Anger and Productivity

Or something about channeling rage into something useful. It’s 2AM and I’m exhausted and philosophy was never my strong suit.

I’m just here to point you in the direction of a new shiny thing. I’ve launched a website to detail my adventures in kitten fostering.

Longtime readers of the blog/those who keep up with me on Twitter may recall I lost my beloved cat, BeeBee, about a year and a half ago. (I also lost my very dear dog Elrohir about seven weeks ago, so you could say I’ve got a lot of rage to turn into productivity.)

Stuff and things happened after Bee died and I fell into a YouTube hole after someone posted one of Hannah Shaw’s videos on Twitter. One thing led to another, and less than a year after Bee’s passing, I became an official foster parent for our local animal shelter, specializing in neonatal and orphaned kittens as Hannah does. I’d bottle-raised two of my own kittens, and even though it’s been years, I still remembered how. Hannah’s videos provided an excellent refresher course and taught me a few new tips and tricks that weren’t around when I hand-raised two of my horde.

Here again is another step I’ve taken towards making this fostering thing a part of my life – I have a website and social networks in which to post kitten pictures and videos of the litters that come into Bee’s House.

Kitten season is approaching and I’m gearing up to take in a few. Yes, I’m still writing between bottle-feedings. This blog won’t be any more neglected than it usually is. I just have another one to neglect now.

Head on over and take a peek at what’s there if you want. There’s not much at the moment as I’m still getting things settled, but you can get the gist from what content I’ve managed to sort. I have lots of pictures and videos to upload once I get them organized. We’ve fostered three litters since becoming official/certified with the shelter in September, and there are many pictures across multiple devices.

More as it develops.

Foster kittens in my loo!

I Got Nothin’

Urgh.

Blargh.

*grunt* *point*

Stuff. Things. Whee.

I suppose I should just go chronologically, since it’s been a couple months since I’ve said anything here. Okay. *sigh*

November – eh. Stuff and things. Holiday. Gorgeous smoked turkey at a friend’s house (thank you!).

December – Birthday. Sithmas. Made a Boxing Day pie with hot water crust pastry. It was actually pretty good, though I learned a few things about the springform pans I used.

January – Friend came to visit for late Sithmas vacation. Stayed three weeks. Made another Boxing Day pie. Learned more about my springform pans.

Also lost my dog of nearly 11 years that I raised from a six-week old puppy.

This was my dog. His name was Elrohir. He was named after one of the twin sons of Lord Elrond in Lord of the Rings. (They weren’t in the films, thank God; they only get a short mention in The Silmarillion – Elladan and Elrohir.) We called him Ro for short. Mostly we called him Ro-Pup.

He was an awesome dog. He had his share of demons, let me tell you. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia — yes, dogs can get it too, and he had a severe case of it. He had both neuroses and psychoses (neuroses are more behavioral/emotional responses while psychoses are generally physiological in origin, resulting from trauma or disease such as a brain tumor or cancer). We managed what we could as things presented themselves, and last year was the worst of them. I was advised to consider euthanasia earlier in the year due to his increasing unpredictability and aggressive outbursts, but I was selfish and wanted one more holiday season with my special boy.

Fuck yeah I was selfish, and I don’t regret a fucking moment of it. And for all his issues, there is a hell of a lot more sadness than relief in this house. Not even Bee was this difficult to say goodbye to, and she was my bestie.

A friend tells me it’s because I couldn’t see the pain Ro was in like I could with Bee, and she’s right. I couldn’t. I knew it was there, and could see the aftereffects of his mental anguish (and sometimes while it was happening — lights on, no one home), but it wasn’t like he was physically broken. Sure, he had a little arthritis and some spondylosis going on, but he was an older, medium-sized dog, and those were normal for his age.

I know it was the right time to say goodbye, but damn it I didn’t want to. I, and the entire house including my friend who was here with us (thank God – I’d never have been able to get through it without her here; she was there when we rescued the little brat) was a wreck the entire week leading up to the appointment. (I wanted a specific vet who’d known him all his life to help him and be there with us.)

We made that last weekend we had with him special. We’d stopped leaving the house with him because of his anxiety and fear of (and tendency to be aggressive toward) strangers, but we made sure his favorite beach was fairly well empty and took him to see the ocean. He had his customary 10 minutes (he’s was never a fan of the sand) and then tugged us back to the car. We got him all his favorite foods and fed him from the table (a huge no-no). We did everything fun we could think of for him the last few days and gave him lots of hugs. We played as much as he’d tolerate (he was, after all, an semi-old man in dog years and didn’t much care to chase your ball, thank you very much). We napped a lot those last few days — his favorite thing the last year or so was to “take a nap.” He’d get his favorite toy (Lambie) and run to the bedroom, waiting.

