2013 turned out to be a transitional year for me, and frankly, I'm so glad it's over.
At the end of 2012 I was diagnosed with "damaged" lungs. To my way of thinking, this is a misnomer, given the fact that I was probably born with holes in my lungs. So I came into 2013 trying to adjust to the truth (no cure, and it's progressive) and limits (uphill climbs beat me like a stick) of my "disease." (Can't we call it a "condition"? "Disease" sounds icky.)
In January, I left my cabin in the wilderness and became a flatlander once again, buying a three-bedroom home built in 1957 (one of my favorite years) with an insurmountable (at least for a six-pound cat with stubby legs) block wall around the back yard. How am I adjusting? I'm saving money toward retirement. But I can't see the stars at night (well, your night, my morning--4:00a.m.). I have a garden growing, and my tomatoes last summer were amazing. But I am without the quiet and serenity of the mountain, and heading out my door for a walk no longer means sighting wildlife or standing underneath a waterfall. Now it means following the sidewalk to the next housing tract... and the next. But I'm eight minutes from work, so I'm no longer spending several hundred dollars a month in gas. "No place is perfect," a friend told me recently. So true.
With my new home and yard came the prospect of getting a dog, which I did last spring. If you follow the blog, you will have read about Suede renamed Seamus, the chocolate lab that was abandoned at my local shelter. Seamus was (almost) the perfect dog and would have been my constant companion... if he just had not been encouraged at some point in his life to chase kitties. I adored him, and we walked every day, and having him beside me filled a void that had been there since 2006. But alas... his presence in our home was terrifying for Sugar Plum. Sugie tried several times to creep out and face her fear, but every time she did he would alert to her and try to chase her. Sug shut down, refusing to come out from under the bed. She wasn't eating or drinking. She ended up very sick, and I ended up on the floor in fetal position, worried for her and heartbroken to know that Seamus would have to adjust to a new home all over again.
But as it turned out, the Universe had special plans for Shay. With the help of my dog-loving friends (thank you forever, Donna Staub!), I found a couple who had recently lost their beloved chocolate lab. They opened their loving arms to Shay and made him a family member overnight, and their yellow lab loved him as she had her previous companion. Through much grief came a happy ending and the best forever home a dog could ever dream of.
After some weeks, Sug recovered. And then I brought Purrl home.
Since losing my beloved Boo, I have made several attempts to bring a new cat into our home, so that Sug could also have a companion. It never worked out because eventually the other cats tried to dominate Sug (and I would awake to the ferocious fury of cats brawling, teeth and claws maiming everything in sight, including me). After three tries, I knew my only hope of making it work was if Sug could still feel like the queen of the house and another cat would defer to her.
And that's how Purrl made it work. She was a tiny kitten, abandoned in a Target parking lot and rescued by the sister of a very sweet friend. Purrl (Purrlie/Purrl-O/Purrl Jam) was probably about ten weeks old when I brought her home, mewling and crying in a carrier. Instead of diving under the bed, Sug ran up to see what all the fuss was about, then hissed at the baby... but didn't fear her or reject her. Within days, Purrl was pouncing on Sug's stump of a tail, and Sug was patiently allowing it. Now both girls meet me at the door when I come home, and both sleep on the bed with me at night. Of course, Purrl snores. But then, how do I know I don't?
Oh, and one more good thing happened in 2013: GhostGrandma, my YA novel, released on October 31. I'm happy now for all the hours of this past summer I spent re-writing and editing it. I've gotten some nice reviews, and teens seem to like it.
On January 1, I will begin writing a new book, a memoir about my experiences living in on the mountain. At this point, I'm thinking (as I naively did with The Dogs Who Saved Me) that it will be an effortless expression of my passionate love of the wild. My goal is to write three hundred words a day every day in 2014. Check back with me; I'll keep you posted.