision. They have loving families that spoil them rotten, and due to circumstances being what they were at the time, they weren’t always safe staying with me. I won’t go into details, but since I was in an abusive situation at the time, they were sometimes caught up in the crossfire. Now I know they’re all safe and happy, but it was a lonely two and a half years of no pets when Brother and I were living in the rental property.

We’re currently in a living situation where our temporary roommates have two cats, but I confess that I was feeling very lonely. Yes, I was in a houseful of people, but I didn’t always feel like I fit in. The pain of losing Mom last year and all of the incredible changes that we’ve gone through, including a completely new house and living space, meant that I was fighting depression quite a bit.

The funny thing about being an introvert is that you can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. And while being alone is ultimately what helps recharge you, there’s also something about the steadfastness of a good friend/spouse/significant other that helps get you through those times. Add in depression, and you really come to rely on unconditional love to get through those low moments. It’s different for everyone, but personally speaking, I don’t know what I would do without my faith. It’s been my security and hope more times than I can count.

But I also believe that God gives us tangible things to help us through and remind us that He cares. That, I believe, includes the beauty of pets.

All that to say, meet Bailey!

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Honestly, I was ready to walk out of the shelter empty-handed. None of the other dogs that I met were anywhere near what I was looking for, and our personalities just didn’t mesh.

But this sweet girl came in on the same day that I happened to be there. One hour before I arrived, actually. I was delayed getting to the shelter, and if I had come in at the time that I originally planned, I would have missed seeing her altogether. Coincidence? I think not! 🙂 I fell in love immediately, and the next day, I took her home.

We’re still in the new stages of getting to know each other and getting used to the new normal, but she’s been amazing. She had a lot of changes in a very short amount of time, but she’s settling in just fine so far. She’s great on a leash, super affectionate, and she’s already starting to fill that void in my heart that had been empty for some time.

We’re not 100% sure of her breed, but I’m guessing her to be a German shepherd/Samoyed mix. And since she’s pretty big, I know I’m going to feel much safer hiking on my own now. I’ll try not to spam my blog with dog pics *too* much, but there’s no guarantees. I mean, just look at this face:

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No promises on the dog pics. No promises at all. 😉

Can’t wait for the next adventure!

A Bittersweet Goodbye…

I made a very difficult decision last month. A decision that was life-changing (for me, anyway).

When Husband and I planned our trip to the Mid-West a couple of weeks ago to see some of his family, I had no idea what would be put in front of me. Husband, Mother-in-Law and I traveled there with two dogs…and we came back with only one.

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, Husband and I are in the process of moving. And by “in the process” I mean that we sold our house, but have no other house to move into yet. We had several different houses picked out, and every single one of them fell through. The most recent, however, was the most difficult, as we were ready to purchase the house and were informed only days before closing that the loan had fallen through. Thus we have been indulging on the kindness of a friend of ours, who has been letting us live in his house while he is trying to sell it. (He’s already moved, so it’s just been empty.) However, because he is trying to sell it, our dog and cat could not be inside the house, which meant they had to be stuck in the large pens/kennels that we brought with us. Diddy (the cat) is not so bothered about it, but Samus?

Well, it was pretty much torture for her given how much she loves to play and be with people.

I exercised her as often as my schedule would allow, but I missed having her inside the house with me while I took care of basic household needs. It just wasn’t the same, and while I was willing to make this sacrifice for a couple of months, we were supposed to be in a house by now. With the most recent loan falling through, we have absolutely no idea where we’re going to end up. Suddenly, my poor puppy was looking at being stuck in a kennel all the time for a minimum of 3-6 months.

It certainly wasn’t planned, but when we visited some of Husband’s family over in Illinois, we were introduced to some good friends of theirs who had a teenage daughter. The daughter, a senior this year, is an animal-lover through and through and couldn’t stop playing with Samus and the large golden retriever owned by Husband’s sister.

Long story short, I watched as this family fell in love with Samus, even begging us to let her stay for a little longer one evening when we visited their house. As we drove away that night, I felt a tug in my heart. One that I honestly didn’t want to listen to, because it meant sacrificing my own happiness for that of my pet. But deep down I knew the answer.

I was supposed to offer Samus to this family.

She would have 200 acres to run around and play on, and a family who absolutely adores her. Her life would never be without love, so as painful as it was on my end, I gave her to the ones who could provide a stability for her that I simply couldn’t right now. Won’t lie, I cried for a full day after letting her go. Even now, I can’t think too long on it or I start to tear up yet again.