The James Household is so empty. It’s amazing how much of our daily routine revolved around Ro and his special needs. I can’t go more than a few minutes without being somehow reminded he isn’t here, and it sucks so much.

Though there is more sadness than relief here, like I said, there is relief (and guilt for feeling relieved, of course). Relief that when the wind shakes the house and the rain pelts the windows my poor dog isn’t cowering in the corner, shaking in fear, wide-eyed at the noise. That I’m not running for the Thundershirt and putting on relaxing dog music I bookmarked on my iPad every time the weather comes in off the ocean, which is frequent where I live. (He was already on medication, so I couldn’t give him anything else to help calm him during his fearful episodes, which there at the end were near daily.) I’m not praying every time I go outside that there isn’t someone getting out of their car across the street and slamming the door, or the people building a house up the block aren’t using their nail gun or throwing boards around. (He wouldn’t go outside/go pee if he heard any kind of bang or pop or smack or crack.) I do still cringe every time I hear a whistle blown on the TV (they sent him into an absolute fit) and look around to see if he heard it, which is followed by relief that he didn’t, and then sadness because he isn’t there to hear it.

I’ve mentioned before that pain makes me angry (oh, all right — angrier than usual), and I am in vast amounts of pain. This sucks and I’m so angry. He was my brat-face. I slept on the couch for six months with a little area of my living room cordoned off with baby gates and puppy pads, taking him out every few hours until he was potty trained. He was also crate trained when he got older, and when he got older still, we abandoned the crate all together except for when we left the house. It was “his room,” and he loved it. It’s still here, in my office, the door still open from the last time he was in it. And damn it I hate the idea of moving it, so it’s just going to fucking sit there until I’m ready to move it, which may be never. It makes a nice end table.

We do know under no uncertain terms that we do not want another dog, no matter how old/whatever condition they’re in. Not because of any kind of bias against them, but because my husband and I are both disabled, and taking care of a dog isn’t at all like taking care of a cat, special needs or no. I’ve mentioned on Twitter that I volunteer with our local animal shelter three days a week now, and am also a foster for neonatal kittens (those too young to be adopted/have been abandoned/have no mother/need bottle feeding) when they come into the shelter system. When we first brought Ro home, I’d just been diagnosed with MS, and my disability was a lot more manageable. Now it would be totally unfair to try and meet the needs of a dog. I just don’t have it in me anymore. I can barely walk unassisted myself these days. Ro was an old man who wasn’t interested in walks or ball (arthritis, people, harumph harumph) that often, though we made it a point to mosey to the mailbox and back a few times a week. That’s all he wanted, and more than once these last few months we had to stop on the way back to rest (him, not me).

Cats, even bottle-fed kittens, are wholly different from dogs, and I’m still able to care for them. As it is, all my cats are special needs animals. Two are seniors themselves, and I will likely lose one of them before the year is out due to his health problems (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen, but it’s a possibility if we can’t sort him out again).

It’s only been a couple weeks since we said goodbye to our special, wonderful boy, but it feels like forever. We’ve gone through his toys and given away the majority of them to the shelter to help them raise funds for other dogs who don’t have the home he did yet. We took his food and medicines to the vet’s office and donated them to other dogs in need. His beds are still here as I can’t bring myself to part with them yet, and his favorite toys are still where he left them. I keep stepping on one when I get out of bed, and I don’t care. I used to step on them all the time when he was here (he had a lot of toys – our boy was spoiled rotten) and I’m not ready to move them, either.

His remains are on the shelf in the glass cabinet along with those who’ve gone before him. We’re getting pictures together to make a memorial wall above it – one portrait for each animal who has passed on in the eighteen years we’ve been married. Ro’s passing has hit us the hardest, because he’s been the only dog either of us has had that we raised from a puppy. He was our boy. He was with us for over a decade, through events both horrific and joyous. We were with him through his bouts of illness, both physical and mental. We held him through nights of terror and days of fear. Saying goodbye to him was, without doubt, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and those of you that know me know I don’t say that lightly. It took the two people closest to me at my back to give me the strength to walk into that room where they’d made him a lovely bed complete with velvet pillow for his head. I have no shame in admitting I have cried every day both leading up to the appointment and every day since. I’d really like to stop, but I keep getting angry, and I cry when I’m angry or in pain.

