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!

Update

Just to give a quick update on Samus and her new home – I’ve been receiving pics and text messages from Sister-in-Law, like with the bandanas and whatnot. (Of course Samus has different colored bandanas every day to feel special. Heaven forbid she should wear the same one all the time.)

So I was sent a picture of Samus curled under some blankets, with the information that when the teen daughter has to work late at night, her mother tucks Samus into bed with a warmed-up corn bag so she won’t get too cold.

I’m starting to feel like I was a bad puppy parent.

And I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t come home with me now if I begged her.

But you know what? I’m thrilled that she is being so spoiled and loved, because if there was ever a dog that deserved such a wonderful, loving family, it’s Samus. She gets to go for truck rides with dad, hang out with mom during the day and snuggle with daughter at night. She must be in absolute heaven right now, so thankfully I made the right decision.

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.

Give a Dog a Creek and She’s Set for Life

One of the benefits to rural living is that you have the whole outdoors at your beck and call. For us, it’s practically on our back door. Husband and I had been pretty busy lately, which meant that our furry friends were stuck in the kennel quite a bit, much to their chagrin. Saturday we decided it was time for a play day and took them a few miles out of town to the small river that eventually meets up with city limits. Okay, so it’s more of a creek by the time it actually reaches town, but still.

Give this dog a creek and a tennis ball and life is good.

Give this dog a creek and a tennis ball and life is good.

I took this as an opportunity to get a few pictures. (I don’t have kids, so these are my furbabies, okay?) Samus was in seventh heaven, being part lab and thus part water dog. She dove straight in the river for her tennis ball, thrilled to be outside. She loves to run, but she tends to lope along, just happy to be playing. Thus I was able to get a few cute shots of her.

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Gretchen was excited, too, but mainly to explore new areas and sniff out any birds. One thing I’ve seen with these two, there is a big difference between a working dog and a pet. Gretchen is all business and doesn’t really grasp the concept of “playing,” and Samus doesn’t understand anything but “play.”

While both have plenty of energy, Gretchen is a hyped-up, crazy sauce speed demon when she’s let loose. Husband actually has to keep a whistle on hand because she’ll run out of earshot of his voice within a matter of seconds. Thus no matter how hard I tried, most of the pictures of her turned out like this:

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And this:

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And that’s why the majority of the photos in our albums are either of Samus or the cats. Because after a while, I just give up.

I will say, though, as frustrating as they can be at times, we’re pretty lucky to have such adorable dogs.

Samus waiting expectantly to play more fetch.

Samus waiting expectantly to play more fetch.

Good gravy, she actually sat still long enough not to be a blur in my photo.

Good gravy, she actually sat still long enough not to be a blur in my photo.

Simple pleasures are indeed the best ones.

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.

My Labyrinth Pets

We have a new furry addition to our family. A couple from our church was looking for a good home for one of their kittens, so we ended up taking him. It’s funny, because he looks really similar to Ludo, my older cat, just miniature. I told Husband that Ludo got to be the deciding factor. (The poor boy is thirteen years old, after all. He should have some say in the matter.) Well, he still doesn’t care for the kitten, but Husband was already attached by that point. Thus Ludo has had to learn some patience. 

imagesAfter watching their tumultuous beginning, I decided to change the kitten’s name to Sir Didymus. Fellow geeks or ‘80’s lovers would recognize Ludo’s name as the giant monster from Labyrinth. If you’ve seen that movie, you’ll remember Sir Didymus as the little fox terrier who happens to be the guardian of the bridge that leads out of the Bog of Eternal Stench. He’s fearless and stubborn, and at one point, giant Ludo tries to get past him only to be clobbered by the tiny fellow. 

That pretty much sums up my cat Ludo and the new kitten’s relationship perfectly.

The kitten usually thinks Ludo is trying to play. Just like his namesake, he’s fearless. When Ludo takes a swipe at him, the kitten tends to lunge back, causing Ludo to panic and run the other direction. It’s pretty hilarious, actually. I hope that their relationship will end up more like Ludo and Sir Didymus at the end of the movie, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Ode to a Skunk

Asleep was I, a slumber sweet,
With nary a need for defenses.
When suddenly, out from the blue,
Came an assault upon my senses.
“What evil is this?” cried I in disgust,
“And where did they get a dead body?”
No, ‘twas but a skunk trespassing along,
discovered by my own doggie.

Dear Husband was brave and stood at his ground,
Chasing away the foul vermin.
Alas not before the stench filled the house,
Including the room his wife stirred in.
“Tomato juice, quickly!” He moved with great haste,
Desperate to stamp out the smell.
For, as we all know, when it comes to a skunk
Only passing of time makes things well.
Imagine, dear reader, my shocking distress,
That the smell to which I was adverse,
Had followed me all the way to my workplace
And even was found my purse.

So run, little skunk, run as far as you can,
Lest you receive more than a sonnet
For ever should you come ‘round again,
I’ve got a .22 with your name on it.

 

Author’s Note: No actual skunks were harmed in the creation of this poem. Just FYI.

In Which My Dog Thinks I’m Superwoman

When we bought our house, it had been vacant for nearly a year. Consequently, the yards are still basically weeds and dirt because we’ve been focusing our time and money (what little we have) on the inside of the house. (It’s older, so there’s a lot to be done. A lot. I get a headache just thinking about it.)

Well, it was just me and Samus this last weekend, so on Saturday I made sure that she was let out of the kennel enough to run around and get some energy out. Because there’s no actual grass and lots of interesting little things that dogs might want to consume that they really shouldn’t, we always have to keep an eye on both dogs while they’re outside. As I glanced out the window, I saw Samus slowly limping right in front of the dining room window.