Thankfully, the family has been kind enough to keep me posted on her progress, which has helped ease some of the hurt. I know that sometimes when we love something, even if it’s simply a pet, we have to think about what’s best for them and not just what we want for ourselves. Ultimately, I wanted her to be happy, whether that was with me or with someone else.

I miss my pup. There are days when I wish that I could have her curl up next to me on the couch, that I could throw the tennis ball for her one more time (and I never thought I would miss that). But it was the right thing to do. I know it.

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Toys everywhere? Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’ll be juuuust fine….

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Why did I never think to put her in a bandana!? So cute!

Miss you, Samus girl. But I’m glad you’re truly happy.

Ludo

So the last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for me. I had to say goodbye to a precious friend, my sweet kitty Ludo. I’d had him nearly 9 years, which meant that he was pushing 15 in total.

It’s that decision that you never look forward to making.

I knew it was time. Poor guy was starting to having difficulty breathing, among other minor health issues. Even though I had braced myself, knowing it my heart that this was probably going to be my last year with him, I still felt the pain of his loss like a hammer to the chest. Two weeks later, I find myself tearing up when I come home and he isn’t at the door to greet me.

Thankfully I still have Diddy the Moron to keep me company. He’s not the same; no other cat ever will be. But he keeps the house from feeling too empty and lonely, and for that I am thankful.

I’ve had a hard time concentrating on anything, much less writing something creative. Thankfully, I’d finished the major rewrites of my standalone before this happened. I don’t think I could have made myself focus. I know that with loss comes grief. It’s a part of life, and something that we as humans need to accept. I’m trying to allow myself the time I need to grieve. I honestly didn’t realize how hard this was going to be for me.

But I will get through this, one day at a time. Though I miss my sweet cat so very much, I am thankful for the many years we shared together. He was my buddy during my “bachelorette” days, my companion when I was sick, and my often-needed comic relief.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

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Of Sickness and Cats

Boy. *dusts off blog* It’s been a little while, eh? Sadly, my lungs succumbed to the steaming pile of poo that is known as bronchitis the last few weeks. It’s stupid, quite frankly. I’ve never touched a cigarette in my life, don’t have asthma, don’t have major allergies, and yet it pounced upon me like a lion on a decrepit wildebeest. I was actually sick enough that I couldn’t even write, which just about KILLED me. I had at least four days of nothing but time, and no energy or creative juices whatsoever. SUCK.

(On a slightly side note, I haven’t forgotten book two of the Prince of Light series. I have a standalone book that I’m desperately working to finish because it looks like the market is sort of swinging in that direction. I don’t want to miss out on a potential trend with an agent, so I’m finishing that book up first, then coming back to book two. Sorry to be lame…)

In other news, being sick meant I got to spend lots of time with my cats. Diddy (short for Sir Didymus) was my bodyguard for most of it, though Ludo got his fair share in as well. Diddy is a spastic dork most of the time, yet he can be quite loving when he chooses. He’s kind of like a dog in many ways. I mean, he even sleeps with the dogs:

See?

See?

People can’t seem to tell the different between Ludo and Diddy right away because they look really similar. They have slightly different colors, but until you actually see them next to each other and know them, it’s easy to get confused. Thus I’ve provided three handy ways to know how to tell the difference between Ludo and Diddy! So helpful, I know.

-Number One-

Ludo is super cute when he sleeps, usually curled up beneath a sunbeam:

Soft sunlight make for a happy kitteh.

Soft sunbeams make for a happy kitteh.

Then there’s Diddy:

Weirdo.

Weirdo.

-Number Two-

Ludo is inquisitive and sweet, even when a camera is shoved in his face.

What's that, Mom?

What’s that, Mom?

Diddy lacks a certain sophistication when it comes to his close-ups:

Classy.

Classy.

-Number Three-

Ludo is laid-back and easy-going:

How do you not love this cat?

How do you not love this cat?

Diddy is…well, Diddy:

"What?"

“What?”

*sigh* He may be a cute moron, but he’s a moron nonetheless. His cuteness has saved him on more than one occasion, particularly after he’s torn up yet ANOTHER roll of paper towels. But at least now if you ever get a chance to meet Ludo and Sir Didymus, you will be able to tell them apart. (Take notes, people, there will be a quiz.)

To make up for my complete lack of posting for the last month, I leave you with an adorable photo of a sleeping boxer/bulldog puppy.

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You’re welcome.