And this fucking hurts. Then I feel strange, because I honestly didn’t cry this much for my Bee-girl, and she was my baby. Nor did I do this for my Daddy, who has been gone seventeen years today, and he was my best friend in the world. I miss him all the time. Hell, I even signed the order to take him off life support and held his hand as he died there in the hospital, and it didn’t hurt this long, or this much.

Before anyone says anything about grief and grieving, I’ll repeat what I said when I lost Bee:

You know how there’s these supposed stages of grief? Yeah, those don’t apply to me. I have been viciously wounded, and pain makes me angry. (All right, fine – I realize “anger” is a terribly vague word to use to describe me, because that’s my default setting. This is a little different.) I have…interesting responses to pain. By “interesting” I mean…uh….

Yeah. I’ll come back when I’m able to drink tea with another person again. That might be awhile*.

Anyone who is stupid enough to think (let alone say aloud in my presence) “she was just a cat,” I refer you to John Wick.

Farewell, Ro-pup. May all your demons be vanquished. You tried so hard to be a good boy, and you ended up being the best. We love you.

*comments closed

NaNo-What Now?

NaNoWriMo.

For those unaware of this exercise in insanity, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s every November (because nothing gears you up for becoming a professional writer like writing to a deadline in one of the busiest months in the United States) and the gist is this: you have 30 days to write 50,000 words on a brand new novel. I have NO idea what possessed me to attempt it this year. I avoided it for years, did it once (and won, tyvm) in 2011, then walked away, satisfied that I could do such a thing despite my condition.

As I said, I have NO idea what possessed me to do it this year. I’m even coming to it a day late – most participants started last night as proper. No, I had the brilliant idea to participate just this morning, and I’m still mystified as to why. But hey, if I’m moved to do a thing, there’s usually a reason behind it. And I’m moved to do this.

Never mind that my garage is still full of Halloween decorations that need putting away, my master bathroom shower stall is currently occupied by three half-feral kittens (two of whom have upper respiratory infections that require twice daily medication), I’m watching a friend’s house while they’re out of town, and volunteering two days a week at my local animal shelter. Sure, why not, let’s write a novel too! Throw another log on that fire!

If you’re feeling up to joining me in my insanity, I’ll scootch over. There’s always room at the bar for more crazy. You can find me on NaNoWriMo here.

Latecomer

So, it’s FINALLY September again. You all should be fairly familiar with me and deep and abiding love for September by now. I know it’s the middle of the month right now, but that’s because we had a bit of a late start to fall this year, owing to summer not wanting to fuck the hell off. September won finally, and summer crawled back into the hole in which it belongs.

It’s blissful here now. The temperature is under 70F (21.1C) every single day (and dropping!) and it’s back to our typical Oregon weather out here on the coast. I’ve written about it before, but the true arrival of fall is glorious for me. I have more energy, more creativity, less hostility (okay, this one is relative – go with it)…fall is my least vengeful season.

Earlier this year someone pointed me to this article about reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and honestly, it’s pretty spot on when it comes to how I feel about summer. Right around mid-March/beginning of April I start getting an uncomfortableness, and it just worsens until my beloved September returns. There are many, many reasons I loathe the warmer months, but reverse SAD would explain a lot of it. But all that’s over now for another six months or so.

Here are some links to things to kick off the end of my reverse hibernation:

My friend Valt is still in need of some help for his surgery! If you could sacrifice that (pumpkin spice!) latte today, that would rock.

The anthology I’m in with Skyla Dawn Cameron is now available in print! Clicky the linky to get the shiny!

Go forth and enjoy September!

Sacrifice Your Latte Please!

So my friend Valtinen (you may have heard me mention him before) is finally, after more than a decade, getting to be himself!

Me And Valt Terrorizing The Villagers

He needs a little help, though, and I know my friends and fans are awesome at helping people. Valt has come a long way in his personal journey, and this step is finally here. It’s amazing and I’m very happy this is happening for him.

But you don’t need to hear me talk about it. Go here and read his story for yourself!

Help Valt Get His Surgery!

Ebooks Sent

Hello, all!

Quick break in my summer hiatus to say that if you were a contributor to my veterinary bill fundraiser, your e-book ARC of Hauntings has been sent in PDF format.