I knew something had to be wrong, because this is how she normally is. Doggie smiles everywhere.

I knew something had to be wrong, because this is how she normally is. Doggie smiles everywhere.

“Great,” I thought. “Now what did she do to herself?” My dog fits well with me because she’s just as klutzy as her owner. I thought maybe she had fallen off the little brick wall we have in the back yard or something like that. I could see she was making her way to the sliding glass door, so I walked over and met her there. She slowly continued to limp up to the back door, giving me those big puppy eyes. It was kind of like a little kid who gets hurt and needs mom to kiss it better. I could see it was her back left leg that was bothering her, because once she had crawled inside the house, she stuck it up in my direction, like, “Ow. Make better, please.”

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s this little pack of evil. I don’t know what they’re called in other parts of the country, but we refer to them as goat heads here. This isn’t the same one that was stuck in Samus. I actually took a picture of this quite a while ago because I thought it looked like the helmet of an evil dark lord. Because I’m an author, that’s why.

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s this little pack of evil. I don’t know what they’re called in other parts of the country, but we refer to them as goat heads here. This isn’t the same one that was stuck in Samus. I actually took a picture of this quite a while ago because I thought it looked like the helmet of an evil dark lord. Because I’m an author, that’s why.

I took hold of her leg and, sure enough, there was a goat head jammed up in the pad of her paw. (This is one of the many hazards of having no grass and only weeds. My own feet pay the consequences because the little buggers stick to the bottom of people’s shoes only to fall off in my carpet. My poor bare, unsuspecting tootsies are then assaulted with the pain of tiny barbs first thing in the morning when I’m not quite awake. THAT makes me happy, let me tell you. *snark*)

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah, the dog. So I grabbed her paw and yanked it out in one fluid motion. She promptly covered me with doggy kisses, and I could almost hear her saying, “OMG YOU’RE MAGIC!” Tail wagging and full body wiggling commenced after that.

If she loved me before, she REALLY loves me now. *hero pose*

Animals do the darndest things.

Alrighty, then. *dusts off blog* I guess it’s been a while. I’d like to say that I’ve been oh-so busy with writerly-related things…but I haven’t really. I’ve just been busy. Though I am now on about chapter 12 of the sequel to Prince of Light, so it hasn’t been a total waste. I think.

I’m not entirely sure how much writing I’ll get done this weekend, either. I get to dog-sit for some friends of ours, which is great, but time-consuming. Hunter’s a good dog, don’t get me wrong. But I’ll have THREE dogs to handle all by myself for three days, which makes me inadvertently twitch just a little. That’s right, Husband will be out of town, so it’s just me. All. By. Myself. *twitch*

She looks so innocent, right? Queen of the Puppy Eyes, that's what she is. Until she turns into barking, spinning, furry pile of evil.

She looks so innocent, right? Queen of the Puppy Eyes, that’s what she is. Until she turns into barking, spinning, furry pile of evil.


Last week, I had the brilliant idea to start training my dog, Samus, to be a licensed therapy dog after watching a really cool video of therapy dogs that visit our local hospitals. Samus absolutely loves people and gets along well with other animals. She has an alpha personality, so she’s not afraid of new places or situations, and she’s pretty obedient. In my confidence, I proudly posted the idea on Facebook, relishing in the fact that it garnished some “likes” and supportive comments.

Which is precisely why Samus decided to act like she was on speed when our friends came over to introduce their dog to ours. Spastic doesn’t even begin to cover it. I tried to nervously laugh it off while they were there. You know how it is. There I am, “Heh heh, she’s usually so obedient! Samus come here. No, really. She almost never barks…“ – cue deranged barking for no reason whatsoever – “…and she’s usually so laid back…” – this is where she starts spinning in circles over and over without stopping – “…She’s just a gem! Ha ha, Samus come here. Uh, yeah this was the one that I was thinking of training to be a therapy dog. SAMUS. COME. HERE.”

Aaaaaand that’s pretty much how it went the whole time. She couldn’t stop dancing around when Hunter came close to her, like “I HAVE A NEW FRIEND I HAVE A NEW FRIEND I HAVE A NEW FRIEND…OMG OMG OMG!” (Gretchen, Husband’s German wire-hair, just did her own thing like usual. She doesn’t really care one way or the other about other dogs. She might sniff a friendly “hello,” but then she’s off to explore wherever she feels like.)

Seriously, it’s not like Samus hasn’t ever seen any other dogs. We’ve had so many random dogs dumped on given to us by other people, well, I’d say it wasn’t even funny anymore, but all I can do is laugh at this point. We’ve found homes for all of them, thankfully, but it does mean that my dog has, in fact, interacted with other animals before. So why she decided to prance around like a freak is something I’ll never quite understand. Other than to embarrass me, of course.

We might give her a couple more years before we try the therapy dog thing. A couple years and a lot more training. And she will like it. Or else. *glare*

In the meanwhile, I’m going to prepare for this upcoming weekend. Which, of course, means lots of cupcakes. (Chocolate or candy bars just don’t cut it for me. It has to be cake of some kind, and cupcakes are THE BEST.) Wish me luck, and while you’re at it, check out the awesomesauce review that the lovely Nayu posted on Prince of Light. It made my day! I still go back to read it every so often, especially when I need a little encouragement.

And if you like anime (probably more along the shojo lines of things) and book reviews, start following her blog. She has some great info and her posts are always entertaining!