Hauntings-kindle
Thank you again, very much, for those who contributed. If I owe you a hat, it’s in the process of being knit. I have 3 down, 9 more to go. Ya’ll kicked ass there. AND MADE ME KNIT WITH PINK YARN OMG. Sadists. *sniff* I’m so proud!

Torture Love

Reinforcements Needed

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know about this because I have awesome, evil, enabling powerful friends.

YouCaringDina

You can click the image link to get the whole story, but the gist is I need help with a vet bill in the thousands. That’s where reinforcements come in.

Uh…you’re the reinforcements. Well, your pennies are. Dimes, too. Quarters if you can spare them. It’s not even a tip jar I’m putting out here, it’s a collection plate.

Help Me I'm Poor

As the graphic above says, though – don’t think this is all for nothing. I’m offering cool stuff in return for your assistance. (And don’t forget I offer a brutal critique service for writers as well!) The fundraising site gives you space to explain what you’re about, so head on over there for the whole story so I don’t repeat myself.

I Need Help Penny

Thanks in advance for your help. If you can’t help out with pennies, a signal boost would be just as appreciated. I have awesome friends, fans, and family, and you all know I hate beyond words asking for help, but this isn’t about me. This is for my animals.

Holiday Season 2016

I didn’t post my usual holiday rant this year for various reasons. Mostly apathy. Seriously. I have run out of fucks to give this year. Not that I have all that many to begin with, mind. So, yeah.

It’s been a hell of year, and I’m done now. We got the Sithmas tree up, but thought it best to decorate with lights and topper only given that Wyrd Cat (the now year-old kitten who joined the household this June who was born without one of her eyes and has only about 20% vision in the existing one) is both a climber and intensely curious about everything, especially shiny things (she can see light and movement, so sparkly things are her favorite).

So far she’s only disturbed the tree a little bit. Next year (if there is a Sithmas next year, given the current political situation…I don’t know…EVERYWHERE), we may put ornaments on it. This year, though? The tree with lights is plenty good enough. That’s honestly all the holiday spirit I could muster, and you all know Sithmas is my favorite holiday. Here, have last year’s as a reminder of what we usually do:

Beige-Sithmas-1

On that note, whatever you celebrate this time of year (or not! No judgment here!) – Christmas (Christian or not), Mawlid al-Nabi (Muslim), Chanukah (Jewish), Yule (pagan), Kwanzaa (African) – have a Happy, Merry, or Blessed.

Here’s hoping 2017 isn’t as much of a shit-filled Twinkie in a dumpster tire fire.

And before anyone asks, yes. I’m still unsafe to be around. SHE WAS MY FRIEND.

You know how there’s these supposed stages of grief? Yeah, those don’t apply to me. I have been viciously wounded, and pain makes me angry. (All right, fine – I realize “anger” is a terribly vague word to use to describe me, because that’s my default setting. This is a little different.) I have…interesting responses to pain. By “interesting” I mean…uh….

Yeah. I’ll come back when I’m able to drink tea with another person again. That might be awhile*.

Anyone who is stupid enough to think (let alone say aloud in my presence) “she was just a cat,” I refer you to John Wick.

bee-eye-color

See you all sometime in 2017. Provided, of course, there is still an Internet. All things considered, we’ll probably be nuked by China sometime in January.

*comments still closed

You Need A Hero Giveaway

“…a land in turmoil cried out for a hero…”

Given recent socio-economic-political circumstances in the United States, there has been much to despair about. Like many others, I have thought a great deal about what I can do about them, and there’s not a whole lot I can.

You see, like Kameron Hurley, I have a chronic illness. I am on the List of Undesirables and while I may not be one of the first casualties of this new authoritarian regime (and make no mistake, people…this is an authoritarian regime on the rise. This is not alarmist speech – this is fact), I will most likely be a casualty at some point.

But it is not this day.

This day, I still draw breath, and if I can do that, I can still fight. All I really have left to do that with are words and yarn, and those are powerful things. They can be the most deadly of weapons, and I am here to arm you.

Together with my enabler handler friend Skyla Dawn Cameron, we bring to you pointy objects of mayhem.

herogiveaway (Shiny graphic made by bitchin’ designer, Skyla Dawn Cameron of Indigo Chick Designs)

Like all implements of destruction, these do not come free, however. These will cost you a donation to someplace that will help shield those in greatest need. Those higher on the list of undesirables than I.

My chosen organizations for your support are The Trevor Project and the Trans Lifeline. For every dollar you donate to these, you get an entry into the giveaway for these shiny things:

Lot 1 – The Hero Package:
Special Edition* copies of both All Wounds and Time Heals
– a copy of my short story collection Legends of the Destrati
– a hand-knit Hero of Canton Cunning Hat (to be knit upon confirmation of win)
– black tea mug (cozy not included unless you’re both really really nice [by which I mean “generous”] and you’re willing to wait for me to make one)
– yummy tea I will personally choose for you

cunning-hero-hat-giveaway
mug-hug

Lot 2 – The Rescue Package:
Special Edition* copies of both All Wounds and Time Heals
– a copy of my short story collection Legends of the Destrati
– hand-knit Cowl of Justice
– black tea mug (see above about the cozy being included)
– yummy tea

cowl-of-justice-giveaway

To enter – after you’ve donated, forward your email receipt from the charity in question to dina at dinajames dot com to be entered. Donations from November 1 onward are eligible for entry, so if you’ve already donated before this went live, pass me your receipt and I’ll enter you.

Donate $20 to Trevor Project? Get twenty entries. Donate $10 to Trans Lifeline and $10 to Trevor Project? Get twenty entries. Donate $5 to Trans Lifeline? Get five entries. The more you give, the more chances you get, but even donating as little as $1 gets you in the running. You have until 11:59PST on November 30 to enter.

It doesn’t stop there: next head over to Skyla Dawn Cameron’s site where donations to Planned Parenthood and/or RAINN will enter you to win yet another amazing hero prize pack as well.

We all need heroes some time in our lives. Be one with your donation.

This giveaway is open to international readers. My giveaway, my postage. Tell your friends.

*These Special Editions were made as prizes for giveaways and at signings. The only way to get one of these is through one of those, and there weren’t many made. They’re super shiny!

And Then There Were Four….

It’s a long story, and one for which I haven’t words nor energy nor coherence to tell. I may also be slightly inebriated, as we held a private little Irish wake tonight for one of our four-legged horde.

bee-mailing-box

You may have heard me refer to the Little Broken Cat on Twitter. Her name was Beebee (as in B.B. for Brokeback – not the mountain; her congenital condition). We called her Bee for short. She was born with kyphosis (“hunchback” in the non-Fancy Medical Speak) as well as some fused vertebrae in her lower spine. What this meant for her is that she was partially paralyzed from the middle of her back. She had trouble controlling her rear legs, and had some unknown (and unknowable without lots of invasive tests and surgeries which were deemed unnecessary) internal damage. She had trouble going to the litter box and issues with her bathrooming, but was otherwise healthy.

She was a shelter kitten, and by law they cannot adopt out an animal they know to have a life-threatening or unstable condition.

Basically, we were her only hope for any kind of life at all. She was deemed “unadoptable” and slated for euthanasia.

The vet called us and asked if we would have a look at her. Now, I wrote something somewhere when we brought her home that I can’t find now despite looking {ETA: 12/2016 – found it.], but I remember saying something about how we didn’t hesitate. It was just after Thanksgiving 2010. We jumped in the car. They brought her in, we took one look at how she moved (very well, thank you, despite her little wobble and stiff-legged gait) and nodded to the tech. We would take her home as soon as she was ready to go. We paid the adoption fee and they kept her for shots and her spay, and I got a little broken kitten for my birthday (December 2). She was about 5 months old.

back-of-chair-kitten

Fast forward six years. For the past several weeks, Bee hadn’t been herself. She began having more bad days than usual, and you could see she was in pain if you knew her well enough. Now, she had medication, but it stopped helping with her pain, and did more harm than good in regard to her other issues. For weeks we went back and forth to the vet, trying to find some way to get ahead of the avalanche heading for our girl.

I’m not going to go into detail here about the last ten days. For one, I don’t want to relive them right now, and for another, they’re not important. All that’s important is we did everything we could, and could not fix the Little Broken Cat this time. After much consulting with many medical authorities, friends, and family, the decision was made. We had to help her in the only way we had left.

This morning, we held her tight as we said goodbye to our special girl. She brought so much joy to our lives and we will miss her very much. There is a very big hole in the James Household right now, and it’s going to take some time to patch up.

Rest well, Bee-girl. We love you.

bee-play

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written over the past six years, you have Bee to thank for it. She was my constant companion and very special friend, and the comments are closed because it is best to leave me the fuck alone while I sort the damage done to my soul. Leave the tea outside the door and back away slowly.

usual-state-of-affairs